Tag Archives: Bioidentical hormones

Banishing The Seven Dwarves of Menopause

September is Menopause Awareness Month but if you listen to certain talking heads in the media lately you’d think we were in the midst of Menopause UNAWARENESS month! Just the other day I heard a so-called expert refer to the perils of progesterone, and how it can cause cancer. But what she was really talking about was its evil twin PROGESTIN, the synthetic form known to heighten risks in women who use it in HRT combos. Real progesterone (aka bioidentical) is a far cry from the Fake synthetic stuff, and there is not a shred of evidence – trust me, the science is on our side here – that natural progesterone in the proper balance does anything but protect us against estrogen-driven breast cancers, AND while its at it, can also bring sweet relief from hot flashes.

Before I descend from my soapbox, allow me to persuade you in our national conversation about menopause this month, to doublecheck what you hear about hormones from a reliable source (like Menopausibilities of course, and others, e.g. virginiahopkinshealthwatch.com; womenin balance.org), and refuse to resign yourself to a bad, sad menopause.  I will gladly go out on a limb here to assure you that nine out of ten times, the extent to which we suffer from the itchy bitchy sweaty (let’s not leave out flabby and crabby) dwarves of menopause is the extent to which our hormones are out of sorts, out of sync, out of balance!

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  • So. If you are feeling:
    ITCHY – your estrogen and/or testosterone levels are likely to be less than optimal
  • SWEATY – your estrogen is probably running low and your progesterone even lower causing hot flashes or night sweats or both!
  • SLEEPY – your master stress hormone, cortisol is upsetting your master sleep hormone melatonin, making it tough to get to sleep and/or stay asleep, thus you are sleepy. (Know any other women awake at 3am?)
  • BLOATED – (and cannot lose weight no matter how hard you try) sounds like estrogen dominance
  • FORGETFUL – (and no way, no how, can you keep a number in your head for longer than 2 seconds) your estrogen testosterone and stress hormones may have gone AWOL along with your memory
  • BITCHY – your cortisol and testosterone levels are out of control, and…
  • PSYCHO – chances are good that your hormone levels overall are seriously out-of-whack!

How do you find out how seriously out-of-whack your hormones really are? By asking your provider to test them to pinpoint specific imbalances (please see my previous blog:How to find a natural hormone friendly provider) or by ordering a test kit online from ZRT Laboratory www.zrtlab.com AND with test results in hand set about exploring your options for rebalancing your imbalances with a qualified provider or hormone health counselor: www.yourhormonebalance.com Image

 

What most women are all too well aware of – like hot flashes, turning 50, and discovering our first chin hair – is that menopause is normal, natural, inevitable. Right. But when it starts to turn into your very own fractured fairytale and the wicked witch is staring back at you in the mirror – this is NOT normal – and it is most decidedly NOT the menopause you were meant to have. We get it that hormones WILL shift and decline as we age, but what makes the difference between a good or a bad menopause is just how shifty the shifting gets and how swift or steep the decline. What matters to menopause is how we live it: how we eat, exercise, take stress in stride, and expose ourselves (unwittingly or not) to toxins that mess with our hormones. Its about that work/life balance and whether we make sacred time for ourselves and those who matter most to us in all the world. And ultimately, it’s about how we support our natural hormonal foundations by topping up (as needed based upon tested hormone levels) with bioidentical hormones that to mimic mother nature without side effects

This is the GOOD Menopause. A time of life when you can find yourself feeling stronger, back in the swing and better than ever! Who Knew? We do! _DBP0555 - Version 2
Please join the conversation and comment here on the blog to tell us how you’ve kicked the seven dwarves to the wood shed ….

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Menopause Awareness Month: Banishing The Seven Dwarves of Menopause

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Belly Flat to FAT…Blame it on your hormones!

Got Menopause, Perimenopause and BELLY FAT that won’t budge despite your best efforts?

I just turned 65 last month and let me tell you…it has been WONDERFUL! Why because despite my Michelle-less upper arms, I feel good, have energy to go, and can sleep at night….my hot flashes are pretty much gone, my skin is still mostly sticking vs. sagging, and I owe my generally even moods and middling to good memory to bioidentical hormones, a health aware diet, herbs, vitamins and cultivating stillness at some point in my day….now if only I can get rid of this belly fat, all of it, for good… Obviously I’m a work in progress, finding balance being my every day goal…and I’m getting somewhere…. if I want to keep on feeling and looking good for my age vs. feeling my age whatever my age, , than I’ve got my work cut out for me …and speaking of cutting out…the wine, white flour carbs and late night snacks were the first to go (that is, AFTER thoroughly indulging myself birthday night on the incomparable macaroon dessert at Cocotte in SE Portland) in my  ongoing quest for upper arms that won’t swing when I do on the dance floor 2 weeks from now at my daughters wedding (!!) Image

To that end I’ve been doing some serious strength training in this, my sixieme decade, and getting stronger for sure, in my core and round the biceps, AND burning off some of that belly….speaking of burning  vs. storing  – fat’s favorite place to pile on in the presence of elevated stress hormones is in the abdomen – a process dramatically hastened by imbalances of estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, DHEA, and thyroid hormones,the key  players in regulating whether you gain, or lose, or gawd forbid (but it happens all the time!)gain it all back and then some!  In fact stress hormones actually signal your body to hang on to stored fat – for dear life – its a stress response, a survival mechanism…so if you simply cannot shed pounds or always tend to gain back more weight than you lost, no matter how little you eat, or how much you exercise, you are one of us! That is before we found out that we were being hardwired by our hormones….by hidden hormone imbalances programming us to overeat, overcaffeinate, overbook, give in to sugar cravings, and give up on ever shedding those 10 (20, 30..) perimenopause pounds (i.e. STOP the roller coaster, I want to get off! ) If this sounds like your life story at the moment, I have to ask…Have you tested your hormones lately? If not, allow me to convince you that hormones are the missing link to weight loss. I’ll tell you more in part 2 of this piece….Stay tuned!

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by | August 10, 2013 · 3:58 am

Low T ads; boosting testosterone boils down to balance.

Big article in The Atlantic magazine this week http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2013/04/should-the-modern-man-be-taking-testosterone/274663/pretty much slamming the purveyors of supplemental testosterone gel as god’s gift to men. And although it can safely be said that testosterone is in fact god’s gift since without it men would not be men, there is value in raising the use vs. abuse issue when it comes to hormone replacement.

Testosterone, the hormone driver of strength, stamina and libido normally declines with age, the question is how rapidly, how steeply...that is up to how we live our lives, not on how much we supplement.

Testosterone, the hormone driver of strength, stamina and libido normally declines with age, the question is how rapidly, how steeply? Its a matter of life/work/stress balance.

The Atlantic article raises some important points: does every modern man really need testosterone? Are the drug companies having a field day warning men over 40 of their impending decline, and are we about to see a repeat in men of the bad news about HRT that raised risks for heart disease, blood clots, stroke and  cancer in women?

There is no doubt that all hormones decline with age: in women it is progesterone, then estrogen that start to fluctuate then lower; in men testosterone is the first hormone to go along with DHEA, the most abundant hormone in the body, and the precursor of testosterone. Declining hormones go with the territory of normal aging – the question is how rapid is the decline, how precipitous the drop? Lifestyle, stress levels, nutrition, weight gain, exercise, alcohol intake, etc. are all crucial to the rate of decline. Experts in the field of hormone testing and balance, like Dr. David Zava, Ph.D., owner of ZRT Laboratory (www.zrtlab.com) will tell you that supplementing with testosterone can be beneficial where the need is clearly established and monitored through testing, but rubbing in a bunch of androgel or any other form of testosterone in a tube won’t do much good if overeating/drinking, lack of exercise, smoking, high stress levels and inadequate sleep are a way of life.  At the risk of repeating myself in every blog post, it really is about balance.

Man struggling with computer

Take a deep breathing break or walk away from the computer …elevated cortisol stress hormone levels are well known testosterone thieves!

There’s no question that testosterone is the hormone that puts the macho in male: that virility, hairiness, heavier bone and muscle mass, deeper voice and aggressive competitive drive we associate with the male of the species. And there is little doubt that when muscles morph into body fat and sexual fizz fizzles out men may worry that they are becoming less than human. But the red convertible, younger gal pal and Viagra won’t bring back the man they were if an unhealthy lifestyle and hidden hormone imbalance go unaddressed. Fact is, Low-T or any measurable deficiency of testosterone generally goes along with deficient DHEA and undetected  imbalances of related hormones. For example men (and women) who are overweight or obese usually have high estrogen levels in relation to testosterone, DHEA or other hormones. That’s because fat cells are actually mini-estrogen-making factories, churning it out via the action of an enzyme called aromatase…and guess which hormone aromatase steals to make that conversion? Testosterone! That may come as a shock to the average man but vital need to know information since estrogen is a growth hormone linked with enlargement of the prostate. Having a spare tire and “moobs” (aka ‘man boobs’ or fatty tissue in the breasts) is a man’s first clue that his available testosterone is being snatched up and turned into estrogen….no wonder he is more emotional, moody, gaining weight and losing his drive. Topping up with T in this case can be very beneficial for men if and when they use it in the right amounts and in tandem with:

-an improved diet rich in high-quality protein, high fiber and dark green vegetables vs. highly refined carbohydrate foods and sugar

– a superior multivitamin that contains adequate levels of all the multis, EFAs essential fatty acids, the complete Bcomplex, and key minerals like zinc (inhibits aromatase conversion of testosterone to estrogen in fat cells), selenium (helps convert thryoxine T4 to active active thyroid hormone T3), magnesium (calms nerves and improves sleep) and other essential trace minerals

– strength training or weight bearing exercise 2-3 days a week to boost lean muscle mass, metabolism and natural testosterone and DHEA production

Regular aerobic exercise, interval training and weight bearing exercise is crucial in both men and women to boosting hormone production, strength, stamina, and metabolism.

Regular aerobic exercise, interval training and weight bearing exercise is crucial in both men and women to boosting hormone production, strength, stamina, and metabolism.

– adequate sleep which experts say is 7-8 hours minimum to ensure cell repair and to normalize stress and appetite hormone levels

-stress reduction – crucial since high cortisol stress hormone levels exponentially deplete T levels.

Last but not least topping up with T should be on an “as needed basis” after testing has established a deficiency, and then monitored. DHEA the precursor of testosterone is often a good place to start along with strength training. If you need to supplement, be sure to ask your provider for bioidentical hormones, those derived from plant substances and made to duplicate the hormones the body produces naturally. Note also that topical supplements rubbed into the skin (gels, creams) do not always show up in a serum test, and that can lead to possible OVERsupplementation, so many providers and experts in the field use saliva or dried blood spot sampling to track and adjust dosage as needed.

Do keep in mind that testosterone and Low T is not just a guy thing – women too need adequate T to maintain sexual function, strengthen bones and muscles, boost mental clarity and libido, though women’s bodies make a lot less…. Sidenote: how interesting that nearly half of women in the workforce these days make as much money or more than their male counterparts on just one-tenth the amount of testosterone…. but I digress.

Men and women both need adequate levels not only of testosterone but of all hormones...

Men and women both need adequate levels not only of testosterone but of all hormones which must work in concert with each other, just like musical instruments for us to experience the symphony of health, energy, sexual zest and longevity.

I encourage you to read the article (link is at the top), and take it with a grain of salt and the awareness having read this blog, that hormone balance, health and optimal aging never boils down to just one hormone! Its about all of the key players – estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, DHEA, cortisol, thyroid – working together, in sync and in harmony! Just like the symphony orchestra, if one instrument is out of tune, so goes the melody…hormones are your internal symphony.  Replacement has its place as long as it is in tune with your body’s natural rhythms and need for proper care, feeding and rest!

Looking and feeling good at any age is a combination of the right lifestyle and supplementation as needed after testing and with tracking to avoid oversupplementation and a repeat of the WHI that showed HRT was putting women users at risk.

Looking and feeling good at any age is a combination of the right lifestyle and supplementation with bioidentical hormones as needed. Make sure to test hormones first and monitor levels to avoid the risks of over-supplementation. No one wants a repeat in men of the bad news about HRT revealed by the Women’s Health Initiative Study in 2002.

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Doing Menopause the Chinese Way: Speaking Hormone Truth to Beauty

When I was asked earlier this month to give a lecture on hormone testing and balance, in Guangdong province, China of all places, I leaped at the chance with absolutely no idea what lay  in store. I had been invited by the inimitable Virginia Hopkins, co-author of  the John Lee go-to books on menopause (What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Menopause, etc.(www.virginiahopkinshealthwatch.com). According to Virginia, the Chinese were becoming more interested in hormone testing and bioidentical hormones, having been made wary of synthetic HRT use after its greater risks than benefits were revealed in the landmark Women’s Health Initiative (WHI).

Images of balance are everywhere in China...spiral incense in a Macao temple

Images of balance are at every turn in China…spiral incense infuses the spirit at this ancient Macao temple.

So I figured I’d be preaching to the choir with my message of optimal health and aging through hormone balance and bioidenticals. My instructions were to keep it simple: women in China were only just getting into this and may not understand the mechanics of what hormones do. To be fair,  there are still hundreds of thousands of women in this country who are  still on HRT or are afraid to use hormones of any kind since the WHI, even though we now know that bioidentical (BHRT) alternatives have fewer side effects and can bring real relief. (for scientific resources visit: http://www.womeninbalance.org).
For a couple of weeks before the trip, I labored over my powerpoint, studying everything I could find on menopause among Chinese women, and learned that we all apparently suffer from similar symptoms, although hot flashes did not appear to be as common to our counterparts in the land of the dragon, as “menopausal melancholia,” worry, or rheumatism.
When in China you see women and men doing Tai Chi everywhere in the public parks and along the rivers...these are time tested paths to finding balance

When in China you see women and men doing Tai Chi everywhere in the public parks and along the rivers…these are time tested paths to finding balance that were here and will be still when the big Macs and botox are long gone!

I also queried my GP at Kaiser Permanente who grew up in the north of China and told me that women in her country don’t talk about the menopause and are expected to “step up and get on with it” when they feel unbalanced, sad, or out of sorts during the change of life…Dr. Xi also told me that weight gain was becoming much more of an issue in China as fewer people walk or bike to work, and choose MacDonalds or KFC (ugh!) over the traditional fresh fish, fowl, rice and vegetable fare. My doctor got a bit emotional as I left the clinic exhorting me to in my lecture help her countrymen comprehend that menopause is a significant life change that should be treated with a greater dose of natural medicine, compassion and understanding.  I took her words to heart and accepted it as my great challenge. After all, I would be working with an interpreter named Wen, who learned his english from American movies (an impressive feat given that he had mastered our language, slang and all), and was just learning about hormones.  I had sent him my powerpoint well in advance and once there gave him a crash course in hormone balance 101;  he could relate he told me …. his great aunt was driving  herself and the whole family crazy with her memory lapses and melancholy….they loved her very much he said. and needed answers. Though Wen got the message thanks to his dowager aunt, and I might add did a masterful job of translating, I cannot guarantee that my audience did in full, and not because they are not open to the subject of optimal aging, but because the more compelling message for the well to do, fast moving entrepreneurs of the new China is about youth and beauty. My job was to help them connect those dots to speak hormonal truth to beauty.

Candace and Dave aging to the fullest in the fastest growing economy in the world...if you can see them, the towering buildings behind us in the pic were ALL built within the last 10-15 years!!

Candace and Dave aging to the fullest in the fastest growing economy in the world…if you can see them, the towering buildings behind us in the pic were ALL built within the last 10-15 years!!

The evening of my lecture we had been treated to a grand banquet attended by VIP clients of the Biotechnology company hosting me…these were extremely wealthy women of uncertain ages, who as they swanned into the banquet room provided much to marvel at given their almost too-perfect beauty….after being introduced to me as their speaker and guest of honor flown all the way from America, they nodded politely and proceeded to inspect the contours of my face and discuss their findings in rapid fire Chinese as I sat there clueless…I finally gathered from my interpreter that they were trying to guess my age…. “but I don’t mind telling them how old I am,” I said….but before I could brag on 64 years sans botox, he politely shushed me….”No, I’m sure they would much rather guess.”

Following my hormone lecture in China I was treated to my very own 5 minutes of fame...

Following my well-received lecture in China I was treated to my very own 5 minutes of fame…

Well I never did learn what age they decided on but as they did smile at me often and gave me the universal thumbs up, I evidently met with their approval, though how I escaped censure in their eyes for not having perfectly planed skin and a smooth lineless neck is beyond me. Maybe they were just being polite. Or maybe I’m just lucky (so far, so good).  My own strong impression insofar as the Asian approach to balance, health and BEAUTY goes, is that the latter is of much more pressing importance to the modern Chinese woman, particularly in terms of how young one appears to be vs. how healthy one actually is! As long as you look young who cares how healthy you are?

Beauty above all and in every way, however it is achieved...

Making up for Mao time: an extreme example of glorified beauty perhaps, but extremely glorified it is!

To be fair, these observations should apply only  to the swath of life I happened into as a hormone health educator, and surely do not reflect your average menopause in China, but I never met a woman who wanted to talk menopause…the buzz word is beauty.  I have reasoned that this trend towards perfection is in a way making up for Mao time, that draconian period known as the Cultural Revolution when Chairman Mao leveled society and made everyone equals – equally poverty stricken, equally miserable, equally drab…. thus modern China’s fixation with youth, sexiness, passion, and everlasting youth makes some sense of the irony!

The day following my lecture I spent nine straight hours at the 10th annual International Beauty Symposium crammed full of thousands of flawless faces presumably seeking some guarantee of looking that good forever….judging from the multi-billion dollar industry they had going in umpteen massive exhibition halls,

Thousands flocked to find everlasting beauty at the International Beauty Symposium...but the expo halls were filled with cigarette smoke and I felt ten years older not younger by the end of the day!

Thousands flocked to the International Beauty Symposium but the crowds and cigarette smoke had me feeling 10 years older not younger by days end!

there appeared to be no limit to what women will do to remain youthful…reconstructive surgery of eyes, chins, cheeks, laser skin resurfacings, fillers and botox, robotic “tightening” technology of every imaginable sort, face lifts, bottom lifts, “rehabilitative pelvic repair” are about as common in China as getting braces in this country!

Whatever type of reconstructive tightening technology you're looking for from skin to pelvis ...the sky is the limit at the International Beauty Symposium

Whatever type of reconstructive tightening technology you’re looking for, from skin to pelvis, sky’s the limit at the International Beauty Symposium

Thus the challenge of speaking about natural health and balance. I suspect that the many women I spoke with or who attended my lecture were not quite as concerned about looking great for their age and  would rather have you believe they look great AND are at least 20 to 30 years younger than they really are… but then we’ve got plenty of that fountain of youth thinking over here too!  I am still sorting my own contradictory thoughts and feelings on this one ….talk to me in 10 years!

Cruising down the Pearl River, Guangzhou China...talk about dazzling beauty!

Cruising down the Pearl River, Guangzhou China…talk about dazzling beauty!

Epilogue: Back home after travelling 14,000 miles in 8 days, I debriefed with the US Chinese rep for the company that sponsored my trip. Li told me that my talk was a smash success, that it “hit the target” and that they are moving forward to introduce hormone testing and bioidentical hormones in China. The powers that be are confident this approach will go over very well with Chinese women who “do not like to use strong medicine, but do like to delay aging.” Clearly. (Presumably they do not equate reconstructive surgery with strong medicine.) In the next breath Li revealed that she is worried she looks older than her years because she has so much stress in her life. I asked her why and she replied that it is because she must work all the time, thus has no time.  It is obvious that as China thrives economically, there is a new kind of post-cultural revolution deprivation: no time to rest and recover from the rigors of becoming the fastest growing economy in the world.  In the course of my conversation with Li, I had commented that practically every man I saw in Guangzhou seemed to be lighting a cigarette, and every woman (interestingly I only saw one female smoking) breathing in the side stream smoke…Li says that’s because they all work too hard and smoking helps them relax. I guess smoking has always been an excuse to take a break, but talk about rapid aging! You couldn’t ask for a better guarantee of wrinkled, sagging skin!

Toxic effects of cigarette smoking = rapid aging of skin in the men who smoke and the women who breathe in the contaminants of sidestream smoke

You deserve a break, but not this kind. Toxic effects of cigarette smoking = rapid aging

So we live and learn. It wasn’t so long ago that my husband grew up in a house with a father who was a 2 pack-a-day man, and I as a kid developed asthma from the suffocating smoke of Dad’s cigars. Times are changing and raising awareness is my job as a health educator. All I can hope is that I was able to get across the message that achieving true health and lasting beauty, no matter your age, is about practicing balance in all forms: hormonal, dietary, stress, exercise, lifestyle, spiritual… that you cannot get a shot that will undo the bad effects of cigarettes,  sidestream smoke, or other toxins, and there’s no laser surgery that can fix the rapid aging of chronic stress….perhaps we all have to learn in our own way, the hard way, but at the end of the day, it boils down to BALANCE!

Contemplating the message of balance at ground level beneath the third tallest tower in the world: Guangzhou City

Contemplating the message of BALANCE at ground level beneath the third tallest tower in the world: Guangzhou City, CHINE

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When it Comes to Natural Hormone Balancing a Compounding Pharmacist is your Friend: How to find the right one

When it comes to balancing your hormones with bioidentical approaches, getting to know a  reliable, compounding pharmacist in your area is an essential first step. Few traditional pharmacists better understand the biochemistry of hormones in the body, or can tailor a prescription to individual need based on hormone test results. And if you have a problem swallowing pills, a skilled compounder can solve that with sublingual troches that taste good while dissolving under the tongue, non-allergenic topical creams that can be applied anywhere on the skin, or vaginal suppositories, nasal sprays, drops, tinctures, you name it! Many of these specially designed delivery systems are so effectively absorbed by the body it takes much less hormone to achieve much greater benefit… the so-called “Goldilocks” approach to dosing hormones appropriately – not too much nor too little, but just right!

Woman reading studying, reading

Looking for safe solutions to hormone balance? It’s important to get all the facts and ask the right questions to find a GOOD compounding pharmacist.

Every since the WHI (Women’s Health Initiative Study) found that synthetic hormones like those used in common HRT combinations, increased risks for stroke, heart attack, blood clots, and breast cancer, compounding pharmacists across the country have become key players in the shift to natural hormones and the Bioidentical Hormone Restoration model, a.k.a. BHRT, where patients, providers, and compounders partner to detect and correct imbalances that diminish health …not to mention energy, mood, memory, strength, libido…I could go on…and on!

As happens every now and then, the bad practices of one pharmacy can cast aspersions upon all. In one such incident last year, a pharmacy in Massachusetts used improper procedures in formulating a sterile medication which led to an outbreak of meningitis and the death of hospital patients injected with the toxin. In light of this tragic event, it seems appropriate to clarify that it is exceedingly rare and to talk about the regulation of pharmacy, and safety measures that GOOD compounders use.

For starters, all compounding pharmacies are subject to government oversight by three different regulatory agencies: 1) the State Board of Pharmacy, which ensures adherence to state laws and good pharmacy 2) the FDA, which regulates the integrity of the drugs and active ingredients compounders purchase; and 3) the DEA, which regulates how compounding businesses buy and dispense controlled substances.

Evidently, the pharmacy in Massachusetts, (the New England Compounding Center)  had previously received warning letters from the FDA, ignored safety guidelines, and, had illegally shipped prescriptions to states in which they were not a licensed pharmacy. Not only was the purity of the chemicals they used questionable given the meningitis outbreak, this particular facility was known as an “outlier” in the compounding world.  According to Natalie Gustafson, RPh., and owner of Pacific Compounds and Lloyd Center pharmacies, in Hillsboro, and Portland, Oregon, “these people were not even closely representative of how most pharmacies operate, which is to put the patient first and to have numerous quality control measures in place to ensure the safety of patients and employees alike.”  Natalie, and her assistant, Pharm-Tech, Cory Dolan, emphasize that to find a compounder you can trust absolutely, it is essential that you talk with them and ask the following key questions:

  • Have you passed inspection by your governing bodies: The State Board of Pharmacy: FDA and the DEA? Have you ever been written up by your State Board?
  • Are you licensed by PCCA (Pharmaceutical Compounding Centers of America)?
  • Do you use only pure USP grade chemicals?
  • Do you run any outside testing of the sterility and potency of your formulations by impartial labs?
  • Do you have safety measures in place like human checks of  all prepared formulas in addition to computer checks?
  • Do you individually label, bar-code, and record the chemicals used in your formulations?
  • Do you have a clean room (with powder hood, etc.) to reduce cross-contamination?
  • Do you use the latest technology your industry has to offer?
  • Do you and your staff regularly obtain continuing education credits and training?

Bottom line: Your compounder is your friend, if and only if, they can answer all the questions above with resounding positives!

How to find a good compounder? Easy. Get to know who has a name in your area. Talk to your provider and find out who she/he recommends, or visit PCCA’s website: www.pcca.com or International Academy of Compounding Pharmacists: www.iacprx.org  for a list of trained compounders  by zipcode. Conversely, if you are looking for a provider (see my July 31, 2012 post: How to Find a Natural-Hormone Friendly Provider) your compounding pharmacist is an excellent resource since they know all the docs in town who know what they’re doing when prescribing bioidenticals. ZRT Laboratory, a top hormone testing lab in the country has a great provider resource directory that includes providers and compounders at www.zrtlab.com

African American woman window shopping

Stop by your local compounding pharmacy…Ask if they have a viewing room where you can check out their “clean room”  and see pharmacy technicians in sterile garb hard at work preparing your personalized prescription.

Once you find someone that sounds good, stop by their pharmacy. Check out their premises, the levels of cleanliness, certificates and registrations of their technicians, available information and resources. A top level facility should ideally have a viewing window where you can observe technicians hard at work under the hood, in the clean room, attired as they should be in the appropriate sterile garb, etc.. A GOOD compounder should offer medical professionals and interested patients tours of their lab and safety procedures. These are the kinds of things to look for so that you can trust your compounder without a shadow of a doubt.

Please chime in to this conversation if you yourself happen to be a compounding pharmacist,  natural friendly hormone provider or concerned health care consumer looking for hormone balance!! Tell us your experience of working with compounders and stay tuned for Kyle’s upcoming blog post from the provider perspective!

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How to Find a Natural Hormone (bioidentical) Friendly Health Care Provider

In the ten years since the the Women’s Health Initiative put the kabosh on HRT, millions of women stopped using PremPro, the combination of horse-derived estrogen and synthetic progestin found to literally be causing all the problems it was supposed to be protecting us against! When the higher risks for heart disease, stroke, blood clots and breast cancer were revealed as outweighing the so-called benefits of the billion dollar drug too many of us had trusted for decades, the researchers halted the the study immediately – three years early.

European women use bioidenticals for balance

In the ensuing years while many women have successfully migrated to bioidentical hormones made from plant substances, millions of other women who chucked their HRT into the bin are still out in the cold, afraid to use any type of hormones at all. This is a crying shame given the fact that hormones govern our every motion and emotion, protect our bones, blood vessels, hearts, brains, and breasts from disease, decay and rapid aging, AND that too many of us are missing out on the benefits of bioidenticals that our European counterparts have enjoyed for decades.

Part of the challenge is that when the bad news about hormones hit the headlines in 2002, many providers had to jettison the old one-size fits all approach to menopause with nothing in place to take its place. Dr. JoAnn Manson, the new director of NAMS (North American Menopause Society), and one of the WHI’s lead investigators underlined this in a recent interview alluding to the “many, many clinicians who no longer prescribe, or know how to prescribe.” She goes on to say, “this isn’t a good situation for women who are having severe menopausal symptoms. They’re going to have trouble finding clinicians who will help them make the most informed decision.” Not a good situation indeed, but for women still seeking safer solutions ten years on from the WHI, Kyle and I can assure YOU that the situation is improving by the minute.

To put this into perspective …. when I became the Director of Education at ZRT Laboratory (one of the largest hormone testing labs in the country) in 2000, just 25 per cent of our clients were health care providers; the rest were consumers looking for answers on their own. Eight years later licensed health care providers had climbed to 75 per cent of our client base, a number that signalled a paradigm shift  from hormone replacement to hormone balance. Pretty promising huh! Not to mention the growing numbers of health educators like me and lifestyle counselors/coaches coming on line to help women explore their options for safe, natural symptom relief.

So, if you are one of those women still feeling confused or out of the loop when it comes to your hormones, we have resources aplenty for you starting with your local compounding pharmacist. The majority of these brainy biochemists really get it when it comes to the whys and wherefores of hormone action in the body and are trained in BHRT (the bioidentical hormone restoration model). Not only are these folks themselves fountains of information, they can usually point you in the direction of health care providers who will test your hormones and are trained to prescribe natural hormone therapies tailored to individual needs. So that’s your first port of call, a face to face with your friendly local compounder, or you can find them by visiting www.iacprx.org.

Next stop are the excellent online resources that enable you to find a provider in your area by simply popping your zipcode into the required field. The best of these can be found at: www.womeninbalance.org, or www.zrtlab.com
Just go to their “find a provider” referral tab. If you need to lose weight you can get a head start on the process by identifying the hormone imbalances that contribute to weight gain through MRC weight loss centers around the country www.emetabolic.com. Their Body in Balance program is the first ever to address hormone imbalance in a nation-wide weight loss program. Awesome!

Meanwhile, if you happen to be in the vicinity of Portland, Oregon you can get in touch with Kyle or myself to explore your options for finding balance in your hormones and in your lives! This is a Menopausibilities essential truth:

Finding, being and staying in balance is a work in progress – take the first step NOW!

Being in balance.

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Filed under Candace Burch, Women's Health & Happiness