Natural Support For Healthy Hormone Balance
Although men and women are both susceptible to many of the same diseases, those areas of women's health that pertain to the sex hormones and female sex organs can vary greatly from those of a man. Maintaining the correct balance of female sex hormones is one of the unique and most important aspect of women's health.
Maintaining Hormone Balance
Normal weight is crucial to hormone balance. Fat cells manufacture estrogen. This can lead to an excess of estrogen in both men and women. Maintaining normal weight is important for balanced hormones. This is believed to be the reason that hormone-related cancers (breast, uterine, endometrial) are seen more frequently in overweight and obese women.
Although synthetic and horse-urine derived hormones have been the standard in conventional medicine for years, such forms of hormone replacement therapy are unsafe. Higher risk of heart disease and hormones-related cancers are the most worrisome side effects of conventional hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Most holistic physicians prefer to use natural HRT (nHRT), an alternative that actually reduces the risk of heart disease, hormone related cancers, osteoporosis and premature aging.
Natural hormone replacement therapy is conducted by first performing a female hormone profile. Such testing of the entire complement of female hormones including estriol, estrone, estradiol, progesterone, testosterone and DHEA is almost NEVER done in conventional medicine. Instead of using a "generic" prescription, the holistic physician can instead use the results of the female hormone profile to write a custom-tailored Rx. for each patient. These customized hormone prescriptions can be filled by a "compounding pharmacist," meaning a pharmacist who specializes in making custom formulas.
Unlike convnetional HRT which uses high doses of estradiol and synthetic progesterone almost exclusively, nHRT typically encompasses all the sex hormones and in doses that attempt to duplicate the hormone pattern that a woman had in her younger years. This is a very different and much safer approach to hormone replacement therapy.
Short of consulting a physician, having a female hormone profile performed and getting a custom-tailored natural hormone prescription written, there are self-help measures that a woman can take to improve female hormone balance without hormone replacement.
Certain hormone-containing herbs have a balancing effect on the system. (See the following recommendations). It is HIGHLY INADVISABLE to take actual hormone supplements, even if they are sold without a prescription, without the advice and laboratory testing that a doctor can offer. Such hormones, available without prescription, include DHEA and progesterone. [NOTE: Many health food store brands of progesterone creams do not contain any hormone, and the body cannot convert wild yam (dioscorea) into progesterone, no matter how much the lady at the health food store argues otherwise! In natural medical circles, we call this "The Yam Scam"!]
Also remember that other non-hormone factors can create imbalances in the sex hormones. An excess or deficiency of thyroid hormone will change sex hormone levels, and no amount of sex hormone replacement will correct the problem until the thyroid function has been compensated for. Sluggish liver function has a major impact on hormone balance because the liver "processes" and converts sex hormones to forms that can be eliminated from the body.
Those seeking self-help measures should try the following approach to hormone balance. If symptoms persist (hot flashes, depression, loss of libido, skin aging, bone loss, elevated cholesterol or heart disease), then consultation with an holistic physician and determination of a customized natural hormone Rx. should be considered.
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DIET AND LIFESTYLE RECOMMENDATIONS
- Diet: eat a diet high in nutrient-rich foods.
- Increase consumption of soy products (if tolerated).
- Achieve and maintain a normal weight.
- Exercise regularly. 30 minutes, 3 times per week minimum.
- Don't smoke! The climacteric (menopause) occurs sooner in people who smoke.
- Maxi Multi, 3 caps, 3 times per day with meals.
- MyPacks, one packet per day with a meal.
- Cal-Mag Amino: as needed to increase calcium intake to 1,500mg per day (post menopausal only). If taking Maxi Multi with a total of 1,000 mg per day of calcium, take an additional 3 capsules of Cal-Mag Amino daily.
- Easy Soy Gold: 1 tablet, once per day with breakfast. [Target dose: 100mg or more of soy isoflavones; 50-100mg or more of genisteins].
- Milk Thistle Plus+: 1 cap, 2 times per day with meals.
- Melatonin: 3mg at bedtime.
For Hot Flashes:
- Black Cohosh Plus+: 1-2 capsules, 3 times per day as needed. When symptoms improve, decrease the dose to the smallest amount needed to continue feeling well.
- Vitamin E: Take an additional 400IU per day extra with meals. (Maxi Multi contains 400IU per day). [Target dose: 800IU per day].
- DHEA: 25 mg with breakfast. Higher doses might be needed, but it is inadvisable to take higher than 25mg per day without first obtaining a female hormone profile. See "Dr. Myatt's Comment" below.
- Hormone replacement creams or natural prescriptions as recommended by your holistic physician.
DR. MYATTS COMMENT: Hormone tests can take the guesswork out of hormone balancing and make correction surer and safer. If you do not see noticeable improvement in six to twelve weeks with self-help measures, consider consulting myself or another holistically-oriented physician. Youthful hormone balance is one of the best health and longevity measures you can take!