In this issue:
- A Note From Lorna
- Ward Off Wrinkles and Male-Pattern Facial Hair Growth with Estriol
- An Aspirin a Day? Not Much Heart Help
- Magnesium, CoQ10, Lipoic Acid, Omega-3s and Selenium Benefit Heart Surgery Patients
- Increased Heart Attack Risk with Calcium
- Estriol for Multiple Sclerosis: New Clinical Trial
This fall we have exciting things planned for you. Soon I will be starting a busy lecture tour offering new lectures on "Everything You Need to Know About Hormones" and "Tired of Being Tired." I will also be doing in-store events where you can come and meet me in person and ask your questions. Click here to view my schedule of events. My schedule is being updated constantly so please check back often.
The launch of my women's line of nutritional supplements has been tremendously successful thanks to all of you who have encouraged your favorite retailers to carry my products. Your continued support has ensured that Lorna Vanderhaeghe products are back on the shelves. If your health food store does not carry Lorna Vanderhaeghe products that bear my name and face, please ask them to bring them in for you. Visit www.hormonehelp.com to learn more about my new line of "SMART" nutritional products. And please remember, Lorna Vanderhaeghe nutritional supplements have my name and face on the bottle and are now called "SMART," for example, Estrosmart, Thyrosmart, Adrenasmart and Menosmart Plus.
We have already had hundreds of women complete my FREE online nutrition course. Start the course today!
Enjoy this issue of Hormone Help.
Kind regards, Lorna
Facial Hair Growth with Estriol
If you have read my books, you will be aware of estriol, a form of estrogen-and the only form of estrogen that I recommend. This bioidentical estrogen helps those suffering from menopausal symptoms, especially urinary incontinence, thinning of the vaginal wall and vaginal dryness. (If you suffer from these issues, read more in Hormone Help Issue 23.) However, not only is estriol great for menopausal symptoms, but it is also an excellent anti-wrinkle hormone and is fabulous for combating male-pattern facial hair growth when used in a cream applied topically. In women who apply estriol to the areas on the face with male-pattern hair growth such as above the upper lip and on the chin, estriol can reduce the amount of testosterone/male hormones in the skin and the male facial hair growth disappears. Estriol has also been found to improve the skin's density and it turns old-looking skin young again by increasing the luminosity that gives us that youthful glow.
Because estriol is a prescription drug in Canada, you will need a doctor's prescription. A compounding pharmacy will make up the cream for you. Go to the Association of Compounding Pharmacies of Canada to find a compounding pharmacy near you. As many doctors have never prescribed estriol before, here is the prescription (0.5 to 0.75 milligrams per dose) so you can provide it to your doctor. In the United States, topical estriol is available in health food stores. Or you can purchase estriol creams from Amazon.com.
Not Much Heart Help
For years, cardiologists have recommended Aspirin to prevent heart attacks-but this practice may not provide much benefit, according to a new study. In fact, it may be dangerous. We have always thought the reason that Aspirin was prescribed was because it had blood-thinning effects, but now we know it works on controlling inflammation more so than on thinning the blood. Still, a paper in the BC Medical Journal recently reported that Aspirin reduces the risk of a first cardiovascular event (heart attack, stroke or death from cardiovascular disease) by a mere 0.06 percent per year. In other words, only one person in 1,666 who took a baby Aspirin per day would ward off a serious cardiovascular event.
Previous studies have suggested that taking a baby Aspirin daily may be helpful in preventing a second heart attack in men. The results in women, on the other hand, have shown Aspirin to be of little benefit. And Aspirin causes increased risk of ulcers and gastrointestinal bleeding. There is also some evidence that Aspirin can increase the incidence of hemorrhagic stroke as well. With this in mind, serious side-effects can occur with little benefit to cardiovascular health.
As an alternative to Aspirin, drink ginger tea daily. Use grated ginger on foods and take ginger capsules. In January 2009, the International Journal of Cardiology reported that ginger is an effective blood-thinning herb.
If you want to reduce your overall risk of heart disease, a heart-smart diet, regular exercise, cultivating a low-stress lifestyle and supplementing with heart-supportive nutrients is an effective plan and the only side-effect you will notice is how fantastic you feel. My book, A Smart Woman's Guide to Heart Health, offers you the tools to prevent and treat heart disease naturally.
We often hear doctors state that we are just wasting our money on nutritional supplements and that we can get all of our necessary nutrients from food. New Australian research has found, however, that for heart disease patients, some supplements provide dramatic benefits.
This randomized, double-blind study involved 117 patients with an average age of 65. Participants were scheduled for bypass and/or valve surgery. For approximately 76 days prior to their surgery, one group was told to take coenzyme Q10, magnesium, lipoic acid, omega-3 fatty acids and selenium. The other group received a placebo.
The researchers found that these supplements increased the patients' pre-surgery antioxidant levels, which protected them against the physical, mental and emotional stressors of surgery. Twenty-four hours after their surgeries, tests also indicated that the patients in the group who took nutritional supplements had lowered levels of troponin, a blood marker for potential heart damage. In addition, their average hospital stay was shortened by 1.2 days, dropping to 6.9 days from the 8.1 days of the patients who did not take supplements.
The authors concluded last July in the Heart, Lung and Circulation journal that pre-operative therapy involving these supplements is safe and inexpensive, improves antioxidant levels, reduces heart damage and shortens hospital stays.
Click here to read more about Magsmart, my special magnesium glycinate supplement. It is a delicious lemon lime-flavored powder supplement containing taurine, magnesium glycinate, malic acid, B vitamins, selenomethionine and more. Magsmart works fast to lower blood pressure, support heart muscle health, reduce stress, help you sleep and much more.
This summer, "calcium confusion" was the big catchphrase amongst the mainstream media and health circles when a meta-analysis in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) reported that calcium supplements are associated with increased risk of heart attack. In the week that followed the release of these results, many people threw away their calcium supplements. I received dozens of emails asking about my opinion on the study and about calcium in general, so here it is.
Two percent of our total body weight is made up of calcium. It is needed to help us deal with daily stressors, to control muscle function, to transmit nerve impulses, to keep the heart beating, and to promote blood clotting and wound healing. The bones can be likened to a mineral bank where calcium and other minerals are stored. When the body needs calcium for dozens of actions and reactions in the body, it takes calcium from the bone bank. So yes, calcium is important to health and it is essential to consume calcium-containing foods such as canned salmon, sea vegetables, broccoli, kale, mixed greens (collard leaves and dandelion and turnip greens), tofu, Brazil nuts, almonds and sunflower seeds. Calcium absorption is reduced by eating a diet too high in meat or by drinking carbonated soft drinks. The tannins in tea, saturated fats, bran and dietary fiber all inhibit calcium uptake.
Many people also take calcium supplements for bone health and to reduce the risk of osteoporosis and bone fracture. But the benefit to bones may be negated by the risk of cardiac events. This latest BMJ analysis, which involved data from 12,000 people in 15 different trials, suggests that calcium causes more cardiac events (e.g. heart attack, stroke) than it prevents bone fractures. According to this data, taking calcium reduces fracture risk by 10 percent but increases heart attack risk by 30 percent. No wonder everyone is confused. What are we supposed to do now?
I am pleased that our modern-day obsession with "getting enough calcium" has finally been shaken up. Those of you who have heard me speak over the years know that I think most people take too high of a daily dose of calcium. Most people also consume poor quality forms of calcium in calcium supplements that do not contain all the other supportive nutrients needed to ensure that calcium is utilized properly. In research studies, calcium alone has never been the panacea that it is often touted to be-for bone health in particular. There is a problem with taking too much calcium, especially the types of calcium that are not absorbed well by the body (see below). All the extra calcium that is not absorbed causes constipation, calcification in breast tissue and deposits in our arteries.
Don't get me wrong: calcium is a good mineral but make sure you are taking it with magnesium, vitamin D, vitamin K2-MK7 and other trace minerals. Calcium does not work alone in our bones, or in our body. Contrary to popular perception, bones are ever-changing, ever-wearing and repairing themselves. They are a matrix of minerals, of which calcium is just one. Vitamin D, for example, is essential to calcium absorption; unfortunately, research has shown that many people are deficient in this nutrient, particularly at northern latitudes and during the darker months of fall and winter. Vitamin K2- MK7, meanwhile, guides calcium into bones and locks it in. Without enough vitamin K2-MK7, calcium can lodge in places it is not supposed to, such as in the breasts, arteries and kidneys (kidney stones). Calcification causes hardening of the arteries and contributes to high blood pressure and, ultimately, to heart attacks.
Did the BMJ study on calcium supplements consider these important nutrient co-factors as part of its recent meta-analysis? They did not. In fact, they specified that the participants did not supplement with vitamin D. Were any of the participants on medications that could interfere with proper mineral absorption, such as antacids or Coumadin? (The latter is a common blood thinner for heart disease patients that both inhibits vitamin K's actions and depletes the body of coenzyme Q10, a powerful antioxidant that is crucial to heart muscle function and energy production.) Again, we do not know.
Another question I have about this meta-analysis is, what kind of calcium did the participants take in each study? As mentioned, all calcium supplements are not the same. There is a difference between organic and inorganic calcium. Organic calcium-the form in green leafy vegetables, fruits and grains, and good quality supplements-is bound to co-factors such as amino acids or salts (e.g. calcium glycinate, chelate, citrate). Organic calcium is also the form found in the bone matrix and the body understands how to process it correctly. Inorganic calcium, on the other hand, is where the trouble starts. Too many poor quality-and cheap-supplements contain ground up sources of inorganic calcium (e.g. calcium carbonate), the form found in oyster shells, coral and limestone. A little known fact is that dairy products contain inorganic calcium as well. Inorganic calcium is not recognized by the body and is more likely to lodge in unwanted places. If the participants in the studies reported on in the BMJ were supplementing with inorganic calcium, this is another factor that could have skewed the findings.
And now that you know the difference between organic and inorganic calcium, if you have a multivitamin with minerals or a calcium supplement at home, please look at the label, which should state the form of calcium (if it's of good quality). Please also ensure that you are getting enough daily magnesium, vitamin D, vitamin C, vitamin K2 and trace minerals. A good multivitamin like Multismart, my powdered daily multivitamin with minerals and co-factors, contains all the nutrients you need for a strong foundation and your basic bone nutrients as well, in the right dosages. It comes in a delicious fruit flavor. Pop one to two powder packets into your purse and shake it up with juice or water, and enjoy. For more information on osteoporosis, the osteoporosis section in my A-Z Woman's Guide to Vibrant Health offers more suggestions on improving bone health and avoiding this multifactoral disease.
New Clinical Trial
Estriol is a form of estrogen that has been shown to be effective in the treatment of vaginal dryness, vaginal atrophy, urinary incontinence and hot flashes. In one major trial, 22 practicing gynecologists from 11 large hospitals in Germany treated 911 perimenopausal women with bioidentical estriol and evaluated them regularly for five years. They found this form of estriol to be extremely effective for common menopausal symptoms with no significant side-effects noted. Outside of Europe, however, the advantages of estriol over other forms of estrogen (estradiol, estrone) are less understood, so the recent announcement of expanded clinical trials looking at estriol as a treatment for multiple sclerosis (MS) is positive to note.
Trimesta™ is the oral estriol being used in the ongoing study. Trimest™ has been approved and marketed throughout Europe for about 40 years for the treatment of post-menopausal hot flashes, but it has never been introduced to North America. But now this oral estriol is being researched as a possible treatment for relapsing-remitting MS as well. (Most people have relapsing-remitting MS, in which symptoms flare up and go into remission periodically.) The rationale behind this branch of research is that estriol is anti-inflammatory and plays a role in modulating the immune system. Interestingly, estriol is produced in the placenta by pregnant women and is believed to offer immune-enhancement to the fetus during pregnancy. Estriol is also accredited with causing the spontaneous remission of some autoimmune diseases such as MS and arthritis during pregnancy, especially during the last trimester.
In an earlier Phase I/II clinical trial, using Trimesta™ as a treatment for MS revealed encouraging results. Over a three-month period, oral estriol was shown to decrease lesions of the myelin sheath, which is the protective layer around nervous system cells. In autoimmune diseases such as MS, the more damaged these myelin sheaths, the more advanced the disease. Compared against a six-month level of pretreatment damage, Trimesta™ was found to decrease the lesion volumes by an average of 79 percent, and the number of lesions by 88 percent. For six months following, the patients were not on any drug therapies. Then Trimesta™ was used during a four-month retreatment phase of the trial and the results were similarly replicated. At the six-month mark, the study participants also underwent cognitive testing using a test that is routine in cases of MS. The participants experienced an average 14 percent improvement in cognition test scores.
On the back of all these results, in January 2010, it was announced that a Phase II/III double-blind, placebo-controlled trial involving up to 150 female MS patients would be taking place at 16 sites in the US. Trimesta™ will be administered along with a common injectible MS drug. Partial funding for this phase comes from the National Multiple Sclerosis Society in partnership with the National MS Society's Southern California chapter, with support from the National Institutes of Health. As women are three to four times more likely than men to develop MS, and as women tend to get MS at a younger age (in their 20s rather than in their early 40s), we can only hope that the next two-year phase of this trial and others like it will confirm the benefits of oral estriol for autoimmune disease.