Hormone Therapy – What Exactly Is It?
Feeling Flat? Tired? Going Through The Motions?
Time To Take Control Of Your Health
Hormone Therapy – What Exactly Is It?
Feeling Flat? Tired? Going Through The Motions?
Time To Take Control Of Your Health
As you grow older, you may find time reminding you of its passage ― stiff joints when you get up from a chair, flagging energy, nightly interruptions to sleep. And one day you realize your arms have become too short to hold a book far enough away to read!
It’s called presbyopia, and that’s irritating enough, but, without proper care, more serious problems may lie ahead for your vision.
These are the five most common age-related problems that can affect your eyes:
With loss of vision, you become vulnerable to a number of social and health problems. Many people, for example, become socially withdrawn, depressed or more apt to have accidents. It’s also common for visually impaired people to have trouble reading instructions and taking their medications properly, which can lead to dangerous interactions and side effects.
Fortunately, four supplements ― vitamin A, vitamin B50 complex, omega3 fatty acids (including krill oil), and MacuGuard ― can help protect your eyes against these life-changing diseases that can rob you of your sight.
Do you have night blindness ― the inability to see in the dark or in poorly lit areas? If so, it could be a tip-off that you have a vitamin A deficiency. Vitamin A, which is composed of a group of antioxidant compounds, is particularly important for seeing in low-light conditions. But having enough vitamin A is also important for other reasons.
You need vitamin A to avoid corneal ulcers, as well as to prevent clouding of the eye’s lens and development of retinal damage. Plus, vitamin A is what makes it possible for you to see certain colors, such as bright orange and purple.
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) affects the retina ― a thin piece of tissue that lines the back of the eye. It’s here where photoreceptor cells convert light to electrical signals, which the brain perceives as images. When the photoreceptors begin to deteriorate, central vision loss occurs.
AMD is the most common cause of vision loss in those over 50, and vitamin A is already being used to help prevent blindness from this disease. Over a six-year period, patients with mild-to-moderate AMD who were given a multivitamin containing antioxidant vitamins A, C and E, along with zinc and copper, had a 25% lower risk of progressing to an advanced stage of the disease.
We’ll say it again: AMD is the leading cause of blindness in people 50+. The good news, however, is that this doesn’t have to be! Evidence is mounting that (1) AMD is preventable and (2) certain B vitamins ― such as those in B-50 complex ― can lower your AMD risk.
The 15-year Blue Mountain Eye Study, published in 2013, focused on the impact of vitamin B12 and folate/folic acid supplementation on homocysteine levels. Homocysteine, a naturally occurring amino acid, is a residual product of protein metabolism. Normally it isn’t harmful, but when it accumulates, it increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and contributes to the retinal damage that occurs with AMD. The higher the homocysteine level, the higher the AMD risk.
Increased levels of vitamin B12 and folic acid lowered homocysteine levels by causing it to recycle back into methionine ― a non-harmful amino acid. Those with elevated homocysteine had a 56% greater risk of AMD than those with homocysteine within normal parameters.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Krill Oil for Retinal Protection
Our need for fatty acids, which contain DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicoapentaenoic acid), begins before we’re even born. The developing fetus needs these nutrients, especially DHA, for normal development of the brain ― and the eyes. And that need never ends. In fact, your need grows as you age.
DHA and EPA are found in both omega 3 +7 and krill oil.
Up to 65% of the eye’s retina is composed of DHA ― the highest concentration found in any part of the body. All that DHA is what enables pigment (rhodopsin) in your eye’s photoreceptor cells to respond to light in a way that enables you to see at night.
Research to date suggests that omega-3s may help to prevent development of AMD or limit its progression. It also appears promising to relieve the stinging, burning, watering and light sensitivity associated with dry eye.
Some people prefer krill oil to fish oil because it’s rapidly absorbed, improves cognitive functioning and contains small amounts of astaxanthin. At 550 times the strength of vitamin E, and 6,000 times that of vitamin C, astaxanthin is one of nature’s most potent antioxidants. Moreover, research has shown that astaxanthin can accumulate in and protect the retina, which is damaged by AMD.
MacuGuard for Comprehensive Vision Protection
MacuGuard Ocular Support is a unique, proprietary blend that brings together in a single softgel the most powerful ingredients known to fight the effects of aging and protect your precious eyes.
Around 600 different carotenoids are found in nature, but only around 20 affect the eyes. Of these, MacuGuard contains lutein, trans-zeaxanthin, meso-zeaxanthin and alpha carotene ― all carotenoids known to provide glaucoma protection and support your macular pigment density, which declines with age. That’s the part of your retina that protects your critically important photoreceptor cells.
Phospholipids are included to help in the absorption of lutein within the retina and support it in protecting your eyes from blue and ultraviolet light, which can cause retinal damage.
MacuGuard also contains astaxanthin, one of the world’s most potent antioxidants. It protects against eye fatigue and irritation, and supports the eyes’ blood vessel health, which can fall victim to diabetic retinopathy.
Cyanidin-3-glucoside, made from European black currant extract, helps to replenish rhodopsin, which is essential for night vision.
Together with vitamin A, vitamin B-50 complex and omega-3 fatty acids (fish or krill oil), MacuGuard provides comprehensive, all-around defense against one of the most devastating outcomes of poorly managed ageing: loss of your wonderful, irreplaceable eyesight.
Axe, J. Lutein: The Antioxidant That Protects Your Eyes & Skin. Dr. Axe, Food Is Medicine.
Brownstein. B Vitamins and Your Eyesight. Newsmax. Dec. 4, 2013.
Buckner, d. Does Vitamin A Make Your Eyesight Better? LIVESTRONG. Jan 3, 2016.
Haddrill, M. Stargardt’s Disease (Fundus Flavimaculatus). All About Vision.
Haddrill, M. Retinitis Pigmentosa. All About Vision.
Heiting, G. Eye Benefits of Omega-3 Fatty Acids. All About Vision
Heiting, G. Vitamin a and Beta-Carotene: Eye Benefits. All About Vision.
Keep eyes healthy with folic acid, B vitamins, zeaxanthin and meso-zeaxanthin. Nutrition Express.
Maron, D.F. Fact or Fiction?: Carrots improve Your Vision. Scientific American. June 23, 2014.
Mercola, J. Astaxanthin ― Nature’s Most Powerful Antioxidant. Mercola.com. Feb. 10, 2013.
Meschino, J. Help Preserve Your Eyesight With B Vitamins. To Your Health, Vol. 07, Issue 11. Nov. 2013.
I remember when I took my first baby steps into the world of dietary supplements. I was overwhelmed! My knowledge level was at ground zero (or less) ― and to say I had a lot to learn is at best an understatement.
Thankfully, I worked closely with a wonderful restorative doctor, Dr. Sergey Dzugan, who had the patience to explain things and answer my many questions. He is still my mentor today.
Among all that I learned about supplements, the following three lessons stand out as really important for anyone interested in exploring how vitamins and minerals can exponentially improve their health and quality of life.
My supplement education began with understanding that I had to let go of some erroneous preconceptions.
I had always thought that if my vitamin and mineral levels measured at the Reference Intake (RI) (or, in the U.S., the Recommended Daily Allowance, or RDA) levels, then all was well. I must be healthy!
What I learned is that those numbers are averages. They don’t apply to everyone.
But more importantly, while those levels might technically prevent a deficiency, they aren’t sufficient. It is well known in the ‘world of restorative medicine’ that they are not enough to optimize cellular function and inadequate levels mean you’re always operating at less than your best.
Moreover, sub-optimal vitamin and mineral levels that persist over a long period of time can lead to diseases like cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, depression and premature death. All those diseases we so dread. Diseases associated with old age.
These are diseases that, with optimal levels of vitamins and minerals, we can avoid.
Did you know, for example, that if you go for 30 to 40 years without enough folate for optimal function, your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease will double? It’s a great incentive for folic acid (folate) supplementation.
You can blame a lot of long-term degeneration on nutrient-poor diets ― diets high in carbs, sugar, and processed foods. But even the supposed ‘good’ food we get is all too often inadequate to meet our nutrient needs. Grocery stores are filled with GMO (genetically modified organism) foods . . . foods grown in nutrient-depleted soil . . . foods produced by plants sprayed with poisonous pesticides and other toxic chemicals.
Some foods fail to give us needed nutrients, while daily exposure to environmental toxins, as well as certain drugs, deplete our bodies of what essential nutrients we already have.
It’s up to us to restore nutrients up to our level of need.
LESSON 1: Most people today, despite test results saying they’re within ‘normal’ range, don’t get all the nutrients they need from food. Research tells us they’re likely to be deficient in one or more vitamins. Consequently, almost everyone needs to supplement in order to build a strong foundation for lifelong health.
Another important thing I learned is that you can’t assume just any supplement will provide your body with the raw materials it needs to thrive. But which ones to buy?
Confronted with a massive wall of shelved vitamins, minerals and herbs, how can you tell which ones may truly be judged excellent? How can you avoid wasting your money on supplements that don’t help you? Or worse, cause harm?
It feels like walking through a minefield! The choices are seemingly endless, and there’s almost no government regulation to ensure product quality, safety and efficacy.
In the UK, most supplements are regulated not as drugs but as foods by the Food Standards Agency and the Department of Health (FSADH). They’re regulated as a medicine only if the manufacturer makes a medical claim ― in other words, after it has caused harm. The same is true in the US.
Before a supplement company brings a product to market, it is not required to:
When supplements randomly taken from the shelves of stores have been tested for quality and purity, many labels have proved shockingly deceptive.
In one US study, the New York State attorney general’s office tested dietary supplements from four major retailers. Around 80% of the samples tested didn’t contain so much as a trace of the herbs listed on the label. Many consisted mostly of cheap fillers ― powdered rice, vegetables and houseplants ― that weren’t even listed on the label, and one contained powdered wheat, to which many people are allergic, even though its label said the product was wheat- and gluten-free.
Charges filed included mislabeling, contamination and false advertising.
The sad thing is, this wasn’t just a one-off. Because quality and safety regulations are lax to non-existent, this kind of deception is common in both the US and the UK. In fact, studies in the UK indicate that many supplements are contaminated with banned and often dangerous substances. Unfortunately, low price often equates to low quality.
LESSON 2: Buyer beware.
This is your first step towards securing your health . . .helping yourself to perform at your peak and prevent disease.
The best advice I can share is to buy from a reputable source ― a source that has a thorough knowledge of supplements, knows the importance of adequate active ingredients and understands their role in proactively achieving optimal health.
In the meantime, bear in mind that most women need to take:
The market is overrun with poor-quality products, so please be aware that it is important to know what you are looking for. Look for supplements supported by:
LESSON 3: Working with an experienced restorative medicine doctor, buy supplements from companies that are backed by science and adhere to good manufacturing processes.
At Menopause Woman, we carry only products that meet the most exacting standards of purity. All our supplements observe GMP guidelines, which is your guarantee that they are consistently controlled and produced according to quality standards. They also comply with the EU Supplement Directive, adopted in 2002.
All our supplements have a long record of safety and efficacy. You can be assured that our products are made with ingredients sourced to meet the most stringent qualifications for quality, satisfy your highest expectations and deliver reliable, scientifically proven support for your health.
Your periods have become erratic. Tears come from nowhere. Sleep is elusive, and you’re plagued with sudden, unaccustomed bouts of irritability and unexplained fatigue. On top of it all, you sometimes feel as though you’ve inadvertently walked into a furnace going at full blast!
Could this mayhem be . . . MENOPAUSE? All this mayhem could mean it’s time to schedule a menopause test.
The onset of perimenopause to full-on menopause can take as long as ten years. Sometimes women go for lengthy spans of time without periods, only to have them resume. So how do you know for sure when menopause has truly arrived?
If you’ve missed a period or have begun experiencing some or all of the symptoms above (or others associated with menopause such as vaginal dryness, low libido and painful intercourse), then you should consider having a menopause test.
Why? Here are four good reasons.
A menopause test, which tests your blood, can:
Out-of-control menopausal symptoms can make you feel helpless. But knowing what your blood can tell you gives you control over your erratic hormones, which in turn quiets your body and mind.
As you enter perimenopause ― the beginning of menopause ― your oestrogens and progesterone levels begin to fall, disrupting your hormonal balance.
A lot of people mistakenly think menopause is all about oestrogens. But your hormones don’t work in isolation. They’re like a symphony, and all need to play the right notes relative to the others.
In other words, your sex hormones (oestrogens, progesterone and testosterone) all need to be in balance ― that is, in the right ratio, one to another, and at their respective optimal levels. When one hormone level (such as oestradiol, a type of oestrogen) drops, it affects the others.
A menopause test does two important things. It:
Rebalancing your hormones to the proper levels enables you to rid your body and mind of disturbing menopausal symptoms and restore equilibrium to your life. Bioidentical hormones exactly match the molecular makeup of your natural hormones, so they’re easily absorbed and have no harmful side effects.
The benefit of doing a menopause test doesn’t end with expelling menopausal symptoms. Throughout menopause, you’ll need periodic retesting. Why? Hormones continually fluctuate. Retesting allows your doctor to adjust your BHRT prescriptions as needed to maintain your optimal hormone ratios. BHRT has to be customised to each woman’s individual needs.
But you should also continue your blood tests and BHRT throughout your postmenopausal years. That’s the joy of BHRT over HRT! We can take BHRT for life!
Science has gained a tremendous amount of knowledge about physiological markers that allow us to detect disease risk and foresee impending illnesses and disease. The knowledge you gain from your blood tests enables you to become aware of future risks to your health and prevent those risks from becoming reality.
With hormonal disruption, you’re more susceptible to chronic disease. With regular blood tests and ongoing fine-tuning of your hormones, you can forestall degenerative effects of ageing such as diabetes, cancer, obesity and other diseases.
In short, blood tests are an indispensable tool for keeping your health (and possibly your sanity!) on an even keel through menopause, but they also enable you to recapture the vitality and health of a younger you as you age.
Menopause Woman’s Healthy Woman 40+ Hormone Blood Test includes testing for total oestrogen (oestrone, oestradiol, oestriol), progesterone, total testosterone and DHEA-S.
Why not get started today on a symptom-free, healthier life?
Braman, N. Blood Test to Determine Menopause. eHow.
With age, and especially with the disruptions to your hormones that come with menopause, your hair can take a real hit. It can grow dull and lifeless. Even worse, you can begin losing more than the typical 50-100 hairs a day.
A LOT more!
How much money have you spent on products that promise to put a halt to your shedding hair and regrow your long-lamented, disappearing locks? And how many of them have failed to stop still more hair from being whooshed down the drain?
The answer just might lie in treating the problem from the inside. Certain hair growth supplements have specific properties that can tackle the causes of hair loss at the site of the problem. In addition, hair care products made with natural ingredients rather than harsh chemicals can give your hair the nurturing it needs and deserves.
It’s wisdom that’s been passed down through generations: Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, can help prevent colds. Today, however. vitamin C is gaining in reputation as an amazing anti-ageing ingredient in advanced skincare formulations.
But in supplement form, it’s equally potent as a defender against hair loss ― and for one of the same reasons: collagen.
Collagen: Vitamin C is one of the most effective ways to boost your production of collagen, an antioxidant and protein that is equally important to a full, healthy head of hair it as it is to smooth, firm skin.
In the 1700s, it was discovered that citrus fruits could help prevent scurvy. It wasn’t known why at the time, but the magic ingredient was eventually identified as vitamin C. Scurvy is actually caused by a vitamin C deficiency that disrupts the body’s ability to manufacture collagen and connective tissues in the skin.
Hair loss is a proven sign of vitamin C deficiency. Supplementing with vitamin C supports the production of collagen, which is a hair-building protein.
Tyrosine: Vitamin C is needed for the production of tyrosine, an amino acid essential to coping with stress as well as maintaining the structural integrity of your hair follicles and the hair strands they produce. Tyrosine is a precursor of epinephrine (adrenaline), a stress hormone that helps prevent three types of stress-induced hair loss: alopecia areata (hair falls out in round patches), telogen effluvium (excessive, diffuse thinning of hair) and trichotillomania (compulsive hair-pulling).
Antioxidant properties: Free radicals ― unstable molecules that attack and mutate healthy cells, causing destructive inflammation ― are created in the process of producing energy from food. Vitamin C combats free radicals and helps prevent them from damaging your hair.
DHT Inhibition: DHT (dihydrotestosterone), which is produced from the male hormone testosterone, is the chief cause of androgenic alopecia (diffuse thinning), a common cause of hair loss. DHT produces a specific protein that blocks the reception and activation of papilla cells, which transport nutrients to cells in hair follicles. Blocking papilla cells effectively ‘starves’ hair follicles and prevents hair growth.
Studies have shown that vitamin C not only inhibits this destructive protein ― it also increases a growth factor in papilla cells that can lead to a reversal of hair loss.
Vitamin E’s greatest claim to fame is as an antioxidant, cleaning up the damage caused by free radicals’ attacks on other molecules and preventing propagation of more free radicals. This protects the hair, along with other tissues and organs, from further mayhem.
Because free radical damage is ongoing, vitamin E (e.g., Vitamin E – Hi Gamma Formula or Vitamin E Complex) is an ongoing need.
Specifically, supplementing with vitamin E helps to stabilize the structure of hair follicles and lower the rate of hair loss. It also increases capillary growth, aids in transporting nutrients to hair follicle cells, and promotes accelerated hair growth and repair of damaged hair shafts.
Colladivine by Natural Energy is a high-powered collagen hair growth supplement, providing three types of bioactive collagen, plus zinc citrate, another important hair nutrient.
Collagen is an important catalyst for the repair and growth of hair, as well tissue throughout your body. It strengthens not only your hair but your skin, helping to prevent skin aging, minimizing fine lines and improving skin texture.
Original Silica by Eurohealth is a component of collagen that’s everywhere in your body ― in your skin, your nails, your muscles, your bones and, yes, in every hair on your head.
One major way that silica helps with hair loss is its ability to help re-balance your sex hormones. An imbalance in the hormones, such as occurs with menopause, is a major cause of hair loss and thinning hair.
Another factor is silica’s alkalizing properties, which help ensure mineral nourishment of hair follicles, which your hair needs to grow and thrive. It improves hair texture and helps prevent breakage.
The importance of feeding your hair with restorative nutrients that strengthen it and promote growth can’t be overstated. But tender loving care is important, too. Most shampoos and conditioners ― including many marketed as hair-healthy ― are loaded with ingredients ranging from those that actually harm your hair to those that endanger your health.
Just because a product is labeled ‘organic’ or ‘natural,’ don’t automatically believe it. Read the fine print!
There are too many culprits to name here, but for starters, don’t buy anything made with:
These and other chemicals can strip away natural oils from the scalp and damage hair follicles. They can make the scalp dry and itchy, and even cause or exacerbate hair loss.
Look for ingredients that come from sources found in nature ― for example, those used in chemical-free shampoos and conditioners such as Tabitha James Kraan’s Amber Rose and Golden Citrus Organic Hair Cleansers.
These use no chemical detergents, are anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal and they don’t strip away your natural oils. They moisturize, restore and protect your hair, leaving it with beautiful body and shine.
There’s no question ― saving your hair from unbalanced hormones, rampant DHT, out-of-control stress, or just plain age can be a real battle. But attacking it with the right hair growth supplements and natural hair care products can put you on the winning side, restoring your hair to its former fullness and vitality.
Daya, S. The Best Kept Secret For Healthy Hair, Radiant Skin and Strong Nails. Victoria Health.
Harriman, D. L-Tyrosine and Hair Loss. LIVESTRONG.com
Hourglass, PJ. Who Discovered How to Prevent Scurvy? The Pharmaceutical Journal. Mar. 30, 2011.
Shampoo: What to Look For, What to Avoid. Ecology Center. June 6, 2012.
Vitamin C for Hair Loss ― How It Helps. Progressive Health.
In preparation for the Big Change she knew was coming, my friend Isabella did a lot of reading. She learned that all in all, despite its reputation, menopause can be an exciting time of life ― a time of growth and self-exploration (not to mention freedom from inconvenient and sometimes painful periods).
Having always been a ’think-positive’ person, Isabella took it all to heart and bravely faced the onset of menopause with the attitude of setting forth on an exciting new venture.
Until she realised she was losing her hair.
Isabella’s hair had always been her glory, but after every wash and blow-dry, more of it ended up on the bathroom floor. Week after week, her hair became thinner and thinner. Finally, her nearly-bare scalp was on plain view for all the world to see, and as her ponytail became ever smaller and wispier, the always-optimistic Isabella grew increasingly depressed.
Isabella wasn’t the first woman to experience dramatic hair loss as she embarked on this life transition. It also happens at other times of hormonal upheaval. For example, after pregnancy.
When a woman is pregnant, her oestrogen levels soar, and her hair may become dramatically longer, thicker, fuller and shinier. However, after giving birth, her oestrogen levels plunge. The shedding and resting periods of her hair’s growth cycle lengthen, and she experiences hair loss, which, thankfully, is usually temporary.
Although it often catches women by surprise, menopause, too, brings hormonal changes that disrupt the hair growth cycle. Nearly half of all women experience menopausal hair thinning.
Your ovaries produce oestrogen and progesterone. When you’re premenopausal, their levels, as a general rule, are at their peak and (oestrogen more directly than progesterone) help keep testosterone at its correct level and within safe ratios. But with the onset of menopause, your ovaries begin to shut down, and your oestrogen and progesterone levels drop, setting in motion a process that can lead to thinning hair.
You don’t normally have a large amount of testosterone. But as oestrogen and progesterone diminish at a greater and faster rate relative to testosterone, your testosterone gains in comparative strength. When that happens, more testosterone is converted into a potent androgenic hormone, DHT, via an enzyme known as 5-alpha reductase.
We now have an increase of DHT. The increased DHT production wants to kill your hair, literally.
DHT attaches to receptor cells in scalp follicles and causes them to shrink. That’s a near-death sentence for healthy hair. Hair will thin, although in women it rarely results in completely bald patches.
High levels of stress, along with anxiety and depression, are a common manifestation of the mood swings frequently experienced by women during menopause. It’s also among the most common symptoms associated with menopausal hair thinning.
The growth cycle of hair has four phases:
The average woman has 90,000 to 150,000 hairs on her head at any one time, in all different phases, and she loses around 50–100 a day. Dermatologist Kurt Stenn, author of Hair: A Human History, believes that very high stress levels disrupt the growth cycle, prematurely halting the growth (anagen) phase. The hairs all go into the resting (telogen) phase and then, after a three-month delay, fall out (the exogen phase) at around 10 times the usual rate.
This hair-loss pattern has been shown with mice after being stressed by loud noises. It has also been demonstrated with rhesus macaque monkeys who were found to have cortisol (the stress hormone) dominance.
Interestingly, declining hormone levels are one of the primary causes of continuous physiological stress. This in itself puts both the body and the brain under an incredible and continuous stress load. If you’re highly stressed and menopausal, it’s a very bad mix. Your overall stress will then be exacerbated, both physically and mentally.
Stress mutes hormones, which will sequentially affect your female hormones, testosterone production, and DHT production. The amount of DHT production in the body from day to day depends on the amount and balance of testosterone.
Unfortunately, losing your hair is upsetting and kicks many women’s stress level into overdrive, which compounds the problem.
Because menopausal hair loss is so linked to hormonal disruption ― hormone imbalances associated with the end of fertility ― it’s a signal that you need to see a restorative medicine doctor who is fully trained in bioidentical hormones restorative therapy (BHRT).
Your restorative medical doctor will test your hormones to assess their status and prescribe naturally derived hormones that have exactly the same molecular structure as the hormones made in your own body.
You can read all about Hormonal Health in Jill’s book, ‘The Menopause Cure‘.
The right hormones in the right doses will retune your hormones ― bring them into the optimal ratios needed to restore their hormonal balance… as well as a full head of beautiful, healthy hair!
Beck, J. Why Stress Makes Your Hair Fall Out. The Atlantic. Mar. 2, 2016.
Causes of Hair Loss. American Hair Loss Association.
Gottfried, S. Hair Loss, Hormones and How to Regain Your Luscious Locks. Dr. Sara Gottfried MD.
Hormonal Changes ― Female Hair Loss. Medic8.
Menopause ― Female Hair Loss Guide. Medic8.
When the oestrogen/progestin (synthetic progesterone) arm of the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) study abruptly shut down back in July 2002, women were shocked . . . stunned. It wasn’t only the study’s participants. It was equally devastating to the millions of other women around the world taking hormone replacement therapy (HRT), thinking they were doing something good for themselves.
The sudden knowledge that they might be risking coronary heart disease, breast cancer, stroke or pulmonary embolism so terrified women that many immediately quit their hormones, cold turkey.
Then in February 2004 came the aftershock: the oestrogen-alone (oestrogen replacement therapy, or ERT) arm of the study shut down when it became apparent that it not only failed to prevent heart disease ― it increased the risk of stroke.
Besides shock, fear and disappointment, the WHI failure sparked enormous confusion over the use of hormones to ease the transition into and through menopause.
Today, we understand a great deal more about hormones, and we have the option of bioidentical hormones (BHRT), but we still have confusion, especially about what kind of oestrogens to take. Sublingual drops? Patches? Pills? Injections? Pellets? Vaginal ring? Transdermal gels and creams (which are preferable and safer)?
It’s enough to make you dizzy! But to try and clear up some of the confusion, and to make things a bit simpler, I’m going to focus on only one question: Of the two most popular oestrogen-delivery systems, which is best ― oral (pills) or transdermal (applied to the skin)?
Oral oestrogens are used in ERT and HRT, and transdermal oestrogens are used in bioidentical hormone restorative therapy (BHRT), along with other natural hormones, such as progesterone.
But first, let’s clear up what makes ERT/HRT oestrogens different from BHRT oestrogens.
The most common form of ERT is Premarin®, a conjugated oestrogen obtained from the urine of pregnant mares. HRT, most often marketed as Prempro®, is a combination of, once again, horse oestrogens, and progestin, a synthetic substitute for progesterone.
Both come in a fixed-dose pill form. And they’re synthetic. That means these oestrogens are not of natural origin. They don’t replicate your own oestrogens ― they’re chemicals that merely imitate the natural hormone. They can’t function in your body the same way as the oestrogens created by your body.
To work properly, hormones have to bind with specific target receptor cells in your body, like a key in a lock. The synthetic form of hormones can’t completely bond with receptors because the key does not totally fit. Because of this, they can’t work as they should, they confuse the body, and therefore, can predispose you to cancer and other diseases.
On the other hand, BHRT oestrogens, like all bioidentical hormones, are derived from wild yam and soy plants. They have exactly the same molecular architecture as the oestrogens produced in your own body. That means they are fully equipped to do everything that your own ‘homemade’ oestrogens do ― including binding to receptors.
And as we will see, ERT/HRT and BHRT oestrogens are metabolized in completely different ways, which makes a world of difference in their safety and effectiveness.
Unfortunately, what we’ve learned about oestrogens post-WHI has not attracted publicity anywhere near that surrounding the study’s sensational, premature end. As a result, many women are unaware of these advances. Nonetheless, we’ve gained a great deal of useful knowledge since then.
For one, we’ve learned about what happens when you swallow oestrogens in pill form ― specifically about what occurs in your body physiologically and how it affects the metabolism of the oestrogens you ingest.
Once you swallow an ERT/HRT pill, it makes a beeline for your liver. It passes through the gut, where it undergoes preprocessing. From there, it goes into the large portal vein and then on into the liver. There, it’s metabolised before it circulates throughout your system.
This route means that oral oestrogens enter the liver much more directly and in a much more concentrated form than the natural oestrogens created in your ovaries. With oral oestrogens, your liver is hit with a dose of around 1,000–2,000 micrograms of oestrogen instead of 100–200 micrograms.
It’s no exaggeration to say this is an overload that can stress the liver.
The effects of oral oestrogens can be erratic and unpredictable, varying with the dose and the individual. Oral oestrogens may:
Initially, oestrogen-only fixed doses were set at high levels in order to relieve vasomotor menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes and night sweats. However, these doses have been shown to be excessive, causing adverse effects such as weight gain, water retention, fibrocystic breasts and the much more serious risks of breast and uterine cancers.
Later, when progestin (synthetic progesterone) was added to the horse oestrogens (as in Prempro), the uterine cancer risk lessened, but breast cancer risk increased, along with risk of blood clots, stroke and gallbladder disease.
Bioidentical transdermal oestrogen therapy comes in the form of a compounded (individually mixed) gel or cream that is applied topically. The dose is tailored to your test results, which show what is needed to restore your oestrogens to their optimal and proper levels.
Instead of being first metabolised by the liver, transdermal oestrogen acts exactly as the oestrogens produced by your ovaries. That is, it is transported through the bloodstream, reaches its target tissues, attaches to oestrogen receptors and is then metabolised in the liver. The liver is the end point, not the starting point. We are following nature here.
That completely alters how transdermal oestrogens works. Compared with oral oestrogens, BHRT transdermal oestrogens don’t:
It is also worth noting that oestradiol produced in your ovaries is easily eliminated in urine within one day, whereas synthetic oestrogens can remain in your body for up to 13 weeks before elimination. Your body is designed to metabolise your own oestrogens and, in this case, bioidentical hormones which are an exact copy of your own, NOT horse hormones.
In the United Kingdom and the United States, HRT oral formulations of oestrogens are more frequently prescribed than BHRT transdermal formulations. Why this is so is unclear, but it’s high time to clear up the confusion.
Hands down, transdermal oestrogens are far safer and more effective!
True, ERT and oestrogens found in HRT have been studied much more extensively than BHRT oestrogens but much of that research leads to the conclusion that these synthetic hormones are not something you want to put in your body.
The clinical evidence on BHRT oestrogens is persuasive and mounting: Transdermal oestrogens have a far stronger safety and efficiency profile than oral ERT/HRT oestrogens. It’s not even close.
In the end, it comes down to one thing. To avoid risk of chronic disease and other health problems, the molecular structure has to be the same as that of your natural oestrogens. The same holds true for progesterone, which should always be taken with oestrogen to ensure maintenance of the correct ratio.
To make sure you’re prescribed BHRT transdermal oestrogens (together with progesterone), make sure to work with a doctor specially trained in restorative medicine and bioidentical hormones who understands why this form of oestrogen is preferable.
Estrogen Pill vs. Estrogen Patch ― Which Works Best? Virginia Hopkins Test Kits.
Gillson, G.R. and Zava, D.T. A Perspective on HRT for Women: Picking Up the Pieces After the Women’s Health Initiative Trial ― Part 1. International Journal of Pharmacological Compounding. Vol.7 No. 4, July/August 2003.
Liu, B. Is transdermal menopausal hormone therapy a safer option than oral therapy? Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ). 2013 Apr. 16; 185(7): 549–550.
Which Type of Estrogen Hormone Therapy Is Right for You?
Today, more than ever, people are taking an interest in their health and overall well-being. Even more importantly, they’re becoming active participants in self-guided healthcare.
This is a very good thing. After all, your state of health ― both now and in the future ― relies mainly on self-directed care. Let’s face it: Who’s going to look after your health more closely than YOU?
As the result of increasing health awareness, an ever-growing number of people are changing lifestyle habits. They’re taking up exercise ― joining a gym and doing yoga, Zumba, CrossFit, and/or weight-bearing exercise… eating a healthier diet with more fruit and vegetables, and going organic… taking time out to relax and practising de-stressing methods and techniques.
At the same time, far too many people don’t truly understand the core aspect of overall health and well-being ― how it can be achieved or maintained. The crux of the issue is to prevent disease before it has a chance to creep in and get a foothold.
But not knowing how to do it doesn’t mean it can’t be done. There is a way to do this! You can obtain optimal health and keep it
A blood test is the best way to protect and maintain your health, including prevention of disease. It’s absolutely the most accurate method of self-care being offered today.
Disease is a process that develops over time. As an example, insulin resistance (IR) typically precedes diabetes type 2, but it can continue for at least a decade before true diabetes type 2 develops.
And disease usually spawns more disease. Case in point: Diabetes type 2 is linked to a host of other health issues ― Alzheimer’s disease, breast cancer, hypertension, kidney disease, obesity and more. Insulin resistance increases your risk of heart disease, stroke, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
Yes, it’s scary, but you don’t need to get to this point! Your best protection is to monitor your health by getting regular, periodic blood tests and keeping an eye on your results. And, of course, you need to pay attention to your diet, especially your glucose (sugar) intake.
Think about it: No financial crisis happens overnight. It takes years to occur. So, too, do breakdowns of the body. If you are clever enough to stop for a second, take a step back, look at the early warning signs and then take action before the actual event, you can prevent a financial crisis from ever happening. It’s just the same with your body.
Diabetes or any other chronic disease can take years, even decades, to become apparent. The good thing is, you don’t have to wait to get a diagnosis of disease ― a diagnosis that may well send shockwaves through your system.
Instead, pay attention to those minor initial imbalances ― warning symptoms such as headaches, weight gain, etc. ― that eventually, if not attended, evolve into serious health issues and abnormalities. Keep an eye on your health and follow it.
You can guide and improve your health instead of poor health guiding you! You can stay one step ahead. This is possible.
A blood test is the most independent and reliable factor for predicting your health status. Science has gained a tremendous amount of knowledge about physiologic markers that predict impending illnesses and disease. Blood tests give us the ability to detect and measure substances that indicate disease risk.
Blood tests are, in fact, the only way to discover threats to your health that may lie ahead. This knowledge allows you to take action that can prevent risks from becoming your reality.
In one word, NO! As a general rule, most people ignore the results of their blood tests, especially when their doctor informs them they’re normal. But what does the term ‘normal’ actually mean? It simply tells you that you are within the expected ranges of someone your age ― that is, your blood tests are not abnormal, or ‘out of range,’ for your age.
However, this doesn’t mean they are optimal.
Typically, conventional doctors don’t discuss blood test results when they are within the conventional ‘normal’ ranges. It isn’t until blood values hover over to the other side of ‘abnormal’ that you’re likely to be told to change your lifestyle. This usually happens only when disease, a disorder or some other health issue has already had the chance to develop within your body. But at this point, it is already late.
Your blood tests are important. They are your lifeline. They can tell what’s in store for you and when it is time to make important changes before it is too late ― before your condition becomes irreversible.
It’s equally important that you find and work with a qualified restorative medicine doctor, who is light years ahead of conventional medical practitioners in understanding the importance of blood tests.
The goal of restorative doctors isn’t to achieve so-called ‘normal’ ranges, which are already tilting toward disease. Rather, it’s to return your blood to optimal ranges ― around what they were in your 30s when your hormones were at their best and you functioned at your peak. These are the ranges you had when you were young… the ranges that will protect you.
A restorative doctor has the specialised training to know your blood doesn’t lie, knows the right blood tests to order and how to correctly interpret your test results.
What is more, your restorative medicine doctor will continue to work with you and guide you in making needed changes that will make a profound difference in your health outcomes for years to come.
We hear wonderful things about bioidentical hormone restorative therapy (BHRT), and those glowing reports foster high hopes ― but, sadly, sometimes the experience doesn’t live up to our expectations.
I’ve heard the above question many times, along with others:
How come, how come, how come . . . .?
Maybe the answer doesn’t lie in the fundamentals of BHRT. Maybe you just got the wrong doctor ― one who isn’t qualified in this specialty. The person you go to see may be a doctor, but if you experience no improvements or things get worse, then that doctor most certainly is not an expert in restorative medicine or bioidentical hormones.
It’s important to understand that bioidentical hormone therapy is a complex specialisation, and doctors need extensive training to practice it correctly. So the first thing you need to do is find a doctor with the needed knowledge, credentials and experience.
I can assure you that, when you are treated by a doctor trained and experienced in BHRT, it will definitely work for you, not against you. What is more, you will feel its enormous benefits almost immediately. Hot flushes will be calmed, foggy memory cleared, vitality and energy restored and enhanced, and positive thinking renewed.
In short, you will discover the old, familiar YOU, and most likely an even better version ― a better version because this is the time in life when we are at our best. We have everything. We’re experienced, mature, knowledgeable and at our peak intellectually. At this stage, only one thing can hold us back: our declining hormone levels!
Throughout life, we mature for the better through lessons learned and experiences gained. Who wants to lose their love of life, their vitality and/or their cognitive power at forty or fifty? It would be more than sad to let go of that experienced, sophisticated, intellectually mature woman you’ve become.
You don’t have to. You have an option: You can restore your hormones and get your life back. Life will be fun again.
Once you find your bioidentical hormone specialist, he or she will request specific blood testing to be done. Test results allow your doctor to understand the exact status of your hormones in order to prescribe the hormones you need in the specific amounts required to match your own personal physiological requirements.
Hormones have to adhere to specific hormone levels and ratios. If they don’t, harmony and balance within your body will remain elusive. The art of BHRT is finding that balance ― a balance that has meaning, the balance necessary to optimise your health status.
It isn’t something that can be done by just any doctor ― certainly not by a doctor who simply got up out of bed one morning and decided to become a ‘specialist’ in dishing out bioidentical hormones. Again, a true BHRT doctor must have extensive training and knowledge.
When prescribed correctly, your body is setup to accept these natural bioidentical hormones. On the other hand, HRT hormone molecules are synthetic and therefore cannot be effective.
Let me explain.
The major issue with synthetic hormones is that they are not like our own hormones. Because they are different in molecular structure, the body cannot understand, metabolise or excrete them easily. As a result, they cause a toxic build-up that increases cancer risk.
In contrast, bioidentical hormones are exact copies of the hormones we have in our bodies. Their molecular structure is the same.
Exact. For this reason, the human infrastructure is ready and willing to accept these hormones. In fact, the body needs these hormones. The body knows what they are and recognizes them as their own.
If we think about it logically, of course bioidentical hormones will work when prescribed at the correct levels and ratios by a bioidentical hormone expert. Why wouldn’t they? They have the exact molecular structure as those naturally produced in our bodies ― only now, unfortunately, at lower levels because of our transition into perimenopause.
The truth is, to avoid the very uncomfortable, and in some cases debilitating symptoms we suffer in menopause, our hormone levels only need to be topped up and brought back into balance.
Symptoms such as depression, mood swings, headaches, hot flushes, weight gain, low libido, loss of confidence, hair loss, foggy memory, fatigue and more are, quite simply, withdrawal symptoms. In perimenopause, your hormone levels suddenly and quite drastically decline, leaving the brain and body very confused. Your body goes into a state of shock because it is missing those hormones it needs to get back on an even keel.
Symptoms are your body’s way of talking to you. Telling you something is wrong. We need to learn to listen to our bodies and restore those very precious missing molecules. Only when they are prescribed incorrectly will bioidentical hormones not work and potentially cause problems.
The key to successful BHRT is to find the right doctor ― one who is highly trained and experienced. When you find that doctor, it will work. Bioidentical hormones are safe and highly efficient when properly prescribed.
I can tell you from my own experience that restoring your hormones to their proper balance can give you back your happy, healthy self, free of debilitating symptoms. Best of all, you’ll learn that ‘the change’ in your life can be a truly positive change ― one that ushers in an exciting time of health, personal growth and productivity.
You can also understand far more by reading Jill’s book.
You’ve no doubt heard horror stories about the symptoms that may come with perimenopause, the transitional period leading to menopause. But the problems can be far more complex. As if hot flushes, night sweats, insomnia, loss of libido, weight gain and brain fog weren’t enough, you can also develop hypothyroidism ― that is, an underactive thyroid.
It happens to around 26% of women undergoing perimenopause.
Why is hypothyroidism so bad?
For starters, if you have low thyroid function, there’s a good chance you will also find yourself battling depression.
Not only that, but when this little butterfly-shaped gland at the base of your throat malfunctions, it can have huge repercussions for your entire body.
The thyroid produces triiodothyronine (T3) and a larger amount of thyroxine (T4), which is converted to T3. These two hormones affect metabolism. That means they control how your body uses food to produce energy and determine the rate at which your heart, liver, muscles and other organs, including your brain, work. In short, they affect about all your body’s working parts.
One of the most common effects of low thyroid ― when not enough thyroid hormones are being produced or when they’re not working at the cellular level ― is depression.
Perimenopause occurs in mid-life, normally beginning between your mid-30s and late 40s. That’s the same time when your risk for hypothyroidism greatly increases, so it’s entirely possible that the two simply occur coincidentally.
But it’s equally true that perimenopause and hypothyroidism are often related. As your egg supply diminishes with the onset of perimenopause, your ovaries begin to produce less oestrogen. However, your progesterone level can fall far faster than that of oestrogen, throwing these two hormones out of balance. In other words, your optimal oestrogen/progesterone ratio is disrupted.
This imbalance often results in oestrogen dominance ― a condition when progesterone falls to a level so low that it’s unable to limit the action of oestrogen. When this happens, you can experience symptoms exactly like those caused by low thyroid, including depression, along with weight gain and brain fog.
But it can get worse . . . .
All that low but excessive oestrogen can actually sabotage your thyroid hormones. Even if your thyroid is pumping out sufficient T3 and T4, oestrogen dominance can make them ineffective. And if they can’t do their job, you will develop hypothyroidism.
It can also work the other way. A pre-existing low-functioning thyroid can cause your progesterone levels to plummet. Even if your oestrogen/progesterone balance was initially optimal, the ultimate result can be oestrogen dominance, which further impairs the thyroid and worsens depression.
The T3 thyroid hormone acts in the brain to govern three neurotransmitters important to your emotions:
When the action of the T3 hormone is impeded by hypothyroidism, these mood-stabilising neurotransmitters are effectively taken ‘off-line.’ When that happens, depression gets worse.
Serotonin seems particularly important for maintaining an ‘up’ attitude and good mood, but it can drop precipitously following an abrupt decrease in oestrogen, which can occur in the mid-30s. Shortages of serotonin can worsen symptoms associated with menopause ― hot flushes, insomnia and mood changes ― that can add significantly to depression.
Diagnosing low thyroid can be tricky. Even though your oestrogen/progesterone levels are unbalanced and affecting your thyroid hormones’ action, a routine thyroid test may show your thyroid hormones are at perfectly normal levels. That’s because your thyroid is putting out hormones that can be measured ― they just can’t do what they’re supposed to do.
Generally speaking, adequate thyroid treatment will reverse thyroid hormone insufficiency and depression. It’s important to be aware, however, that people with hypothyroidism-induced depression are often misdiagnosed and treated as having a psychiatric illness. As a result, they are frequently prescribed antidepressants.
Unfortunately, antidepressants can be addictive. Also, they can have dangerous side effects. They can, in fact, actually worsen depression ― even trigger homicidal or suicidal impulses ― and they won’t fix an oestrogen-dominance problem or a low-thyroid problem.
To reverse low thyroid and depression during perimenopause, you will need thyroid testing, but the standard TSH test doesn’t detect most cases of low thyroid and won’t give you the answers you need.
You need a restorative medicine physician skilled in bioidentical hormone restorative therapy (BHRT) who offers comprehensive, full-panel thyroid testing. That includes total T3 (TT3) and total T4 (TT4) tests, along with a TSH test. He or she will also do full testing of your sex hormones (oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone) in order to assess their status.
With that knowledge, your doctor will prescribe the appropriate treatment to restore optimal balance to your hormones, proper functioning to your thyroid, and a life free of perimenopausal-related depression, as well as other troubling menopausal symptoms.
Depression: Common Symptom of Hypothyroidism. Hotze Health.
Dowling, C. Menopausal Depression Is Common and Treatable. Women’s Wellbeing and Mental Health.
Kellman, R. Menopause or Low Thyroid ― Is It One, The Other or Both? Huffington Post, THE BLOG. Oct. 30, 2015.
Magnolia. 35 Symptoms of Perimenopause ― Hypothyroidism. The Perimenopause Blog. Oct. 10, 2016.
Northrup, C. Thyroid Disease. DrNorthrup.com.
Perimenopause and Thyroid Problems ― common and confusing. CEMCOR.
Restorative medicine is an evidence based, scientifically sound medical sub-speciality. Its goal is to extend lifespan, prolong youthspan, and healthspan, through early detection, prevention, treatment, and reversal of all age-related dysfunctions, disorders, and disease, in both men and women alike. Restorative medicine has been embraced by thousands of physicians.
Menopause Woman does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. See more information.