Estrogen Balance

The Natural Keys To Controlling PMS

PMS is by far the most common woman's health complaint. For some women, PMS is a minor inconvenience that lasts a few days. For others, it disrupts the whole month! A woman's body is delicately tuned, and can become unbalanced easily, causing pain, poor function, and a disconcerting feeling of not being "together," especially during the menstrual cycle. Fortunately, women can take relieve PMS effectively with a simple 4 point program.

1. Use essential fatty acids to balance prostaglandins. Prostaglandins are vital hormone-type compounds that regulate body functions almost like an electrical current.

2. Love your liver. The liver is in charge of hormone metabolism, and helps to rebalance estrogen and progesterone levels.

3. Enhance your thyroid to reduce PMS. Excess estrogen in the body is related to thyroid imbalance. If the thyroid does not have enough iodine, insufficient thyroid hormone is produced and too much estrogen builds up. Seaweeds are a good choice because they are rich in iodine.

4. Phytohormone-rich plants like soybeans, wild yam, licorice root and dong quai, help control PMS symptoms and have a safety record of centuries. An phytohormone-rich combination like  works as a balancing resource to keep PMS symptoms at bay, naturally.

A woman can expect a natural healing program for PMS relief to take at least two months, as the body works through both ovary cycles. The first month, there is a noticeable decrease in PMS symptoms; the second month often finds them dramatically reduced.

To Life-long health,

Linda Page

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Bone Building with Herbs

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Few things age a person as quickly as osteoporosis (porous, brittle bone), a disease that robs bones of their density and strength, making them thinner, more prone to break. Eventually, bone mass decreases below the level required to support the body.  Over 28 million Americans suffer from osteoporosis today, and experts from the National Osteoporosis Foundation predict 40 million Americans will suffer from osteoporosis by the year 2015. Long considered a woman’s problem, because of its female hormone involvement, osteoporosis affects from 35 to 50% of women in the first 5 years after menopause. For women, osteoporosis risk is greater than the combined risks of breast, uterine and ovarian cancers. In fact, half of all women over 50 will suffer an osteoporosis-related fracture in her lifetime. Most of these are vibrant women at the height of their careers with no outward signs of poor health. Most have no idea their bones are becoming weaker and more brittle until they actually break. Bone loss is greatest in the high weight-bearing bones—hips, spine and ribs.

Osteoporosis also affects men, just at a later age, with less ferocity. Some bone loss occurs in both sexes around 45 years of age. But a greater testosterone supply and more bone tissue offer men some protection from osteoporosis. Yet today’s men, in ever-increasing numbers are suffering from the disease. In America, by age 75, one-third of all men are affected by osteoporosis. One in eight men will suffer an osteoporosis-related fracture.

Check yourself for the following osteoporosis risk factors:

•    Post-menopausal with family history of osteoporosis (high risk for women who have not had children).

•    Women and men over 75 years; women over 45 with a history of calcium and vitamin D deficiency.

•    A consistently high consumption of tobacco, coffee and animal protein.

•    Long courses of steroid drugs. Research shows that over a long period of time these drugs tend to leach potassium from the system, weakening the bones.

•    Long use of synthetic thyroid. The drug Synthroid increases risk for both osteoporosis and high cholesterol, and may also aggravate weight problems.

•    Women who had their ovaries removed before menopause, who had an early menopause (before 45 years old), or those with a history of irregular periods. Hormone and calcium deficiencies are common in women with irregular menstrual cycles, those who exercise excessively or who have eating disorders.

If you think you’re at risk, ask your physician or local pharmacy about bone mineral density screening.

Osteoporosis involves both mineral and non-mineral elements, so your bones need a full range of support nutrients. Although it is a life-threatening disease, osteoporosis is a lifestyle disease… that means we can do something about it. Bone loss can be arrested; remaining bone can be preserved; new bone mass can even be rebuilt with a vigorous osteoporosis intervention program. The most successful approach involves not only normalizing hormone levels, but also improving lifestyle (like lack of exercise) and dietary habits (like excess consumption of red meat and soda) that we know accelerate bone loss. It’s not just a case of adding estrogen, progesterone or even testosterone.   Note 1: Flexibility may be more important for preventing fractures than was ever realized. Here’s why: While flexibility allows even thin bones to bend easily, stiffness can cause even thick bone to break. In addition to weight training, consider incorporating yoga or T’ai chi in your natural bone building program. Note 2: A 2001 year study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that increasing intake of vegetarian protein sources while reducing your animal protein intake can decrease bone loss and the risk of hip fractures.

For a complete Healing Diet for Osteoporosis prevention, please see pg. 144-159 of the book, Diets for Healthy Healing by Linda Page Ph.D., Traditional Naturopath.

Mineral Rich Protein sources: Calcium losses decreases when you include vegetable protein sources that are also high in minerals

Nettles: Rich in iron, silicon, and potassium. When dried, sources indicate nettles are about 40% protein.

Oatstraw: rich in protein, calcium, magnesium and potassium.

Comfrey leaf: the leaves are rich in protein and calcium.  Also called “bone knit” for its ability to support bones. (The leaf is free of the toxic pyrrolizidine alkaloids found in the root.)

Nori: the highest protein content of all the sea vegetables.

Rice protein: an easily digested vegetarian protein source.

Nutritional yeast: a complete protein food, and excellent source of vitamins, minerals and trace minerals.

Bee pollen: it contains all 22 amino acids, high minerals and has 5-7 times more protein than beef.

Dulse: after nori, dulse has the second highest protein content. It contains 22% more protein than chickpeas, almonds or whole sesame seeds.

Wheat germ: contains about 29% protein, essential fatty acids, B vitamins and minerals.

Alfalfa: high chlorophyll, vitamins, minerals and high quality protein.

Silica Source Herbs

Horsetail: high silica

Parsley: a good source of silica.

Burdock: a rich source of silica.

Asian ginseng: contains silica.

Oatstraw: a concentrated source of silica that can help build bones.

Alfalfa: an excellent source of herbal minerals, including silica.

Nettles: a very high mineral source, including silica.

Dulse: a source of silica.

Hormone Balancing Herbs- EFA Sources

Evening Primrose oil: essential fats are critical for hormone production and mineral absorption. Very low fat diets or restrictive diets accelerate bone loss.

Flax seed oil: essential fats are critical for hormone production and mineral absorption.

Sesame seeds: high in essential fats and boron

Hemp seeds: a complete protein source , high in EFA’s and trace minerals.

Red clover: a high protein and plant estrogen source.

Black cohosh: a premier hot flash remedy and hormone balancing herb for menopausal women.

Wild yam:  a source of diosgenin, the precursor to progesterone.

Royal jelly: a rich source of B vitamins, minerals, hormone-like components and all eight essential amino acids. A rejuvenating food and anti-aging aid.

Ipriflavone: (semi synthetic isoflavonoid with chemical structure similar to estrogen) Note: Ipriflavone interacts with many medications and could reduce white cell counts. Ask your holistic physician.

Bioflavonoid-rich herbs: bioflavonoids are structurally similar to natural estrogen, but are about 1/50,000th the strength. 

Bilberry: high in proanthocyanidins, bioflavonoids which can build collagen, the main protein component of bone.

Green tea:  It is though that flavonoids in tea help to counteract calcium depletion caused by caffeine.

Hawthorn: high in bioflavonoids

Cranberry: a good source of bioflavonoids and premier women’s bladder support herb

Turmeric: high flavonoid (curcumin) content

Horsetai: high in naturally occurring bioflavonoids and silica.

Rose Hips: high in vitamin C and bioflavonoids.

Enzyme-rich Herbal Catalysts

Ginger: high in protein digesting enzymes, enhances assimilation of other herbs in the formula.

Cinnamon: a warming digestive aid and herbal catalyst. Improves digestion of fats.

Capsicum: high vitamin C, enzymes (including the antioxidant, superoxide dismutase), flavonoids and carotenoids.

Barley grass: high in enzymes, including the antioxidant, superoxide dismutase. Mineral rich for strong bones.

Chlorella: high in enzymes. An alkalizing food that can help prevent mineral losses caused by over-acidity.

Spirulina: high in enzymes. An alkalizing food that can help prevent mineral losses caused by over-acidity.

To Life-long health,

Linda Page

November Herb of the Month- Evening Primrose

Evening primrose- Oenothera biennis Today’s common uses: Evening primrose GLA (gamma linolenic acid) positively affects sex hormone response and balance. It should be a key part of any hormone program to control PMS, menopausal problems, infertility, and prostate problems for men. It also prevents hardening of the arteries and lowers cholesterol. A primary herb for skin beauty, hair loss and soothing breast soreness. An excellent preventive remedy for hangovers and cell damage from drugs and alcohol. As an EFA source, evening primrose helps even serious degenerative diseases like M.S. and muscular dystrophy. GLA from evening primrose is important for increasing prostaglandin production to treat many problems caused by low essential fatty acids: eczema, fibocystic breast pain, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetic neuropathy (nerve damage of legs, feet, arms and hands of long-term diabetics). Traditional Herbal Medicine uses: Native Americans used it for digestive problems, coughs and sore throats and wounds, and as a staple food. They made a tea from the roots for obesity and bowel problems.

Common doses: 2 to 3 500mg gelcaps daily for hormone problems; 2 caps daily for EFA related problems.

Key compounds: A GLA (gamma linoleic acid) rich herb to enhance prostaglandin balance which helps regulate blood clotting, decrease inflammation, stimulate hormone production, and regulate PMS-related water retention. The oil has 74 percent linolenic acid (LA) and 8-10 percent gamma linolenic acid (GLA).  High in tryptophan, to promote healthy sleep patterns.

Can be taken during pregnancy precisely because the body requires more essential fatty acids during that time.

Works in synergy with: 1) for PMS and cramping, combine with dong quai and vitex. 2) Or Try Evening Primrose Pearls.

Note: There are a number of GLA rich herbs available - borage seed, black currant, arugula, sea weed, ginger are all worthy sources, but in my experience, Evening Primrose oil, is by far the most effective for hormone related problems for both men and women.

-Sarah

Step-by-Step Estrogen Balancing Diet for Women

You can follow a diet like this for 1–6 months. Add more variety by including your choice of fresh, seasonal organic produce whenever possible. Choose free range meats and seafood from uncontaminated waters as much as possible. Note: Pesticide residues on commercially grown foods can disrupt your hormone balancing efforts, so stick to organic foods whenever possible. On rising:  take lemon juice in water with 1 tsp. maple syrup. Add 1 tsp. of royal jelly or one vial Red Ginseng Royal Jelly for extra hormone balancing help. Breakfast: Have some fresh fruit, nuts and low fat yogurt or kefir; or have my personal breakfast of champions: brown rice, with steamed cruciferous vegetables, sprinkled sea vegetables and a little tamari sauce and fresh ginger. Midmorning: have a mixed vegetable juice with carrot, dandelion greens, beet, cucumber and parsley for a liver detox; or Liver Cleanse Flushing tea (highly recommended); or a high mineral Potassium broth. Lunch:  have a green leafy salad with lemon/flax oil dressing; or a turkey, avocado and baby greens sandwich (gluten-free read) or salad; or a light oriental soup and salad, with sea veggies and rice crackers. Midafternoon: Have another cup of Liver Cleanse Flushing tea (highly recommended). Dinner: have a Chinese stir fry with dark greens and mushrooms, and miso soup with sea greens chopped on top. Or, have baked or poached seafood with vegetables and brown rice or couscous; or a black bean or lentil soup and small salad. Before bed: have a glass of mineral water, or a relaxing herb tea like chamomile tea or Crystal Star Stress Arrest tea.

Ongoing diet tips: Have a fresh green leafy salad with your organic veggies of choice every day. Add more fish and seafood to your diet. Add sea veggies like wakame, nori and dulse regularly. Algin, a gel like substance in sea veggies, protects against chemical overload (often involved in breast cancer) by binding to chemical wastes so they can be eliminated safely from the body. Choose hormone-free chicken and turkey, and hormone-free dairy foods, too. Eat cruciferous veggies like broccoli regularly to improve estrogen metabolism. Add nuts, seeds and avocado for essential fats.

To your best health,

Linda Page

PS.  For the month of May, order $75 and receive a FREE Diets for Healthy Healing book on Healthyhealing.com.

I hope you get a chance to take advantage of this FREE Diets for Healthy Healing promotion code, good for any order over $75 for the month of May: GIFT7642. Simply enter this code when you go to check out, and it will be applied to your order. The code expires May 31, 2012.

*Online orders over $75 only. One coupon per customer. May not apply to additional promotions and sales. Some restrictions apply. You must enter the stated "promotion code," into the specified field during checkout, to receive the stated discount.

All About BHRT (Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy)

With celebrity endorsements from Suzanne Somers and Oprah Winfrey, today bioidentical hormones are an incredibly popular approach to relieve menopausal symptoms like hot flashes, night sweats and low libido. One reason is bioidentical hormones avoid high doses of estrogen common to conventional HRT drugs like Prempro. Early research suggests they may even be safer with less breast/uterine cancer risk than traditional drugs. Common side effects like weight gain and mood swings are often dramatically reduced, too. How are bioidentical hormones unique?

Bioidentical hormones are synthesized from plant sources and are chemically identical to what is produced in the body. Estradiol, estrone, estriol, DHEA, progesterone and testosterone are all available. Some bioidenticals are FDA approved and sold in a standardized dosage. However, most are produced on a case-by-case basis. Your physician tests your blood or saliva in order  (sometimes at different times of day) to develop the formula for you to reach a targeted level of hormones. A compounding pharmacist then produces a customized hormone Rx in the exact proportions that your body needs.

Natural physicians recommend a few follow-up hormone panels to make sure you are getting your relief at the lowest, safest possible dosage. Some men are also using bioidentical hormones like DHEA and testosterone for help with andropausal issues like low energy, loss of muscle mass or sexual dysfunction.

The best source for information on bioidentical hormones: I like www.salivatest.com. and www.johnleemd.com

Update: Wyeth pharmaceuticals has petitioned the FDA to ban bioidentical estriol (most think to boost sales of its HRT drug, Prempro). However, no adverse event had ever been associated with its estriol.  As of this writing, the proposed ban is not in effect.

Sarah Abernathy

Herbal Consultant

Menopause- Taking Control Of Your Life Change

By 2015, almost half of all American women will be in menopause. Will the temperature of the planet rise from all the hot flashes?! Menopause is intended by Nature to be a gradual reduction of estrogen by the ovaries with few side effects. In a well-nourished, vibrant woman, the adrenals and other glands pick up the job of estrogen secretion to keep her active and attractive after menopause. While almost 90% of women experience some menopausal body changes and hormonal fluctuations, most only last a year or two and are not severe enough to interrupt their lives. Still, our modern stressful lifestyles and poor eating habits mean that many women reach their menopausal years with prematurely worn out adrenals and poor liver function where estrogen is not being processed correctly, so hormone fluctuations are magnified. Hormone Replacement Therapy

There’s a firestorm of controversy about synthetic hormone replacement. Premarin, an estrogen replacement drug for menopausal women made from pregnant mare’s urine, is one of the top selling drugs in the U.S.  The threat of breast and uterine cancer is dramatically increased with HRT, and the risk increases as a woman ages. In an action that received wide media attention, U.S. government scientists halted a July 2002 study on hormone replacement because it was such a threat to the participants’ health. Increased risk of invasive breast cancer, heart disease, stroke and pulmonary embolism (blood clots in the lungs) were all cited as reasons for halting the study. The drugs being tested included Premarin, Prempro and Provera. In hopeful news, some research finds that the higher risk for breast cancer diminishes, even largely disappears when a woman is off HRT treatment for five years.

What’s The HRT Connection To Osteoporosis?

HRT is still strongly promoted for osteoporosis prevention. Many menopausal women are so afraid of osteoporosis that with a little coaxing from their physicians they begin taking hormone drugs right away. Of those, about 60% discontinue the therapy because of side effects or fear of cancer! There is no question that hormones are involved in bone-building and bone loss, but declining estrogen levels after menopause do not by themselves cause osteoporosis. Although some studies show estrogen inhibits bone cell death, the newest tests reveal that as many as 15% of women on estrogen therapy continue to lose bone! Moreover, estrogen isn’t the only hormone involved in bone building. The hormone progesterone actually increases bone density in clinical tests. Low androgen levels of DHEA and testosterone also play a role in bone loss.

All About BHRT (Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy)

With celebrity endorsements from Suzanne Somers and Oprah Winfrey, today bioidentical hormones are an incredibly popular approach to relieve menopausal symptoms like hot flashes, night sweats and low libido. One reason is bioidentical hormones avoid high doses of estrogen common to conventional HRT drugs like Prempro. Early research suggests they may even be safer with less breast/uterine cancer risk than traditional drugs. Common side effects like weight gain and mood swings are often reduced, too.

How Are Bioidentical Hormones Unique?

Bioidentical hormones are synthesized from plant sources and are chemically identical to what is produced in the body. Estradiol, estrone, estriol, DHEA, progesterone and testosterone are all available. Some bioidenticals are FDA approved and sold in a standardized dosage. However, most are produced on a case-by-case basis. Your physician tests your blood or saliva in order  (sometimes at different times of day) to develop the formula for you to reach a targeted level of hormones. A compounding pharmacist then produces a customized hormone Rx in the exact proportions that your body needs.

Menopause The Natural Way

80 percent of postmenopausal women in the U.S. do not use any form of HRT at all! Beyond increased cancer risk, HRT can have many unpleasant side effects. Women taking hormone drugs report weight gain (especially fatty deposits on the hips and thighs), heavy bleeding (worse than former menstrual periods), PMS-like pain, severe leg cramps, migraine headaches, uterine and breast fibroids, and low libido.

Unless you have specific, extenuating circumstances (only about 6% of American women do), a natural menopause may be the best. Even women who don’t have a symptom-free menopause say they feel younger and more energetic when they address menopausal changes, naturally. If you are about to be confronted with the great HRT choice, consider carefully before you agree. Symptoms that accompany menopause are due to the body’s difficulty in adapting to its new hormone functions. Many are positively influenced with natural approaches like whole herb formulas and bodywork therapies. If you’re experiencing a hormone roller coaster, with hot flashes, mood swings, vaginal dryness and low libido, check out my newest book release, Healthy Healing 14th Edition for much more information on the natural way to “keep the change!”

To Life-long health,

Linda Page

Are Hormone Disrupters impacting You?

Science is just beginning to accept, even though naturopaths have known for some time, that man-made estrogens can stack the deck against women by increasing their estrogen levels hundreds of times over normal levels. Although many scientists still believe that there is no significant difference between man-made and natural hormones, the evidence of thousands of women shows that even if a lab test can’t tell the difference, their bodies can. There is a link between pesticides and breast cancer. Pesticides, and other pollutants, are stored in body fat areas like breast tissue. Pesticides like PCB’s and DDT compromise immune  and liver function, and affect glands and hormones the way too much estrogen does. Today’s dramatic rise in breast cancer is consistent with the accumulation of organo-chlorine residues in the environment. One study shows 50 to 60% more dichloro-diphenyl-ethylene (DDE) and polychlorinated bi-phenols, (PCB’s) in women who have breast cancer than in those who don’t. The amount of DDT in body tissues is also higher. Some researchers suggest that the reason older women are experiencing a higher rate of breast cancer may be that these women had greater exposure to DDT before it was banned.

Other women’s diseases associated with long exposure to estrogen mimics in the environment: 1) reproductive organ cancer; 2) breast and uterine fibroids; 3) polycystic ovarian syndrome; 4) endometriosis; 5) PID (pelvic inflammatory disease); 6) gallbladder disease; 7) blood clots, stroke.

Are Hormone Disrupters Impacting You? Signs that you may have estrogen disruption: •    Breast inflammation and pain that worsens before menstrual periods, usually followed by heavy, painful periods. •    Weight gain: especially in the hips. Bloating, mood swings, low sex drive or vaginal dryness. •    Head hair loss/facial hair growth. Dry skin or premature wrinkling. •    Hot flashes: or early perimenopause. •    Endometriosis: now linked to dioxin, an airborne hormone disrupter. •    Breast and uterine fibroid development, ovarian cysts, and pelvic inflammatory disease. •    Breast, uterine and reproductive organ cancer: up to 60% more DDE, DDT and PCB’s, known estrogen disrupters, in women with breast cancer. •    Early puberty: nearly half of African-American girls and 15% of Caucasian girls now begin to develop sexually by age 8, a clear indicator of estrogen disruption.

Are You At Risk Of Exposure To Estrogen Disrupters? You may be especially exposed if: 1)  you live in a high agricultural area; you eat a high fat diet (fatty areas of your body store pesticides and other agricultural chemicals); 2) you eat hormone-injected dairy foods or meats regularly; 3) you’re on prescription HRT drugs or birth control pills.

You Can Reduce Your Exposure Try this 3-week anti-estrogenic diet to overcome estrogen overload. Week 1: Detoxify your liver first…Gland function (especially adrenals) responds quickly to give you the best results for hormone balance (try Liver Cleanse Flushing Tea and Liver Renew caps for 1 week) Then cut back on fat! (A liver detox allows your body to metabolize fats and carbs much more efficiently so they don’t end up in that stubborn roll of belly fat.) Hormone disrupters accumulate in body fat… the reason a high fat diet is a major risk factor for long term exposure to them, and why it may lead to increased risk for hormone-driven cancers. Week 2: This week, add sea veggies like wakame, nori and dulse regularly. Algin, a gel like substance in sea veggies, protects against chemical overload (often involved in breast cancer) by binding to chemical wastes so they can be eliminated safely from the body. Sushi is a delicious way to add more seaweeds. Eat cruciferous veggies like broccoli regularly to improve estrogen metabolism. Add eggs, fish, nuts and seeds, and yogurt or kefir and kefir cheese. Week 3: Have a fresh green salad every day. Add more fish and seafood to your diet. Add small amounts of whole grain breads, pita chips, crackers and pastas. Choose hormone-free chicken and turkey, and hormone-free dairy foods, too. Avoid all fried foods. Avoid hormone-injected commercial meats, especially beef and pork.

To your best health,

Linda Page