Before I go into information concering menopause specifically, it might be a much better idea to backtrack slightly and reiterate basic hormonal information and the medical profession's view on therapies.... somewhat of a Hormone 101, as such.
Synthetic hormones are just that-- synthetic. They are not the same molecules as the natural estrogen or progesterone found in the body. Current research is finding that it is not advisable for any woman to be on HRT for longer than 6 months due to the eventual side effects. The female body does not accept synthetic hormones. It may seem as though it does at first, but, after many months or years, and constant exposure to environmental estrogens, side effects will appear. Formost of those side effects being increased risk of cancer, cardiovascular problems, candidiasis, fluid retention, elevated triglycerides, stroke, fibrocystic breast disease, and/or uterine fibroids. The problem is that synthetic hormones do not correct any problem; they simply add synthetic hormones to your body. If you stop taking them, or get them out of balance, the side effects ( night sweats, mood swings, depression, hot flashes) are not pleasant. Any time you add a hormone to the body that is naturally produced by the body, the body will stop it’s production of that hormone and the gland will somewhat atrophy. In the case of menopause -- as your ovaries and uterus decrease production of estrogen and progesterone due to the lack of ovulation, the production of the hormones gradually is switched to the adrenal glands. If you start taking synthetic hormones, which are extremely potent as compared to natural hormones, your body will not be stimulated to produce the hormones itself naturally. Hence, the reason doctors leave women on hormones for LIFE!! This is also why women who stop taking hormones, for whatever reason, usually have severe side effects (the aforementioned hot flashes, mood swings, depression). It is very important to wean yourself off synthetic hormones while simultaneously taking natural herbs or supplements, or using transdermal natural progesterone cream. Estrogen replacement has been linked to cancer (breast, ovarian, cervical and endometrial). It has also been connected to Lupus (an auto-immune disorder). Research is finding that hormone replacement is not recommended if you have a family history of breast cancer, uterine cancer, or fibroids; if you have “cystic breasts” diagnosed as atypical hyperplasia; or if you have liver or gall bladder disease. Synthetic estrogens can cause changes in liver, because they accumulate in the body. Hormone replacement could cause high blood pressure, fluid retention, and blood clots. Premarin is “natural” estrogen --- extracted from the urine of pregnant mares. It is not natural to the human female body. This is extremely potent and may cause metabolic changes in the liver. It should never be used by obese women, those who smoke or have high blood pressure, high cholesterol or varicose veins.
If a woman does decide to use estrogens, it is always recommended that truly natural ones are used (Tri-Est, Estrace, and Estraderm) and only use the smallest dose every other day. It may also be a very good idea to try natural progesterone cream to balance eventual estrogen dominance which could result from hormone replacement therapy. In many cases, perimenopausal or menopausal symptoms persist even with hormone replacement therapy. A typical scenario might be... the doctor continues to gradually increase the dosage of estrogen, thinking that it is the lack of estrogen that is causing the symptoms, when, in fact it is estrogen dominance that is giving the symptoms. Eventually, due to constant increase in estrogen dosage, PAP smears reveal dysplasia, or hyperplasia, symptoms persist, and the poor misguided human female goes through a hysterectomy.... after which she is immediately put back on ERT. (or HRT, if she had "everything" removed -- but that is another misguided therapy we can discuss later) She will no doubt be kept on these hormones for the rest of her life -- even though, as mentioned, medical literature recommends women not be on HRT for any longer than 6 months. Eventually, the woman will again start to have hot flashes and various other symptoms, and the doctor will ultimately tell her to live with it. At that point, a very large percent of the women end up at a health food store searching in desperation for something to help make her feel better and to get off the hormones.
What about osteoporosis? This is a concern which does not begin at menopause, as many doctors will tell you, but actually years before when estrogen levels are still in the normal range. Research has shown that the important hormone for bone density is progesterone, which starts to decrease 10-15 years before menopause due to anovulatory cycles. In order to protect bones, there needs to be a proper balance of hormones (estrogen and progesterone) and a healthy thyroid. An over active thyroid (causing high levels of thyroxine) steals calcium from bones. Women on thyroid medication (men,too) should be monitored for bone density. Many doctors put menopausal women or post-menopausal women on ERT to prevent osteoporosis. ERT does not prevent osteoporosis, but merely slows it down. In a sense, if you take ERT to prevent osteoporosis, you’re merely treating a symptom, not the cause -- which is an imbalance of hormones. Estrogen is essential in helping bones absorb and retain calcium, however, it reduces the effectiveness and metabolism of some nutrients necessary for health. Estrogen's benefits are good only as long as it is used. Therefore, it is necessary to weigh the risks of long term ERT before treatment is considered. It has also been found that the bone benefits of estrogen wane after 3-5 years. Further research has shown that progesterone is actually the hormone that builds up bone density. Estrogen slows it down, but progesterone builds it up.
Stress and emotional problems are known to upset hormonal balance. They can cause fatigue, apathy, depression, anxiety, irritability, palpitations, and lower the pain threshold. In addition, stress causes adrenal gland exhaustion and reduced progesterone output. A state of estrogen dominance may cause insomnia and anxiety, which further taxes the adrenal gland, which further reduces the progesterone output and creates even more estrogen dominance. Soon, the adrenal glands become exhausted, which can lead to blood sugar imbalances, and chronic fatigue. Treating an underactive thyroid may improve energy, motivation, control weight gain, improve memory and concentration, and/or decrease bleeding. It may also improve adrenal and ovarian function. Kelp (kombu)has been found to be beneficial in this case. However, a hypothyroid condition may need to be treated with replacement thyroid hormone prescribed by an MD. (please see my information on thyroid) Hypoglycemia often causes tiredness, mood swings, headaches, dizziness, craving of sweets; a calcium deficiency may cause musculo-skeletal and nervous system problems; a protein deficiency may cause brittle hair, hair loss, tiredness, and lethargy; deficiency of essential fatty acids may cause dry, scaly skin with poor
elasticity; no exercise can cause bone loss; a high carbohydrate diet (especially wheat based products) and dairy slows down metabolism and affects the insulin receptors, causing insulin resistance. Insulin resistance creates a situation where the body doesn't respond the insulin as it should, therefore, more and more insulin is secreted in order to control blood glucose. Excess insulin is known to increase the risks of cardiovascular disease, obesity, high cholesterol, diabetes, cancer, and it drives the kidney to retain fluid – similar to the overload seen in coronary artery disease and congestive heart disease. A high carbohydrate diet, and the resulting insulin resistance, is also found to produce high levels of insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1)which may increase the risk of breast cancer (or any cancer, for that matter).
Women who have had a hysterectomy often experience more or severe menopausal symptoms. A failure to ovulate has been linked to adrenal insufficiency, hypothyroidism, auto-immune disorders, polyglandular failure, increased susceptibility to osteoporosis, increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease, plus, they are more likely to experience frequent flushes and severe nervous system symptoms. The adrenals will provide some progesterone and estrogen. If estrogen is not properly balanced with progesterone, it has been found to block the action of thyroid hormone, so even when the thyroid is producing normal levels of the hormone, it’s rendered ineffective and symptoms of hypothyroidism appear.
Adipose tissue is a major site of estrogen production. Heavier women have high levels of estrogen during and after menopause. The adrenals are known to produce progesterone after ovaries stop, however, it is converted into estrogen. It is at this point that the estrogen/progesterone balance is disrupted. Peri-menopausal and menopausal problems in many instances are caused by estrogen dominance due to overproduction by the fat cells of the body, a high carbohydrate diet creating insulin resistance and fat production, and exposure to environmental estrogens. Environmental estrogens come from many sources:
Commercially raised cattle and poultry, which are fed estrogen-like hormones, in addition to growth hormones and anitbiotics. Their feed contains pesticides, antibiotics, and drugs. These are all passed on to humans.
Commercially grown fruits and vegetables, whether from this country or other countries, which contain an over abundance of pesticides. These pesticides have chemical structures very similar to estrogen. That is why they are considered "xenoestrogens".
Petrochemical compounds found in products such as creams, lotions, soaps, shampoos, perfume, hairs spray and room deodorizers which, again, have chemical structures similar to estrogen and indeed act like estrogen.
Industrial solvents. This is a family of chemicals which may enter the body through the skin, and accumulate quickly in the lipid-rich tissues such as myelin (nerve sheath) and adipose (fat). Some common organic solvents include methanol, acetaldehyde, ethylene glycol, and acetone. They are commonly found in cosmetics, fingernail polish and fingernail polish remover, glues, paints, varnishes, and other types of finishes, cleaning products, carpet, fiberboard, and other processed woods. Pesticides and herbicides such as lawn and garden sprays, and indoor insect sprays. While the amount may be small in each, the additive effect from years of chronic exposure can lead to estrogen dominance.
Caffeine intake has been linked with higher estrogen levels regardless of age, body mass index (BMI), caloric intake, smoking, alcohol, and cholesterol intake. Studies had shown that women who consumed the equivalent of four or five cups of coffee, had nearly 70% more estrogen during the early follicular phase than women who consume less than one cup of coffee. Coffee consumption increases estradiol levels. There are three different forms of estrogen in the body - estrone, estradiol, and estriol. Estradiol is the form that is pro-cancerous. Excessive chronic coffee intake is associated also with adrenal fatigue and reduced progesterone production. The proper progesterone to estrogen ratio is therefore not maintained, resulting in further estrogen dominance. Coffee (especially when accompanied with sugar) also creates an acidic internal environment. The body will try to neutralize the acid by withdrawing valuable minerals such as magnesium and calcium from the bone. This leads to mineral depletion if chronic and ultimately osteoporosis. In summary, coffee consumption can lead to increased estrogen, adrenal gland exhaustion, and osteoporosis. Clearly, coffee is not the women's best friend by any means. Keep in mind, also, that coffee is one of the most highly sprayed (pesticides) crops. If you must have a cup or two of coffee in the morning, please consider drinking organic coffee. At least then, you won't get the "double whammy" of caffeine AND pesticides. Tea contains about half the amount of caffeine as compared to coffee. However, the tea plant is known to contain more fluoride that any other plant. Remember, fluoride is toxic to the thyroid gland - whether it is natural fluoride from the soil or the toxic byproduct of phosphorus mining. Another suggestion may be to consider drinking organic mate tea. This herbal tea contains caffeine, but, it has been found that mate does not stress the adrenal glands as does coffee.
In the nutritional recommendations that follow, I often make reference to particular blood types. Keep in mind that we are not all carbon copies of each other. What is beneficial for one person may not be beneficial for another person. I have researched biochemical individuality for many years and have used it as the basis for all my nutritional protocols. It is a rare occasion that they are not effective. I highly recommend the book Eat Right 4 Your Type by Peter D'Adamo.Please also note that when I make references to food, I imply organic as much as possible.
In the next section, I am going to mention many herbs that can all have an effect on hormonal balance or controlling various symptoms of menopause. They can also be used preventatively to avoid symptoms. It might be best to utilize a holistic practitioner concerning the use of herbs. Even though they are truly natural, they can still have adverse effects if not used properly. Here are some of the most noted herbs:
Lemon Balm - this has been found to be beneficial for central nervous system; is a relaxant, anti-spasmodic, anti-viral, anti-histamine herb; may be good for heart palpitations, irregular heart beat, depression, irritability, allergies , cold sores. Studies find that lemon balm is very effective against the herpes virus (cold sores, chicken pox, etc)Please email me if you have any questions.
Unicorn Root - this is known to have diuretic, carminative, and sedative properties. It may be beneficial for amenorreha (no period), dysmenorreha painful period), backache, colic, hysteria, rheumatism, stomachache, uterine or vaginal prolapse, cough, and/or fever; it is known to strengthen the uterus in cases of habitual miscarriages, and is an estrogenic herb.
Licorice - this herb is known to be estrogenic; it has been used an an expectorant; it supports adreno-cortical functions, and is good for cramps, bronchitis, and asthma. Licorice is shown to be effective for stress; is a tonic for the auto-immune system; for the endocrine system; is known to relieve heart burn and hayfever; has been found to alleviate physical and emotional stress after surgery or when feeling tired and run down; is anti-arthriticand it's aspirin-like effects are beneficial for fevers and headache pain. DGL (deglycyrrhizinated licorice)is known to be very effective in the treatment of ulcers. CAUTION- this herb needs to be taken under the care of a knowledgable holistic health care practitioner. It may affect the sodium/potassium balance in the body and cause drastic changes in blood pressure. Also, it IS an estrogenic herb. Therefore, it should not be taken continuously; it should be taken cyclical.
He Sho Wu - in known to strengthen the heart, purify the blood, be of great benefit to the thyroid gland (affecting thyroid production and the conversion of T4 to T3), lower blood pressure, nurture the liver and kidneys, reduce signs of aging, and is beneficial for high blood pressure and hardening of the arteries. Research has found it to be a tonic herb that promotes energy.
Chaste tree berries (vitex) - Studies have found that this herb may regulate hormonal balance; can affect the pituitary hormonal activity; is effective with irregular periods; is relaxing and calming; helps convert estrogen production from the ovaries to the adrenals during menopause; supports the production of hormones in second half of menstrual cycle. Vitex appears to have a more progestogenic than estrogenic action, making it effective during PMS and menopause.
Red raspberry leaves- this has been used as a remedy for hot flashes, heavy periods, cramps, diarrhea, and sore throats. It is an astringent/ relaxant herb, that is known to soothe the kidney and urinary tract, and encourage a safe, easy and speedy childbirth.
St. Johns Wort - studies show this herb to be a tissue healer, being very good for burns, scalds,and wounds.(the oil is most beneficial in this capacity) It is known to be an anti-depressant, anti-inflammatory, anti-anxiety, and anti-viral herb, being effective with tension, emotional problems during menopause, nerve pain, sciatica, shingles, headaches, rheumatic pain, and back pain. It has been used for painful, heavy periods as well as PMS. CAUTION - this is another herb that needs to be used carefully. It reacts with certain foods and medications, creating fluctuations in blood pressure and moods. Blood type O should not use it at all.
Wild yam - this herb is known to have many benefits, among them are: it restores glandular balance; is an anti-spasmodic, making it beneficial for cramps; is effective with constipation and inflammation of bowels; it promotes the bodies'production of progesterone; calms the nerves; restores tone to the bladder and is effective with arthritis.
Hops - is known to provide relief from bloating, irritable bowel and nervous indigestion; is a sedative herb,showing benefit with insomnia, tension and anxiety; is an anti-spasmodic/anti-septic herb, has estrogenic properties, making it beneficial for menopausal problems; has been used in creams to keep skin soft and delay wrinkling.
Sarsaparilla - this is known to be a blood purifier; encourage glandular balance; increase metabolism; promote the production of progesterone; is an alterative herb,and is beneficial for hot flashes and vaginal or uterine infections.
Black cohosh - this herb has been used as a natural source of estrogen; it is known to contract the uterus, induce menses, and relieve cramps; it has been found to be beneficial in reducing leutenizing hormone, thereby lessening hot flashes and mood swings; research has shown it to be effective for asthma and bronchitis; it is an anti-spasmodic, sedative, and anti-inflammatory herb, showing promise as a powerful pain killer, making it good for headaches, tinnitus, and irritability.
Sage - Known to be estrogenic; beneficial for colds, flu, sore throats, asthma, bronchitis, indigestion, hot flashes, night sweats; has anti-aging properties; enhances the immune system; is a tonic to the nervous system, and is an anti-oxidant.
Blessed thistle - studies have shown this to be good for circulation, memory, headaches, stress, lethargy, irritability, and a sluggish liver; enhances the immune system; is a hormone balancer, being useful in painful periods; is beneficial in cancer treatments - hindering abnormal cell formation.
Skullcap( scutellaria laterifolia) - known to treat any nervous system malfunction, insomnia, nervous headaches, stress, agitation, hysteria, depression, and heart palpitations; has a tranquilizing effect; is anti-spasmodic.
Saw palmetto - found to regulate the menstrual cycle; is a mild sedative; helps alleviate hot flashes; shown to be of benefit with urinary infections and fluid retention; soothes tension and anxiety; inhibits conversion and binding of testosterone to receptors, blocking the action of testosterone and promoting it’s breakdown --- based on this information, it may be beneficial in polycystic ovarian disease where there may be too much androgen hormone in the female system.
Dong Quai - shown to improve circulation; lower blood pressure; is found to be a uterine tonic; known to regulate hormones; relaxes the heart muscle; stabilizes blood sugar; is a detoxifying, anti-spasmodic, anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal herb; research finds that it strengthens the female reproductive organs and eases the effects of menopause; has analgesic properties and enhances the immune system.
False unicorn - stabilizes the menstrual cycle; is a known hormone balancer; improves ovarian function; tones the uterus; is a liver tonic, and has been found to be beneficial with depression.
Calendula - found to be beneficial for ammenoreha (absence of periods), cramps, fever, burns, broken capillaries, and swollen lymph glands; is known to be estrogenic; reduces breast congestion, is an effective detoxifier, immune stimulant, and wound healer.
Dandelion root - studies find this to be a liver tonic, blood purifier, digestive tonic, and laxative, good for all problems associated with a sluggish liver (tiredness,irritibility,skin problems, headaches, etc.)
Black Haw - this herb is known to be a uterine anti-spasmodic and nerve sedative; it is good for both asthma and cramps; is a tonic to the reproductive system, being beneficial for dysmenorrhea with cramping pelvic pains. It is beneficial for nocturnal cramping of the legs and has been found to strengthen the reproductive system in women who have had previous miscarriages.
Dandelion leaf - this is one of the most beneficial and effective diuretics. It is high in potassium, and very useful with water retention, cellulite, urinary infections and prostate problems.
Cayenne - is a known circulatory stimulant and facilitator herb. It stimulates gastric secretions and has antiseptic and anti-bacterial properties. It has also been found to be a heart stimulant.
Motherwort - This herb is beneficial for heart palpitations associated with anxiety and tension. It is effective with stress, and has a reputation for preventing miscarriages and relieving false labor pains.
Epimedium sagittatum (horny goat weed) Studies have found this to show promise as a liver and kidney tonic; it nurtures the kidneys and improves the quality of life in patients with chronic renal failure; shown to balance blood pressure and dilate the capillaries and large blood vessels; is effective with chronic fatigue and rheumatic conditions; shows benefit with lumbago, cold hands and feet, spasms, and numbness. The anti-fatigue effects of epimedium have been found to help prevent adrenal exhaustion. This herb is known to be beneficial in men for premature ejaculation and erectile disfunction. It has been used in Chinese herbal medicine (also goes by the names Yin Yang Huo, and Herba Epimedii) traditionally for disorders of the kidneys, joints, liver, back and knees, and as an aphrodisiac. Research has found this to have testosterone-like effects,stimulating sexual activity in both men and women. It stimulates the sensory nerves, increases sexual desire, and is capable of inhibiting acetylcholinesterase which inactivates cholinergic neurotransmitters which are associated with sexual arousal.
Panax ginseng – boosts energy, immunity and sexuality; strengthens the adrenal glands; improves the body’s ability to handle stress (adaptogen), and is beneficial for a weak pulse, energy deficiency, and lack of appetite.
Chinese knotweed – has been used a tonic to the kidneys; is effective with lumbago, constipation (due to dry intestines), swelling of lymph glands, absesses and ulcers, heavy periods, candida, sore throat, and cough. It is an anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, and anti-viral herb and inhibits the effects of platelet aggregation, reducing the effects on arterial thrombosis, enhances antioxidation, and protects against multiple organ failure.
Maca – found to be beneficial in balancing the thyroid, aiding in libido problems, and helping to balance hormones.
Tribulus– This is known to increase testosterone production. Small amounts are beneficial in women; men may use larger amounts.
SOY, RED CLOVER, AND ANY OTHER ISOFLAVONE-RICH HERBS OR FOOD ARE NOT RECOMMENDED DUE TO THEIR INTERFERENCE WITH THE THYROID HORMONES.
If you are already using HRT (Provera, a synthetic progestin, or Premarin, a synthetic estrogen, or others), and wish to try a natural approach, keep in mind, the best way to be symptom free is to try to get your hormonal cycle as it was when you had normal, monthly cycles. For example, day 1 of your period is day 1 of your cycle. On days 1 – 5 ( if you normally had 5 day periods) there is no hormonal activity going on; your body is sloughing. On day 6, estrogen is dominant so that would be when you would start using phyto-estrogenic herbs or, if there is a chance you are estrogen dominant already, do nothing. Continue those herbs through day 14, at which time, in a normal cycle, you would ovulate. Your body then goes into the progestogenic phase of its hormonal cycle. You would then switch to more phyto-progestogenic herbs, such as vitex and sarsaparilla . Some women choose to use natural progesterone cream at this time. It would be beneficial to include some good liver tonic herbs now, since one of the reasons symptoms arise in the progestogenic phase is because the liver is the main processor of estrogen (getting it out of the body), and if the liver is sluggish, there could tend to be an over abundance of estrogen in your system when you should be progesterone dominant. You would take your phyto-progestogenic herbs or use the progesterone cream from days 14 – 27. During the progestogenic phase, there is a very small amount of estrogen present , along with an even smaller amount of testosterone, but, even if an herb is predominantly phyto-progesterone, it is able to balance other hormones. On day 28, you should stop everything and either wait for your period to start ( if you are peri-menopausal) or to start the cycle over again at day 1 if you are menopausal. This could initiate a 28 day cycle, with the last 3 days of the month having no hormonal activity at all. Remember to always be sensitive to what your body is telling you. If you are tense, try relaxing, deep breathing, gentle exercise, or calming herbs. Don’t let yourself get hypoglycemic; good nutrition is important. If you notice signs of a low thyroid, try bladderwrack or the amino acid l-tyrosine or a combination of the two to keep it in balance. With all this in mind, slowly wean yourself from the synthetic hormones. Plan to stretch the weaning period over 3 months to avoid any bad symptoms. If you have only been on the HRT a few months or so, 2 months would be fine. Remember no 2 women are alike; what works for one may not work for another. Getting your hormones in balance, for the most part, is not a life threatening situation. It may take 2 to 3 cycles to be symptom free. The process is a little more delicate if a person happens to be at high risk for a hormone receptive cancer. Then, it is better to work with a knowledgeable health care person.
As mentioned, it may be beneficial to try progesterone cream. Progesterone has been found to build new bone, help prevent osteoporosis, and slow down bone loss in post-menopausal women. It acts on bone even when estrogen is low or absent. Progesterone is known to bind to osteoblasts to increase bone formation. Research has shown that natural progesterone alone may be the only hormone needed to prevent or treat osteoporosis. Estrogen may be needed only to treat hot flashes, depression and/or vaginal atrophy. And, phytoestrogens may be the best source of estrogens - as long as you’re not in an estrogen dominant state to begin with. If that is the case, it has been found to be more beneficial to forgo any type of estrogen supplementation, (herbal or synthetic), and focus on balancing estrogen dominance with natural progesterone cream. Should you choose to do that, on days 5-13 it may be beneficial to, initially, use a very small dab of progesterone cream once a day. On days 15-27, increase the amount to the size of a small pea. Stop on day 28 as mentioned above. Wait for 3-4 days, then start all over. Since no two women are alike, it is purely trial and error, but in most cases, it has been found that relief comes after 1-2 months. After those 1-2 months, you could try using the progesterone cream only on days 15-27 (small pea size). If your estrogen is in balance now, no symptoms should arise.
Bio-identical progesterone (not progestin) is known to help protect breasts against overstimulation from estrogen. It has been found to reduce estrogen receptor production on breast cells and also to decrease the production of estrogen within breast cells.
There are other benefits of progesterone cream, such as: acne( skin problems), candida, allergies, high blood pressure, fibrocystic breasts, migraines, fibroids(caused by estrogen dominance), endometriosis (helped by progesterone cream - cured by menopause). These problems have all been found to be caused by estrogen dominance.
In the female, excess estrogen may be converted to androgens. When this happens, the hair follicles are affected, as is the skin. Excess insulin from refined carbohydrates tends to push the body to produce excess androgens from the over-abundance of estrogen. Androgen excess syndrome is characterized by facial acne, male pattern baldness, upper-body obesity (apple shape), insulin resistance, increased facial hair, and adverse changes in the lipid profile.
Research has shown progesterone cream is also beneficial with the function of the thyroid gland. Estrogen dominance is known to block the action of the thyroid gland. Progesterone balances estrogen dominance and helps to restore thyroid function. A very large percent of perimenopausal and post menopausal women have been found to be hypothyroid due to the fact that they are estrogen dominant (and progesterone deficient, due to anovulation). This hypothyroid condition often goes undiagnosed by standard thyroid tests. The TSH results may be within normal ranges, however, estrogen blocks the hormone's activity – thereby creating a hypothyroid condition. It has also been found that most women who have a “normal” test result may still have mild to severe hypothyroid symptoms. Studies have found that most women feel good at a TSH of around 1-2. The normal TSH test results range from .3 to 3.0. Often, women have shown an inability to convert the thyroid hormone T4 to the active thyroid hormone, T3. This again, results in hypothyroid symptoms. (Please read my information on the Thyroid).
ADVERSE REACTIONS TO PREMARIN AND PROVERA (PREMPRO IS A COMBINATION OF THE TWO)
ref. PHYSICIAN’S DESK REFERENCE
Premarin - breakthrough bleeding, candidiasis, fibroids, breast tenderness and enlargement, abdominal cramps, bloating, hirsutism, loss of scalp hair, intolerance to contact lenses, headache, migraine, mental depression, increase or decrease in weight, changes in libido,fluid retention, liver problems, cardiovascular problems, hypercalcemia, increased risk of cancer and gall bladder disease
Provera - thrombophlebitis, stroke, pulmonary embolism, increased risk of cancer, migraines, eye problems, cardiovascular problems, depression, adverse effects on carbohydrate and fat metabolism, acne, hirsutism, increase or decrease in weight, insomnia, nausea, edema
SUPPLEMENTAL SUGGESTIONS for hormonal problems
- a good daily multiple vitamin- liquids have been found to be the best absorbed and most effective.
- Lecithin– 1T of the granules. This has been found to be effective in reducing hot flashes and related symptoms, dissolving or emulsifying fat, protecting cells, stimulating brain function and energy. It is best to take once a day in the morning or with a meal. I have a very good recipe for a smoothie that you can put this in.
- Calcium, Magnesium and Zinc- 1500mg./750mg./30mg. These are known to relieve nervousness and irritability, in addition to protecting against bone loss. It might be best to take 500mg. of calcium with 250mg of magnesium in the morning with breakfast, then take 1000mg of calcium and 500 mg of magesium at bed time. I prefer a liquid brand by Lifetime, I believe. I only take it at bedtime, and take 2 tablespoons. You might find that taking an extra capsule of magnesium oxide 200mg.(Twinlab has a good one) in addition to your calcium and magnesium supplement will help with insomnia and constipation.
- Vitamin B6 ( Pyridoxal-5 phosphate is the active form of B6) 50mg. This is known to be a facilitator in the production of progesterone and reduces inflammatory reactions in the connective tissue. It may also be beneficial in the prevention of osteoporosis, and helps with depression, bloating, and mood swings.
- Vitamin B12 (sublingual Methylcobalamin) – 1000-3000mcg. – This is good especially if a non-meat eater. Studies have shown it to be beneficial for fatigue, stress, keeping cortisol levels regulated, and re-setting the circadian clock to help alleviate insomnia.
- Bladderwrack (Kombu)– It may be good to take 1 capsule a day. This is known to be a very good support for the thyroid.
- Vitamin C - This shows promist against hot flashes, and is an excellent antioxidant and immune stimulator. It has been found that vitamin C may become a pro- oxidant rather than an anti-oxidant when taken in higher doses without being buffered . A brand that I use and recommend often is the effervescent Emergen-C. I prefer the raspberry flavor because it has raspberry powder in it and that in itself is a very good antioxidant. I take one or two a day. It’s very good for energy, the vitamin C you need, and has a very good dose of potassium which is very important for your well-being. If you eat a high amount of protein, it will replace the potassium that your body excretes due to the protein intake.
- ground Flax seed meal- This is known to lower cholesterol and blood pressure, and prevent strokes. It has also shown benefit for brain function and arthritis. It has been recommended to take 1-2 T. on cereal, mixed in yogurt or on salads. Flax meal is an excellent source of fiber, and has been found to have mild estrogenic properties, thereby binding to estrogen receptors and keeping out the very strong environmental estrogens. This has been found to lessen many symptoms. It is also a good source of essential fatty acids (omega 3 and 6). If constipation is a problem,(as it often is during menopause and after) this could be very helpful.
- Gingko and COQ10 - Known to be excellent supplements for circulation and brain function. It is best to try to get a non-standardized brand of gingko. With COQ10 (all are not equal), the best and most effective I’ve found, from personal use, is Country Life Q- Gel (30mg.)or Jarrow Q-sorb.(30mg.) A CoQ10 deficiency has been found in women with breast cancer.
- Omega 3 (fish oil) – Clinical studies have shown this to be very beneficial for inflammatory conditions, heart and circulatory conditions, and cholesterol problems. Taking fish oil or omega 3 balances the Omega 6 that the modern American diet is very high in (the ratio should be at least 2:1 omega 3 to omega 6). It is often 20:1 Omega 6 to Omega 3. An overabundance of Omega 6 has been found to increase inflammatory conditions and tumor production in the case of cancer. If you would rather not take capsules, you can find lemon or orange flavored fish oil at the health food store. I also have made a very excellent recipe combining the fantastic benefits of organic, unprocessed coconut oil, orange flavored cod liver oil, and stevia.
- Calcium d-glucarate- Studies have revealed that this is a very effective estrogen blocker, helping to counter the estrogen dominance that most menopausal women experience. In addition, by supplementing the diet with Glucarate, we can block glucuronidase activity and the body can rid itself of the carcinogens, thus preventing many forms of cancer, including lung, breast, prostate, and colon. Calcium-D-glucarate's detoxifying and anticarcinogenic properties are attributed to its ability to increase glucuronidation and excretion of potentially toxic compounds. During Phase II detoxification, chemical carcinogens, steroid hormones, and other lipid-soluble toxins are conjugated with glucuronic acid in the liver (glucuronidation), and excreted through the biliary tract.
- DHEA - 10mg. This supplement is known to affect the estrogen and testosterone levels in women (and men). It is always best to use small doses of this, despite some literature that states differently. Our levels of DHEA decrease 90% from the age of 20.Scientific research has found that DHEA "modulates diabetes, obesity, carcinogenesis, tumor growth, neurite outgrowth, virus and bacterial infection, stress, pregnancy, hypertension, collagen and skin integrity, fatigue, depression, memory and immune responses.” DHEA has recently been found to have a significant correlation with vertebral bone density in postmenopausal women suggesting that DHEA (and other weak androgens) may protect against osteoporosis.
- Vitamin E and Selenium - 400mg mixed tocopherols/200mg. - This combination has had extensive research conducted on it, and it has been found that they are detoxifying, anti-cancer, anti-cholesterol, anti-oxidant (protecting the body from oxidative stress). Vitamin E and Selenium are also very good for the thyroid...they work synergistically to accomplish their activities. I take this combination every other day, or Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
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