NN says: A few weeks ago, Ezenwa wrote a brilliant post on the benefits of Lime water. A lot of comments were made about how lime water purportedly causes infertility. He addresses those comments from a scientific stand-point. It comes across as being really technical but be patient and follow the story…it all makes sense.
Lime is often said to be harmful to reproductive health. This theory comes from the acidic taste of lime. And the notion that acids are corrosive. Thus, lime must be corrosive to sensitive structures in the body. Case closed.
This is the farthest thing from the truth. Lime is an ally in optimizing fertility. But first, let us address the issue of its acidity. Limes are about 8 percent citric acid by dry weight. That is quite a lot. Yet, is that worrisome? Not quite. Citric acid from lime is a health promoting phytonutrient. It has numerous therapeutic actions in the body. For example, it acts as an antioxidant, neutralizing reactive substances in circulation. It also promotes detoxification by increasing urine output and softening stools. And much more.
More broadly, it is useful to recognize the central role of acids in all life forms. The very building blocks of life are acidic. Proteins are made of amino acids. DNA/RNA is made of nucleic acids. Cell membranes are made of fatty acids. In short, where the human body is concerned, acidity is everywhere and in everything.
Understanding female fertility
A simple way to understand fertility is in terms of harmonious communication. Fertility proceeds from the synchronized activity of various organs in the body. These organs communicate extensively with one another to ensure things run smoothly. This information flows through a dedicated network known as the HPG axis. It connects the brain with the ovaries and uterus. And is the means by which the brain controls reproductive organs.
Through the HPG axis, the brain tightly coordinates each stage of the menstrual cycle. The brain gives instructions to the ovaries and uterus encoded in nerve signals and hormones. And the clear transmission of information is vital. That is to say, fertility is of harmonious communication between the brain, ovaries, and uterus.
Some of the instructions are encoded in hormones, such as estrogen. Estrogen is a store of information, a set of instructions. It is a system of communication. It is not one hormone; there are hundreds of variations built around a core molecule. Each variation carries a different set of instructions for target tissues like the uterus, breast, bones, fat stores, and others. Indeed, most hormones have countless variations. Each hormone class, e.g. cortisol or insulin, represents a database of countless instructions for target cells.
A hormone has delivered its message when it binds with its specific receptor in target cells. It is the union of hormone and receptor that modulates the behavior of the cell.
Infertility is discordant communication
Infertility results from a break down in communication through the HPG axis. The brain no longer effectively regulates the activity of the ovaries and uterus. Many factors can lead to this discordant communication: infections, nutrient deficiencies, emotional stress, and/or chemical exposures.
In our modern society, a major cause of infertility is exposure to synthetic chemicals that have estrogen-like properties. These types of compounds are called xenoestrogens. These synthetic chemicals also carry information, much like natural estrogen produced in the body. However, they carry harmful information that disrupts the fine chemical balance of fertility.
We are bombarded with such high amounts of xenoestrogens on a daily basis that they drown out our own estrogens. In fact, parabens, a type of xenoestrogen from petroleum-based cosmetics, have been found in breast tissue at concentrations one million-fold higher that natural estrogens. Such high levels of estrogen-like chemicals in the body lead to a physiological state known as estrogen dominance. And it is this estrogen dominance that is the root cause of female infertility.
Imagine fertility as an orchestra of various organs. The brain is the conductor, coordinating the various organs with hormones and nerve signals. Xenoestrogens are a rogue conductor. They confuse and disrupt the orchestra. The net result is irregular menstruation, no ovulation, fibroids, endometriosis, breast cancer, and so on.
A few important sources of xenoestrogen exposure include:
- BPA from the interior plastic lining of canned foods, e.g. tin tomatoes, tin milk, baked beans, etc.
- Parabens from petroleum-based cosmetics, e.g. mineral oil (baby oil), petroleum jelly, lipstick, body lotion, etc.
- Phthalates from soft drinks in plastic bottles.
- Growth hormones (rBGH) in commercial milk and dairy products.
- Aluminum compounds in antiperspirants.
- Inorganic minerals in synthetic multivitamins, e.g cupric oxide (copper), stannous chloride (tin), sodium selenate (selenium), etc. Yes, that daily multivitamin is straight up toxic.
Lime phytoestrogens to the rescue
Limes are a rich source of plant estrogens called isoflavones. These phytoestrogens help resolve estrogen dominance and associated infertility. But this begs a question. How can even more estrogen resolve the problem of too much estrogen?
The way isoflavones work their magic is nothing short of miraculous. And this mechanism gives us insight into the true nature of whole foods. Whole foods carry information and instruction. They actively initiate and inhibit processes in the body according to an infinitely complex intelligence.
Lime isoflavones contain information that helps the body tune out xenoestrogens. They neutralize the noxious signals that unbalance the HPG axis. They help the ovaries and uterus hear the brain clearly once more. Citrus isoflavones achieve this remarkable feat through a property known as SERM (selective estrogen receptor modulation).
How the Magic Happens
Lime isoflavones selectively bind with estrogen receptors. They bind with certain receptors and deactivate them. That is, they prevent synthetic estrogens from communicating their infertility- and disease-causing message. These noxious chemicals are then gradually excreted through urine, sweat, stool, and breath. Remarkably, lime isoflavones also bind with other estrogen receptors and mimic the action of natural estrogens. That is, they convey instructions similar to natural estrogens.
In short, lime isoflavones are able to adapt their action to the requirements of the body. In one instance, they deactivate estrogen receptors to protect the body from toxic chemicals. Another instance, they perform the work of natural human estrogens. For example, they can have an anti-estrogenic effect on the uterus; protecting it against fibroids and irregular menstruation caused by xenoestrogens. And have an estrogenic effect on the bones; helping to maintain their strength and flexibility.
How do lime isoflavones know whether to activate or deactivate an estrogen receptor? How do they decide what action to take? This is a mystery, and speaks of the unsearchable things that obtain between man and whole foods.
Cassidy A, Setchell KD. “Dietary Isoflavones: biological effects and relevance to human health”. The Journal of Nutrition. 1999. Web
Ezenwa Onwugbenu is a nutritional healer and public speaker on natural health matters. You can find out more about him and his passion for natural health and living on Creative Juices.