Let's Put an End to the Hormone Controversy

By Dr. Barbara Custer

Let's start out by understanding that there is no controversy about the risk of taking synthetic hormones. Many studies have definitively, and repeatedly, shown high risk factors for certain types of cancer caused directly from synthetic hormones. So there is no controversy!

In the late 1990's, many studies linked the use of synthetic hormones to certain types of cancers. Many women at that time were using synthetic hormones such as birth control pills, Estradial, Premerin, and Provera for pms, peri-menopause, menopause and birth control. Nationally and internationally, gynecologists and MD's were recommending patients to stop taking these drugs and/or reduce dosages.

I highly recommend to all of my patients who are currently on synthetic Hormone Replacement Therapy to change to natural products and bio-identical hormones made from plant extracts. We find that they are very effective for elevating hormone levels into normal ranges and correcting symptoms without the risks of synthetic hormones.

Are You Having Hormone Problems?

•Any woman who has PMS, has hormone imbalances. All young women with any gynecological issues also have hormone related problems.

•By the time a woman is in her early 30's, certain hormones start decreasing as part of a natural waning process. This can directly affect fertility and pregnancy.

•By the early 40's, progesterone, thyroid and adrenal hormones can all start decreasing on the journey to peri-menopause and menopause causing weight gain, fatigue, and insomnia.

•Men and women with decreased libido and sexual function. Hormones can return these systems to normal functioning.

•Women after childbirth. Often after childbirth hormones do not re-regulate naturally, causing low energy and post partum depression.

Understanding Hormones

All of the following symptoms are caused by hormone imbalances or insufficiencies. PMS, uterine cysts, fibroids, fatigue, infertility, insomnia, incontinence, vaginal dryness, bone, teeth and hair loss, low libido, loss of muscle density, aging skin, memory loss, and thyroid insufficiency.

The whole endocrine system is involved in the peri and menopausal process for women, and the aging process for both men and women. This includes the thyroid, all sex and adrenal hormones, pituitary function and all brain chemistry. The same diminishing hormonal process also affects men over 40, and can affect libido, sexual performance and total body energy. Since men don't have menstrual cycles this naturally occurring declining cycle is not as obvious as with women.

Baseline Hormone Testing

What types of natural products and supplements to take are determined by the symptoms, genetics tendencies, health history, medications, desired results, and baseline hormone testing.

I recommend baseline hormone testing be done to determine not only the hormone deficiencies, but also the proper hormone ratios. Testing can help determine baseline hormones and natural treatment protocol can then be implemented. Proper amounts of the correct natural products or combination of products can then be decided upon.

The importance of baseline hormone testing cannot be stressed enough, otherwise what a patient needs, and how to reach the desired results are completely unknown. Many of my patients come to me with piles of pills from the health food store trying to get some symptomatic relief but they have no idea exactly what they need or how much to take because they have not had their hormones tested.

Testing can be done with urine, saliva and blood tests. We have found that all types of testing are very accurate. For men and post-menopausal women, these tests can be done at any time. For women with menstrual cycles, testing should be done at the mid-cycle.

Re-testing is an important part of the treatment protocol to see if the optimal hormonal range has been achieved and if the symptoms have also been eliminated.

Great Natural Supplements

Some of the most important benefits of using natural products are that they are made from plants, have been used for thousands of years, are safe, and non-toxic to the body.
Progesterone: A naturally occurring chemical compound found in the wild yam. It has the exact same "bio identical" structure as the hormone produced by the ovaries. Progesterone starts to naturally wane after 30. It governs many symptoms such as pms, insomnia, fatigue, mood, infertility and many peri-menopausal symptoms.

Estrogen: A naturally occurring substance found in high levels in all soy products. The bodies own estrogens remains at high levels until a woman begins peri-menopause. Estrogen governs all fatty tissues. Low estrogen can cause problems with fertility, bone density, bone loss, fatigue, insomnia, aging, sagging skin, thinning hair and thinning vagina and bladder tissue.

Testosterone: A very important hormone for both men and women. It helps with sexual interest and desire, bone density, stimulating total body energy and elevating mood. It is an especially important hormone for muscle mass and strength for men and women. Some of the most famous herbal products that convert to testosterone are Red Siberian Ginseng, Rodale and Maca.

Dhea: Dhea is a metabolite made from wild yam extract. It has many proven health benefits such as increased libido especially in women, fights adrenal fatigue, and increases total body energy for both men and women. Some studies show significant decrease in feelings of depression.