Monday, June 25, 2007 - How Many Hormones Should I Test For?

Taking a Saliva Hormone Test will assist you in assessing important steroid hormones which could be the cause of many of your symptoms. The three main hormones for all men and women to test are Estradiol - E2, Progesterone - Pg and Testosterone - T.

Estradiol: We always encourage the testing of estradiol - E2 estrogen. E2 is an estrogen that causes cell proliferation and is the strongest estrogen that your body makes. It is produced with each women's menstrual cycle and is the most common estrogen prescribed in hormone replacement therapy. A balance is usually maintained between estrone and estradiol of about 50/50 therefore we don't recommend testing for Estrone - E1 estrogen as it is likely to be identical to E2.

Men over the age of 50 usually will have escalating levels of E2 often in larger amounts than women of the same age. Men too need to test this hormone.

Progesterone: We always recommend that Progesterone - Pg should be tested. Progesterone is a neutral hormone with neither male nor female attributes. It is the balancing hormone to E2 - estradiol. This hormone needs to be found in adequate amounts in both men and women as it has been shown to protect the prostrate in men by inhibiting 5-alpha reductase, and to protect the uterine lining and breast tissue in women. Low progesterone levels contributes to estrogen dominance in both men and women. Adequate progesterone assists the body in building new bone an important component in the prevention of osteoporosis.

Testosterone: New studies suggest that testosterone can be of real help, and potential harm, to women. It is important to determine testosterone levels for women since high levels of testosterone can also triple heart risks for older women. This is a hormone that a women would only supplement if the saliva test shows it is deficient!

Men should always test testosterone levels since the decline of this hormone is at the core of male menopause (andropause). Often loss of energy, loss of sexual drive loss of ambition are written off as burnout or depression when in actual fact these symptoms could be related to low testosterone.

Additional Hormones To Test Would Be:

DHEA: This hormone is produced in the adrenals of both men and women from cholesterol. Nearly every cell in the body has receptor sites for this hormone. DHEA follows the pathway in the body converting to Testosterone and Estrogens. We know that DHEA declines steadily after early adulthood. When they test and find out they are deficient, both men and women generally feel marked improvements in well-being when they take a DHEA supplement.

AM Cortisol: Cortisol is made in the adrenal glands in reaction to stress. The effect of elevated Cortisol is often so subtle that we hardly pay attention to the symptoms - gaining a few extra pounds, a slight drop in sex drive and energy levels and a bit of trouble with our memory. Finding out if your stressful lifestyle is having an impact on your morning Cortisol can be determined through a saliva hormone test. If cortisol levels show to be out of range you will be motivated to do something about getting your stress levels under control.

Next Week: "Who Would Benefit From Saliva Hormone Testing?"

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Wednesday, April 4, 2007

What is Saliva Hormone Testing?

Saliva Hormone Testing is an accurate and simple way for the ordinary man or women to assess the current levels of steroid hormones (e.g. estradiol, progesterone, testosterone) - in their body without having to make an expensive visit a doctors office.

Scientific literature for almost 30 years has documented saliva testing of steroid hormones. Saliva testing is routinely used in scientific research settings and as standard textbook material for students of endocrinology and internal medicine (Williams Textbook of Endocrinology). The World Health Organization (WHO) approved this method of testing in the 1990's when it was found to be an accurate, convenient and noninvasive measurement of free hormone levels.

Steroid hormones in saliva reflect the portion of circulating hormones in the bloodstream that are unbound by serum binding proteins (free or bioavailable) and therefore are able to enter tissues throughout the body. The salivary hormone values, therefore, reflect the biologically active (the unbound) portion available to target cells. Blood hormone assays reflect both bound and free forms of hormones and do not provide information about the bioavailable fraction of hormone, which can vary depending on the level of blood hormone binding proteins.

Simply put, hormone saliva testing tells us the amount of hormones in our body that are actually usable by our cells; where as blood testing evaluates all circulating hormones regardless of their availability to our cells - and most importantly anyone can do this easy test.

Next Week: "What Hormones Should I Test?"

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

Hormone Balancing and the Risks for Heart Disease

By Jackie Harvey

Risk factors for heart disease are primarily the same in women as they are in men. Smoking, high blood pressure, excessive weight, sedentary lifestyle (little or no exercise), high Homocystine levels, diabetes, high cholesterol, age and family history of heart problems all increase a woman's chances of having heart disease.

The one addition for women is HRT. Since July 2002 HRT can be considered a risk for heart disease according to the WHI study which evaluated PremPro a premarin and provera combination therapy which was gaining popularity with medical practitioners.

Research shows that anovulatory cycles and lowered progesterone levels occur prior to menopause. Then progesterone levels after menopause and continue to fall to close to zero. Estrogen, on the other hand, falls only 40 to 60 percent with menopause.

A woman's passage through menopause then results in a greater loss of progesterone than of estrogen. It is believed that perhaps the increase in heart disease risk after menopause is due more to progesterone deficiency than to estrogen deficiency. Dr. John R Lee author of the book “What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Menopause” states that in his clinical experience, lipid profiles improve when bio-identical progesterone is supplemented. The synthetic versions of progesterone called progestins or progestagens do not offer the same effects. In fact, the WHI study and more recent studies from Harvard and the UK all point to the fact that HRT- Estrogen plus a progestin increases a woman’s risk for heart disease and may even contribute to heart disease.

Bio-identical progesterone on the other hand appears to increase the burning of fats for energy and, in addition, has anti-inflammatory effects. Both of these actions would be protective against coronary heart disease. Progesterone protects the integrity and function of cell membranes, whereas estrogen allows an influx of sodium and water while allowing loss of potassium and magnesium. Progesterone, a natural diuretic, promotes better sleep patterns and helps us deal with stress. When one reviews the known actions of progesterone, it is clear that many of its actions are also beneficial to the heart.

The key to reducing a woman’s risk of heart disease is to maintain a balance of hormones in her body and at the same time actively pursue a program to prevent heart disease.

Steps to take would be:

1. Use a Saliva test to determine the status of estradiol and progersterone.

2. If either are deficient increase progesterone levels first using a bio-identical cream.

3. Increase Fiber in the diet and use a supplement like Fiber Source 7 which has the additional advantage of containing probiotics. High fiber diets have been shown to improve hormone levels and to assist with heart health.

4. Increase EFA’s in the diet. Essential Fats promote good hormone production as well as heart health.

5. Increase the consumption of fruits and vegetables focusing on greeny leafy vegetables and cruciferous vegetables which contain anti oxidants and indole-3-carbinol. Taking a fruit and vegetable concentrate and an indoles supplement in addition to eating more makes sense to guarantee you are getting all the nutrients needed and to fill the gaps in your diet. 6. Using a calcium/magnesium supplement for your bones and for your heart health is often suggested in prevention programs.

We must take charge of our health. Prevention is always the best medicine. It is never too late to make lifestyle changes. Exercise, a healthy diet and the right supplements and perhaps a little hormone balancing can all ensure that we don’t fall victim to the silent killer that is relentlessly stalking our heart and ultimately – our life.

This Article Is Copyright 2006 Jackie Harvey &

Jackie Harvey is a nutritional speaker who shares her interest and information on hormone health and hormone saliva testing throughout North America in her popular "Let's Talk About Hormones" seminar. Visit her website
for a schedule of events in your area and for more information about her Best Selling 1-hour DVD "Let's Talk About Hormones with Jackie Harvey". Click For More information on Women's Hormone Saliva Testing and Saliva Test Kits.

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Thursday, March 15, 2007

Lower Your Risk For Breast Cancer & Heart Disease

By Jackie Harvey

Many postmenopausal women are looking for alternatives to hormone therapy, especially in light of the recent Women s Health Initiative research findings concerning the risks of combined estrogen and progestin therapy. Of particular interest are phytoestrogens, which have been gaining popularity due to their natural status, alleged health claims, and availability in a wide range of foods and supplements.

What are Phytoestrogens?

Phytoestrogens are naturally occurring plant compounds that have some similarities to estradiol, the most potent naturally occurring estrogen. However, phytoestrogens tend to have weaker effects than most estrogens, are not stored in the body, and can be easily broken down and eliminated.

Observational studies have found a lower prevalence of breast cancer, heart disease and hip fracture rates among people living in places like Southeast Asia, where diets are typically high in phytoestrogens. In North America, knowledge of these reported health effects has stimulated great interest in the health benefits of phytoestrogens. According to the Food and Drug Administration, the sale of soy foods, a major source of phytoestrogens, has increased dramatically in the past decade.

Dietary Sources of Phytoestrogens

Phytoestrogens consist of more than 20 compounds and can be found in more than 300 plants, such as herbs, grains and fruits. The three main classes of dietary phytoestrogens are isoflavones, lignans and coumestans:

Isoflavones (genistein, daidzein, glycitein and equol) are primarily found in soy beans and soy products, chickpeas and other legumes.

Lignans (enterolactone and enterodiol) are found in seeds (primarily flaxseed), cereal bran, legumes, and alcohol (beer and bourbon).

Coumestans (coumestrol) can be found in alfalfa and clover. Most food sources containing these compounds typically include more than one class of phytoestrogens.

The Skeletal Effects of Phytoestrogens

Much of the evidence concerning the potential role of phytoestrogens in bone health is based on animal studies. In fact, soybean protein, soy isoflavones, genistein, daidzein and coumestrol have all been shown to have a protective effect on bone in animals who had their ovaries surgically removed.

In humans, however, the evidence is conflicting. Compared to Caucasian populations, documented hip fracture rates are lower in countries such as Hong Kong, China and Japan where dietary phytoestrogen intakes are high. Yet reports suggest that Japanese women have a greater risk of sustaining a vertebral fracture than Caucasian women.

Several studies have explored the effects of soy isoflavones on bone health, but results have been mixed, ranging from a modest impact to no effect. Most of these studies have serious limitations, including their short duration and small sample size, making it difficult to fully evaluate the impact of these compounds on bone health.

Ipriflavone Supplements

Ipriflavone, a synthetic isoflavone, has shown some promise in its ability to conserve bone in postmenopausal women. Ipriflavone has also been shown to have a protective effect on bone density in pre-menopausal women taking gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH), a treatment for endometriosis that triggers bone loss.

However, a definitive three-year study of more than 400 postmenopausal women concluded that ipriflavone did not prevent bone loss. Additionally, the compound was linked to lymphocytopenia (a reduction in lymphocytes) in a significant number of study participants. Lymphocytes are a type of white blood cell that helps the body fight infection.

Risks and Benefits Are Unclear

Some studies suggest that, unlike estrogen, phytoestrogens do not appear to target breast or uterine tissue. This suggests that they may act more like SERMS (selective estrogen receptor modulators such as raloxifene and tamoxifen) than actual estrogens. However, in other studies high isoflavone levels have been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer.

Clearly, additional research is needed to further evaluate the effects of phytoestrogens before judgments regarding their safety and usefulness can be made.

Key Points

Based on information available at this time, it is reasonable to make the following conclusions concerning phytoestrogens and bone health in postmenopausal women:

Moderate amounts of foods containing phytoestrogens can be safely included in the diet but do not expect it to help build bone. Keep to the basic rule eat the least processed forms.

Due to a lack of evidence and concerns about safety, supplementation with synthetic isoflavones (ipriflavone) is in question.

Postmenopausal women are encouraged to view evidence concerning phytoestrogens and bone health as conflicting and incomplete. For women who are estrogen dominant increasing their phytoestrogen intake may not improve their bone position.

This Article Is Copyright 2007 Jackie L. Harvey &

Jackie Harvey is a nutritional speaker who shares her interest and information on hormonal health and women's saliva hormone testing throughout North America in her popular "Let's Talk About Hormones" seminar. Visit Jackie's informative website for a schedule of events in your area and for more information about her Best Selling 1-hour DVD "Let's Talk About Hormones with Jackie Harvey".

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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Women's Hormone Replacement Therapy - Are You In Balance?

By Jackie Harvey

It has been two years since the Women's Health Initiative Estrogen plus Progestin (WHI) arm of this large trial was stopped early because it caused harm. The WHI showed the opposite of what was expected--Estrogen (Premarin) plus Progestin (Provera) caused heart disease and breast cancer as well as blood clots and strokes. WHI results show that estrogen does not improve the quality of life for women. WHI estrogen plus progestin results are "evidence-based."

We now have evidence-based proof that "HRT" is harmful to women. But people are still taking Hormone Replacement Therapy and are concerned about estrogen deficiency. Why? "Little has changed because the fundamental, negative ideas about women and about menopause have not changed. Universal menopausal hormone therapy ... (is) based on a cultural belief that women are inferior and need fixing. For over twenty years I have been saying that menopause is a natural part of women's life cycle, the low estrogen levels after menopause are healthy and not abnormal. This made me unpopular--I have been labeled as "way-out" or worse. Therefore the WHI results for me were a vindication", says Jerilynn C. Prior BA, MD, FRCPC Professor of Endocrinology, Scientific Director, Centre for Menstrual Cycle and Ovulation Research, University of British Columbia. And, she is correct.

Two years after the WHI study little has changed. If you go to your doctor today and request HRT most will prescribe it for you. Despite the fact that The Women's Health Initiative, the largest controlled trial of ovarian hormone therapy ever performed, provided the strongest proof that Medicine (which has been strongly influenced by the Pharmaceutical Industry) causes harm for women. The website for the WHI study said, "Women should stop their study drugs immediately." Following that order led to hot flushes in many women who were on hormone therapy because their body had adjusted to that higher level of estrogen. Women who heard the news of the study in the media also often stopped their therapy abruptly. That led to severe hot flushes in hundreds of thousands of women and in virtually all women who had previously experienced them. "Because it is well known that rapid withdrawal from estrogen causes night sweats and hot flushes, all physicians should have been ready with advice for women wanting to stop estrogen." Says Dr. Prior.

For Lack of helpful information, and because the resulting symptoms of night sweats/hot flushes were so miserable, many women, in desperation, reluctantly restarted unwanted HRT treatment. It seems logical to now say that the WHI results require re-thinking of the concepts on which menopausal "replacement" and "estrogen deficiency" were based. The primary assumption that all women needed estrogen because they were deficient still needs to be addressed. I like what Dr. Susan Love said, "If estrogen deficiency is a disease, all men have it!" Destroying the concept of estrogen deficiency will be hard and may take many years to achieve. In the mean time where does that leave you and I?

Estrogen Dominance not estrogen deficiency, according to Dr. John Lee is at the crux of our dilemma and bringing our hormones back into balance will be the key to hormonal health.

STEP 1. Become informed. The "Let's Talk About Hormones" video provides valuable information on hormone balancing. Dr. Lee's "What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Menopause" has just been updated. Information is the key to your power!

STEP 2. Evaluate your own hormones with a saliva test whether you are on hormones currently or not. Find out if you have adequate hormone levels or are truly deficient.

STEP 3. Work with someone who understands the issues. Dr. Lee felt that most women can themselves oversee their hormonal challenges. If you must select a healthcare provider choose one who like Dr. Prior says, "I will never again prescribe estrogen as a pill. There is now overwhelming controlled trial evidence that pill forms of estrogen cause unacceptably high rates of clots and perhaps, through clotting, also increased strokes and heart disease. There are not yet strong data but it is likely that estrogen given through the skin (as a gel, cr me or patch) will be less likely to activate liver clotting factors and thus safer. To me it means "bio-identical" or "natural" kinds of estrogen and progesterone both given in physiological doses."

STEP 4. Just know that balancing hormones is not just about taking additional hormones but about diet and lifestyle changes. I believe that we have a unique opportunity, right now, as women on this second anniversary of the initial WHI results. We can become pro-active about our own hormone health and share with those women around us who are struggling with their hormone challenges. Women reaching out to other women will have a greater effect than waiting for the research to catch up. Each of us must practice living with these important ideas. Then hormonal health will be ours.

This Article Is Copyright 2007 Jackie L. Harvey &

Jackie Harvey is a nutritional speaker who shares her interest and information on hormonal health and women's saliva hormone testing throughout North America in her popular "Let's Talk About Hormones" seminar. Visit Jackie's informative website for a schedule of events in your area and for more information about her Best Selling 1-hour DVD "Let's Talk About Hormones with Jackie Harvey".

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Saliva Testing - What about Early Menopause?

Early menopause and/or premature menopause are terms that are often used interchangeably -- and are often used as umbrella terms to cover many different situations and conditions -- from premature ovarian failure to surgical menopause to menopause caused by chemotherapy or radiation.

The link between them all is age: To put it as simply as possible, early or premature menopause is typically used to mean menopause that comes well before the average age of normal menopause -- when you're still in your 20s, 30s, or early 40s. More technically, as used by many doctors and medical journals: Early menopause refers to the total cessation of your periods for 12 months -- before the age of 45.

Some other causes of amennorhea (stopped periods) include:

Excessive weight gain or weight loss, Use of certain drugs-such psychiatric drugs and narcotics, excessive exercise, Recent use of birth control pills-it's not uncommon to stop getting periods for up to six months after discontinuing the pill, Uterine adhesions -usually due to infection or d&c procedures.

Whatever the technical term that's used and whatever the cause, early menopause means one simple thing: your reproductive system is no longer working the way it used to.....and it's happening at an age when you didn't expect it to be happening. Women who have put off having children they always wanted, may feel betrayed when menopause comes too early.

Women who have skipped periods for over a year do meet the diagnosis of menopause. When they are under 40 that makes their menopause too early ("early menopause"). However, menopause is a normal part of the hormonal lives for all women. For some menopause just came about 10 to 12 years too soon.

Women with early menopause are often cut short on their normal life cycle exposure to estrogen and progesterone. It does become important then to do a saliva test to determine the estradiol and progesterone levels after menopause. It may be important to balance the deficient hormones with bio-identical estrogen and progesterone therapy until you reach age 52. This should always be monitored with saliva testing and by your physician.

You should have a bone density test because one of the risks of early menopause is osteoporosis. Balancing estrogen and progesterone along with a healthy active lifestyle will help prevent this damaging disease.

Be encouraged, you have successfully survived perimenopause (which is very rough for many) and graduated into menopause a bit too early. That doesn't change who you are as a woman and a person. While your hormones are adjusting there may still be ups and downs but eventually you'll feel well again, and probably better than you have for at least five years as you enter the next wonderful season of your life!

This Article Is Copyright 2007 Jackie L. Harvey &

Jackie Harvey is a nutritional speaker who shares her interest and information on hormonal health and women's saliva hormone testing throughout North America in her popular "Let's Talk About Hormones" seminar. Visit Jackie's informative website for a schedule of events in your area and for more information about her Best Selling 1-hour DVD "Let's Talk About Hormones with Jackie Harvey".

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The Birth Control Pill & The Breast Cancer Connection

There is only one drug in the world so well known that it's called "the Pill." For more than forty years, more people have taken the Pill than any other prescribed medicine in the world.

Sex, pregnancy, and contraception have been hot topics for millennia. It wasn't until the U.S. government approved the birth control pill in 1960 that possibilities for contraception changed dramatically. The majority of women -- and plenty of men -- welcomed the Pill .

The birth control pill was the first medication ever designed for purely social, rather than therapeutic purposes. At the height of the drugs popularity, U.S. Senate hearings focused the nations attention on potentially deadly health risks posed by the high-dose Pill. As a result of the hearings, pharmaceutical companies lowered the dosages and doctors advised women who were obese, smoked, had high blood pressure or a family history of blood clots against taking the Pill.

In the 1980s, the high dosage 10-milligram pill was removed from the market and biphasic and triphasic oral contraceptives were introduced. Today, women can get a prescription for a Pill containing 1 milligram of progestins, one tenth of the original dose, and containing as little as 20 micrograms of estrogen.

From the very beginning, a significant number of women complained of discomfort from the Pill and switched to other methods. When women wanted to discuss the side effects with their doctors, they often met with frustration. It was common for their complaints to be dismissed as exaggerated. In other cases their ailments were just considered the price that women had to pay in return for such an effective contraceptive. The problem was compounded by that fact that female patients were not always informed about the potential for strokes, heart attacks or blood clots while on the Pill. For the most part sharing the Pills risk has become a part of the information provided by health care practitioners who prescribe the Pill.

Today, the safety of the Pill is assumed. However, it is important to remember that the pill contains identical hormones to those found in Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT). HRT has come under question because of the Women s Health Initiative Study showing an increase in breast cancer and heart disease for those women who were on HRT.

In October 20, 2004 headlines read Birth Control Pill Cuts Cancer, Heart Disease Risk: Study - A new study, yet to be published, suggests women who use oral contraceptives have lower risks of heart disease, stroke, and cancer.

This study has now been denied as accurate by the WHI. Analyses by the WHI have made it clear that the recent findings were not correct

The low dose pill today although deemed to be safe has never undergone a large government-funded study similar to the WHI study on HRT. According to Dr. John R. Lee in his book What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Breast Cancer women up to age 21 who use the Pill increase their lifetime risk of Breast Cancer by 600%. Caution when considering the use of Birth Control Pill should still be used.

This Article Is Copyright 2007 Jackie L. Harvey &

Jackie Harvey is a nutritional speaker who shares her interest and information on hormonal health and women's saliva hormone testing throughout North America in her popular "Let's Talk About Hormones" seminar. Visit Jackie's informative website for a schedule of events in your area and for more information about her Best Selling 1-hour DVD "Let's Talk About Hormones with Jackie Harvey".

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