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Are Natural Hormone Products Hype Or Helpful?

Aug 17, 2007
One of the more common questions I get relates to hormones. How do you handle the onset and aftermath of menopause? What about "male menopause", or andropause? Are there products out there that will help boost hormones naturally? What about products to help with the physical symptoms of these hormonal declines? More over, can I avoid this process?

The sooner you accept it, the better your post-40 life will become:

You have more control over your hormones than you believe.

I can quote you endless studies that prove that regular exercise (the more intense the better) stimulates and keeps hormone levels naturally elevated. Exercise also delays the process of menopause in many women - and, without a doubt, lessens the symptoms. Growth hormone is practically dependent upon a proper nutrition plan and exercise routine.

Follow the routine you feel best suited for and you're well on the way to taking back your life.

We will cover a few of the natural remedies for menopause and andropause. Do they work? How does this compare with HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy), and is there a "safe blend" of the two?

Hormones are the absolute KEY to long-term health and fat loss.

First of all, as just about every post-menopausal woman will tell anyone who'll listen, menopause is no fun. I have to take their word for it, of course, but I've had my own hormonal demons to overcome. I can relate...perhaps not specifically, but definitely to the inconvenience, the slowing down, and the physical "junk" that comes with whacky hormones.

Are any of you out there moody? Lack the ability to concentrate? How's your sleep? Hot flashes?

Yep...it can be a rough ride. Let's see if these natural suggestions will help. We'll cover HRT in passing. As always, pass all this information by your doctor. I cannot stress that enough.

Let's take it from the top: one of the biggest problems with menopause is the issues with testosterone. In case you're wondering why certain herbs that elevate testosterone are recommended, it's because of how the body reacts to a sudden drop in both estrogen and testosterone. Testosterone decreases are really what I'd like to focus on, as it is a subject I'm very well-read on, as I myself am (or rather was) testosterone-deficient.

Low test (we'll just call it "test" from here on out to save my fingers) is fortunately something you can do many things about on the natural side. First, simple weight training and increasing your dietary protein intake can elevate serum test levels significantly. The body responds to the added stress by adapting...however, such adaptation is not an overnight process. So patience must be exercised along with the body.

Speaking of exercises, the best ones are the ones most women, especially over 45, are 'afraid' to do! If you ever take anything I say to heart, this would be it - baby weights and cardio is NOT the way to increase your hormone levels. You need to train with "compound movements", like squats and dumbbell bench presses. If you think you'll turn into the Hulk, think again.

It is the greatest gift I can give a woman - the freedom to train the way her body is craving her to train. Free of society's "norms", or what you've been led to believe in the magazines.

Now, other than weights you have supplements. Most of the stuff you see is junk, and it's hard to tell the difference between what may work and what is just tossing cash down the drain.

The only place we part ways is with the herb tribulus...at least slightly. If you combine quality tribulus with potassium-rich foods and, believe it or not, fish oil, you may see substantial results in the area of test increase. Many of my clients have...granted, not to the levels of HRT, but enough to alleviate some or all of the menopause symptoms related to low test. The best product I've found for this is called Tribustol.

MACA is another herb worth looking into, and it has the added benefit of aiding thyroid production - a very important part of keeping lean.

Okay, what about the mood swings? Ask your doctor about Ginkgo Biloba. I'm a huge fan of this herb now, as it really did a good number on my vascular health. I also noted an incredible increase in mental focus. I've never been that moody, but many people report that moodiness is decreased on Ginkgo. I take 240mg/day and feel great on it, but I've been cleared by my doctor to do so.

Now, as odd as this may sound, I've seen it work just about every time I recommended it. A friend of mine told me about it, and ever since I've been passing it on to my clients...and they love it! It's a simple way of increasing the "mood elevators" dopamine and serotonin...and it's dirt cheap. In fact, it comes from the dirt! I'm talking about a spud. Mr. Potato, just without the "head". The book this information comes from is "Potatoes Not Prozac" by Dr. Kathleen DesMaisons.

Consume a baked potato about 1 hour prior to bed. Be sure to put some olive oil on the potato, or perhaps a small amount of real butter. That's it. Now, there's a trade-off here. First, you may notice a small increase in body fat...but I bet you won't, especially if you keep your carbs clean and moderate during the day. Also, this is the only time I break the "always consume protein at every meal and snack" rule, but this is for health purposes, and it can work wonders. Now, for my little tip: take a few grams of Evening Primrose Oil (just follow the directions on the bottle...I like Carlson Brand) with the spud. This does more than slow down the insulin spike - it can really help with those hot flashes. The herb Dong Quai is supposedly also good for hot flashes, but I've never personally had any experience with using it with my clients.

For other symptoms, try a cold or cool shower before sleep. Also, increase your calcium and magnesium intake. I like to see people take between 750mg and 1,500mg of magnesium per day for a variety of reasons. Simply multiply that number by 2 for your calcium intake. This may be the 'best for last'. Almost everyone is magnesium deficient. I'm convinced of that! Just about everything in our lives and our environment drains magnesium. Watch what happens to your sugar cravings, too.

Lastly, there's soy. Soy is a 'hot topic', no pun intended, in the menopause world. Many people are high on soy. It's the isoflavones in soy that have the most benefit to menopausal women...at least according to some studies. However, soy is a double-edged sword. Read Jill Langham's experience with soy in her free bonus report for more information.

If you do decide to take soy, and many doctors recommend it for various reasons, check out CardioSoy by Pax Beale's Body For The Ages product line. It's the best soy formulation I've seen. Also, if you do try soy, my recommendations are to take it only during the day and, if you're on thyroid medication, no more than 30 grams per day.
About the Author
Jon Benson is a nutrition and fitness counselor who specializes in weight loss and life coaching. He is the creator of The Fit Over 40 Role Modeling System, and the author of "Fit Over 40". More information on fitness is available at http://www.fitover40.com/kw/fitness.
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