ANDROPAUSE & INFLAMMATION
ANDROPAUSE & BLOOD SUGAR
"The most common cause of erectile dysfunction (ED) is penile vascular insufficiency. This is usually part of a generalized endothelial dysfunction and is related to several conditions, including type 2 diabetes mellitus, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, and obesity. These conditions underlie the pathophysiology of metabolic syndrome (MetS). Hypogonadism, or testosterone deficiency (TD), is an integral component of the pathology underlying endothelial dysfunction and MetS, with insulin resistance (IR) at its core."
Here is another problem for the aging male. Because most testosterone is bound to SHBG (Sex Hormone Binding Globulin), and because free or unbound hormone is the hormone that really matters no matter what hormone we are talking about, the fact that as males age, testosterone is much more likely to be bound to SHBG, creates a situation where we automatically have less "usable" T. And then there's the issue of aromitization.
Aromatase (aka estrogen synthase) is the enzyme that catalyzes androgens into estrogens. While a certain amount of this is good, normal, and necessary, just remember that either of the two factors above (inflammation or insulin resistance, not to mention obesity) automatically upregulates aromatase activity, causing increased levels of estrogen in males, which actually restarts the cycle since abnormal ratios of sex hormones are themselves inflammatory.
It's a big part of why I recently wrote the crazy-interesting article about SUGAR'S ABILITY TO TURN MEN INTO WOMEN AND WOMEN INTO MEN. Men who are over-aromatizing are going to have characteristics typically thought of as female --- excess fat on hips / butt, over-emotional, hot flashes or sweating for no good reason, moobs (man boobs), etc. Just be aware that there are a myriad of other characteristics of the Andropause, many of them easy to confuse with other problems.
- ANDROPAUSE IS LINKED TO OTHER "GERIATRIC" SYNDROMES: In the March 2013 issue of the journal Maturitas (A View of Geriatrics Through Hormones. What is the Relation Between Andropause and Well-known Geriatric Syndromes?), researchers linked Andropause to, "frequent geriatric syndromes such as falls, osteoporosis, cognitive and mood disorders, anemia and cardiovascular disease." Authors of the 2012 study in Minerva Medica (Andropause -- Androgen Deficiency of the Aging Male: Diagnosis and Management) let readers know that, "it is a pathological syndrome and should not be viewed simply as a stage in physiological aging." I would agree. While I undoubtedly see Andropause looked at by a segment of the medical community as a meal ticket (a billable ICD-10 CODE), these authors are right; it is pathological. Most people have gotten far too used to the idea that we men are supposed to fall apart and not be able to "get it up" after a certain age.
- ANDROPAUSE IS LINKED TO ANEMIA: We know that women get anemia due to the amount of monthly bleeding they do over their lifetimes, and that said anemia can be a deal-breaker as far as solving chronic health issues is concerned (HERE). What many don't realize is that hormonal issues (in this case Andropause) are sometimes associated with anemia in males as well. A Dutch journal that I will not even attempt to pronounce, let alone spell, published a study in 2012 called Unexplained Anemia in Men: Be Aware of Hypogonadism. The authors concluded that, "Testosterone exerts anabolic effects in multiple organ systems; in bone marrow it potentiates the stimulatory effect of erythropoietin on erythropoiesis. Primary hypogonadism frequently occurs in elderly patients, while secondary hypogonadism is frequently seen in middle-aged men with type 2 diabetes mellitus and obesity." In other words, as your male hormones slide south, it not only affects your sex life, it affects your organ systems as well.
- ANDROPAUSE LINKED TO AUTOIMMUNITY: Take a gander at this amazing study from the November 2013 issue of Clinical Immunology (Autoimmune Diseases and Reproductive Aging). "Testosterone’s impact on the immune system is, on aggregate, anti-inflammatory. Studies of autoimmune disease onset and course during reproductive transitions such as puberty and pregnancy have highlighted the modulatory role of gonadal hormones. In men, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and multiple sclerosis (MS) are associated with lower androgen levels." The thing is, while RA, MS, and LUPUS are some of the bigger-name heavy-hitters in the AUTOIMMUNE FAMILY, there are about a jillion others (HERE) --- thousands of them unnamed simply because no one has figured out the auto-antigen or how to test for it yet. By the way, this study was mostly about women and the increase in autoimmunity seen after menopause (testosterone is diminished in aging women as well as aging men, and happens to also be the driving force in women's libido, unless there are pathological amounts present due to PCOS, which effectively squelches female sex drive).
- ANDROPAUSE LINKED TO TYPE II DIABETES: There is no possible way we could be surprised by this bullet. For instance, we already know that if 55% of the adult population of California has either diabetes or pre-diabetes, it's likely that most of the rest of the nation is even higher (HERE). A study from the British journal Diabetic Medicine (Andropausal Symptoms in Men with Type 2 Diabetes) reiterated this connection when it concluded five years ago this month that, "The Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index was higher [worse] in patients with neuropathy than without. The Self-Rating Depression Scale was higher [worse] in patients with advanced retinopathy. The International Index of Erectile Function was lower [worse] in patients with advanced retinopathy and nephropathy. The International Index of Erectile Function was lower and the International Prostate Symptom Score was higher [both worse] in patients with cardiovascular disease than without. Our data demonstrated that men with Type 2 diabetes have higher prevalence of andropausal symptoms, especially those with diabetic complications." But you already knew most of this (HERE and HERE) since the majority of health issues --- particularly ENDOCRINE PROBLEMS --- get started thanks to our bodies not being able to keep up with the mass quantities of sugar and processed carbs we continue to foist on ourselves.
- ANDROPAUSE LINKED TO TYPE II DIABETES PART II: Want to see the whole thing working together to create a nightmare? A 2008 issue of The Aging Male (Hypogonadotrophic Hypogonadism in Type 2 Diabetes) put this whole scenario together when stating in the abstract (cherry-picked) that, "Recent work shows a high prevalence of low testosterone concentrations in type 2 diabetes. This is associated with obesity in patients with type 2 diabetes. C-reactive protein (CRP) concentrations have been shown to be elevated in [these] patients and are inversely related to plasma testosterone concentrations. This inverse relationship between plasma free testosterone and CRP concentrations in patients with type 2 diabetes suggests that inflammation may play an important role in the pathogenesis of this syndrome. This is of interest since inflammatory mechanisms may have a cardinal role in the pathogenesis of insulin resistance. Low testosterone concentrations are also related to an increase in total and regional adiposity." Once you see how adipose tissue (fat) acts as its own hormone-producing endocrine system (HERE), you start to see how freaky this whole thing becomes, rolling down the hill like a snowball gathering size and speed. By the way, in the decade since this study was published, there have been dozens of others, all coming to similar conclusions.
- ANDROPAUSE LINKED TO OSTEOPOROSIS: Although we don't typically associate problems like OSTEOPOROSIS with men, you need to remember that osteoporosis is not a female issue, but an "inflammatory" issue (HERE), that is greatly fed by sedentary lifestyles, obesity, and LIVING THE HIGH CARB LIFESTYLE. A year ago this month, the Journal of Postgraduate Medicine bore this out in a study called Severity and Pattern of Bone Mineral Loss in Endocrine Causes of Osteoporosis as Compared to Age-related Bone Mineral Loss. The authors concluded that, "A large number of endocrinopathies are known to be associated with impaired bone health." After listing some of these (THYROID ISSUES, both kinds of diabetes, problems associated with the HPA-AXIS, etc), the authors suggested Calcium with Vitamin D as a solution. Before following this advice, make sure to learn about the absolute very best calcium supplement available anywhere (HERE).
- ANDROPAUSE LINKED TO HEART / CARDIOVASCULAR PROBLEMS: If, as we saw earlier, it's true that lower levels of androgens lead to systemic degradation of all organs and organ systems, it would make sense that the heart and blood vascular systems would be included in this list. Not only did a study from a 2015 issue of Andrology reveal that we could actually use testosterone levels to "predict major adverse cardiovascular events during long-term follow-up," but a 2011 study published in the Journal of Geriatric Cardiology stated that, "increasing data has emerged that revealed the effects of low levels of androgens on cardiovascular disease progression. As an example, low levels of testosterone have been linked to a higher incidence of coronary artery disease". In an article titled The Male Andropause, Charles Evans (MD / Ph.D) put it this way. "It is now well accepted that women’s risk of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and cardiac events increases after menopause. New evidence suggests that a similar phenomenon occurs in men as their testosterone levels diminish with age. Research thus far point to a strong association between low-testosterone levels and an increase in cardiovascular risk in men." Be aware that there are lots of studies linking heart and cardiovascular issues to "Low T". Also be aware, however, that there are likewise lots of studies linking supplemental testosterone to cardiovascular problems as well.
- ANDROPAUSE LINKED TO NEUROLOGICAL AND NEURO-ENDOCRINE DEGENERATION: The long title of this study from the November 2015 issue of Hormones and Behaviour (The Endocrine Dyscrasia that Accompanies Menopause and Andropause Induces Aberrant Cell Cycle Signaling that Triggers Cell Cycle Reentry of Post-mitotic Neurons, Neurodysfunction, Neurodegeneration and Cognitive Disease). Endocrine dyscrasia is an age-related dysregulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal (HPG) axis and is associated with abnormal neurological function as well as neurodegenerative changes in the brain. "Sex hormones are the physiological factors that regulate neurogenesis during embryogenesis and continuing through adulthood. These hormones support the formation of brain structures such as dendritic spines, axons and synapses required for the capture of information (memories)." Without getting into incredible detail, suffice it to say that inflammation commonly seen in Andropause leads to the changes that leads to cognitive dysfunction, an inability to concentrate, and even dementia. It's not a coincidence that Alzheimer's Disease is actually known in the medical research community as TYPE III DIABETES. Think I'm exaggerating the link between Alzheimer's and Andropause?
- ANDROPAUSE SPECIFICALLY LINKED TO ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE: This link is not new information. The February Y2K issue of PNAS showed via the study's title (Testosterone Reduces Neuronal Secretion of Alzheimer's β-amyloid Peptides) that male sex hormone is preventative against the brain plaques associated with Alzheimer's. And while there are literally scores of similar studies, a 2005 issue of the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences (Effects of Testosterone on Cognitive and Brain Aging in Elderly Men) concluded that, "evidence suggests that testosterone loss may be a risk factor for cognitive decline and possibly for dementia. Conversely, the maintenance of higher testosterone levels either endogenously or through exogenous supplementation may prove beneficial for cognitive and brain function in elderly men." Because exogenous testosterone has proven dangerous and rife with SIDE EFFECTS, increasing your own "endogenous" testosterone is definitely the way to go. Here is another having to do with MICROGLIAL CELLS from the May 2009 issue of Neurologic Clinics (Age and Neuroinflammation: A Lifetime of Psychoneuroimmune Consequences). "The literature indicates that the innate immune cells [Glial Cells] of the brain become more reactive with age. Although it is unclear how glia reactivity increases, emerging evidence suggests these alterations allow exacerbated neuroinflammation and sickness behavior following peripheral immune activation. This amplified or prolonged exposure to inflammation in the brain may impair neuronal plasticity and underlie a heightened neuroinflammatory response in the aged that also may lead to other neurobehavioral impairments such as delirium, depression, and, potentially, the onset of neurologic disease." Neurologic disease? Can anyone say Alzheimer's? Unfortunately, it's only one of many.
- ANDROPAUSE IS LINKED TO POOR BLOOD FLOW TO THE BRAIN: One of the classic signs of Andropause is sexual dysfunction. For twenty years now, men (and probably in many cases, their wives) have been enamored with Viagra or similar type drugs --- drugs that increase blood flow, allowing impotent men to have sex while under its effects. Unfortunately, diminished blood flow is another fact of aging, but a fact that also happens to be heavily associated with inflammation-associated issues as well. The April 2009 issue of Brain Research (Resting Cerebral Blood Flow, Attention, and Aging) showed that, "Aging is accompanied by a decline of fluid cognitive functions, e.g., a slowing of information processing, working memory, and division of attention. This is at least partly due to structural and functional changes in the aging brain. Although a decrement of resting cerebral blood flow (CBF) has been positively associated with cognitive functions in patients with brain diseases" Several months later, the August issue of the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry (Longitudinal Study of Chronic Depressive Symptoms and Regional Cerebral Blood Flow in Older Men and Women) concluded that, "Late-life depression is associated with alterations in regional cerebral blood flow... Higher average depressive symptoms were associated with longitudinal CBF decreases..." This means that the next bullet should come as no surprise either.
- ANDROPAUSE IS LINKED TO DEPRESSION: A year and a half ago, the December issue of Aging, Clinical, and Experimental Research asked a question via the title of a study; Are Andropause Symptoms Related to Depression? Their conclusions? Not only was it related, but the authors said that, "Based on our results, there is a direct association between andropause symptoms and depression, where the increasing Aging Males Symptoms Scale score corresponds with the severity of depression." The point here is that you can never forget that Depression is yet another of the numerous diseases that fall under the umbrella of inflammation (HERE and HERE).
I could go on, but hopefully you are getting the point. Andropause is one of those physiological realities that we cannot completely get away from. However, we can certainly buffer it's effects. This raises the question of what it takes to turn this mess around (or better yet for you young bucks, prevent it before it starts)?
CONVENTIONAL AND NON-CONVENTIONAL TREATMENT OF ANDROPAUSE
"The promise of testosterone therapy may seem enticing, but there are a lot of misconceptions about what the treatment can and can't do for you. As you get older, testosterone therapy may sound like the ultimate anti-aging formula. Yet the health benefits of testosterone therapy for age-related decline in testosterone aren't as clear as they may seem. Testosterone therapy has various risks. For example, testosterone therapy may contribute to sleep apnea — a potentially serious sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts, cause acne or other skin reactions, stimulate noncancerous growth of the prostate (benign prostatic hyperplasia) and growth of existing prostate cancer, enlarge breasts, limit sperm production or cause testicle shrinkage, and increase the risk of a blood clot forming in a deep vein (deep vein thrombosis), which could break loose, travel through your bloodstream and lodge in your lungs, blocking blood flow (pulmonary embolism)" From the Mayo Clinic (Testosterone Therapy: Potential Benefits and Risks as You Age)
"In the United States, approximately 43 percent of women and 31 percent of men experience sexual dysfunction. It is not surprising that testosterone, primarily used to treat sexual problems, is being prescribed more often than in the past; a 500 percent increase in sales has been documented from 1993 to 2001. However, testosterone therapy is controversial." From a position paper by the American Family Physician (Testosterone Treatments: Why, When, and How?)
"Record numbers of men are turning to testosterone replacement therapy to increase energy levels, muscle mass and sex drive. However, boosting levels of the manly hormone can cause serious health risks, including heart attack, stroke, prostate cancer and even death. Drug companies heavily market their products promising men increased vitality, strength, sex drive and an overall better quality of life. The reality, however, is that testosterone therapy can cause a number of health complications that, some doctors say, might not be worth the benefits. Studies and clinical trials have linked the drugs to heart attacks, blood clot injuries, stroke and an increased risk for prostate cancer, among other health reactions. Evidence from published studies and expert input from an advisory committee prompted the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to require labeling changes to reflect some risks associated with use of testosterone products. Still, critics say even more warnings about side effects are needed." From Drugwatch dot com (Testosterone Therapy Side Effects)
This is particularly problematic once you realize that most of the bullet points mentioned earlier cause Low T as a secondary function --- as a side effect. Primary Hypogonadism (men whose testicles cannot make enough testosterone due to primary problems with the pituitary, hypothalamus, FSH, LH, or receptor site issues) is much more rare when compared to the scenario(s) we've been describing (Secondary Hypogonadism). This is almost exactly what I showed women concerning HORMONE REPLACEMENT THERAPY (HRT) just a few short weeks ago. Although there has been a huge and ongoing battle about whether or not testosterone prescriptions (pills, patches, injections, lotions, etc) cause major side-effects, there are a few studies that settle this issue for me.
By anyone's definition, supplemental testosterone use has exploded over the course of the past two decades. While there are certainly times that medical testosterone can be a godsend, as in the case of primary hypogonadism above, there are numerous warning signals that this therapy is not all it's been made out to be --- particularly for the general population of AGING MALES. This fact is verified by a 2013 issue of the journal Endocrinology and Metabolism Clinics of North America (Reproductive Aging in Men)
"Aging in men is associated with a decrease in serum testosterone levels. The practicing endocrinologist is frequently consulted for consideration of testosterone therapy in older men with late-onset hypogonadism (LOH) [secondary hypogonadism], a condition that many clinicians fail to distinguish from organic hypogonadism [primary hypogonadism]. Recent data using syndromic definition show that only 2% of 40-80-year-old men have LOH [primary hypogonadism]."
A study from a 2012 issue of Gender and the Genome (Testosterone Replacement Therapy in Reversing “Andropause”: What Is the Proof-of-Principle?) verifies what I've been telling you about simply prescribing men going through Andropause testosterone. "Testosterone replacement therapy is often equated with the macho male physique and virility and is viewed by some as an antiaging tonic. The growth in testosterone's reputation and its increased use by men of all ages has seemed to outpace the scientific evidences." There are so many factors to think about and deal with concerning Andropause, that simply supplementing with hormone is not going to address. While will undoubtedly see some benefits, this approach has a potential dark side to it --- especially once you consider that there are still no long-term safety studies out there.
This was reiterated yet again just months ago, with the publication of February's issue of Rejuvenation Research (Testosterone Replacement Therapy: The Emperor's New Clothes). I'm sure everyone remembers the children's story of the Emperor's New Clothes by Hans Christian Andersen. To make a long story short, a couple of clever swindlers took the emperor for a whole lot of cash by telling him they could make him beautiful new clothes that were, "invisible to anyone who was unfit for his office, or who was unusually stupid". Wanting to find out who these people were in his kingdom, the emperor took the bait. When on public parade in front of his people one day, with everyone oohhing and aahhing about the beauty of the his "clothes," an innocent little boy cried out the truth; "But he hasn't got anything on" with the rest of the population soon following suit. Just how "naked" is prescription testosterone given for Andropause?
"Testosterone levels decrease steadily and continuously during aging, ultimately resulting in late-onset hypogonadism. Treatment of this condition might mitigate most symptoms; however, testosterone replacement therapy should be prescribed only in selected patients and it should not be considered as an anti-aging treatment. In recent years, different authors have questioned health risks associated with testosterone treatment; while position statements from many scientific societies seem to be reassuring, the Food and Drug Administration has issued a warning in regard to the possible side effects of this therapy."
The final straw for me, however, was a study published in the May 2015 issue of the American Journal of Men's Health (High Estrogen in Men after Injectable Testosterone Therapy: The Low T Experience). "Testosterone replacement improves quality of life and is aromatized in men in adipose tissues to estrogen. Hyper-estrogenism is believed to be harmful to male sexuality." This, folks, is the a definition of an oxymoron if I've ever seen one. I've already shown you that the aromatase enzyme converts testosterone to estrogen. I've also shown you that obesity is not only inflammatory, it tends to increase with age because men automatically get more inflamed as they get older. Unfortunately, adipose tissue (fatty tissue --- which can act as its own endocrine organ -- HERE) also increases aromatase activity. So in essence, the testosterone in older and heavier men with THE INFLAMMATORY PROBLEMS ON THIS LIST, has a much higher probability of ending up being converted to estrogen. GULP! What might be a better option?
First off, realize that there is a possibility you have a problem with your PITUITARY or HYPOTHALAMUS. If this is the case, you might need to try a FUNCTIONAL NEUROLOGIST to see if it is possible to jump-start those systems. Secondly, there are a wide variety of supplements available, some of which have been shown to be effective via peer-review (emphasis on "some" as most "Testosterone Boosters" are high-priced crap. If you are really interested, talk to my friend Dr. Eric Serrano over at Mountain Dog Diet). Thirdly, there are some cool glandular products like STANDARD PROCESS'S Symplex M, that actually help rebuild the testes as opposed to simply "boosting" testosterone levels (or at least claiming to do so). And lastly, but most importantly, if you really want to get a handle on Andropause as it relates to all systems in your body, you'll have to change your wicked ways. Wicked ways?
You're going to have to kick your SUGAR / CARB ADDICTION. And many of you are going to have to stop lying to yourself --- telling yourself that it's OK to eat a ton of crap since you are young and thin (hey; I used to be young and thin -- HERE). You're going to have to change your approach to what what you eat. For those who say they can't do this, ask yourself a few tough questions. Is not giving up (insert your poison-of-choice here --- sodas, ice cream, beer, chips, Ding Dongs, TWINKIES, etc, etc) worth not having energy to do almost anything beyond coming home from work, plunking down in your easy chair, and crashing in front of the TV for the evening? Is it worth not being able to concentrate enough to carry on a conversation, do your office work, or solve a crossword puzzle? Is it worth being fat and out of shape? And maybe most importantly of all, is it worth not being able to have sex with your wife? If continuing in your current lifestyle is more important than grabbing life by the --- well; balls --- then by all means, continue on. If not.....
If you are looking for a change --- a real change (AN EXIT STRATEGY if you will), and not just another drug to mask another symptom, HERE is the protocol for you. Heck no, it's not a fool-proof or cure-all. I never said it was. However, this simple protocol addresses most aspects of male health and virility at their root level. If you are interested in getting your life, health, strength, stamina, cognitive function, and BEDROOM PROWESS back, at least take a few minutes to read the post. The cool thing is that I'm not even selling you anything. It's just information, and completely free information at that. But nonetheless, information that you could use to change your life!
A SHORT PRIMER ON HISTORY OF H.R.T. AND BALANCING
"Routine acceptance of use of HRT was shattered in 2002 when results of the largest randomised clinical trial of HRT, the women’s health initiative, conducted in a population of mainly healthy women, indicated that long term use of the combined estrogen plus progestin not only was associated with increased risk of breast and ovarian cancer but, contrary to expectations, did not decrease, and may in fact have increased, risk of cardiovascular disease. Similar results were reported in 1998 by the smaller heart and estrogen/progestin replacement study (HERS), conducted among women with a history of cardiovascular disease. Together, these findings were treated as unexpected in both the scientific literature and popular media, given nearly four decades’ worth of recommendations, based on clinical experience, laboratory research, and observational epidemiological studies, for using HRT to stave off ill effects of aging and to prevent cardiovascular disease."
What was the Women's Health Initiative and should the results have been "unexpected"? The NIH (National Institutes of Health) started following 162,000 post-menopausal American women back in the early 1990's, looking at HRT as it specifically related to HEART DISEASE, CANCER, and OSTEOPOROSIS (in this case, the authors were trying to determine the magnitude of benefit or HRT for slowing down said diseases). What was not surprising is that the study found no benefit of CALCIUM PLUS VIT D for preventing fractures. Nor did they find any sort of RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN DIET AND CANCER. What they did find, however, was that HRT did not perform as universally touted. Our nation's highest pinnacle of truth and firmest pillar of exactitude (Wikipedia) put it this way.
"The HRT component had originally been designed to include a follow-up period of nine years. However, interim monitoring of the combined estrogen/progestin treatment group indicated an increased risk of breast cancer, coronary heart disease, stroke, and pulmonary embolism, which outweighed the evidence indicating a benefit in preventing colorectal cancer and fractures. As a consequence, the study was stopped in July 2002, with an average follow-up period of 5.2 years. The unopposed estrogen trial was halted in February 2004, after an average follow-up period of 6.8 years, on the basis that unopposed estrogen did not appear to affect the risk of heart disease, the primary outcome, which was in contrast to the findings of previous observational studies. On the other hand, there were indications for an increased risk of stroke. As a consequence of the findings, which indicated that the incurred risks of HRT outweigh the identified benefits, the study authors recommended that HRT not be prescribed for the purpose of chronic disease prevention in postmenopausal women."
Gulp! How many times have you heard of a study this huge being halted midstream because the authors realized just how dangerous the thing(s) being studied (MEDICAL PROCEDURES / DRUGS) really are? That, folks, is exactly what happened here. But it's not like these findings were really new a decade and a half ago in 2002, even though most "experts" were walking around in a daze as though it were. In the section labeled "History" in the BMJ study, the authors addressed the fact that we've known about the many problems associated with HRT since the 1930's --- not much different, really, than the amazing work of DR. OTTO WARBURG that both the practicing and scientific medical communities continue to ignore en masse.
For instance, these authors revealed of the first wave of HRT biomedical research decades earlier that, "in the 1930s, once laboratory techniques succeeded in making estrogens available as a manufactured drug.... biochemists and endocrinologists conducted animal experiments that provided evidence of the carcinogenicity of sex hormones. For clinicians, these studies translated to debates about the correct dose to be given, as hormones were viewed as 'natural' and thus not intrinsically harmful." The second wave of HRT research started in the 1960's, mostly as a result of widespread use of "The Pill". The FDA had approved the drug Enovid for contraceptive use by women in 1960, which is a large part of what led to Robert Wilson's famous book. Here are some cherry-picked sentences from Forever Health dot com (A Brief History of Hormone Replacement Therapy).
"In 1966, Robert A. Wilson, M.D.'s book, Feminine Forever, informed women that 'menopause is completely preventable' and advised them to take estrogen. The promise of remaining 'feminine forever' was met with enthusiasm, and synthetic estrogen became the standard therapy for women undergoing 'the change'. When it later became obvious that estrogen encourages the growth of the uterine lining, which could increase the risk of cancer, the medical community suggested progesterone to protect the uterus. But rather than combine bioidentical progesterone with estrogen, pharmaceutical companies added progestin, a synthetic form of progesterone that was patentable. As a result, Prempro was born. It combined synthetic progesterone (progestin) with Premarin, a drug composed of three estrogens (estrone, equilin, and equilenin) that are derived from horse urine [Premarin = pregnant mare's urine]. While the drugs relieved menopausal symptoms for millions of women, the long-term effects were unknown."
This last sentence is true of most drugs (actually it's not completely true of most drugs --- we already know that long-term use of most drugs takes you to bad places --- HERE). You'll never hear me argue the fact that drugs (at least many drugs) don't do what they are supposed to do as far as relieving symptoms is concerned. For instance, CORTICO-STEROIDS are almost miraculous in their ability to relieve pain and the effects of unbridled INFLAMMATION. However, click the provided links and you'll see just how scary these drugs really are over the long haul (not to mention the fact that the relief is usually extremely short-lived). We see the same thing for the rest of THE BIG FIVE as well as HEARTBURN MEDICATIONS, ANTIDEPRESSANTS, OSTEOPOROSIS DRUGS, DIABETES MEDS, etc, etc, etc, etc. And we've seen it with HRT. What did BIG PHARMA do about the situation? Believe me when I tell you that they did not go down without a fight.
Shortly after making the statement, "Only a small fraction of the roughly 100,000 chemicals in commerce have been tested for endocrine activity, and some 2,000 new chemicals are brought to the market each year," the BMJ authors discussed the reason we have so much trouble trusting EVIDENCE-BASED MEDICINE. "[The pharmaceutical industry's] influence has been achieved not only through the direct funding and control of research, but also by funding the training and continuing education of scientists and physicians alike. These latter practices, however, are rarely if ever regulated by governments, which instead chiefly have been concerned with regulating marketing of pharmaceutical products and providing funds for basic research critical for industrial science. Together, these priorities have fueled the rise of a subsidiary biomedical industry involving the conduct of clinical trials and clinical epidemiology." And while I'll not belabor it here, the next point these authors made was the manner in which public regulatory agencies such as the FDA are incestuously (financially) bound to said industry. It's a filthy round-robin --- a vicious cycle of payoff and deceit, deceit and payoff. A profit-at-any-cost game that proves just how little this industry cares about anything besides their bottom line.
Not surprisingly, said industry has made sure there are significant numbers of studies and scientific papers refuting the WHI study and showing how the data was interpreted incorrectly. After all, Big Pharma will never intentionally leave this kind of money on the table. How much money are we talking about? Beyond the billions for the HRT itself, there's the cost of treating the massive amount of collateral damage. According to a dozen researchers writing in the May 2014 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine (Economic Return From the Women’s Health Initiative Estrogen Plus Progestin Clinical Trial), it adds up to as much as 68 billion dollars. Honestly, it's almost numbing to contemplate.
"Compared with the no-WHI scenario, the WHI scenario resulted in $35.2 billion in direct medical savings. Most of the savings came from fewer [HRT] users and associated office visits ($26.2 billion), decreased breast cancer incidence ($4.5 billion), and decreased cardiovascular disease incidence ($2.2 billion)... Thus, the WHI scenario created $49.5 billion ($31 to $68 billion) in additional net monetary benefit compared with the no-WHI scenario."
BIOIDENTICAL HORMONE THERAPY (BHT)
"Bioidentical hormones are identical at a biological and chemical level to hormones made in the body, and are mostly made from plants. There is no evidence that bioidentical or FDA-approved non-bioidentical hormones behave differently in the body. Both are natural in that they can be derived from plants and sometimes mare urine. Both are unnatural in that they are made in a factory… and, well, derived from plants and mare urine."
While this might seem harsh to women who have used these "natural" hormones with good results, there is no good science showing that bioidenticals are better than HRT. This point was driven home by a paper published six years ago this month by the Mayo Clinic's journal, Mayo Clinic Proceedings (Bioidentical Hormone Therapy). What's especially interesting is that this paper took BHT a step further and also dealt extensively with CBHT or Compounded Bioidentical Hormone Therapy --- the very specific hormone mixtures one gets from a compounding pharmacy, with a scrip from a doctor who specializes in such.
"In 2002, results from the estrogen plus progestin arm of the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) revealed an increased risk of breast cancer, cardiovascular disease, stroke, and thromboembolic events in women taking conjugated equine estrogen and medroxyprogesterone acetate compared with those in the placebo group. These findings prompted many women to discontinue HRT or to seek a safer alternative to FDA-approved HRT for treatment of menopausal symptoms. As a result of the WHI, many women ask their physicians for non–FDA-approved compounded bioidentical HRT (CBHT), which is also known as natural HRT, believing that it is safer than FDA-approved therapy. It is estimated that CBHT is a multibillion-dollar industry, possibly affecting millions of women. No evidence currently suggests that custom CBHT formulations offer clinically relevant benefit over the FDA-approved products available to treat the symptoms of menopause."
Granted, much of the outcry against BHT / CBHT is coming from the pharmaceutical industry itself, who wants to see the bioidentical industry take a hard fall like it did with the WHI HRT fiasco. The truth is, drug companies cannot make big money on bioidenticals. Why not? What drug companies did with HRT (think Premarin and Prempro here) was to slightly "tweak" the chemical structure of estrogen or progesterone, turning a natural hormone into something ever so slightly different that could be patented and sold for a lot of bucks.
The truth is, when it comes to bioidenticals, there are many different approaches that women are taking, depending on what approach their doctor deems best or does in their clinic. Some practitioners will throw out lab testing altogether, prescribing from patient symptoms. Some will use lab levels to determine what hormones are "low" so that those that are "deficient" can be bumped up into the normal range. Still others use, in many cases along with HGH, CBHT to achieve (or at least try to achieve) youthfulness. In theses cases, doctors are trying to get these women's hormones back to the peak levels they had in their younger days (youthful hormone levels become the goal). All three of these approaches to CBHT have their problems.
Suffice it to say that despite what Suzanne Somers told you on her late night infomercial, BHT / CBHT is not necessarily everything it's often been made out to be. Could there be a better way to do hormone replacement? Or better yet, what if you could do away with hormone replacement altogether and figure out a way to help your body regulate it's own hormones? After all, knowing what we know about all forms of HRT / BHT / CBHT and increased health risks, it only makes sense.
REGULATING FEMALE HORMONES THE NATURAL WAY
In order to understand why regulating your own hormones is the best option, it's important to realize that for the most part, these hormones didn't go awry on their own. You need to understand the chief reason(s) female hormones get out of balance in the first place. There are three biggies in modern America (honestly, they would be the top three for most NON-GENETIC endocrine problems).
- STRESS: What can I say? It was the brilliant Hans Selye who showed us that 2/3 of all sickness and disease is related to stress (ACTIVATION OF THE HPA AXIS) --- clear back in the mid 1900's. And whether that stress is physical, mental, emotional, or dietary, technology may have made life easier over the course of the last seventy years, but it sure hasn't made it less stressful. Speaking of dietary stress.....
- SUGAR / CARBS: I've shown you how our national fixation with LIVING THE HIGH CARB LIFESTYLE not only feeds our national epidemic of infertility (HERE), but is actually turning men into women, and women into men (HERE). Over the last two decades, I have heard any number of leaders in the field of natural endocrinology say that most hormonal problems (sex hormones or otherwise --- CHOLESTEROL INCLUDED) start with blood sugar regulation issues (don't be fooled by "good" numbers on your blood sugar test (HERE) --- especially just because you are young and thin --- HERE).
- HORMONE DISRUPTORS: If we compare estrogen to one of the single most common industrial chemicals on the planet, benzene, what we see is that they look very much alike (benzene is a hardcore XEHOHORMONE / XENOESTROGEN). This is true of any number of other chemicals as well. We (appropriately) call these "ENDOCRINE DISRUPTORS". As you might notice from the pictures below, string together a chain of six-sided benzene molecules, and you have a pretty good estrogen mimic on your hands. Now make sure these mimics can be found in your food, your clothes, your house, your car, your colognes / perfumes / scents, etc, etc, etc, and you can see how this exposure adds up. In essence, both men and women are swimming in a sea of estrogen, leading to the Estrogen Dominance I spoke of earlier, and saturating receptors to the point that the body starts becoming "resistant" to its effects --- sort of like what we see with INSULIN RESISTANCE (TYPE II DIABETES) or any number of similar.
The "Functional Endocrinology" approach is better because in most cases, YOUR ENDOCRINE GLANDS are not defective, nor are your symptoms caused by a "deficiency" of hormones. On top of the problems mentioned earlier, the feedback loops to the PITUITARY GLAND get fouled up, as do the hormone receptors themselves. Not to mention; how many women are aware that diminished THYROID HORMONES, progesterone, or estradiol, can cause LEAKY GUT SYNDROME?
The cool thing is that even though you might need to see a true specialist in female hormones (in our neck of the woods that title is held by DR. CARRIE CARDA of Poplar Bluff, an OB/GYN who does some very cool Functional Endocrinology work), I have left you with a generalized protocol that helps squelch SYSTEMIC INFLAMMATION, while supporting all the various pathways we've already mentioned (including BALANCING FATTY ACIDS). You'll find it all HERE. No; it's not a "cure-all". It is, however, a great place to begin, giving you a huge head-start if indeed you need to see a Functional Doctor.
THE LINK BETWEEN HIP ARTHRITIS AND DEATH
IN THE FEMALE GERIATRIC POPULATION
While it's certainly true that physical activity is a big deal, it is not the only self management intervention that needs to be addressed concerning this issue. For one, the diet will almost always need to be tweaked, if not completely changed. I would suggest that you take a look at the online pictures of Dr. Weston Price's seminal Nutrition and Physical Degeneration. Although the mechanisms are different, living the HIGH CARB LIFESTYLE will rot your bones just as surely as it will rot your teeth.
Recently, even Osteoarthritis (Degenerative Arthritis often referred to as DEGENERATIVE JOINT DISEASE) is being hailed as one of the numerous "CHRONIC INFLAMMATORY DEGENERATIVE DISEASES" (see The Role of Inflammation in the Pathogenesis of Osteoarthritis from the April 2013 issue of Therapeutic Advances in Musculoskeletal Disease). According to this study, "Osteoarthritis has traditionally been classified as a noninflammatory arthritis." But in the words of Bob Dylan, the times, they are a changin'. There are few health problems left that inflammation is not considered part of --- particularly with the advances made in understanding the "GENETIC FACTORS" of most disease processes
If you are one of those folks who has chronic Hip Flexor problems (HERE), PIRIFORMIS ISSUES, gait abnormalities, or any number of other situations, you need to deal with these. Beyond this, my best advice for solving a problem such as this (hopefully before it really gets started) would be to take a look at the post I did last week on knee pain, as the solutions for the hip will be similar to the knee. (HERE).
GLUTATHIONE THERAPY & FREE RADICALS
Free Radicals also happen to be a primary cause of CANCER; and many researchers are touting these "malicious molecules" as a contributing factor in all disease processes. For instance, the scientific journal Nutrition (Inflammation, Free Radicals, and Antioxidants) published a study one month after I got married --- back in March of 1996 --- revealing that, "It is becoming increasingly apparent that certain types of inflammatory tissue injury are mediated by reactive oxygen metabolites [Free Radicals]. It is also becoming increasingly apparent that in addition to promoting cytotoxicity, reactive oxygen metabolites may also initiate and/or amplify inflammation via the upregulation of several different genes involved in the inflammatory response, such as those that code for proinflammatory cytokines and adhesion molecules. Essential nutrients such as vitamins C and E may protect against oxidant-mediated inflammation and tissue damage by virtue of their ability to scavenge free radicals..... Thus, maintaining adequate antioxidant status may provide a useful approach in attenuating the cellular injury and dysfunction observed in some inflammatory disorders."
Many doctors freely acknowledge Free Radical's role in numerous disease process. However, because there are no drugs that effectively treat Free Radicals (most drugs actually cause their formation), most doctors do not educate their patients about them or discuss them. It's just easier (and much more profitable) to continue to treat disease in the same old way they have always done ---- drugs and surgery (see YESTERDAY'S POST). All while patient's levels of Free Radicals and INFLAMMATION continue to go up up up.
OR GREATLY INFLUENCED BY FREE RADICALS:
I could leave you an incredibly long list here --- but I'm not going to do that. Why not? Because every disease known to mankind is caused by (or at least greatly influenced by) the formation of Free Radicals. Think I'm over-hyping this subject a bit? Believe it or not, there are currently over 100,000 Scientific Studies on PubMed that reference Glutathione alone. Glutathione? We'll get there in a moment, but first I want to talk a bit more about Free Radicals.
WHAT THE HECK ARE FREE RADICALS?
Think of Free Radicals as the "Bad Guys" in the body. In medical terms, they are "unpaired electrons". Hey; electrons get lonely too. They are always looking to "pair up". So, when substances enter your body that contain large numbers of "unpaired" electrons, they are very disruptive and unstable because they have a huge attraction to other electrons. The process of these Free Radicals pairing up with other unpaired electrons, or pulling away weakly paired electrons from their electron partner, is called "Cellular Oxidation". Healthwise, it is not a good thing.
Cellular Oxidation causes tremendous cellular damage (it's part of that rust and ruin that eventually maims and claims us all --- see the quote at the top of the page). It is known to be intimately linked to things like CHRONIC DEGENERATIVE INFLAMMATORY CONDITIONS, and even cellular mutations (Cancer / GENETIC MUTATIONS). The greater the ability of a substance to cause oxidation in the body (or the greater amounts of that substance you are exposed to), the greater its "Oxidative Stress" or "Oxidative Load" on the body. As you might imagine, it is important..... No, it is absolutely imperative that you understand just a little bit about the cause and prevention of free radicals.
WHERE DO FREE RADICALS COME FROM?
Sources of Free Radicals include any unusual or foreign substances coming in to your body. You know ---- things that aren't supposed to be there: DRUGS (both illegal and prescription), toxins, POOR FOOD CHOICES (white flour, SUGAR, PROCESSED FOODS, etc), TRANS FATS, chemical fumes, HEAVY METALS, CHEMICAL EXPOSURE, SMOKING, XENOESTROGENS, chemical fertilizers, additives and preservatives (HERE is an ugly one), etc, etc, etc. Recognizing substances or foods that cause Free Radicals is simple. Just ask yourself if this substance occurs naturally, and whether or not it will help me stay healthy? In other words, was it made by God or manufactured by man?
OK, OK, OK. I see that you're convinced! Free Radicals are bad ---- real bad! And now you want to know what you can do to get rid of them and reverse the damage they are causing. I'm so glad you asked.
HOW DO I COMBAT FREE RADICALS?
Remember that we told you Free Radicals are unpaired electrons that cause something called Oxidative Stress in the body? (slowly nod your head yes) Remember also when I told you that Free Radicals are the body's "Bad Guys"? Well, the body's "Good Guys" are Anti-Oxidants. Antioxidants prevent cellular oxidation. They also help neutralize Free Radicals. As you might imagine, this is a good thing. But now the question becomes, "Where do I find Anti-Oxidants?"
For one, you can find them on the shelves of your local health food store --- at least that's what the labels of bottle after bottle of "all natural" supplements tell us. There is a problem with this approach. Antioxidants in isolation (i.e. taken from their naturally occurring food source) are not usually the best way to go. Not by a long shot (HERE is an example of what I mean). This is because most of the compounds found in these supplements are chemically fractionated synthetics. What do I mean by this? For examples of this phenomenon, you can read THIS or THIS.
SOURCES OF ANTI-OXIDANTS:
Thankfully your body produces small amounts of some very powerful anti-oxidants. But the the rest must come from your diet. What was it mom always used to say.....? "Now little Johnnie / little Susie..... You - eat - your - vegetables!" What can I say? Mom was right again! The problem is, scientific research is telling us that we are not eating our fruits and vegetables.
Several years ago, a government study reported that 1/3 of all American children get no (none, zero, nada, zilch) weekly servings of fresh vegetables ---- unless you count Fries & Ketchup as a vegetable (which the USDA does for purposes of SCHOOL LUNCHES). Current Dietary Guidelines (which probably err on the low side) call for five to thirteen servings of fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables a day (commercial canning kills anything beneficial). This translates into almost ten servings (4½ cups) of fruits and vegetables each day for a person eating a 2,000 calorie diet. If you are not getting this amount of fruits and vegetables, ask us about our "Greens" product called GREENS FIRST. There are some superior products on the market which are great --- if you enjoy the taste of pond scum.
The bottom line is that your dietary sources of Anti-Oxidants must come from food or from supplements that are made of food ---- not "Synthetic Supplements". Antioxidants can come in the form of Whole Food Vitamins, minerals, enzymes, or plant-derived nutrients called phytonutrients. Plant-derived phytonutrients are powerful Anti-Oxidants. Because Free Radical-caused Oxidative Stress either causes, or significantly contributes to every single disease process that can occur in the body, eating more Phytochemical-dense foods will help you get better faster ---- no matter what kind of health problem you are dealing with (as long as you do not have a sensitivity to that food)! Here is a short list.
You may recognize many of these substances as "ANTI-INFLAMMATORY" as well.
- ALLYL SULFIDES: garlic, leeks, onions, chives
- CAROTENDOIDS: (lycopene, lutein, zeaxanthin, etc) tomatoes, carrots, watermelon, kale, spinach
- CIRCUMIN: turmeric / curry
- FLAVANOIDS: (anthocyanadins, resveratrol, quercitin, catechins, etc) grapes, berries of all kinds, cherries, apples, grapefruit
- INDOLES & ISOTHIOCYANATES: (sulforaphane and other surfer-containing compounds) broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, bok choy
- LIGNANS: flax seeds
- MONOTERPENES: citrus fruit peels, cherries, nuts
- PHENOLS: grapes, berries of all kinds, cherries, grapefruit, green tea
- GLUTATHIONE: green leafy vegetables
Depleted levels of Glutathione are, over time, manifested in the form of illness and aging. But in all honesty, one's age plays a smaller part than one might think in this phenomenon. Why do you think that so many older people look so young---- and vice versa.
- As a cellular protector, Glutathione automatically guards tissues like skin, lens, cornea, and retina against radiation damage.
- It plays a large part in the cellular detoxification processes in the liver, kidneys, lungs, intestinal wall, as well as in other organs.
- It keeps other enzymes in their "reduced" state (as opposed to an "oxidized" state). This means that they are ready to act.
- It is involved in the synthesis of neurotransmitters.
When the rate of nutritionally-produced Glutathione by the body reaches a level lower than the rate at which the Glutathione is being used up in destroying disease-causing Free Radicals, it can dramatically affect your ability to maintain your health --- let alone restore it.
This is why Glutathione therapy is such an important part of any BRAIN-BASED THERAPY program. Replenishing Glutathione levels, as you can tell, is an important part of getting healthy. Be warned though; Glutathione cannot be effectively taken in pill form, as it is destroyed quickly by stomach acid.
AGING, VITAL RESERVES, NUTRITION, AND DISEASE
"How old would you be if you didn't know how old you was?" - Satchel Paige
"Old age is not a disease." - Yours Truly
Why did I bring this up? The other day I discussed ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE, and today we are going to discuss aging in general, what it is, roughly how it occurs, and how to go about slowing down the process. It's far too easy to look at the geriatric crowd (55 and over) and chalk their many health problems up to their age. This is where your doctor sits you down, looks you in the eye, and solemnly gives you words of wisdom such as, "Joe; you just aren't as young as you used to be". Today I am going to show you why you should not buy into this outdated line of thinking and all the baggage that comes with it.
Much of your quality of life comes down to something which the medical community refers to as "Function". When you hear me talk about Function, I am talking about a person's ability to accomplish everything they need to get done in the course of a normal day, and the level of health required to do so. Why is this important for you to understand at any age? The longer that folks can stay out of "Heaven's Holding Cell" (the nursing home), typically, the better their lives will be. The problem is, when you can no longer "Function" well enough to perform the things that make up the acronym D.E.A.T.H. (Dressing, Eating, Ambulation, Toilet, Hygiene), your odds of ending up there increase rather dramatically. My goal today is to show you how to take some years off of your "Body Age" and at the very least, question some of those DRUG COMMERCIALS that you see way too many of on television today.
It is important for people to remember that Big Pharma and Corporate Medicine typically view them as a commodity --- a money generating machine that can create hundreds of thousands, or even millions of dollars over the course of their lifetime. Think I'm over-exaggerating? Read a few of my posts tagged under "EVIDENCE-BASED MEDICINE" --- that is, if you can keep from upchucking. Until you realize that as far as Big Pharma is concerned, you are nothing more than a walking, breathing, dollar sign; you will be led down a path that might keep you alive a bit longer than might otherwise happen, but saps the magic and joy from your life in the process (HERE or HERE).
As we all know, much of health comes down to doing two things correctly. These have to do with the fact that you need to be vigorously active on a regular basis and feed your body nutritious food. Are these difficult? Sure they are --- particularly if you are living alone. But, fail to do these two things --- particularly in your younger years --- and you drain your body's "Vital Reserves" before you ever get to become an 'official' card-carrying member of AARP.
We have all heard the old adage, "You are what you eat". While this is certainly true, it is more accurate if we make a subtle change to the last word. The truth is, we are not really what we eat, as much as we are what we ate. In other words, the fact that you broke down and had a piece of birthday cake yesterday is not nearly so big a deal as is the fact that you lived as a SUGAR ADDICT for about thirty years of your life. Not that you cannot to some degree overcome this, but dealing with the INFLAMMATORY EFFECTS of that sugar (not to mention the medications and other chemical exposure) is going to take a toll on your system and its ability to DETOXIFY itself. Sugar is only one example of many. I could pick on SMOKERS, couch potatoes, or a whole host of other groups here. I think you probably get the point. All of this begs the question of what are Vital Reserves?
Simply start taking care of yourself --- today. If you take a little bit of time to learn about the common threads that relate most disease processes to each other, you will begin to understand why there are certain steps that should be taken in the battle against virtually any disease process you could name (HERE).
Dr. Schierling completed four years of Kansas State University's five-year Nutrition / Exercise Physiology Program before deciding on a career in Chiropractic. He graduated from Logan Chiropractic College in 1991, and has run a busy clinic in Mountain View, Missouri ever since. He and his wife Amy have four children (three daughters and a son).
Brain Based Therapy
Can You Help
Cardio Or Strength
Cold Laser Therapy
Death By Medicine
Degenerative Joint Disease
D's Of Chronic Pain
Evidence Based Medicine
Gluten Cross Reactivity
Ice Or Heat
Jacks Fork River
Leaky Gut Syndrome
Number One Health Problem
Platelet Rich Therapy
Post Surgical Scarring
Re Invent Yourself
Rib And Chest Pain
Scar Tissue Removal
Sleeping Pills Kill
Stay Or Go
Stretching Post Treatment
Tensegrity And Fascia
The Big Four
Thoracic Outlet Syndrome
Whole Body Vibration