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Motivational Speaking

Spotlight on Natural and Synthetic Hormones

from LaCrista News, Vol. 4, Issue 4

Many often-asked questions I receive from women concern the deterioration of skin after taking Premarin or other synthetic hormones. Our hormone health affects our whole body, especially our skin. Problems include brown spots, uneven skin tones and dryness. I have researched for years to find the connection with skin problems and have made some interesting discoveries. The studies compiled would take numerous pages to outline; so here are a few of the highlights, along with some findings from Drs. Jonathan Wright and John Lee, specialists in natural hormones.

First and foremost, the terms natural and synthetic are confusing when used in connection with hormones. They should not be considered the same or used interchangeably.

Natural hormones have a chemical structure which replicates exactly the structure of the hormones our bodies produce. Natural hormones are not necessarily organic products, but most are derived from natural sources (such as soy and yams) and cannot be patented. [Note: Because there is no money to be made with natural hormones, pharmaceutical companies have no interest in investing money to market these products in medical journals.]

A synthetic hormone may have a structure similar to, but not exactly the same as, a hormone produced by our bodies. These chemical differences can mean that the synthetic hormone acts differently in the body and produces substantially different effects. For example, DHEA (derived primarily from yams) is a natural hormone, while Premarin and Provera aresynthetic hormones (and the most-often prescribed). Our bodies do not produce Premarin or Provera. We produce estrogen and progesterone. Premarin comes from a strong concentrationof horse urine. According to Dr. Wright, Premarin and Provera are not replacement hormones unless you are a horse or test tube.

Dr. Wright recommends an estrogen formula that is EXACT to the human body called tri-est. It is 80% estriol, 10% estradiol and 10% estrone but can be adjusted by a compounding pharmacist according to your personal blood test results.

Dr. Lee believes the declining hormone in women is progesterone, not estrogen. He is a pioneer in the use of NATURAL progesterone (either in cream or micronized capsule). His studies show that natural progesterone can actually help to build bone and soften lines in the facial skin of postmenopausal women. Estrogen doesn't build bone.

There are also many alternative treatments for declining hormone levels. Phytoestrogens (which are plant estrogens) stimulate estrogen production if levels are low, and lower hormone levels that are too high. Many women find that even supplementing with herbs (like dong quai, chaste berry and black cohosh), DHEA, or vitamins (like vitamin E, known to help stabilize hormones) is all they need for their declining hormones.

Be sure to consult with your doctor before experimenting with any herbs or hormones. Though it is difficult to find a doctor who is open to natural hormones, start by finding a doctor of preventive medicine. In the Baltimore-Washington area, we recommend Dr. Paul Beals (in D.C. 202-332-0370, in Laurel, Md. 301-490-9911); or call the College for Advancement of Medicine at 1-800-532-3688 for a partial list.

Some books and periodicals to help educate yourself on these issues are: Natural Hormone Replacement by Dr. Wright, Natural Pro esterone by Dr. Lee, Natural Healing Newsletter by Dr. Wright, Women's Health Access (Madison, Wisconsin), and the Harvard Women's Health Connection (Harvard University).

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