Diet and Skin Care

Monday, August 29, 2011 by Dr. Susan Lark
What natural skin care ingredients you use ON your skin are important for the health and well-being of your skin. 

But what you eat can have a significant impact on your skin, as well. For instance, refined sugar in particular can exacerbate a host of skin problems, like acne. (And it doesn't matter if you are in your reproductive years, premenopause, or menopause...all women get acne!) First, sugar prompts the secretion of androgens, hormones that cause oil glands to go into overdrive. Second, sugar causes an insulin response in the body, which leads to inflammation. When pores become blocked, then inflamed, bacteria get trapped under the skin, which leads to pimples and blackheads. This inflammatory response can also aggravate other conditions like rosacea and eczema.

So, along with taking skin-supportive nutrients, using the best natural skin care products on the market, and balancing your female hormones, give your kitchen pantry a major overhaul. Get rid of all refined carbohydrates and foods high in sugar, fat, and ingredients you can’t pronounce. Your diet should be overwhelmingly rich in vegetables and fruits (preferably organic), whole grains, raw nuts, legumes, occasional free-range poultry, and wild-caught fish like salmon, tuna, and mackerel. 

The Yin and Yang of Female Hormones

Monday, August 22, 2011 by Dr. Susan Lark
In traditional Asian medicine, health and well-being are believed to be a balance of two equally important, but opposing, principles—yin and yang. Yin is associated with attributes such as femininity, receptivity, calmness, coolness, and moisture. Yin also regulates the fluids, blood, and tissues of your body, as well as its structural components, including flesh, tendons, and bones.

Yang, on the other hand, is associated with masculinity, aggression, heat, and dryness. It also regulates your body’s energy, which acts as the spark plug to your structural elements.

In younger women, this balance seems to be maintained almost effortlessly. But maintaining an optimal yin-yang balance becomes much more difficult once you reach middle age and menopause and menopause symptoms set in. 

To restore your yin—and, as a result, balance your estrogen levels—you can take a variety of yin-supportive herbs.

One such supplement is royal jelly, which has been used for centuries to balance female hormones. Take 1/4 teaspoon of the liquid form of organic royal jelly twice a day. Royal jelly is available at most health food stores.

Increase Estrogen Levels for a Wrinkle Free Face

Tuesday, May 24, 2011 by Dr. Susan Lark

Along with providing your skin with important nutrients, proper female hormone balance is essential for healthy, moist, and resilient skin, particularly because of the action of estrogen on the skin. Estrogen is responsible for the deposition of fat under the skin, which gives rise to the soft and fine-textured skin that many women enjoy during their younger years. Estrogen also keeps the skin looking and feeling plump and healthy.

During your active reproductive years, your body produces enough estrogen to properly support the structure and texture of your skin. But when you enter the menopausen, your estrogen levels start dropping, which causes your skin to become drier, and the underlying collagen connective tissue, muscle, and fat tissues that give skin its support also begin to shrink, leading to more apparent creases and wrinkles.

While that all sounds like doom-and-gloom, keep your head up because there are plenty of nutrients you can take to rebalance and restore your hormones levels naturally, resulting in plumped up and moisturized skin. The following nutrients either create estrogen-like activity in your body or help you to produce more of your own estrogen. They also slow down the metabolism and excretion of the estrogen you do produce, thereby raising your own estrogen levels. You can use as many or as few of the following nutrients as you need to achieve your desired level of hormonal support. 

  • Boron is a trace mineral found in apples, grapes, almonds, legumes, and dark-green leafy vegetables. There is some evidence that boron enhances estrogenic activity. In one study, when women on estrogen therapy supplemented their normally low-boron diet with 3 mg of boron, their blood levels of estrogen were significantly elevated. Based on this research, I suggest taking 3 mg of boron per day.
  • Para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA) is a fat-soluble B vitamin necessary for the production of folic acid. It helps to safely and effectively impede the breakdown of estrogen in the liver. I recommend taking 400–500 mg of PABA a day in divided doses.
  • Wheat germ oil is rich in vitamin E, which has mildly estrogenic properties. In fact, wheat germ oil contains the fatty acids and other nutrients that your body needs to support and produce hormones such as estrogen. I recommend taking 2,000–2,400 mg of wheat germ oil in capsule form a day, in divided doses.
  • Cobalt slows down the excretion of estrogen, thus allowing you to better maintain your own production of estrogen. It is able to do this by stimulating the production of heme oxidase. This, in turn, promotes the breakdown of cytochrome p450, a substance that normally metabolizes and detoxifies estrogen. By breaking down this substance, cobalt helps to prevent estrogen metabolism and excretion. I suggest taking 400–500 mcg of cobalt a day. To further improve your cobalt status, you can also take 100–500 mcg of vitamin B12 a day. Research shows that cobalt is supplied in your body by B12. If you have adequate levels of B12, you likely have adequate amounts of cobalt, as well.
  • Black cohosh is an estrogenic herb that was often prescribed in colonial times to treat a variety of menopausal symptoms. I recommend taking 40–80 mg of a standardized extract of black cohosh twice a day. This dose should contain 2–4 mg of the active components (triterpenes, calculated as 27-deoxyacteine). 

Best Natural Skin Care for Reducing Facial Hair

Tuesday, May 17, 2011 by Dr. Susan Lark

Excess facial hair, called postmenopausal facial hirsutism, is a fairly common effect of menopause--especially in those who have decided to not use conventional hormone replacement therapy. Understandably, this condition can be extremely upsetting.

The following strategies are free of side effects and address the underlying problem so that the growth of facial hair actually stops. Because hair grows in cycles, these treatments require about two to three months of use before you see results. In the interim, you can remove the worst of the hair by plucking or sugaring. Like waxing, sugaring removes hair at the root, but it doesn’t damage the surrounding skin. And it’s painless! I recommend using the wonderful sugaring product from MOOM to remove unwanted hair while you treat the underlying problem.

First, if you’re in your perimenopausal or menopausal years, female hormone balance is key to reducing unwanted facial hair. Refer to my recommendations throughout this blog for achieving female hormone balance.

In addition, there are natural botanicals that, when used topically on the face, are known to inhibit 5-alpha reductase—the enzyme that activates testosterone in facial follicles, causing facial hair.
• Green tea extract (epigallocatechin gallate, or EGCG) inhibits 5-alpha reductase and also has been shown to reduce skin inflammation. 
• NDGA (nordihydroguaiaretic acid), an extract of chaparral, blocks receptor sites for 5-alpha reductase and also inhibits the skin’s pro-inflammatory cascade.
• Zinc, azelaic acid, and vitamin B6: Even at low doses, zinc and azelaic acid (from the yeast Pityrosporum ovale) are potent 5-alpha reductase inhibitors because they work synergistically. Vitamin B6 enhances their activity and their ability to penetrate the skin. In a study published in the British Journal of Dermatology, when very low doses of these agents were applied together, their combined activity blocked 5-alpha reductase by an amazing 90 percent. 

You can find most of these nutrients sold separately at health food stores or vitamin shops. Or you can use a product called Reductase-5, which contains these botanicals.


Diet for the Estrogen-Deficient Slow Processor

Thursday, April 14, 2011 by Susan Lark
If you are an estrogen deficient–slow processor, you tend to have greater reserves of alkaline minerals such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, and zinc within your cells, tissues, and bones. Slow processors also have the body and hormonal makeup to be able to handle an acidic diet that is rich in red meat and dairy, but these foods lack the essential nutrients that all women need to maintain optimal health. For this reason, estrogen deficient–slow processors are best served by following a diet that is both highly acidic and nutrient-rich. This includes the following foods:

• High-fiber foods such as buckwheat and flaxseed
• Citrus fruits (oranges, limes, lemons, and grapefruit), berries, and pineapple
• All vegetables, especially sauerkraut, spinach, cucumbers, tomatoes, asparagus, and broccoli
• Free-range poultry
• Wild fish such as salmon, mackerel, trout, and tuna
• Free-range beef and lamb, as well as game meats like venison and buffalo
• Soy and soy-based foods
• Vinegar
• Raw nuts (almonds, walnuts)
• Heating spices such as turmeric (curry), ginger, cayenne pepper, chili powder and pepper, cumin, cloves, and cinnamon

By following this diet, slow processors are able to regain their energy and zest for life, reduce joint pain, and stabilize their female hormone levels. Not to mention, eating a healthy diet provides menopause relief from symptoms like hot flashes and night sweats.

Exercises for Estrogen-Deficient Fast Processors

Tuesday, April 12, 2011 by Susan Lark
I personally follow an exercise program for estrogen deficient–fast processors. Even though my female hormones are healthy and well-balanced, I fall more into this category because I am a petite and slender woman, and I have a fast-paced day-to-day life. To help balance my female hormones, I follow a workout routine that calms me.

Estrogen deficient–fast processors don’t want to heat up their bodies and sweat. It is more important to engage in slower, more expansive and relaxing aerobic activities that are moderately strenuous and can be done in a relaxed and leisurely way. For this reason, the best activities for women in this category include golf, gardening, swimming, and moderately-paced walking and bicycling. You can also try ballroom dancing—in particular, slower dances like the waltz.

In terms of stretching, the best types for this hormonal category include tai chi and hatha yoga, which are slower and more meditative. With these slower-paced exercises, you will tend to breathe more deeply and slowly. Moderate aerobic exercise relaxes, dilates, and expands the network of blood vessels in your body, and enables your heart to work more efficiently. Better circulation and oxygenation, in turn, improve the health of all of your organs, including your ovaries and uterus.

Of course, another benefit to this and all exercise is the reduction of menopause symptoms like  hot flashes and night sweats!

Exercises for Estrogen-Deficient Slow Processors

Friday, April 8, 2011 by Susan Lark
If you are an estrogen deficient–slow processor, I recommend keeping your female hormones balanced with high-intensity activities such as power walking, cycling, running, triathlons, racquetball, tennis, and fast-paced styles of ballroom dance like the tango, foxtrot, and swing.

Women with these hormone profiles tend to be instinctively drawn to strenuous types of exercise that are more contracting and acidifying to counter their natural tendency toward alkalinity. I’ve seen women with these hormonal profiles maintain this level of intense physical activity well into their later years. In fact, it is not unusual to see slow processors participating in triathlons and bodybuilding well into their 70s and beyond!

Stretching and flexibility exercises are also important parts of your workout routine. Stretching keeps you limber and helps your muscles and tendons function well into your older years. The best stretching exercise is Pilates, as it tends to include more intense and faster-paced movements. In addition, yoga is beneficial for these women—particularly the high-energy Bikram (hot), ashtanga, and power yoga.

Another benefit of these exercises? They help reduce menopause symptoms like hot flashes and night sweats!

High-Dose Hormone Replacement Therapy--Still Being Prescribed?!

Thursday, March 17, 2011 by Susan Lark

According to a study that appeared online December 2, 2010 in Menopause: The Journal of the North American Menopause Society states that many doctors are still prescribing high doses of conventional hormone replacement therapy for menopause hot flashes, night sweats, and insomnia, even though the risks have been thoroughly proven and documented, and even though lower dose hormones are effective in alleviating these menopause symptoms.

I find this news so upsetting, considering how dangerous convention hormone replacement therapy has been proven to be--greatly increasing the risk of diseases like breast cancer and cardiovascular disease, to name just a few.

If you are one of those women still taking conventional hormone replacement to find menopause relief, please talk to your doctor about cutting back or stopping altogether. You can find many, many safe, suitable natural therapies for your  menopause symptoms throughout my blog.

And for more information on female hormones and natural menopause relief, please visit my Web site.

Beneficial Bioidentical DHEA

Friday, February 11, 2011 by Kimberly Day
There are various preparations of DHEA on the market, as well as yam extracts, which are beneficial bioidentical DHEAsometimes purported to be a substitute for DHEA. It is important to understand the differences between these products.

The conversion of the extract to DHEA can be achieved only in the laboratory, not in the human body. Therefore, natural yam extract, while it does have some of its own health benefits, does not increase blood levels of DHEA. This was confirmed in a study published in Life Science.

Seven men and women, aged 65 to 82, were given yam extract for three weeks with no change in their DHEA level. In contrast, when the same group received 85 mg of DHEA a day, their blood levels of DHEA doubled.

Supplementing With DHEA

DHEA is most often taken in the form of capsules, which come in 5 mg, 10 mg, 25 mg, and 50 mg dosages. Once absorbed, the DHEA travels to the liver, where much of it is converted into androgens and estrogen. Because of this, not all the DHEA ingested enters the general circulation.

Micronized DHEA (the hormone broken into tiny particles) is more efficiently absorbed by the body because the small size of the particles allows them to enter first the lymphatic system and then the general circulation, initially bypassing the liver. Since DHEA is a fat-soluble hormone, it is better absorbed when taken with food. DHEA taken orally is quickly absorbed, and blood levels rise within one hour.

However, much still needs to be learned about optimal dosage, timing, and how the hormone is best administered. There is a question of whether it is appropriate to raise DHEA to youthful levels or simply to a level that is adequate, given a person’s age. Clinical trials are under way; in the meantime, clinicians who regularly prescribe DHEA generally agree on a certain range of starting dosages and recommend a gradual increase if needed.

Dr. Lark has found that DHEA supplementation may be most beneficial for women after menopause. Beginning dosages should range from 5–15 mg a day, then be increased by 5–10 mg a day, as needed. DHEA dosages in women should not exceed 25 mg per day.

Conversely, there is no reason for women who have not reached menopause or perimenopause to consider taking DHEA replacement therapy. Women with normal menstrual cycles have no need for supplementing with DHEA, since their bodies are making sufficient amounts of this hormone.

Some physicians recommend taking DHEA in the morning to reflect the body’s own production of the hormone by the adrenal glands. Taken later in the day, DHEA can have a stimulating effect and sometimes causes insomnia; however, for a person suffering from a condition such as chronic-fatigue syndrome, this energizing effect could be of benefit.

Note: Women should have a mammogram and Pap smear test done before beginning DHEA supplementation to avoid the risk of stimulating a preexisting cancer of the reproductive tract, since DHEA will increase the levels of the major sex hormones.

If you elect to use DHEA without a physician’s guidance, buy the lowest-dose products available in your health food store or pharmacy, begin to use it cautiously, and do not go above 25 mg on your own. Let your physician recommend dosages at higher levels, and be sure to carefully monitor the effects on your body.

Note: DHEA is generally considered safe when taken in recommended dosages of 25 mg or less. While some sensitive people may experience side effects with dosages as low as 5 mg, side effects usually occur only when DHEA is taken in much higher amounts.

Anyone taking over 50 mg a day of DHEA should be under a physician’s supervision. Elevated doses of DHEA can actually prevent the adrenal glands from making the quantity of DHEA they normally produce.

For more information on all female hormones, visit Dr. Lark’s Web site.

Are You DHEA Deficient?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011 by Kimberly Day
Of all the female hormones in your body, DHEA is the most prevalent and circulates in the Are You DHEA Deficient?bloodstream in the highest concentrations. Women produce about 1–2 mg of DHEA-S per day. This production declines with age.

A fetus has relatively high amounts of DHEA, which functions to ease the birth process. However, by the time an infant is six months old, DHEA production all but ceases, and only revives at age six to eight in preparation for puberty. Peak DHEA production is between the ages of 25 and 30; after this, production declines by as much as 10 percent per year. A person may feel the effects of this by their mid-40s. At age 80, you make only about 15 percent of what you produced in your 20s.

A study appearing in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences documents this. Sixty-four volunteers, between the ages of 20 and 40, had four times the levels of DHEA-S as 138 volunteers over age 85. Patients with major diseases such as atherosclerosis, cancer, and Alzheimer’s also have significant deficiencies.

The physical and psychological well-being enjoyed in youth may well depend in part on having sufficient levels of DHEA. For many years, little attention was given to the effect of DHEA on humans, especially in terms of aging and the decline of performance functions. Most of the research on DHEA had been done on rodents and focused on disease.

Then a study by Morales et al. investigating the effects of DHEA in older individuals was published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. Volunteers in the study described a list of benefits that made DHEA seem like a fountain of youth. They reported increased energy, improved mood, better sleep quality, and a greater ability to remain calm and handle stress.

Poor lifestyle habits—especially excess stress and a lack of exercise—can also affect DHEA levels. In addition to producing DHEA, your adrenal glands manufacture other hormones, including cortisol. Cortisol is released during times of extreme stress, be it physical, emotional, or mental. When you produce too much cortisol and not enough DHEA, you can throw your adrenal glands out of balance, and eventually strain them to the point of exhaustion. Because DHEA levels are already naturally decreasing as you get older, this imbalance can aggravate both perimenopause symptoms and menopause symptoms.

Additionally, too little exercise may be linked to decreased DHEA levels. Fortunately, a study from Age and Ageing found that regular, moderate aerobic exercise such as walking, swimming, or biking increased DHEA production in older people. This is another one of the many health benefits that regular exercise provides for women (and men) of all ages.

Are You DHEA Deficient?

To begin to determine whether your body’s supply of this hormone has lessened enough to affect your ability to perform at your best and maintain optimal health, Dr. Lark created the following checklist. If you answer yes to four or more of these questions, you very likely need to increase your DHEA levels.
  • I am over the age of 50.
  • I experience menopause symptoms such as hot flashes.
  • I have low libido.
  • I suffer from insomnia.
  • I am unable to handle stress.
  • I am easily upset.
  • I have a negative outlook on life.
  • I am often unable to recall details of recent events.
  • I have a history of osteoporosis or osteopenia (low bone mass).
  • I have a history of cardiovascular disease.
  • I have significant excess body fat.
  • I am at risk for diabetes.
  • I have a history of autoimmune disease, including rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis, ulcerative colitis, and/or AIDS.
  • I have a weak immune system and am prone to colds and flu.
  • I am at high risk for cancer, especially bladder cancer.
  • I suffer from asthma.
  • I lack muscle mass and strength.
  • I tend to tire easily; my level of stamina is low.

If your responses suggest that your DHEA level is low, then your next step is to get your hormone levels tested.

The DHEA in the blood is a combination of DHEA sulfate (DHEA-S) and unbound, or free, DHEA. It is generally thought that unbound DHEA is most active and that DHEA-S is not fully metabolically active. Therefore, it is important that any lab assessment distinguish between the two.

This can be done using a 24-hour urine test. Some practitioners also think it is important to monitor DHEA levels if an individual has a significant illness, and that at age 40, all people should obtain a baseline reading.
  • Range of DHEA blood levels in adult men: 180 to 250 ng/dl
  • Range of DHEA blood levels in adult women: 130 to 980 ng/dl
  • Ranges of DHEA-S blood levels in adult women:
    • Aged 31–50: 2 to 379 µg/dl
    • Postmenopausal: 30 to 260 µg/dl
  • Range of DHEA salivary levels in women:     40 to 140 pg/ml

If your results indicate that you are deficient in DHEA (or if you scored high on the questionnaire), you may want to consider using bioidentical DHEA. I’ll tell you more about this on Friday.

For more information on all female hormones, visit Dr. Lark’s Web site.

DHEA: The Unsung Hormone Hero

Tuesday, February 8, 2011 by Kimberly Day
DHEA is the abbreviation for a long and complicated-sounding hormoneDHEA: The Unsung Hormone Hero—dehydroepiandrosterone. DHEA is very important to your health, since it is one of the primary steroid female hormones from which your body produces testosterone and estrogen.

Until about 10 years ago, scientists thought that DHEA had little use beyond its role as a precursor for other hormones. Only recently have studies begun to reveal its many physiological activities that benefit both performance and health.

DHEA works at many levels in your body, supporting physical as well as mental and emotional functions. It has been shown to lessen menopause symptoms; increase stamina, improve mood, mental outlook, and your ability to handle stress; reduce body fat; and treat diabetes. It also enhances mental clarity and acuity, promotes confidence and assertiveness, and may even improve libido!

Plus, DHEA may help to decrease your risk of heart disease and cancer; promote healthy bones; strengthen your immune system; ease autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, and ulcerative colitis; and treat conditions as varied as multiple sclerosis, asthma, and burns.

That's quite a long and positive list of benefits that this awesome hormone provides!

For more information on female hormones, visit Dr. Lark’s Web site.

Too Much Testosterone?

Friday, January 28, 2011 by Kimberly Day
Like sunshine, which can burn if you get too much, there is such a thing as TOO much too much testosteronetestosterone (or any other of the female hormones). While too little can cause or exacerbate a whole host of health conditions, excess levels can lead to masculinization, including deepening of the voice, abnormal hair growth, acne, and even hair loss.

The areas that tend to be the most affected by excess hair growth are in those areas that have the greatest concentrations of androgens such as testosterone. These include the chin, upper lip, cheeks, just below the navel, and around the nipple. For similar reasons, women with the opposite end of the spectrum (hair loss) will notice the greatest decrease in hair on the top of their head, at the crown, or at the temples.

If you are exhibiting any of these symptoms, work with your doctor to evaluate your hormones, including your testosterone levels.

For more information about ALL female hormones, visit Dr. Lark’s Web site.

Smoking and Breast Cancer

Thursday, January 27, 2011 by Susan Lark

Interesting news this week on the breast cancer front: Researchers have found that smoking does, in fact, raise the risk of breast cancer, but only in premenopausal women. What is disturbing is that they also found that smoking was linked to a slight reduction in the risk of breast cancer in women who have hit menopause.

Regardless of what this study has found, if you're a smoker, I urge you to stop now. Decades of research has linked smoking with countless diseases and medical problems, so this slight glimmer of "good news" for postmenopausal smokers does not negate the fact that smoking is an extremely dangerous habit.

For more health information on relieving menopause symptoms, balancing female hormones, and much more, visit my Web site.

Boost Testosterone With Herbs

Wednesday, January 26, 2011 by Kimberly Day
If low testosterone levels are an issue for you, you may want to consider using targeted nutrients to help boost your levels. This in turn can help offset symptoms of testosterone boost testosterone with herbsdeficiency, namely low libido and sexual responsiveness. And three key herbs may be just the thing you need.

Herbs have long been the province of traditional and folk medicine, but many Western doctors are just now paying attention to their many uses. In recent years, several major universities such as UCLA and Columbia have hosted conferences on how to incorporate both European and Chinese herbs into standard treatment protocols.

Dr. Lark has used herbs for decades to help improve a wide variety of hormone-related complaints. When it comes to using herbs to restore libido and sex drive (which are testosterone-supported health benefits), damiana, Rhodiola rosea, and Ginkgo biloba are the most effective.

These herbs also contain a wide variety of chemicals that help you increase vitality and stamina, generate assertiveness, gain energy, boost libido and sexual responsiveness, ease anxiety, and even generate feelings of optimism.

Dynamic Damiana

Damiana is a yellow, flowering bush indigenous to hot and humid climates such as Central America, Mexico, and the southwestern U.S. It has a long history as an aphrodisiac for women, dating all the way back to the Mayan civilization. Women typically use the leaves to make a libido-lifting elixir to drink before intercourse.

In recent times, damiana has been used to increase sex drive and treat impotence. While no clinical trials have been performed on this herb, animal studies have shown that it does increase sexual desire and frequency of sex. Additionally, most herbalists agree that the alkaloids found in damiana are responsible for this mild, testosterone-like effect on the body.

Dr. Lark recommends trying 100–200 mg of damiana per day. To date, there are no known negative interactions or side effects associated with the herb.

Remarkable Rhodiola Rosea

Rhodiola rosea is a popular plant indigenous to Eastern Europe and Asia. The ancient Greeks used the herb medicinally as far back as 100 A.D. Named for the rose-like odor of the rootstock when newly cut, Rhodiola rosea has been used for centuries in China to prolong life and enhance wisdom. In the former Soviet Union, Rhodiola has been used to diminish fatigue and increase your body’s resistance to stress.

Rhodiola works to support testosterone (and other female hormones) by easing stress and fatigue—both killers of healthy hormone production. According to the journal Phytomedicine, Rhodiola is particularly effective in fighting stress-induced fatigue.

To ease fatigue, stress, or anxiety—all of which can play havoc with your testosterone production—and boost your energy and stamina (which testosterone supports), Dr. Lark suggests taking 50–100 mg of Rhodiola rosea three times a day, standardized to 3 percent rosavins and 0.8 percent salidrosides.

While the herb is generally considered safe, some reports have indicated that it may counteract the effects of antiarrhythmic medications. Therefore, if you are currently taking this type of medication, discuss the use of Rhodiola rosea with your physician.

Glorious Ginkgo

Modern science is finding that Ginkgo biloba has a wide range of benefits, including improving blood flow, preventing the brain from aging, and improving all four stages of sexual response—desire, excitement (lubrication), orgasm, and resolution. It has even been shown to reverse sexual dysfunction in women taking certain antidepressants.

When it comes to helping improve blood flow, there is no debate as to ginkgo’s benefits. Three hundred published scientific papers and 40 double-blind studies have proven its efficacy. This is due, in large part, to the rich store of antioxidant bioflavonoids found in ginkgo. This also allows this amazing herb to help improve circulation and fight inflammation in just about every organ system in the body, as well as scavenge free radicals.

Dr. Lark recommends using 30 mg of Ginkgo biloba extract (standardized to 24 percent flavonoid glycosides and 6 percent terpene lactones) three times a day. Ginkgo is extremely safe and side effects are uncommon.

For more information about ALL female hormones, visit Dr. Lark’s Web site.

The Feminine Benefits of Testosterone

Tuesday, January 25, 2011 by Kimberly Day
If you are like most women, you probably don’t spend much time thinking about your testosterone levels. While testosterone is typically thought of as a “male hormone,” it is just as critical to your health as the more common female hormones like estrogen and progesterone. You simply produce testosterone in much smaller amounts. the feminine benefits of testosterone

Testosterone plays an important role in normal female sexual development. The initiation of menstruation and puberty is, in part, triggered by testosterone production. Additionally, testosterone stimulates libido. Levels of the hormone rise and decline during the menstrual cycle to insure that sexual desire increases just before ovulation, when a woman is fertile and chances are greatest for conception.

Testosterone also restores vitality and energy levels, helps reduce depression, balances mood and, in part, engenders attributes such as optimism, assertiveness, and aggressiveness that are usually associated with male behavior.

Finally, testosterone benefits female health by helping to relieve menopause symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats, nervousness, vaginal dryness, and the strength of vaginal tissues. It can also help to prevent osteoporosis.

Do You Have Testosterone Deficiency?

Even the small amount of testosterone you produce can have a significant effect on your quality of life. If levels are below normal, you can experience a wide range of emotional symptoms, including decreased energy, depression, and anxiety. You’ll also notice a few physical effects as well, such as loss of libido, osteoporosis, and insomnia.

The following checklist will give you an idea of whether you are experiencing the effects of inadequate testosterone production.
  • I am over the age of 50.
  • I experience menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, mood swings, and vaginal dryness.
  • I lack interest in sex.
  • I have a tendency toward depression.
  • I often feel withdrawn.
  • I have experienced a decline in the frequency of my sexual activity and orgasms.
  • I suffer from persistent fatigue.
  • I have osteoporosis and suffer from frequent bone fractures.
  • I have rheumatoid arthritis.
  • I lack stamina.
  • I have experienced a decline in my level of assertiveness.
  • I typically have little desire to take risks.
  • I have poor muscle tone or weak muscles.

If you answered yes to three or more of these questions, you very likely have low testosterone levels. If this is the case, you may want to get your hormone levels tested.

For more information about ALL female hormones, visit Dr. Lark’s Web site.

Exciting New Natural Remedies for Weight Loss

Tuesday, January 11, 2011 by Susan Lark

In my most recent newsletter issue, I shared some exciting new discoveries in the world of natural weightloss. I'd like to share some of them with you this week. Let's start with a vitamin I have discussed many times in conjunction with bone health, immunity, and even female hormone balance, that now also has been shown to play a critical role in maintaining a healthy weight--vitamin D!

In one very recent study, overweight or obese individuals in a diet and exercise weight-loss program, who concomitantly took supplemental vitamin D, lost significantly more weight than those who were not taking vitamin D. Here’s the twist: Those who had ample blood levels of vitamin D at the start of the weight-loss program did not benefit weight-loss wise from those ample levels. It was when vitamin D levels in the blood increased over the first six months of the two-year study that their weight-loss success blossomed.

I recommend taking 1,000 to 4,000 IU vitamin D3 daily (D3 is more effective than D2). This dose will get your serum levels increasing towards that target level and give your natural weight loss plan a boost. 

For more tips on improving your natural weigtloss efforts, visit my Web site.

Sugar and Spice Aren’t Always Nice

Wednesday, December 8, 2010 by Kimberly Day
In case you haven’t noticed by my previous posts, baking is a big part of the holiday tradition in sugar-free holiday cookiesmy family. You cannot walk into my mother’s, grandmother’s, or my kitchen in the month of December and not smell something sweet that has just come out of the oven.

Unfortunately, the sugar and spice that often create these amazing aromas are not ideal for female hormones, and certainly don’t help when it comes to natural appetite control!

Eating large amounts of sugar, especially in a short period of time, can trigger low blood sugar. I know this sounds counterintuitive, but here’s how it works: Sugar is rapidly absorbed from the digestive tract into the circulation. In response to these elevated blood sugar levels, the pancreas secretes insulin to enable the sugar to be cleared from the bloodstream and be taken up by the cells, where it is used as a source of energy.

In response to large amounts of ingested sugar, the pancreas often overproduces insulin, which causes the blood sugar to fall too low. As a result, hypoglycemia occurs, causing an individual to feel anxious, tremulous, and jittery.

The solution? Avoid sugar, obviously. And if you do indulge, make it a treat, not a meal.

You can also try one of my sugar-free recipes, such as gingerbread or chocolate biscotti. Just remember, even though they are sugar-free, they still have calories, so don’t overindulge.

For more information on female hormones and healthy estrogen levels, visit Dr. Lark’s Web site.

Wheat-Free Recipes: Pizza

Monday, October 25, 2010 by Kimberly Day
Seeing as this the last week of National Celiac Disease Awareness Month, I thought I’d give you all several wheat-free recipes.

You don’t need to have celiac disease to reap the benefits of going wheat free. You will also likely enjoy looser pants and tops as you reduce inflammation and false fat. You may even start to feel your female hormones come into balance in the form of fewer menopause symptoms like hot flashes and night sweats.

Best of all, you can enjoy all these benefits without depriving yourself of your favorite foods, including pizza, pasta, and baked goods.

So, on that note, I’ll give you two pizza recipes today, two pasta recipes on Wednesday, and we’ll end the week with two of my favorite desserts on Friday…just in time for the weekend.

BBQ Chicken Pizza
Serves 4 (two slices each)

This is my family’s favorite pizza. It’s so easy and is so delicious, you’ll never miss the wheat. If you are vegetarian, swap the chicken for 14 ounces of black beans, drained.
  • 1 wheat-free pizza crust, such as Namaste Foods
  • ½ cup pizza sauce
  • ½ cup low-sugar BBQ sauce
  • 2 red peppers, sliced
  • 1 red onion, sliced
  • ½ cup mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 ounces chicken breast, cooked and cubed
  • 4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
  • 1 avocado, diced

Combine pizza sauce and BBQ sauce in a small bowl. Spread evenly over the pizza crust. Sauté peppers, onions, and mushrooms in olive oil until tender. Distribute pepper mixture over sauce. Add chicken and goat cheese. Bake at 425ºF for 12–15 minutes, or until goat cheese has browned. Top with diced avocado and serve warm.

Pesto Pepper Pizza
Serves 4 (two slices each)

This is a great pizza for those of you who don’t care for tomatoes or tomato sauce.

  • 1 wheat-free pizza crust, such as Namaste Foods
  • 1 cup pesto
  • 4 ounces roasted red peppers, sliced
  • 4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled

Spread pesto evenly over the pizza crust. Distribute peppers evenly over sauce. Top with goat cheese and bake at 425ºF for 12–15 minutes, or until goat cheese has browned. Serve warm.

For more great wheat-free recipes, visit Dr. Lark's Web site.

Fight Breast Cancer with Limonene

Monday, October 11, 2010 by Kimberly Day
In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I’d like to tell you about limonene, another breast cancer-fighting nutrient.

Limonene is a compound found in citrus fruits, such as oranges and lemons. It can also be found in:
  • Tomatoes,
  • Cherries,
  • Caraway,
  • Dill,
  • Bergamot, and
  • Mint.

In addition to supporting glucuronidation, limonene also promotes healthy detoxification. Specifically, it has been shown to help prevent the development of breast cancer by stimulating detoxification enzymes in the liver.

In fact, research at the Department of Human Oncology at the University of Wisconsin has shown that limonene helps to prevent the mutation of normal cells into cancerous ones through all stages of cancer cell replication.

The first study to demonstrate limonene’s anti-carcinogenic effect was conducted in 1971. Since that time, there have been follow-up studies demonstrating the same results. In fact, several rather remarkable animal studies have shown that limonene can bring advanced breast cancer growth to a halt.

A 1992 study published in Cancer Research tested these previous findings. Researchers set out to determine if limonene could reduce or regress breast cancer in rats. Researchers fed a limonene-rich diet to rats that had developed breast tumors. They found that the rats that were given this diet had significant tumor shrinkage as compared to the control group. However, when the limonene was discontinued, the tumors reappeared.

Additionally, researchers found that limonene inhibited the spread or metastasis of the cancer.

A 1993 study also published in Cancer Research followed up on these findings. In this study, researchers induced breast tumors in rats, then fed half the rats a limonene-rich diet. They found that 87 percent of the rats that were given the limonene diet had significant shrinkage of their tumors.

If you are interested in using limonene, Dr. Lark suggests you take 1,000 mg every other day. While it appears to be safe and without toxicity, women who are pregnant or nursing should not take limonene since no research has been performed which specifically examines its effect on fetal development.

For more information on reducing estrogen levels and other female hormone issues, visit Dr. Lark’s Web site.

Fight Breast Cancer with Glucarate

Monday, October 4, 2010 by Kimberly Day
Unless you live in a closet, you likely know that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. And to do my part, I’d like to tell you about a couple of nutrients that help fight breast cancer, the foods that contain these nutrients, and a few recipes to help you make these foods part of your nutrition plan.

The first is glucarate, which is found in many fruits and vegetables, including:
  • Apples
  • Apricots
  • Cherries
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Lettuce
  • Bean sprouts
  • Alfalfa sprouts

Glucuronidation, a detoxification process that occurs in the liver, depends on glucuronic acid, a chemical produced within the body that is similar to glucarate. This process helps to reduce estrogen levels in the body, which in turn reduces the opportunity for excess estrogen to stimulate the growth of breast cancer.

As estrogen circulates through the blood, it passes through the liver, where it is bound to glucuronic acid. This binding process inactivates the estrogen, inhibiting it from binding to tissues. It is then secreted into the bile and passed into the intestinal tract, then eliminated from the body.

Unfortunately, certain bacteria in the intestinal tract secrete an enzyme called beta-glucuronidase (B-glucuronidase), which can sabotage the glucuronidation process. B-glucuronidase breaks the newly formed estrogen-glucuronic acid bond apart, which reactivates the estrogen. This free estrogen can then be reabsorbed by the body, thus elevating the level of estrogen circulating through the body, once again renewing your risk for breast cancer.

The level of B-glucuronidase in your intestines depends in part on your diet. A typical high-fat, high-meat diet predisposes women to higher levels of B-glucuronidase in the intestinal tract, while a vegetarian diet rich in fruits and vegetables helps to prevent this from occurring. Studies have shown that women eating a low-fat, high-fiber diet excrete 2 to 3 times more estrogen and have 50 percent lower blood estrogen levels than women eating a diet high in dairy and animal fats.

Luckily, eating a diet rich in glucarate or using glucarate supplements helps to decrease the level of B-glucuronidase by allowing the bond between glucuronic acid and estrogen to be maintained so the body can rid itself of excess estrogen. This helps to prevent your own estrogen levels from rising to toxic levels and thereby decreasing your risk for breast cancer.

Animal studies confirm the connection between glucarate consumption and reduced breast cancer risk. One study done in 1986 found that rats who were exposed to a carcinogen that had been shown to cause breast tumors, then were given calcium d-glucarate immediately following the exposure had a 70 percent decrease in the incidence of tumor formation that would have normally been expected. Moreover, researchers found that rats that already had breast tumors and were fed a calcium glucarate-fortified diet experienced an amazing 73 percent decrease in tumor volume.

In 1990, researchers set out to test these results in a different way. They fed rats that had breast cancer a calcium glucarate-fortified diet, then autopsied them several weeks later in order to investigate the changes that had occurred in the rats’ breast tissue. They found that the tumors were significantly more localized and less aggressive. They also found an associated decrease in B-glucuronidase activity. Researchers concluded that glucarate most likely plays an important role in controlling the growth of both normal and abnormal breast cell tissues.

Finally, in 1995, the National Cancer Institute initiated a phase I trial at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, testing calcium glucarate in patients at high risk for breast cancer. While the study is still in the early stages, researchers have already seen a quantifiable change in serum levels, and have found no evidence of toxicity, even at high doses.

If you are interested in using glucarate, Dr. Lark suggests you take 500 to 1,000 mg of glucarate per day with meals. This supplement is very well tolerated with no toxicity or known drug interactions.

For more information on reducing estrogen levels and other female hormone issues, visit Dr. Lark’s Web site.