With menopause comes the onset of hot flashes. These are the result of the drop in estrogen in the blood. Replacing estrogen is the most effective way of eliminating hot flashes but because of the health risks, taking estrogen replacement is an unacceptable option for many women. A recent study in the Journal of Clinical Oncology reports on the use of other prescription drugs that can alleviate hot flashes. Watch my video on the subject for a more in depth discussion.
According to the North American Menopause Society, every year millions of menopausal women between the ages of 30 to 60 go to their doctors in search of relief from hot flashes, night sweats, bloating, headaches, insomnia, fatigue, mood swings, depression, weight gain, anxiety attacks, aging skin, irritability, foggy thinking, and bone loss. Traditional treatment included hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to combat these annoying symptoms of menopause, until now…
In July 2002, millions of American women taking HRT were given reason to wonder if they are making a big mistake. Researchers at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) abruptly ended a major clinical trial of the risks and benefits of combined HRT in women. After more than five years of using a combination estrogen-progestin drug, the women showed an increase in the risk of breast cancer, stroke, blood clots, and heart attack. This announcement caused thousands of women to contact their doctors to see if they should continue their treatment or find alternative therapies.
Natural Alternatives to HRT
Because of the risks and side effects of HRT, many women are choosing alternative approaches to dealing with their menopausal symptoms. In addition to a healthy diet and regular exercise program, many nutritional supplements have been found to alleviate symptoms associated with menopause. This natural approach helps women cope with the results of hormonal changes and helps to prevent osteoporosis and other related health concerns.
The use of phytoestrogens is growing rapidly among menopausal women who believe it to be safer, less expensive, and have fewer side effects than HRT. Studies have found numerous benefits from soy consumption, including reduced hot flashes and protection against bone loss and cardiovascular disease. Soy contains phytoestrogens, which are natural, plant-derived estrogen-like compounds similar in structure to estrogen. Soy isoflavones, the most common and widely studied phytoestrogens, have been shown to help prevent the buildup of arterial plaque, which reduces the risk of coronary heart disease and stroke. Isoflavones may also help reduce breast cancer risk by blocking the cancer-causing effects of human estrogen, and play an important role in protecting and maintaining strong, healthy bones.
Nutritional supplements such as folic acid and other B vitamins, along with calcium, magnesium, and vitamin D provide long-term benefits to menopausal women. B vitamins and magnesium help to support consistent body temperature and help provide relaxation. B vitamins also help with emotional symptoms such as anxiety, irritability, mood swings, and even insomnia. Vitamins A and C help maintain mucous membranes, resulting in relief from vaginal dryness and increased risk of urinary tract and vaginal infections brought about by low estrogen levels.
Herbal support includes black cohosh, an herb that naturally contains phytoestrogens. Black cohosh has been shown to reduce many menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, vaginal dryness, night sweats, and anxiety. Wild Mexican yam, a rich, natural source of progesterone precursors, has antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory, and anti-rheumatic properties. Wild Mexican yam allows the body to balance and regulate all hormones. Dong quai is used as the main female tonic in the Orient to provide energy, reduce hot flashes, and help regulate the hormonal system. Chaste tree berry stimulates progesterone production and promotes balance, while white peony helps with hot flashes and night sweats.
Choosing the Right Nutritional Product
Thousands of nutritional products on the market are geared towards helping combat the symptoms of menopause. Although nature offers many alternatives to HRT, it may be difficult to determine the right product or products. What might work for one woman may not work the same for the next. Also, sometimes results arenâ€™t noticed immediately. Thatâ€™s why itâ€™s important to choose a natural product and stick with it for at least two to three months until results are achieved.
Many nutritional supplements for women are available in tablet form and are convenient to take on a daily basis. Most contain the essential nutrients and herbs necessary to help balance ever-changing hormones. However, progesterone-type creams made from wild yams are becoming popular. Progesterone creams quickly replenish progesterone levels as they are applied topically through the skin, the bodyâ€™s preferred method of absorption. This delivery method allows the natural hormones to enter the bloodstream quickly. Look for a water-based solution containing isoflavones, essential fatty acid oils, and extracts from chaste tree berries, ginger root, dong quai and passionflower. Make sure to choose a product without mineral oil.
It is helpful to do some research on the above-mentioned nutrients via the Internet, a local health food store or bookstore, or at the library. Consulting a nutritionist or healthcare provider is also helpful. Gaining insight on these nutrients will help you make a decision on which would be most beneficial for you.
Menopause is a natural stage of life for women. However, there is no reason to ride a hormonal roller coaster! Through the use of vitamins, minerals, herbs, and phytonutrients, women can effectively supplement their bodiesâ€™ hormone levels naturally to relieve the symptoms caused by ever-changing hormones.
Over the past few years the use of estrogen to treat post menopausal women has plunged in popularity. This occurred after the release of several major studies showing that instead of helping older women avoid arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and heart attacks the opposite was true. Recent studies showed that women taking estrogen after menopause were more likely to have heart attacks. Additionally, there has been a persistent concern that estrogen use is tied to increased risk of certain cancers, particularly breast and uterine cancer.
For most women, this knowledge was sufficiently convincing for them to stop using estrogen or to decide not to start.
When it comes to a hormone as complex in its action as estrogen there is a lot more to this story, however. A recently published study in the journal Neurology from the Mayo Clinic shows that women who undergo premature menopause due to surgical removal of one or both ovaries and who don’t receive estrogen replacement, have a significantly higher risk of developing memory loss, dementia (senility) and Parkinson’s Disease in later years. The younger the woman at the time of menopause the greater the risk of later brain dysfunction.
The benefit of estrogen use on brain function seems to end around the age of 50 years. The study did not address women who have spontaneous menopause before the age of 50. Is it possible that this group of women need to take estrogen to reduce the risk of developing brain damage as they grow older?
I am unaware of any study which answers this question. For any woman who wants to know if they should take estrogen, it is advised they confer with their own physician since the controversy and personal issues are so complex.
The mission of the The Thyroid Project is to encourage sharing of information and experience between the public and the medical community about the treatment of hypothyroidism (low thyroid function). For at least the past few decades there is a growing awareness of â€œsomething missingâ€ in the way suffers of hypothyroidism are treated for their disease.
Too many patients, as documented in an on-line study of 12,000 individuals conducted by the American Thyroid Association published in June 2018, (https://doi.org/10.1089/thy.2017.0681) , complain of persistent symptoms of hypothyroidism despite what their doctors believe is successful treatment with levothyroxine (brands include Synthroid, Unithroid, Tirosent, Levoxl). We believe something needs to be done to resolve this conflict between patients and their doctors.
Diabetes can be defined simply as elevated blood sugar levels. What exactly is high blood sugar and when should someone be concerned about their level? Does having prediabetes mean diabetes is around the corner? Metabolism.com tackles this tricky but important topic in this comprehensive review.
By Gary M. Pepper, M.D. Ozempic, Rybelsus, Trulicity, Wegovy, Saxenda are the central players in the weight loss craze sweeping across the globe. Metabolisim.com has been monitoring this phenomenon from its beginnings in 2008 with its report “Lizard Spit Reduces Blood Sugar and Appetite”, regarding the first drug in this class, Byetta (exenatide). Caught In the middle of the current chaos are the medical experts who treat diabetes and have been prescribing these medications for more than a decade. Here is a brief commentary from one such board certified endocrinologist; “I started treating Type 2 diabetics with GLP-1 agonists more than 10 years ago. In some respects, these medications have revolutionized the treatment of diabetes by lowering blood sugar effectively and promoting weight loss at the same time, a unique combination of benefits. Not everyone benefits from these drugs to the same degree unfortunately, and I have seen lots of patients experience unacceptable side effects from them. Nothing though, has prepared me for what is happening now. Too often, I find myself confronting someone who expects me to prescribe one of these drugs just so they can lose weight. Sadly, one extreme example was someone who, despite battling a life threatening medical condition, was insistent on getting a prescription. At the same time my diabetic patients are scrambling to find a place to buy their medications if they can even afford it. It is disheartening, to say the least, and I dread the negative interactions with some of my patients I now face almost daily.”
Off- Label Use
The FDA is the U.S. government’s department tasked with evaluating and approving drugs for specific medical conditions. When a new medication is approved for treating a medical condition by the FDA the agency will, at the same time, set strict guidelines for exactly which patients may use the newly approved drug. When a medication is used “off-label” it means that these limitations are being overridden by the provider for a potential benefit which outweighs the drugs risks. It is a general misconception that off-label means illegal; it does not. This practice has been going on for ages and more than 20% of prescriptions in the United States are prescribed off-label. A common example is the use of beta-blockers (approved for heart problems) for the treatment of performance anxiety.
GLP-1 agonist drugs, as discussed recently by metabolism.com. were originally approved for the treatment of Type 2 diabetes in adults. In the past few years most of these same medications have gained unprecedented popularity for their “off-label” weight loss benefit. Of the 5 GLP-1 agents presently in U.S. pharmacies only Wegovy (semaglutide) and Saxenda (liraglutide) are FDA approved for treating obesity. Of these two, Wegovy is the newer and had been much more popular that its sister drug Saxenda, probably due to being dosed only once weekly compared to daily for Saxenda and less likely to cause side effects. Due to Wegovy’s soaring popularity, its manufacturer, Novo Nordisk, increased the price of Wegovy two times since its initial release.
by Gary M. Pepper, M.D. and Sam Jeans, MSc The global anti-obesity drug market, in 2021was valued at over $2 billion. Within one year this figure had skyrocketed to $8 billion and is expected to climb to nearly $ 20 billion by 2027. This astounding growth is a reflection of soaring obesity rates, and the arrival of a new class of weight loss medication fueling a craze both in the USA and across the world.
The FDA and global health regulators, until very recently, had maintained a very tight ship when it comes to treating obesity with medication, placing the emphasis on diet and exercise rather than weight loss drugs. Since the 80s, anti-obesity drugs continued to be controversial, and a more stringent FDA implemented ongoing safety trials along with other precautions. There is some speculation that a shift in attitude toward approval of weight loss medication by the FDA , is underway
Weight loss drug controversies are far from over and, in fact, may soon rival the amphetamine crisis of the 70’s. For that reason, metabolism.com has felt it important to provide our guide to weight loss drug issues, past and present.
Anti-Obesity Drugs Timeline
Prescription drugs for lifestyle diseases such as obesity were marketed heavily throughout the 1950s to the 1970s. Amphetamines entered the public domain after the Second World War where they were used extensively in the military.
In the 50s, walk-in clinics prescribed diet pills with other medications almost at random, with or without genuine concern for one’s weight. These brightly colored pills became known as “rainbow pills”.
In the 1960s and 1970s, the so-called “rainbow pill diet” of pills was finally coming to an end as the FDA began to systematically ban many of the drugs involved. A high-profile expose by investigative journalist Susanna Mcbee, published in Life magazine, brought attention to this new modern public health crisis.
The rainbow pill diet combined amphetamines, laxatives, thyroid hormones, and even diuretics to produce extreme weight loss, combined with benzodiazepines, barbiturates, and steroids to reduce side effects, and antidepressants to suppress medication-induced insomnia and anxiety.
In 1968, rainbow pills were linked to over 60 deaths, with numerous accounts of their devastating impact surfacing in the news and media. Within just two months, 48 million pills were seized and destroyed. Nevertheless, amphetamine-based diet pills remained extremely popular throughout the 1970s. In 1978, some 3.3 million prescriptions for amphetamines were written each year, with some 50 million pills a year ending up in the black market.
In 1979, the FDA banned amphetamines as a weight loss aid, but that is hardly the end of the USA’s love affair with obesity medication.
Here’s a brief timeline of recent anti-obesity drugs: