HRT Increases Your Risk Of Breast Cancer By 50%

HRT And Breast Cancer

Breast cancer kills 1 in 8 women

A new medical study has found that women who take HRT are 1.5 times more likely to develop breast cancer than women who do not take HRT. They are also more likely to die from breast cancer, than women who do not take HRT.

The study, which was published in the March 29 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, looked into women who took estrogen plus progestin, which is the most common HRT treatment for women who havnt had a hysterectomy. Women who have had a hysterectomy take estrogen therapy.

The link between HRT and breast cancer has been known since the well known WHI study reported its findings in 2002. Since then, other studies have confirmed the link between HRT and breast cancer.

This excerpt from the Health Day site will tell you more about this study and the link between HRT and breast cancer

Women who take hormone therapy that includes estrogen and progestin are at increased risk of developing breast cancer and dying from it, especially if they start
taking the therapy just as menopause begins, a new analysis confirms.

Researchers followed nearly 42,000 women, all of whom were past menopause, for an average of more than 11 years. Of those, more than 25,000 did not use hormone therapy and more than 16,000 took estrogen and progestin, also called combined hormone therapy. For this analysis, the researchers did not include estrogen-only therapy, used by women who have had a hysterectomy.

At the end of the follow-up period, more than 2,200 of the women were found to have breast cancer. Compared to non-users, those who took combined therapy were more likely to have breast cancer, said Dr. Rowan Chlebowski, a medical oncologist at the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center. Chlebowski led the study, which was published in the March 29 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

The link has been found in other studies, but Chlebowski also found the risk was greatest among those who took the hormones closest to menopause. “Women starting within months of menopause had about a threefold greater risk than women starting 10 years after menopause,” Chlebowski said.

Earlier this year, many of the leading medical organizations in this country, and many doctors, renewed their campaign to encourage women to take HRT for relief from their symptoms, despite the evidence that links HRT and breast cancer. Fortunately 90% of women refuse to take it.

Why would these medical organizations, and the doctors who are influenced by them, be pushing HRT on women in the face of evidence surrounding the risks associated with it?

One gynecologist has said that drug companies promote and run medical conventions and conferences to promote their products and these are normally the products doctors have information about and are educated in, making them the ones they prescribe to their patients.

Another medical doctor said that pharmaceutical companies have very strong relationships with societies such as The Endocrine Society, The North American Menopause Society and The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and have a significant influence over them.

Please help to spread the word about this new study that provides further evidence that links HRT and breast cancer.


Is Bioidentical Hormone Therapy Safe: Arguments For And Against

Bioidentical Hormone Therapy

There is so much conflicting information about it

I have been asked about the safety of bioidentical hormone therapy countless times. Ever since the 2002 WHI study found that women who take HRT have a higher risk of breast cancer, heart disease and stoke, women have been seeking alternative treatments and remedies to relieve their menopause symptoms.

Bioidentical hormone therapy (bht) has been popularized by the publication of the Suzanne Somers book, Ageless: The Naked Truth About Bioidentical Hormones and the support for bht from Oprah.

In the introduction to her book, Somers writes “A better life, a healthier life, a life of youthful energy comes from embracing antiaging medicine, and bioidentical hormone replacement is a big component. This new approach to health gives you back your lean body, shining hair and thick skin … allows your brain to work perfectly and offers the greatest defense against cancer, heart attack and Alzheimer’s disease. Don’t you want that?”

This certainly makes bioidentical hormone therapy seem very attractive…..but does it offer the greatest defense against cancer, heart attack and Alzheimer’s disease or does it carry the same risks as HRT?

I will not provide you with an answer to this question. I will present the arguments for and against bht safety and let you to decide for yourself.

Arguments Against The Safety Of Bioidentical Hormone Therapy

  • Are bioidenticals really a healthy option? JoAnn Manson, M.D., professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and chief of preventive medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and a past president of the North American Menopause Society thinks not. She advises her patients that there is no proof that bioidenticals any safer than HRT
  • Cynthia A. Stuenkel, M.D., a clinical professor of medicine at the University of California, San Diego, and former president of the North American Menopause Society says that most bioidentical hormones are sold without the controls, safeguards and testing required of prescription drugs. “Are they safe? Do they work? That’s never been shown in any real way”
  • Bioidentical hormone therapy is a clever marketing concept “devoid of scientific underpinnings, and preys upon the patient’s desire for better hormonal replacement therapies that are both safe and effective, properties totally unproven by the proponents of such agents”, according to Alan Garber, MD, PhD, chief medical editor of Endocrine Today
  • According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and several medical specialty groups, bioidentical hormones may be riskier than hormones used in standard hormone therapy, and there’s no evidence they’re any more effective
  • The American Cancer Society has stated that “natural” and “bioidentical” hormones present the same risks as synthetic hormone replacement therapy

Arguments For The Safety Of Bioidentical Hormone Therapy

  • In 2009 the Holtorf Medical Group, Inc. of Torrance, CA performed a comprehensive analysis of over 200 physiological and clinical studies (including the WHI study) concerning synthetic and bioidentical hormones. This analysis states “With respect to the risk for breast cancer, heart disease, heart attack, and stroke, substantial scientific and medical evidence demonstrates that bioidentical hormones are more effective forms of HRT than the commonly used synthetic versions.”

    Dr Holtorf said that societies such as The Endocrine Society, The North American Menopause Society and The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists have either failed to adequately review the medical literature on bioidentical hormones or more likely have let their significant relationships with the pharmaceutical companies influence their positions on the issue

  • One gynecologist has stated “As a board certified, OB/GYN trained at Emory University I am embarrassed by what I learned in residency concerning hormone physiology. It is a crime that this information is not taught in residencies. Instead we are bombarded by propaganda and misinformation by the so-called leaders in our field”
  • Another doctor has gone on record saying that women are being denied the benefits of bioidentical hormone therapy because of the lack of clinical research.

    He points out that bioidentical hormones are not patentable and therefor of little financial interest for pharmaceutical companies, which are the ones paying for the majority of clinical research. A pharmaceutical company is not willing to pay for an investigation from which it is not going to get a profit by selling a product and it can only do this with patented products.

    He also points out that drug companies promote and run medical conventions and conferences to promote their products, they offer doctors attractive gifts and these are normally the products doctors have information about and are educated in, making them the ones they prescribe to their patients

  • Bioidentical hormones are compounded products. The FDA doesn’t approve any compounded products, for any condition, because those products aren’t standardized. That doesn’t mean that compounding is bad. Compounding can be useful for patients who are allergic to an additive in an FDA-approved product, says Kathleen Uhl, MD, the FDA’s assistant commissioner for women’s health

Where to Find Answers To Your Questions About Menopause

Questions About Menopause

I've got more questions than answers

Whether you are close to beginning your menopause journey, at the start of perimenopause, been in perimenopause for sometime and waiting for your periods to end or in postmenopause, if you are reading this post… probably have unanswered questions about menopause.

You will find a list of authoritative sources on menopause below. The list contains government sites, medical sites, academic sites and sites that I think contain information that will be most helpful to any menopausal women with questions.

If you are new to menopause, it may be helpful to begin with the North American Menopause Society site, because it will provide you with a good overview of menopause, its symptoms and their treatments.

If you have questions about perimenopause, you may want to begin with the CeMCOR site, which deals primarily with perimenopause and its symptoms.

If you want to understand more about the specific symptoms you are experiencing, you can go straight to the 34 Menopause Symptoms site.

If you are interested in traditional medical treatments for menopause like HRT or drug treatments, you can go to the Medline Plus site or the site or the Mayo Clinic site.

If you want to know about natural treatments for menopause, go to National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) site.

I sincerely hope that you find answers to your questions about menopause from these sources.

The North American Menopause Society site

This is the best site for an overview about menopause in general, about menopause symptoms, about treatments. It does not go into detail about these subjects.

Medline Plus site

This is a US government site. It provides reliable information about menopause in general and its symptoms. Treatment recommendations lean toward traditional medicine. It is light on complementary and alternative treatments.

The site

This is a US government site. It provides reliable information about menopause symptoms and the medical treatments for the various symptoms. It is light on information about complementary and alternative medical treatments.

The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine site

Search for menopause. NCCAM is a US government site. This site will give you reliable information about all of the complementary and alternative medicine treatments for menopause.

The Mayo Clinic site

This site contains good information about menopause in general, and its symptoms and health risks. Treatments are slanted toward traditional medicine. It is skeptical about complementary and alternative treatments.

The The Centre for Menstrual Cycle and Ovulation Research site

CeMCOR is a private organization set up by Jerilynn C. Prior, MD, FRCPC, ABIM, ABEM and Professor of Endocrinology and Metabolism at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, B.C. It specializes in research about ovulation, progesterone and perimenopause. It provides the most helpful information about perimenopause, its symptoms and what a woman can expect to happen during perimenopause. It is opposed to estrogen therapy during perimenopause. It strongly encourages progesterone therapy during perimenopause. It does not touch on complementary medicine treatments. The explanations about perimenopause are a little on the medical/scientific side. However there is a section on the site called Ask Jerilynn, where menopausal women have asked her specific questions about their personal menopause experiences. The answers are very helpful to any menopausal women.

The Harvard Health Publications site

Search for menopause. This will provide you with an academic slant on menopause, which will help to balance the information that you get from government sites and medical sites. The information is easy for the layman to understand.

The 34 Menopause Symptoms site

This site provides outstanding information about any symptom that a woman can experience during perimenopause and menopause. It goes into detail about the physical, mental and emotional aspects of each symptom. You will get a good understanding of each of your symptoms. The downsides are that it glibly attributes every symptom to falling levels of estrogen, which is not true. It also has the same fixed solution for treating each symptom.


What Can I Do About My Depression During Menopause?

Depression During Menopause

I cry so often

Alice began her session by saying “I am depressed…what can I do about my depression during menopause“.

She went on to explain that her life had begun to fall apart. Up until then she had been a smart, confident, able woman who could usually find the joy in most any situation. Suddenly, she was weepy, sad, and was unable find the joy in anything. She cried all the time. At the same time, her periods began to get very heavy. Her 26 year old marriage had almost ended in divorce ……..that’s how bad it had gotten.

In addition to finding a remedy for her situation, she also wanted to understand the cause of her depression during menopause.

I explained to Alice that depression, if it happens, occurs most frequently during the early part of perimenopause. The cause of menopausal depression has not been established, but researchers are working on the basis that there are 2 probable causes for it

  1. women are overwhelmed by the physical and emotional changes that they are experiencing during menopause. These come on top of life stresses that are common at this time of life
  2. The changes in the levels of the sex hormones in the body during menopause, results in a decrease in the levels of other hormones that keep moods stable

Research reveals that women whose menopause has been brought on by surgery… removal of ovaries or hysterectomy, are at a higher risk of depression than women who experience natural menopause. This is because surgical menopause brings about a sharp sudden decline of estrogen, which is associated with the production of the other hormones involved in stabilizing mood.

Also, women who have a history of a depression episode earlier in her life or who have a family history of depression or who have experienced severe PMS, are at risk of depression during menopause.

What Can I Do About My Depression During Menopause?

Before I addressed this question, I showed Alice an article that appears on the Epigree site. Here is an excerpt from it

Menopause can trigger feelings of sadness and episodes of depression in a number of women. It is thought that somewhere between 8% and 15% of menopausal women experience some form of depression. Menopause depression is most likely to hit during perimenopause, the phase leading up to menopause. Causes of menopausal depression are under debate, but a variety of theories have been suggested as to why so many menopausal women experience mood disorders.

One theory asserts that the stress of menopause symptoms leads to depression. You may be finding that your symptoms of menopause are simply too difficult to manage on your own. You already have to deal with family, friends, work, and finances, let alone this huge physical change. Menopause may just be that straw that breaks the camel’s back, causing the onset of depression.

Another theory links menopause depression with fluctuating levels of hormones in the body. Throughout menopause, levels of estrogen, progesterone, and androgen are constantly changing. These hormones are thought to be linked with the mood centers in your brain. As hormones drop, especially estrogen, you can experience periods of sadness and hopelessness. Some women experience a severe drop in mood, resulting in depression.

There are many researchers who believe that an imbalance in serotonin levels may influence mood in a way that leads to depression. Whether it does or doesnt has not been confirmed by research.

So ….. what can you do about depression during menopause?

Exercise, nutrition and stress management have all helped women to improve moods. They each also play a role in increasing the production of serotonin by your body.

Many experts suggest that 30 minutes of physical activity a day can help to lift depression during menopause, but as little as 10 minutes a day has been shown to be beneficial. Happily, the activity doesn’t have to be strenuous to make a difference. A brisk walk is all it takes.

Following a sensible and nutritious diet and doing yoga or a form of meditation to reduce stress, improves mood as well.

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Perimenopause Symptoms Are Caused By High Estrogen Levels….Not Low

Perimenopause Symptoms

What is happening to me?

Ellen had been in perimenopause for a little more than 1 year and her symptoms had been worsening. She began her session by saying that her symptoms were driving her nuts and that she was ready to consider HRT.

I told her that it would be a mistake to do that, because HRT would increase the levels of estrogen in her body and that her symptoms were caused by estrogen levels that were too high!

She replied by saying “I thought my symptoms are caused by falling estrogen levels”.

I then explained to her that perimenopause symptoms are caused by high estrogen levels…not low estrogen levels …. and that later on when her period vanishes permanently, the symptoms she may experience will be caused by low levels of estrogen.

I think that most menopausal women do not understand that the cause of perimenopause symptoms is the opposite of the cause of any symptoms they may experience in post menopause.

I showed Ellen an outstanding article written by a top gynocologist, who is also Scientific Director for the Center for Menstrual Cycle and Ovulation Research.

Perimenopause Symptoms Are Caused By High Estrogen Levels….Not Low

Here is an excerpt from that article

I survived a rough perimenopause and my own experiences told me that the experts had it all wrong about dropping estrogen!

What’s the evidence that perimenopausal estrogen levels are high?
A dozen or so studies in the last 20 years have set out to measure hormone levels in perimenopausal women. Each study reports the data and summarizes by saying that estrogen levels are dropping. Surprisingly, few bother to mention the high levels they found (2). When all of the studies are put together, and the average perimenopausal estrogen levels are compared with average levels in young women, it is clear that the levels are higher, and significantly so (3).

Let’s consider estrogen levels from 300 Australian perimenopausal women taken during the end of flow (2). The data presented as a scatter plot indicates a wide range of hormone levels. Not only are most of the levels as high or higher than the average end of flow estrogen level for 20-35 year olds but many are even higher than the average mid cycle estrogen levels (peak in the cycle) in 20-35 year olds. Clearly many of these perimenopausal women had very high estrogen levels.

Later it says

Dr. Patricia Kaufert, a scientist from Winnipeg who has done one of the best studies about what women experience during perimenopause, found that women were likely to have a flooding menstruation just before their periods changed from regular to skipping(5). But heavy flow, bleeding at shorter intervals than 3 weeks, continual spotting or flow every two weeks, and clotting with cramping are all signs that estrogen is too high and progesterone is too low. Any period is too heavy if you soak more than 16 pads or tampons.

It is normal for the breasts to swell during the week before flow and it is sometimes normal to feel tenderness in the front or nipple area when estrogen hits a high midcycle peak. But swollen breasts most of the time, or front-of-the-breast soreness for more than a couple of days of the month means high estrogen.

the complete article

The reason for the confusion about estrogen during perimenopause, is that almost all researchers have reported that they had found that estrogen levels were falling in their perimenopausal subjects…..but they failed to say that they were falling from a high level!

Based on the information in this article, HRT will exacerbate peri-menopause symptoms. As estrogen levels are already high, HRT will increase the levels of estrogen in the body and further distort its relationship with progesterone.

The author of the article says that if any balancing of hormones is to be done, to relieve perimenopause symptoms, the level of progesterone should be increased.

I do not advocate progesterone treatment, as the first course of action to relieve perimenopause symptoms. I think the first course of action falls under the category of lifestyle changes.

Studies have conclusively shown that changes to diet, daily exercise, and the adoption of stress reduction techniques from yoga or meditation, lowers estrogen levels. If perimenopause symptoms are still severe after these lifestyle changes, then it is time to consider progesterone treatment.

Please LIKE this post and SHARE it with friends to let them know that perimenopause symptoms are caused by high estrogen levels…not low estrogen levels .


Are There Different Types Of Hot Flashes?

Hot Flashes

Do they come with varying intensity?

Jenny was a newcomer to menopause symptoms. She had experienced a change in the pattern of her periods, some hot flashes and some mood swings.

She was most concerned about hot flashes, because she had heard some horrendous stories about them. She had been learning about it on the internet, but she wanted to know more about them and asked “are there different types of hot flashes?”. She told me that she had tried searching the internet for information about this, but could not find any.

She also wanted to know what she could do to minimize the affect that they can have on her.

I told Jenny that that I didnt know of any research that defined hot flash types. We searched together using search terms “hot flash types”, “hot flash description” and “what a hot flash feels like”. These searches did not produce any useful information.

Then we found an article that provided a helpful answer….in a light manner.

Are There Different Types Of Hot Flashes?

Here is an excerpt from the article

Number One (“Who Turned Up the Heat?”): My whole body gets slightly warmer. It will usually take me a moment to realize what’s happening, and before I do, I might ask, “Is it warm in here?” These are usually short.

Number Two (“My Face!”): The heat is confined to my face, and it burns hot. No, I’m not blushing, unless you want me to, and then yes, my red face is all about YOU.

Number Three (“Tropical Morning”): This starts out as a Number One and moves on to light sweating that can last a while. In these cases, a Kleenex will come in handy, but I don’t have to change my clothes.

Number Four (“Tsunami”): Drenched. All of a sudden I’m soaked to the bone with no preamble. It’s Normal to I-Should-Have-Worn-A-Bathing-Suit in less than three seconds. This usually happens at night and always surprises me.

Number Five (“The Fires of Hell”): Hot. Really hot. It can start in my belly, my face, or anywhere else, and I get too hot not to do something about it. If I’m driving my youngest son to school in the morning when it’s forty degrees outside, and I have the windows wide open, and he is yelling: “It’s cold! It’s cold!” you know I’m having a Number Five. These can last a long time. Poor kid.

Number Six (“Whoa Nelly!”): This is the combo platter, the all-in-one doozy of a hot flash. I get the heat, the sweating, the everything. It’s more of a work of art than a hot flash.

the entire article

This articles provides a helpful answer to the question are are there different types of hot flashes….as it provides a possible gradient of severity that you can experience.

As Jenny’s symptoms have been mild thusfar, I recommended the following to her to keep it that way

  • Follow a healthy and balanced diet. Avoid fast food, processed food and spicy food
  • Exercise regularly
  • Do yoga or meditation to reduce stress and slow down your breathing. A slower rate of breathing has helped women to reduce their flashes

I also referred her to some natural treatments and remedies, in case her hot flashes worsened.

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Is Mother Nature Allowing Father Time To Make A Man Out Of Me?

Hair Loss During Menopause

Will I go as bald as a man?

Jane opened her session by saying “I’m pushing 50 now and Mother Nature is about done with me. It seems to be Father Time’s turn now.”

She explained that she has gone from plucking out the gray hairs on her head to hunting down the stray hairs that are cropping up on her chin. She was also concerned about the loss of hair on her head.

She then blurted out “is Mother Nature allowing Father Time To make a man out of me?”. She wanted to know what she could do about it.

Of course, loss of hair on the head is associated with men….as is facial hair growth.

However facial hair growth and hair loss during menopause are common complaints of women.

I showed Jane an article that discusses the physical signs of menopause and then we discussed what she could do about each of her hair complaints. I will share this with you later in the post.

Is Mother Nature Allowing Father Time To Make A Man Out Of Me?

Here is an excerpt from an article that discusses facial hair growth and hair loss during menopause. There is a quote in the article from a Dr Debra Luftman, who is an M.D. and a clinical instructor of dermatology at University of California – Los Angeles. She is also co-author of The Beauty Prescription.

About half of menopausal women notice hair thinning, a condition called alopecia. Hair may also become drier and prone to breakage.

It helps to cut back on frequent heat styling – blow drying, flat ironing or hot curlers – or use them with heat-protection products. Use a gentle, sulfate-free shampoo, as sulfates can overstrip hair’s natural moisturizing oils.

Handle your hair with care. Styles like tight braids or pulled-back ponytails may also lead to breakage. So can frequent perms or harsh color.

Later in the article it says

Though the hair on your head may be thinning, you may see whiskers sprout on your lip and chin.

More than 40 million women in the U.S. have unwanted facial hair. Plucking is a good option for a few stray hairs, while waxing, depilatories (hair-dissolving chemicals) and bleaching creams work better for larger patches.

If your facial hairs are dark, Dr. Luftman suggests laser treatments for more permanent removal.

“It’s not very expensive compared to ongoing waxing,” she says. “And after six treatments you have a permanent 80% reduction.”

Laser hair removal isn’t effective on blond, gray or white hair. And if your skin is dark, some laser treatments may change its pigment, the Mayo Clinic warns.

the complete article

The article provides some advice about what you can do to reduce the growth of facial hair and hair loss during menopause.

I told Jane that it isnt possible to prevent hair loss during menopause, as we all lose around 100 hairs a day throughout life. However there were steps she could take to reduce it

  • Avoid tight hairstyles that pull on the hair. So, forget braids, ponytails, cornrows and tight hair rollers. The pulling causes some hair loss, especially along the sides of the scalp. If the pulling scars the scalp, it can cause permanent hair loss
  • Watch the brushing and combing. Too much of either can cause the hair to break, so keep them to a minimum. Use combs with wide teeth and brushes with smooth tips. Wet hair is more fragile than dry hair, so be extra careful when you comb hair after a shower
  • Don’t shampoo hair excessively. Shampooing too often is bad for the hair. Also, apply a cream rinse or conditioner to the hair after shampooing to make it easier to comb. And don’t rub hair with a towel to dry it
  • Don’t use hot-oil hair treatments. And avoid the chemicals used in permanents. These may cause an inflammation of the hair follicles, which can also cause hair loss

As for facial hair growth, an effective way to prevent it during menopause is to prevent androgen excess in your body. This can be achieved by eating a balanced diet rich in quality proteins, complex carbohydrates, and colorful fruits and vegetables. When the body is getting too many refined carbohydrates, such as simple sugars, white bread or pasta, it produces more insulin. And one of the ways the body can respond to high insulin is by increasing androgen production.

You can remove facial hair by plucking, tweezing, waxing, trimming with a scissors, and electrolysis. Shaving is also effective, but carries with it a negative connotation for some women. Contrary to myth, none of these methods results in thicker or faster facial hair growth.

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How Can I Take Care Of My Brain During Menopause?

Mental Faculties During Menopause

Is this the start of Alzheimers?

Mary began her session by asking “how can I take care of my brain during menopause?”.

She said “I am 49 and perimenopausal, but recently my brain seriously doesn’t work. It feels like something is eating my brain”. She was worried that she may have permanently lost some of her mental faculties and that she may be experiencing the early symptoms of alzheimers disease.

I assured her that reduced mental faculties during menopause is common. Many women complain of memory loss, concentration difficulties, and an inability to remember names of people, places and things.

I said “the good news is that researchers have found that reduced mental faculties during menopause is temporary and that mental faculties return after menopause”.

This was comforting to Mary. However she said that she didnt want to wait until after menopause for her brain to recover. She wanted to know what she could do to improve her mental faculties immediately.

How Can I Take Care Of My Brain During Menopause?

Here is an excerpt from an article that I showed her, before we looked at steps she could take to improve her mental faculties during menopause. I will share those steps with you after the excerpt

It’s all linked to declining hormone levels which begin during the earliest stages of menopause and perimenopause.

The link goes like this: when the ovaries stop producing the right levels of estrogen and progesterone, it affects the entire body. You may be familiar with some of the physical changes women go through, including night sweats, hot flashes, and weight gain. Menopause and aging in general also affects your brain because the fewer hormones you produce lead to a decline in brain chemical production. This can take a toll on your emotional life: how you feel about yourself, as well as your memory, attention, and your overall mood. I refer to these changes as “menopausal madness” because so many women report a sense that feel out of control, especially when they recognize that their mind isn’t as sharp as it used to be.

The good news is that while getting older is inevitable, aging doesn’t have to be. The latest research is showing that there is real cause for hope. A deeper understanding of neurogenesis — the regeneration of brain cells — has opened the door for a new attitude towards aging. Neurogenesis teaches us that we can recover, or even improve, full intellectual capacities as we age. That means that growing older might mean growing smarter in many ways, especially in your ability to increase your memory and attention to higher levels than you have ever experienced.

the complete article

Neurogenesis is the ability of brain cells to regenerate themselves. It is a part of stem cell research.

Neurogenesis is really still in its infancy, but scientists have discovered that there are some external and environmental factors that affect the capacity of brain cell birth

  • Neurogenesis is affected by physical activity. Increasing physical activity increases the neuron’s ability for self-repair, and therefore enhances mental sharpness
  • Increasing levels of stress causes the body to secrete corticosteroid hormones which acts to inhibit neurogenesis by reducing the growth factor production, which is vital to new cell growth
  • Increasing levels of testosterone, serotonin, and glutamate, on the other hand, have been known to lead to increased neuronal cell proliferation

To improve her mental faculties during menopause, I recommended to Mary that

  1. she does a daily exercise program to increase her physical activity
  2. she does yoga or a form of meditation for stress reduction
  3. she includes certain foods in her diet that are known to stimulate the production of serotonin. Foods that stimulate the production of serotonin include most fruits and vegetables, almonds, beans, cheeses (particularly Cheddar and Swiss), chicken, eggs, fish (especially high-oil fish such as herring, mackerel, salmon, sardines, and tuna), milk, peanuts, soy foods, turkey, and yoghurt

Please LIKE this post and share it with friends who may be interested to know what they can do to take care of their brain during menopause.


Doctors Find A New Effective Natural Treatment For Hot Flashes

treatment for hot flashes

At long last....a medical endorsement of a natural product

I have just emailed all of my patients with the news that doctors have found a new effective natural treatment for hot flashes.

If you are like a majority of my patients, you will be eager to hear about a medical study that found a safe and effective natural treatment for hot flashes and night sweats.

A clinical trial published in the February 2013 edition of The Journal of Reproductive Medicine found that the natural supplement Pycnogenol (pic-noj-en-all), a plant extract from the bark of the French maritime pine tree, reduces hot flashes and night sweats significantly.

The medical trial consisted of 170 perimenopausal women. The subjects reported a 50% decrease in the severity of their symptoms after 12 weeks.

In their findings the doctors conducting the research said “These findings leave little doubt about the benefit of Pycnogenol for women interested in controlling climacteric symptoms with a more natural approach. Our study is the first to provide evidence for the safety and efficacy of Pycnogenol® in perimenopausal women”. Climacteric symptoms is the medical term for hot flashes and night sweats.

Doctors Find A New Effective Natural Treatment For Hot Flashes

Here is an excerpt from an article reporting on this new treatment for hot flashes

The researchers noted that previous studies have evaluated the effectiveness of Pycnogenol for the treatment of menopausal symptoms. A study of 200 Taiwanese women found the substance to be effective; however, the researchers administered an extremely high 200 mg daily dose of Pycnogenol. It found good relief from all major menopausal symptoms after a treatment period of half a year.

In the present study, perimenopausal women were treated with 30 mg Pycnogenol or placebo twice daily over
a period of three months.

Pycnogenol was found to be especially effective for improving vasomotor (hot flashes) and insomnia/sleep problem symptoms, which were significantly better after four and 12 weeks than with placebo. Compared to the placebo group, the total Kupperman’s index for perimenopausal symptom severity score decreased significantly by 56% in the treatment group after 12 weeks of treatment. The symptom score was also significantly better already after four weeks of treatment with Pycnogenol as compared to placebo.

The researchers concluded that the ingestion of a relatively low daily dose of Pycnogenol can provide significant relief of menopausal symptoms.

Take home message:
Pycnogenol is a safe product with no known significant adverse effects and is widely available in the United States. Thus, if you suffer from menopausal symptoms, it is well worth a personal trial.

Pycnogenol is used for a variety of conditions including circulation problems, allergies, asthma, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), hypertension, muscle, pain, osteoarthritis, diabetes, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), endometriosis, menstrual cramps, erectile dysfunction (ED), retinopathy (an eye disease).
Some take Pycnogenol in the belief that it can reduce the risk of a stroke, heart disease, and clots in the veins.

the full article

I am particularly excited about the findings of this clinical trial. There has been a distinct lack of medical research into natural products that can provide menopause relief.

You may be interested to know how this new effective treatment for hot flashes works. Women who experience climacteric symptoms are unable to dispel excess heat generated during a hot flash, because their blood vessels do not expand sufficiently. Pycnogenol supports vascular relaxation, which allows the body to get rid of excess heat, thus reducing the severity of hot flashes or nighttime sweating.

Because Pycnogenol is used in the treatment of several other health complaints, there have been several studies done that have looked into its effectiveness in treating these conditions. You will also find many articles about it. Today, it is available in hundreds of dietary supplements, multi-vitamins and health products worldwide.

Please LIKE and SHARE this post to help spread the word about this new effective treatment for hot flashes.


I Can Take The Hot Flashes, But Not The Disturbed Sleep

Disturbed Sleep

I am envious of Sleeping Beauty

Martha was discussing her menopause symptoms when she said “I can take the hot flashes, but not the disturbed sleep“.

She said that she was exhausted and that she dreams about having a good night’s sleep…..something she hadnt had for almost 2 years now.

She said that she has trouble falling asleep at night and that once she does, she wakes several times in the night with night sweast or because her mind is working overtime about worries that are imagined and not real worries.

She wanted to know what she could do to improve her sleep.

I explained to Martha that disturbed sleep during menopause may be the biggest complaint that I hear. It is not surprising….as it is caused by many of the other menopause symptoms.

A sleep survey of 900 menopausal women showed that 79 percent of them said that they have trouble staying asleep, and 63 percent struggle just trying to fall to sleep.

I showed Martha an article about insomnia during menopause, before discussing with her what she could do to improve her sleep. I will share with you the remedies that we discussed a little later in this post.

I Can Take The Hot Flashes, But Not The Disturbed Sleep

Here is an excerpt from the article about insomnia

What Is Insomnia?
Insomnia (in-SOM-ne-ah) is a common sleep disorder. People who have insomnia have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or both. As a result, they may get too little sleep or have poor-quality sleep. They may not feel refreshed when they wake up.


Insomnia can be acute (short-term) or chronic (ongoing). Acute insomnia is common and often is brought on by situations such as stress at work, family pressures, or a traumatic event. Acute insomnia lasts for days or weeks.

Chronic insomnia lasts for a month or longer. Most cases of chronic insomnia are secondary, which means they are the symptom or side effect of some other problem. Certain medical conditions, medicines, sleep disorders, and substances can cause secondary insomnia.

Later it says

Insomnia can cause daytime sleepiness and a lack of energy. It also can make you feel anxious, depressed, or irritable. You may have trouble focusing on tasks, paying attention, learning, and remembering. These problems can prevent you from doing your best at work or school

the entire article

If you didnt experience insomnia prior to menopause, what you are experiencing now is secondary insomnia.

Now for the remedies that I discussed with Martha to help her improve her sleep.

You can minimize disturbed sleep with exercise, with your diet, and by using stress reduction techniques stress.

Studies have shown that as little as 15 minutes of exercise a day will improve your sleep. However I recommend that you do at least 30 minutes of exercise per day.

Now for diet……research has shown that 2 body chemicals have an affect on insomnia. They are melatonin and serotonin.

Melatonin is a sleep inducing hormone. The Mayo Clinic says this about it: “the weight of scientific evidence does suggest that melatonin decreases sleep latency (the time it takes to fall asleep), increases the feeling of sleepiness, and may increase the duration of sleep.”

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter (chemical messenger) that sends signals between nerve cells in the part of the brain responsible for the sleep-wake cycle. Low levels of serotonin cause insomnia.

Good food sources for melatonin are oats, sweet corn, rice, olive oil, cherries, grapes, and walnuts.

Eat foods rich in calcium, magnesium, and vitamin B to help with serotonin production. These include most fruits and vegatables, almonds, beans, cheeses (particularly Cheddar and Swiss), chicken, eggs, fish (especially high-oil fish such as herring, mackerel, salmon, sardines, and tuna), milk, peanuts, soy foods, turkey, and yoghurt.

Stress is a factor in disturbed sleep of menopausal women. If you do yoga or some form of meditation, it will reduce stress and enable you to sleep better.

Please LIKE this post and SHARE it with friends who are experiencing disturbed sleep during menopause.


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