Menopause: Super Nutrition for Menopause (cont.)

Moderator: What does it mean to someone taking those tests regarding either estrogen or progesterone?

Gittleman: If you're taking the salivary hormone test, which is very hormone specific, then what you would be looking for is a ratio of 300:1 in favor of progesterone. Because progesterone, we have found through clinical research as well as clinical experience, is the hormone that starts to decrease during that peri-menopausal phase right before full-fledged menopause. And, it is the deficiency of progesterone, we believe, that is creating the very unusual symptoms that women are reporting all across the country.

Moderator: What are some of the health risks associated with menopause?

Gittleman: The traditional health risks associated with menopause are that your risk for heart disease and osteoporosis increase. And so, these are the traditional reasons that doctors suggest that you may want to consider some kind of hormone replacement therapy (HRT). The caveats here, however, are that women who may be at an increased risk for breast cancer should probably avoid synthetic hormone replacement therapy because extra estrogen fuels breast cancer. In addition, women who are at a higher risk for blood clots or have a history of liver problems or are at risk for cardiovascular disease may also consider avoiding the traditional hormone replacement therapy. So, in this day and age, HRT seems to be the umbrella treatment of choice that conventional medicine prescribes to avert the risk of osteoporosis, heart disease and also to eliminate hot flashes and mood swings. The problem with the conventional HRT is that is has side effects itself in terms of weight gain, depression, thinning of the hair, even rosacia has been reported. So, women stop it after two months on a prescription. That's why I opt for the naturals. The herbal and vitamin and mineral alternatives to conventional or synthetic hormone replacement therapy.

Moderator: What exactly is hormone replacement therapy?

Gittleman: Well, HRT, hormone replacement therapy, is a prescription from a doctor that usually includes Premarin, which is horse urine, and a synthetic progesterone. Most women have a prescription for about .625 mg of Premarin and a synthetic progesterone known most commonly Provera.

Moderator: What can women do to make up for some of the risks that come from hormone replacement therapy?

Gittleman: Many women, the baby boomer generation, have located and found some wonderful natural alternatives that seem to be just as effective without the side effects of weight gain, depression, hair thinning and nausea that seem to be very prevalent with the synthetics. The most common vitamins that are extremely successful include taking Vitamin E, anywhere from 400 IUs to 1200 IUs a day. And this acts as natural hormone therapy on a molecular level. Women report that Vitamin E helps to reduce and/or eliminate hot flashes as well as mood swings. Extra Vitamin C in the amount of 1000 mgs to 3000 mgs a day is also helpful in smoothing out the peaks and valleys of the hormonal shifts. And extra Magnesium, specifically in the amounts of 400-1000 mgs a day, is a godsend in providing relief in alleviating anxiety, panic attacks, irritability and insomnia. In fact, my readers keep a bottle of magnesium near their bedside when they awake in the middle of the night and pop a 400 mg magnesium pill so they can get back to sleep. Now, there are also some wonderful natural remedies in the herbal family that are very helpful. And, these include herbs like Wild Yam, Vitex, and Dong Quai. A combination of Flaxseed Oil and Evening Primrose Oil, known as the Essential Woman, has been found to be a great remedy for menopausal symptoms and helps to fight depression, fatigue, and clears up skin conditions. Many of my own clients use a tablespoon of this mixture in eight ounces of yogurt on a daily basis to protect their breasts and to fight off symptoms of depression, dry skin, and flaky scalp.

Moderator: Should younger women in their thirties who have not become menopausal yet be taking supplements before it happens?

Gittleman: Oh, I'm so glad you asked. Well, I'm going to tell you something. A lot of these herbal supplements, as well as the flaxseed oil and evening primrose oil, are absolutely outstanding for PMS. So, I would suggest that those very supplements that I've recommended, the extra Vitamin C, the magnesium, the Vitamin E, the herbs and oils, are outstanding for controlling PMS symptoms. So, yes, younger women would do very well to include these in a regimen. My younger readers in their mid-20s to early 30s use a supplement, topical progesterone cream, and they use this two weeks to ten days before their periods as a topical skin cream and they find that their PMS symptoms disappear. So you've got a whole arsenal of natural remedies from which to choose. I especially like the progesterone creams because they are transdermal. This means they can be easily absorbed into the system via the skin. And, there are several progesterone creams that are now on the market. So, it's important to choose one that contains USP Progesterone. These natural creams have been the best thing I have ever found for alleviating migraine headaches that are menstrually related as well as cramps. So, it's a wonderful natural adjunct for women from PMS to peri-menopause to menopause. Another guardian angel for our women out there.

estellepv_WebMD I have been on natural HRT for one year, and it has been perfect, but just recently I've started getting flashes again, not as frequent or as strong. Would a blood hormone level test while on HRT be helpful?