THE ENDO CLUB *Prayer *Forum *Treatment for Endometriosis

PRAYER & Natural Treatments for endometriosis sufferers

HelloThis page has info about hysto's and hormone therapy, specifically when you have endo, but also talks about the dangers of synthetic hormone therapy. There are also pages on this website called "natural progesterone cream" and "natural treatments" It will explain more about treatment options for those who have not had a hysto. but want to look into natural therapies to treat endometriosis.  In Lori's opinion! Why not use natural hormones instead of synthetic hormones??? Some natural progesterones are: Prometrium, natural progesterone cream and there also is a vaginal suppository that starts with a cr..(I forgot). Did you know that there are natural estrogens also(but if you have endo, oooh it may not be good!!!) I cannot remember the names of the natural estrogens but there are some good books out there about natural hormones. Blessings to you!!!!!!!!!
Remember estrogen is the fuel for endo girls!! but we do not want to do away with all the estrogen in our bodies-then bone problems......see the NATURAL TREATMENT page.
Dr. Lee's 3 Rules for BHRT
Use a sprinkle of common sense and a dash of logic.
by John R. Lee, M.D.
The recent Lancet publication of the Million Women Study (MWS) removes any lingering doubt that there’s something wrong with conventional HRT (see Million Woman Study in the UK, Published in The Lancet, Gives New Insight into HRT and Breast Cancer for details). Why would supplemental estrogen and a progestin (e.g. not real progesterone) increase a woman’s risk of breast cancer by 30 percent or more? Other studies found that these same synthetic HRT hormones increase one’s risk of heart disease and blood clots (strokes), and do nothing to prevent Alzheimer’s disease. When you pass through puberty and your sex hormones surge, they don’t make you sick—they cause your body to mature into adulthood and be healthy. But, the hormones used in conventional HRT are somehow not right—they are killing women by the tens of thousands.
The question is—where do we go from here? My answer is—we go back to the basics and find out where our mistake is. I have some ideas on that.
Over the years I have adopted a simple set of three rules covering hormone supplementation. When these rules are followed, women have a decreased risk of breast cancer, heart attacks, or strokes. They are much less likely to get fat, or have poor sleep, or short term memory loss, fibrocystic breasts, mood disorders or libido problems. And the rules are not complicated.
Rule 1. Give hormones only to those who are truly deficient in them.
The first rule is common sense. We don’t give insulin to someone unless we have good evidence that they need it. The same is true of thyroid, cortisol and all our hormones. Yet, conventional physicians routinely prescribe estrogen or other sex hormones without ever testing for hormone deficiency. Conventional medicine assumes that women after menopause are estrogen-deficient. This assumption is false. Twenty-five years ago I reviewed the literature on hormone levels before and after menopause, and all authorities agreed that over two-thirds (66 percent) of women up to age 80 continue to make all the estrogen they need. Since then, the evidence has become stronger. Even with ovaries removed, women make estrogen, primarily by an aromatase enzyme in body fat and breasts that converts an adrenal hormone, androstenedione, into estrone. Women with plenty of body fat may make more estrogen after menopause than skinny women make before menopause.
Breast cancer specialists are so concerned about all the estrogen women make after menopause that they now use drugs to block the aromatase enzyme. Consider the irony: some conventional physicians are prescribing estrogens to treat a presumed hormone deficiency in postmenopausal women, while others are prescribing drugs that block estrogen production in postmenopausal women.
How does one determine if estrogen deficiency exists? Any woman still having monthly periods has plenty of estrogen. Vaginal dryness and vaginal mucosal atrophy, on the other hand, are clear signs of estrogen deficiency. Lacking these signs, the best test is the saliva hormone assay. With new and better technology, saliva hormone testing has become accurate and reliable. As might be expected, we have learned that hormone levels differ between individuals; what is normal for one person is not necessarily normal for another. Further, one must be aware that hormones work within a complex network of other hormones and metabolic mediators, something like different musicians in an orchestra. To interpret a hormone’s level, one must consider not only its absolute level but also its relative ratios with other hormones that include not only estradiol, progesterone and testosterone, but cortisol and thyroid as well.
For example, in healthy women without breast cancer, we find that the saliva progesterone level routinely is 200 to 300 times greater than the saliva estradiol level. In women with breast cancer, the saliva progesterone/estradiol ratio is considerably less than 200 to 1. As more investigators become more familiar with saliva hormone tests, I believe these various ratios will become more and more useful in monitoring hormone supplements.
Serum or plasma blood tests for steroid hormones should be abandoned—the results so obtained are essentially irrelevant. Steroid hormones are extremely lipophilic (fat-loving) and are not soluble in serum. Steroid hormones carry their message to cells by leaving the blood flow at capillaries to enter cells where they bond with specific hormone receptors in order to convey their message to the cells. These are called “free” hormones. When eventually they circulate through the liver, they become protein-bound (enveloped by specific globulins or albumin), a process that not only seriously impedes their bioavailability but also makes them water soluble, thus facilitating their excretion in urine. Measuring the concentration of these non-bioavailable forms in urine or serum is irrelevant since it provides no clue as to the concentration of the more clinically significant “free“ (bioavailable) hormone in the blood stream.
When circulating through saliva glands, the “free” non–protein-bound steroid hormone diffuses easily from blood capillaries into the saliva gland and then into saliva. Protein-bound, non-bioavailable hormones do not pass into or through the saliva gland. Thus, saliva testing is far superior to serum or urine testing in measuring bioavailable hormone levels.
Serum testing is fine for glucose and proteins but not for measuring “free” steroid hormones. Fifty years of “blood” tests have led to the great confusion that now befuddles conventional medicine in regard to steroid hormone supplementation.
Rule 2. Use bioidentical hormones rather than synthetic hormones.
The second rule is also just common sense. The message of steroid hormones to target tissue cells requires bonding of the hormone with specific unique receptors in the cells. The bonding of a hormone to its receptor is determined by its molecular configuration, like a key is for a lock. Synthetic hormone molecules and molecules from different species (e.g. Premarin, which is from horses) differ in molecular configuration from endogenous (made in the body) hormones. From studies of petrochemical xenohormones, we learn that substitute synthetic hormones differ in their activity at the receptor level. In some cases, they will activate the receptor in a manner similar to the natural hormone, but in other cases the synthetic hormone will have no effect or will block the receptor completely. Thus, hormones that are not bioidentical do not provide the same total physiologic activity as the hormones they are intended to replace, and all will provoke undesirable side effects not found with the human hormone. Human insulin, for example, is preferable to pig insulin. Sex hormones identical to human (bioidentical) hormones have been available for over 50 years.
Pharmaceutical companies, however, prefer synthetic hormones. Synthetic hormones (not found in nature) can be patented, whereas real (natural, bioidentical) hormones can not. Patented drugs are more profitable than non-patented drugs. Sex hormone prescription sales have made billions of dollars for pharmaceutical companies Thus is women’s health sacrificed for commercial profit.
Rule 3. Use only in dosages that provide normal physiologic tissue levels.
The third rule is a bit more complicated. Everyone would agree, I think, that dosages of hormone supplements should restore normal physiologic levels. The question is—how do you define normal physiologic levels? Hormones do not work by just floating around in circulating blood; they work by slipping out of blood capillaries to enter cells that have the proper receptors in them. As explained above, protein-bound hormones are unable to leave blood vessels and bond with intracellular receptors. They are non-bioavailable. But they are water-soluble, and thus found in serum, whereas the “free” bioavailable hormone is lipophilic and not water soluble, thus not likely to be found in serum. Serum tests do not help you measure the “free,” bioavailable form of the hormone. The answer is saliva testing.
It is quite simple to measure the change in saliva hormone levels when hormone supplementation is given. If more physicians did that, they would find that their usual estrogen dosages create estrogen levels 8 to 10 times greater than found in normal healthy people, and that progesterone levels are not raised by giving supplements of synthetic progestin such as medroxyprogesterone acetate (MPA).
Further, saliva levels (and not serum levels) of progesterone will clearly demonstrate excellent absorption of progesterone from transdermal creams. Transdermal progesterone enters the bloodstream fully bioavailable (i.e., without being protein-bound). The progesterone increase is readily apparent in saliva testing, whereas serum will show little or no change. In fact, any rise of serum progesterone after transdermal progesterone dosing is most often a sign of excessive progesterone dosage. Saliva testing helps determine optimal dosages of supplemented steroid hormones, something that serum testing cannot do.
It is important to note that conventional HRT violates all three of these rules for rational use of supplemental steroid hormones.
A 10-year French study of HRT using a low-dose estradiol patch plus oral progesterone shows no increased risk of breast cancer, strokes or heart attacks. Hormone replacement therapy is a laudable goal, but it must be done correctly. HRT based on correcting hormone deficiency and restoring proper physiologic balanced tissue levels, is proposed as a more sane, successful and safe technique.
Other Factors
Hormone imbalance is not the only cause of breast cancer, strokes, and heart attacks. Other risk factors of importance include the following:
Poor diet (excess sugar and refined starches, trans fatty acids, lack of needed nutrients such as omega-3 fats, full range of essential amino acids, vitamins, minerals, etc.)
Environmental xenoestrogens and hormones not removed by water treatment. (Be sure that your home water filter will remove hormones.).
Insulin resistance.
Lifestyle problems such as excess light at night (poor sleep, melatonin deficiency), alcohol, cadmium (cigarette smoking), and birth control pills during early teens.
Men share these risks equally with women. Hormone imbalance and exposure to these risk factors in men leads to earlier heart attacks, lower sperm counts and higher prostate cancer risk.
Conventional hormone replacement therapy (HRT) composed of either estrone or estradiol, with or without progestins (excluding progesterone) carries an unacceptable risk of breast cancer, heart attacks and strokes. I propose a more rational HRT using bioidentical hormones in dosages based on true needs as determined by saliva testing. In addition to proper hormone balancing, other important risk factors are described, all of which are potentially correctable. Combining hormone balancing with correction of other environmental and lifestyle factors is our best hope for reducing the present risks of breast cancer, strokes and heart attacks.
A much broader discussion of all these factors can be found in the updated and revised edition of What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Menopause and What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Breast Cancer.

Hello to you girls who had hysto's! Please I hope you do not get discouraged by reading about this. I am just wanting to warn you of some of the experiences with HRT & Endo. Praying for all of you!
God is amazing! He brought us so much info on hysterectomies and HRT through experience in the last few weeks. Thank You girls for sharing your experiences. They will help many! Prayers for your recoveries. Please check with your Drs.  Lori is no expert! just gathering info. Please let me know if you find out more info. ok! note: I have not had a hysto.
Pain after Hysto? Remember estrogen is the fuel for endo, so if you are given estrogen replacement therapy, the pain may come back as their are many times endo is in other parts of the body. Another reason for endo pain after a hysto is in cases of excess body fat - estrogen is still stored their. I would also think if you are exposed to a lot of chemicals, drink a lot of coffee. this could be a factor also.
Here are some common supplements for menopausal symptoms: See the natural treatment page for building up your immune system also. It is so important girls to BUILD UP YOUR HEALTH!

A GOOD B COMPLEX especially B6
VITAMIN E - 400 IU 2 x a day. Use d-alpha tocopherol form. Ask your Dr. because it is a natural blood thinner.
FISH OIL- so good for everything! or eat salmon a few days per week. 4 oz. of Salmon contains 3600 mg of omega 3's compared to 300 mg in cod. I read ones with diabetes should stay away from fish oil because of the fat content in it.
MULTIVITAMIN- I use Emergen'C' see "shop" page.
A GREAT DIET- see the endo diet, eats lots of green vegetables always to build up your immune system.
GIVE UP CAFFEINE - it is a hormone disruptor
SUGAR FREE DIET-very bad for health and hormone disruptor also
CALCIUM/MAGNESIUS CITRATE-for bones, take before bed. You will sleep great! I use a liquid.
PROGESTERONE CREAM - much info about it below.
Do you have some experience with HRT? while having endo. Will you share your experience here to help others? Also if you have found some natural things that have helped you, please let us know on this thread. Thank You!
a naturopathic dr. should be able to help you with any further info
Natural alternatives to HRT, she used to work with Dr. Lee MD
Endo Natural is a great source for many experiences with this
My Hysterectomy Story
Hi ladies,
Some of you are probably wondering why a woman who has had a hysterectomy because of endometriosis is still frequenting endo web sites....well, I'll have to start from the beginning!
To give you some perspective, I'm 37 years old and started having problems around age 32. I am not the typical endometriosis patient. I never had problems with periods my whole life. I have a rare form of endo on my muscles and under the skin (subcutaneous)that is concentrated in the torso area. I also had adenomyosis (endo that is embedded in the wall of my uterus). Both were caused by having an emergency c-section. When they cut into me, the endometium cells got under my skin and abdominal muscles and spread. It is a very rare conditon and took forever to get diagnosed.
In August of 2001, I had just my uterus removed. This cured the adenomysis, but the ovaries still put out a normal amount of estrogen and the skin and muscle endo got worse very quickly. Last spring, I had the ovaries removed, and things got much better... UNTIL I started using "estring". It's sort of like a diaphragm ring that delivers estrogen vaginally to help with dryness...well it totally flared up the endo...I freaked because the pain was back and then put it together that the ring had to be the culprit. At that time I googled "prayer and endometriosis" and here I am!
My life was a mess in every way during those awful years of searching for help. It was so strange to not be in control of my life and be at the mercy of this awful disease. I tried Lupron..NIGHTMARE...(see my Lupron story in "your stories"), birth control pills, progesterone cream, and a progestin called Megace, which was the only thing that seemed to help some, but the side effects were not good. After much research, I knew that I had no choice to get rid of the ovaries, since endo is fueled by estrogen. I knew in my heart this was the right decision for wasn't an easy decison, but my endo was beyond managing.
I am really happy to read that some of you are able to control your pain and symptoms with natural progesterone experience on chemicals was horrendous.
I understand and empathize with those of you who are facing or contemplating a hysterectomy..Sometimes I still can't believe all that has happened during my 30's! God has used my adversity to draw me closer to need Him with all of my heart.
The next time I will write what life has been like for me in surgically induced menopause. Menopause isn't a piece of cake, but I'll take it any day over what I was dealing with with endometriosis.
P.S. I posted a prayer request awhile back about endo flaring up due to using estring. While I still have a chemical taste in my mouth and mild pain, it has gradually lessened since discontinuing the estring. The pharmacist told me it could take several months for the estrogen to dissipate from my system. No more HRT for me!! Since all of this has happened, I have researched that vaginal rings and the patch are worse than taking oral estrogen because the liver doesn't filter it out. It just gets stored in the body. Thanks to anyone who has prayed for me!
My story after a total hysterectomy
Hi Ladies,
    After struggling with pain since the age of 12,(many misdiagnosises, procedures, etc)  I finally had a hysterectomy a year ago, May 13, 2004, at age 33.  I had both ovaries and my cervix removed as well.  It was the best thing I ever did.  I had spent 6 months on Lupron prior to the surgery, but the month I went off, the pain that came back was unbearable.  The day prior to surgery, I had to do bowel prep as well as take antibiotics to clean out my instestines in case they needed repair.  NEVER take antibiotics orally on a completely empty system.  I spent the night in the E.R.  with constant vomitting.  They had to give me tons of anti-vomiting meds and IV fluids.  I was discharged from E.R.  at 6:00 a.m. , just in time for my 7:00 a.m. surgery.  I had never been so exhausted in my life.  But, knowing that I came this far, and that I would never go through bowel prep ever again, I went ahead and had the surgery.  I woke up on Morphine and felt no pain.  I was in the hospital for 3 days.  Recovery was fine.  The hardest part was my bedroom was on the 2nd floor and the kitchen was on the first.  I could have stayed on the first floor, but I valued my shower more than food.  The doctor said I could do the stairs once a day...WRONG.  For me, anytime I went up the stairs I had a set back and was in pain for a few extra days.  Truly don't do anything (lifting, exercising, etc.) for 12 weeks.  Once you start, start slowly.  Be patient because it takes time to rebuild your energy level.  (I had a lateral incision across my belly). 
    I stayed off any HRT's for two months.  I was determined to try natural hormone replacement therapy.  I used CURVES brand called HerbalFem for a while.  Then the hot flashes and insomnia started.  After a few weeks, I couldn't stand it anymore. I was cranky and tired, and HOT and sweaty 24 hours a day.  My doctor suggested birth control pills or an HRT.  I went with a low dose of HRT 1.25 mg. of Estratest.  That seemed to solve everything for a while.  I grew dark facial hair..yuck!   Then, the pain came back in April.  I was  so disappointed.  My belly swelled and I thought I was crazy.  There's nothing left to hurt.  Then after talking to some other ladies, I realized the HRTs were to blame.  I've cut back to 1 pill every other day, to every two days.  Eventually I want to eliminate them all together.  I haven't found a good  natural alternative yet...but when I do, I'll be sure to post again. 
     Its impossible to eliminate all the endo with surgery.  My doctor said he got all that he could but there is still some on my abdominal cavity, cul de sac, and intestines.  Perhaps once I'm off estrogen and estrogen causing foods altogether, I will feel better again.  I am thankful for the 9 months that I spent pain free!  I know that any extra body fat also produces estrogen so I am trying to lose my last 10 pounds.  I also LOVE coffee so that one's going to be tough.  I can tell you from experience that drinking wine (or alcohol) makes hot flashes much worse. 
    If anyone needs help or encouragement, please feel free to email me.
Many blessings,
Just wanted to send you an update.  I went off the Estratest and started natural supplements.  So far, no pain and no hot flashes.  I was a bit worn out the first few days and needed to rest.  Here is what I am taking:
10 mg. Prozac (not natural, but not ready to give up yet!)
One a Day multiVitamin
Curves Herbal Fem Support (4 x/day)
Flaxseed Oil (2x/day)
Soy Isoflavones (2x/day)
Curves Stress EZE (Vitamin C, B1, B2, B6, B12, etc) (4x/day)
Viactive Calcium Chews 500mg. 3x/day
    Haven't given up coffee, but cut back a bit.  I try to eat a nonprocessed diet and exercise 3-4 times per week. 
 Info about menopausal symptoms, HRT and progesterone cream...from

Hormone Basics

The two main sexual hormones in women are estrogen and progesterone.  Both are produced in men and women, although in different quantities.  Progesterone is made from pregnenolone, which in turn comes from cholesterol.

Production of progesterone occurs at several places.  In women, it is primarily produced in the ovaries just before ovulation and increase rapidly after ovulation.  It is also produced in the adrenal glands in both sexes and in the testes in males.  Its level is highest during the ovulation period (day 13-15 of the menstrual cycle).  If fertilization does not take place, the secretion of progesterone decreases and menstruation occurs.  If fertilization does occur, progesterone is secreted during pregnancy by the placenta and acts to prevent spontaneous abortion.  About 20-25 mg of progesterone is produced per day during a woman's monthly cycle.  Up to 300-400 mg are produced daily during pregnancy.  During menopause, the total amount of progesterone produced declined to less than 1% of the pre-menopausal level.  This drop is extreme.

Progesterone occupies an important position in the pathway of hormonal synthesis.  In addition to being the precursor to estrogen, it is also the precursor of testosterone and the all-important adrenal cortical hormone cortisol.  Cortisol is essential for stress response, sugar and electrolyte balance, blood pressure and general survival.  In short, progesterone serves to promote survival and development of the embryo and fetus.  It acts as a precursor to many important steroid hormones and helps to regulate a broad range of biological and metabolic effects in the body.  During chronic stress, progesterone production is reduced as the body favors cortisol production to reduce stress.  This is an important point which we will look into later.

Estrogen is produced in the ovaries.  It regulates the menstrual cycle, promotes cell division and is largely responsible for the development of secondary female characteristics during puberty.  In non-pregnant, pre-menopausal women, only 100-200 micrograms of estrogen is secreted daily.  But during pregnancy, much more is secreted. 
Estrogen is produced in the ovaries, adrenal and fat tissues.  During menopause, the amount of estrogen in the body declines by about 50 to 60 percent.  Production , however, is augmented in the adrenals and in the fat cells.

Estrogen and progesterone work in synchronization with each other.  They oppose each other in their actions and work as checks and balances to achieve hormonal harmony in both sexes.

Functions of Progesterone

Progesterone acts primarily as an antagonist (opposite to) to estrogen in our body.  For example, estrogen can cause breast cysts while progesterone protects against breast cysts.  Estrogen enhances salt and water retention while progesterone is a natural diuretic.  Estrogen has been associated with breast and endometrial cancer, while progesterone has cancer preventive effect.

Some of the functions of progesterone include:

  • It protects the breast, uterus, and ovaries from cancer

  • It acts as a natural diuretic

  • It produces a calming, anti-anxiety effect

  • It contributes to formation of new bone tissue

Most significantly, it is known that high amounts of estrogen can induce a host of metabolic disturbances, and the body's way of counterbalancing estrogen is progesterone.  When this balancing mechanism is dysfunctional, a multitude of health related problems can arise.

Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)

Menopause is often a time when the hormonal balance between estrogen and progesterone is off.  Symptoms of such imbalance include hot flashes, vaginal dryness, water retention, weight gain, insomnia, mood swings, short-term memory loss, wrinkly skin and osteoporosis.  The breakthrough in treatment of menopausal symptoms came in 1964, when Dr. Wilson first reported that the lack of estrogen causes menopause.  Pharmaceutical companies introduced a synthetic estrogen hormone called Premarin.  With this drug, symptoms of menopause such as hot flashes were greatly reduced.  There was little doubt then that menopause was solely due to estrogen deficiency.  Few doctors knew then that estrogen deficiency alone did not explain many of the symptoms of menopause.  For example, how does one explain the fact that women who are post-menopausal but cannot be started on HRT can have relief of their menopausal symptoms when using progesterone replacement alone? Clearly there is more to the menopausal picture than deficiency of estrogen alone.

In fact, many women on HRT with estrogen alone are unhappy with fat accumulating at their hips and abdomen, osteoporosis, loss of sex drive and often swollen breasts.  The common perception is that estrogen is the primary regulator of libido, but in reality estrogen replacement often does not restore their previous sex drive.  What is needed is progesterone and in some cases, testosterone is also needed.  While the exact mechanism is not known, it is postulated that estrogen "prime" the brain cells but progesterone "turns on" the sex drive.  This has been studied and clinically observed in laboratory rats whose ovaries are removed.  Supplementing with estrogen alone does not increase sex drive, but supplementing with progesterone together with low dose estrogen does.

During menopause, the absolute level of estrogen decreased by 50 percent to a level below what is needed for pregnancy and enough for other normal body functions through the golden years.  This is the way nature intended it to be.  Menopause is therefore a normal physiological adjustment that does not produce any undesirable symptoms.  It is not a disease.  The current menopausal problem is an abnormality resulting from the relentless insult on the body's hormonal system from industrialized cultures' and deviation from a wholesome and healthy lifestyle.  We shall examine this in more detail.

Dr. John Lee - Pioneer on Natural Progesterone

Dr. John Lee is a world-renowned authority on natural hormonal balance and author of the book Progesterone: The Multiple Roles of A Remarkable Hormone.  He has treated thousands of menopausal women in the 1980s and 1990s with a program that was contrary to popular medical thinking at that time.  Instead of prescribing estrogen alone (the standard of medical practice then), Dr. Lee prescribed natural progesterone alone for treatment of menopausal symptoms.  In addition to relieve the menopausal symptoms, the treatment was able to reverse osteoporosis and prevent cancer.  Studies had confirmed that Dr. Lee's approached by using progesterone alone had vast palliative effects.

The key to Dr. Lee's approach is to understand the balance between estrogen and progesterone.  In the pre-menopausal women, estrogen is always in balance with progesterone.  When these two important hormones are out of balance, hormone related illnesses would emerge.  Symptoms include weight gain, fatigue, auto-immune disorders, fibrocystic diseases, loss of libido, depression, headaches, joint pain and moods swing.  These are just some of the common symptoms experienced during menopause, peri-menopause and pre-menstrual period.

According to Dr. Lee, what is commonly perceived as an absolute estrogen level deficiency during the menopausal years is in effect estrogen dominance caused by extreme low progesterone level.  Since the progesterone's role is to balance estrogen, the extremely low level of progesterone experienced after menopause leads to a relative dominance of estrogen, despite a 50 percent drop.

Dr. Lee treats menopause as an estrogen dominance syndrome.  His treatment is simple - reduce estrogen to progesterone ratio by increasing progesterone.  When the opposing force of progesterone is increased, the toxic effect of estrogen is decreased.  Fortunately for many women who followed Dr. Lee's advice, their menopausal symptoms reduced remarkably.

Why is estrogen and progesterone out of Balance?

Our body normally functions in perfect homeostasis.  With the advent of society and industrial state, in the past 70 years, our body has been subjected to unprecedented insult from environmental estrogen-like hormones.  In less than one hundred years, we have managed to turn our diet from whole fruits and whole food to fast and processed food.  In the past, cattle were raised on grass and natural organic feed and chickens were allowed to run free.  This is in stark contrast to the commercialization of the cattle and poultry farm of today where animals are in cages most of the time.  Worse yet, feeds laced with pesticides and hormones, both of which have estrogen-like activities, are routinely given to animals, which in turn is passed to humans.

Women in non-industrialized cultures, whose diets are whole food based and are untainted with modern processed foods and pesticides, seldom suffer a deficiency in progesterone and the signs of estrogen dominance manifested as menopausal symptoms as described by Dr. Lee.

Some of the reasons for increased environmental estrogen are:

1. Commercially raised cattle and poultry fed with estrogen-like hormones.

2. Commercially grown vegetables that contain pesticide residues whose chemical structure is similar to estrogen.

3. Synthetic estrogens & synthetic progesterones (Progestin, Progesterone Acetate and birth control pills).

4. Exposure to xenoestrogen.  Petrochemical compounds found in general consumer products such as creams, lotions, soaps, shampoos, perfume, hairs spray and room deodorizers.  Such compounds often have chemical structure similar to estrogen and act like estrogen.  They are fat soluble and non-biodegradable.

5. Hormone replacement therapy with estrogen alone without progesterone.  This increases the level of estrogen in the body.

6. Over production of estrogen from ovarian cysts or tumors.

7. Stress, causing adrenal gland exhaustion and reduced progesterone output.  Stress is one of the most frequently overlooked causes of estrogen dominance.

8. Obesity.  Fat has an enzyme that converts adrenal steroids to estrogen.  The higher the fat intake, the higher the conversion to estrogen.

9. Liver disease such as cirrhosis that reduces the breakdown of estrogen.

10. Deficiency of Vitamin B6 and Magnesium, both of which is necessary for neutralization of estrogen in the liver.

11. Increased sugar intake leading to a depletion of magnesium.

12. Intake of process and fast foods that are deficient in magnesium.

13. Increase in coffee intake.  Caffeine intake, from all sources, was linked with higher estrogen levels regardless of age, body mass index (BMI), caloric intake, smoking and alcohol and cholesterol intake.  Studies have shown that women who consumed at least 500 milligrams of caffeine daily, the equivalent of four or five cups of coffee, had nearly 70% more estrogen during the early follicular phase than women who consume no more than 100 mg of caffeine daily, or less than one cup of coffee.

Hormones and Lifestyle

Overeating and under-exercise is the norm in developed countries.  The populations from such countries, especially in the Western hemisphere where a large part of the dietary calorie is derived from fat, have much higher incidents of menopausal symptoms.  Studies have shown that estrogen and progesterone levels fell in women who switched from a typical high fat, refined carbohydrate to a low fat, high-fiber and plant based diet even though they did not adjust their total calorie intake.  Plants contain over 5000 known sterols that have progestogenic effects.  People who eat more wholesome food and exercise more have a far lower incidence of menopausal symptoms because their pre and post menopause level of estrogen does not drop as significantly.

In non-industrialized societies, not subjected to environmental estrogen insults; progesterone deficiency is rare. During menopause, their diet produces sufficient progestogenic substance to keep their sex drive unabated, strong bones and symptom-free passage through menopause.

Therefore, lifestyle is the single most important factor in causing estrogen and progesterone imbalance.

Imbalances of estrogen and progesterone in female:

1. Progesterone deficiency

Symptoms: Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS), insomnia, early miscarriage, painful or lumpy breast, infertility, unexplained weight gain and anxiety.

Discussion: This is the most common hormone imbalance among women of all ages.

Solution: Estrogen free diet, discontinue birth control pill and use natural progesterone cream to increase the progesterone level.

2. Estrogen deficiency

Symptoms: night sweats, mood swings, depression, hot flashes, sagging breast, vaginal dryness, osteoporosis, fibrocystic lumps, night sweats, painful intercourse and memory problem.

This hormone imbalance is most common in menopausal women; especially with petite and/or slim women.

Solution: Progesterone is a biochemical precursor to estrogen.  Progesterone cream alone is sufficient to restore estrogen balance and relief of many of the symptomsIf after 3 months of progesterone cream, proper diet, nutritional supplementation of magnesium and B6 do not relive the symptoms, then low-dose natural estrogen may be considered.  2.5 mg of natural tri-estrogen cream ( 10% estrone, 10% estradiol and 80% estriol) provides the equivalent action of 0.625 conjugated estrogen such as Premarin. Herbs like black cohash have weak estrogenic effect.  Isoflavone extracts and cruciferous vegetables extracts such as DIM may be considered as well.

3. Excessive estrogen:

Symptoms: bloating, rapid weight gain, heavy bleeding, migraine headache, foggy thinking, insomnia, red flush on face and breast tenderness during the first 2 weeks of menstrual cycle.

This often comes about from excessive estrogen intake as part of a hormone replacement therapy program.

Discontinue estrogen replacement therapy that uses estrogen alone.

4. Excessive androgens (male hormones):

Symptoms: Acne, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), excessive hair on face and arm, thinning hair on the head, infertility and mid-cycle pain.

Discussion: Excessive sugar and simple carbohydrates in the diet often cause this. Excessive sugar stimulates androgen receptors on the outside of the ovary.  Androgens also block the release of eggs from the follicle, causing polycystic ovary disease.

Dietary adjustment to reduce sugar and grains and proper exercise are important.  Natural progesterone cream could be used to maintain hormonal balance and discontinued when symptoms are resolved.  If progesterone levels rise each month during the leuteal phase of the cycle, a normal synchronal pattern of estrogen and progesterone is maintained and excessive androgen seldom occurs.

5. Estrogen dominance:

Symptoms: Combination of absolute progesterone deficiency and excess estrogen, resulting in a relative increase in estrogen in comparison to progesterone.

Common symptoms include:

· Acceleration of the aging process
· Breast tenderness
· Depression
· Fatigue
· Foggy thinking
· Headaches
· Hypoglycemia
· Memory Loss
· Osteoporosis
· Pre-menopausal bone loss
· Thyroid dysfunction
· Uterine cancer and fibroids
· Water retention
· Fat gain around abdomen, hips and thighs

This is the result of low estrogen but even lower progesterone.  Up to 50% of western women, especially those who are obese between the ages of 40 and 50 suffer from estrogen dominance.

Solution: Reduce stress, sugar and coffee from diet.  Adrenal function is normally compromised in a person with estrogen dominance.  Normalization of the adrenal function should be considered first, as well as relief of stressors. Follow a natural whole food diet, application of stress reduction techniques and natural progesterone cream in physiological doses (20 mg a day).

Estrogen Dominance - Key to the Puzzle

Estrogen dominance commonly occurs during menopause when progesterone production falls to approximately 1% of its pre-menopausal level while the production of estrogen falls to about 50% of its pre-menopausal levels.  The lack of progesterone, to oppose the toxic effect of estrogen dominance, results in a myriad of undesirable symptoms.

In the west, the prevalence of estrogen dominance syndrome approaches 50 percent in women over 35 years old as they enter the transitional phase of aging (age 35 to 45).  Definitive diagnosis can be made through a thorough history and physical examination, together with laboratory tests of estrogen and progesterone levels. Yet few doctors actually do that.  Synthetic estrogen is often passed out on the premise that symptoms presented are due to estrogen deficiency without any consideration for the progesterone part of the equation while in reality, many are suffering from relative estrogen dominance.

What the body needs is natural progesterone as a first line defense and not more estrogen, which it already has a relative oversupply. No wonder, many women given estrogen for these menopausal symptoms do not get well.

The Progesterone Solution

Once the concept of estrogen dominance is understood, the cure is simple - reduce estrogen load and or increase progesterone load.

The best way is first through normalization of adrenal function that is commonly compromised in most people with estrogen dominance. When this fails, one can replace the body with physiological doses of progesterone (approximately 20-30 mg./day) to overcome the estrogen dominance and reestablish hormonal balance. Raising the level of progesterone by supplementation (orally, by injection or topically) often provides dramatic relief from PMS, pre-menopausal and menopausal symptoms.

Taking phytoestrogen rich food, such as soy products, is another alternative way of reducing estrogen as these foods contain weak estrogens that competitively take up the estrogen receptor site, making estrogen less available for use. Foods that have estrogenic activities include: oats, peanuts, cashew nuts, wheat, apples and almonds. Interestingly, ginseng also has a weak estrogenic effect. Phytoestrogen also appear in a host of herbs, including black cohash, alfalfa, pomegranate and licorice.   While widely promoted as the miracle food in recent years by the soy industry, it should be noted that soy products have their own set of problems. Unfermented soy products, such as tofu, contain acid that, in fact, rob the body of many valuable nutrients and should not be taken in large quantity.  Fermented soy products, such as miso, do not have this problem and are the way to go.

Benefits of natural progesterone include:

· Stimulates osteoclast bone building (Osteoporosis Reversal)
· Helps use fat for energy
· Natural Diuretic
· Natural antidepressant
· Restores sex drive (Libido)
· Normalizes zinc and copper levels
· Facilitates thyroid hormone action
· Prevents endometrial and breast cancer
· Protects against fibrocystic breasts
· Normalizes blood sugar levels
· Normalizes blood clotting
· Restores proper oxygen cell levels
· Normalizes Menstrual Cycles

Natural vs. Synthetic Progesterone

The natural form of progesterone is derived from wild yam.  It is very different from the synthetic unnatural form made in a laboratory (the widely prescribed Provera). The synthetic version is a chemical compound called "progestin".  It is a prescription drug commonly used in small amounts to balance the estrogen effect in a hormone replacement program.  Being a drug, progestin is far more powerful than a woman's natural progesterone. It is metabolized in the liver into toxic metabolites which if excessive, can severely interfere with the body's own natural progesterone. This creates other hormone-related health problems and further exacerbating estrogen dominance.

The structural differences between natural and synthetic progesterone is significant with direct bearing on its functionality. Whereas natural progesterone causes a reduction in water and salt retention, synthetic progesterone do the opposite. This is why some women taking synthetic progesterone in their birth control pill or estrogen pill combined with synthetic progesterone during menopause experience bloating and fluid retention.  In fact, studies have shown that administration of synthetic progesterone lowers the blood level of the body's natural progesterone.

Reported side effects of synthetic progesterone include an increased risk of cancer, increased risk of birth defects if taken during the first four months of pregnancy, fluid retention, abnormal menstrual flow, nausea, acne, hirsutism, mental depression, nausea, insomnia, masculinization, and depression.  It is contraindicated in those with thrombophlebitis, liver dysfunction, known or suspected malignancy of breast and genital organs.  One of the metabolites have an anesthetic effect on brain cells.  A woman on high doses of synthetic progesterone is often lethargic and depressed and cannot be cured with anti-depressants such as Prozac.

Natural progesterone is obtained by extracting diosgenin from wild yams and then converting this component into natural progesterone in the laboratory.  Natural progesterone is referred to as natural because it is the identical molecule to that which the human body manufactures. Such yam-derived natural progesterone should not be confused with "yam extracts" that are commonly sold in health food stores.  Our body easily converts natural progesterone into the identical molecule made by the body.  It cannot convert the "yam extracts" into progesterone.  There is no evidence that such "wild yam extract" is converted into progesterone once it enters into the human body and unlike natural progesterone, no conclusive formal studies have ever been conducted that identifies any particular benefits from "wild yam extracts".

Side effects of Natural Progesterone

No known side effects exist when using natural progesterone in physiological amounts (20 - 30 mg a day for women and 6-10 mg a day for men) under normal conditions. It is therefore very safe. But as with most substances, too much can cause problems. Too much progesterone is actually counterproductive, as chronically high dose of progesterone over many months eventually causes progesterone receptors to turn off, reducing its effectiveness and may lead to toxic side effects, Some possible side effects include:

  • An anesthetic and intoxicating effect such as slight sleepiness. Excess progesterone down-regulates estrogen receptors, and the brain's response to estrogen is needed for serotonin production. Simply reduce the dose until the sleepiness goes away.
  • Some women report paradoxical estrogen dominance symptoms for the first week or two after starting progesterone.  It is also common for those who have been deficient in progesterone for years, in the initial application of progesterone, to experience some water retention, headaches, and swollen breasts. These are symptoms of estrogen dominance, but paradoxically exhibited in the initial stages of progesterone application, as the estrogen receptors are being re-sensitized by the progesterone and "waking up". This usually goes away by itself and is not a sign of toxicity.
  • Edema (water retention).  This is likely to be caused by excess conversion to deoxycortisone, a mineralcorticoid made in the adrenal glands that causes water retention.
  • Candida. Excess progesterone can inhibit anti-Candida white blood cells, which can lead to bloating and gas. Systemic candidiasis can be treated with a grain-free diet for 2 weeks, followed by 40 mg of progesterone ( using3% progesterone cream) a day applied vaginally and to the breast.  More is applied gradually elsewhere to areas such as the neck, face, brow , and inner aspects of the arms.  If side effects worsen, reduce progesterone dosage.
  • Excessive progesterone can also lead to the increase in androgen production and ultimately increase in estrogen production within the adrenal hormonal synthesis pathway as the body shunts the excessive progesterone to these other hormones.

Excessive progesterone is normally caused by the excessive built up of progesterone in the body.  This is more commonly seen in those who are self-administering topical progesterone cream in the wrong area.  Progesterone cream should be applied to areas of the body that have good circulation but not high in fat. These areas include the wrist, back of the neck, and under part of the upper arm.  Areas such as the abdomen, buttock and breast are high in fat and will retain progesterone faster than other parts of the body.

Absorption of progesterone from topical application is about 20-30% for the first day.  A residual amount is left behind at the site of application, and this can accumulate in the subcutaneous fat tissue over time.

Routes of Progesterone Delivery

Natural progesterone can be administered orally, topically, sublingual or by injection.  Oral administration is relatively ineffective as it is quickly metabolized in the liver.  Injection is very effective, but can cause irritation to the injection site and it can be quite painful.  To achieve physiological dose (and not the higher pharmacological dose), the best way is sublingual or topical.  Progesterone is easily absorbed by the skin and is 5 to 7 times more effective in reaching the blood stream than oral forms of progesterone.  In other words, 100-200 mg. of oral progesterone is needed to obtain the equivalent benefit of 20-30 mg. of trans-dermal progesterone.  Sublingual progesterone offers the best and most direct delivery route, as it is well absorbed directly into the blood stream.  However, the required alcohol based for sublingual drops may not be tolerated by some.

Salivary level goes up in 3 to 4 hours and is washed off by 8 hours and blood level goes up in a matter of a few weeks, with some women reporting benefits in a few days.

For best stabilization of progesterone absorption and effectiveness, natural prosterone should be taken or applied in divided doses, two to three times a day.

Delivery Systems of Topical Progesterone

To affect maximum absorption and pass the skin barrier, natural progesterone should be carried in an oil/water emulsion that contains the same fatty acid composition as the skin.  Mineral oil will prevent the progesterone from being absorbed into the skin if topical progesterone is used. For oral progesterone, it is micronized.

There is a wide variation in dosage available.  Topical cream should contain at least 400 mg to 600 mg of natural progesterone per ounce.  Each one-half teaspoon application would supply a minimum of 26 mg of progesterone (women usually produce about 20 mg of progesterone daily during normal circumstances). To simplify matters, the better suppliers uses a pump, with one pump delivering about 20 mg of progesterone.  To get the physiologic dose, women would commonly apply one pump full a day (20 mg), while men can apply one-half pump full a day (10 mg).  Common low dose sublingual drops usually contain about 1.2 mg per drop (not droop full).

The consumer should read the label carefully.  Studies have shown that many commonly used topical commercial progesterone formulations contain less than 15 mg of progesterone per ounce.  In fact, some of these creams contain as little as 2 mg of progesterone per ounce.

The way to make sure that progesterone is present and not simply "wild yam extract" is to look for the "U.S.P. progesterone" on the label.  U.S.P. stands for United States Pharmacopoeia, which is the international standard of purity.  It confirms that the progesterone is the identical molecule as is produced by the human body.

Progesterone cream Lori uses

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