Real Hormone Replacement in Women

Health Alert 44

Dear Member:

The hottest topic in medicine today is the issue of hormone replacement for women. It is important because your hormone levels decline and cause the changes of aging and menopause. These changes are entirely responsible for osteoporosis and at least partially responsible for the increased risk of heart disease in post-menopausal women.

I touched on the subject in Health Alert 6. Now the matter is more popular than ever. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) has been both praised and bashed in the media.

The argument still rages, but no one seems to be focusing on the most important point in interpreting the recent studies. All of the studies about "HRT" that you have heard about recently did not test the effects of hormones. They are all trials of hormone mimicking drugs like synthetic estradiol derivatives and chemical medroxyprogesterone acetate. They are pharmaceutical concoctions made to mimic the effects of estrogen and progesterone respectively.

These things are drugs, not hormones. Since they have never been in your body, you are not replacing anything by taking them. Hormones are part of a complex integrated system of control of nearly all body functions. Introducing an interfering drug into this delicate system was a dangerous experiment. Now the largest trial done to date showed that they increase cancer risk and instead of decreasing risk of heart disease as claimed, they actually increased it. For instance, the drug combination in Prempro increased risk of blood clots by 100 %. The bad press about these drugs has given hormones themselves a bad name.

* The Natural Way *

Real hormones are natural by definition. They are in your body as you read this controlling and directing your physiology. They are the perfect instruments for performing these functions and present no danger to you. Tinkering with them without knowing what you’re doing though, is dangerous.

Conventional medicine has insisted that you don’t need to have these hormones measured. Their position is that you can take the one-size-fits-all drugs or not. But hormone levels vary widely and are impossible to guess. Deciphering what to do about declines is complex and different in every woman. No woman should take a hormone without first having her hormone levels tested. If you have problematic deficiencies, take the real hormone, not a drug substitute.

Real hormones are available at compounding pharmacists. A compounding pharmacist can produce a custom mixture of natural hormones. I work with my patients to develop a mixture that is uniquely suited for that individual. You can learn more about compounding pharmacists by visiting the International Academy of Compounding Pharmacist’s web site at

You will need a prescription for these natural hormones. But there are safe alternatives that gently affect hormone levels available without a prescription. You can find them at health food stores.

* Herbal Relief for Menopause *

My favorite three herbs for easing the symptoms of declining hormones and menopause are:

  • Dong Quai

  • Black Cohosh

  • Chaste Berry

Dong Quai is an Asian herb that contains phytoestrogens. Phytoestrogens are estrogens found naturally in plants. Phytoestrogens work by occupying estrogen receptor sites in your body but many women I have treated with low progesterone also benefit from taking Dong Quai. Dong Quai also improves libido in women with declining sex hormones.

I use 500mg in tablet form, twice a day.

Black Cohosh is another plant that contains phytoestrogens. It has been used traditionally by Native Americans to treat menstrual cramping. Black Cohosh also occupies estrogen receptors. It is the best herbal treatment I have found to treat low estrogen caused mood swings and hot flashes.

I use 250 mg in tablet form, three times a day.

Chaste Berry is another effective herb for menopausal symptoms. It works by regulating pituitary hormones, which regulate estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. It is a gentle hormone balancer. I use Chaste Berry to relieve depression, insomnia and hot flashes associated with estrogen and progesterone decline.

I use 300 mg in tablet form once a day.

To Your Good Health,

Al Sears MD


Wright, J and Morgenthaler J. Natural Hormone Replacement Smart Publications CA: 1997

Reiss U. Natural Hormone Balance for Women Pocket Books NY: 2001