Bio-Identical Hormones and Menopause Symptom Relief

Soy for menopause or bio-identical homrmonesThe question many women suffering with menopausal hot flashes and night sweats are asking is whether bio-identical hormones such as progesterone cream and phytoestrogen (plant sourced estrogen) are safe and effective AS  the chemical hormones found in hormone replacement therapy (HRT) drugs?


Many women today are being told "bio-identical" hormones are identical to those your body makes. Even though progesterone and estrogen bio-identical creams may be closer to what your body produces there are certainly risks in using any hormone therapy.   Some doctors believe the risks are just as great as taking an hormone replacement therapy drug (HRT) others believe the jury is still out because we have no long term data since these products are still very new to the market.  Risks may be tied to the dosage which varies greatly from women to women.


Bio-identical hormones made from plant sources may be perfectly safe in low doses, which is the way we would ingest these chemicals found in yams, soy beans and a handful of herbs but at higher doses may be harmful. Nearly every substance found in nature can be safe in minute doses yet toxic at a higher dose. Even water can kill us when taken in to large a dose over a very short time period.  Knowing what dose is right for your body can be tricky depending on blood, urine and saliva testing which may not give an accurate reading of circulating hormones in your blood which changes daily and even hourly.


Bio-identical hormones, make no mistake can be just as powerful and dangerous as taking a prescription hormone replacement drug.  Phytoestrogen  used in minute doses the way we find in nature may be completely safe and effective.  Asian women have a long history of eating soy beans nearly everyday of their life from childhood through adulthood and experience very few menopausal symptoms.  The isoflavones in soy are known to act as a hormone balancing chemicals.


So, which should you choose, bio-identical hormones or synthetic hormone replacement therapy for your menopausal symptoms?  How about neither!   There is a third option that women in Asia have used for centuries and the Western world is just beginning to see on store shelves.  Traditional Chinese herbs are another option for menopause symptom relief.   You can learn more about it here.


Integrating Supplements and Chinese Herbs Into Western Medicine

It's been nearly a month since I had a chance to listen to an incredible group of M.D's  talk about what "Wellness" looks like today.  So I've had a little time to discuss the topic and think it over.

Is wellness not missing work?  Is it simply feeling healthy?  Wellness, no doubt looks and feels different for different people.  I believe wellness starts with the right information.  Information on how to stay healthy no matter what age you are and information on how to be well if you don't feel well now.   

But what else? What do you really need, to stay "well"?  Are wellness supplements needed and which ones will really make a difference?    This was the central theme of the 8th annual conference called Natural Supplements: An Evidence Based Update held in San Diego by the Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine.  If you are not familiar with the term Integrative Medicine it's about time you should be. 

Dr. Tieraona Low Dog, one of the many incredible presenters over the weekend said it best, "Integrative medicine just makes sense—it is a re-emergence of viewing the patient as a whole human being, a person with a rich story, a history and set of beliefs and a culture that you must consider in the co-creation of a treatment plan."  Dr. LowDog is on the faculty of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine  at the University of Arizona where she currently serves as the Director of the Fellowship. Dr. Andrew Weil has this to say about her, "Dr. Low Dog is one of the world's leading authorities on botanical medicine & dietary supplements."  

Over the course of three days of lectures there was an wealth of information, certainly too much for this blog.

But in regards to "Wellness"  a review of natural supplement research presented by Dr. Joseph Betz discussed the "Best Supplements of the Year".   In his review of scientific literature, six of his top nine supplement list were Chinese herbs.  Six on the "BEST of 2010" list. How Fantastic!!  These 6 Chinese herbs have been studied repeatedly and systematic reviews have been published in the most popular medical journals. 

They are:  (in alphabetical order) 

1.  Bilberry –  (Man Yue Ju)   (Active ingredient Anthocyanidins)

2.  Ginko Biloba – (Bai Gou)

3.  Milk Thistle – Silybum Marianumn – (Shui Fei Ji)

4.  Pepperment (Bo He)

5.  Red Yeast Rice – (Hong Mi or Chi Qu)

6.  Thunder God Vine – Tripterygium Wilfordi Hook (Lei Gong Teng)

Just for the record the other three natural supplements on Dr. Betz's list for 2010 were Pomegranate Juice, Echinacea and Cranberry Juice.

It will take at least another blog or more to talk about all the benefits of these amazing herbs. For now, we in Chinese herbal medicine fields feel somewhat vindicated that Western medicine is beginning to catch up and recognize what Asian cultures have known for centuries.  Finally the Western literature begins to surface on Chinese herbal remedies. 


Note: Dr. Joseph Betz works at the Office of Dietary Supplements at the National Institute of Health (NIH)

Hot Flash on Menopause Supplements, Not All Are Created Equal

herbal remedies for menopause

When it’s cold outside but you're burning up on the inside, it might be menopause.  That wonderful time around "mid-life" when women's bodies often need a thermostat adjustment.  With all the bad news about HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy) you may prefer a more natural, herbal product for those hot flashes and night sweats.  

Your in luck, there are lots to choose from!

I personally always like to check in with before I purchase any herbs or natural supplement for menopause or any affliction for that matter.   Consumer labs independently test products and lists the reports on their website.  It’s astonishing to see how many products don’t pass the tests, often because the ingredients on the label don’t match the ingredients in the bottle.  When I checked out the herbal menopause section on I found most of the 20 or so products failed to meet minimum standards.   Sorry, I can't post that information here,  they have a strict copyright policy.  (You can sign up for an account to see them all for yourselves.)   

It's a buyers beware world in supplements today. One of the worst offenders was a  black cohosh product which  tested positive for high amounts of lead.  Others failed because the soy levels were much lower than the label stated or  because they did not list the botanicals inside on the label.  Yet, you will find all these products for hot flashes and night sweats in the health food stores.  So buyer beware of what your getting.  Do your research and know where your herbs are coming from, who’s packing them and what’s really in them. You really don't want to be paying for  heavy metals in your herbal supplements.  Also note black cohosh warning for liver damage and should not be used long term.

At Pac Herbs we purchase only premium quality herbs that have been tested for heavy metals and bacteria such as e-coli, and pesticide residues.  We are completely transparent about where are products are manufactured and how they are tested.  Our herbs are batch tested for potency and finished products must again pass  for active herbal chemical constituents.  We use only the highest grade pharmaceutical factory in the world to process our herbal Menopause Relief  (no black cohosh) and all our other products.   Take a virtual tour of our factory here and if you have any questions let us know.  We guarantee everything we sell.