Health A-Z Archives: Hormone Replacement Therapy

By Mary-Ann Shearer

Is Hormone Replacement Therapy good for your health?


Hormone Replacement Therapy – some new thoughts about hot flashes and things
By Lynne Peeples

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – If you’re considering starting hormone treatments to ease the hot and bothersome symptoms of menopause, keep in mind that you could suffer even more if you ever stop the therapy, new research says.

The findings of the study, part of the large-scale Women’s Health Initiative (WHI), may give postmenopausal women pause before starting replacement of their body’s declining levels of estrogen.

“Evidence seems to suggest that 25 percent or more of women who start hormones might find it very difficult to stop them — ever,” study co-author Marcia Stefanick, a chair of the WHI’s executive committee, told Reuters Health by email.

Researchers randomly assigned more than 10,000 postmenopausal women who had undergone a hysterectomy – removal of the uterus — to take either estrogen therapy or a hormone-free placebo pill. All women then reported their symptoms before starting the therapy and again one year later.

A portion of the participants also filled out surveys before and after stopping the pills. One out of every three women noted troubling symptoms at the start of the study, with fewer complaints among older women.

After the first year, women on estrogen pills experienced about half as many hot flashes, 40 percent fewer night sweats and 20 percent less vaginal dryness compared to those taking the placebo.

However, the active therapy also led to significantly more breast tenderness, report the researchers in the journal Menopause.

Other problems appeared when the study ended. About 7 percent of women who did not report hot flashes before starting estrogen therapy experienced them after stopping about 7 years later, compared to less than 2 percent of women on the placebo.

The team also saw more joint pain and stiffness among estrogen users following the end of the study, whether or not the women had those symptoms when they enrolled.

The study is a companion to another WHI analysis, which concluded that a combination therapy of estrogen plus progestin could cause more harm than good in postmenopausal women who had not had a hysterectomy. After stopping therapy, five times as many women taking the hormones complained of menopausal symptoms compared to those assigned the placebo.

Further, hormone-treated women developed more breast cancers, and had more heart attacks and other events related to clogged arteries.

Based on that trial, doctors are now discouraged from prescribing hormone therapy only to prevent chronic diseases. The authors – one of 11 of whom reports having been funded by drug companies that make hormone replacement therapy — note that the new analysis adds support to the recommendation not to start hormone therapy for women without menopausal symptoms. The exception is the prevention of the bone-thinning disease osteoporosis.

Fortunately, as both WHI trials demonstrated, menopause symptoms usually subside on their own without the help of a pill. “The hot flashes would have stopped within 3 to 5 years for a substantial proportion of these women had they never started hormones in the first place,” said Stefanick.


So what works for Menopausal symptoms instead of Hormone Replacement Therapy on The Natural Way? 

What works for me, is the following;
– A healthy, high raw plant based diet – animal products result in hot flashes within 15-30 minutes – including dairy products
– Daily exercise – at least 20 minutes a day, which helps balance at least 18 hormones.

Then:
A blend of natural oils containing flax – I use Aimega from Aim or our own natural blend. In the beginning I took 4-6 capsules or tsp daily, but I now found I need less than that maybe once a week. Especially since I have been drinking Forever’s Aloe Vera Gel, which increases absorption of all nutrients.

I also find my sprouted barley grass juice, as it contains a precursor to Vitamin E which helps the pituitary gland (CEO of the hormonal system). I drink BarleyLife from Aim as it is in my opinion the best.
Then I take 2-3 Forever Royal Jelly (from Bees)

Non Food alternatives to Hormone Replacement Therapy

Tribulus Terrestris

Animal studies in rats, rabbits and primates have demonstrated that administration of Tribulus terrestris extract can produce statistically significant increases in levels of testosteronedihydrotestosterone and dehydroepiandrosterone  (DHEA) and produces effects suggestive of aphrodisiac activity. The active chemical in T. terrestris is likely to be protodioscin (PTN), a cousin to DHEA.

In the mid-1990s, tribulus terrestris became known in North America after Eastern European Olympic athletes said that taking tribulus helped their performance. The active compounds in tribulus are called steroidal saponins. Two types, called furostanol glycosides and spirostanol glycosides, appear to be involved with the effects of tribulus. These saponins are found primarily in the leaf. Tribulus is most often used for infertility, erectile dysfunction, and low libido. In the last decade, it has become popular to improve sports performance. Tribulus has been marketed these conditions because research performed in Bulgaria and Russia indicates that tribulus increases levels of the hormones testosterone (by increasing luteinizing hormone), DHEA, and estrogen.

Muira puama

Also called “potency wood,” is a small tree up to 15 feet in height native to the Brazilian Amazon. The bark and root are the primary parts that are utilized. Indigenous peoples use muira puama for the therapy of sexual debility, fatigue, neuromuscular problems, and rheumatism. It’s botanical name is Ptychopetalum olacoides. Don’t be surprised if you see it spelled in many different ways, including mara puama, marapuama, and marapama

Catuaba bark

The catuaba is a small tree that has yellow and orange flowers, which can be found in northern Brazil. In addition to chewing bark from the catuaba tree during their hunting trips in the Amazon, the Tupi Indians have used catuaba bark for years to alleviate mental and physical fatigue, and drowsiness. Below are the essentials on the positive aspects of this bark.

Natural Aphrodisiac

Catuaba bark acts as a natural aphrodisiac. The bark enhances a male’s reproductive system. Although the herb is primarily used to improve erection in men, catuaba contains libido-enhancing elements for both men and women. Specifically, it helps the genitals function more effectively.

Promotes Healing

Catuaba bark prevents individuals from feeling agitated, and helps with forgetfulness and dementia. People who have taken this herb, have claimed to feel more relaxed and energetic. Catuaba also acts as a stimulant of the nervous system, and helps with depression. The herb relieves nerve pain, and helps with insomnia.

Non-toxic Properties

Other benefits of catuaba bark are its non-toxic properties, such as aromatic oils, tannins and alkaloids. The herb can be taken as capsules with dosages of 500 to 1000 mg. You can obtain the bark in tincture or powder form. Catuaba produces no side effects because of its non-toxic elements.

Antibacterial Compound

Researchers in Japan have found that catuaba bark contains antibacterial compound. In their studies, mice were given high doses of E. Coli and infection, and catuaba. The catuaba bark protected the mice from the bacteria.

Antiviral Compound

Researchers in Japan have also found that catuaba contains antiviral compound. Studies have shown that the herb can fight the HIV virus. Researchers fed mice catuaba and injected them with the HIV virus. Results show that the catuaba bark protected the white blood cells of the mice from absorbing the virus. However, more studies are still being conducted to on whether catuaba is an effective treatment for the HIV virus.

L-Arginine

An amino acid, the main benefits of l-arginine include:

Immune Enhancer: One of the effects of l arginine on the body is to raise thymus gland activity. The thymus gland manufactures T-cells and the more T-cells the body has the stronger the bodies immune system is. L arginine benefits the body by helping to create more T-cells and this in turn can help to slow down tumor growth, cancer, and help with diseases such as AIDS, which suppress the body’s immune system.

Arginine-nitric oxide relation: Another of the benefits of l arginine is nitric oxide synthesis. Nitric oxide helps to relax and dilate blood vessels and increase blood flow to heart and brain. Therefore, l arginine supplements may be beneficial for anyone suffering from heart and blood vessel problems.

Arginine-Weight loss and bodybuilding: L arginine supplements are very common among body builders and those wishing to loose weight. Arginine helps to decrease the amount of fat in the body by helping to metabolize protein. This is done by improving the nitrogen balance in the body and the body is therefore able to convert protein into muscle mass more easily.

 Infertility: Arginine increases sperm count. Studies have shown that a high arginine dosage can be extremely beneficial for men who have low sperm counts. Arginine can also be used as a natural treatment for erection problems. This is due to the fact that arginine helps to increase the blood flow to the genital area by stimulating nitric oxide in the body.

Saw Palmetto

Saw palmetto is an extract derived from the deep purple berries of the saw palmetto fan palm (Serenoa repens), a plant indigenous to the coastal regions of the southern United States and southern California.

Saw palmetto is a remarkable herb for both men and women and is used by natural health practitioners to treat a variety of ailments such as testicular inflammation, urinary tract inflammation, coughs and respiratory congestion. It is also used to strengthen the thyroid gland, balance the metabolism, stimulate appetite and aid digestion. This wonderful herb is becoming famous for its uses in hair restoration, prostate health, sexual vigour, breast enhancement and as a nutritive tonic.

 Saw palmetto berry also tones the urethra and it may be used to uphold the healthy function of the thyroid gland and urinary system.
Pygeum africanum (bark).

Pygeum

In herbal medicine, pygeum (bark of a tree grown in Southern Africa) is typically used in treatment of the following conditions:

(BPH)benign prostatic hypertrophy
inflammation
erectile dysfunction
kidney disease
male baldness
stomach upset
urinary tract disorders

Pygeum is also purported to act as a natural aphrodisiac enhance sexual performance, and protect against prostate cancer.

Co enzyme Q10

Co-enzyme q10 is an antioxidant nutrient that is found in every cell. It helps the body produce energy within that cell, being a coenzyme for several mitochondrial enzymes. The mitochondria is where cellular energy production takes place. Unfortunately, like many of the things our bodies need to maintain top shape, it’s made less as we grow older. For this reason, many people choose to take Coq10 supplements, although it is also found in food.

CoQ10 is also found in spinach, broccoli, green leafy vegetables (like barley grass) peanuts, other nuts and wheat germ. These foods must be unprocessed, and grown in an environment that is free from pollution. Organic would therefore be preferable. But CoQ10 is made by the body in the right amounts when your diet is plant based and natural.

Another reason many people choose to use supplements of coenzyme Q10, is that it is easily affected by the heat from cooking. Thus, it is best to get it from raw foods, though the best sources of coq10 do not lend themselves to being eaten raw, like animal flesh!
So, what are the benefits of increasing the amounts of coenzyme q10 in our bodies?

Many people report feeling like they have more energy as a result of taking coq10. This could be a result of a number of factors. Coenzyme q10 is great for the heart, improving the ability of it to pump more blood. It also lowers the viscosity of blood, making it even easier for the heart to function optimally. But coq10 is also very supportive of the immune system. Some studies found that it doubled the level of antibodies, as well as increasing the body’s ability to cope with viruses. Given that people are often dealing with the effects of bacteria, perhaps candida, worms, and other sub-clinical manifestations of disease, it no wonder that they may feel more energized after taking coenzyme q10. A healthier body has more energy available to it.

Given the connection between gum disease and cardiovascular health, it is perhaps not surprising that co-enzyme q10 is also beneficial here. It can stop the progression of gingivitis, and encourage healing and strengthening of the gums. If you don’t like going to the dentist, and are bothered by bleeding or swelling of the gums, then coenzyme q10 may be a good oral preventative.

There are quite a few other areas that co-enzyme q10 is useful in. These include:

weight loss
high blood pressure
multiple sclerosis
chronic fatigue
diabetes
muscular dystrophy
muscle weakness

It is important to realize that coq10 is not a ‘cure all’. Even if you have any of the above, this supplement can only be of benefit if you are actually deficient in coenzyme q10. This is particularly important with regards weight loss, as this is one area where people are often too eager to follow claims of possible benefit.

The good news is that if you are in fact deficient in co-enzyme q10, then taking a supplement will help you lose twice as much weight compared to those who don’t have a deficiency. But the key is, of course, that you must have a deficiency in the first place! Try and be objective, if you’re interested in exploring whether this is for you. And don’t think that it takes the place of exercise, or eating properly!

Lycium - also known as wolf or Gogi berries or the matrimony vine due to its effect on libido and fertility. Lycium has been used in China for centuries. Lycium is excellent for eyesight as it is high in 5 carotenoids including lutein and zeaxanthan. Lycium is known to encourage the body to produce more HGH or Human Growth Hormone, the hormone that keeps us young and slim. It si an essential plant to take to help with weight regulation. Research on 20 elderly people over just a 3 week period indicated that in 67% of the people, T-Cells tripled and white blood cells doubled indicating a clear positive effect on the immune system. Depression lifted (natural antidepressant), appetite balanced and sleep improved. 35% of the people recovered full sexual function. Pretty powerful stuff! Clearly the endocrine (hormonal) system is being affected in a positive way.

Licorice – has been used for centuries too and research indicates that licorice (raw, unprocessed and with no added sugar) will benefit people who have asthma, emphysema and tuberculosis, athlete’s food, baldness, bursitis, canker sores, chronic fatigue, depression, colds, coughs and flu (I well remember those cough and cold syrups of old that contained licorice), gingivitis, tooth decay, out, heartburn, viral and fungal infections, ulcers, liver, menopause, psoriasis, shingles, sore throat, yeast infections, prostate problems & arthritis. Whew a real cure all!

GinChia contains 2 main  ingredients

Chia - is the seed of a herb grown in North & South America as a staple food and once staple of the Aztecs. Hi in Omega 3 and 6 with the perfect ratio of Omega 3 to 6. Contains water soluble fibre which is ideal for constipation and diarrhea (regulates bowel function), regulates thyroid and other hormonal function, contains all 8 amino acids for complete protein, has powerful antioxidants (chlorogenic and caffeic acids and the flavenols, myrcetin, quercetin and kampferol).

Ginseng - Panax (panacea, meaning heal all) and Siberian is a muscle relaxant, so helps with stress, it is adaptogenic in that it helps where help is needed. Ginseng is a natural aphrodisiac helping with libido and sexual function, helps regulate blood sugar especially in diabetes and insulin resistance, contains many antioxidant and anti carcinogenic properties and protects against radiation from treatment or electronic equipment, is anti inflammatory, has a positive effect on the pituitary gland (manages the entire hormonal system) improves sperm quantity and quality and is considered a revitalizing plant.


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