Estrogen is an essential hormone that has over 400 actions on a woman’s body. It’s what defines a woman. It’s been in your body since you were born and increases greatly at the time of puberty. It’s easy to take it for granted when everything is working automatically. When a young woman’s menstrual periods become irregular, painful or accompanied by severe mood swings, anxiety, depression or acne, that’s an indication of a system that’s gone awry. Birth control periods or Depo-Provera are a bad, ugly way to treat these problems. When prescribed, they do little to correct the underlying problem. These signs and symptoms are the way the body communicates to you that it needs help. A better approach is to determine the root cause that’s driving the problem. [click to continue…]
What are Bioidentical Hormones?
When you’re replacing deficient estrogen, it’s important to respect the wisdom of the body. No drug we give can approach the amazing complexity of the endocrine system. However, you can start by giving a hormone that is identical to the hormone that’s missing. We call these bioidentical hormones.
Another important factor is the route of administration. Estrogen is most commonly given as a pill that’s taken orally. It’s convenient and easy to pop a pill. But easy isn’t always the best. If we’re wanting to mimic the body, how does the ovary deliver estrogen to your tissues? I assure you the ovary doesn’t dump a big load of estrogen in your stomach once a day!! A more natural way to take estrogen is by applying it to the skin as a patch or cream. Estrogen taken in a pill form overloads your liver with excessive amounts of estrogen that increase harmful proteins, clotting factors and proinflammatory substances leading to various problems. Let me explain how oral estrogen leads to weight gain.
Weight Gain & Oral Estrogen
Weight gain from oral estrogen causes visceral obesity, the medical term for increased fat around your middle from fat that gets deposited in vital organs like the heart, kidneys and liver. This increased fat mass leads to increases in leptin produced by the fat cells. Topical, but not oral, estradiol prevents this increase in body fat and leptin. An interesting fact about visceral obesity is that women who take NO estrogen can also get weight gain around their middle because they develop insulin resistance. This is a frequent complaint from older women who are not on estrogen!
Oral, but not topical, estrogen increases the production of thyroxine-binding globulin (TBG) the carrier for thyroid hormone. Higher levels of TBG lower the amount of available thyroid hormone thereby lowering your metabolism. Oral, but not topical, estrogen also suppresses IGF-1, a marker for growth hormone. Growth hormone is needed to build muscle and burn fat. All this explains a common complaint I hear from women who’ve been on oral estrogen. “After starting oral estrogen, I gained 15 pounds in the first month and I didn’t increase my calories or lower my exercise. Now I’m eating less and exercising more and I just keep gaining!” Estrogen from injections or pellets can also lead to weight gain because the blood levels produced are much too high.
Weight gain from oral or injectable estrogen occurs because these preparations violate the natural physiology of the body. The ovary is amazing…it releases tiny bits of estradiol throughout the day directly into the blood stream. Even topical estradiol preparations can’t reproduce this same elegant effect, but it’s the closest delivery system we have. That’s why your chances of maintaining a healthy metabolism and weight are best when you choose topical estradiol preparations.
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4 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
½ cup honey
1/3 cup creamy roasted almond butter (unsweetened)
1 medium ripe avocado, pitted
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 TBSP coconut sugar
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp sea salt
Preheat the oven to 350. Line an 8-inch-by-8-inch baking dish with parchment paper. In a small pot over very low heat, combine the chocolate, honey, and almond butter. Stir constantly until melted and smooth. Transfer to a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Scoop the avocado flesh into the food processor and add the remaining ingredients. Process until creamy and very smooth, about 1 minute. Transfer the batter to the parchment-lined pan and spread it out evenly. Bake for 25-30 minutes until a toothpick inserted comes out mostly clean or with a few moist crumbs attached. Cool completely, then refrigerate for 2 hours before cutting into 16 squares. Store the brownies in the refrigerator or freezer in an airtight container.
After menopause without the use of estrogen, a woman can lose up to 20% of her bone mass. This increases her risk for osteoporosis leading to loss of height, hip fractures, chronic pain, and disability. Of women who suffer hip fractures, 24 percent die of complications within a year of the injury. Osteoporosis of the spine leads to the familiar “dowager’s hump.” A dowager’s hump is a prominence on the back resulting from collapse of the spine from spontaneous vertebral fractures. When it’s severe, the woman is totally bent over and cannot stand up straight. It is tragic to see a woman suffering from something that could have been prevented.
A symptom of estrogen deficiency that many women fear is the decline in memory and mental concentration. Our mothers and grandmothers often accepted this as a necessary consequence of aging. Postmenopausal women often describe it as “brain fog” and “fuzzy thinking.” They especially notice problems with word retrieval and remembering names and phone numbers they could easily recall before menopause.