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.


My Blog Entry About a Blog!

Friday, March 18, 2011 by Susan Lark
I like to read other blogs, and recently came across an entry posted by a woman blogging about menopause symptoms. 

The writer quotes a doctor who says he still prescribes conventional hormone replacement therapy to certain groups of women, despite the risks--which I found quite disturbing. However, this doctor did acknowledge the benefits that black cohosh and soy can have in safely and naturally relieving the effects of menopause--namely night sweats and menopause hot flashes.

I say ditch the dangerous HRT and use natural. Along with black cohosh and soy, you can find a variety of solutions for your menopause problems throughout this blog and on my Web site.

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.

Hormone Replacement Therapy Settlement

Thursday, February 10, 2011 by Susan Lark
A while ago, I wrote about and linked to an article that discussed tactics Wyeth (a division of the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer) used to market its conventional hormone replacement therapy drug Prempro, even though executives were aware of the risks associated with hormone replacement, like breast cancer.

To follow up on this, yesterday, a report came out saying that Pfizer is paying $330 million to settle 2,200 claims from women who blamed Prempro for their breast cancer. This amounts to about $150,000 per person--WAY less than the costs they incurred during their cancer treatments, I'm sure.

I cannot reiterate enough the dangers associated with conventional hormone replacement. Protect your heart, protect your breasts, and protect your overall health by exploring the many natural therapies for hot flashes, night sweats, and other menopause symptoms that I discuss throughout my blog.

And for more information about natural menopause relief, visit my Web site.

Say No to Antidepressants for Hot Flashes

Tuesday, January 25, 2011 by Susan Lark
I've been seeing a lot of stories in the news lately touting the use of antidepressants for the treatment menopause hot flashes. A recently conducted study showed that taking the antidepressant Lexapro for eight weeks dropped the number of menopause hot flashes in women from about 10 a day to an average of just over five a day.

I find it troubling that antidepressants could now be the recommended treatment-du-jour for menopause hot flashes. A decade ago, conventional hormone replacement therapy was the standard treatment, and that supposedly "safe" protocol turned out to be an indescribable health disaster for millions of women. And it's well-known that antidepressants do have side effects, including weight gain, insomnia, and sexual dysfunction--which also happen to be common menopause symptoms, too! So, while you may have fewer hot flashes when taking an antidepressant, you will likely experience other unpleasant symptoms that could make other aspects of your life challenging.

I urge you to try one or more of the many NATURAL menopause hot flash solutions I have discussed throughout my blog, including black cohosh, soy, and vitamin E.

And to get more tips on menopause relief, visit my Web site.

Sex After Menopause

Monday, January 3, 2011 by Susan Lark

Lack of sex drive later in life is a menopause symptom that many women are reluctant to discuss. Fortunately, there are supplements you can take that can help boost your libido naturally--without the risks of conventional hormone replacement therapy. Here are two supplements that can help relieve this common effect of menopause:

• L-dopa is the natural precursor of the neurotransmitter dopamine. Among other benefits, dopamine is a powerful physical arouser. A woman’s natural levels of dopamine decline after age 45, and by about 13 percent every 10 years. That’s one reason a woman’s ability to achieve physical arousal can get progressively weaker over time. High doses of L-dopa (which requires a prescription) are used to treat Parkinson’s disease and often cause a profound increase in arousal, called hypersexuality, as a side effect. To capitalize on the arousal without taking it that far, I recommend using an extract of the herb Mucuna pruriens, such as Herbal Powers Mucuna Pruriens.

• L-arginine is an amino acid that is the direct precursor of nitric oxide (NO). NO relaxes specific arteries, which results in improved blood flow through the same pathway used by the drug Viagra. Recent studies show L-arginine to be very effective in sending much-needed blood to the clitoris, thereby improving physical sensitivity and arousal. In a recent study using a proprietary supplement called ArginMax® For Women, 51 percent of postmenopausal women in the treatment group saw significant improvement in their sex life, versus only 8 percent of the placebo group. I recommend either taking ArginMax for Women or 500 mg of L-arginine one to three times daily.

For more information on relief of menopause symptoms, visit my Web site.

Hormone Replacement Therapy: The Bad News Continues

Friday, October 22, 2010 by Susan Lark
Conventional hormone replacement therapy--specifically the brand Prempro--was in the news again this week. Follow-up studies published in the latest edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association have found that Prempro increased women's risk of breast cancer, and these cancers were more likely to spread to the lymph nodes. Even worse, researchers found that the women who took Prempro were more likely to die of breast cancer.

This is disturbing news indeed--but definitely not surprising at all. I've discussed the dangers of conventional hormone replacement therapy many times in my newsletter, and Kimberly and I have written about it here on my blog. If you are currently taking hormone replacement therapy to ease your hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, and other menopause symptoms, I strongly encourage you to look into more natural methods for menopause relief. Simply search through this blog to read about the many safe, natural options available to you. And to learn more on how to achieve menopause relief safely and naturally, visit my Web site.

Conventional Hormone Replacement Therapy and Strokes?

Saturday, August 21, 2010 by Susan Lark

Did you know that taking conventional hormone replacement therapy increases your risk for stroke?  In fact, preliminary studies show that in younger females, estrogen actually protects brain tissue traumatized by stroke, but after menopause estrogen becomes neurotoxic: It takes the area of the brain damaged by stroke and actually enlarges it.

It is important to remember that conventional hormone replacement therapy does not cure menopause symptoms, it only postpones them. For the majority of women, menopause symptoms come back when they discontinue hormone therapy, whether they quit cold-turkey or gradually wean off. But alternative therapies, such as supplements and bioidentical hormone replacement therapy, actually target the causative hormonal imbalance, rather than the symptoms.

Review all my menopause-related entries in this blog, and my Web site, for more information about natural solutions for menopause relief.

Two More Reasons to Quit Conventional Hormone Replacement Therapy

Thursday, August 19, 2010 by Susan Lark

Considering how much news comes out on the consequences of taking conventional hormone replacement therapy, I think it is important to stay abreast of the latest research on the subject. Ovarian cancer and asthma are just two more reasons to choose natural hormone therapy methods, like bioidentical hormone replacement.

A study of nearly a million women showed that even if hormone replacement therapy is taken for less than a year, and even if it’s low dose, it brings a significant increase in ovarian cancer risk. That’s irrespective of dosing frequency (daily vs. cyclic), mode of delivery (skin patch, pills, vaginal preparation, or hormone intrauterine device), and whether the formula’s estrogen is countered by progesterone. The cause-and-effect relationship between hormone replacement therapy and ovarian cancer was confirmed by the finding that after a woman has been off of it for two years, her increased ovarian cancer risk drops back to her original risk level. Ovarian cancer remains the deadliest of a woman’s hormone-sensitive cancers.

As for asthma, it has been known for several years that conventional hormone replacement therapy significantly increases a woman’s odds of developing asthma after menopause, even if she has no respiratory allergies. In a recent study of nearly 60,000 asthma-free women entering menopause, taking conventional hormone replacement not only increased their risk of developing asthma by 20 percent, but that risk rose to 54 percent if the hormone therapy consisted of estrogen without progesterone. And, if a woman already had some form of allergies before starting estrogen replacement therapy, her risk of developing asthma went up by a whopping 86 percent.

All the more reason to use natural hormone replacement therapy, or safe, effective alternatives for menopause releif, like black cohosh and the many other nutrients I discuss in this blog!


Understanding Bioidentical Hormone Replacement

Saturday, August 7, 2010 by Kimberly Day
Trying to reverse female hormone issues can be quite complicated, especially when you are trying to increase estrogen levels to offset menopause symptoms. And with all the negative side effects surrounding conventional hormone replacement therapy, many women don't know where to turn.

Fortunately, you don't have to look any further than bioidentical hormone replacement. Biochemically identical hormones are molecularly identical to the hormones found in the human body. Moreover, they are produced in the laboratory from natural ingredients such as soy and wild yam, derived from plants, not horse urine. Since bioidentical hormones are biologically similar to the hormones your body produces, they do not appear to have the grave risks associated with conventional HRT.

The bioidentical estrogen that Dr. Lark typically recommends is estriol. Of the three types of estrogen produced within your body, estriol is the weakest and least potent. More importantly, several research studies have found that it is as effective as the stronger, more potent estrogens for treating menopause symptoms.

One study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that estriol was particularly effective in treating vaginal atrophy, mood swings, and hot flashes. Researchers selected 52 symptomatic, postmenopausal women and separated them into four groups, giving each group either 2 mg, 4 mg, 6 mg, or 8 mg of estriol per day for six months. On average, women in every group experienced a decrease in their menopausal symptoms after one month of treatment. Furthermore, in the groups with the three highest dosages, women who had ranked their symptoms as severe now felt that their symptoms were very mild.

Estriol and all biochemically identical estrogen have to be prescribed by your physician. Estriol is available at most compounding pharmacies, as well as a few mainstream pharmacies, including the Women’s International Pharmacy in Madison, Wisconsin, which sends estriol formulations to physicians throughout the U.S.

For more information on bioidentical hormone replacement or other natural hormone replacement therapy options, visit Dr. Lark's Web site.

Hormone Replacement Therapy Dangers

Friday, August 6, 2010 by Kimberly Day
Reports on the risks associated with conventional hormone replacement therapy (HRT) have filled medical journals for more than 20 years. There was clear evidence that conventional HRT use increased a woman’s risk for heart disease and breast cancer. And yet, many physicians were still insisting on prescribing conventional hormone replacement therapy. And many women were still taking it. But the summer of 2002 forever removed the curtain of doubt surrounding the dangers of HRT.

On July 17, 2002, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) reported on the findings from one part of the Women's Health Initiative (WHI), an 8.5 year project funded by the National Institutes of Health. The WHI involved 161,809 postmenopausal women between the ages of 50 and 79, and outlined the benefits and risks of a variety of treatments designed to lower the incidences of several diseases, including heart disease, breast and colon cancer, and fractures in postmenopausal women. Of this group, 16,608 women who were healthy and had an intact uterus participated in one part of the WHI, which tested the effectiveness of estrogen/progestin therapy.

According to the findings, women taking estrogen/progestin for five years or more had an increased risk for blood clots, coronary heart disease (CHD), strokes, and breast cancer. The researchers concluded, "The results indicate that this regimen should not be initiated or continued for primary prevention of CHD."

The data indicated that if 10,000 women took the drugs for a year and 10,000 did not, women in the first group would have eight more cases of invasive breast cancer, seven more heart attacks, eight more strokes, and 18 more instances of blood clots.

In fact, researchers felt so strongly about the negative implications of long-term combined hormone replacement therapy, especially the unacceptably high risk for breast cancer, that they ended the study three years early! Participants were contacted and instructed to stop taking the drug—immediately.

The Research is Clear

The research leaves no room for doubt about conventional hormone replacement therapy and its negative effects on women’s health.
  • It does not reduce a woman's risk of heart disease. While it can improve HDL and LDL cholesterol levels, these improvements are not associated with fewer heart attacks or other heart problems.
  • It increases a woman’s risk of heart attack, stroke, and blood clots.
  • It does not reverse pre-existing heart disease.
  • It raises levels of C-reactive protein, an indicator of inflammation that is a strong predictor of a future heart attack.
  • It increases the risk of invasive breast cancer.
  • It increases the likelihood of an abnormal mammogram after just one year of use.
  • It increases risk of gallbladder disease by 40 percent.

Where Do We Go From Here?

While many physicians and researchers are still hoarding the "fool's gold" known as hormone replacement therapy, complementary medicine is busily mining the mother lode of real gold—and women are taking notice.

Large numbers of American women are either abandoning their hormone replacement therapy or deciding to never start taking it. Many are rejecting physicians unfamiliar with or unsympathetic to natural health supports. They are also realizing the power and wisdom of using natural medicines and herbal remedies for easing menopausal discomforts, and are very interested in natural solutions for heart disease and osteoporosis.

Before changing your hormone replacement therapy regimen, be sure to discuss your plans with your physician. Chances are, you will be able to eliminate your conventional hormone replacement therapy or dramatically reduce the dose you require for symptomatic relief. Either way, you win: Recent research indicates that breast cancer risk returns to normal within a few years of stopping HRT, and it's likely that lower-dose HRT has less of an adverse impact on estrogen-positive breast cancer risk.

For more information about hormone replacement therapy and for a variety of natural hormone replacement therapy options, visit Dr. Lark's Web site.

Hormone Replacement Therapy and Breast Cancer

Thursday, August 5, 2010 by Kimberly Day
Not so long ago, conventional hormone replacement therapy's impact on breast cancer risk was still the subject of heated debate. This debate essentially ended when an article described by a Harvard Medical School professor as "close to being the final word" on conventional hormone replacement therapy and breast cancer was published in the Lancet.

Fifty-one studies involving more than 161,000 women were reviewed. The conclusion: Conventional hormone replacement therapy increased the risk of breast cancer with each year of use. Women using conventional hormone replacement therapy for five or more years were at 35 percent greater risk.

Another study revealed that after 10 years of use, estrogen replacement therapy (hormone replacement therapy using estrogen alone) increased a woman's risk of dying from breast cancer by 43 percent. Other similar studies indicate that combined estrogen-progestin therapy, the kind used by most women, increases breast cancer risk even more than estrogen replacement therapy does!

Concerns about combined estrogen-progestin hormone replacement therapy were identified by a large National Cancer Institute study and were reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The study concluded that women who took the combined treatment for five years were 40 percent more likely to develop breast cancer than women taking estrogen alone or no hormones.

Similarly, other studies have confirmed an even higher 60 to 70 percent increase in breast cancer risk with the long-term use of HRT.

While the figures vary from study to study, the evidence is clear, compelling, and consistent—conventional hormone replacement therapy increases a woman's risk of developing breast cancer, and with each additional year of use, that risk gets higher.

Opt instead for natural hormone replacement therapy options, such as maca, black cohosh, and bioidentical hormone replacement.

For more information on HRT and natural hormone replacement therapy options, visit Dr. Lark's Web site.

Estrogen Levels and Osteoporosis

Thursday, May 13, 2010 by Susan Lark
Along with it being National Women's Health Week, it also happens to be National Osteoporosis Awareness and Prevention Month.

Osteoporosis commonly occurs when estrogen levels start fluctuating as a result of menopause. When it comes to preventing and treating osteoporosis, conventional physicians typically focus on what I call the "big four": calcium, vitamin D, conventional hormone replacement therapy (despite its many risks and side effects), and prescription drugs such as Fosamax, Actonel, and Evista. While I agree that calcium and vitamin D are important, I prefer a much more natural overall approach to maintaining bone health.

First, if you choose to balance your estrogen levels using hormone therapy, I highly recommend choosing bioidentical hormones replacement therapy. Second, I don't recommend the use of prescription drugs like Fosamax because of the risk of gastrointestinal side effects and chemical burning of the esophagus (which is why the package inserts instruct patients to sit upright and refrain from eating for half an hour after taking the drug). Another scary side effect is osteonecrosis--infection and death of bone tissue in the jaw. 

Instead, to keep your bones strong, I recommend exercising most days of the week (be sure to include strength training); drinking at least eight glasses of water daily; following an alkaline diet to reduce overacidity in your body (which can affect your bones); and taking the following bone-building supplements:

  • Calcium: Post-menopausal women need around 1,200–1,500 mg per day. Women with bone loss need around 1,500–2,000 mg per day. I recommend calcium carbonate, which is alkaline. Your body can absorb only about 500 mg of calcium at a time, so take it in divided doses.
  • Magnesium oxide: 500–750 mg per day
  • Zinc: 15–25 mg per day
  • Silica: 20–50 mg per day
  • Boron: 3–6 mg per day
  • Vitamin K: 40 mcg per day
  • Vitamin D: 400–800 IU per day
  • Mineral-buffered Vitamin C: 1,000–3,000 mg (in divided doses) per day

Estrogen Levels and the Pill

Thursday, May 6, 2010 by Kimberly Day
I was stunned to see the May 3rd issue of Time magazine. Their cover story was the 50th anniversary of the birth control pill. The subtitle read “So small, so powerful, and so misunderstood.” The misunderstood really grabbed my attention, as I expected to read a great discussion on the medical implications of taking “the pill.”

Instead, the article covered the social and feminist changes the pill brought about. As fascinating as this perspective was, I was shocked that they barely touched on the medical issues surrounding this form of birth control. In fact, the only real reference to the medical side of the pill was to a March 2010 study from the British Medical Journal, which found that “women on the Pill live longer and are less likely to die prematurely of all causes, including cancer and heart disease.” It goes on to read “yet many women still question whether the health risks outweigh the benefits.” However, the article never discusses those risks.

I found this particularly surprising, given that one of the March 2010 issues of the same publication discussed the study in detail, which explained that the study was on women who at taken the Pill “at some point in their lives.” Interestingly, the March Time article goes on to read “Women who take birth control pills do need to consider potential risks, including an increased risk for blood clots, and should discuss their medical histories with their doctors prior to taking the pill.”

Additionally, the author included advice from gynecologist and obstetrician Dr. Katharine O'Connell White, who told the magazine in an earlier article that “women who have high blood pressure, migraines with aura, are smokers over age 35 and women with a personal or family history of blood clots should not take the pill.” Where was all this discussion in the May article that was supposed to be discussion the “misunderstanding” of the Pill?

Clearly, the author of the May 3rd article was a proponent of the Pill and wanted to discuss the social impact it has had. I get that. However, I find it irresponsible to refer to the March study and not discuss the risks of taking the Pill.

What the author failed to discuss is the increased risk of breast, cervical, and uterine cancers from the Pill. Or the danger of developing blood clots or increasing your risk of heart attack. I personally cannot take the Pill because of a blood clotting disorder I have, and the increased estrogen levels the Pill provides worsens the condition. Plus, as Dr. Lark has written, the Pill can actually impair reproductive health—particularly in younger women with a poorly established menstrual cycle who use it as a PMS treatment.

Additionally, there is currently not a bioidentical birth control pill, which means that all oral contraception is comprised of synthetic hormones rather than your own natural female hormones. And, as we now know from traditional hormone replacement therapy, synthetic hormones are bad medicine for women.

So, while I appreciate the “freedom” and control the Pill has given to women, for me, the real freedom and control will come when we cease to use women as guinea pigs and start offering safe, natural solutions that women can trust.

Ultra-Low Dose Hormone Replacement Therapy--A Disturbing New Trend

Wednesday, December 16, 2009 by Susan Lark
I just read a U.S. News and World Report article online titled, "How to Safely Combat Menopause Symptoms With Hormone Therapy." In it, the author discusses how more and more women are opting to use ultra-low doses of conventional hormone replacement therapy to alleviate their hot flashes and night sweats. I can see how this can be an appealing option for many women who truly suffer from these symptoms--after all, the conventional medical community would like you to believe that it's "safer" to use low doses of hormones for the shortest period of time possible. But, as the article states, "the question of how long a woman can safely be on hormones is a thorny one." Then, one doctor is quoted as saying, "There's just no 'risk-free interval.'"

Exactly. Conventional hormone replacement therapy is risky, no matter what dosage you use. Do you really want to take that risk when their are natural, risk-free options available to you? I encourage you to try different combinations of natural treatments--including soy, black cohosh, red clover, and even acupressure--until you find what works best for you. Remember, as with all supplements and even prescription drugs, what works for Sally down the street may not work for you, so be patient and experiment with these natural therapies until you find a combination that works for you. I also recommend reading through this entire blog, which contains a variety of unique solutions to help bring you menopause relief!

Progesterone--The "Forgotten" Female Hormone

Tuesday, November 3, 2009 by Susan Lark
I just saw a press release this week announcing the release of a natural progesterone cream by a nutraceutical company, and it got me thinking that, with all the focus on estrogen, progesterone is often a forgotten female hormone. So, I'd like to refresh your memory about the many important jobs of progesterone in your body.

Estrogen and progesterone balance each other out, which is why it is often used as part of a hormone replacement therapy regimen. For example, estrogen elevates your mood, while progesterone has a sedative effect on mood. And one of the major jobs of progesterone is to prevent menstrual bleeding from become too heavy or long-lasting (which often happens as a result of estrogen dominance). It also prevents the uterine lining from becoming too thick, which can lead to uterine cancer. 

How do you know if your body is making enough progesterone? I've provided a checklist in the past, which I encourage you to review. If you and your doctor determine that you are a candidate for progesterone replacement to relieve your menopause symptoms like hot flashes and night sweats, I recommend that you look into natural progesterone replacement.  

Wyeth's Disturbing Marketing Tactics

Thursday, October 22, 2009 by Susan Lark
My editor picked up the latest edition of Philadelphia Magazine this weekend while waiting for a flight at the Philadelphia airport. She tells me what drew her attention to the magazine was an article titled "Did Wyeth Give This Woman Cancer?" She passed the article on to me and, in turn, I want to pass it on to you because the author delves into the tactics Wyeth used over the past couple of decades to sell its blockbuster hormone replacement therapy drug,  Prempro--despite early concerns that it could greatly increase a woman's risk of breast cancer. (This risk was confirmed in 2002's Women's Health Initiative study.)

While certainly disturbing and unscrupulous, I suppose I'm not too surprised by the tactics used by Wyeth to market Prempro, preying on women's desperation to find menopause relief and help for hot flashes. But this article adds to my resolve in helping women find safe, natural alternatives to reduce menopause hot flashes and night sweats. I've spoken many times about the dangers of conventional hormone replacement therapy and why bioidentical hormone replacement and herbs such as black cohosh are healthier, more effective options. I strongly encourage you to consider these natural treatments over Prempro and Wyeth's newest hormone replacement therapy drug, Aprela.

One Woman's Story of Menopause Hot Flashes

Thursday, October 15, 2009 by Susan Lark
My editor, who lives in Tampa, forwarded me a column that appeared in her local newspaper about one woman's account dealing with menopause hot flashes. While this woman's story was obviously meant to be rather light-hearted and humorous (at least to the reader!), I also have a great deal of empathy for her. I have worked with countless patients who have suffered from menopause hot flashes and night sweats that were not just annoying, but downright debilitating--just like this writer's.

Fortunately, in about half of menopausal women, hot flashes disappear within a year.  If you suffer from menopause hot flashes, remember, there are effective natural solutions--including supplements and even acupressure--that can provide real relief. Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy is also an excellent option for some women--but be sure to talk to your doctor about this, since you'll need a prescription for it.

I encourage you to try these therapies out and find a an effective combination that works for you. 

Celebrating Menopause Awareness Month

Friday, September 11, 2009 by Lauren Kent
Did you know September is Menopause Awareness Month in the United States? Evidently 5 years ago the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) worked to declare this month "Menopause Awareness" month, stating that they wanted women to be informed about new and emerging safety information about menopausal hormone treatment (i.e. hormone replacement therapy or HRT).

It's interesting that the FDA says that they want women to be informed about treatments for menopause symptoms, but at the same time they take efforts to limit women's access to solutions, such as bioidentical hormones, that have been proven to help ease hot flashes, night sweats, and the other unpleasant menopause symptoms. In addition, they continue to allow synthetic hormone replacement therapy to be distributed to women despite the known risk of cancer, heart disease, stroke, and more. It's time the FDA got with the program.

Dr. Lark knew the risks of synthetic hormone replacement therapy long before the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) studies were released and has successfully used alternative therapies to help ease both menopause and perimenopause symptoms. She often discusses natural solutions for hot flashes, night sweats and other hormone-related issues in her monthly newsletter, Women's Wellness Today.

So, in celebration of Menopause Awareness Month, I encourage you to learn more about the safer, natural therapies for menopause symptoms by reading these blogs and visiting Dr. Lark's site here.