Progesterone Levels and HGH
- Dr. Zava: what levels of progesterone are protective?
- Dr. Zava on herbal anti-progestins, soy toxicity
- Monica Smith on her experience with different forms of
- Activated Charcoal: a readers report
- Bloated No More Part II
- Care of the soul: thoughts on Mother Theresa and the divine in
DR. DAVID ZAVA:
LEVELS OF PROGESTERONE AND PROTECTION AGAINST BREAST CANCER
Ivys Introductory Comments:
Some of CyberHealth readers are familiar with the Wren study, which
showed that breast cancer survivors who took 50 mg of Provera (medroxyprogesterone
acetate) every day, with or without estrogen replacement, had only half
the rate of recurrence and zero mortality, in sharp contrast to the
control group. Wren wrote a very compelling paper (available on Medscape),
arguing for protective effect of continuous progesterone and progestins,
and suggesting a preventive-type of HRT. But note that Wren used a dose
of Provera thats ten times larger than the higher of the two doses
commonly used in mainstream continuous HRT.
The well-known study by Chang (1993) has shown progesterone to be
very effective at shutting down cell division in the breast tissue. But
Chang used direct application of progesterone gel to the breast, which
yields high local tissue levels.
We know that high doses of progestins can regress mammary tumor
growth. The effect of low doses remains a matter of controversy, with
many voices raising concern that these doses increase proliferation and
Thus there is still the unresolved issue of whether progesterone acts
differently depending on concentration. Dose-dependent action is typical
of hormones; THE SAME HORMONE CAN HAVE OPPOSITE EFFECTS (PROLIFERATIVE
VERSUS SUPPRESSIVE) AT A LOW DOSE VERSUS A HIGH DOSE.
Obviously all women, and not just breast cancer survivors, would like
to know just how much progesterone to take to lower their risk of breast
cancer, whether its best to take it cyclically or continuously, and
whether application of progesterone cream to the breasts is a beneficial
(and possibly life-saving) practiceor, on the contrary, the most
hormonally dangerous thing a woman could do (strictly a minority view,
but it does exist).
Many women feel enraged, betrayed, and very bitter at the medical and
scientific establishments for not having done the obvious basic research
to establish the optimum doses and come up with a preventive anti-cancer
hormonal regimen. Maybe we really should march topless on Washington
(one of Dr. Loves best ideas).
While there are no clear answers yet, I think Dr.Zavas commentary
throws some light on these urgent issues. ( For the newcomers: Dr. David
Zava, PhD., is a biochemist with an extensive background in breast
cancer research. Hes just finished writing a book on breast cancer
DR. DAVID ZAVA WRITES:
The issue of progesterone is a difficult one. I submitted a grant
about 10 years ago that I think would have resolved this issue, but I
could never get it fundedmany nights of no sleep over the myopic view
of the reviewers.
What I believe, in a nutshell, is that PROGESTERONE AT VERY LOW DOSE
ACTS IN SYNERGY WITH ESTRADIOL TO STIMULATE CELL PROLIFERATION. ONLY AT
THE HIGHER DOSE DOES PROGESTERONE BEGIN TO DOWN-REGULATE ER AND SHUT
DOWN ESTROGEN REGULATED CELL PROLIFERATION. (Ivy: emphasis mine) This is
entirely in line with what we know about the actions of early luteal
progesterone on mammary epitheliumi.e., progesterone works in synergy
with estrogen and there is a burst of cell proliferation followed by
Where RU486 [a synthetic anti-progestin] comes in is that it can
block the facilitating actions of low dose progesterone on estrogen
activated events and hence block cell proliferation. To get real
technical, I proposed that progesterone helps estrogen shuttle high
energy phosphate molecules along a cascade of protein kinases involved
in activating gene transcription of messages controlling cell
proliferation. To date, I sit on this information and the experiments I
did to prove it.
Because of Changs study, I used to lean to the idea that its
simply the duration of exposure to progesterone that shuts off mitosis,
but then the application of progesterone directly to the breast must
produce high local levels, possibly as high or higher than those at
luteal peak. As you can imagine, I do get asked what dose of P is best
for preventing breast cancer, and I think what you say is very, very
plausible, makes perfect sense, and could save lives. Im 99% sure you
are right, and have the information that could save endless suffering
and premature deaths of who knows how many thousands of women every
year. Direct application to the breasts, however, might make serum
levels less relevant. Perhaps not for breast surgery; perhaps then high
P needs to be systemic (there seems to be a lot of contradiction in the
studies). The trouble with high systemic levels of progesterone is that
some women experience side effects such as depression, constipation,
weight gain (progesterone is the most fattening hormone, as discovered
by the cattle industry), or greater susceptibility to yeast infections.
On the other hand, there are also women who thrive on high doses of
progesterone; for them its the "feel-good" hormone, the
serenity hormone. Ive often wondered if maybe the best solution, at
least for some women, might be a dose thats just sufficient for
endometrial protection, and an extra application of progesterone cream
to the breastsperhaps not necessarily on a daily basis, but often
enough to suppress cell division (dont ask me how often that would
bebut often enough to prevent any soreness).
I feel Ive had excellent results with applying P cream to the
breasts: my breasts feel much lighter, less glandular in spite of my
non-timid E2 dose, loose and relaxed, and, very importantly, not any
hotter than the surrounding areas (increased surface temperature appears
to be a biomarker for increased proliferation). I had a lot of soreness
and fibrocystic lumps pre-meno (in the words of my ob/gyn: "These
are the lumpiest breasts I have ever seen"). Its all history
thanks to progesterone.
Which brings me to this: women need to listen to their bodies because
the way their breasts feel is an important signal. Is there any
soreness, fullness, tension, swollenness? Do your breasts feel hot and
tingly, tender to touch, and always as if "on simmer"? (A rise
in the surface temperature of the breasts appears to coincide with the
increased tissue proliferation during the luteal phase.)
In my experience with nhrt, there is absolutely no need to tolerate
this kind of discomfort (and it might be downright dangerous). A higher
dose of progesterone, or an application of P cream directly to the
breasts, generally resolves the problem very quickly. The use of
testosterone cream also helps, and does so in a dramatically speedy way
if you apply a dab of T cream to the breasts.
What a tragic shame that Dr. Zava hasnt been able to pursue his
projected experiments. We need this knowledge very badly, since here
might lie a clue to saving thousands of lives. I think CH readers will
be outraged at the myopic reviewers.
It seems entirely likely that the dose of Provera given to most women
is unfortunately the kind of small dose that promotes proliferation.
Some large studies have in fact found that a higher breast cancer risk
in women using progestin than in women on estrogen replacement alone. In
fact it seems that over a quarter of women on continuous HRT with
Provera suffer from breast soreness and show an increase in glandular
density, a known risk factor for breast cancer. Hence Dr.S. Love might
have a point in accusing "progesterone" of being the most
dangerous hormone, though she cant seem to figure out how it is that
this allegedly highly pro-proliferative progesterone stops mitosis and
initiates the apoptosis (cell death) of excess breast tissue at the end
of the menstrual cycle (and there is a scientific consensus that
progesterone does just that, even if its course of action in the breast
differs from the way it protects the endometrium). Being monumentally
confused about the effects of progesterone, Love decided to be even more
hostile to it than she is toward all the other steroids, thus
discouraging women from using the very hormone that shows the most
promise in hormonal cancer prevention. Im really, really excited over
the kind of research Dr. Zava has been doing.
(Sources: Chang KJ et al. Influences of percutaneous administration
of estradiol and progesterone on human breast epithelial cycle in vivo.
Fertility and Sterility 1995; 63: 785-91; Wren BG. Hormonal replacement
therapy and breast cancer. European Journal of Menopause 1995; 2:13-19;
Simpson HW. A breast pre-cancer test? Preliminary results based on a
breast temperature abnormality during the menstrual cycle. Breast Cancer
Res Treat 1990; 16:51-55)
I think the more we try to understand this, the more complex we
realize it is! I had an experience last fall when I had been using
ProGest on my breasts regularly for some time, had a period, then my
breasts (nipples especially), in spite of continued use of P after the
period, got very sore, and hot. This worried me; Id read about
increased breast temperature being associated with breast cancer.
Im not sure that the ProGest caused the breast pain; after
all Ive been using ProGest for 16 months and putting it on my breasts
a lot and this was my only experience of this nature.
Note that Dr. Zava plausibly theorizes that "PROGESTERONE AT
VERY LOW DOSE ACTS IN SYNERGY WITH ESTRADIOL TO STIMULATE CELL
PROLIFERATION. ONLY AT THE HIGHER DOSE DOES PROGESTERONE BEGIN TO
DOWN-REGULATE ER AND SHUT DOWN ESTROGEN REGULATED CELL
PROLIFERATION." With ProGest, you get what 16mg per gram, as
Barry Mizes calculated? The commonly used prescription progesterone
cream delivers 100mg/g.
Still, as Gail points out, this is insufficient evidence for
concluding that the ProGest dose is in the wrong range to be safe for
breast application. Possibly, during just that one cycle Gails own
production of estradiol was just such that the ratio worked out the
wrong way. During the perimenopausal stage, ovulation and hormone
production are erratic, and breast soreness is quite common. Its a
period of "hormonal chaos." My experience with breast
application has been strictly with the prescription dose, and it has
been 100% positive, i.e. I noticed the "shut-down" effect in
the cooling down and quick disappearance of any soreness and tension in
the breasts. By "quick" I mean within minutes! And if you
really want to see "quick," try the male-dose T gel, if you
are fortunate enough to have a mate whos using it. The soreness can
disappear literally in seconds! No sooner youre putting the cap back
on the little jar than youre asking, "Hey, where did the
discomfort go?" Talk about an anti-estrogen.
Another factor here is that my experience with P cream has been
strictly postmenopausal, and even with nhrt, the average levels of
estradiol tend to lower than they are in a premenopausal woman. No more
ovulatory surges, thats for sure!
I assume you saw the tamoxifen story? I wonder how long it will take
to have every woman in the country considered at high risk for breast
cancer (including every woman over 60) on tamoxifen! I keep wondering
about these anti-estrogens, and whether progesterone and other native
hormones used in an optimal way (whatever that may be) might not be
superior. But it seems that no one is doing the research comparing P use
with anti-estrogens, at least that Im aware of . . .
Gail Sheehy put it best when she described the lack of such essential
research as "the scandalous economics and politics of
menopause." Obviously the drug companies can make a lot more money
off tamoxifen than they can off progesterone, which, as a natural
hormone, is not patentable. In France there is a DHT cream which I
imagine would be incredibly anti-estrogenic when applied even in a tiny
dose to the breasts (DHT has the advantage over T in not being
aromatizable to estrogens). But DHT is a natural hormone also, so forget
it so far as the American drug companies are concerned. So far studies
have indicated that tamoxifen should not be used for more than five
years. After five years, it becomes an estrogen agonist in the breast
tissue as well (it acts as an estrogen agonist in the endometriumhence
the markedly increased incidence of endometrial cancer in tamoxifen
My mouth is hanging open. I just watched Vicky Hufnagel (Ivy: a Los
Angeles gynecologist famous for her stand against hysterectomies) on NBC
say, "we should be looking at non toxic ways to prevent breast
cancer like natural progesterone." She also said women should be
profiled for the balance of Es to examine risk. I was a little
shocked to hear somebody relatively famous take a stand on P.
Of course the other docs think Tamoxifen is wonderful and didnt
let on they didnt know what she was talking about.
My ambition in life is to live long enough to say I told you so to
these graduate student robots who become physicians never questioning
the axiom that E causes bc!
Considering that there are SO MANY growth factors for any cancer, the
reason E got singled out, and not high insulin, high cortisol, or
something like faulty diet and toxic bowel, smacks to me to hostility to
women, wanting to keep them hypoestrogenic.
And all the while there is a mountain of evidence pointing to the
insulin-driven hyperandrogenicity as very common in bc cases. And of
course the central fact that around 80% of bc is postmenopausal (mostly
after the age of 60), and at this point mostly in women who have never
taken hormones, and thus are severely hypoestrogenic postmeno, and
androgen-dominant. Ah, what an unpleasant fact interfering with the
simplistic E-based theory: breast cancer in a seventy-year-old whose E
levels have been minimal for two decades. This a a lot more common than
breast cancer in a premenopausal woman, especially a young (under 35)
premenopausal woman, whose statistical risk is miniscule, in spite of
her being at her hormonal peak.
When a very young woman develops breast cancer, its tends to be
the very aggressive, lethal kind. Survival is best in premenopausal
women over 35. The biggest risk factor for breast cancer is advancing
age after menopause.
DR. ZAVA ON
HERBAL ANTI-PROGESTINS, SOY TOXICITY
Ivys introductory comments:
Theres been excitement recently over a new abstract that appeared
on Medline: Dr. Zavas research on "estrogen and progestin
bioactivity of foods, herbs, and spices." Dr. Zava and two
colleagues tested over 150 herbs (in the form of herbal extracts) for
their ability to bind to estrogen and progesterone receptors in mammary
The six herbs that had the highest binding to the estrogen receptor
were soy, licorice, red clover, thyme, turmeric, hops, and verbena. The
herbs that showed the highest binding to progesterone receptors were
oregano, verbena, turmeric, thyme, red clover, and damiana.
In terms of promoting or inhibiting the growth of cancer cells, it
turned out that in general the herbs with the ability to bind to i the
estrogen receptors acted like estradiol agonists, i.e. they promoted
tumor growth. Yes, soy estrogens were found to promote tumor growth. The
picture thats emerging from this and other studies is as follows: in
low concentrations, soy isoflavones promote breast tissue proliferation
and tumor growth. In high doses, they have the opposite action. This is
consistent with what we know about dose-dependent effects of hormones
and the need for high doses in hormonal cancer therapy.
I dont think anyone knows as yet at what point the suppressive
dose starts, or to what extent it may depend on the levels of the
womans own native steroids.
The herbs that could bind to the progesterone receptor were either
neutral or acted as progesterone antagonists.
I have asked Dr. Zava to comment on these findings.
DR. DAVID ZAVA WRITES:
The herbal phytoprogestins I have identified are all listed as
abortifacents or emmenagogues (Ivy: an emmenagogue is an agent that can
produce menstruation, whether or not fertilization and implantation has
taken place), consistent with their being neutral or P antagonists.
These chemicals could certainly, and I believe do, have other properties
related to progesterones non-receptor mediated mechanisms. For
example, progesterone binds GABA A sites in the brain, resulting in a
calming effect. Some of these herbs could do the same. The
phytochemicals in the herbs could also have other actions, such as those
of glucocorticoids, androgens, mineralcorticoids, neurotransmitters,
etc. etc. My work only scratched the surface of the multiple properties
of phytochemicals. There is much left to be learned.
Bottom line, Mother Nature makes many estrogens that act much like
estradiol, but she makes no progesterone-like molecules, at least I
couldnt find any in the many herbs I screened. Every herbal extract
that showed binding to progesterone receptors was either neutral (had no
effect on the cell) or was an antiprogestin (blocked the actions of
progesterone). Herbal literature tells us THAT EVERY HERB I FOUND BINDS
TO PROGESTERONE RECEPTORS ACTS LIKE AN ANTIPROGESTIN (Ivy: emphasis
mine). I think Mother Nature, in all her great wisdom, gave women these
herbs to help them have control over their reproduction.
Soy, thats another big story. In my opinion, its not as healthy
as weve been led to believe. Soybeans are actually quite toxic unless
many of the antinutrients are first removed by fermentation or long
cooking, soaking, pressing, and fortification with sea vegetables-in
other words, consumed the Asian way. There are a big string of
antinutrients in soybeans that remain in many of the
"Westernized" soyfoods consumed by Westerners. Perhaps Im
wrong and everyone eating soyfoods will live to 100. But they may do it
without a fully functioning brain.
This is fascinating: the herbs act as ANTI-PROGESTINS, possibly
capable of causing a miscarriage in a sufficient dose; hence perhaps
those miscarriages in sheep that graze on red clover.
There is a fascinating book on the millennia-long use of herbs for
birth control: "Eves Herbs, A History of Contraception and
Abortion in the West," by John Riddle (Harvard University Press
Re: anti-progestins. Its one of the hormonal paradoxes that either
progesterone, progestins, or anti-progestins can regress tumors. One key
factor is dose, since the action is hormones is very dose-dependent. I
think nature has given us a warning signal about soy by making us
dislike the taste and the aftertaste. And the bloating that follows a
large portion of tofu is also a clear signal that says: avoid. But then
religions have always tried to tell people what to eat and not to eat,
and we have a HEALTH FOOD RELIGION spreading like crazy, just as
ideological and artificial as trying to eat kosher or macrobiotic.
Except that its worse: some of the so-called health food is toxic.
Most flax oil is extremely rancid, regardless of refrigeration and
opaque containers; some of the herb teas are carcinogenic and/or damage
the liver. But we have religion, we have fanaticism and a kind of holy
masochism about it, and the idea of testing these things for safety is
seen as heresy.
Another property of soy bioflavonoids that needs to be explored is
their action as aromatase inhibitors. This means less estrone production
from androstenedione, testosterone and DHEA. Maybe thats a benefit
for some women, but not for others. Is it a benefit for brain function?
In any case, the physiological impact of significant doses of soy
flavones should be thoroughly investigated.
Sadly, sometimes the amount of commercial promotion seems in inverse
proportion to the amount of research.
I am amazed that genistein is now being sold OTC in pretty potent
doses (LEF) -- enough to constitute hormone replacement if several
tablets a day are takenyet no clinical trials have been done on this
kind of long-term intake thats far in excess of the known Asian
Officially genistein is just a "nutritional supplement."
Fortunately LEF is smart enough to tell women with breast cancer to stay
away from soy, but I think its the only organization that has issued
this warning. Other than Dr. Zava and a handful of scientists, to my
knowledge Life Extension Foundation is the only alternative health
source that has publicized the fact that small doses of genistein can
promote mammary tumor growth. I think it would be best to have a decade
of solid human-trial research before unleashing genistein capsules on
the market. Right now its mail-order, but within a year or two we
could see the hype that we witnessed with melatonin and DHEA.
I want to make it clear that genistein at any dose does not CAUSE
breast cancer. Neither does estradiol, or estrone, or any other estrogen
(there is some question about possible mutagenicity of a metabolite
called 16-hydroxy-estrone, the intermediate step just before estriol).
Its only IF a tumor is already present, and IF the conditions are
favorable to tumor growth (e.g. hypothyroidism, elevated insulin and
glucocorticoids [stress hormones], elevated prolactin, tissue
hyperplasia associated with certain macrocysts and/or a history of
ovulatory failure, excess n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids) that
estrogens MAY promote tumor growth. Let me emphasize this again: the
action of hormones is DOSE-DEPENDENT. Its been known for decades,
almost ever since hormones were discovered, that large doses of hormones
can regress tumor growth. Thats the basis of hormone therapy in the
treatment of cancer (pioneered by the great biochemist Casimir Funk, the
discoverer of vitamins; Funk also studied the interactions between
hormones and vitamins, stressing the need for balance). A variety of
hormones have been used to regress mammary tumors: estradiol, DES,
tamoxifen, testosterone, Proveraalways in large doses. Genistein is
no different: its been shown to promote tumor growth in small doses,
and to inhibit it in large doses.
What dose range is completely safe and protective? I wish we knew.
Monica Smith ON HER EXPERIENCE WITH THE ABSORBABILITY
OF DIFFERENT FORMS OF PROGESTERONE
I am a poster child for estrogen dominance and its more than a
theory to me. When I first started menstruating I heard periods would be
irregular. But mine were wildly irregular until I was fortyoften
months without any at all. I would blow up with tender breasts for
months at a time. At twenty I began birth control pills for two years
until I began to have horrible headaches.
They got better when I quit but I was never the same and noticed a
cyclical pattern to the headaches which would start when my estrogen
level climbed and waned during the latter part of my cycle.
I went from doctor to doctor. I was given estrogen shots, Clomid, cow
ovaries concentrateall of which made me worse. Finally after a bout
of hemorrhagic bleeding in my thirties my gyn put me on Provera. I never
felt so awful. I stopped immediately even though it meant a D & C
would be necessary. This was the first doctor to tell me I needed more
progesteronewhich he wanted me to take every month. Since that meant
Provera I passed.
I also never got pregnant during any of this time. Sometimes they
would say I had PCO disease, sometimes not. One gyn swore if he cut a
wedge in my ovaries Id be fine. Then a couple of progressive doctors
brought progesterone suppository therapy to NY and I knew that was for
me. I hunted them down like a dog and insisted that was what I needed. I
felt so good on natural progesterone I wanted to take it every day. But
being so young, that created 2 periods a month. So as a compromise, I
fudged and tried to take them a few more days than was recommended so I
could get more good days in a month.
When I got breast cancer 6 years ago, my alternative doc "looked
into it" and recommended I continue but with the natural
progesterone cream instead. I was so ignorant. I remember telling him,
"I cant get along with that dinky amount of mgs," not
realizing that I was getting less progesterone taking my suppositories
or the micronized tabs, factoring in absorption differences. Ive
taken P in so many forms since the early 80s. I took them on for a few
months, then off, not consistently, which may have given me a yo-yo
breast cancer inducing problem. I first started with suppositories.
Another doc recommended rectal cream, claiming there was no way the
vagina could absorb it because there were no blood vessels there! Then
the year I spent in California, I took oral, not micronized yet. You had
to take it every few hours because it wore off quickly. Then micronized
tabs, then oil caps (I thought I had the fluhorrible), then cream,
then sublingual P (with the cream) to quell the early morning wakeups.
I found each to have its own absorption characteristics. Barry told
me once that even with cream some people metabolize it very quickly,
others very slowly. I prefer a predictable, short period of duration so
if I overdose I dont have to wait 12-24 hours to recover. (pregnenolone
took ages to wear off too) I have had to watch the cream in that regard
because I am a slow metabolizer of it. Initially, one pharmacist told me
to take t of the 10% npc FOUR times a day. It had me fogged out for
24 hours after only TAKING THE FIRST DOSE. Since then Ive been
playing with it. I remember one of the meno list women from Hong Kong
had a lot of trouble with it, sluggish, depressed etc. I only had that
experience when Ive taken too many suppositories for too long. It
created a PMS feeling.
Thanks, Lynne, for pointing out the INDIVIDUAL VARIABILITY. Its a
constant reminder of our biochemical individuality. One size doesnt
fit all. That concept doesnt work too well in fashion; in
pharmacology, its potentially disastrous. One womans optimal dose
may be another womans underdose or overdose.
Is this important when it comes to progesterone? Potentially, if it
is indeed true that a dose thats too low may increase breast cancer
risk. Usually it takes the interaction of multiple pathological factors
for breast cancer to develop: elevated insulin and cortisol,
hypothyroidism, a genetic or immune weakness, inflammatory conditions,
exposure to chemical carcinogens and/or radiation, insufficient intake
of anticarcinogenic phytochemicals, intestinal dysfunction, and probably
other factors we dont yet understand. Ovarian dysfunction, including
failure to ovulate and chronic progesterone deficiency, is one of the
endocrine pathologies associated with premenopausal breast cancer (Zumoff
1995; Kodama 1992). After a miserable history of premenopausal
progesterone deficiency, I seem to enjoy progesterone very much. On
occasion Ive taken one gram or even more. Its interesting that in
such high doses progesterone seems to produce exhilaration rather than
sedation. A friend has also experienced this, and Ray Peat likewise
confirms it. Its like being pleasantly, mildly drunk, without any
hangover to follow.
Once or twice when I just started using the cream and was very happy
with it and using it generously, I got drowsy in daytime, which is
unusual for me (I never nap; it just doesnt happen to me). But now
only sublingual progesterone has that effect, and only if Im already
pretty drowsy. Im too used to it, alas, for it to work well as a
sleeping pill; those benzodiazepene receptors are pretty down-regulated
in a P junkie like me (I too had a life-long progesterone deficiency,
judging by my symptoms). But for a while, yes, SL P was very effective
to get me back to sleep in case of early morning awakenings. Once those
started happening very often, and finally every morning, SL P lost its
As for oil caps, Wally of WIP told me that they are FOUR TIMES as
powerful as plain micronized progesterone. He warned that taking too
much "would absolutely knock you out."
P cream remains my favorite. The real importance of P cream, the
enormous importance of it, even if you have an effective source of
progesterone such as oil caps, is as a potent backup source of P in case
of breakthrough bleeding (can happen under stress even with oil P; under
stress P is just devoured for stress hormone production), and for use on
the breasts in case of breast soreness.
I think I am a pretty fast absorber of dermal P. In fact, within
minutes of application I can usually taste the bitter P taste in my
mouth. Interestingly, this happens especially when I apply P cream
heavily to my hands (but also, say, to my belly), but doesnt happen
when I apply it to the breasts only. The breasts seem to intercept the
hormone for their own local use.
Another interesting phenomenon Ive experienced a few times is a
dramatic change in mood and thinking after using P cream in a time of
high anxiety. About half an hour after the application, Id notice a
remarkable cessation of anxiety, with "can do" thoughts
replacing the thoughts of helplessness and hopelessness.
The first time this happened, I was absolutely stunned. A hormone can
change my THOUGHTS? Then, pondering about the mechanism of depression
and the well-known phenomenon of AUTOMATIC NEGATIVE THOUGHS (ANTS), I
acquired all the more respect for the biochemical substrate of brain
function. After a post I wrote on hormones and depression, I received
email from a woman who said that she received my post just as she was
descending into suicidal depression, and she feels the information in
the post saved her life. Never underestimate the effects of knowledge
arriving just when it is needed.
The action of progesterone against agitated depression is called
ANXIOLYTIC, and has been well established through research. DHEA has
some of the same effects. (If you are feeling "down" and
lethargic, however, you need an energizing hormone like E2 or T, and a
high-protein meal.) And in case you never need the P cream for the
purposes I just mentioned, it is still a fabulous cosmetic! Makes your
skin very very soft. It is my unscientific observation that if a man
touches this luxuriously progesterone-soft skin, hes hooked for life.
(Sources on failure to ovulate and breast cancer: Cowan LD et al.
Breast cancer incidence in women with a history of progesterone
deficiency. J Epidemioli 1981; 114: 209-17; Kodama M et al. The genesis
of breast cancer is a two-step phenomenon. Anticancer Res 1992; 12:
153-160; Zumoff B. Hormonal profiles in women with breast cancer. Obstet
Gynecol Clin North Am 1994; 21: 751-72)
Good replyespecially liked the references to ovarian dysfunction.
Why wont people call it that??? When I was young I was told that
irregular periods are normal for some people. Thats like saying
having a bowel movement once a week is normal for some. Ive heard
that toofrom an oncologist when I accompanied my friend Ann to the
doctor for bladder cancer. Shes had one bm a week for years, is
overweight and seems hypothyroid. I did read someplace that that women
with bc report more of a history of constipation than others. I dont
know whether has been documented as a risk factor in the lit.
Its interesting that you brought up this analogy. Constipation is
a documented risk factor for colon cancer, another cancer that kills a
lot of older women. And it wouldnt surprise me one bit if it did turn
out to be a risk factor for breast cancer also. Holistic doctors suspect
that "toxic bowel" and "dysbiosis" (pathological
intestinal flora, such as Candida overgrowth) both play a role in the
genesis of many types of cancer. Calling pathology "normal"
just because a certain percentage of people manifest it is sheer medical
irresponsibility. Its denial, and a cover-up for ignorance. Its
like saying that older people need less sleep just because they cant
maintain sleep for as long as in youth, and that for some people four
hours is "normal." Its never normal; its just that the
doctor doesnt know what to do about it.
ACTIVATED CHARCOAL: A READERS REPORT
Well let me tell you!!!!!!!!!:):):):):)
Ivy I found the Activated Charcoal. I couldnt find the Enzyme. The
Charcoal worked it worked it worked it worked. Oh thank you so much. We
are all smiling. And no one wants me to sleep outside. That was me I
couldnt even stand myself. WHEW!
I just wanted to thank you for your suggestion for this awful gas I
Thank you thank you.
My grandmother would love to hear this. Her favorite remedy.
Sometimes low-tech solutions are best.
Activated charcoal is an effective detoxifier and de-gasser, and may
even be a life-extension agent, according to a Russian study. In larger
doses, it seems to lower cholesterol as well as expensive
cholesterol-lowering drugs. Its great stuff to keep on hand. And so
inexpensive! But I must also sound a note of caution. Activated charcoal
treats the symptoms, not the cause. One drawback is that its so
wonderfully absorbent that it can absorb some of the nutrients along
with the toxins. So dont let this immediate relief prevent you from
working on resolving the CAUSES of bloating. See the article below. As
Lynne pointed out, the title sounds like a sequel to a horror movie.
Well, indigestion is a horror, and some people live with it for decades.
There is no need to.
BLOATED NO MORE PART II
Do you remember the bloated sales clerk I mentioned in CyberHealth
11? Recently I happened to see her again. She looked a lot more healthy
and energetic, her belly protruded somewhat less, and her jeans were
buttoned. She said shed changed her diet; she eats more protein now.
But she was still afraid to eat red meat, so she ate beans instead.
"Beans can be very hard to digest," I said. She fell silent,
then all of a sudden opened up. "Every time I eat beans, I feel
just awful afterwards," she admitted in a half-whisper. "And
if you eat them during PMS, they just kill you," I said. "Oh,
oh," she groaned, holding her stomach. "Those male experts who
tell women what to eat have no idea how hormones influence womens
digestion," I remarked. She angrily agreed. I told her about Sally
Fallons ideas on enzyme-rich nutrition, and other things along those
At home I pondered how come its OK to discuss genital atrophy and
urinary incontinence as symptoms of menopausal hormone deficiency, but
gassy bloating, constipation, and other digestive problems that become
so common after menopause are still not only largely ignored, but to
make matters worse older women are urged to consume large amounts of
hard-to-digest beans, tofu, milk (for calcium), whole-grain pasta and
the like. And women tend to obey to the point of masochism.
Men seem to have more common sense; they may try a so-called health
food, but if it tastes terrible and/or makes them gassy, thats the
end of it. Women are often terribly intimidated by health advice, and
continue to torment themselves in a good-girl fashion. They naively
assume that such advice is based on solid science, so of course anyone
who can write an article must know more about what is good for them than
they do! To make womens digestive problems worse, even young women
suffer from flatulence and worse during the perimenstrual phase, and
after menopause of course the digestive function deteriorates in
parallel with sleep, mood, memory, urinary continence, muscle tone and
so on. Yet newly menopausal women often seem particularly unprepared for
digestive changes, and keep asking in a state of shock: "Why am I
so gassy all the time? Why does my belly stick out so much?" They
dont seem to have made the hormonal connection.
But I have already discussed the hormonal influences in the Part I:
chiefly the salivary, pancreatic, and intestinal insufficiency
associated with being hypoestrogenic. Now I want to go over some further
- Excess fiber. Fiber is wonderful, but some women simply overdo it.
The right amount seems to be around 20g a day; more than that can
irritate the intestines and cause flatulence.
- Excess cruciferous vegetables. Again, broccoli is wonderful, the
whole cabbage family has tremendous merit in preventing cancer, but
our digestive system doesnt seem to be quite adapted to it.
The good news is that there are ways to get the anti-carcinogenic
compounds in crucifers with much less intestinal discomfort. We now have
the fabulous broccoli sproutsno, I dont mean that they taste
fabulous, but they are edible, and the best thing is that you need to
eat just a bit of them instead of the recommended 4 oz serving of mature
broccoli! And, as a free bonus, all the potent enzymes of a young sprout
are there, undestroyed by cooking.
As for cabbage itself, there is no need to cook it. Cole slaw is an
honorable way to eat cabbage (skip the sugar, or any sugary dressings),
as is sauerkraut, an example of naturally lacto-fermented food so
praised by Sally Fallon as actually improving digestion.
- Beans. Some people can handle them, others cant, at least not
before social occasions. Sally Fallon recommends long soaking and
very slow cooking. Ive tried it, and while it did work, I decided
the taste just wasnt worth the hassle when I could simply have
more salad (but see Jorges recipe below).
Beano never worked for me.
But again, there is no denying the good nutrition in beans. They also
help keep insulin low. The simplest solution may be keeping the portion
small, and eating them in the evening when you are relaxed and digestion
is automatically better.
Wondering about the tradional ways of cooking beans, Ive asked
Jorge, one of our Brazilian readers, for a recipe. Here it is:
1) Soak the beans in water overnight;
2) Cook them for quite a long time in a standard pan, or for some
40 minutes in a pressure cooker (very popular over here, mostly due to
beans) until tender;
3) In a skillet with a little oil golden sliced onions and garlic;
4) Add the content of the skillet to the pan of beans, add salt and
other spices to taste.
Ivy: Please note the soaking and long cooking, and the considerable
use of spices; Ive heard that some spices make beans more digestible.
If anyone knows more about this, please write me.
- Milk. Its not just the lactose; casein, the chief milk protein,
is also hard to digest. And those long-chain fatty acids arent
easy either. Pasteurized milk doesnt have any enzymes left, so it
creates a heavy digestive burden. Goat milk is easier to digest
because of a better fatty acid profile, but if you dont have
enough lactase, even goat milk can be bloating.
Solution: fermented milk products. Luckily, I find plain kefir and
buttermilk delicious. Kefir cheese (Altadena makes it) is my latest
discovery. I find it easier to digest than yogurt, which still contains
a lot of lactose and for some women is just as bloating as milk.
Fermented milk products have a slightly laxative effect, so they help to
shorten the amount of time food stays in the intestines. Shorter passage
automatically means less chance to produce gas.
Quick passage through the intestines also means a lower risk of colon
cancer. As for lactose drops, I havent found them any more effective
than Beano, but maybe others have found an effective brand. If so,
please write me.
- Overcooked vegetables. Most vegetables can be eaten raw, semi-raw
(Chinese style stir-frying), or lacto-pickled (youll have to get
Sally Fallons book to really understand what this means).
Overcooking destroys both enzymes and nutrients, and makes the
vegetables more glycemic, and thus potentially fattening.
- Meat cooked at high temperature. High temperature cooking, such as
charcoal grilling, makes meat both carcinogenic and difficult to
digest, since it denatures the proteins and fats.
- Fried foods. I think enough has been said about frying to make you
realize its as suicidal as smoking cigarettes. This is an
instance where the official line is correct. Especially when
polyunsaturates are used, the meal becomes downright toxic. Have
some respect for your blood vessels and your liver; dont fry
anything. (I dont mean brief stir-frying at moderate temperature,
using a stable fat. I mean the really destructive high-heat frying.)
- Sugary foods. Sugars feed Candida. They fuel fermentation,
including alcoholic fermentation. You risk turning into a walking
brewery! Women seem to have a particular problem with sugary foods.
Many women are on a diet thats insufficient in protein and fats,
so they feel hungry within two hours or a meal, sometimes even
sooner. Some women report that they feel constantly hungry. Since
its not yet time for a regular meal, women will therefore eat
snacks. Snacks are suicide foodtypically very high carbo. Women
know that eating junkfood is killing them, but they just cant
control their hunger.
Dr. Atkins said something absolutely revolutionary on this topic:
"Snack on protein and fat." I used to carry a chunk of cheddar
cheese in a little plastic baggy in my purse whenever I had to be away
from home for several hours. Then I tried the Zone bars. Neither
solution proved satisfactory. A hard-boiled egg or two and a green apple
(green apples are less sweet) turned out to be the best emergency meal
for me. Note that I say "meal," because a whole range of
nutrients are present: protein, fat, carbohydrates, and fiber.
My hard-won philosophy is this: when hungry, eat real food. Dont
eat snacks. Snacks kill. They dont give you real energy; they keep
you chronically hungry and chronically fatigued. Have a regular meal,
even if the time of day is culturally incorrect. Then there will be no
need for snacking.
But if snack you must, remember that processed carbohydrates feed
yeast. An apple, or sometimes simply drinking water, can give you a
temporary lift so you can manage to fix yourself a meal, or get to the
nearest place where you can have some real food.
- Whole grains. Its rarely mentioned how hard to digest whole
grains are, like all seeds that havent been properly prepared.
One solution I found is sprouted wheatberries. They taste amazingly
good, and dont seem to bloat me at all. Of course its
difficult to eat more than a few spoonfuls at a time, which may be a
- Almonds and other nuts. Nuts are known to be "heavy on the
- Yet the nutrition is excellent, and it woud be a shame to avoid
eating nuts. Fortunately there is an effective solution. Simply soak
them. Soaked almonds are delicious. Youll never care for
"dry" almonds again.
- Oatmeal. Sally Fallon recommends soaking it overnight.
- I have already mentioned the importance of keeping the passage of
food through the intestines relatively brief. Obviously constipation
is to be avoided. Besides fermented milk products such as buttermilk
and plain kefir, you can try some whey powder dissolved in water, a
small amount of psyllium (too much will cause very nasty bloating),
or calcium ascorbate powder (youll have to experiment with the
amount; flatulence and/or diarrhea may result from excess).
Gelatin is also reputed to help digestion. I mean plain gelatin of
course, and not sugar-loaded Jello.
ACTIVATED CHARCOAL is a very inexpensive and amazingly effective
remedy against gas. Once youve tried it, youll never waste your
money on Gas-X and the like (which dont seem to make it down to the
intestines; the problem is in the intestines, not in the stomach).
Life Extension Foundation, 800-544-4440, has just announced that it
has a new mushroom-derived product that detoxifies the intestines by
eliminating toxic and odor-producing compounds such as ammonia and
hydrogen sulfide. Its supposed to be a particular blessing for the
elderly. Life Extension Foundation also recommends an extra dose before
social occasions. Lets hope it works. If it turns out to be a
disappointment, there is always dear old reliable activated charcoal for
pennies a dose.
Life Extension Foundation stresses that reducing toxic compounds such
as ammonia, mercaptan, and hydrogen sulfide helps prevent both colon
cancer and a variety of degenerative disorders. This is a sobering
reminder which should make us stop making silly jokes and concentrate
instead of finding solutions to intestinal malfunction, which typically
gets worse and worse with aging. If you are in bad shape at fifty, ask
yourself what it will be like at eighty, unless you do something now.
FISH OIL is wonderful at calming down intestinal inflammation. I
recommend "Mega"-type EPA supplements, such as the Trader
Joes brand. Ordinary fish oil caps provide too much soybean oil and
not enough EPA. "But I dont have inflammation, just gas,"
you may be thinking. Youll be surprised at the difference fish oil
can make by healing the intestinal lining. Folic acid and glutamine also
help fight intestinal inflammation. Folic acid is known to help prevent
Butter, goat milk, and coconut oil contain short and medium-chain
fatty acids that nourish the intestinal mucosa. Caprylic acid is
especially important since it fights yeast infections.
Coconut oil is the cheapest source of caprylic acid. Thanks to the
information from Jorge, one of our Brazilian readers, I started using
coconut oil and can attest to its benefits. So can several other
devotees I know. If you want to put to rest your fears about the alleged
"badness" of this oil, read Sally Fallons book and/or call
Omega Nutrition, 800-661-3529, for a detailed summary of the health
benefits of this remarkable oil. I can also send you Ray Peats very
convincing article on the same subject.
FOS stands for Fructo-Oligo-polySaccarides, a type of carbohydrate
that our bodies dont digest for energy, but friendly bacteria thrive
on. The taste is pleasantly sweet. There is now a new supplement from
Enzymatic Therapy called Enzydophilus. It combines FOS with live
lactobacteria and with pancreatic enzymes.
I have tried FOS, and was pleasantly surprised at the considerable
improvement in digestion that resulted within two weeks or so.
Considering that the friendly bacteria not only fight yeast infections,
but also help with hormone metabolism and thus help lower the risk of
breast cancer, FOS is vastly underused. But then it could be argued that
you can get comparable results with buttermilk at a fraction of the
price. Do I need to remind anyone that THOROUGH CHEWING is the first
step toward good digestion? In fact, it amounts to PRE-DIGESTION. Yet so
many of us have become eat-on-the-run workaholics with no respect for
our physiology. Our saliva contains digestive enzymes. Digestion
doesnt begin in the stomach; it begins in the mouth. Give your saliva
a chance. Elementary. (Please note: low saliva production can be a sign
of estrogen deficiency.) Swallowing large chunks of food means a greater
digestive burden, and more possibility of gas. Elementary.
Eating slowly rather than in a rush, and being as relaxed as possible
can make all the difference between gassiness and cramps versus that
contented and energized feeling when the digestive system works well.
The secret is that digestion is a parasympathetic function; the
parasympathetic nervous system has been called the
"rest-and-digest" system. If the sympathetic fight-or-flight
system is switched on instead, blood and energy are diverted away from
the GI tract, digestion stops, and food begins to fester. Eating in a
rush can also cause us to swallow quite a bit of air as we eat, and that
air will cause every bit as much pressure and discomfort as the gas
produced by intestinal fermentation. Here good manners are actually very
functional: keep your mouth fully closed when you chew. Dont try to
eat and talk at the same time.
And, as mother said, dont stuff yourself. Eat slowly and savor.
Then youll clearly hear the "enough" whisper from your
body. Anything else? Ah yes: Swedish bitters. Mint extract. There are
all kinds of digestive herbal remedies. But ultimately there is no
substitute for good dietary habits.
SOME THOUGHTS ON MOTHER TERESA AND THE DIVINE IN EACH PERSON
Took her name after Teresa of Avila, who said, "Christ has no
body now on earth but yours; yours are the only hands with which he can
do his work, yours are the only feet with which he can go about the
world, yours are the only eyes through which his compassion can shine
forth upon a troubled world." And Mother Teresa was famous for
saying about those made repellent by extreme poverty and illness that
this is "Christ in a most distressing disguise."
But we need to confine ourselves to Christian terminology to
understand this attitude. Deepak Chopra, drawing on ancient Indian
spirituality, said, "Every relationship is ultimately a
relationship with God."
The same idea is expressed in "A Rabbis Proverb":
If you always assume
that the man sitting next to you
is the Messiah
waiting for some simple human
You will soon come to weigh your words
and watch your hands.
And if he chooses
not to reveal himself
in your time
It will not matter.
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Editorial Assistants: Gail Peterson, Monica Smith
Research Assistant for this issue: Monica Smith
The information contained herein is meant for information only, and
not as medical advice.
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