Tag Archives: HRT

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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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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Insist on Bioidenticals: BHRT is the new HRT

It never ends I said to no one in particular.  And then loud enough to raise a few eyebrows: when will these people get it right!! I was referring of course to the crazy- making misinformation on hormones that crops up way too often in the popular press. I had been in the doctors office that day, riffling through  the Health and Science section of a month old Time Magazine when my eye landed  on a handy dandy chart divided into OLD SCIENCE – NEW SCIENCE. The OLD column was in a muddy green hue and the NEW in eco-green.

Under OLD Science on Hormone Replacement it was written: Estrogen and progestin protected post-menopausal women from heart disease.

Under NEW Science it was written: Hormones do not protect the heart and can increase the risk of breast cancer. 

Excuse me? They got the first part right, but to then say that “hormones do not protect….” sounds like they are saying ALL hormones do not protect and ALL hormones are bad for us when nothing could be further from the truth.  Endogenous hormones, the real ones that our bodies produce naturally, certainly do protect the heart and the breasts (not to mention all the other reproductive organs in the body, including blood vessels, bones, brain, etc.), that’s what they are there for! And the next best thing to the real thing? A bioidentical hormone, derived from plant substances made to mimic mother nature.   Yet the presumably up-to-date editors of Time’s Health and Science section (no less) chose not to make mention of  bioidentical hormones. They chose not to mention what is  widely recognized by scientists and experts alike that Bioidentical Hormone Restoration Therapy” or BHRT is the new HRT.

One size no longer fits all
when it comes to women’s hormonal health

And in the year 2012, a full decade since the bad news about Prempro hit the headlines, there was no mention of the millions of American women who are switching over to BHRT  because it works – without putting us at risk for strokes, heart disease and breast cancer. We women are on to the NEW science of bioidenticals, learning how hormones work in our bodies, reading the studies, listening to the experts, partnering with providers and experiencing the relief.  We have seen the future of women’s hormonal health and we’re not going back!

My little hormonal rant puts me in mind of a recent “Dr. Oz Says”  that I have to share with you here: “Hormones are better now. The Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) monitored women taking high doses of Prempro, a synthetic mix of horse derived estrogens and progestin ….. This combo is still prescribed today, but you should insist on today’s much safer types of  hormone therapy: bioidentical estrogen, and especially, progesterone. They can lower your breast cancer risk and protect your heart. Yes, we’re going against the establishment but you deserve the right data, not the BS (bad science) from those who seem not to care what the WHI and other studies said. Today’s hormone therapy is safer – so safe in fact that it is the intelligent option for women.”

Oz says it all, and he says it all right. Mixed in with the mixed messages on hormonal health there are those who are doing the work, witnessing its benefit, and unafraid to speak truth to power. In the paradigm shift from synthetic to authentic hormones the science is growing and it is on our side.

Balance is achievable.

You can gather that evidence for yourself by checking out the scientific resource sections at Women in Balance www.womeninbalance.org or The Seventh Woman Foundation www.theseventhwoman.org. Meanwhile join in the discussion and comment right here on the blog to let us know how you have experienced the benefit of  BHRT and natural hormone balance.

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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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In defense of saliva hormone testing: the battle of spit vs. blood

Last week the talking head TV doctors were at it again,  spinning and disparaging the accuracy and validity of saliva hormone testing despite decades of use by health care providers around the world to detect and correct hormone imbalances.  This kind of noise gets louder every now and again, emanating mostly from well-paid spokesmen for big-Pharma contracted to uphold the status quo.

By that of course, I mean the continued use of synthetic HRT (albeit at lesser doses but nevertheless a far cry from the bioidenticals Dr. Oz and other forward thinking providers now favor and tell us to INSIST upon if we want to prevent breast cancer, heart disease, blood clots and stroke) AND blood testing. Naysayers would have you believe that blood is the ONLY way to measure hormones accurately in EVERY person on the planet, despite the fact that unlike standard blood tests, saliva measures bioavailable, active hormone levels that any savvy practitioner will tell you, more closely correlates with patient symptoms. Not to  mention that it accomplishes this task non-invasively, without the needles that can raise stress and skew results…indeed that is why saliva testing remains the gold standard for collection of cortisol stress hormones.

Thousands of reputable MDs, NDs, NPs, PAs, endocrinologists, (and I might add, a growing number of Ob-GYNS) etc., use saliva testing to quantify hormone levels as do scientists and researchers  in the field. The World Health Organization for one, has used salivary testing to run cross-cultural comparisons of hormone levels in women living in industrialized vs. third world countries.
As to why this issue rears its head from time to time, to be fair it has to be said that many traditional MDs are not yet familiar with  the ranges and measurements used in saliva testing which differ from the standard blood test. Hence they are not comfortable interpreting a saliva test result or its’ validity. But this is no excuse for being indifferent to evidence of benefit, or as someone once said, being down on what one is not up on.

Looking sideways at the benefits of saliva testing is a disservice to those who stand to benefit

To make a long story short, the saliva hormone test provides invaluable information millions of people are using to shed new light on a persistent problem, rebalance their hormones naturally, and improve their health, energy and longevity. As the former Director of Education at ZRT Laboratory, I saw its benefits in action and heard from clients every day who told of persistent symptoms relieved, weight lost at last, mojo restored, divorce postponed for good! By the time I moved on from ZRT into my own hormone consultancy we had tested nearly 2 million people – the numbers speak for themselves.

Have you had your hormones tested in saliva and experienced the benefits of easy collection, easy monitoring and information you were able to use to make a difference in the way you think, look and feel? If so, please chime in ….and comment on our blog in defense of saliva!

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Top 10 Hormone Rebalancing Tips: YOU could be walking around with a hormone imbalance and Not Even Know It! Oprah said that but what did she mean? Hormone imbalance defined.

Return to Balance

No one likes being out of balance, especially when the hot flashes, foggy thinking, and mood swings of menopause leave us feeling like a pale reflection of our former selves. During this hormonally challenged time its important to realize that the extent to which we suffer from troublesome symptoms has much do with the extent to which our lives – and our hormones – are out of balance.

Picture if you will synchronized swimmers all pointing their toes in perfect petal formation at the exact same moment. Suddenly, one of the swimmers takes off in a different direction, let’s call her progesterone, another dives to the bottom of the pool (call her testosterone), a few more decide to make waves (call them cortisols) while the last but not least of swimmers (call her estrogen) takes over the whole routine. All that beautiful synchrony, gone.

Image

Key hormone players achieve balance through synchrony

And so it goes with us. When our hormones are out of sync, we are out of sync – physically, mentally, emotionally. And because hormones are so mutually dependant (a deficiency of one creates a surplus of another), there are countless opportunities for imbalance. As Oprah put it at the opening of her show on women and hormones, “You could be walking around with a hormone imbalance and not even know it!” Knowing the signs and symptoms of a hidden hormone imbalance is your first big clue, testing and exploring your options is next  …. But before we go any further, let me explain what a hormonal imbalance is…. It’s what happens when one or more of the key hormone players (see Kyle’s most recent blog): estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, DHEA and/or Cortisol, fall out of proportion to each other, (or like our synchronized swimmers above, swim off in different directions) that we are left with excesses of one hormone and deficiencies of another, a working definition of hormone imbalance. These unwelcome but inevitable shifts in hormonal milieu can be handled but until we learn how, they can seriously disrupt our  moods, memory, mojo, and zest for living. It can happen to the best of us …I would describe myself during my early experience of imbalance as feeling addled, exhausted and unloving…in a word or two: basket case.  Here now are some of the more common (preventable – seize on that word ladies) doozies:

Estrogen Dominance (flabby, crabby and fed-up) – this mother of all hormone imbalances results from high estrogen levels relative to low progesterone as a result of erratic ovulation, normal aging, hysterectomy (particularly if estrogen therapy is prescribed post-surgery in the absence of its balancing partner, progesterone), and exposure to environmental chemicals known as “xenoestrogens” (see my Feb 1st post: the Cruciferous Connection). Too much estrogen triggers multiple symptoms like weight gain, mood swings, heavy periods/no periods, lost libido, lost pzazz, lost YOU…. It typically begins at Perimenopause (early to mid-40s) when hormones wax and wane, and ends with Menopause (early 50s) when cycles cease and the ovaries stop making hormones for good. Younger women who don’t ovulate regularly (note that lack of ovulation = lack of progesterone) can also be estrogen dominant, plagued by PMS, monthly migraines, tender breasts, water retention and painful periods. So when it comes to hormone imbalance, too much estrogen is just as much an issue as too little. Having said that….

Estrogen deficiency (hot, sweaty, weepy) – low levels of estrogen can trigger that hot flash in the middle of an important meeting, or night sweats in the middle of the night, as well as other bedevilments like vaginal dryness, thinning skin, brittle nails, bones, heart palpitations, fragile emotions, muddled mind….

Imbalances of Testosterone/DHEA and Cortisol (no longer lean, just mean) are a bad combination that deplete energy, metabolism, mental clarity, stamina, and the strength of our bones, muscles, and libido. When for instance, the stress hormone cortisol goes up or stays up, testosterone goes down along with our enthusiasm, drive, and zest for living.

Adrenal Imbalances (tired, wired, and bummed-out): Lows and/or highs of cortisol resulting from unresolved stress, junk food, lack of sleep and exercise, can cause rapid aging and belly fat bigtime – not to mention allergies, insomnia, and chronic fatigue.  This under-recognized imbalance generally makes an appearance in mid-life when the adrenal glands have to pick up the slack in hormone production. The once and future energizer bunny no longer hops but plops, her sunny mood submerged under a black cloud. This is the time when the flack hits the fan if we don’t take better care of ourselves; tired, overworked adrenals eventually burnout and so do we…

Fluctuating hormones at perimenopause when hormone production becomes erratic are usually behind the hair-raising symptoms known to everywoman as the “emotional roller coaster.” That’s when all hell breaks loose and we’ll do anything for relief!

Fortunately we have a lot more control over these ups and downs than we might think. Consider these Top 10 Tips  to empower yourself and return to balance:

1.   Determine your symptoms of hormone imbalance http://www.hormonesynergy.com/women.asp  or http://www.theseventhwoman.org

2.   Test your hormones to detect hidden imbalances http://www.canaryclub.org or http://www.zrtlab.com

3.   If you have an imbalance and need to supplement insist on bioidentical hormones – they are better and safer!

4.   Learn how and when to use natural progesterone, the “great balancer.” http://www.theseventhwoman.org

5.   Support adrenal health with optimal C and B-complex, D3, and herbal tonics such as Dong Quai, Astragalus, Maca, Rhodiola, etc.

6.   Avoid xenoestrogens – eat “hormone free” foods, go GREEN with home, garden, bodycare; microwave in ceramic/glass; reject synthetic hormone replacement (HRT) and any products with unpronounceable ingredients, exercise in the open air whenever possible.

7.    Counteract stress by releasing tension: stretching, deep breathing, yoga, pilates, zumba, walking. Strength train to boost hormones naturally.

8.   Take your vitamin Zzzs – power nap!

9.   Make more ME time

10.  Act the way you want to feel! ( The Happiness Project, by Gretchen Rubin, order at http://menopausibilities.com/womens-health-shop.html)

How do YOU rebalance? Have you got a top 10, or 5, or a Numero UNO all-time best tip you can share? We’d love to pass it on!

Rebalancing amongst the Rhododendrens

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Filed under Candace Burch, Hormone Imbalance, Women's Health & Happiness