Menopause

Natural Help for Perimenopause and Hormone Balance

This month I wanted to write about a supplement that Sarah at the store uses and loves- DIM + CDG by Jarrow. That’s a lot of letter abbreviations, but they stand for Diindolylmethane, an extract from cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, and Calcium D-Glucarate a nutrient found in fruit. So I guess it’s definitely easier to just use the letters.

DIM + CDG is an amazing supplement to help with hormone balance, specifically that it helps your body to be able to balance its own hormones correctly. It can be helpful for women of all ages with hormone related issues, but Sarah has found that it really helps her with regulating her emotions during perimenopause- she actually calls it her “anti-crazy pill”. Jarrow was out of stock of it for a while due to manufacturing issues, and during that time that she didn’t take it, she said she could really feel a difference.

She has said that for her, during perimenopause, she has been feeling “irrationally emotional”, some days going back and forth between crying and laughing and then crying again. She says she sees a huge difference between the times she has been using the supplement and the times when she hasn’t.

DIM, or diindolylmethane, is a supplement that can help the body to balance its own hormones better. It’s not a hormone supplement, but rather, it helps the body to balance the natural estrogens that can form in women’s bodies to achieve better hormone balance and to reduce the negative effects of hormone imbalance so common in perimenopause and menopause. One of the ways those hormone imbalances manifest themselves is in mood swings, which are extremely common in women in the throes or perimenopause.

This supplement by Jarrow is so nice in part because it combines DIM’s hormone balancing action with a supplement called CDG, which actually works as a sort of hormone cleanse, detoxing the body from negative forms of estrogen and working to remove excess estrogens from the body. It’s due to these actions that CDG has been found to be able to reduce the risk of hormone related cancers. GDC and DIM also have a synergistic effect on women’s hormones, working together to be more effective than either product taken alone.

Sarah says she felt like she could feel the DIM + CDG working from within the first week, though each woman’s experience may be slightly different due to their own unique hormone makeup. Still, it’s a supplement that we definitely recommend for hormone related issues for women of all ages, since I think everyone would benefit from a little hormone balance. Plus they’re in easy to swallow capsules that are in a one-a-day formula. Also this month our Jarrow DIM + CDG will be on sale for 25% off, so it’s a great time to try it to see if it works for you!

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Solgar's PM Phytogen Complex for Hot Flashes and Menopausal Symptoms

This month, I wanted to briefly write about a product that is literally amazing for hot flashes and menopausal symptoms- Solgar’s PM Phytogen Complex.

This PM Phytogen Complex uses a rare extract of the kudzu plant which has been found to naturally contain the phytoestrogen miroestrol, a plant compound that can mimic the activity of estrogen in the body.  More than any other menopause supplement, I have received the most positive feedback by far about this supplement.

Taking miroestrol (by using this PM Phytogen Complex) is not adding hormones to the body, and studies have shown that miroestrol has no effect on estrogen, but rather it is able to “trick” the body into thinking it is getting estrogen.  Because it binds to estrogen receptors, it is very effective at reducing undesirable menopausal symptoms.

Some people are worried about phytoestrogens because of talk about issues with breast cancer.  The miroestrol from kudzu in our PM Phytogen Complex known as Pueraria mirifica has been studied and found to be actually reduce breast cancer risk.  Still if you have concerns it’s always a wise choice to speak with your physician.

That being said, we do very much recommend trying Solgar’s PM Phytogen Complex for menopausal symptoms.  I have numerous women who have come in the store with fantastic reviews after taking it, and that many women have found it to be more effective than any other supplement they’ve tried for hot flashes and night sweats.  

The recommended dose is two a day, and some women even see results after the first week, though it is more effective over time.  It’s definitely one to try.
 

Supplement Spotlight: The Many Benefits of Progesterone Cream for Women

Progesterone cream is a wonderful product for women in perimenopause and menopause, or even earlier as a therapy for estrogen dominance.  When people think of female hormones, estrogen is usually the first thing that comes to mind.  Like estrogen, progesterone is a female sex hormone, and may be even more important for women in a number of instances.

During the reproductive years, progesterone prepares the uterine lining for pregnancy.  Each month progesterone levels rise after ovulation and unless a woman become pregnant, those levels drop again to trigger a monthly menstrual period.  Progesterone plays an important role in balancing the effects of estrogen and other female hormones.  If a person has too much estrogen and not enough progesterone their body may be thrown off balance.  During menopause, hormone imbalance can lead to symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, vaginal dryness, irritability, or decreased sex drive.  During the reproductive years, hormone imbalance may cause premenstrual complaints such as mood swings, breast tenderness, or headaches.

What happens to progesterone leading up to menopause?
As a woman approaches menopause, progesterone is the first hormone to decrease, which is followed by fluctuating estrogen levels.  This beginning phase, called perimenopause, can start as early as the late thirties or early forties and last as long as ten years.  During this time, periods become more and more irregular.  Some months a woman may not ovulate, which can disrupt the estrogen/progesterone balance, causing symptoms including bloating, anxiety, insomnia, headaches, and irritability. 

What happens to progesterone during and after menopause?
After menopause, the ovaries cease to produce progesterone cream, while the body will continue to produce up to 40% of the levels of estrogen it did before menopause.  A lower level of progesterone can produce increased night sweats, insomnia, irritability, and mood swings.

How to use progesterone cream for menopause
Progesterone is easily absorbed into the blood stream through the skin.  The recommended use for progesterone for menopausal symptoms is a pea sized amount of progesterone cream applied to fatty tissue (stomach, thighs, inside of upper arms) once or twice a day for three weeks with a one week rest period, although some menopausal women choose to take progesterone every day without a break.  If you are still experiencing a menstrual period, count the first day of your period as day 1; wait 7 days and then begin applying progesterone cream.

How to use progesterone cream for estrogen dominance
Progesterone cream is primarily taken for perimenopausal and menopausal symptoms, but it can also be helpful for women experiencing estrogen dominance, or excessive estrogen in the body.  Some of the symptoms of estrogen dominance are abnormal periods, hormonally related headaches, uterine fibroids, blood clots, breast tenderness, thyroid dysfunction, breast tenderness, hair loss, and more.  There is a good article on estrogen dominance with a full list of symptoms here

For women still menstruating who wish to take progesterone cream to balance against estrogen dominance, progesterone cream should be applied during the last 14 days of their menstrual cycle.  Many women have roughly a 28 day cycle, but women can count the days of their menstrual cycle to get a more accurate number beginning with day 1 for the first day of their period.  

 

A small amount of women experience “PMS-like” symptoms when they first begin progesterone cream.  This is simply a result of hormone adjustment and should subside shortly.  Most women experience no adverse reactions.  Benefits can be seen in the first few weeks but some women may not experience the full benefit for eight weeks ( and a minority of women may take up to six months to see the full benefits).


Safety of progesterone cream
It is important to look for natural, bio identical progesterone cream, which is made from wild yams.  Wild yam extract is not the same as bio identical progesterone, and does not work the same way in the body.  

Bio-identical progesterone (the same type of progesterone that is produced in the body) is not the same as synthetic progestin.  Synthetic progestins have been linked to increased cancer risk, but natural, bio-identical progesterone has not.  There was a large scale French study to determine the safety of synthetic progestin vs. natural progesterone, and it was found that using bio-identical progesterone did not raise cancer risk whereas the use of synthetic progestins did result in a “significant increase in cancer risk”. 

 

*Much of the information from the article was taken from a wonderful, but sadly out of print, pamphlet on progesterone by the non-profit organization, Women in Balance.