According to a survey conducted by the North American Menopause Society (NAMS) there has been a huge surge in the use of compounded hormones by menopausal women over the last few years.
I have been prescribing compounded hormones — otherwise known as bio-identical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) — since I first started practicing medicine. So it’s nice to know that many women are making that choice as well. Of course, a lot of the credit here probably goes to Suzanne Somers, who has been an outspoken advocate of BHRT. But hey, I don’t care who people listen to as long as they aren’t using harmful medications.
Of course, it comes as no surprise that this current trend of “natural over synthetic” has come with a hefty dose of backlash from mainstream doctors and the manufacturers of traditional, synthetic HRT who are afraid of losing business.
In fact, the powers-that-be are going to great lengths to denounce BHRT, saying it’s “experimental” and “risky.”
The latest example of this witch-hunt was on display at the recent 2015 meeting of the North American Menopause society (NAMS). During the meeting, NAMS held a discussion panel that spent an hour bashing the practice of recommending “unsafe and unapproved” compounded bioidentical hormones.
There are so many things wrong with that last statement I don’t know where to begin.
But before I go on, let me set the record straight.
- Bio-identicals are neither unsafe, nor unproven
- They are regulated by the FDA, and…
- You need a prescription to get them.
The panel was really upset over the results from the survey I mentioned above, which revealed just how strong a foothold BHRT has taken in recent years.
The survey included women ranging in age from 40 to 84. Roughly 9% of the participants reported using some form of hormone replacement to relieve menopausal symptoms like hot flashes and vaginal dryness. And of that group, 41% reported using BHRT.
This panel also wasn’t thrilled that 42% of women who are already using BHRT consider it much safer than Big Pharma’s synthetic HRT therapies. Even 25% of women who use conventional hormones considered BHRT safer!
According to the discussion panel, NAMS is trying hard to debunk these statistics, and consider them a “fantasy.”
But the only fantasy here is the world these Big Pharma groupies are living in.
What about the bag of tricks called Premarin (which is really pregnant mares urine) that gave millions of women breast cancer from 1980-2008? Was that just a fantasy?
But guess who produces Premarin? Wyeth, which is a subsidiary of Pfizer. And guess who funded this firing squad disguised as a “discussion panel”?
You got it — Pfizer.
The reality here is that Big Pharma bigwigs want profits… at whatever cost to patients.
One panelist remarked that “even good doctors are capitulating” by signing prescriptions for BHRT.
If you ask me, the BEST doctors are signing prescriptions for bio-identical hormones — because they want what is best for their patients.
But the naysayers don’t even like the word “bio-identical,” and say the FDA doesn’t consider this an acceptable term.
Well, this is how the Endocrine Society defines bioidentical hormones: “compounds that have exactly the same chemical and molecular structure as hormones that are produced in the human body.”
So what BHRT opponents really think “isn’t acceptable” is that BHRT is vastly cheaper, compounded for you and your individual blood work, and gives you the right to make your own healthcare decisions.
If that isn’t acceptable, I don’t know what is.
However, when all is said and done, any hormone therapy should be used under the supervision of a knowledgeable holistic practitioner. As I discussed in my April 2, 2013 Reality Health Check article “The benefits of hormone replacement therapy,” bioidentical hormones can increase the risk of stroke or breast cancer. But that risk is much, much smaller than it is with conventional, synthetic HRT—especially if women receive bioidentical hormones before they turn 60, within a decade following menopause.
But if you decide BHRT isn’t right for you, there are also a few other remedies to consider. One recent study showed that Mediterranean-style eating habits cut hot flashes and night sweats by just over 20 percent.
My New Hamptons Health Miracle is very similar to the Mediterranean diet. It’s rich in lean protein, fresh fruits and veggies, and healthy monounsaturated fats. And it’s absolutely deprivation-free.
I know I’ve said it before, but if you make this “diet” a way of life, you really can’t go wrong.
Another solution for hot flashes, which I’ve also mentioned before, is Pycnogenol™. One recent study showed a daily 60-mg dose of Pycnogenol delivered significant improvements in menopause symptoms—especially hot flashes—in just 12 weeks.
“Fruit, Mediterranean-style, and high-fat and -sugar diets are associated with the risk of night sweats and hot flushes in midlife: results from a prospective cohort study.” Am J Clin Nutr.2013 May;97(5):1092-9.
“Effect of Low-dose French Maritime Pine Bark Extract on Climacteric Syndrome in 170 Perimenopausal Women: A Randomized, Double-blind, Placebo-controlled Trial.” J Reprod Med. 2013;58:39-46.