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!


Spotlight on Women's Health

Targeted Probiotics for Women's Health (Yeast Infections, BV, UTIs)

Most people think of probiotics as primarily for digestion, but the scope of probiotics goes far beyond that, to encompass much, much more. One of the lesser known uses for probiotics are for women’s vaginal health. There are specific probiotic strains that can help to naturally combat yeast infections, bacterial vaginal infections, as well as urinary tract infections.

The company Jarrow has two products formulated for vaginal and urinary tract health with scientifically researched strains- their shelf-stable JarrowDophilus for Women and then their refrigerated probiotic, FemDophilus.

The two probiotics offer similar benefits but differ in their use. The refrigerated FemDophilus is used more as a treatment for acute infections. It works very well to knock out yeast overgrowth and/or harmful bacteria in the vaginal tract and urinary tract. Where the JarrowDophilus Women is more for maintaining healthy vaginal flora on a regular basis.
The vaginal tract has its own specific microbiome, where good bacteria is meant to crowd out the proliferation of negative bacteria and candida. Because of this environment, targeted women’s probiotics are especially beneficial in treating and preventing vaginal infections.

Yeast infections are what most women think of when they have vaginal issues- the symptoms of yeast infections most commonly include a thick whitish discharge, irritation during intercourse or urination, and itching. It’s estimated that 75% of women will have at least one occurrence of vaginal yeast overgrowth in their lives, though some women are more prone to yeast infections and will have many reoccurrences.

Bacterial vaginosis (or BV) is less well known, but is the most common vaginal infection, estimated to affect 10-29% of women at any given time. BV can be transmitted sexually but can also occur even if a woman is not sexually active. Bacterial vaginosis is traditionally treated with antibiotics, but it has a very high reinfection rate (often 30% of infections reoccur the month following treatment and 80% of women experience recurrent BV infections after nine months). Due to this rate of BV reoccurrence, natural treatment with effective, targeted vaginal probiotics can be especially beneficial, since it treats the causes rather than just trying to make symptoms go away. Symptoms of bacterial vaginosis include thin uniform gray, yellow, or whitish discharge and and a “fishy” vaginal odor.

Treatment of BV is especially important since it can increase the risk of contracting STDs as well as increasing the risk of preterm labor during pregnancy.

In our experience, Jarrow’s FemDophilus probiotic is the best women’s probiotic available for treating acute vaginal infections and yeast overgrowth. The clinically researched strains it contains have been shown to be effective in bringing women’s bodies back into a state of proper vaginal health, both when used alone as well as in conjunction with conventional treatments (studies have even shown that the probiotic strains in FemDophilus are able to increase the effectiveness of conventional drugs treatments for both BV and yeast infections).

Thus far, I’ve mostly focused on the benefits of Jarrow’s FemDophilus, but they also have a product called JarrowDophilus for Women which is an impressive formula as well. While FemDophilus is meant to be more of a treatment for acute infections, JarrowDophilus for Women is a maintenance probiotic, formulated to encourage a healthy vaginal and urinary tract. It is especially helpful for women who have reocurrances of BV or yeast infections, since it promotes a healthy vaginal microbiome that works to crowd out those negative overgrowths, stopping reinfection.

Both are wonderful products with impressive clinically documented benefits. Stop by the store for more information and so we can help you find the product that’s right for you.

Natural Help for Low Sex Drive in Women

Q: I feel like this is kind of an awkward question, which is why I’m sending it in. I wondered if you had anything that really works for helping with female sex drive. To make matters worse, I’ve started to enter menopause, and have been dealing with vaginal dryness. Is there anything that can really help?  I see ads for Viagra everywhere, but never anything for women…

A:  Low sexual drive in women is an incredibly common problem, estimated to affect over 1/3 of the general population. It can be caused by a number of factors, the most common being stress and anxiety as well as hormonal issues. 

There are natural products which can help, however, and the one I would recommend the most is called Steel Libido Pink for Women by Irwin Naturals. It combines several different natural supplements long known for their benefits for sexual health. Steel Libido Pink works in a number of different ways to relax the body and mind and bring the body back into balance; it also helps to create a pleasurable warming sensation in the body. We have had many of our female customers use it with great results. It can be taken on a regular basis for overall sexual health, or used on an occasional, as-needed basis before sexual activity. 

Vaginal dryness is also a common complaint, particularly for women entering menopause, and can definitely hamper sexual activity. We have several wonderful varieties of natural lubricants available at the store from Emerita, a company that specializes in natural women’s health with products specifically formulated to compliment women’s unique body chemistries. The vast majority of lubricants found at drug stores are made with petroleum products, something you really should not be putting near your lady parts.

During the month of February, we will be offering 25% off on Steel Libido Pink as well as our full line of natural lubricants by Emerita. If you have any further questions or need additional help, please stop by the store so we can help you further. We are a female owned business, and women’s health of all stages is very important to us.

Natural Help for Fibromyalgia

Q: I have fibromyalgia and basically feel miserable all the time. I’ve not had luck with prescriptions, so I wanted to see if there was anything natural that could help me with the pain and tiredness. I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired!

A:  There are definitely natural supplements which can help! Fibromyalgia is a disorder hallmarked by widespread and chronic muscular and skeletal pain that can also be accompanied by fatigue, depression, headaches, sleep disturbances, and more. Fibromyalgia is difficult to treat, though many people have had good luck with natural products for reducing their symptoms.

The first supplement I’d recommend is S-adenosylmethionine, better known as SAMe (pronounced like “Sammy”). SAMe is necessary for many different processes in the body, and clinical studies have shown benefits for depression, pain, and fatigue- all main issues fibromyalgia patients suffer with. SAMe supplementation usually begins to help with boosting mood and relieving depressive symptoms in the first week, but can take up to six weeks to alleviate overall fibromyalgia symptoms. The body can only produce small amounts of SAMe, so taking additional SAMe as a supplement can make a real difference. It’s important to take SAMe on an empty stomach for best absorption.

Another supplement that can be helpful for people suffering with fibromyalgia is 5-HTP, an amino acid related to tryptophan. 5-HTP works by helping to boost serotonin, the brain’s “feel-good” neurotransmitter. Increasing levels of 5-HTP in the body can help with reducing depression as well as pain. When taken before bed, 5-HTP has been shown to promote deeper, more restful sleep. Since 5-HTP increases serotonin levels in the body, it is important to not take them with SSRI antidepressants like Prozac, since they work in a similar way; in fact- research has shown 5-HTP to be as effective as prescription antidepressants, but with fewer side effects. The usual recommended dosage for fibromyalgia is 50-100mg three times a day.

Magnesium supplements can be helpful for fibromyalgia, particularly those containing malic acid (a compound in apples and other fruits), since magnesium can help relax the muscles and relieve muscle pain. Most Americans are deficient in this mineral, which can also help with preventing headaches as well as stimulating serotonin production. Studies on fibromyalgia patients who took magnesium malate had a decrease the pain and tenderness that accompanies the disorder. Magnesium is best taken in divided doses, since too much magnesium at one time can cause loose stools. 

I hope that helps!  Natural products can work very well for people suffering with fibromyalgia because rather than just treating the symptoms they help to bring the body back into balance, treating the whole self rather than just one aspect of the problem.

I'm pleased that fibromyalgia is now being recognized by the medical community as a true disorder. There was a time not very long ago when many medical professionals thought that fibromyalgia was an imaginary disease since it cannot be diagnosed with a specific test. Feel free to stop by the store so we can help you further.

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.

A Pass Favorite: Herbatint Natural Hair Color

This month’s Pass Favorite is Herbatint Natural Hair Color
Sarah at the store uses Herbatint on a regular basis and she absolutely loves it.  She says it helps her hair to feel soft and smooth and not at all "straw-like" (as it did when she used conventional hair dye at the grocery store).  It doesn’t fade, and she gets many compliments on the color (she uses 5M). 
Herbatint is nice because it is completely natural and ammonia free.  Another bonus is that if you have short hair, the rest of the bottle can be saved for another use.  Sarah has shoulder length hair and she says a box usually lasts her two uses for coloring her hair.
I have another friend who swears by Herbatint hair color, but she actually brings the box to her hair dresser for her to use instead of the chemical laden hair dyes at the salon.  There are actually a number of our customers who do the same thing.  Herbatint is nice and gentle and doesn’t smell like chemicals (I remember back in the day when I would color my hair, I hated the chemical smell that seemed to linger on my hair for days).  
Herbatint also has a fantastic treatment conditioner called Royal Cream- it’s actually the same as the conditioner found in the hair color, that’s available now in a regular size bottle for sale on its own.  Both Sarah and I are crazy about it, it really keeps colored hair in good condition (I don’t color my hair, but I still like it anyway as a fantastic conditioning treatment).
Since we’re featuring Herbatint in our April newsletter, we’re going to have it on sale for 25% off for the whole month.  If you color your hair, it’s an easy change you can make for the benefit of not only yourself (removing toxins from your life is always a good thing) but for the Earth! 



Natural Feminine Hygiene Products

With April being Earth Day, we usually think about natural household cleansers as a great way to reduce the toxins in your household.  This month, however, I wanted to write about natural feminine hygiene products, since it’s something most women don’t think about, but is something that can make a big difference in reducing the toxins in our lives and helping with overall health.

The skin is the largest organ in the body and is extremely permeable to toxins- especially the vaginal area which is lined with mucous membranes that can easily absorb chemicals and pesticides.  There are no long term studies on the safety of using conventional tampons and the chemicals they contain on the human body. 

Also with conventional tampons, fiber shedding is an issue, where bits of rayon and other fibers are left in the vagina, which can cause bacterial infections or worse.  See this page for more information.  Organic tampons like those from Naturacare and Emerita do not have that issue since they are not made from rayon and other man-made materials.

It is best to choose organic, 100% cotton, chlorine free feminine products, not only for the health of the environment, but for the sake of our own bodies as well!  The average woman will use 11,000 tampons and pads in their lifetime- that’s a lot of exposure to toxins that can be easily avoided by switching to natural feminine care products.



Women's Heart Heath

Q: I have an acquaintance, a woman who was only 42, die suddenly of a heart attack recently.  It's really scared me and has made me worried about my own heart health.  Is there anything you would recommend to protect the heart and prevent heart attacks, particularly for women?

A: Women age 50 and younger are twice as likely to die of heart attacks then men.  Part of the problem is that diagnosing heart attacks in women is more difficult and less clear cut than the heart attack symptoms men typically experience.  One reason women are more likely to die from a first heart attack is that women often attribute pain from a heart attack to non-cardiac causes. Men will usually have textbook crushing pain in the chest during a heart attack, while women can have a variety of symptoms: pain just under the breastbone, or abdominal pain, indigestion, difficulty breathing, nausea and unexplained fatigue. 
The main risk factors for heart disease and heart attacks are high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, being overweight and not being physically active.  Almost everyone can reduce or eliminate those risks with diet and lifestyle changes.   Certain supplements can also be very helpful in reducing the risk of heart disease and heart attacks.  There are a number of effective supplements which work well in lowering cholesterol, and red yeast rice is one of the most popular.  Red yeast rice works in the body similarly to a statin, but without the many debilitating side effects that statins have.  I know of a number of regulars at Pass Health Foods who have taken it with good results, particularly the Nature’s Plus brand of Red Yeast Rice, since it’s an extended release formula.
Fish oil is also helpful for the heart in a number of ways.   It can help to encourage a regular, stable heartbeat.  It also helps to promote elasticity in the artery walls and can lower cholesterol levels, especially triglycerides.  When shopping for a fish oil supplement, it’s important to note that not all fish oil supplements are equal.  Be sure to look for products that say they have been tested for mercury and lead or that have been molecularly distilled to ensure they are free of heavy metals and other contaminants.  Another crucial thing with fish oil is to find a product with the highest amount of EPA and DHA, the beneficial parts of omega 3 fatty acids per pill; it will list it on the “supplement facts” portion of the label.  The best I’ve found that has the highest amount of EPA/DHA per pill is a company called Solgar with their Omega 950.  Its potency is comparable with prescription fish oil.
For high blood pressure, an easy thing to do to help lower it is drinking hibiscus tea.  One study compared drinking 16 oz of hibiscus tea in the morning to taking a popular hypertensive drug.  After four weeks the results were statistically similar, reducing diastolic blood pressure (the lower blood pressure number) by 10 points.  Another study found that drinking 3 cups of hibiscus tea lowered the systolic blood pressure (the top number in the blood pressure reading) by an average of 7 points.  Hibiscus tea is delicious, particularly Republic of Tea’s flavored hibiscus teas, and it’s also caffeine free and full of antioxidants.
CoQ10 is another supplement that’s great for protecting the heart.  CoQ10 works in the mitochondria of our cells, which are literally the cells powerhouses.  CoQ10 helps give the cells the energy they need to run.  Without sufficient CoQ10 cells can literally starve for energy, weaken and die.  This is especially notable since the heart has the most mitochondria per cell, and therefore needs the most CoQ10.  The body produces its own CoQ10, but those amounts decrease as we age.  Certain drugs, especially cholesterol medications like statins, further impede the production of CoQ10, so if you take cholesterol-lowering medication it’s especially important to supplement with CoQ10. 

Another benefit from CoQ10 is that it helps to prevent LDL, or bad cholesterol, from oxidizing.  There is quite a bit of new research suggesting it isn’t total cholesterol that is necessarily the problem, but rather the amount of oxidized cholesterol.  Cholesterol that oxidizes becomes sticky and is the type of cholesterol that sticks to the arteries and begins to form plaque, which reduces the diameter of arteries and makes it easier for clots
to get stuck and cause a heart attack or stroke.
There are a lot of other supplements I could mention, but for space I’ll just mention one more of my favorites- vitamin K2.  Vitamin K is best known for its work in helping to ensure proper blood clotting; it also has another lesser known benefit.  Research has found that vitamin K, especially in the K2 form, works almost like how a police offer would direct traffic, telling calcium in the body to go into the bones and to stay out of the arteries, preventing calcification of the arteries.  Studies have shown that higher levels of vitamin K2 in the body correspond to lower rates of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and lower rates of death from cardiovascular disease and heart attacks.