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Menopause Remedies: Drugs vs. Natural
- Pharmaceutical drugs and side effects
- Types of herbal remedies for menopause: BHRT, OTC and newest
- Hormone levels that need to be monitored
- Pharmacy and physician information for drugs, natural remedies and the menopause diet
Thank heavens the topic of menopause is out in the open. Gone are the days when women had to quietly (or not so quietly) suffer through the changes that our bodies undergo as we grow older and our bodies stop producing some of the youthful hormones. There are diagnoses of all the varying elements; peri- and post- menopause as well as a variety of treatments. Pharmaceutical companies push their drugs, which have been associated with a stream of side affects; the worst of which is potential cancer risks. Homeopaths encourage natural, bio-identical hormones and herbal remedies for menopause. Studies on both sides negate each other. So which is the best path to choose? A little education goes a long way to help you select the treatment that’s right for you.
Synthetic Hormone Drug Treatment:
Standard synthetic hormone replacement drugs are, of course, by prescription only. Studies in the 1970s linked the synthetic estrogen and progesterone drugs to endometrial cancer. The drug company that produce the product released new products that promised to eliminate the original hazard and do everything from strengthening bones to an almost fountain-of-youth. Medical studies then linked those drugs to increased breast cancer, heart disease and strokes. When the scare began creating the need for a more natural approach, independent compounding pharmacies began creating bio-identical hormone prescriptions. So that they wouldn’t lose another ‘cash cow’ drug, the drug company fought back by rallying the FDA to push a law through that would keep the pharmacies from creating the more natural alternatives. To combat the competition, the drug company created their own BHRT drug. It has been approved by the FDA, however, it is in a one-size-fits-all concept.
BHRT (Bio-Identical Hormone Therapy) has existed for over 20 years. The benefit is that the treatment doses are individualized and the mixture of products are mostly available only to the compounding pharmacies. Bioidentical hormones are those that are molecularly identical to the hormones that are produced in the body. These hormones are chemicals that are derived from sources of yam or soybean. Steroids and hormones are taken from animals and plants then altered to be identical in molecular structure. They can be formed in cream, oral, suppository or injection and are absorbed quickly by the body. These are also based on a prescription, but from a physician that understands the benefits and can write a compounded prescription. There are three hormone categories that must be balanced: estrogen, progesterone and androgen.
Categories of Bio-Identical Hormone Replacement Therapy…
1. Natural Estrogens
Most of the prescription estrogens when taken by mouth are converted in your GI tract and end up predominantly as estrone. Three estrogens to consider are Estrone, Estradiol and Estriol.
If you want to get your estrogen levels up to where they were before menopause then estradiol is your natural estrogen. Studies indicate that Estrone is the estrogen responsible for breast cancer.
The primary estrogen produced by the ovary is Estradiol and estrone which is formed by the conversion of estradiol. Vaginal rings, estradiol creams, and transdermal patches, provide pre-menopausal levels of estradiol.
Estriol is prevalent primarily during pregnancy because very large amounts of Estriol are produced which leads to the protection against breast cancer. If you desire a natural estrogen that is the least likely to cause cancer then estriol may be the right choice.
2. Natural Progesterone, one of the menopause remedies
- Natural progesterone is made by the ovaries prior to menopause and by the adrenal glands and fat cells after menopause and is the precursor for natural estrogen. It is the single most important hormone in the female body.
- Natural progesterone corrects hormone imbalance of the two primary female hormones. This will protect from the effects of Estrogen Dominance.
- Natural progesterone has many positive benefits. Some possible benefits include…
- Facilitates Thyroid Hormone Action
- Natural Anti-depressant
- Natural Diuretic
- Normalizes Blood Sugar Levels
- Normalizes Zinc & Copper Levels
- Normalizes Blood Clotting
- Helps to Normalize Ovaries
- Osteoblast Stimulated in Bone Tissue Cells
3. Natural Androgens
The body uses natural or supplemented androgens as a source of estrogen. Produced by the female ovaries, Androgens are essential to normal sexual development and are a major part in maintaining sexual desire along with strong and healthy skin, muscle and bone. The natural testosterone will not produce the side effects of synthetic testosterone.
OTC as part of the menopause remedies
There are a few over-the-counter, soy based, pill form products on the market for another form of natural hormone replacement. Medical studies seem to lean more towards the fact that these have not proven any significant improvements than placebos; however, women who take them say otherwise. Many women taking these products have experienced a reduction in most of the menopause related symptoms. Part of the menopause diet of remedies, you must see what works for you.
According to the July, 2009 report from MedicalNewsToday: “New research, has revealed that an extract which concentrates specific nutrients from Klamath blue green algae, could provide an effective natural remedy for women looking for an effective alternative to HRT to control mood swings and improve overall wellbeing. The data, published in Gynecological Endocrinology, demonstrated that oxidative stress, which influences both psychological and physical symptoms of the menopause, could be reduced by significantly increasing the body’s naturally produced antioxidant and anti-inflammatory defenses.”
So now what?
If you are going to go the synthetic route, be sure to do your homework and ask questions of your medical provider. Get the names of the drugs, the drug monographs; find out the medical statistics on the drugs affect regarding heart attack, stroke and cancer. Require that you have your blood work done to analyze your current hormone levels. Do follow up blood work to make sure that the drug is not having any adverse affect. Talk to your pharmacist to see if there are any drug interactions with standard medication, OTC or natural products that you might be taking.
If you have made the choice to go the BHRT route, find a compounding pharmacist in your area. They will have a list of physicians that are educated on the benefits of BHRT and can write a compounded prescription. Require the same blood work pre and post prescription to ensure that the hormone levels are balanced. Your physician can customize the prescription and the compounding pharmacist will adjust the dosage.
If you want more information on herbal remedies for menopause you can talk to a nutritionist at your local health food store
If you decide to start with the OTC products. Read the labels and give it at least three months to see if it works for you.
The information supplied in this article is not to be considered as medical advice and is for educational purposes only.
|Hormonal Health16 Oct 2009|