an Alternative to Natural Health
Nature's Sunshine Products
A woman's body is a wonderful and complex creation. Several things can go wrong with it. Such disorders as PMS, breast and uterine cancers, osteoporosis hot flashes and vaginal dryness of menopause
According to John Lee, M.D., our modern lifestyle is largely to blame High levels of stress, dismal nutrition and widespread toxins that affect a hormone called progesterone.
Progesterone is made in the ovaries and released during the last half of the menstrual cycle; small amounts are made by the adrenals and testes in men. This hormone has several jobs to perform in the body. The body bio-synthesizes all the adrenal corticosteroids and all other sex hormones from progesterone (which itself is a product of cholesterol). Progesterone is vital in pregnancy because it maintains the endometrium. Excessive progesterone can block ovulation (which is why birth control pills are made from progesterone). Progesterone makes the body more receptive to the thyroid hormone and to estrogen. Progesterone is the perfect counter balance for estrogen's negative effects.
The body requires sufficient progesterone as a balance for estrogen. When progesterone levels are low estrogen levels are too high, a woman will experience symptoms of estrogen dominance. They include water retention, breast swelling, fibrocystic breasts, premenstrual mood swings, depression, loss of libido, heavy or irregular menses, uterine fibroids, cravings for sweets and weight gain at the hips and thighs.
Many women suffer from these effects of estrogen dominance. Low progesterone isn't automatically the culprit. So the question that every woman should ask is, how can I make sure my body has enough progesterone to balance my estrogen without taking in too much progesterone?
By far the best answer is: Maintain a healthy body. Healthy, well-nourished follicle cells in the ovaries produce a healthy balance of estrogen and progesterone, says Dr. Lee. When follicle cells are damaged by poor nutrition or toxins, progesterone levels suffer. He suggests a diet of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and cold-pressed oil. Processed foods, pesticides, additives and smoking should be eliminated. Meat should be minimized and alcohol strictly limited. Because the vitamins in our foods have been lowered by storage and deficient soils, Dr. Lee suggests daily supplementation of 2 grams of Vitamin C (divided), 4001U of vitamin E, 15-30 mg zinc and 100-300 mg Magnesium.
There's more to the healthy diet than just vitamins. More than 5000 plants are known to make sterols that are progestogenic. In cultures where diets are rich in fresh vegetables, progesterone deficiency apparently doesn't exist. Women maintain healthy ovaries and follicles and at menopause libido remains high and bones remain strong.
The July 1992 issue of National Geographic describes a culture found on the Trobriand Islands. In these islands, the Yam plant is a sacred totem signifying good health and good life. The people there, who eat a lot of yams, along with other vegetables and fish, are generally healthy, well-proportioned and happy. Their sex life is vigorous and pregnancy rate isn't high.
The yam is one of those plants high in a saponin called diosgenin, a substance with reputed progesterone like effects. The pharmaceutical industry retracts diosgenin from wild Mexican yams to make progesterone; it then uses the progesterone to make synthetic progesterone and contraceptive pills. (Soybeans, wool fat and sisal are used in making progesterone). So the lowly yam would be a logical diet choice for anyone who is suspicious that estrogen has the upper hand in her body.
Pharmaceutical researcher Steven Dentali says that dioagemn reportedly has certain medicinal effects, such as reducing fatigue, inflammation and stress. He says, the body can't make progesterone from diosgenin. Dentali questions the effectiveness of wild yams as a substitute for progesterone.
Whatever the effect of yams, even an excellent diet can't always correct imbalances. This is partly because of our toxic environment. Women are exposed to substances called zenoestrogens. These are found in some petrochemical derivatives like pesticides arid combustion by-products. Zenoestrogens can be extremely potent estrogenic compounds and can contribute to estrogen dominance.
Eating well can raise our estrogen levels, since many plants contain estrogenic substances called phytoestrogens. A few plants contain the real thing. Palm-kernel oil contains one form of estrogen called estrone. Then many women take estrogen supplements.
A factor in estrogen dominance is stress. Stress (as well as a bad diet) can induce anovulatory menstrual cycles in which no ovulation occurs. These non ovulatory cycles are fairly common among women approaching menopause. Without ovulation, no progesterone is produced, but estrogen is. Estrogen unopposed by progesterone leads to those familiar symptoms: PMS, osteoporosis and all the rest. It increases the risk of breast cancer. Anovulatory cycles may be one of the reasons why breast cancer is so common among women in their late thirties and early forties.
When diet can't correct progesterone deficiency, supplementing with natural progesterone can help. Studies show that treatment with natural Progesterone can increase bone mass in women affected with osteoporosis. Dr. Lee has confirmed this in his own practice. During 15 years of treating women with natural Progesterone, Dr. Lee has found that progesterone treatment protects against salt and water retention, facilitates thyroid hormone activity, shrinks uterine fibroid tumors and returns fibrocystic breasts to normal.
Natural Progesterone helps metabolize fat, is an antidepressant, normalizes blood clotting, restores libido, helps normalize blood sugar levels as well as zinc and copper levels and restores proper cell oxygen. Since it sensitizes the body to estrogen, it reduces the need for estrogen supplementation, an important consideration for women already on estrogen. There are virtually no side effects to natural Progesterone supplementation.
Synthetic progesterone (Provera, for instance) may actually reduce the amount of progesterone in the blood stream, according to Rabbi Eric Braverman, M.D. Synthetic progesterones act differently in the body than the real thing. Unlike natural progesterone, the effects of synthetics can't be "turned off" when needed. This leads to some sobering side effects.
Several choices are available for the woman seeking natural progesterone. Tinctures containing yam extracts are one possibility. But since the FDA prohibits labeling of supplements and herbs that would imply any sort of drug like effect, it's impossible to tell how much, if any, diosgenin is in any particular product.
Dr. Lee has his patients use a nonprescription moisturizing cream which contains Progesterone made from an extract of yam. He claims that this cream has improved the health and quality of life for many women.
A progesterone deficiency can have unpleasant, if not disastrous, effects in both pre-menopausal and post-menopausal women. If you think you might have a deficiency, discuss your symptoms with your health practitioner; a blood test can tell you what your progesterone levels are. If supplementation are called for, be aware that natural Progesterone is safer, cheaper and more effective than synthetic.
NATURE’S SUNSHINE PRODUCTS sells progesterone cream from Wild Yams.
Pro-G-Yam Cream (5mg)
Wild Yam & Chaste Tree (100 capsules)