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July / August 2002


If you have been paying attention to the news, you know that hormone replacement therapy is under attack for causing breast cancer, heart attacks, strokes, and blood clots. It does seem to correlate with fewer hip fractures and less colorectal cancer. Physicians are now inundated with panic phone calls. How could all this have gone so wrong?

In the first place, if I have any quarrel with medical research, it is in its oversimplified approach. Of course it is easy and quick to declare that the patient has x and to write out a prescription for y which the pharmaceutical company has assured the physician is just the answer he’s looking for. X + Y often equals disaster. This is not simple stuff! It is not enough to look at a symptom and try to swat it like a fly. Estrogen and progesterone are being treated as if they exist in the body in a vacuum. They do not. They are supposed to be in balance with other hormones – melatonin, thyroid, thymus, DHEA, and HGH. If you are going to bombard the body with estrogen and progesterone alone, then you should not be surprised when the whole system flies out of balance and results in some very nasty side effects – cancer, heart attacks, strokes, and blood clots. Secondarily, it does not seem to occur to anyone in Western Medicine that every patient is a biochemical individual. The dosage of something that worked just fine in your first patient, may not be such a good thing in your second.

Hormone replacement in an aging body has to be well-balanced for the individual and regulated periodically. Without this, the entire system is going to be in an uproar. There are blood and saliva tests which will show you the levels of hormones in your body. Physicians do not leap to prescribe these, probably because they “complicate” things and also because the insurance companies do not want to pay for them. The results of these tests are not always accurate, either. The results may be skewed by menstruation, biorhythms, stress, worry, etc. So what do you do?

I suggest supplementation with common sense. If you are over forty, you probably need 30 mg of pregnenolone in the morning. The books are going to tell you 50 mg. It’s probably too high. You can start at 50 mg and lower the dose to 30 mg when you face breaks out. Pregnenolone is the mother hormone, thus its first syllable – preg-. It is the precursor to DHEA.

DHEA* (dehydroepiandrosterone) is the master hormone, the orchestra conductor for all the others, the balancer. A standard dose is 25 mg a day. If you are really depleted in hormones, you can start at 100 mg a day and lower the dose as your condition improves. How will you know when to start lower the dose to 75 mg? Your skin will probably break out. Eventually, your hormone levels will reach nominal and you will take 25 mg a day. DHEA regulates the sex hormones: progesterone, estrogen, and testosterone. The hormones should be handled with care. Women should take as little of these in gels, creams, or sublingual tablets as possible. Women should also be aware that they also need testosterone in controlled doses.

Human Growth Hormone* (HGH) is much maligned. It is the “youth giver” hormone and restores us to youth. HGH is perfectly fine in small, spaced doses. It is not going to turn you into a monster or grow hair all over your body. Too high a dose may start a growth plate at the end of one of the long bones of the body. If you see that beginning. Stop taking HGH for a period. Try to remember that all of this – HRT, HGH, etc. – is experimental. We are tinkering with a system pre-set to self-destruct i.e. die.

Melatonin. Melatonin regulates the circadian rhythm. Melatonin is why most of us sleep at night and wake during the day. If you can’t sleep in addition to being in need of female hormones, you may be deficient in melatonin. Take 3 mg an hour before you plan to sleep. Then turn the TV and the lights off and go to bed!

Thyroid. This is probably one of the most difficult hormones to regulate. If the amount of hormone being released is too high, it may mean Graves Disease. If it is too low, it may result in lethargy and obesity. The tests for thyroid hormone are, unlike those for female hormones, quite accurate. If you think you have a problem, find an endocrinologist and have the tests run.

Thymus. This hormone disappears as we age and our immune system disappears with it. We need to supplement this for improved immunity and boost our output of T cells. The clinic provides a supplement called Immunal* by Edom Labs. Immunal contains both thymus and zinc.

*Available through Dr. Wang

If you are on HRT

  1. Cut down the dose you are taking. 

  2. Take some herbal supplementation and acupuncture to balance the system. Acupuncture will regulate and harmonize the signals or chi among the different meridians and symptoms and avoid imbalances caused by excessive hormonal dosages.

  3. Determine if you have some deficiencies from the HRT and address those.

  4. Remember that hormone balancing has to be done periodically. There is no one-shot fixes all. A balancing treatment when the seasons change is recommended.

  5. Institute some lifestyle changes:

    a. Unless you have cancer, eat more soy products – soybeans, tofu, soymilk, soy burgers, powders, and capsules. The Ranch 99 store on Clairemont Mesa Blvd has all sorts of soy products. 

    b. Exercise and deep breathing. If you are open to it, seek out a yoga instructor. I would suggest that you avoid Bikram heat yoga unless you have some knowledge of what you’re doing.

    c. Limit your alcohol intake and put yourself on a healthy diet – whatever that means for your biochemical system. 

    d. You might try the Western Herbs Black Cohosh and Evening Primrose, flaxseed oil, dongquai root, and vitamin E.

    e. Chinese herbal tonics:

1) Angelica (dong guai)  6) Atractylodes (ba-shu)
2) Rehmania (di huang)  7) Ligustium (chuang chong)
3) Codonopsis (dan seng)   8) Licorice (can tsao)
4) Poria (fu lin)  9) Geng nian an wan (formula)
5) Paieoni – white (bai sou) 10) Xue fu zhu yu wan (formula) 


Put 1 1/3 cups silken soft tofu in a fine-mesh strainer and set aside to drain for 15 minutes. 

In a blender or food processor, purée the tofu until creamy, about 30 seconds. Add ¼ cup best-quality unsweetened cocoa powder, 3 tablespoons of maple syrup, 2 tablespoons of Grand Marnier, and 1 tsp of vanilla. Taste and add more maple syrup and/or Grand Marnier to taste. Continue blending until the mixture is extremely smooth.

Transfer to a well-sealed storage container or serving glasses and chill at least one hour before serving or refrigerate up to three days.

From: The New Soy Cookbook by Lorna Sass.

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