Glutathione (GSH) and Male Infertility

Improving Sperm Quality and Morphology

Copyright ©2004 Priya Shah

It is a well-known fact that sperm counts have dropped by half in the last 50 years, and that modern men have 20 percent less semen volume than their fathers (BMJ, 1992, volume 305).

A recent report from researchers in Aberdeen presented preliminary data that suggests the sperm concentration of the men seen in their clinic had declined by 29% over the past 14 years. (British Fertility Society; 5 January 2004)

Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and endocrine-disrupting chemicals from normal, everyday plastics are known to cause reproductive damage, as documented in Theo Colborn's book "Our Stolen Future."

Damage to sperm caused by exposure to common chemicals like alcohol, pesticides in food, has been linked to lowered intelligence and behavioral disorders in children.

Lifestyle risk factors known to decrease sperm quality include

  • Cigarette smoking
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Chronic stress
  • Nutritional deficiencies.

Other reasons for infertility include congenital factors, and health conditions like prostatitis and diabetes that can affect sperm production.

Pollution is stealing our future, and there's little anyone can do to avoid it. There may not be a lot you can do to reduce your exposure to persistent environmental toxins.

But there are definite measures you can take to reduce the impact of the environmental pollutants and toxins on your body.

You can prevent and, to a certain extent, repair the damage they cause to your body, through a better lifestyle and nutrition.

Some nutritional therapies and antioxidants that have proven beneficial in treating male infertility and improving sperm counts, sperm morphology and motility include:

  • Carnitine
  • Arginine
  • Zinc
  • Selenium
  • Vitamin B-12
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin E
  • Glutathione
  • Coenzyme Q10

Studies show that anti-oxidant supplementation -glutathione in particular -can improve sperm quality, and possibly increase your chances of conceiving.

If you smoke, drink, are exposed to stress, chemicals, radiation, pesticides or take medication or drugs (like sulfasalazine, ketoconazole, azulfidine, anabolic steroids, marijuana) that affect fertility, you should consider taking an antioxidant supplement to reverse some of the damage.

Why are Antioxidants Important for Sperm Quality?

Mammalian spermatozoa are coated by a membrane rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids. These fatty acids are extremely susceptible to oxidative damage by free radicals or Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) by a process called lipid peroxidation (LPO).

Lipid peroxidation damages the sperm cell membrane. It is considered to be the key mechanism of ROS-induced sperm damage and leads to

  • Loss of sperm motility
  • Abnormal sperm morphology
  • Reduced capacity for oocyte penetration
  • Infertility

To protect sperm from damage, the body depends on powerful antioxidant enzymes in the body such as superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase, and glutathione peroxidase/reductase (GPX/GRD).

Seminal plasma and spermatozoa have several antioxidant enzymes -glutathione peroxidase, glutathione reductase, superoxide dismutase.

Some amount of all the antioxidant enzymes, which may protect spermatozoa from oxidative attack, are also made by the epididymis during storage.

The glutathione peroxidase/reductase enzymes play a central role in the defense against oxidative damage in human sperm.

Why is Glutathione important for Sperm Quality and Fertility?

A decrease in levels of reduced glutathione (GSH) during sperm production is known to disrupt the membrane integrity of spermatozoa due to increased oxidative stress.

Intracellular glutathione levels of spermatozoa are known to be decreased in certain populations of infertile men. Compared with a control group, the infertile men in all groups had significantly higher levels of ROS and lower levels of total antioxidants.

There is strong clinical evidence to show that men diagnosed with infertility have high levels of oxidative stress that may impair the quality of their sperm.

In some groups, higher levels of ROS were associated with lower sperm counts and defective sperm structure, while lower antioxidant levels correlated with reduced sperm movement.

Previous evidence has also shown that oxidative stress can decrease a sperm's life span, its motility, and its ability to penetrate the oocyst, or egg cell.

Up to 40% of men with unexplained male infertility have higher levels of free radical activity in their bodies.

Because men with high levels of ROS have a seven-fold lower likelihood of inducing a pregnancy than men with lower levels, researchers recommend that treatment for infertile men should include strategies to reduce oxidative stress and improve sperm quality.

How can Glutathione help in the Treatment of Infertility?

Glutathione is not only vital to sperm antioxidant defenses, but selenium and glutathione are essential to the formation of "phospholipid hydroperoxide glutathione peroxidase" -an enzyme present in spermatids -which becomes a structural protein in the mid-piece of mature spermatozoa.

When either substance is deficient, it can lead to instability of the mid-piece of the spermatozoa, resulting in defective motility.

Free radical scavengers -such as glutathione -that restore the structure and function of poly-unsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) in the cell membrane, can be used to treat these cases.

In a double-blind cross-over study of twenty infertile men, treatment with glutathione led to a statistically significant improvement of the sperm quality.

The study concerned men in whom the sperm quality was poor due to unilateral varicocele or germ-free genital tract inflammation -two conditions in which ROS or other toxic compounds are indicated as causative factors.

Treatment with glutathione was also found to have a statistically significantly positive effect on sperm motility (in particular forward motility) and on sperm morphology.

The findings of these studies indicate that glutathione therapy could represent a possible therapeutical tool in cases where ROS or exposure to toxins is the probable cause of infertility.

Read the complete report with references on Male Infertility and Glutathione

Acupuncture Gets High Marks from Pain Specialists

Most Practitioners Consider Therapy A "Legitimate Practice"

Chronic pain is a term given to a variety of conditions that can cause frequent, continuous pain lasting several months or longer, including arthritis; chronic fatigue syndrome; fibromyalgia; headaches; back, neck and shoulder pain; and temporomandibular joint syndrome (TMJ). While most chronic pain sufferers have traditionally taken prescription drugs or over¬the¬counter medications to ease their suffering, studies show that increasing numbers of people have begun turning toward more natural, less invasive methods of pain relief.

Although numerous surveys have been conducted to determine the average person's experience with chronic pain, few have examined how trained pain specialists feel about the use of complementary and alternative therapies for pain relief. A study recently published in the journal Pain1 has shown that many specialists either employ acupuncture in their own practice or refer patients to an acupuncture practitioner, and that they feel the practice of acupuncture is "legitimate."

In the study, 732 members of the International Association for the Study of Pain were sent a questionnaire listing 22 non¬pharmacological treatments for pain, including acupuncture, herbal medicine, tai chi and qi gong. The specialists were asked whether they:

  • felt knowledgeable enough to discuss each therapy with their patients;
  • believed each therapy was a "part of a legitimate medical practice"; and
  • either used these therapies in their own practice or referred patients to a practitioner who did.

Acupuncture received consistently good reviews from practitioners who returned the survey. Sixty¬nine percent of those surveyed said they either used acupuncture in their own practice or referred patients to an acupuncturist, ranking the therapy fourth behind counseling/psychotherapy, electromagnetic applications (TENS, magnets) and exercise.

"We were somewhat surprised by the fact that over two¬thirds of the respondents reported having either used or referred patients to acupuncture treatments," said the study's authors.

Pain specialists also felt confident in talking about acupuncture with their patients. In fact, more respondents reported having enough knowledge about acupuncture to discuss it with their patients (70%) than any other form of therapy on the list.

Perhaps most important, a great number of pain specialists believed in acupuncture's legitimacy. Eighty¬four percent of those surveyed considered acupuncture a "legitimate medical practice," a figure second only to counseling and psychotherapy.

The study's results are even more interesting when one takes into account that the survey of pain specialists was conducted in the spring of 1997, more than six months before the National Institutes of Health Consensus Development Panel on Acupuncture occurred. In November 1997, the NIH panel concluded that acupuncture "may be useful as an adjunct treatment or an acceptable alternative" in treating headaches, myofascial pain, osteoarthritis, low back pain, and other conditions that may cause chronic pain.2

Some minor drawbacks were noted with the study, primarily the low response rate. Of the 732 specialists who were mailed the survey, only 408 were returned and only 362 deemed "usable," a number that "could have been higher," according to the authors. Separating the percentage of specialists who use a particular therapy versus those who refer to another practitioner may also have provided pertinent information, although that number was not the survey's primary goal.

Nevertheless, the results of the survey show the inroads acupuncture has made as a form of pain relief on an international level. It also suggests that pain specialists are amenable to trying non¬traditional therapies (such as acupuncture) to relieve their patients' pain, and that they believe acupuncture is a legitimate form of care they can discuss with their patients. As the authors noted in their conclusion:

"The present study does appear to reflect a definite openness among pain specialists to a variety of non-pharmacological treatment modalities á a case can be made that the degree of openness toward at least exploring different treatment options expressed by this well¬informed group of clinicians reflects a very real and appropriate commitment toward relieving their patients' pain."

References

  1. Berman BM, Bausell RB. The use of non¬pharmacological therapies by pain specialists. Pain 2000;85:313-315.
  2. Acupuncture. National Institutes of Health Consensus Development Statement, November 3¬5, 1997.

Chinese Herbs and Fertility

by Subhuti Dharmananda, Ph.D., Director, Institute for Traditional Medicine, Portland, Oregon

Chinese herbs have a long history of use in aiding fertility. Records indicating herbal treatment of infertility and miscarriage date back to 200 A.D., including mention of formulas that are still used for those purposes today, in the famous medical text Shang Han Lun. The first book devoted solely to gynecology and obstetrics, The Complete Book of Effective Prescriptions for Diseases of Women, was published in 1237 A.D. In modern China, herbs are used to treat infertility in both men and women and the results of large scale clinical trials are reported in Chinese medical journals; these results have been abstracted in English by a research group in Hong Kong since 1986, and translations of whole articles are obtained, by request, from several translators. The Institute for Traditional Medicine has acquired dozens of these reports and has analyzed the information to aid practitioners in selecting the appropriate herbs for different infertility cases and to explain the dosage, duration of treatment, and prognosis.  

 

THE HERBS USED TO AID FERTILITY

No individual herb is considered especially useful for promoting fertility. Rather, more than 150 different herbs, usually given in complex formulas comprised of 15 or more ingredients, are used in the treatment of infertility with the purpose of correcting a functional or organic problem that caused infertility. The design of the formulas has varied somewhat over the centuries, based on prevailing theories and available resources, and individual practitioners have a preference for particular herbs, thus accounting for some of the variations among formulas that are recommended. However, differences among individuals being treated accounts for the greatest variation in the selection of herbs and formulas to be used. There are some "exotic" materials that are frequently found in fertility formulas, such as deer antler and sea horse, but the prominent materials are derived from roots, barks, leaves, flowers, and fruits. Formulas for men and for women tend to be different, but there is considerable overlap in the ingredients used.  

 

HOW THE HERBS ARE ACQUIRED AND CONSUMED

In China, a number of fertility formulas can be purchased off the shelf in public pharmacies, and for uncomplicated cases, this is often adequate. However most men and women in the Orient are treated for persistent infertility by obtaining prescriptions from a doctor who is expert in Chinese herbs. In the U.S., it is uncommon to find fertility­promoting formulas in stores or other outlets; rather, they are prescribed by acupuncturists, naturopaths, or medical doctors who are familiar with Chinese herbs. The Institute for Traditional Medicine maintains a listing of such practitioners, to aid individuals anywhere in the U.S. to find a local expert in this field. Depending on the circumstances, one may be asked to ingest herbs in the form of pills, tablets, granules, or decoctions (teas). Some of the treatment plans involve using a single herb combination regularly, while others suggest using two, or even three, different formulas at different times of the menstrual cycle. All of these means can be effective, so long as the correct formula and correct dosage are used for an adequate period of time.

 

THE SUCCESS RATE FOR CHINESE HERB TREATMENTS

Although the outcome for any given individual cannot be predicted, the clinical studies conducted in China indicate that about 70% of all cases of infertility (male and female) treated by Chinese herbs resulted in pregnancy or restored fertility. Depending on the particular study and the types of infertility treated, success rates ranged from about 50% up to more than 90%. Included in these statistics are cases of infertility involving obstruction of the fallopian tubes, amenorrhea, absent ovulation, endometriosis, uterine fibroids, low sperm count, nonliquification of semen, and other causes. In China, due to the greater experience with using herbs, the ability to directly integrate traditional and modern methods of therapy, and the willingness of individuals to consume relatively large doses of herbs, the success rates are probably somewhat higher than can be achieved in the U.S. at the present time. Nonetheless, U.S. practitioners have had many experiences of success in treating infertility.

 

DURATION OF TREATMENT TO ATTAIN FERTILITY

In the Chinese clinical studies, daily or periodic use of herbs usually resulted in restored fertility within three to six months. Many Chinese doctors feel that if pregnancy is not achieved within about eight to nine months, then it is unlikely that the treatment will be successful with continued attempts. In Japan, where doctors give lower dosages of herbs and are restricted to using a smaller range of herbs, treatment time is usually longer: from six to fifteen months. In the U.S., nearly the full range of Chinese herb materials are accessible, but the dosage to be used is usually lower than in China; as a result, it is estimated that pregnancy can be achieved within six to twelve months. It must be remembered, however, that approximately one­third of infertility cases may fail to respond to all reasonable attempts. One advantage of the Chinese herbal approach is that even if pregnancy does not occur, benefits to health can be attained because the herbs address imbalances that affect other aspects of health besides infertility.

 

SAFETY OF THE HERBS

Chinese herbs are used in the U.S. as traditional foods and not as drugs. As such, there has been no formal testing of either the safety or efficacy of any of the individual herbs or formulas. The Chinese have had long experience using these herbs; from all informal reports and clinical studies, the Chinese claim that the herbs are not only safe to use, but that healthy children are usually born without any problems during delivery. However, it is important to recognize that the use of Chinese herbs is relatively new in the U.S. and that Americans today may have more stringent safety standards than the Chinese have had in the past. Therefore, one should pay attention to perceived adverse responses to the herbs. The Chinese herbs that are used in the U.S. are not overtly toxic, but there are a few possible adverse reactions which are rare and can usually be avoided by slight adjustment in formulation or method of administration. These reactions may include dizziness or headache, dry mouth, nausea, flatulence, or change in bowel conditions. If such reactions are not resolved naturally within about three days or if they are severe, the prescribing physician can make an appropriate adjustment. In any case, by discontinuing use of the herbs, any of these reactions will disappear promptly. Allergic reactions to herbs are rare, but if a person suffers from "environmental allergy syndrome," then the herbs can also cause the same reactions as other materials encountered in the normal environment.

 

MECHANISM OF ACTION

The mechanism of action of the herbs is not known precisely, and undoubtedly varies according to the type of infertility problem being treated and the herb formula that is used. The traditional Chinese views are that infertility tends to arise from one or more of three prominent causes:

1                     A "deficiency" syndrome prevents the hormonal system from properly influencing the sexual and reproductive functions. This is said to be a weakness of the "kidney and liver" which may influence various body functions producing symptoms such as frequent urination, weakness and aching of the back and legs, impotence, irregular menstruation, and difficulties with regulation of body temperature. Deficiency syndromes are treated with tonic herbs that are said to nourish qi (e.g., ginseng, codonopsis, atractylodes, astragalus), blood (e.g., tang­kuei, peony, ho­shou­wu, gelatin), yin (e.g., lycium fruit, ligustrum, eclipta, ophiopogon), or yang (e.g., epimedium, cistanche, cuscuta, eucommia), and are selected according to the overall evaluation of symptoms.

2                     A "stagnancy" syndrome prevents the sexual and reproductive organs from functioning despite normal hormone levels and normal ability to respond to hormones. This is said to involve a stagnancy of "qi and blood," which has the impact of restricting circulation to the tissues involved. Qi stagnation is often noted by tense muscles, restrained anger, and digestive disorders; herbs for resolving the stagnancy include bupleurum, cyperus, lindera, and various citrus products. Other symptoms that might arise include abdominal pain or bloating, chronic inflammation, and formation of lumps (including cysts and tumors). Blood stagnation often occurs following childbirth, surgery, injury, or severe infection and is typically noted when there is severe pain (such as dysmenorrhea), or hard swellings and obstructions; abnormal cell growth, including dysplasia and cancer, are thought to involve blood stagnation. Herbs such as salvia, red peony, persica, and carthamus may be used.

3                     A "heat" syndrome, which causes the affected organs to function abnormally. Heat syndromes may be associated with an infection or inflammatory process. This type of syndrome can produce abnormal semen quality leading to male infertility, while gynecologic infections can maintain female infertility by blocking the passages, altering the mucous membrane conditions, or influencing the local temperature. Herbs that inhibit infections and reduce inflammation are used, including gardenia, phellodendron, patrinia, and lonicera.  

In each case, the purpose of the Chinese herbs is to rectify the underlying imbalance to restore normal functions. Western medicine can diagnose tubal blockage (which usually corresponds to blood stagnancy in Chinese medicine) and infection (which corresponds to heat syndromes of Chinese medicine) and in many cases can successfully treat these causes of infertility. However, Western medicine often fails to diagnose deficiency syndromes and most of the stagnancy syndromes. Therefore, the majority of Chinese herb formulas to be applied in the U.S. are those that counteract the deficiency (called tonics) and those that resolve the stagnancy (called regulators). A description of Chinese herb formulas used for infertility is presented in the appendix to Chinese Herbology, a training manual produced by the Institute for Traditional Medicine.

The hormonal effects of Chinese herbs used to treat impotence and infertility and to prevent miscarriage have been demonstrated in laboratory experiments. For example, the laboratory evaluation of Huanjing Decoction (composed of rehmannia, ho­shou­wu, ligustrum, morus fruit, achyranthes, dipsacus, cynomorium, astragalus seed, and cuscuta) was administered to senile mice for four months, two weeks treatment, one week break. Estradiol and dihydrotestosterone receptors in the nucleus of thymic cells were decreased to levels found in young mice; cytosol estradiol receptors increased. Also,

the formula influenced the immune system: it increased thymus weight, thymic index, and prevented atrophic changes in the ultrastructures of thymic lymphocytes and epithelial reticular cells.

 

COMBINING CHINESE HERBS AND WESTERN THERAPIES

In China, the combined use of modern drugs or other Western medical techniques along with Chinese herbs is not uncommon; some doctors are trained in both methods, and Western and traditional doctors often work together in Chinese clinics and hospitals. When the modern methods are applied, the herb therapies do not usually need to be altered compared to cases where the herbs are used alone. Most of the cases of infertility successfully treated in China do not rely on techniques such as in vitro fertilization, which are quite expensive and have only a modest rate of success in the U.S. where the modern fertilization methods are most highly developed.

 

INFERTILITY PROBLEMS NOT OVERCOME BY USING CHINESE HERBS

It is not advisable to suggest that something simply cannot be accomplished in the field of health care (because there are almost always exceptions), but there are some areas where chances of success are considered quite low. Some women suffer from amenorrhea that is associated with a very low body fat content. This is apparently exacerbated by strenuous exercise (e.g., distance running). Changes in diet and exercise may be necessary before Chinese herbs or other therapeutic methods can be effective. In a few cases, a woman's immune system will attack her husband's sperm and thus make fertilization virtually impossible; this can not be overcome with Chinese herbs. People who are under very high levels of stress or who have multiple health problems may need to have these things addressed­partly with use of Chinese herbs­before a reasonably high chance of success can be expected in the specific treatment of infertility.

 

USE OF HERBS WHEN PREGNANCY OCCURS

The herbs for inducing fertility are usually discontinued once pregnancy is suspected or confirmed. In most cases, it is not necessary to use herbs during pregnancy. Women with a history of miscarriage or who are deemed at high risk for miscarriage (somewhat more common among women who have experienced prolonged infertility) may wish to take herbs that are traditionally used in such cases by Chinese women. Certain herbs can be used during pregnancy to enhance the health of the mother and to counteract symptoms of morning sickness. In addition, it is reported that labor can be made easier by proper application of herbs and acupuncture. Books on the subject of herbal health care for pregnancy and nursing can be traced back to such important works as A Precious Medical Book on Obstetrics for Home Use, published in 1184 A.D.  

 

THREATENED MISCARRIAGE

Threatened miscarriage, if due to an imbalance in the mother's system (but not if due to genetic problems with the fetus), can often be overcome with application of herbs and possible adjunct therapy with moxa or acupuncture. The method to be used and the procedures to follow should be discussed early in the pregnancy so that appropriate steps can be taken should bleeding, fetal agitation, or early contractions occur. It is important to note that most cases of early miscarriage (sometimes called spontaneous abortion) are not related to an imbalance in the mother's system but are rather a natural

and fairly common event, possibly due to a development problem of the embryo. Later in the pregnancy, weaknesses in the mother's system or excessive fetal movement, become a more prominent factor. There is a particular herb formula, called Tang­kuei and Peony Formula (Dang Gui Shao Yao San), which forms the basis of most treatments aimed at avoiding miscarriage­but the formula is intended to be used mainly as a daily preventive therapy rather than an emergency treatment. Extensive testing in the Orient indicates that this formula is safe to use and it appears highly effective; modified versions of this formula, such as Tang­kuei Formula (Dang Gui San), are used to address specific concerns and are probably of equal safety and efficacy. Other formulas, such as "An Tai Yin" (which means Peaceful Fetus Formula) and "Shou Tai Wan" (which means Fetus Longevity Pill) are popular remedies in China for use during the latter part of pregnancy.  

 

ROLE OF ACUPUNCTURE

Chinese clinicians appear confident that most fertility problems can be overcome solely or primarily with the use of herbs; most medical books describing Chinese methods of treating infertility do not mention acupuncture. However, acupuncture therapy may address particular symptoms of concern either directly related or unrelated to infertility, and might be influential in speeding up the development of normal fertility. In the event that infertility is mainly due to functional disorders, it is possible that acupuncture alone could resolve the problem.

Balance Hormones with Progesterone Creme

 THE BARRON REPORT

Volume 5, Issue 4 © 1997, Jon Barron. All Rights Reserved.

Balance Hormones with Progesterone Creme

Vital Hormone Information for Women

Every woman between the ages of 13 and 117 needs to seriously consider supplementation with a natural progesterone creme.

Why? Because virtually every woman who lives in an industrialized country (the United States, in particular) is at high risk of estrogen dominance because of exposure to xenoestrogens. Xeno¬estrogens, which are mostly petroleum based synthetic estrogens, are now present in massive amounts in our food chain, water supply, and environment.

At one time, our diets afforded some protection. Fruits and grains and vegetables (in their natural state) provide low¬action phytoestrogens for the body. These low¬action estrogens fill the body's estrogen receptor sites ¬¬making them unavailable for use by the more potent estrogens ¬¬both natural and synthetic. Unfortunately, today's diets are dominated by processed foods, which are stripped of these beneficial phytoestrogens. The net result is that virtually all of the body's receptor sites are ready and waiting for the far more intense estrogens.

Some high potency estrogens (such as estrone and estradiol) are produced by the body itself. But far and away, the greatest problem comes from the powerful and destructive petrochemical¬based xenoestrogens. Not only are these xenoestrogens omnipresent, they are considerably more potent than estrogen made by the ovaries ¬¬some even potent in amounts as small as a billionth of a gram.

Before we proceed, it is important to understand what role estrogen plays in the body. In addition to promoting the growth of female characteristics at puberty, the estrogen hormones also promote cell growth. It is the estrogens, for example, that stimulate the buildup of tissue and blood in the uterus at the start of the menstrual cycle. The problem comes when high levels of estrogen (natural and synthetic) are unopposed by sufficient amounts of natural progesterone, which leads to continuous, unrestrained cell stimulation. Problems that can occur include:

  • Increased risk of breast cancer
  • Loss of bone mass
  • Increased risk of autoimmune disorders such as lupus
  • Fibrocystic breasts
  • Fibroid tumors
  • Depression and irritability
  • PMS symptoms such as cramping and bloating ¬¬in addition to depression and irritability
  • Menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats ¬¬again, in addition to depression and irritability
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Increased body hair and thinning of scalp hair
  • Migraine headaches
  • Impaired thyroid function, including Grave's disease
  • Increased body fat
  • Increased blood clotting
  • Impaired blood sugar control
  • The astounding acceleration of puberty in young girls from an average age of 14 to 15, to now as young as 9 or 10. (This represents a speed up of as much as 1/3 sooner in their lives and has frightening implications for long term health.)
  • And, finally, xenoestrogens have been strongly implicated in declining male sperm production and the increase in the rates of testicular cancer and prostate cancer

The Answer: Balance Estrogen

The only natural balancer to excessive estrogen in the body is natural progesterone ¬¬not more estrogen. But what about the synthetic "progesterones" (such as Provera) that your doctor recommends? Progesterone is a natural substance, and as such cannot be patented. The pharmaceutical companies, therefore, have to modify it slightly. They literally create a new molecule, called medroxyprogesterone ¬¬that does not exist in nature ¬¬in order to take out a patent. This "slightly" modified artificial progesterone is what most doctors prescribe. What effect does slight modification have?

Consider the fact that the testosterone molecule and the estrone molecule are virtually identical ¬¬except for the fact that the positions of the oxygen atom and the OH atoms change places. This slight "modification," however, happens to be enough so that one hormone makes men...and the other women.  

Even closer is the similarity between DHEA and estrone. The molecules are actually identical except for the location of some of the double bonds between carbon atoms. You cannot get closer. And yet the function of DHEA and estrone could not be more different.

And now look at the difference between natural progesterone and Provera:  

The bottom line is that Provera is not natural. It's a synthetic form of progesterone that carries a whole range of serious side effects. A small sampling of these side effects, as listed in the Physician's Desk Reference, includes:

  • Depression
  • Birth defects
  • Increased body hair
  • Acne
  • Risk of embolism
  • Decreased glucose tolerance
  • And allergic reactions

Now, in exchange for these significant side effects, Provera does offer some protection against endometrial cancer and a very modest increase in bone formation.

On the other hand, supplementation with natural progesterone has NO known side effects. It is best utilized by the body when administered transdermally with a skin creme that contains approximately 500 milligrams per ounce of natural progesterone and offers the following potential health benefits

According to Dr. John R. Lee, the author of What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Menopause, natural progesterone may significantly improve bone formation ¬¬by as much as 15% ¬35%. (Understand, this is unique to natural progesterone. Estrogen supplementation does not increase bone formation; it merely slows the rate of loss for a 5¬year period around the time of menopause. And man¬made progestin only mildly increases bone formation. If you are worried about osteoporosis, there is only one substance known that significantly improves bone formation ¬-and that's natural progesterone.)

  • Increased progesterone levels in the body may help to protect against endometrial cancer
  • They may also help protect against breast cancer
  • In addition, supplementation with natural progesterone can help relieve symptoms of PMS
  • Relieve symptoms of menopause
  • Normalize libido
  • Improve the body fat profile
  • Improve sleep patterns
  • And help relieve migraine headaches

The bottom line is that every woman living in the industrialized world should seriously consider supplementation with natural progesterone.

If you decide to begin a regimen of natural progesterone supplementation, look for a premium quality balancing creme that contains a minimum of 500 milligrams per ounce (the amount recommended by Dr. Lee) of 100% pure, USP grade progesterone, naturally derived from soybeans. Look for a natural vegetarian formula that uses no artificial or synthetically derived fragrances, parabens or preservatives. Look for a formula that uses all natural oils and an enhanced liposome delivery system to help move the progesterone through the skin. And finally, look for a formula that uses only ORGANIC wild yam.

Whether you're still going through your menstrual cycles (or whether you're pre¬menopausal, or menopausal, or post¬menopausal), you need to seriously consider supplementation. The benefits are extraordinary; the risks virtually non¬existent. And the risks of not supplementing potentially include: an increased risk of breast cancer, endometrial cancer, and osteoporosis ¬¬to reiterate just a few. (And for men, natural progesterone can help with depression and can help relieve prostate problems.)

Acupuncture Treats Headaches and Migraines

By: Diane Joswick, L.Ac./www.Acufinder.com Date Published: 10-06-2005 

Migraine and Headache Sufferers Acupuncture Can Help 

The pain that headache and migraine sufferers endure can impact every aspect of their lives. Acupuncture can offer powerful relief without the side effects that prescription and over-the-counter drugs can cause. Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine have been used to relieve Headaches and Migraines, as well as their underlying causes, for thousands of years and is a widely accepted form of treatment for headaches in our society. There are acupuncturists that specialize in the treatment of headaches and migraines and can help you manage your pain with acupuncture and Chinese herbs alone, or as part of a comprehensive treatment program. 

Diagnosis with Traditional Chinese Medicine 

Traditional Chinese Medicine does not recognize migraines and recurring headaches as one particular syndrome. Instead, it aims to treat the specific symptoms that are unique to each individual using a variety of of techniques such as acupuncture, Chinese herbs, tui-na massage, and energetic exercises to restore 

imbalances found in the body. Therefore, your diagnosis and treatment will depend on a number of variables: Is the headache behind your eyes and temples, or is it located more on the top of your head? When do your headaches occur (i.e. night, morning, after eating)? Do you find that a cold compress or a dark room can alleviate some of the pain? Do you describe the pain as dull and throbbing, or sharp and piercing? 

How Acupuncture Works 

These questions will help create a clear picture on which your practitioners can create a treatment plan specifically for you. The basic foundation for Oriental medicine is that there is a life energy flowing through the body which is termed Qi (pronounced chee). This energy flows through the body on channels known as meridians that connect all of our major organs. According to Chinese medical theory, illness arises when the cyclical flow of Qi in the meridians becomes unbalanced Acupuncture is the stimulation of specific points located near or on the surface of the skin which have the ability to alter various biochemical and physiological conditions in order to achieve the desired effect. 

The Acupuncture Treatment 

Acupuncture points to treat headaches are located all over the body. During the acupuncture treatment, tiny needles will be placed along your legs, arms, shoulders, and perhaps even your big toe! 

There seems to be little sensitivity to the insertion of acupuncture needles. They are so thin that several acupuncture needles can go into the middle of a hypodermic needle. Occasionally, there is a brief moment 

of discomfort as the needle penetrates the skin, but once the needles are in place, most people relax and even fall asleep for the duration of the treatment. 

The length, number and frequency of treatments will vary. Typical treatments last from five to 30 minutes, with the patient being treated one or two times a week. Some symptoms are relieved after the first treatment, while more severe or chronic ailments often require multiple treatments. 

Studies on Acupuncture and Headaches 

Since the early seventies, studies around the globe have suggested that acupuncture is an effective treatment for migraines and headaches. Recent studies show extremely positive results: 

In a case study, published in the June 2003 Issue of Medical Acupuncture, doctors found that acupuncture resulted in the resolution or reduction in the frequency and severity of cluster headaches, and a decrease or discontinuation of medications. It was concluded that Acupuncture can be used to provide sustained relief from cluster headaches and to stimulate adrenal cortisol to aid in discontinuing corticosteroids. 

A clinical observation, published in a 2002 edition of the Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine, of 50 patient presenting with various types of headaches were treated with scalp acupuncture. The results of this study showed that 98% of patients treated with scalp acupuncture experienced no headaches or only occasional, mild headaches in the six months following care. 

In a study published in the November 1999 issue of Cephalalgia, scientists evaluated the effectiveness of acupuncture in the treatment of migraines and recurrent headaches by systematically reviewing 22 randomized controlled trials. A total of 1,042 patients were examined. It was found that headache and migraine sufferers experienced significantly more relief from acupuncture than patients who were administered "sham" acupuncture.


DHEA: Dehydroepiandrosterone

Joseph Pepping, Pharm.D. 

[Am J Health-Syst Pharm 57(22):2048-2056, 2000. © 2000 ASHP, Inc.] 

 

Introduction 

Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and its active metabolite, DHEA sulfate (DHEAS), are endogenous hormones synthesized and excreted primarily by the zona reticularis of the adrenal cortex in response to adrenocorticotropic hormone. The exact mechanism of action and clinical role, if any, of DHEA and DHEAS remain unclear. Epidemiological data indicate an inverse relationship between serum DHEA and DHEAS levels and the frequency of cancer, cardiovascular disease (in men only), Alzheimer's disease and other age-related disorders, immune function, and progression of HIV infection.[1] Animal (primarily rodent) studies have suggested many beneficial effects of DHEA, including improved immune function and memory and prevention of atherosclerosis, cancer, diabetes, and obesity. Many of the benefits seen in animal studies have yet to be shown in humans.[1-3] 

Uses 

Clinically substantiated (yet still controversial) uses of DHEA include replacement therapy in patients with low serum DHEA levels secondary to chronic disease, adrenal exhaustion, or corticosteroid therapy; treating systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), improving bone density in postmenopausal women; improving symptoms of severe depression; improving depressed mood and fatigue in patients with HIV infection; and increasing the rate of reepithelialization in patients undergoing autologous skin grafting for burns.[1,4-8] Other possible uses (with some supporting clinical studies) include enhancing the immune response and sense of well-being in the elderly, decreasing certain cardiovascular risk factors, and treating male erectile dysfunction.[4,8-12] Use of DHEA to slow or reverse the aging process, improve cognitive function, promote weight loss, increase lean muscle mass, or slow the progression of Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease is clinically unsubstantiated.[3,4,9] 

Pharmacology 

In women, the synthesis of DHEA and DHEAS occurs almost exclusively in the adrenal cortex, whereas in men the testes secrete approximately 5% of DHEAS and 10-25% of DHEA.[3] Minute amounts are synthesized de novo in the brain.[3,13] In young adults the adrenal cortex secretes approximately 4 mg of DHEA and 25 mg of DHEAS per day.[2] During gestation, large amounts of DHEA and DHEAS are secreted by the fetal adrenal glands. At birth, output drops to negligible amounts in both sexes and remains that way until five to seven years of age. At the onset of adrenarche, the adrenal glands gradually resume DHEA and DHEAS production, which accelerates through puberty. DHEA and DHEAS output is maximal between the ages of 20 and 30 years and then starts a decline of approximately 2% per year, leaving a residual of 10-20% of the peak production by the eighth or ninth decade of life.[2,14-16] 

DHEA and DHEAS are interconvertible by sulfohydrolases in peripheral and adrenal tissues.[3] Some 64-74% of the DHEAS produced each day is converted to DHEA, but only 13% of the DHEA produced is metabolized to DHEAS.[2,17,18] In humans, the brain-to-plasma ratios for DHEA and DHEAS are 4-6.5 and 8.5, respectively, indicating a neuroendocrine role for these hormones.[2,19,20] 

DHEA and DHEAS serve as the precursors of approximately 50% of androgens in men, 75% of active estrogens in premenopausal women, and 100% of active estrogens after menopause.[2,16] There appears to be a sex-specific response to DHEA replacement therapy in humans. In postmenopausal women (ages 50-65), supraphysiological doses of 100 mg of DHEA per day have predominantly androgenic effects, increasing testosterone levels approximately 300% over baseline levels.[21] In older men (mean ± S.D. age, 58.8 ± 5.1 years), 100 mg/day did not affect testosterone or dihydrotestosterone levels, but 17 beta-estradiol and estrone levels were increased over baseline by 37% and 225%, respectively (p < 0.0001 for both).[22] It has been hypothesized that the increase in serum estrogens may provide a mechanism for beneficial cardiovascular effects in men; however, clinical studies addressing the possible cardioprotective effects of DHEA have been inconclusive. 

Several mechanisms of action of DHEA and DHEAS other than their role as precursors of the sex hormones have been proposed. In the central nervous system, both DHEA and DHEAS appear to affect neurotransmitter receptors. In rodents, DHEAS binds to the aminobutyric acid (GABA)/benzodiazepine-receptor complex (GABA-RC) and acts as a negative noncompetitive modulator of GABA-RC. DHEA, on the other hand, appears to have GABA-agonist effects on the GABA-RC. 

DHEA selectively enhances the neuronal response to N-methyl-D-aspartate.[3,4] Also, DHEA and DHEAS appear to have neurotrophic effects, increasing the number of neurofilament-positive neurons and regulating the motility and growth of corticothalamic projections in cultured mouse embryo brain cells.[23-25] 

Supraphysiological oral doses of DHEA (100-300 mg/day) in humans have been found to inhibit the synthesis of thromboxane A 2 in activated platelets, reduce plasma plasminogen activator inhibitor type 1 and tissue plasminogen activator antigen, increase serum levels of insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), and increase cyclic guanosine monophosphate and nitric oxide synthesis (either directly or via increased levels of IGF-1).[4,26-28] These effects suggest that DHEA may be beneficial in improving circulation in the microvasculature and regulating some of the risk factors of cardiovascular disease, such as platelet aggregation and ischemia. Clinical studies in this area have been equivocal, with a majority showing an inverse relationship between DHEA or DHEAS levels and cardiovascular morbidity and mortality in men but not in women.[29] However, a recently published five-year epidemiologic cohort study found no statistically significant correlation between serum DHEA or DHEAS levels and the development of atherosclerosis in men or women.[30] 

DHEA may play a positive role in modulation of the immune response. Clinical studies in elderly persons have demonstrated that oral DHEA doses of 50 mg/day increase IGF-1 levels (p < 0.01) and cause functional activation of T cells (increases in CD8+ and CD56+ cells [natural killer cells] and enhanced cytotoxic activity).[4,9,31,32] Serum levels of interleukin-6 (a proinflammatory cytokine involved in the pathogenesis of osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, atherosclerosis, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, and beta-cell malignancies) increase significantly with age and are inversely correlated with serum DHEA and DHEAS levels (p < 0.001). In addition, DHEA, DHEAS, and androstenedione inhibit the production of interleukin-6 by peripheral blood mononuclear cells in a concentration-dependent manner (p < 0.001).[33] 

Pharmacokinetics 

Oral absorption of DHEA is excellent. The volume of distribution is 17.0-38.5 L for DHEA and 8.5-9.3 L for DHEAS. DHEA and DHEAS are converted into several active metabolites, including androstenedione, testosterone, estrone, estradiol, and estriol (Figure 1). The elimination half-life of DHEA is 15-38 minutes, whereas the half-life of DHEAS is 7-22 hours. Renal excretion accounts for 51-73% of the elimination of DHEAS and its metabolites.[2,4,34-36] 

Figure 1. Synthesis of dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), DHEA sulfate (DHEAS), and other steroids. The listing of more than one enzyme indicates a multistep process. aro = aromatase, DOC = deoxycorticosterone, HSD = hydrosteroid dehydrogenase, HSO = hydrosteroid oxidoreductase, HSS = hydrosteroid sulfatase, KSR = ketosteroid reductase, R = reductase, scc = side-chain cleavage, SH = sulfohydrolase, P-S = pregnenolone sulfate, THDOC = tetrahydrodeoxycorticosterone, THP = tetrahydroprogesterone. Reprinted from reference 3, with permission. 

Clinical Studies 

To date, clinical studies of DHEA in patients with specific diseases have yielded generally inconclusive results. Most of the studies were open label or had very small samples. Most of the studies discussed below were randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials in which the oral dosage was 

 300 mg/day. Tummala and Svec [37] demonstrated that incremental increases in serum DHEA and DHEAS levels appear to plateau at an oral DHEA dosage of 300 mg/day and inferred that doses greater than this have little additional therapeutic value. 

Postmenopausal Bone Density 

In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study by Baulieu et al.,[10] 280 healthy men and women ages 60-79 years were given DHEA 50 mg/day orally for 12 months. Increases in bone mineral density (p < 0.05) and decreases in biochemical markers of bone turnover (p < 0.01 for serum C-terminal peptide and p < 0.05 for serum bone alkaline phosphatase) were observed at 12 months in women older than 70 but not in any other subgroup. 

Systemic Lupus Erythematosus 

DHEA supplementation has shown promise for the treatment of SLE. In a randomized, double-blind trial,[38,39 28] women with SLE received DHEA 200 mg/day for three months. In the DHEA group, the SLE Disease Activity Index score and both the patients' and the physicians' overall assessments of disease activity decreased, whereas small increases were seen in the placebo group. However, significance was achieved only for the visual-analogue-scale component of the index (p = 0.022). Lupus flares occurred less frequently in the treatment group than in the placebo group (three versus eight flares, p = 0.053), and a nonsignificant decrease in prednisone requirements was noted in the treatment group (from a mean ± S.D. daily dose of 12.4 ± 3.2 mg to 9.1 ± 2.3 mg, compared with an increase from 5.3 ± 1.37 mg to 7.3 ± 2.9 mg in the placebo group). Serum titers of antibodies to double-stranded DNA and levels of complement components C3 and C4 did not change significantly between the groups. 

Well-being and Cognition 

In a randomized, placebo-controlled, crossover trial, 30 patients ages 40-70 years were given 50 mg of DHEA orally daily.9 Within two weeks, this dose restored serum DHEA levels in both men and women to those found in young adults. With DHEA treatment, 67% of the men and 84% of the women perceived an increase in physical and psychological well-being. However, the study has been criticized for its use of an open-ended questionnaire for self-assessment of well-being.[40] 

At present, there are no rigorous data to support an improvement in memory or other aspects of cognitive function after DHEA replacement therapy. Low endogenous levels of DHEA and DHEAS do not appear to be associated with an increased risk of dementia.[41] 

Depression 

The possible relationship between depression and serum DHEA and DHEAS levels is intriguing; however, more research is needed. Some authors have suggested that abnormal diurnal variations in serum DHEA and DHEAS levels, as well as abnormally high cortisol-to-DHEA ratios, may be causative factors in depression in adults and depression with comorbid panic or phobic disorders in adolescents.[3,42-44] 

In a randomized, double-blind trial by Wolkowitz et al.,[45] 22 patients who had major depression (a Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression [HAM-D] score of 16 or greater) and who were either medication free or stabilized on antidepressant regimens received DHEA (30 mg/day for weeks 1 and 2, 60 mg/day for weeks 3 and 4, and 90 mg/day for weeks 5 and 6) or placebo. At the end of the six weeks, the mean decrease in the HAM-D score was 30.5% in the treatment group and 5.3% in the placebo group (p < 0.04). Five of 11 patients in the treatment group were considered responders (at least a 50% decrease in HAM-D score), compared with none of the 11 patients in the placebo group. 

Effects in HIV-Infected Patients 

In a recent open-label trial evaluating the effect of DHEA on depressed mood and fatigue, 45 HIV-positive patients (39 men and 6 women) received oral DHEA doses of 200-500 mg/day for eight weeks.[11] Of the 32 patients who completed the trial, 23 (72%) had an improvement in mood and 26 (81%) had a reduction in fatigue. There was a significant increase in body cell mass and libido but no effect on CD4+ lymphocyte counts or testosterone levels in men. The positive effects on mood, fatigue, and body cell mass continued for an additional four weeks in a subsequent double-blind phase of the study. Christeff et al.[46] have noted an inverse relationship between serum DHEA and DHEAS levels and the immunologic deterioration in HIV patients, which suggests a role for DHEA and other androgens in the normal functioning of the immune system. 

Effects on Physical Variables 

A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover trial by Morales et al.[21] looked at the effects of oral DHEA 100 mg/day in 16 subjects 50-65 years of age. Baseline levels of serum DHEA, DHEAS, androstenedione, testosterone, and dihydrotestosterone were at or below the low end of the range for young adults. In both sexes, DHEA 100 mg/day restored serum DHEAS to levels at or slightly above the upper limit of the young-adult range. In women, androstenedione, testosterone, and dihydrotestosterone were increased to three to five times baseline levels (p < 0.001 for each hormone), or to levels above the sex-specific ranges for young adults, whereas in men only androstenedione was significantly increased above baseline (p < 0.05). Serum IGF-1 levels increased by a mean ± S.D. of 16% ± 6% (p = 0.04) in men and 31% ± 12% in women (p = 0.02). In men but not women, fat body mass decreased by 6.1% ± 2.6% (p = 0.02), and there were 

increases in knee muscle strength (15.0% ± 3.3%, p = 0.02) and lumbar back strength (13.9% ± 5.4%, p = 0.01). No changes in basal metabolic rate, bone mineral density, urinary pyridinoline cross-links, fasting insulin, glucose, cortisol, or lipids were observed in either sex. 

Dosage 

Physiological replacement dosages of oral DHEA in healthy people older than 40 years are in the range of 20-50 mg/day for men and 10-30 mg/ day for women.[2,4,8] These dosages are usually adequate to increase serum DH-EAS to the levels found in adults 20-30 years of age and to bestow the reported benefits of a heightened sense of well-being in both sexes, increased bone mineral density in postmenopausal women, and amelioration of erectile dysfunction in men. Higher dosages may be necessary for increasing suppressed DHEA and DHEAS levels secondary to chronic disease, adrenal exhaustion, and corticosteroid therapy. Replacement doses of DHEA are usually taken once daily in the morning. 

It is imperative that serum DHEAS concentration be measured before DHEA replacement therapy is started. The serum DHEAS level should be checked at least annually to ensure that it is in the normal range. To minimize adverse effects and maximize benefits, it is suggested that replacement dosages in healthy adults be adjusted to maintain serum levels of DHEAS in the second or third quartile of sex-specific, young-adult ranges. 

Pharmacologic dosages of 200 mg/day have been successfully used in patients with SLE. Dosages of 200-500 mg/day have been used in HIV-positive patients with depressed mood and fatigue. It is not known what effect long-term physiological or supraphysiological doses of DHEA may have on suppression of the zona reticularis of the adrenal cortex; however, there does not appear to be feedback inhibition of DHEA or DHEAS secretion by the hypothalamic-pituitary axis.[2] 

Adverse Effects 

Increased facial sebum production, acneiform dermatitis, and mild hirsutism have been reported in women taking DHEA in physiological or supraphysiological dosages (25-200 mg/ day).[4,21,38] Hepatitis was reported in a postmenopausal woman with preexisting high titers of antinuclear antibodies who received a single oral dose of 150 mg of DHEA; causality could not be established.[4,47] A supraphysiological dosage of DHEA (100 mg/day) was shown to increase androstenedione, 

testosterone, and dihydrotestosterone levels threefold to fivefold in postmenopausal women.[21] The long-term effects of these increases in androgen levels in women are not known. A nested case-control study by Dorgan et al.[48] found that postmenopausal women (not taking DHEA or hormone replacement therapy) whose levels of endogenous DHEAS were in the highest quartile had a significantly higher risk of breast cancer (risk ratio, 2.8 [95% confidence interval 1.1-7.4]) than women whose levels of endogenous DHEAS were in the lowest quartile. 

Drug Interactions 

Calcium-channel blockers and metformin increase levels of endogenous DHEAS, whereas corticosteroids and insulin significantly decrease them.[3] Supraphysiological dosages of DHEA can increase serum triazolam levels because of an inhibition of metabolism.[8] Theoretically, aromatase inhibitors, such as chrysin (5.7-dihydroxyflavone), an extract from the plant Passiflora coerula, can increase levels of androgens, including DHEA and DHEAS, in both men and women. Kroboth et al.[3] published an excellent review of the effects of disease, diet, exercise, and medications on endogenous DHEA and DHEAS levels. 

Contraindications 

DHEA supplementation is contraindicated in patients with a history of sex hormone-responsive cancers, such as breast, ovarian, endometrial, and prostate cancer. Women with a family history of postmenopausal, estrogen-sensitive cancers and men with benign prostatic hypertrophy or a family history of prostate cancer should carefully weigh the risks and benefits of DHEA replacement therapy with their physician. If replacement therapy is deemed necessary, close monitoring of serum DHEAS and its androgenic and estrogenic metabolites should be performed frequently. DHEA supplementation should be avoided during pregnancy and lactation. 

Conclusion 

Clinical data suggest that DHEA may have a role in hormone replacement therapy in patients with low endogenous DHEA and DHEAS levels due to chronic diseases, adrenal exhaustion, corticosteroid therapy, and advancing age. However, as a potent steroid precursor, DHEA can significantly increase androgen levels in women and may enhance the 

progression of estrogen and testosterone-sensitive cancers. Supplementation with DHEA should never be undertaken without direct medical supervision. The long-term effects of DHEA supplementation are unknown. 

References 

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2. Baulieu EE. Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA): fountain of youth? J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1996; 81:3147-51. 

3. Kroboth PD, Salek FS, Pittenger AL et al. DHEA and DHEA-S: a review. J Clin Pharmacol. 1999; 39:327-48. 

4. DHEA monograph. AltMedDex vol. 104. Englewood, CO: MicroMedex; 2000. 

5. Robinzon B, Cutolo M. Should dehydro-epiandrosterone replacement therapy be provided with glucocorticoids? Rheumatology (Oxford). 1999; 38:488-95. 

6. Lahita RG. Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) for serious disease, a possibility? Lupus. 1999; 8:169-70. 

7. Derksen RH. Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and systemic lupus erythematosus. Semin Arthritis Rheum. 1998; 27:335-47. 

8. DHEA monograph. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. www.naturaldatabase. com (accessed 2000 May 6). 

9. Morales AJ, Nolan JJ, Nelson JC et al. Effects of replacement dose of dehydroepiandrosterone in men and women of advancing age. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1994; 78:1360-7. 

10. Baulieu EE, Thomas G, Legrain S et al. Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), DHEA sulfate, and aging: contribution of the DHEAge study to a sociobiomedical issue. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2000; 97:4279-84. 

11. Rabkin JG, Ferrando SJ, Wagner GJ et al. DHEA treatment for HIV+ patients: effects on mood, androgenic and anabolic parameters. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2000; 25(1):53-68. 

12. Reiter WJ, Pycha A, Schatzl G et al. Serum dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate concentrations in men with erectile dysfunction. Urology. 2000; 55:755-8. 

13. Majewska MD, Demirgoren S, Spivak CE et al. The neurosteroid dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate is an allosteric antagonist of the GABA A receptor. Brain Res. 1990; 526: 143-6. 

14. Migeon CJ, Keller AR, Lawrence B et al. Dehydroepiandrosterone and androsterone levels in human plasma. Effect of age and sex, day-to-day and diurnal variations. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1957; 17:1051-62. 

15. Orentreich N, Brind JL, Vogelman JH et al. Long-term longitudinal measurements of plasma dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate in normal men. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1992; 75:1002-4. 

16. Labrie F, Belanger A, Cusan L et al. Marked decline in serum concentrations of adrenal C19 sex steroid precursors and conjugated androgen metabolites during aging. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1997; 82:2396-402. 

17. Bird CH, Masters V, Clark AF. Dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate: kinetics of metabolism in normal young men and women. Clin Invest Med. 1984; 7:119-22. 

18. Poortman J, Andriesse R, Agema A et al. Adrenal androgen secretion and metabolism in post-menopausal women. In: Genazzani AR, Thijssen JH, Siiteri PK, eds. Adrenal androgens. New York: Raven; 1980:219-40. 

19. Robel P, Baulieu EE. Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is a neuroactive neurosteroid. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 1995; 774:82-110. 

20. Lacroix C, Fiet J, Benais J-P et al. Simultaneous radioimmunoassay of progesterone, androst-4-enedione, pregnenolone, dehydroepiandrosterone and 17-hydroxy-progesterone in specific regions of the human brain. J Steroid Biochem. 1987; 28: 317-25. 

21. Morales AJ, Haubrich RH, Hwang JY et al. The effect of six months treatment with a 100 mg daily dose of dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) on circulating sex steroids, body composition and muscle strength in age-advanced men and women. Clin Endocrinol. 1998; 49:421-32. 

22. Arlt W, Haas J, Callies F et al. Biotransformation of oral dehydroepiandrosterone in elderly men: significant increase in circulating estrogens. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1999; 84:2170-6. 

23. Baulieu EE, Robel P. Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS) as neuroactive neurosteroids. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1998; 95:4089-91. 

24. Roberts E, Bologa L, Flood JF et al. Effects of dehydroepiandrosterone and its sulfate on brain tissue in culture and on memory in mice. Brain Res. 1987; 406:357-62. 

25. Compagnone NA, Mellon SH. Dehydroepiandrosterone: a potential signalling molecule for neocortical organization during development. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1998; 95:4678-83. 

26. Jakubowicz D, Beer N, Rengifo R. Effect of dehydroepiandrosterone on cyclic guanosine monophosphate in men of advancing age. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 1995; 774(Dec):312-5. 

27. Jesse RL, Loesser K, Eich DM et al. Dehydroepiandrosterone inhibits human platelet aggregation in vitro and in vivo. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 1995; 774(Dec):281-90. 

28. Beer N, Jakubowicz D, Matt DW et al. Dehydroepiandrosterone reduces plasma plasminogen activator inhibitor type 1 and tissue 

plasminogen activator antigen in men. Am J Med Sci. 1996; 311(5):205-10. 

29. Alexandersen P, Haarbo J, Christiansen C. The relationship of natural androgens to coronary heart disease in males: a review. Atherosclerosis. 1996; 125(1):1-13. 

30. Kiechl S, Willeit J, Bonora E et al. No association between dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate and development of atherosclerosis in a prospective population study (Bruneck study). Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2000; 20:1094-100. 

31. Casson PR, Andersen RN, Herrod HG et al. Oral dehydroepiandrosterone in physiological doses modulates immune function in postmenopausal women. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 1993; 169:1536-9. 

32. Khorram O, Vu i, Yen SS. Activation of immune function by dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) in age-advanced men. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med. 1997; 52(1):M1-7. 

33. Straub RH, Konecna L, Hrach S et al. Serum dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and DHEA sulfate are negatively correlated with serum interleukin-6 (IL-6), and DHEA inhibits IL-6 secretion from mononuclear cells in man in vitro: possible link between endocrinosenescence and immunosenescence. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1998; 83: 2012-7. 

34. Longcope C. Dehydroepiandrosterone metabolism. J Endocrinol. 1996; 150(suppl): S125-7. 

35. Bird CE, Murphy J, Boroomand K et al. Dehydroepiandrosterone: kinetics of metabolism in normal men and women. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1976; 47:818-22. 

36. Zumoff BV, Bradlow HL. Sex difference in the metabolism of dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1980; 51: 334-6. 

37. Tummala S, Svec F. Correlation between the administered dose of DHEA and serum levels of DHEA and DHEA-S in human volunteers: analysis of published data. Clin Biochem. 1999; 32:355-61. 

38. Van Vollenhoven RF, Engleman EG, McGuire JL. Dehydroepiandrosterone in systemic lupus erythematosus. Arthritis Rheum. 1995; 38:1826-31. 

39. Van Vollenhoven RF. Dehydroepiandrosterone in systemic lupus erythematosus. Rheum Dis Clin North Am. 2000; 26:349-62. 

40. Huppert FA, Van Niekerk JK, Herbert J. Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) supplementation for cognition and well-being. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2000; 2:CD000304. 

41. Berr C, Lafont S, Debuire B et al. Relationships of dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate in the elderly with functional, psychological, and mental status, and short-term mortality: a French community-based study. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1996; 93:13410-5. 

42. Tordjman S, Anderson GM, McBride PA et al. Plasma androgens in autism. J Autism Dev Disord. 1995; 25:295-304. 

43. Goodyer IM, Herbert J, Altham PME et al. Adrenal secretion during major depression in 8-to 16-year olds: I. Altered diurnal rhythms in salivary cortisol and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) at presentation. Psychol Med. 1996; 25:245-56. 

44. Herbert J, Goodyer IM, Altham PME et al. Adrenal secretion during major depression in 8-to 16-year olds: II. Influence of comorbidity at presentation. Pychol Med. 1996; 25:257-63. 

45. Wolkowitz OM, Reus VI, Keebler A et al. Double-blind treatment of major depression with dehydroepiandrosterone. Am J Psychiatry. 1999; 156:646-9. 

46. Christeff N, Lortholary O, Casassus P et al. Relationship between sex steroid hormone levels and CD4 lymphocytes in HIV infected men. Exp Clin Endocrinol Diabetes. 1996; 104(2):130-6. 

47. Buster JE, Casson PR, Straughn AB et al. Postmenopausal steroid replacement with micronized dehydroepiandrosterone: preliminary oral bioavailability and dose proportionality studies. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 1992; 166:1168-70. 

48. Dorgan JF, Stanczyk FZ, Longcope C et al. Relationship of serum dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), DHEA sulfate, and 5-androstene-3 beta, 17 betadiol to risk of breast cancer in postmenopausal women. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 1997; 6 (3):177-81.

Hormone Balancing

The Importance of Hormone Balancing

How we feel and the quality of life we lead are very dependent upon the delicate balance of three essential functions of our bodies: reproductive hormones, the adrenals glands and the thyroid gland. Each of these powerful components are intertwined, with one interdependent upon the other. When one is out of balance, it has a direct and tangible effect on the others. The net result is that your sense of well-being is diminished and your quality of life affected.

Our goal is to help you first assess your own specific situation to obtain a complete and comprehensive picture of your overall state of health. Based on our findings, we will work with you to develop a holistic strategy specifically tailored to your needs.

The Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal Axis

The center for coordinating these various functions is the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal (HPA) axis. The HPA axis provides a series of feedback mechanisms between the hypothalamus, the pituitary gland, reproductive hormones, the adrenals glands and the thyroid gland.

The interactions among biological systems controls reactions to stress and regulates many body processes, including digestion, the immune system, mood and emotions, sexuality, and energy storage and expenditure.

Each of us responds differently to the intersection of age, gravity, stress, and genetics. Our bodies experience a wide range of changes based on the interactions of each of these factors. Because the functions of the HPA axis are so interrelated, change in one these systems can have a cascading affect on the others.

Our testing methods take into account the full range of the HPA axis functions. In this way, we are able to obtain a comprehensive picture of your particular situation and move forward with a plan to improve the quality of your life. Testing for the various imbalances can include, a Hormone Saliva Test, Bio Impendence Analysis, or Nutrition Based Urine Analysis.

The Estrogen/Progesterone Relationship

Estrogen plays an essential role in the body, and understanding that role is an important step in rebalancing your hormones. In addition to promoting growth of female characteristics at puberty and the development of an oocyte into a mature ovarian follicle, estrogen also promotes cell growth and stimulates the beginning of the menstrual cycle.

High levels of estrogen (both natural and synthetic from the environment) become an issue when they are unopposed by adequate levels of natural progesterone, which then leads to continuous, unrestrained cell stimulation. When that happens, the following issues can arise:

  • Excess estrogen is the only known cause of endometrial cancer
  • Increased risk of breast cancer
  • Loss of bone mass
  • Increased risk of autoimmune disorders such as lupus
  • Fibrocystic breasts
  • Fibroid tumors
  • Depression and irritability
  • PMS symptoms such as cramping and bloating — in addition to depression and irritability
  • Menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats — again, in addition to depression and irritability
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Increased body hair and thinning of scalp hair
  • Migraine headaches
  • Impaired thyroid function, including Grave’s disease
  • Increased body fat
  • Increased blood clotting
  • Impaired blood sugar control

The Importance of the Estrogen/Progesterone Ratio The first step for women seeking to reclaim their quality of life is to examine not just their levels of estrogen and progesterone, but the ratio of the two. Often, lab results will report that the levels of estrogen and progesterone are normal, but fail to take into consideration the relationship between them and the symptoms you are experiencing.

A high estrogen-to-progesterone ratio is generally involved in causing the above symptoms. Even this ratio, however, is conditioned by a wide range of other factors, including age, diet, other steroids, thyroid, and other hormones.

Increasing progesterone levels have a number of benefits, including:

  • Possible protection against endometrial cancer
  • May also help protect against breast cancer
  • Supplementation with natural progesterone can help relieve symptoms of PMS
  • Relieve symptoms of menopause
  • Normalize libido
  • Improve the body fat profile
  • Improve sleep patterns
  • And help relieve migraine headaches

Whether you’re still going through your menstrual cycles (or whether you’re pre-menopausal, or menopausal, or post-menopausal), it is important to have your estrogen-to-progesterone ratio measured and, if necessary, rebalance it with natural progesterone supplementation.

The Thyroid: The Furnace of Life

The thyroid plays an important role in the body. It is responsible for converting cholesterol into the hormones. Thyroid hormones are essential for the production of energy in each and every cell in the body. Many problems that women experience have thyroid implications — the challenge can be in knowing how to detect such situations and then how to treat them.

Since many women are symptomatic of estrogen dominance and estrogen inhibits normal thyroid function a majority of women have an under active thyroid. As they age, women can experience changes in mood, depression, hair loss, and even difficulty in losing weight despite a healthy diet and exercise. All of these are just some of the symptoms that can be attributed to an under active thyroid.

Adding to the complexity of the situation is the fact that an under active thyroid can be related to an improper estrogen-to-progesterone ratio; many times the two conditions can go hand-in-hand.

Conditions that can have a negative effect on the thyroid include:

  • Heavy metals
  • Fluorides
  • Environmental factors
  • Digestive issues
  • Soy products
  • All forms of estrogen
  • Pesticides in commercial foods
  • Excess iodide
  • Low-protein diet

Some of the symptoms of low thyroid include:

  • Chronic fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Immune system problems (frequent colds and flu, asthma, bronchitis)
  • All female problems (PMS, cyclic migraines, mood swings, fibrocystic breasts)
  • Low blood sugar
  • Increased cholesterol

As noted earlier, the thyroid is responsible for converting cholesterol into the hormones that are essential to life. If the thyroid is not functioning properly, cholesterol may rise because there is inadequate thyroid hormone to convert cholesterol into bile salts and the anti-aging hormones, pregnenolone, progesterone and DHEA (the precursor for the production of the sex hormones testosterone and estrogen).

What is the thyroid-estrogen connection? Estrogen inhibits thyroid secretion, while progesterone stimulates it. Progesterone is made in the body from cholesterol IF there is adequate thyroid hormone and other nutrients including vitamin A and certain enzymes. A thyroid deficiency, whether caused by estrogen dominance (and its thyroid inhibiting effect) OR an underactive thyroid gland itself, has far reaching consequences.

The Adrenal Glands

The adrenal glands regulate stress, blood pressure, and blood mineral content through the secretion of various hormones. Adrenal function is perhaps the least understood of the three components of the HPA axis, so it makes sense that adrenal dysfunction is the least recognized contributor to why people feel fatigued.

The adrenal glands are responsible for producing more than 30 different steroids and hormones known as corticosteroids. The most important corticosteroids are cortisol, aldosterone, and the adrenal androgens (sex hormones). Of these, cortisol is the principal hormone secreted in reaction to stress, and is necessary for many other functions in the body.

When the adrenal glands are under stress, the body switches into survival mode, also known as “fight or flight.” If this condition continues, it can:

  • Cause the body to conserve calories
  • Lead to adrenal exhaustion which can decrease immune system function

It is important to note that stress causes not just excess adrenaline to be secreted in to the body, but also excess cortisol. Cortical has a major impact on glucose utilization by influencing how fat and protein is used. By doing so, cortisol works to regulate the concentration of glucose in the blood stream to ensure a ready source of fuel for the cells under any type of stress.

Glucose is required to convert the thyroid hormone thyroxin (T4) into its active form, triiodothyronine or liothyronine (T3). When T3 is inadequate, sugar (glucose) is burned inefficiently to lactic acid instead of the end product carbon dioxide. As a result, the body gets less energy from the same amount of glucose.

In response to stress, cortisol causes blood sugar levels drop. The body then increases production of adrenaline to compensate for the deficiency of energy and glucose. At first, adrenaline attempts to mobilize stored sugar and fat. Cortisol then increases blood sugar in an attempt to stabilize the need for glucose.

The production of cortisol is a life-saving response to stress but in a person with an under active thyroid, it occurs abnormally in an attempt to elevate blood sugar levels. Cortisol, like estrogen, inhibits the thyroid, creating a vicious cycle that can only be broken by proper hormone balancing. In addition, excess cortisol can lead to hot flashes or night sweats, diabetes, bone loss and glaucoma.

The Role of Stress in the HPA Axis Function

Chronic stress can sets in motion the chemistry for a wide range of conditions. However, everyone adapts to stress differently, and the healthier your adrenal function is, the better you will respond to stress. The stronger your adrenal glands, the longer you can withstand extended periods of stress without adverse effects.

The opposite also is true: if your adrenals are weak, the effects of stress will appear faster and more severely. This is what leads to adrenal exhaustion, which in turn can cause a different set of symptoms including low blood pressure, low blood sugar, mental lethargy, muscle weakness, and weight loss.

Since the symptoms of adrenal insufficiency and hypothyroidism overlap, they are sometimes confused or dealt with separately. Addressing an underactive thyroid without supporting adrenal function may leave you with only half the answer.

There Is Hope

You can take control of the situation, and you can regain the quality of life and sense of well-being that you once enjoyed. We have the knowledge, tools, and experience required to help you get back on track and reclaim your health.

We begin with a thorough evaluation and consultation to develop an outline of your complete medical history. We may also call upon a host of tests — saliva, urine, and blood work — to analyze your health outlook.

Each situation is different, and we vary our approach based on your specific needs to put together a holistic strategy to address your issues. With our assistance, you can rebalance your body and return to a better state of health.

Treating Infertility with Chinese Medicine

 By: Randine Lewis, Ph.D., L.Ac. 

 

 Patients With Tension Headaches Benefit From Acupuncture

By Michael Devitt, managing editor

While tension headaches usually aren't as debilitating as migraine headaches, they occur with much greater frequency; according to the National Institutes of Health, they are the most common type of headache experienced in the U.S.¹ They also have a tendency to recur, especially when a person is under stress. Patients who suffer from tension headaches often report feeling as if their head is being squeezed in a vice,² with tightness and pressure around the forehead, the temples, or the back of the head and neck. They may last as little as 30 minutes, or may linger with a person for days at a time.

The exact cause of tension headaches remains unclear. Traditionally, they have been attributed to muscle tension of spasms of the head, scalp, face or jaw, although changes in brain chemistry are also considered a contributing factor. Typically, tension headaches are treated with over¬the¬counter medications such as aspirin or ibuprofen; in severe cases, antidepressants or muscle relaxants may be used. However, these medications often fail to address the cause of the headache, and may not always be effective.

In the past few decades, acupuncture has been used to treat a variety of headache types, but its effectiveness in treating tension headaches has not been investigated as thoroughly as other interventions. A study published in the Aug. 13 issue of the British Medical Journal³ suggests that acupuncture can be a powerful instrument in relieving tension¬type headaches, and that it produces effects comparable to those seen in more traditional forms of care.

In this randomized, controlled trial, researchers in Germany recruited 270 men and women ages 18 to 65, all of whom suffered from tension¬type headaches at least 8 days per month in the previous 3 months and in the baseline period, and had experienced symptoms for at least the past 12 months. Participants were randomized into a true acupuncture group (comprised of 132 patients), a minimal acupuncture group (63 patients), or a control group (75 patients).

In both the acupuncture and minimal acupuncture groups, treatment consisted of twelve 30¬minute sessions delivered over 8 weeks, with two sessions in each of the first 4 weeks, followed by one weekly session in the remaining 4 weeks. In the true acupuncture group, all patients were needled bilaterally at three "basic" points (unless explicit reasons for not doing so were given), with additional points selected on an individual basis, and a maximum of 25 needles inserted per session. Practitioners delivering acupuncture were instructed to achieve the de qi sensation if possible, and to stimulate needles manually at least once per session. In the minimal acupuncture group, at least five out of 10 predefined, distant nonacupuncture points were needles bilaterally and superficially; the needles were not stimulated, and de qi was not achieved. [See Figures 1 and 2 for a listing of the points used in each group.] Patients in the control group did not receive any prophylactic treatment for a 12¬week period after randomization, but did receive true acupuncture at the end of the study period.

Figure 1: Points Used, Acupuncture Group

Basic points

  • GB 20
  • GB 21
  • Liv 3

 

Optional points

  • Mainly frontal headache: LI 4, Du 23, extra points yintang and taiyang, ST 44, GB 2
  • Headache mainly in the vertex: Du 20 or 23, extra point si shen cong
  • Mainly neck pain: BL 10, 60 or 62, Du 14 or 19, SI 3 or 6
  • Holocephalic pain with fatigue: extra point taiyang, SP 6 or 9, ST 36 or 40, Ren 12
  • Worse with wet or cold weather: LI 4, Du 14, GB 3, SJ 6, GB 39
  • Modalities wind, dampness, cold: LI 4, Du 14, SJ 6, GB 34
  • Modalities cold, wind: LI 4, LU 7, SJ 5, Du 14

 

Figure 2: Points Used, Minimal Acupuncture Group

  • Deltoideus ¬in the middle of the line insertion of m. deltoideus (LI 14) and acromion
  • Upper arm ¬2 cun laterally of LU 3
  • Forearm ¬1 cun ulnar of the proximal third of the line between H 3 and H 7
  • Scapula ¬1 cun laterally of the lower scapular edge
  • Spinia iliaca ¬2 cun above spina iliaca anterior superior in the vertical line to the arch of left ribs
  •  Back I ¬5 cun laterally of the spine of lumbar vertebrum IV
  • Back II ¬5 cun laterally of the spine of lumbar vertebrum V
  • Upper leg I ¬6 cun above the upper ridge of the patella (between the Spleen and Stomach meridians)
  • Upper leg II ¬4 cun above the upper edge of the patella
  • Upper leg III ¬2 cun dorsally of GB 31 (avoiding Bladder meridian)

In addition to acupuncture, patients in all three groups were allowed to treat acute headaches "as needed." Treatment was documented in a headache diary. Subjects also tracked the frequency and severity of headaches experienced during baseline, the 12 weeks after being randomized, and weeks 21 to 24 after randomization. To measure the long¬term effects of acupuncture, the patients filled out a pain questionnaire before treatment, after 12 weeks, and after 24 weeks.

Results

"Compared with the waiting list control group," the researchers wrote, "patients receiving acupuncture or minimal acupuncture fared significantly better for most secondary outcome measures." For example, in the 4 weeks following treatment (weeks 9¬12), patients in the acupuncture group reported suffering an average of 7.2 fewer days of headaches compared to the baseline period. This figure was nearly identical to those treated with minimal acupuncture (6.6 days), but significantly better than patients in the control group (1.5 fewer days of headaches).

In addition, the proportion of "responders" ¬those who reported at least a 50 percent reduction in the number of days with tension headaches ¬was higher among patients in the true acupuncture group than in the other two groups. In the true acupuncture group, the responder rate was 46 percent, compared to 35 percent and 4 percent in the minimal acupuncture and control groups, respectively. Headache scores (calculated as the sum of intensity ratings during days with headaches) in both acupuncture groups also decreased dramatically from baseline, and continued to remain lower than the control group for the duration of the study.

Some questions were raised over the relatively minor differences in effectiveness between patients who received true acupuncture and those who received minimal acupuncture. The authors interpreted these findings to indicate that "point location and other aspects considered relevant for traditional Chinese acupuncture did not make a major difference" in the treatment of tension headaches. With regard to the minimal acupuncture technique, they surmised that superficial needling at sites distant from traditional acupuncture point locations could produce effects ranging from "local alteration in circulation" to physiological and chemical responses such as "release of neurotransmitters or activation of segmental and heterosegmental antinociceptive systems."

Despite the lack of significant differences between the types of acupuncture performed in the study, the scientists concluded, "A significant proportion of patients with tension¬type headache benefited from acupuncture. They added, "The size of the effect seems comparable to those of accepted treatments for tension¬type headache, and is larger than that found in most trials comparing placebo interventions with no treatment. Acupuncture was well tolerated, and improvements lasted several months after completion of treatment."

References

  1. Tension headache. Medline Plus Medical Encyclopedia. Available online at www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000797.htm.
     
  2. Tension headaches. WebMD Health Guide. Available online at http://my.webmd.com/hw/migraines/rt1024.asp.
     
  3. Melchart D, Streng A, Hoppe A, et al. Acupuncture in patients with tension¬type headache: randomised controlled trial. British Medical Journal Aug. 13, 2005;331:376¬382.

 

Estrogen Dominance

Estrogens and Progesterone Overview

Two types of sex (steroid) hormones are estrogens and progesterone. There are three estrogens: B-estradiol, estrone and estriol. B-estradiol is by far the most potent. It is 12 times more potent than estrone and 80 times more potent than estriol. Any over exposure to B-estradiol can increase a person’s risk of disease. Estriol is considered the “good estrogen.” There is only one type of progesterone, and it considered a very safe hormone. Progesterone is called progestin when it is in a synthetic form.

Estrogen and progesterone work in synchronization with each other as checks and balances to achieve hormonal harmony in both sexes. Estrogen and progesterone need the presence of each other in order to perform their individual functions.

Estrogen

Maintaining estrogen balance can be difficult for many. For many decades of a woman’s life circulating estrogens are fluctuating and cause both good and bad influences. The primary role of estrogen is to maintain the growth and function of the uterus so that the sex organs can become adult sized, and prepares the uterine lining to accept an egg. Additionally, estrogen affects skeletal growth, skin, fat and protein deposition, and electrolyte balance. Men also produce a certain amount of estrogen.

Progesterone

Progesterone is the building block for many other major hormones. Other sex hormones are formed from progesterone, including the corticosteroids, which are essential for stress response, electrolyte balance, blood pressure, and lastly, survival. Cortisol, DHEA, testosterone and estrogen are all made from progesterone in a process that begins with cholesterol. Progesterone is the primary hormone of fertility and pregnancy. It is essential to the survival of the fertilized egg, then the embryo, then the fetus. In pregnancy, it prevents the shedding of the uterine lining. A drop in progesterone can result in a miscarriage.

Causes of Estrogen Dominance

Estrogen dominance is generally not caused by one factor, but often many factors, including:

  • Hormonal imbalance
  • Hormone therapy
  • Environmental estrogens
  • Stressful lifestyle
  • Glandular dysfunction
  • Hormonal Imbalance

From the time menses begins until menopause, levels of estrogen and progesterone ebb and flow in a manner which promotes reproduction. At about age 35 to 40, women reach the time of pre-menopause, which is when their levels of progesterone and estrogen begin to reduce.

Normal Hormone Progression

During this time through age 50, there is a 35% drop in estrogen, but a 75% reduction in progesterone occurring simultaneously. This is normal, and does create many pre-menopausal symptoms that we accept as part of the aging process.

Many pre-menopausal women in their mid to late thirties, as well as many women in the menopausal stage are overloaded with estrogen. At the same time they are suffering from progesterone deficiency because of the severe drop in physiological production during this period. There is then insufficient progesterone to counteract the amount of estrogen in our body. It is most noticeable among peri-menopausal women who do not ovulate, which is quite common. You may have a fairly normal cycle, but no egg is released and very little progesterone is produced.

It is not the absolute deficiency of estrogen or progesterone, but rather the relative dominance of estrogen and possible deficiency of progesterone that is the main cause of health problems when they are not in balance. The end result: excessive estrogen relative to progesterone, add up to a condition Dr. John Lee has termed “estrogen dominance.” Dr. Lee’s books, What Your Doctor May NOT Tell You About Pre-menopause and What Your Doctor May NOT Tell You About Menopause explain this and more in-depth. These books are available on our website.

Hormone Therapy

Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)

A woman reaches menopause naturally around the age of 50, or as a result of having her ovaries surgically removed. Until recently, doctors routinely prescribed hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for menopausal symptoms. These prescription drugs are comprised of synthetic estrogen or an estrogen-progestin combination. HRT is also used to protect against the loss of bone after menopause.

But, there are risks. Concerns about hormone therapy arose from the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) clinical trial, whose purpose was to address the most common causes of death, disability and impaired quality of life in postmenopausal women. The hormone replacement therapy (HRT) component of the WHI trial looked at the long-term use of oral HRT in older women in the USA for the prevention of disease. The WHI study was stopped in 2002 because the incidence of invasive breast cancer exceeded the safety level set by the WHI. Many doctors are no longer prescribing synthetic HRT.

For women taking the combination of estrogen-progestin (Prempro) used in the study, researchers found an increased risk of:

  • Heart disease
  • Breast cancer
  • Stroke
  • Blood clots
  • Dementia

In addition, not only did hormone therapy increase the women's risk of breast cancer, it also made tumors harder to detect, leading to potentially dangerous delays in diagnosis.

For women taking estrogen alone (Premarin), preliminary results showed no increased risk of breast cancer or heart disease but did find a slightly increased risk of stroke.

Women and their doctors are discovering that conventional HRT does not give them the overall health and well-being they had hoped for, and they are seeking out healthier alternatives, such as natural bio-identical hormone replacement, lifestyle changes, and diet changes. What everyone will hopefully soon realize is that menopausal and sexual reproductive problems are actually symptoms of overall hormonal imbalances. Women need to get a complete picture of their hormonal status and find appropriate therapeutic steps to maintaining balance.

Birth Control Pills

Birth control pills contain estrogen, and contribute to the development or worsening of estrogen dominance. Depending on dosage, they can be very potent, and linger for a long period of time in the body. Dr. Joseph Mercola’s webpage “Just Say No to Birth Control Pills” states the following about birth control pills:

A woman's natural cycle is composed of rising and falling levels of estrogen and progesterone. Birth control pills work by keeping estrogen at a sufficiently high level that they fool the body into thinking it is pregnant, therefore another pregnancy cannot occur.

Cramping, painful and irregular periods are often due to a deficiency of progesterone and an excess of estrogen. Estrogen-alone birth control pills --the most commonly prescribed pills on the market now --often compound the problem. That's why some women have intolerable estrogen-induced side effects when they are on birth control pills such as weight gain, mood swings, and breast tenderness.

What is not usually mentioned, or even known, is the metabolism of birth control pills by the liver requires extra amounts of the B-complex vitamins, vitamin C, magnesium, and zinc. That means if you're taking birth control pills for years at a time, as are most American women, you're creating nutrient deficiencies. Weight gain, fluid retention, mood changes, depression and even heart disease can all arise from nutrient imbalance.

Environmental Estrogens

We are constantly assaulted by estrogens in our environment from the food we eat and the chemicals we use. Estrogen mimickers in the form of chemicals (xenoestrogens), and foods and plants (phytoestrogens), mimic the action of estrogen produced in cells and can alter hormonal activity.

Evidence is steadily growing that xenoestrogens and other hormone mimicking substances are implicated in a wide range of human and wildlife health problems. Estrogen dominance from these environmental hormone disrupters are causing an imbalance of female hormones, creating a host of estrogen dominance symptoms (see chart below). Girls and boys are reaching puberty too early as a result of these disrupters. Additionally, xenoestrogens produce hormonal stimuli that contributes to inappropriate growth of mammary tissue cells, resulting in a problem society is calling “man boobs.” Some theorize that estrogen dominance in men is contributing to hair loss, atherosclerosis, prostrate problems, lowered libido, and impotency.

Xenoestrogens

Xeno literally means foreign, therefore xenoestrogens means foreign estrogens. Some of the 70,000 registered chemicals for use in the United States have hormonal effects in addition to toxic effects. The synergistic effects of exposure to many xenoestrogens are well documented, but largely unknown.

Xenoestrogens found in certain pesticides, plastics, fuels and drugs are usually synthetic and difficult for the body to break down, and can amplify the effects of estrogen. These substances can increase the estrogen load in the body over time, and are difficult to detoxify through the liver. Exposure to xenoestrogens is a concern for everyone. Those with an estrogen dominance condition should be particularly concerned about avoiding xenoestrogens.

Xenoestrogens can be found in many of our meats and dairy products in the form of chemicals and growth hormones that are given to the animals. These can be quite powerful, and should be avoided where possible. Choosing meat and dairy items that do not contain Rbst can help decrease xenoestrogen exposure.

Sources of Xenoestrogens

  • Commercially raised meat • Plant estrogens (soy, flaxseeds)
  • Canned foods • Car exhaust and indoor toxins
  • Plastics, plastic food wraps • Cosmetics
  • Styrofoam cups • Birth control pills and spermicide
  • Industrial wastes • Detergents
  • Personal care products • All artificial scents
  • Pesticides and herbicides • Air fresheners, perfumes, etc)
  • Paints, lacquers and solvents

For a more extensive list of xenoestrogens, see our Environmental Estrogens page.

Phytoestrogens

Phytoestrogens (phyto meaning plant) are naturally occurring estrogenic compounds that are found in a variety of foods, herbs, spices. Their chemical structure resembles estrogen. These compounds are generally weak estrogens, in comparison to real estrogen and xenoestrogens, but in a body that is already experiencing too much estrogen, adding more will contribute to the problem.

Some of the strongest phytoestrogen containing substances are soy, the lignans found in flax seed products, red clover, black cohosh, chasteberry, and dong quai. Soy includes soybeans, soy milk, tofu, tempeh, textured vegetable protein, roasted soybeans, soy granules, soy protein powders, miso, and edamames.

Over consumption of phytoestrogenic foods or herbs on a long term basis may actually increase the risk of estrogen dominance significantly. Furthermore, phytoestrogens have been shown to inhibit the conversion of T4 to the active T3 thyroid hormone, and can trigger hypothyroidism. It is suggested that those with a history of thyroid imbalance, or suffering from estrogen dominance, should consume a minimum amount of phytoestrogens.

Stressful Lifestyle and Glandular Dysfunction

Stress causes adrenal gland exhaustion and reduced progesterone output. This tilts the estrogen to progesterone ratios in favor of estrogen. Excessive estrogen in turn causes insomnia and anxiety, which further taxes the adrenal gland. This leads to a further reduction in progesterone output and even more estrogen dominance. After a few years in this type of vicious cycle, the adrenal glands become exhausted. This dysfunction leads to blood sugar imbalance, hormonal imbalances, and chronic fatigue.

In the female, a large part of hormonal balance is controlled by the three major glands: the adrenal gland, the thyroid gland, and the ovaries. Maintaining a proper balance among these three glands is of critical importance in any estrogen dominance recovery program. Excessive estrogen affects both thyroid and adrenal function, and in turn, dysfunctional thyroid and adrenal fatigue makes estrogen dominance worse. They all go hand in hand. When not functioning properly, these three glands, controlling the majority of the hormones in the body, can lead to a viscous downward cycle of hormonal imbalance. Worse yet is that conventional medicine often times are misled into treating symptom after symptom without addressing the root cause. A wide variety of prescriptions from sleeping pills to anti-depressants are dispensed. Unfortunately, such symptom-based protocol will often make things worse instead of better.

Estrogen Dominance Symptoms

The following symptoms are common among those with excess estrogen. What begins with mild symptoms in younger years often becomes moderate in the mid to late 30s, and severe by the time a woman reaches her mid 40s. If you are experiencing as few as 6 of these symptoms, you probably have some level of estrogen dominance.


MILD MODERATE SEVERE
Premenstrual breast tenderness Irregular menstruation Uterine fibroid tumors
Premenstrual mood swings Weight gain Endometriosis
Premenstrual fluid retention, weight gain Hair loss Fibrocystic breasts
Premenstrual headaches Depression Polycystic ovary syndrome
Menstrual cramps Fatigue Breast tumors
Thyroid dysfunction Infertility
Adrenal gland fatigue Thickened uterine lining
Headaches, migraines Accelerated aging
Severe menstrual cramps Miscarriage
Heavy periods with clotting Anxiety and panic attacks
Joint and muscle pain Autoimmune disorders
Decreased libido
Insomnia and restless sleep
Dry eyes

Health Consequences of Estrogen Dominance

Estrogen dominance can lead to many different related health conditions. For example, in women, over-stimulation from estrogen of the breast tissue can cause tenderness, swelling, and fibrocystic breasts. In the uterus, excess estrogen stimulation may lead to endometriosis, hyperplasia, heavy or irregular menses, menstrual cramping and uterine fibroid tumors. If estrogen over-stimulation occurs in the liver, we see weight gain, constipation, cyclical headaches and migraines, depression, mood swings, fluid retention, and low libido among many other symptoms. Review the following link for a more complete list of symptoms http://www.johnleemd.com/store/estrogen_dom.html

Furthermore:

  1. Not only has it been well established that estrogen dominance encourages the development of breast cancer…it also stimulates breast tissue that can trigger fibrocystic breast disease.
  2. Estrogen dominance can cause weight gain, headaches, bad temper, chronic fatigue and loss of interest in sex…among other symptoms.
  3. Excess estrogen can lead to a decrease in the rate of new bone formation…Although most doctors are not yet aware of it, this is the prime cause of osteoporosis.
  4. Estrogen dominance increases the risk of fibroids...
  5. In estrogen-dominant menstruating women where progesterone is not peaking and falling in a normal way each month, the ordered shedding of the womb lining doesn't take place.
  6. Menstruation becomes irregular.
  7. Water logging of the cells and an increase in intercellular sodium, which predispose a woman to high blood pressure or hypertension, frequently occur with estrogen dominance.
  8. The risk of stroke and heart disease is increased dramatically when a woman is estrogen-dominant.

-Source: Leslie Kenton, Passage to Power, Random House, UK, 1995

Correcting Estrogen Dominance

What assists in correcting estrogen dominance? Alternative health care makes the following suggestions:

  • Hormonal support with a natural progesterone cream
  • Nutritional supplements to ensure your body has the nutrients it needs to make and balance its hormones. These nutrients tend to be low when estrogen is high:
    • Magnesium
    • Zinc
    • Vitamin B Complex
    • Vitamin E 400 IU for breast tenderness and fibroid inflammation
  • DIM and/or Myomin to metabolize excess estrogen
  • Dietary and environmental changes to rid yourself of phytoestrogens and xenoestrogens (environmental estrogens)
  • Lifestyle changes to manage the stresses in your life

 

Natural Progesterone

Natural progesterone cream supplements low progesterone levels and balances the ratio between estrogen and progesterone, thereby assisting in promoting proper hormone balance. It can be safely used by menstruating women, pre-and peri-menopausal women, and menopausal women. Men with estrogen dominance can also benefit from progesterone. Additionally, women who may not be highly estrogen dominant find that if a progesterone cream is used on a regular basis, their menses and PMS are less difficult.

DIM -Diindolylmethane

Diindolylmethane (DIM) is a powerful metabolizer of estrogen, assisting in removing excess estrogen and benefiting conditions associated with estrogen dominance. Supplementation with DIM can help promote proper estrogen levels through the pre-and peri-menopausal years, and in men experiencing higher estrogen levels. These conditions include uterine fibroid tumors, fibrocystic breasts, glandular dysfunction, and more. It can also benefit men by improving estrogen-dominance related health issues such as hair loss, atherosclerosis, prostrate problems, lowered libido, and impotency. DIM also promotes testosterone action, which improves mood, fights depression, boosts libido, improves cardiovascular health, improves memory, and supports muscular development.

Myomin

Myomin is a formula of four Chinese herbs that promote proper hormonal balance. Like DIM, Myomin also metabolizes excess estrogens. Myomin inhibits aromatase, which can reduce levels of bad estrogens (estradiol and estrone), and promotes production of the good estrogen (estriol). For men and women, this action prevents the conversion of testosterone into bad estrogens, and leads to the unhindered production of more estriol from progesterone, DHEA and other hormones. Additionally, some of the herbs help promote shrinkage of tumors and cysts. Of the two, DIM is the stronger metabolizer of estrogen.

It is very important to understand that what may be true for one woman is not necessarily true for another. The journey of hormonal changes is an individual one. What this also implies is that the treatment for one individual can be quite different from that of another.

Conclusion

You can reduce your exposure to xenoestrogens by choosing body care products without chemicals, using chemical-free cleaning products, limiting daily intake of phytoestrogens, as well as reducing exposure to exhaust fumes and indoor pollutants.

Choosing lean, organic meat and dairy products is best. Purchase organic fruits and vegetables as much as possible. If they are not available, thoroughly wash or peel all produce to remove at least some of the pesticides.

Heat food in metal or porcelain container, not plastic, and definitely not in the microwave with plastic wrap. Using glass containers to drink from rather than plastic, previously used water bottles, or Styrofoam cups can also help reduce xenoestrogen exposure.

Key points to reducing estrogen dominance:

  • Avoid chemical sources of estrogen (xenoestrogen)
  • Avoid food sources of estrogen (phytoestrogens)
  • Cleanse the liver
  • Reduce stress
  • Balance hormones
  • Metabolize excess estrogen (DIM, Calcium D-Glucarate)
  • Do not heat food in plastic
  • Drink out of glass containers, not plastic or Styrofoam
  • Exercise

Acupuncture and Low Back Pain

Analysis Finds Therapy Effective for Chronic Pain; Quality of Trials Is Limited

 

By Michael Devitt, managing editor

According to the National Institutes of Health, up to 80 percent of the general population in the United States will suffer an episode of low back pain during their lifetimes. After respiratory ailments, low back pain is the most frequent reason Americans visit a medical doctor for treatment. It is also, according to a widely publicized 2002 study, the most frequent reason that Americans visit a licensed acupuncturist for care.

A new meta analysis of acupuncture and the treatment of low back pain has recently been published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. The review of approximately two dozen previously published studies has found that acupuncture is "significantly more effective" than sham acupuncture or no treatment in people with chronic back pain. However, the meta analysis also questions the overall effectiveness of acupuncture compared to other traditional forms of care, and its ability to treat acute back pain remains uncertain because the number of studies available for review is, in the opinion of the analysts, "limited in quantity and quality."

In their analysis, a team of scientists from the United States and Great Britain conducted a search of seven computerized databases in the U.S. and Europe from their inception through August 2004. (One database was searched through February 2003). They also contacted experts in various countries, including the U.S., Great Britain, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Norway, and Japan, for randomized, controlled trials that compared needle acupuncture with sham acupuncture, no treatment, or other active therapies on patients with low back pain. The search produced 33 trials that met the investigators' criteria, including 23 recent trials that had not been included in previous analyses.

Eleven studies were excluded from the meta analysis because their results could not be combined with the other studies accordingly. The remaining 22 trials were then grouped according to whether the pain being treated was acute or chronic, along with the style of acupuncture practiced and the other types of interventions used.

Data from the trials was extracted and analyzed based on the following outcomes: short term effectiveness on pain, long term effectiveness on pain, and short and long term effects on functional status and overall improvement. In addition, the quality of the trials was computed using two measurements: the Jadad quality score and the Cochrane Back Review Group quality score.

Results

Short term effectiveness on pain. Acupuncture was found to be "statistically significantly more effective" than sham acupuncture, sham transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) and no additional treatment. Compared to sham acupuncture, real acupuncture was 58 percent more effective in relieving pain, which the researchers equated to an improvement of 14.5 points on a 100 point visual analogue scale. Results comparing acupuncture to other active treatments were mixed, however. Acupuncture appeared more effective in three out of four studies using real TENS and two out of three studies comparing acupuncture and pain medications, but was less effective compared to massage, and "statistically significantly less effective" than spinal manipulation.

Long term effectiveness on pain. Acupuncture was statistically significantly more effective than no additional treatment or sham TENS, and was an average of 61 percent more effective compared to sham acupuncture. Two studies found acupuncture to be more effective than TENS; one trial suggested that acupuncture was statistically significantly worse than massage.

Functional status and overall improvement. "For improving functioning," the researchers observed, "acupuncture was statistically significantly more effective than the no additional treatment control in the short term effects." They added, "For overall improvement, acupuncture was statistically significantly more effective than the sham controls and no-additional treatment control in both the short and long term effects."

Study quality. Of the 22 trials included in the final meta analysis, only eight met the requirements for being a study of "good quality" according to both the Jadad and Cochrane criteria. Three studies received a Jadad score of four; none of the studies obtained a maximum Jadad score of five. The highest Cochrane score given to any of the trials was a seven (out of 10).

The authors noted that each of the control interventions used in the trials had certain advantages and limitations that had to be considered in interpreting the results of their analysis. For example, the studies that used sham acupuncture as a control generally reported less benefits compared to studies that used no additional treatment as a control. The authors theorized that sham acupuncture needles "may unintentionally stimulate a physiologic response" that could produce "some specific analgesic effects," especially when the sham needles penetrate the skin. In fact, all of the sham controlled studies included in the meta analysis involved needles that penetrated the skin at non specific points. Paucity of High-Quality Trials Raises Questions About Acupuncture's Effectiveness.

Based on the data presented in the randomized trials, the authors suggested that acupuncture "is an effective treatment for chronic low back pain," particularly in terms of providing short term relief of chronic low back pain. They were quick to add, however, that the data "are sparse and inconclusive" for patients with acute low back pain, and they reported being "uncertain" about acupuncture's ability to provide long term relief of back pain. The reason for the uncertainty? Because, in the view of the researchers, "longer term follow up data are limited in quantity and quality."

Despite the positive results presented in the meta analysis, it appears that the main obstacle to the acceptance of acupuncture as a form of care for various types of low back pain remains a dearth of randomized, controlled trials that use large groups of patients and that measure the effects of acupuncture over a considerable length of time.

Fortunately, it appears that more high quality studies that measure the effectiveness of acupuncture in the treatment of low back pain continue to be conducted, and that several have been, or are about to be, published in peer reviewed journals. For example, the researchers alluded to two large randomized, controlled trials of acupuncture for chronic low back pain  one conducted in the United Kingdom, the other in Germany  that were not included in the meta analysis but have been presented at recent conferences. The main results of those trials appeared to correspond closely with the results derived from the meta analysis.

As the authors stated in their conclusion:

"More research is needed to evaluate acupuncture's effects on acute low back pain, and the evidence comparing acupuncture to other active treatments is inconclusive. Although current estimates of acupuncture's effects on chronic low back pain are statistically significant and clinically important, they are still somewhat preliminary, and the publication of several large ongoing trials will have a major effect on the evidence."

References

1              Low Back Pain Fact Sheet . Published by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Available at www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/backpain/detail_backpain.htm.

2              Cherkin DC, Deyo RA, Sherman KJ, et al. Characteristics of visits to licensed acupuncturists, chiropractors, massage therapists, and naturopathic physicians. Journal of the American Board of Family Practice 2002;15:463 72.

3              Manheimer E, White A, Berman B, et al. Meta analysis: acupuncture for low back pain. Annals of Internal Medicine 2005;142:651 663.

 

 

Thyroid Myths

By Lita Lee, Ph.D. Revised June 2006

Definitions:

  • T4 (Synthroid) is the inactive form of the thyroid hormone.
  • T3 (Cytomel) is the active form of the thyroid hormone.
  • Thyroid glandulars (Nutripak, Armour, etc.) contain protein precursors to T4 and T3, which are digested to produce the active units of T4 and T3.

In order to be healthy, one must convert T4 to T3 in the liver. This is highly dependent on a thyroid-stimulating diet. Pro-thyroid foods include: animal protein with every meal, sea salt to taste (a natural diuretic that raises blood sugar and helps prevent hypertension and hardening of the arteries), fruits and fruit juices daily and healthy fats (coconut oil -the best thyroid stimulating oil, butter and extra virgin olive oil). Major thyroid inhibitors or toxins include: all soy products (soymilk, soy beans, tempeh, tofu, soy protein powder); all unsaturated oils (seed and nut oils, fish oils, and soybean, canola, safflower, Evening Primrose, flaxseed, borage, etc. oils.); RAW cruciferous vegetables (cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, etc.); fluoride (in toothpastes, water and commercial foods); mercury (in silver-amalgam fillings and as an environmental toxin) and even some isolated nutritional supplements, including beta-carotene (in carrot juice and in vitamin supplements) and PABA (para amino benzoic acid).

The following are thyroid myths that have been reported to me from hundreds of clients worldwide over the past 13 years.

Myth #1: Blood tests for thyroid function are valid and determine thyroid function accurately.

The truth: The numbers in the thyroid blood panel may be accurate but they do not tell you what the body is doing with the thyroid hormone so they are a waste of money. This was proven over 60 years ago by the late Dr. Broda Barnes, M.D., who wrote Hypothyroidism, the Unsuspected Illness. The only way to determine thyroid function is by the oral temperature in the morning after arising and again at noon or during daylight hours plus the daytime resting pulse, which should be 98.0 degrees F, 98.6-99 degrees F and 85 beats per minute, respectively. Fertile women should do this during menses to avoid the rise in temperature during ovulation. There are some exceptions to this that can be observed in blood tests but most hypothyroid people have what’s considered a “normal” thyroid panel. Many are misdiagnosed as being hyperthyroid because they are thin and have a low TSH (<1.0), when in fact, they are hypopituitary. Thyroid nutrition reversed both a sluggish thyroid and a sluggish pituitary gland.

Myth #2: Synthroid (synthetic thyroid or T4) works and is more effective than thyroid glandular.

The truth: Synthroid is cardio toxic, shrinks the thyroid gland, suppresses cellular respiration, suppresses the pituitary and rarely improves symptoms, except in very healthy people who can convert the T4 to T3. Most people get worse, especially women, because low thyroid women are estrogen dominant and estrogen inhibits the conversion of T4 to T3. A healthy man has less difficulty converting T4 to T3.

Myth #3: Synthroid is better than thyroid glandular because the dosage is scientifically determined.

The truth: The glandular works because it contains a balanced ratio of T4 and T3. Both are necessary. In addition, many people need additional T3 (Cytomel) because they have thyroid resistance – difficulty converting T4 to T3.

Myth #4: Supplemental iodine is good for thyroid function.

The truth: “Some claim that an iodine deficiency can be shown by the quick disappearance of a spot of iodine painted on the skin. Iodine is converted to colorless iodide by reductants, including vitamin C, glutathione, and thiosulphate. I have a newsletter that has some references describing the effect of even moderate iodine excess (even below a milligram per day) on the thyroid. An iodine deficiency can cause hypothyroidism, but so can an excess. A dosage of 150 mcg is a safe amount of iodine.” (Peat) But people take much higher, thyroid-toxic doses of iodine.

Myth #5: Don’t take thyroid glandular. It causes bone loss.

The truth: Synthroid (synthetic T4) causes bone loss. Thyroid glandular prevents bone loss because it promotes both new bone formation and the dissolution (resorption) of old bones. Both are required for healthy bones. Thyroid converts LDL cholesterol into pregnenolone, progesterone and DHEA. Progesterone promotes new bone formation and stimulates the release of thyroid hormone from the thyroid gland.

Dr. Ray Peat told me that he wonders why doctors say that taking thyroid glandular or being hyperthyroid causes bone loss when they can’t explain why animals given huge amounts of Armour USP thyroid have bigger bones than normal.

Myth #6: I can’t take thyroid glandular because I am underweight.

The truth: Thyroid glandular will reverse both being underweight or overweight.

Myth #7: I don’t take thyroid glandular because it will make my thyroid gland lazy.

The truth: Studies in which the thyroid gland was totally suppressed with an overdose of thyroid glandular showed the natural return of thyroid activity when the glandular was withdrawn. This took only a couple of days.

Myth #8: Taking thyroid glandular causes a dependency.

The truth: The need for thyroid glandular varies and in fact, increases with darkness (winter), stress and illness. Keeping track of your oral temperature and resting pulse will determine your correct dosage and the need to increase or decrease.

Myth #9: I’m afraid to take thyroid glandular because I was told it causes heart problems.

The truth: Thyroid prevents heart disease. In fact T3 can reverse heart disease. Synthroid (T4) is cardiotoxic. Don’t confuse the cardiotoxic effects of Synthroid with the cardioprotective effects of thyroid glandular and T3, the active form of the thyroid hormone.

Myth #10: Taking excess thyroid glandular has dangerous side effects (e.g. hyperthyroidism).

The truth: The only side effect of being slightly, say 25% hyperthyroid is longevity. The longest-lived peoples on earth are about 25% hypermetabolic. These people live on thyroid-stimulating foods (natural animal protein, adequate salt, fruits and coconut oil) and had none of the common diseases observed in our junk food, hypothyroid society (cancer, heart disease, gallbladder disease, bone disease, senility, etc.).

Myth #11: All thyroid glandulars are alike.

The truth: Very few natural thyroid glandulars are available, such as Armour and Atrium’s Nutripak glandulars. The majority of thyroid glandulars are bogus products containing iodinated casein (milk protein) plus amphetamine (speed) -hardly of help to the low thyroid person. I use Nutripak because it is pure glandular with no additives. Armour used to be pure but the current brand contains additives, which some people cannot tolerate.

So, check your temperature, your pulse, take your thyroid glandular, and live long and prosper! Some symptoms of hypothyroidism: chronic fatigue; insomnia; fibromyalgia; goiter; high or low blood pressure; underweight or overweight; dry skin, hair loss, facial hair in women, hoarse voice, depression; diagnosed with mental illness; attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD); allergies;

immune system problems (frequent colds and flu, asthma, bronchitis, etc.); all female problems (PMS, cyclic migraines, cyclic seizures (at ovulation and menses), mood swings, fibrocystic breasts, ovarian cysts, uterine fibroids, endometriosis, infertility, miscarriage around the 10th week, excessive, scanty or irregular menses, etc.); colon problems; skin problems; hypoglycemia and all conditions related to aging (heart problems, gallbladder disease, cancer and tumors, diabetes, senility, etc.).

"Disclaimer: I am a chemist and an enzyme nutritionist, not a medical doctor. I do not diagnose, prescribe for, treat or claim to prevent, mitigate or cure any human diseases. I do not provide diagnosis, care, treatment or rehabilitation of individuals, nor apply medical, mental health or human development principles. I do not prescribe prescription drugs nor do I tell you to discontinue them. I provide enzymes and other dietary supplements to improve digestion and to nourish and support normal function and structure of the body. If you suspect any disease, please consult your physician."

Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. They are not intended to diagnose, prescribe for, treat or claim to prevent, mitigate or cure any human disease. They are intended for nutritional support only. The FTC requires that we tell you that the results in case notes and testimonials published here are not typical, however, they do show what some people have been able to achieve. Individuals vary, which is why we must always consider the whole person when recommending a course of action. The third party information referred to herein is neither adopted nor endorsed by this web site but is provided for general information purposes. The listing of specific disease terms is based upon medical literature and is not a substitute for competent medical advice. If you suspect a medical condition, you should consult a physician.

Copyright 2001 -2006. Neither this article, nor any part of it, may be reproduced without permission. If permission to reprint is granted, the article must include author and URL information. Lita Lee, Ph.D.

http://www.litalee.com Lita@litalee.com 

Testosterone for Women...and Men

Date: 05/08/2006 Posted By: Jon Barron

 
Every now and then I get a break in putting together a newsletter. I get to steal the entire newsletter from myself. In this case, I was able to take most of the material for this newsletter from the formulation information I put together for my new upgraded Women's Formula that Baseline Nutritionals released this month. And while this newsletter definitely serves as an introduction to that new formula, it more importantly provides an excuse for exploring a crucial topic for both men and women --the value of maintaining an optimum testosterone balance. 

However, before we get into the specifics of both the men's and women's formulas, let's explore what testosterone does in the body --and why it's so important for both men and women. 

The 30,000 Mile Tune-Up: Hormonal Changes 

As men and women enter their 30's, profound changes begin to take place in their bodies. If not addressed (that's the 30,000 mile tune-up thing), these changes can lead to, among other things: 

  • Decreased energy and zest for life 
  • Loss of muscle tone and increased fat
  • Circulatory problems and decreased libido

But it doesn't have to be this way. Let me explain.

 Hormonal Imbalance 

Hormones are the body's chemical messenger system. They tell the various cells of the body what to do --and when to do it --by attaching to specific receptor sites on individual cells. Problems occur when the various hormones get out of balance. Estrogen dominance and low levels of progesterone are certainly major problems (for both men and women), but in this newsletter, we will focus our discussion on the need for men and women to reestablish the proper levels of both testosterone and the adrenal hormones. 

The Testosterone Story 

The bottom line is that both men and women need and produce testosterone in their bodies --although in differing amounts. It is testosterone (in both men and women) that is responsible for: 

  • Pumping up energy levels. 
  • Driving our desire to attack the day. 
  • Firing the need to succeed. 
  • Bonding us with our mates. 
  • Fueling our sexual desires. 
  • Elevating our levels of sexual satisfaction. 
  • Growing hair on our heads, while at the same time keeping us from going bald. 
  • Building muscle and burning off fat. 
  • Facilitating better circulation. 

Unfortunately, once we reach our thirties, available testosterone levels for both men and women tend to begin diminishing with age. So what's going on? Interestingly enough, it's not actual testosterone production that decreases as we age; but rather, it's the amount of free circulating (or bio-available) testosterone that decreases --as more and more of it gets bound to both albumin and a natural substance called SHBG (sex-hormone-binding-globulin). 

An article in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism explains that SHBG plays the biggest role in testosterone binding when testosterone levels are low, while albumin plays the dominant role at higher levels. The important point is that when "bound" (particularly to SHBG), testosterone becomes unavailable for use by the body. This means that although your total testosterone levels may remain essentially unchanged as you age, only a small fraction of that total is "free" and thus biologically active and able to enter a cell and activate its receptor. And considering that as we age the amount of SHBG steadily increases, it's easy to see that your level of bio-available testosterone will only continue to decrease over time. 

Yet age isn't the only factor. Just recently a new risk for women has come to light. 

Oral Contraceptives & Sexual Problems 

If you are like most women in modern society, you have probably, at some point in your life, taken birth control pills. But oral contraceptives (OC) have been linked with sexual health problems --even after discontinuing use! The January 2006 issue of The Journal of Sexual Medicine reported on a study that showed that OC use was associated with elevated SHBG levels and reduced bio-available testosterone --even after discontinuing use. In fact, women that were currently taking OCs at the time of the study had SHBG levels four times higher than those seen in women with no OC exposure. Women who had stopped taking OCs for 6 months were still 2 times higher in SBHG than women with no OC exposure. 
Earlier research had shown increases in sex hormone-binding globulin levels with oral contraceptive use to be associated with a concomitant 40% to 60% decrease in free testosterone levels. And lowered levels of free testosterone are believed to play a major role in women's sexual health and could place women at risk for decreased sexual desire, decreased arousal, decreased lubrication and increased sexual pain. 

But cheer up; bound testosterone can easily be freed --with a little help. Fortunately, the use of herbs such as Saw palmetto, Wild oats, and Nettles can reverse the binding process, increasing free testosterone levels an astounding 105% on average!! And the benefits for both men and women are enormous. 

Saw Palmetto, Wild Oats, and Nettles 

Saw Palmetto 

It's normal for men to have a lot of testosterone and for women to have some. In both men and women, testosterone is converted into a more potent hormone called DHT (dihydrotestosterone). DHT is the hormone that stimulates hirsutism, (loss of hair on the head and hair growing where you don't want it --the back and ears for men, face and legs for women). If you can reduce DHT, you reduce hirsutism --getting rid of hair from the less desirable places and restoring it on top of your head. 

Saw palmetto appears to reduce DHT in three different ways: 

  • Inhibits DHT production. 
  • Inhibits the binding of DHT to its cell receptors. 
  • Promotes the breakdown of DHT. 

In fact, it appears that one of the primary mechanisms through which Saw palmetto works in the body is that it inhibits 5-alpha-reductase, the enzyme that converts testosterone into DHT. The bottom line is that supplementation with Saw palmetto lowers DHT, thereby reducing hirsutism and increasing available testosterone. 

Nettles and Wild Oats 

As already mentioned, extracts of Wild oats and Nettles can safely help increase testosterone levels in the body. In fact, German researchers have identified a constituent of nettle root known as (-)-3,4-divanillyltetrahydrofuran that has a high binding affinity to SHBG. They described it as "remarkable." These researchers suggest that the beneficial effects of plant lignans (such as found in flaxseed oil) on hormone-dependent cancers may be linked to their binding affinity to SHBG. The most potent known lignans in this respect are constituents of nettle root. In addition to inhibiting SHBG binding, at least six constituents of nettle root inhibit aromatase, reducing conversion of androgens to estrogens. 

As for Wild oats, there are no formal studies testing its effect on humans. Yet significant amounts of anecdotal clinical observations, particularly with men in their 20s and 30s who had low testosterone levels for their age, have shown that supplementation with Avena sativa results in dramatically increased testosterone levels. The key to the effectiveness of wild oat supplements lies in the quality of the extract. Most extracts tested show little to no presence of the active avenacosides, which provide all of the potency. If you're going to use a supplement that contains Wild oats, you'll want to make sure it comes from a supplier you trust. 

Specific Benefits for Women 

Surprisingly, women are far more vulnerable to testosterone level changes than men. The reason is simple: they have so much less to work with (and even less if on The Pill) that when even a small amount of their available testosterone gets bound to SHBG, the results are profoundly disruptive: 

  • Loss of energy. 
  • Loss of will to do anything. 
  • Loss of motivation. 
  • Loss of interest in spouse and loss of libido. 
  • Loss of fulfillment from sex. 
  • Loss of muscle and significant increase in body fat --the prime reason women start to gain so much weight as they move into their 40's. 
  • Hirsutism. 
  • A significant increase in the risk of breast cancer --since bound SHBG is no longer available to lock up excessive estrogens. 

Regular use of a women's testosterone balancing formula can help to significantly reverse and/or prevent all of the above conditions. 

Specific Benefits for Men 

SHBG binds not only testosterone, but to all of the sex hormones including estradiol (one of the "active" estrogens found in both men and women). Normally, this binding serves as a storage system for excess hormones, but in men there is an additional problem. 

SHBG also has an affinity for prostate tissue. In effect, SHBG can serve to bind estrogen to cell membranes in the prostate. This causes an increase in PSA secretion --a prime factor in future prostate problems, including cancer. The Wild oats and Nettles found in most men's testosterone balancing formulas work together to reverse this binding process, thereby reducing the likelihood of prostate problems. 

And finally, as we discussed earlier, Saw palmetto has been proven to inhibit the 5-alpha-reductase enzyme, the enzyme that causes testosterone to be converted into DHT, stimulating the growth of prostate tissue. The bottom line is that regular use of Saw palmetto can: 

  • Reduce enlargement of the prostate.
  • Tone the bladder.
  • Improve urinary flow and relieve strain. 
  • Decrease urinary frequency, especially during the night (by allowing the bladder to empty completely). 
  • Reduce inflammation of the bladder and enlarged prostate. 

Yes, There Are Sexual Benefits 

The ingredients found in testosterone balancing formulas work naturally in both men and women to enhance sexual desire, sensation, and performance. The effect on human sexual appetite can be powerful. Both men and women can feel a boost in sexual desire -sometimes after only a few hours. Both men and women experience an increase in frequency of orgasms while taking quality extracts of 
Wild oats & Nettles, while many women experience a dramatic 68% increase in multiple orgasms. Men also reported multiple orgasms while taking the Wild oats and Nettles combination. 

And Don't Forget the Adrenal Hormones 

Although not directly related, adrenal exhaustion and low testosterone levels share some key similarities. 

  • For most people, their impact is felt starting around the same time in life --the 30's. 
  • Many of their symptoms are similar --exhaustion, reduced sexual vitality, and loss of zest for life. 

Fortunately, there is a class of herbs known as adaptogens that work well with the testosterone unbinding herbs so that it's possible to easily create formulas that do double duty, while at the same time mutually reinforcing the other half of the formula. Adaptogens naturally help to rebuild adrenal function and restore hormonal balance. Foremost among the adaptogens is Ginseng that has been shown to: 

  • Increase stamina. 
  • Revitalize the body. 
  • Increase life span. 
  • Counteract chronic fatigue. 
  • Improve resistance to stress. 
  • Improve sexual function in both men and women. 
  • Enhance immune function. 

For these reasons, you will find that most testosterone balancing formulas contain different forms of Ginseng. 

Ingredients 

So far we have talked in generic terms about testosterone balancing formulas, but as I mentioned at the top of the newsletter, Baseline Nutritionals is releasing the upgraded version of my Women's Formula. With that in mind, let's spend the rest of the newsletter focusing in on my versions of men's and women's testosterone formulas --with special emphasis on the Women's Formula. 

The Men's Formula contains: Ginseng, Tribulus Terrestris, Muira puama, Wild oats, Nettles, Eleutherococcus, Saw palmetto, Sarsaparilla, Catuaba, Damiana, Kola nut, and Ginger. 
The Women's Formula contains: Damiana, Muira puama, Mucuna pruriens (Kapikachu), Siberian ginseng, Saw palmetto, Wild oats, Nettles, Kola nut, Ginger, Wild yam, Licorice, Sarsaparilla, and Puncture Weed. 

We have already discussed several of the shared ingredients in the above formulas (Wild oats, Nettles, and Saw palmetto). Let's now finish by discussing several of the other shared ingredients --plus some that are unique to the Women's Formula. 

Damiana 

The British Herbal Pharmacopoeia lists specific indications for Damiana as anxiety neurosis associated with impotency, and includes other indications such as depression, nervous dyspepsia, atonic constipation and coital inadequacy. Also known as Turnera aphrodisiaca it is traditionally used as a: 

  • Stimulant. 
  • Aphrodisiac. 
  • Tonic. 
  • Diuretic. 
  • Nerve tonic. 
  • Laxative. 
  • And in kidney, menstrual and pregnancy disorders. 

Muira puama 

A bush native to the Brazilian Amazon rain forest, its bark and roots have been used traditionally for a variety of medicinal purposes, including: 

  • Impotence in men. 
  • Loss of libido in women. 
  • Nerve problems (including paralysis and tremor). 
  • Anxiety. 
  • Digestive problems. 
  • And arthritis. 

Licorice, Ginger, and Kola nut 

Licorice has an ancient reputation as an aphrodisiac; the Kama Sutra and Ananga Ranga contain numerous recipes for increasing sexual vigor that include Licorice. But that is mostly the stuff of legends. Its value in this formula is that Licorice is one of a group of plants that have a marked effect upon the endocrine system. The glycosides present in Licorice have a structure that is similar to the natural steroids of the body. For this reason, Licorice has been used by herbalists for centuries in the treatment of adrenal exhaustion as it helps energize the body. Likewise, Ginger and Kola nut both historically have been used to naturally increase the body's energy levels. 

Puncture Weed -Tribulus Terrestris 

As a testosterone booster, Tribulus terrestris does not work like DHEA and androstenedione, which are progenitors of testosterone. Instead, it enhances testosterone levels by increasing luteinizing hormone (LH) levels. LH is responsible for "telling" your body to produce testosterone. 

Catuaba 

Herbalists and health practitioners use catuaba in much the same way as the Tupi Indians of Brazil did hundreds of years ago; as an extremely powerful tonic for the libido as well as a central nervous system stimulant, for sexual impotence, general exhaustion and fatigue, for insomnia related to hypertension, agitation, and for poor memory. 

Kapikachu (Mucuna pruriens) 

I mentioned at the top of the newsletter that the "new" version of the Women's Formula released by Baseline Nutritionals this month has been significantly enhanced over previous versions. After almost two years of experimentation, I have decided to add Kapikachu (Mucuna Pruriens) to the formula. Although heralded as an aphrodisiac in Ayurvedic medicine, Kapikachu offers a wide range of benefits that demanded its inclusion in the revised formula: 

  • Increases libido. 
  • Acts as a restorative nutrient for the nervous system. 
  • Increases blood circulation to the genitals. 
  • Decreases symptoms of stress and anxiety. Calms nerves. 
  • Reduces inflammation. 
  • Strengthens and tones the sexual glands. 
  • Supports the healthy production of the sex hormones. 
  • Increases stamina and sex drive. 
  • Releases bound up testosterone increasing level of bio-available testosterone. 
  • Reduces fat and improves muscle tone. (By supporting healthy testosterone levels Kapikachu supports anabolic metabolism, increasing your tendency to burn fat and to build muscle.) 

Plus, Kapikachu offers a natural way to replenish your supply of L-dopa, the precursor to dopamine. Dopamine is often associated with pleasure yet it plays a critical role in muscle control. Full-blown dopamine deficiency is known as Parkinson's disease. And that's not all, research shows Mucuna extract is beneficial for reducing cholesterol, lowering blood sugar levels and enhancing mental alertness all without stimulating the central nervous system. 

The addition of Kapikachu to the formula significantly enhances its ability to recharge the body, reduce the sense of aging, and energize the will. This formula was designed to be felt. 
Note: For women, in addition to all of the other benefits that have been mentioned, some of the herbs in this formula have also been proven to help alleviate the symptoms of PMS and menopause and to inhibit the incidence of breast cancer. 

The Bottom Line: Hormonal Balancing Program 

Every single man and women over 30 should seriously consider putting their bodies on an ongoing hormonal balancing program. In addition to using progesterone creme to help balance progesterone and estrogen levels, both men and women should use testosterone balancing/adrenal regenerating formulations for regular tune-ups once their bodies' odometers cross the "30,000 mile" mark. You do as much for your car as the miles build up. Why do less for your body? 
In addition, researchers in Japan have discovered that catuaba is a powerful antiviral and antibacterial compound capable of resisting lethal doses of E. Coli and Staph infection. In fact, in animal studies it as been shown to even fight the HIV virus.

Acupuncture

by Barbara Millar

Acupuncture is a system of healing which has been practised in China and other Eastern countries for thousands of years. It is used to treat people with a wide range of problems, the main focus being improving overall well¬being. It is often used to relieve stress¬related health problems and research shows it can also be effective as a means of pain relief.

the basics

According to traditional Chinese philosophy, health is dependent on the body's motivating energy, known as Qi (pronounced 'chee'), moving in a smooth and balanced way through a series of meridians or channels beneath the skin. Qi consists of equal and opposite qualities – Yin and Yang, and when these become unbalanced, illness may result. Practitioners believe the flow of Qi can be disturbed by emotional states, such as stress, anger or grief, by poor nutrition, infections, trauma, hereditary factors and even by weather conditions. The principal aim of acupuncture is to treat the whole person in order to recover the equilibrium between the physical, emotional and spiritual aspects of the individual.

how does it work?

By inserting fine needles into the channels of energy, an acupuncturist aims to stimulate the body's own healing response and restore its natural balance. Many people come to acupuncture for help with specific conditions, such as stress, anxiety, asthma, back pain, depression, migraines, rheumatism, skin conditions and ulcers. Others choose to have acupuncture as a preventive measure, to strengthen their constitution. It can also be used alongside conventional medicine in the treatment of both acute and chronic disease.

how does it relieve stress?

Acupuncture is an holistic approach to the management of disease and the maintenance of health so there is no single way of treating stress. Acupuncturist Linda Miller points out: 'The reason one person is stressed will not be the same for another person. Stress indicates that part of your life is not in balance. I need to assess someone's general state of health in order to identify the underlying pattern of disharmony and to give the most effective treatment.'

The first consultation usually takes longer than subsequent sessions as the acupuncturist needs to ask questions about current symptoms, what treatment you have received so far, your medical history and that of your close family, diet, digestive system, sleeping patterns and emotional state. To discover how the energies are flowing in your body, the acupuncturist feels the pulses on both wrists and looks at the colour and coating of the tongue, as a guide to physical health.

'Once enough information has been gathered to determine the likely causes of the problems, I can select the most appropriate treatment,' says Linda Miller. 'The aim is to discover which energy channels need adjusting to enable an individual's specific complaint to improve and which require treatment to boost overall energy and vitality.'

where's the evidence?

According to Professor Edzard Ernst at Exeter University's Department of Complementary Medicine, there have been too few studies carried out to draw any firm conclusions about the value of acupuncture in treating stress. But he says: 'Anecdotally, however, many patients have felt the therapy useful in dealing with stress and we know that it is effective, beyond doubt, in treating migraine, low back pain, dental pain and nausea and vomiting.'

risks to watch out for

Acupuncture is thought to be acceptably safe in trained hands but should normally be avoided in the first three months of pregnancy. Mild side¬effects, like drowsiness, are quite common and bleeding or bruising from needles happens occasionally. we test the therapy

I visited acupuncturist Linda Miller at her private practice near Stirling. At the first consultation, Linda asked lots of questions about my childhood, background, medical history, lifestyle, sleep patterns and dreams and how I felt about my general state of health and energy levels. A physical examination involved taking my pulses – not just once but frequently – and looking at my tongue. She also felt my abdomen and tested the temperature of various parts of my body.

On the second visit, a week later, Linda again checked my energy levels by taking the pulses and then began to insert the needles at specific points on my body, having made a diagnosis from the information I supplied in the first session. There are around 500 recognised acupuncture sites on the body, of which 100 are most commonly used. However the areas may not be close to the parts of the body where the problem is experienced. I arrived with a thumping, work-induced, stress headache and, to relieve this, Linda inserted needles into my hands and feet. The needles are small and fine and, when inserted, produce a dull, slightly achy sensation rather than a yelp of pain. Some needles were inserted and removed very quickly, others left in place for 10 minutes or longer. The acupuncturist may also supplement the needle treatment with moxa, a smouldering herb, which is used to warm acupuncture points to encourage the body's energy to flow.

verdict: Once the needles had been inserted and left in place my stress headache started to clear up. Later that evening, despite having done a full day at work and a two¬hour round¬trip drive to Linda's practice, I felt an uncustomary burst of energy.

practitioners: Members of the British Acupuncture Council have completed a thorough training of at least three years in traditional acupuncture and western medical sciences, such as anatomy and physiology. They have the letters MBAcC after their name and are covered by full medical malpractice insurance. All members observe a code of ethics and a code of practice which lays down stringent standards of hygiene. Acupuncture is not generally available on the NHS although some hospitals may have a pain clinic or physiotherapy department where acupuncture is used and some GPs also treat patients with acupuncture.

costs: There is no fixed fee for acupuncture as practitioners' overheads vary, but the cost of a first consultation can be in the region of £40, with follow¬up sessions around £25¬£30 for an hour's treatment.

Needles May Work Better Than Pills

 

October 14, 2005

(WebMD) Adding acupuncture to standard medical treatment may improve the quality of life for people who suffer from frequent headaches, according to a new study. 

A new study shows that people who suffer from headaches most days of the month, a condition known as chronic daily headache, fared better when they received acupuncture treatment in addition to their medical treatment. 

Although daily pain severity did not significantly improve, people who received acupuncture were nearly four times as likely to report less suffering than those who received standard medical treatment alone, such as pain relievers. 

Fast Fact
Overall, the study showed that people who received acupuncture were 3.7 times more likely to report less suffering from headaches compared with those who received standard treatment alone.

"The results showed that patients who received acupuncture reported significant improvement in many quality of life measures," says researcher Remy Coeytaux, MD, assistant professor of family medicine at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, in a news release. "The patients felt better, and the vast majority who got acupuncture reported that their headaches had improved during the six weeks of treatment." 

Acupuncture Helps Chronic Headaches 

In the study, published in the journal Headache, researchers compared the effects of adding a course of 10 acupuncture treatments over a period of six weeks to standard medical treatment in a group of 74 adults with chronic daily headache. Half of the participants received traditional Chinese acupuncture by an experienced physician and certified acupuncturist in addition to medical treatment, and the other half received standard medical treatment alone. 

The results showed that daily pain severity did not differ significantly between the two groups. However, people who received acupuncture improved by an average of three points on a scale of headache impact. 

In addition, those who received acupuncture also reported an improvement of eight points or more on limitations caused by headaches on social functioning, general mental health, and physical problems. 

Overall, the study showed that people who received acupuncture were 3.7 times more likely to report less suffering from headaches compared with those who received standard treatment alone. 

Researchers say acupuncture has been shown effective at treating other types of headaches, such as migraine and tension headaches, but these results suggest that acupuncture may also help the approximately 4% of Americans who suffer from chronic daily headache. 

SOURCES: Coeytaux, R. Headache, October 2005; vol 45: pp 1113¬1123. News release, Public Communications, Inc. 

By Jennifer Warner Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD © 2005, WebMD Inc. All rights reserved.