Since 2000, two million women yearly have entered menopause. By 2015, 50% of women in the U.S. will be menopausal. Menopausal symptoms affect 80% of women with different presentations and intensity. Women experience these symptoms for months to years, while for some, symptoms can be life- long.
On a weekly basis I counsel women for menopausal concerns. While some women choose hormonal support, many women prefer to manage menopause with botanical and nutritional medicine. By far, hot flashes, night sweats and sleep disturbance are the most common complaint my patients feel negatively affect their energy, emotions and lifestyle.
I have found Black Cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa) to be a very effective herb for managing hot flashes. In the past 2 decades, there has been more research done on the treatment of hot flashes with Black Cohosh than on any other herb. Consensus from research shows that Black Cohosh does help with the menopausal symptoms of hot flashes, sleep disturbance, muscle aches. The mechanism of action for Black Cohosh remains unclear, but research has shown, it doesn’t have phytoestrogenic effects on the pituitary, uterus or breast tissue.
Isoflavones and kudzu (Pueraria lobata) root extract are extremely effective. As with any botanical formula, the quality of the herbs are critical to its effectiveness. I use Metagenics’s EstroFactors with my patients. The benefits of EstroFactors:
- Supports women with estrogen-related health issues by addressing multiple factors of estrogen activity and metabolism.?
- Promotes healthy estrogen detoxification and elimination from the body, thus supporting overall hormone balance.?
- Helps to modulate pathways of estrogen metabolism, such as the conversion of estradiol to 2-hydroxyestrone, a weaker estrogen that may protect estrogen-sensitive tissues.?
- Beneficially influences estrogen receptor function for more balanced estrogenic activity.?
- Features L-5-methyl tetrahydrofolate a body-ready, nature-identical folate that is ideal for people whose folate status may be impacted by genetic variation.
Vitamin A (50% as Betatene? mixed carotenoids, 50% retinyl palmitate) 2500 IU
Vitamin D (as cholecalciferol) 200 IU
Vitamin E (as d-alpha tocopheryl acetate) 200 IU
Vitamin K 40 mcg
Vitamin B6 (as pyridoxine HCI) 50 mg
Folate (as folic acid and L-5-methyl tetrahydrofolate†) 800 mcg
Vitamin B12 (as methylcobalamin and cyanocobalamin) 30 mcg
Isoflavones [from a proprietary blend of red clover (Trifolium pratense) flowering top extract and kudzu (Pueraria lobata) root extract]
Turmeric (Curcuma longa) Rhizome Extract [standardized to 95% (200 mg) curcuminoids] 210 mg
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) Leaf Extract [contains 5.1%-7.6% (10.2 mg-15.2 mg) carnosic acid/carnosol] 200 mg
Resveratrol (from Polygonum cuspidatum root extract) 2 mg
Trimethylglycine (as betaine HCI) 200 mg
Chrysin 90 mg
Other Ingredients: stearic acid, microcrystalline cellulose, calcium silicate, croscarmellose sodium, silica, magnesium stearate, coating (deionized water, microcrystalline cellulose, polyethylene glycol, and carrageenan).
Some women feel better within a week. Women continue to take EstroFactors until their menopause symptoms resolve.
EstroFactors is an excellent choice for an alternative to hormone replacement for menopausal woman.
Men also experience a change of life coincident with an age-related decline in testosterone, the hormone that plays a key role in everything from puberty to maintaining muscle strength and bone mass to sex drive.
It begins in their late 30s or early 40s, with a gradual drop in testosterone of about 1 to 2 percent a year. Eventually a deficit of testosterone occurs and symptoms may arise. Symptoms include depression, irritability, low energy, decreased muscle mass, weight gain, sexual dysfunction and even the occasional hot flash or night sweats.
Low testosterone levels are linked to low sexual desire, erectile dysfunction, and a poor morning erection, and if these three symptoms are present, get your testosterone checked.
“Lack of energy and motivation, poor memory, weight gain, and muscle weakness are reasons to get checked” says Dr. Jeffrey Tucker “Do you have lower energy? Are you not sleeping as well? Is your libido down? Are your erections not as good as they used to be?” GET CHECKED!
I think testosterone supplementation in aging men is probably safe in the long run. I have had patients use topical creams, injectable and implanted testosterone, and supplements that stimulate the body’s production of testosterone. My first line therapy is to recommend each man take the ‘Wellness Essentials for Men’ vitamin packets from Metagenics. You can order these from from site.
I was asked how I felt about hormone replacement therapy. I wanted to share the following thoughts with you:
We are born with an excess amount of hormones to ensure survival of our species through reproduction. However, hormones are very powerful and can have very stimulating, excitatory, and proliferative effects within the body. As such, they are treated by the body as toxic and we have evolved mechanisms to detoxify them (these mechanisms in turn rely heavily on support from a healthy diet and lifestyle). Perhaps, as these mechanisms wear (throughout the aging process), the body naturally turns down its production of hormones.
In other words, if aging ensures the survival of our species by (a) clearing out older “models” and making room for new “models” (which in turn allows for continued evolutionary change) and (b) protecting the gene pool from individuals who have become laden with infectious parasites, then perhaps it makes sense for the body to naturally turn down the production of hormones (that would otherwise promote reproductive success and stimulate tissue growth/proliferation) in synchrony with the aging process. If you feel this way, it does not make sense to work against the body’s natural clock using hormone replacement therapy (HRT).
If you feel synthetic or bioidentical hormones are appropriate for you, you should first prepare the body using lifestyle intervention as well as provide the necessary nutrients to support the healthy, downstream detoxification of those hormones (keeping in mind that it can take years of eating properly to “train” the liver to properly detoxify). By the time patients come to see me, most are manifesting symptoms that are reflective of an underlying imbalance caused, over time, by unhealthy lifestyle habits. At this point, patients want immediate and drastic action. Even so, this still does not provide a rationale for long-term hormone replacement therapy.
In my opinion, natural Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) can be used, if necessary in the short-term, and for others the long -term. Some typical conditions I recommend hormone related supplements are to address mood-related issues, fatigue, loss of sex drive, and muscle wasting. Topical creams for vaginal dryness are helpful as well. There is very little scientific evidence to support HRT as a treatment strategy for the chronic conditions that women naturally become more susceptible to after menopause (diabetes, CVD, osteoporosis, and cognitive decline) and there is certainly no rationale for placing women on HRT indefinitely. The bottom line is that, if your doctor recommends HRT, it is incumbent on him/her to make sure that those hormones are being properly metabolized and cleared from the body.
The long-term treatment strategy in post menopausal women should focus on:
Manage stress and nurture the adrenal glands in order to support continued hormone production.
Provide healthy, estrogen-mimicking support using phytoestrogens like soy isoflavones.
Use diet and lifestyle intervention to address chronic inflammatory conditions (diabetes, CVD, osteoporosis, and cognitive decline) that women naturally become more susceptible to after menopause (keeping in mind that insulin resistance plays such a significant role in perpetuating this inflammation).
I hope this helps!