estrogen

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

What causes PMS?

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PMS is by far the most common women’s health complaint. For some women, it disrupts their whole lives. PMS seems to be partly a consequence of our modern lives. In times past, our diets consisted of more whole and fresh foods than they do today. Our environment wasn’t full of chemicals, nor our foods full of junk. The modern woman’s lifestyle seems almost made to order for stress and imbalance. Today’s foods and our environment are full of chemicals that clearly affect hormone balance. 90% of premenopausal American women experience some degree of PMS. Over 150 symptoms have been documented - new ones are being added all the time. Symptoms like headaches, adult acne, food cravings, bloating, irregular bowel movements, and mood swings can last anywhere from 2 days to as long as 2 weeks! Some women say their cycles make them feel out of control most of the month! While most women try to grin and bear PMS aggravation, up to 10% have symptoms serious enough to seek professional help.

What's happening to our bodies?

The hormone shift in estrogen/progesterone ratios during the menstrual cycle is the major factor in PMS symptoms. (Women report the most symptoms in the two week period before menstruation, when the ratios are the most elevated.) Low brain serotonin, low thyroid, excess estrogen along with prostaglandin imbalance because of poor liver malfunction, and a diet loaded with too much salt, red meat, sugar and caffeine are all implicated in PMS. Most women who get PMS don’t get enough regular exercise. Many have low B vitamins, don’t get enough quality protein and have several mineral deficiencies. Stress or long term emotional distress can be a big factor.

But drugs and chemical medicines to take care of the symptoms, standing as they do outside a woman’s natural cycle, usually do not bring positive results for women. The medical establishment, with highly focused “one-treatment-for-one-symptom” protocols, has not been successful in addressing PMS. For example, contraceptive drugs, regularly given to reduce symptoms, make PMS worse for some women. Antidepressant drugs, the new rage for PMS treatment, mean insomnia and shakiness for many patients instead of relaxation.

PMS symptoms tends to get worse for women in their late thirties. Hormone imbalances after taking birth control pills, after pregnancy, and just before menopause magnify symptoms. For some women, a PMS problem becomes an endometriosis diagnosis as they move into their thirties. Switch from tampons to pads if you are very congested. Some research also shows that tampons may raise the risk of endometriosis. Up to 60% of women with severe PMS also struggle with allergies, especially to yeast. When the immune system attacks an allergen it produces inflammatory prostaglandins that trigger menstrual pain. Clearly there is no one cause and no one treatment for PMS. A holistic approach is more beneficial and allows a woman to tailor treatment to her own needs. See next page, Liver Cleansing page 211 and Hypoglycemia Diet page 470 for more information.

Do You Get PMS? Check out the following most common signs of PMS to see if they apply to you.

  • Are you unusually irritable, depressed, argumentative or tense at certain times each month?

  • Do you experience cyclical water retention, bloating, and constipation each month?

  • Do you feel a noticeable energy drop before your period… to the point where you don’t want to get out of bed or do anything?

  • Do you get regular monthly headaches or lower back pain before your period?

  • Do you get sore, swollen breasts before your period?

  • Do you get nausea attacks and heavy cramping just before and during your period?

  • Do you get food cravings for salt and sweets before and during your period? Do you tend to binge during certain times of the month?

  • Do you get acne and skin eruptions before and during your period?

  • Do you get pre-period mouth sores? (Mouth sores with mood swings mean probable low progesterone or thyroid levels.)

To Life-long health,

Linda Page, Ph.D., Traditional Naturopath

All about plant hormones

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Plant or phyto-hormones are remarkably similar to human hormones. They can be accepted by hormone receptor sites in our bodies, and, at  only ¹⁄₄₀₀ to ¹⁄₁₀₀₀  the strength of human hormones, they are extremely gentle and safe, exerting a tonic effect rather than drug-like activity. Although used for centuries by both men and women, we are just beginning to understand their power. Studies on soy foods and herbs like ginseng, black cohosh and wild yam clearly show hormone-normalizing effects.Many Women Find That Herbs Are A Better Choice For Hormone Balance

Many of the phytoestrogen containing herbs, like black cohosh for instance, are not just natural (instead of chemical) estrogen balancers. As living medicines, they can work intelligently with your body. In many cases, these herbs don’t compete for receptor sites or have a direct estrogenic activity in the body. In fact, they work mainly as adaptogens which balance glandular activity and normalize body temperature fluctuations. They do what herbs always do best no matter what the problem is—they are body normalizers.

For hot flashes and night sweats: • Crystal Star Est-Aid capsules, 4 to 6 daily; •wild yam cream or Pro-Est balance roll on; • Vitex extract; vitamin E 800IU; • Evening Primrose Oil caps 3000mg daily.

For side effects from synthetic hormones or birth control pills: • Vitamin E 800IU; • B-12, 2500mg and folic acid 800mcg daily; •Ester C 550mg with bioflavonoids, 6 daily; •Maca caps.

To rebalance prostaglandin formation: (Prostaglandin imbalance can lead to breast and uterine fibroids, menstrual difficulties, and a tendency to gain weight.) Avoid saturated fats, especially from red meats and pasteurized, fatty dairy foods. Take • high omega-3 oils from cold water fish or flax seed oil 3x daily. Or use • Evening Primrose 3000mg daily.

To Life-long health,

Linda Page, Ph.D., Traditional Naturopath

Hormone Detox Plan for Women

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Try this 3-week detox diet to overcome hormone 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. 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: Lay the foundation for a new way to fuel your body - from energy based on carbs to energy based on burning body fat. 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. Eat cruciferous veggies like broccoli regularly to improve estrogen metabolism. Add fish, nuts and seeds, avocado, and yogurt or kefir and kefir cheese.

Week 3: Have a fresh green leafy salad with extra cabbage and radishes every day. Add more fish and seafood to your diet. Sushi is a delicious way to add more seaweeds. Add small amounts of whole grain breads, pita chips, crackers and pastas. Choose hormone-free chicken and turkey, and hormone-free dairy foods, too.

To Life-long Health,

Linda Page, Ph.D., Traditional Naturopath

Why are our hormones so imbalanced?

Estrogen Disrupting Chemicals may be to blame... Environmental hormones are so commonplace in modern society that there is no way to completely avoid them. They come from pollutants, hormone-injected meats and dairy foods, plastics, pesticides, and hormone replacement drugs for both sexes. Only in the last ten years has anyone realized how common environmental estrogens are in today’s world. Nearly 40% of the pesticides used in commercial agriculture are suspected hormone disruptors. All of the Earth’s waterways are connected, so chemical pollutants containing environmental hormones reach your food supply wherever you live.

Hormone disrupters can affect your entire endocrine system, including the system of your glands, hormones and cellular receptors in your body. They alter the production and breakdown of your own hormones, and the function of your hormone receptors — disrupting hormone balance at its developmental core. They can compete for hormone receptor sites in the body and bind to them in place of natural hormones, causing fluctuations in your hormonal levels. They are a serious concern for women in early pregnancy because a developing embryo is highly sensitive to estrogen disruptor toxicity.

Hormone imbalance disorders are epidemic through this country. We see hormone imbalance in women’s disorders like PMS, endometriosis and fibroids. Further, women with hysterectomies are only beginning to see the harm that removing delicate glands, or treating fragile hormones with drugs can do. Bone loss is clearly related to hormone imbalance. ). A poorly functioning liver (the liver metabolizes excess estrogen), and a high fat, processed foods diet (excess fat harbors hormones) are almost always implicated.

Environmental estrogens can wreak havoc on male and female fertility.  Multiple exposures to environmental estrogens disrupt conception efforts for both partners, affecting ovulation, and lowering sperm count and viability.

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 Disruptors 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 disruptors, 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 Disruptors? 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.

To Life-long Health,

Linda Page, Ph.D., Traditional Naturopath