What To Do About Hormone Replacement Therapy
Ben Markham, DC, DIBAK, DACBN, CCN
After years of hearing pharmaceutical companies promote the benefits of estrogen/progestin therapy, it was refreshing to those of us in natural health care, to see the public, including the 13 million American women using HRT, finally become aware of some of the potential health hazards these medications might cause. Let's briefly summarize the results of the latest two research findings, then discuss why those findings happened and then offer some fundamental natural treatment options that are effective and safe!
The first study known as the Women's Health Initiative, involved 16,000 women taking Prempro, a combination of horse estrogens and a synthetic progestin. The study was stopped early because the results were clearly showing increased rates of invasive breast cancer, strokes, heart attacks, doubled the risk of thromboembolism or blood clots in the legs and lungs, and a 48% increase in the risk of gall bladder disease requiring surgery. Of course all they had to do was look at the package inserts and these risks were already known! This study looked at estrogen and synthetic progestin. What about those women that take estrogen without a progestin? Well, a few days later, a second large research bombshell was announced. If you were prescribed estrogen alone, especially for more than 10 years, the chances of ovarian cancer increased.
So what do I do with my patients on HRT? Let's first look at this myriad of symptoms that may have caused our pre-menopausal and menopausal patients to seek HRT in the first place: sore lumpy breasts, unexplained weight gain, irregular periods, dry skin, more fatigue, hot flashes, less sex drive, excessively emotional, foggy thinking, memory loss, migraines, very heavy or light periods, spotting, cold hands and feet, depression; symptoms may even include infertility, endometriosus, PMS symptoms, etc. These symptoms are not natural and women should not have them and in most cases can be more effectively and safely treated using natural methods.
In many cases, these symptoms are a result of what John Lee, MD termed estrogen dominance. Unfortunately, we live in a "sea of estrogens". The list of estrogen mimics is enormous and too long for this discussion, but briefly, they are called xenohormones or xenobiotics and have estrogen-like activity in the body. They are one of the many culprits in causing estrogen dominance. Here are a few common sources: solvents, adhesives, petrochemically derived pesticides, herbicides and fungicides, car exhaust, emulsifiers, nearly all plastics, industrial wastes (PCB's), dioxins, livestock fattened with estrogen, etc. Xenohormones are fat soluble, non-biodegradable and should be considered extremely toxic. There is also another reason many women are estrogen dominant in relation to their progesterone. Many women in their mid-thirties will start to have anovulatory cycles and not even be aware of it. That is, they may still have an apparently normal cycle, however, no follicle rupture and egg release.
Another common reason for the progesterone/estrogen imbalance is a woman that has undergone continued, chronic adrenal stress. This could be from emotional, physical or dietary stresses and frequently is from all three. The increased cortisol levels play an enormous role in contributing to the estrogen dominance (also a major role in osteoporosis etiology).
So, how do we answer our patients when they want to come off their HRT, but don't know how to do it without their hot flashes, etc coming back again? Remember, we're all biochemically unique and what works for one woman may not work for another, but in general, the following suggestions will make it possible for women to feel good and avoid HRT.
It's time to clean up the diet:
- avoid sugars, aspartame, saccharine, refined grains, minimize diary, avoid adrenal stimulates almost totally, this includes caffeine, alcohol and nicotine.
- Avoid hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils and instead use butter or olive oil.
- Drink plenty of filtered water.
- Eat plenty of raw vegetables, lean meats, raw nuts and seeds, salads, some fruits (not a lot of fruit juices), whole grains, etc.
- Don't skip meals and in fact have snacks mid-morning and mid-afternoon.
**Be sure to have regular aerobic exercise!
- Nutritional supplementation
Natural Change progesterone cream, Super EPA (source of omega 3 fatty acids), Core Level Health Reserve (balanced multiple vitamins, mineral, trace elements, amino acids),Total Calcium
- Natural Change Progesterone Cream (take as directed)
- Super EPA (source of Omega 3 fatty acids) - two capsules, twice per day
- Core Level Health Reserve (strong, balanced source of vitamins, minerals, trace elements, amino acids) - one tablet twice per day
- Total Calcium - one tablet three times per day
- In difficult cases you may need to add Fem Plus, 15 drops in water, twice per day - this is a combination of herbs specific for female support
- Very, very frequently, there is an associated adrenal stress syndrome. If so, this must be addressed and use DSF one tablet three times per day (chewed if possible). You may need to add the product Glyco-Lyph (a full B-Complex with pancreatic support) one tablet twice per day, if there are adrenal/blood sugar difficulties. This should help support carbohydrate metabolism and cellular energy functions and help your female patient with the fatigue that is typically present.