The Estrogen–Brain Connection You May Want To Know About

mbg Contributor By Elizabeth Gerson
mbg Contributor
Elizabeth Gerson is a former mindbodygreen intern and a student at Stanford University studying Psychology and Communication with a specialization in Health & Development.

Image by Daniel Nevsky x Stocksy / Stocksy

Imbalanced hormones can cause a cascade of events in the body that can leave you tired, moody, and broken-out. Thanks to a recent study, we're one step closer to understanding even more bad news when the hormone estrogen is completely out of whack.

In research published in the Journal of Neuroscience, scientists found that a lack of estrogen in the brain spelled some serious trouble for two central functions: memory-making and the growth of brain-cell connections.

To make this connection, researchers blocked the production of estrogen, whether from the brain or elsewhere in the body, in both male and female mice, and watched as chaos ensued: The mice without blocked estrogen were able to go through their day-to-day functions without an issue, but estrogen-free mice ran into all sort of problems.

All sorts of memory types suffered for the mice sans-estrogen: spatial (knowing how to get around), fear (knowing what's dangerous), and recognition (knowing what's what), demonstrating estrogen's essential role in affecting memory-making of all shapes and sizes.

The role of estrogen goes far beyond the brain. An estrogen imbalance can have you feeling some truly debilitating day-to-day symptoms like struggles with PMS or weight gain, but it's also important to keep in mind the dangers of longer-term risks such as infertility and certain types of cancer.

If you suspect your hormones aren't where they need to be, you may consider getting your levels tested.

Want to balance your estrogen naturally? A diet and lifestyle adjustment may be a good place to start. Certain foods—like fermented goods, mushrooms, and cruciferous vegetables—can be your saving grace, while other foods—like sugar, dairy, and alcohol—most decidedly will not. Exercise will also work wonders for your hormone-balancing needs, especially routines that are cortisol-friendly. Bottom line: Listen to your body. If things are feeling a bit off, hormone health should be a top priority.

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