The Hormone Solution: Naturally Alleviate Symptoms of Hormone Imbalance from Adolescence Through Menopause
By Erika Schwartz, M.D.
I believe it's critical for you to know your options. My evaluation of current hormone imbalance treatments is based on both clinical and scientific information. Beyond my personal clinical experience, my staff and I have conducted a thorough and exhaustive research of the literature, both lay and professional.
A day doesn't go by that I don't hear women agonizing over treatment options for either menopause or symptoms of hormone imbalance in general. Conversations with new patients invariably sound like this:
"Doctor, I've done lots of research, gone online, read magazines and books on the topic of hormone replacement and menopause-and I'm lost. Most doctors offer either conventional, synthetic hormone replacement therapy or send you to the health food store for herbal remedies. I must admit to having tried practically everything, and nothing has really helped. I'm here because I'm at the end of my rope. Can you help me?"
Yes, I can.
Working with natural hormones has been like finding the Golden Fleece-the safe universal answer to symptoms of hormone imbalance. Before 1 share the solution, how I reached it, and how you too can easily find it, I want to address some of the other options you'll hear and read about. The reason you need to be familiar with alternative and conventional options is simple: Armed with accurate and broad-based information, you can be confident that when you make your decision, it's the best one for you.
Well-intentioned conventional doctors, friends, and holistic specialists are there to give advice. But all advice is biased. Given different information sources, educational backgrounds, and professional outlooks, no one can give you a complete overview of the different treatment options available in a thirty-minute session or over a cup of coffee.
The following two chapters contain a comprehensive overview of information on the most commonly used conventional and alternative options available for the treatment of symptoms of hormone imbalance. Use the information to take to your doctor and work together with him or her.
If you feel consistently better, stay with the program you've chosen; if you're dissatisfied with your results, move on to other options. Don't feel obligated to stay with only alternative or conventional therapies. Some women are afraid to mix therapies. Some women make alternative treatment choices based on TV ads, Internet information, and magazine articles. Most conventional choices come from physicians' offices. However, no matter what path you follow, the best gauge of how your treatment works is how you feel. I often see women who have been taking a particular type of medication for years and aren't feeling better. They're afraid to tell their doctors-and even to admit to themselves-that the medications aren't working. Remember, the goal is for you to feel better. In my experience, the real success stories come from people who truly integrate their therapies into their lives. There's a time and place for every type of therapy, and the key to success is to figure out how to combine them, when to take them, and for how long. You're entitled to try every option until you and your doctor find what works for you.
Headaches and Migraines
A visit to your internist or primary care practitioner with the complaint of headaches will usually elicit one of two reactions. Either the physician will perform an examination and, upon finding no abnormalities in your neurologic exam, treat you with medications; or he or she will send you to a neurologist for a battery of diagnostic tests to rule out everything from a brain tumor to multiple sclerosis. Assuming you get a clean bill of health and your diagnosis is migraines, the doctor will opt for medications. The most commonly used prescription medications to treat migraines are Imitrex (tablets and injectable), Fioricet, Depakote, and Inderal. Over-the-counter analgesics such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen are also prescribed. Narcotic painkillers like Percocet, Percodan, and codeine are occasionally used as well.
Most patients I treat for migraines respond well to Fioricet. As with all pharmaceuticals, the potential for side effects must always be considered. Stomach irritation, diarrhea, dizziness, fainting, and skin rashes are most common.
Over-the-counter medications include all the non-steroidal anti-inflammatories - Motrin, Aleve, Advil, and so on. They're all basically the same. Their chemical formulas and mode of action are extremely similar. Tylenol (acetaminophen) and all brands of aspirin (Bayer, Excedrin, and the like) are occasionally effective in treating mild migraines. If you're taking nonprescription medications and experience no significant improvement in your symptoms within twenty-four hours of taking them, go see a doctor. You may not necessarily have made the correct diagnosis and thus could be taking the wrong medication.
In conclusion, conventional medicine may address some of your complaints from the standpoint of treatment with medications. Conventional medicine rarely addresses the root cause of symptoms, specifically in the area of hormone imbalance. Use this chapter as a starting point for your conversations with your doctor when addressing treatment in a conventional setting. Do not self-medicate. A good doctor-patient relationship will ensure the best out- come for you. So nurture a partnership with your doctor.