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Wilmington North Carolina HRT Specialists 

Bioidentical hormone therapy, when used for the first time, has potential side effects as the body is not used to the new level of hormones. Most of these side effects are also linked to dosage, and it is advisable as your hormones improve, you adjust and in the case of further changes you should contact your physician. One should not confuse side effects with risks common to those who take hormones especially hormone therapy (HT). In older women, the consistent use of hormone therapy can lead to heart diseases and breast cancer while in other people mainly in a youthful state; risks are blood clots, stroke, and gallbladder disease. Below are common side effects of using bioidentical hormone replacement therapy.

Hormone Replacement

• There is increased aggressiveness in both men and women during the first time of using bioidentical hormone replacement therapy, but problems are resolved as levels become balanced

• There are side effects in women related to breast tenderness, cramping, bloating, and spotting in the body. This side effect is tied to the treatment of hormone estrogen, but it is resolved as hormones are balanced

• Patients commonly complain of itching and redness at the injections, but symptoms disappear as the body adjusts to treatment.

What You Should Know About Menopause and Bioidentical Hormones

Menopausal Hormone Therapy

Most women experience the onset of the menopause at an average age of about 50, but it can start anytime from the early forties to the late fifties. Symptoms can vary: some women sail through but others suffer the miseries of lack of energy, hot flashes, depression, night sweats, and loss of libido.

The usual remedy prescribed by doctors is hormone replacement therapy (HRT), and tranquillizers and anti-depressants to which you can become addicted. Before embarking on such treatment, investigate the natural alternative.

HRT is prescribed to counter balance the reduced production by your body of estrogen which can lead to increased risk of osteoporosis and weakened bones leading to fractures. However, two large clinical trials have shown that HRT does not, in fact, significantly reduce the incidence of bone fractures, and there is an increased risk of heart disease, gallstones, and breast and endometrial cancer.

Many menopausal symptoms are less to do with a shortage of hormones and more to do with imbalances. By eating a healthy diet, taking regular exercise and natural supplements, you can boost the health of your bones, and balance sugar levels and your hormones.

It is well known that people in some parts of the world (for example Japan and the Mediterranean countries) rarely suffer from heart disease due to their different national diets. It is less well known that women in the Andes region of Peru do not suffer menopausal symptoms. Peruvian women take Maca, a tuberous plant related to the potato. As well as the beneficial effect on menopausal symptoms, Maca boosts energy and libido. Maca is also known as "Peruvian Ginseng" and "Peruvian Viagra".

The Incas once inhabited this area and, in order to boost their energy, their warriors used to take Maca before going into battle. When the Spanish conquered the area they found that their horses suffered from the high altitude. The locals advised them to feed Maca to the horses and the animals immediately experienced an increase in energy levels. The Spanish found that what was good for their horses would also benefit humans, so payment for the taxes levied on the locals was taken in Maca.

There are three phases of menopause: the peri-menopause or the period leading up to the menopause. During this time a low dose of 1500mg is recommended to counteract the slow down in the production by your body of hormones. During the actual menopause, increase the dose to around 4000mg each day for a period of 2-3 months, and then reduce the dose to 2000mg. In the post menopause phase, reduce your daily intake of Maca to 1500mg. It is during the menopause and post menopause phases that the risk of osteoporosis increases and you are advised to also supplement Maca with Forever Freedom, a drinking gel that contains aloe vera, Glucosamine, MSM, Chondroitin and vitamin C.

Depression is mainly attributed to hormonal imbalance. During depression, serotonin, a chemical that is responsible for a person's mood, tends to drop. Low level of serotonin makes a person feel sad. On the other hand, high level of this chemical makes a person feel happy. The change in serotonin level is determined by estrogen hormones. Thus when estrogen level tends to decline, so does the production of serotonin. This hormonal imbalance is the reason behind depression. Managing depression means handling hormonal imbalance. This further means that Hormone Replacement Therapy can help people get out of their depression.

Doctors use synthetic hormones in Hormone Replacement Therapy. Synthetic hormones are created in laboratories rather than by the body. However, synthetic hormones used in Hormone Replacement Therapy act like natural hormones once inside the body. To treat depression, estrogen is restored by using synthetic estrogen. The synthetic estrogen will act like a natural one. The aim of Hormone Replacement Therapy is to replenish the level of estrogen in the body so that the level of serotonin will also increase. Once this is achieved, depression will not be an issue. As long as the level of estrogen is high, the person will not feel symptoms of depression.

Every Woman's Guide to Menopause and the Importance of Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)

HRT Hormones

Hot flashes or flushes are described as a sudden feeling of warmth or heat within the body and often with associated sweating. A hot flash can be an intense feeling of heat usually in the upper half of the body but can be experienced in the lower half as well.

The exact cause of hot flashes isn't known but they do know that factors affecting the regulatory area of the brain, the hypothalamus, regulates body temperature. When the brain senses an increase in body temperature it will release chemicals which cause the blood vessels in the skin to dilate in an attempt to release the heat. It is said that estrogen and testosterone allow the body to tolerate changes in core body temperature, therefore, as these hormones decrease in peri-menopause and menopause so does your body's ability to tolerate increased heat.

In my opinion this is only part of the problem. I believe it is more of an imbalance in the hormone family than just a decrease in estrogen and testosterone. In some women, when estrogen is balanced with progesterone, hot flashes decrease or stop altogether. Knowing what is out of balance will help you determine why you have hot flashes in the first place. Hot flashes are not normal, they are one of your body's very intelligent ways of communicating a larger problem.

Lifestyle, stress and dietary habits play a huge role in the occurrence and frequency of hot flashes and night sweats. Known hot flash triggers are:

Caffeine

Physical, Emotional & Dietary Stress

Alcohol

Nicotine

Over the Counter Medications

Prescribed Medications

Obesity

Spices

Physical Inactivity

Heat

Know what your triggers are and attempt to avoid them as much as possible. Avoid closed, hot rooms and lower the temperature in your surroundings. Dress in layers and do not wear synthetic clothing as they trap the sweat. Cotton clothing allows your skin to breath. Increase your exercise routine to 30 minutes per day and get sound, quality sleep. Decreasing stress is a no-brainer but not so easy to do. Practice stress reducing techniques and mindfulness. Absolutely avoid processed foods including; boxed and canned goods, fast foods, enriched breads, sugars, sodas, etc. These non-foods put undue stress on your digestive system and ultimately your endocrine system (hormones).

So what's the problem with (HRT) Hormone Replacement Therapy? Most of us have heard the stories, read the articles and have seen the warnings. The possible side-effects of HRT are just a bit too scary for me. Breast and/or uterine cancer, heart disease, blood clots, and stroke being the most prominent. Unfortunately, some of you have even experienced one of these yourself. And, watch out ladies, bio-identical hormone replacement therapy can be dangerous as well. Natural progesterone cream is sold over the counter and being used without knowing one's hormone levels. Hormone creams and gels must be used very carefully and monitored closely with appropriate testing. One of the many problems with using the transdermal creams and gels is that they are absorbed into the subcutaneous fat tissue where they build up and can eventually saturate the tissue and over time start to spill back into the system creating an overdose of the 'free fraction' of the hormone in the body. At this point your cells will down-regulate (not accept) the hormone and you will once again have the symptoms of deficiency while you actually have too much of the hormone in your system. Routine (serum bound) blood tests cannot accurately monitor the use of transdermal creams and gels. Testing must be performed in the free state, otherwise a person will be profoundly overdosed with 'free' hormone levels by the time the blood tests detect any significant changes. I have witnessed many a website advising the use of creams and gels without regard to the individual's symptoms, history or tested levels. This is totally irresponsible and a major problem for women looking for an end to the sometimes debilitating symptoms of menopause. When administering a hormone in a 'free' form you must test for and monitor the hormone in a 'free' form (saliva or serum free). Since hormones are interactive, the problem doesn't end here. Depending on the hormone being overdosed, multiple other imbalances will stream into the system. Hormones given in amounts that exceed normal physiologic needs will cause receptor cell down-regulation (the cells will not accept the hormone once the liver can no longer clear the excessive levels). In addition, Brain, HP (hypothalamus/pituitary) dysregulation is created and atrophy of the gland as well.

DHEA is also sold over the counter. You can literally go into a health food store and buy a bottle of 25 mg capsules of DHEA. Women should not take DHEA unless absolutely necessary. Women are especially sensitive to DHEA and will not tolerate DHEA if not needed, or if given in too large of an amount. In fact, the majority of men do not need 25 mg DHEA daily. What's the big deal? DHEA can boost estrogen levels or testosterone levels and for women that could mean facial hair, deeper voice, not to mention dys-regulating the steroid hormone family even more. Hormones are very powerful messengers in very tiny amounts. Start playing with the numbers and you could be creating some very serious health problems for yourself. This goes for the men as well. For men, when taking DHEA in higher than needed amounts it will convert to Estrogen.

OK, now that I've gone on and on what are some of the solutions? Medically, I've seen recommendations for prescription drugs such as Effexor, an anti-depressant which has been successful in relieving hot flashes in low doses. The two problems I see here is that #1, it is not solving the problem and #2, there are side-effects to every medication known. You're putting a band-aid on the problem and worse than that you will, in all probability, have a known or unknown side effect from the medication. They are now performing clinical trials on the drug Menerba. From what I can gather it is a plant based drug with 10 or 20 herbs, licorice being the major player. Hmmm, maybe I'll just try some licorice?

Let's look at some of the herbs that may be of value here:

Tribulus -

Indicated for hormonal support. Tribulus is known to boost male and female fertility and libido, enhance athletic performance, stamina and endurance, restore and build vitality, relieve menopausal symptoms and is helpful in male menopause.

Black Cohosh -

Is specific for menopausal symptoms such as reproductive problems, especially when accompanied by pain: amenorrhea, dysmenorrhea, uterine pain, ovulatory pain, post-partum pain, testicular and prostatic pain, and menopausal symptomotology such as anxiety, depression and insomnia. It is mildly useful for hot flashes and is more effective when used with Chaste Tree, Motherwort, Licorice, and Dang Gui. Black Cohosh is contraindicated in pregnancy & low blood pressure.

Sarsaparilla -

This herb is getting a lot off attention for its' role in decreasing hot flashes. Although a cooling herb Sarsaparilla is more specific for inflammatory conditions of the skin, connective tissue, and bowels. That being said, it does clear blood heat and is used with other herbs to reducef hot flashes.

Red Clover -

The isolated isoflavones are being used to treat menopausal symptoms. Since it is a cooling herb it can help reduce hot flashes.

Licorice - Contains isoflavones and is used for menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes and vaginal dryness. More effective when used with Chastetree, Black Cohosh, Motherwort, and Sage. High doses of Licorice is contraindicated in people with high blood pressure.

Soy - I'm going to be very opinionated here. I don't believe soy is meant for human consumption, there is a tremendous amount of controversy about the efficacy of soy and about the fact that is does not digest in the human body. BTW, soy is not an herb.

Wild Yam - What can I say, some experts swear by it and others say that is has no real benefit for menopausal symptoms, including hot flashes.

When using herbs be sure to purchase your herbs from a known and reputable source. Do a bit of research to be sure the herb is not contraindicated with any medications and/or physical challenges you may have.

No matter how long you have been suffering with hot flashes and/or other symptoms of peri-menopause and menopause, it's not too late to stop hot flashes now. The good news is - You can begin by knowing your triggers and avoiding them. Eat a healthy well balanced diet. Find a qualified herbalist or hormone specialist and discover your hormonal levels so that you can begin the balancing act for a healthier and happier you.

Bioidentical Hormones - The Truth About Using Them During Menopause

Menopause Hormone Therapy

With publicity about the dangers of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) getting so much publicity, a lot of women are turning to herbs and supplements for hot flashes and other symptoms associated with menopause. Soy, black cohosh, Dong Quai root, and Evening primrose oil have all been promoted for hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms. But do they really work? An initial study of 104 postmenopausal women randomized to 40 g daily of soy or a placebo showed a statistically significant reduction in number of hot flashes that was greater for soy (45%) that was greater than the reduction obtained with placebo (30%). Another study of 351 women age 45-55 with two or more hot flash symptoms per day were randomly assigned to black cohosh, multibotanicals, multibotanicals plus dietary soy counseling, placebo or hormone therapy for one year. Only hormone therapy was associated with significant reductions in hot flashes. Taking dietary soy actually turned out to be less effective at stopping hot flashes than taking a placebo for one year.