Alternative Healthcare

Our Often Misguided Instincts

Many of our beliefs were created by advertising.  A healthy body is the best advertisement.  It depicts a healthy life, which is the reality.  Beliefs are acquired throughout time, starting when we are very young.  We acquire a sweet tooth, and a taste for junk food.  We learn most of our behaviors from our culture, including our diet.  We must look at our culture—and at our entire species—and determine what effects the diet has, by watching what the diet does.  Asian countries have a diet primarily of rice, vegetables and fish, while the Western diet consists mostly of meat, dairy products, bread, cereal, sugar, potatoes and over refined, killer “foods.”
Man is different from animals—animals are instinctively driven to what to eat.  For example, a cat, which is a natural carnivore, would starve to death in a garden full of vegetables.  Likewise, a grazing animal, such as a wild deer or a cow, would starve without plants and grains to eat, even if large amounts of meat and dairy products were available.
There has been much discussion over what the ideal foods are for human beings.  Are we herbivores or carnivores? This query alone is reason enough to warrant individual dietary attention.

Life is for Living, Loving, Laughing and Learning

We must learn what works within our bodies.  Some of my patients do well on a low-carbohydrate diet, some do well on a low-fat diet, some will not lose weight on a low-fat diet, and some will gain weight on a low-carbohydrate diet.  We must recognize our individuality and adopt a formula that will work within ourselves.  It is enjoyable to eat, we should be able to enjoy the foods that we eat. 
Many of us have developed destructive thoughts and destructive habits, which originated in our childhoods.  As children, we were often scolded for doing something wrong, like eating the wrong food.  Since admonitions by authoritarian figures create thoughts, feelings and finally beliefs, I am asking you to put aside your thoughts and your feelings about anything unhealthy or negative and develop positive new beliefs by creating positive images.
Use your imagination.  Your imagination is one of the most powerful tools you have to living a healthy, active life.  The power of imagination has driven many people to good health.  Close your eyes.  Picture a lemon.  Imagine the sharp, citrus smell.  Now, imagine yourself biting into it.  Feel the tart, juicy pulp on your tongue.  The subconscious power of recall will give the ability to taste something that you literally imagined.  Now close your eves.  Picture yourself at your ideal weight.  Picture yourself with the willpower to exercise.  Picture yourself exercising.  Picture yourself happy and healthy.
Franklin D.  Roosevelt said, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” And, in his book, Think and Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill exclaimed, “Confront your fears, and you can make them disappear.” Napoleon Hill, who interviewed Thomas Edison, provided an enlightening perspective of what many of us call failure.  Hill asked the great inventor, “Mr. Edison, what have you got to say about the fact that you have failed thousands of times in your attempt to create the light bulb?”
Edison replied, “I beg your pardon, I have never failed even once.  I have had thousands of experiments that didn’t work.  I had to run through enough learning experiments to find a way that did work.”
I am sure that we have all felt fear or failure sometime in our lives.  But these fears or failures should not derail us on our journey toward health, happiness and success.
The human body is a perfect organism.  When you understand that the heart beats approximately 72 times per minute, 100,000 times per day, 700,000 times per week and over 35 million times per year, you know it truly takes a licking and keeps on ticking.  What’s more, the heart is just one component of the cardiovascular system, which is just one of eleven body systems each of us has.  These systems, together with our amazing minds, give us the perfect opportunity to create the perfect homeostatic “machine”.  We are self-sustaining thinkers, movers, survivors, achievers and reproducers.  Our bodies are the perfect representatives of the miracle of life.
Throughout the body there are well established survival mechanisms designed to maintain a state of good health; and, there is an innate intelligence that is working in our bodies at all times (whether or not we are aware of it), which has the ability to relay signals to and from the brain and spinal chord, tissues, organs and all body systems.  We do not have to tell our bodies when to digest food or when to exchange carbon dioxide for oxygen.  Nor do we have to tell our hearts how to beat, tell our pancreases how much insulin to release to deal with blood sugar, or tell our sex hormones to make us look like a male or a female.  Your body belongs to the union of one—and you are the one.
Your body, in its magnificence, continues to replicate, repair and regenerate itself, so that your life can continue in harmony with nature.  Have you ever pondered that neither your nervous system (brain, spinal chord, nerves and sensory receptors) nor any other body system has ever taken time off—not one day, one hour, one minute or even one second of vacation time?  Your body works 24/7/365 from the instant of conception until after death.  Yes, even after death, parts of the body can continue activity for hours!
Throughout history, people have searched for the elusive fountain of youth or the Holy Grail of eternal health, youth and well-being.  We have had to spend many decades and many billions of dollars on potions, elixirs and fad diets to finally realize that today there is a genuine alternative to disease—and it is found in alternative healthcare.  The alternative holistic approaches to disease and wellness are sound, based on science, and they work.  The alternative roads to travel are natural (nature’s way), as opposed to synthetic (man-made).  For example, we now have proof that natural therapies—with no drugs and no surgery—can help reverse cardiovascular disease, cure cancer and slow the onset and progress of Alzhiemer’s disease.  We also have learned that the road less traveled is, in fact, an avenue to the alternative healthcare world.  Now we must take that avenue.

Why Study Alternative Healthcare?

We are living in perilous times, and we are constantly confronted by a dichotomy of drug care versus healthcare.  At this very moment you are probably aware of someone who has had an experience of illness or disease and has gone from one procedure to another or from one doctor to another.  Maybe that someone is you.  A statement that should guide us in all of our endeavors, especially when our health is concerned, is, “There is only one good—knowledge—and only one evil—ignorance.”  Many of us don’t have the slightest idea as to how to maintain good health.  When illness strikes, we rely on our doctor (if we have one) to “cure” us.
Often we fail to realize that, “The cure comes from within.”  A perfect example is the infinite resource that nature has provided us with in our immune system.  It can do a great job all on its own—but it will do an even better job if we are smart enough to help.  How?  Start by eating intelligently; exercising regularly, avoiding places, people and things that can be sources of disease, toxins or stress; supplementing with purpose, using good quality nutrients, and reducing stress levels.  These are basic steps to immune system health and overall wellness, which will also help create the critically important balance in our lives.  If this sounds simple to you, that’s good, because it is.  The alternative/holistic approach is both basic and simplistic—you can best achieve wellness by using the best natural methods.  Our modern lifestyles have gotten us off on the wrong road.  We have taken a dangerous detour to fast food, junk food, sedentary lifestyle, obesity, unsafe air and water, alcohol and drug abuse, tobacco, and runaway stress.  It’s time to get back on nature’s road to wellness.
If you follow Kaplan’s commandments, you will find they will guide you on your highway to health.
Health does not come for free.  There is a price we have to pay.  But, this is not a complicated price.  This is not an expensive price.  It is a price based upon dedication to maintain your wellness. TAC

Dr. Kaplan is the CEO of MBA, Inc., one of the nation’s largest multi-specialty consulting companies.  Dr. Kaplan ran and operated five  of his own clinics, seeing over 1000 patient visits per week.  He is the best-selling author of Dr. Kaplan’s Lifestyles of the Fit and Famous, endorsed by Donald Trump, Norman Vincent Peale and Mark Victor Hansen.  He was a recent commencement speaker at New York Chiropractic College and regularly speaks throughout the country.  For more information about Dr. Kaplan or MBA, call 561-626-3004.

Nutritional Adjustment with Coenzyme Q10

Myopathology is considered by  most, if not all, chiropractors to be a component of subluxation.  This is a reasonable view, as degenerative changes are known to occur in muscle after injury, during hypomobile states, and as part of the so-called normal aging process. 

Most will recall that muscles, and all other cells for that matter, function properly as a consequence of mitochondrial production of ATP (adenosine triphosphate).  In Dr. Janet Travell’s famous text on trigger points, she explains that TP’s are characterized as areas of “energy crisis” within muscle. 

It is now known that mitochondrial dysfunction is responsible for promoting cell injury and death.  For details on this relationship, see Robbins’ pathology1 and specialty texts devoted to this subject.2  Aging, neurodegenerative diseases, heart disease,2 and most other chronic diseases are promoted by, or at least associated with, mitochondrial dysfunction. 

Coenzyme Q10 appears to be the most important mitochondrial factor that we can use in supplemental form.  CoQ10 produces several well-documented effects, including energy production and antioxidant defense, and it is now thought that CoQ10 regulates global gene expression in skeletal muscle.  Consider these important functions in light of the fact that body tissue loss of CoQ10 as we age is massive.3
These dramatic losses should also be considered in the wake of “statin” drug prescriptions for cholesterol reduction.  CoQ10 reductions with age can be compounded by statin drugs.  For example Lovastatin can reduce serum CoQ10 levels by as much as thirty percent.3 

During the aging process, a “damage mosaic” develops that is unique to each individual.  During the lifetime of an individual, mitochondrial DNA undergoes a variety of mutation events and rearrangements.  These mutations and their consequent bioenergetic decline, together with nuclear DNA damage, contribute to the reduced function of cells and organs4

In skeletal muscle, this functional decline can be observed by means of changes with age in fiber type profile, and by the reduction in number and size of the muscle fibers.  In a recent trial, human subjects about to undergo hip replacement surgery received 300 mg CoQ10 per day for 25-30 days before surgery, whereas control subjects received placebo treatment.4  At the time of surgery, samples of vastus lateralis muscle were taken from the same regions in both groups, and gene and protein expression patterns and muscle fiber type profiles were compared between placebo and CoQ10-treated subjects.  Those taking CoQ10 demonstrated a dramatic change in muscle fiber types towards profiles of young people,4 in other words, myo-pathology of aging was reversed.

Nutritional replenishment of coenzyme Q10 requires a higher level than is available in most food (highest in pork hearts and chicken legs; low in fruits and veggies).  The normal level in blood is around 1 mg/mL.  To increase the concentration significantly requires at least 100 mg/day which increases the level in blood to around 2 mg/mL.3 

An increase to 2 mg/mL in blood can be therapeutic for various conditions; this may indicate that a high blood level is needed to get coenzyme into deficient tissues.  Even with large amounts of heart or herring in the diet, it would be difficult to supply 100 mg/day.3 

In a more recent study publicized in the media, CoQ10 supplementation was reported to delay Parkinson’s disease (PD) progression.  Patients were followed for up to 16 months, and it was determined that coenzyme Q10 was safe and well tolerated at dosages of up to 1200 mg/day.  Less disability developed in subjects assigned to coenzyme Q10 than in those assigned to placebo, and the benefit was greatest in subjects receiving the highest dosage.  Coenzyme Q10 appears to slow the progressive deterioration of function in PD, but these results need to be confirmed in a larger study.5 TAC


Dr. Seaman is the Clinical Chiropractic Consultant for Anabolic Laboratories, one of the first supplement manufacturers to service the chiropractic profession.  He is on the postgraduate faculties of several chiropractic colleges, providing nutrition seminars that focus on the needs of the chiropractic patient.   Dr. Seaman can be reached by e-mail at [email protected].

The New Lifestyle: Chiropractic, Exercise, Nutrition & Wellness

Physical Activity and Good Nutrition

It’s a sad fact that chronic disease accounts for seven of every ten U.S.  deaths, and for more than 60% of medical care expenditures.  The prolonged illness and disability associated with many chronic diseases decrease quality of life for millions of Americans. 
The chiropractic profession long has taken the stance that, with proper intervention and education, most chronic diseases are preventable.  Physical inactivity and unhealthy eating contribute to obesity, cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes.  Together, they are responsible for at least 300,000 deaths each year.  Only tobacco use causes more preventable deaths in the United States.  Chiropractors, with a wellness orientation, teach their patients to avoid the behaviors that increase their risk for chronic diseases so that they can live healthier and longer lives.
Obesity has reached epidemic proportions in the United States where over 45 million adults are classified as obese.  A disturbing trend shows that this epidemic is not limited to adults.  The percentage of young people who are overweight has more than doubled in the last twenty years!  10%-to-15% of Americans ages six-to-seventeen years—about eight million young people—are considered overweight.
More and more patients are seeking the trusted advice of their doctors of chiropractic in matters of nutrition.  It’s a fact that chiropractors receive significantly more hours of education in the subject of nutrition than their medical colleagues.  Chiropractors must take an active role in promoting regular exercise and healthy eating. 

Lack of Exercise

Exercise substantially reduces the risk of dying of coronary heart disease, the nation’s leading cause of death.  It has also been shown to decreases the risk of colon cancer, diabetes, and high blood pressure.  Exercise also helps to control weight; contributes to healthy bones, muscles, and joints; reduces falls among the elderly; helps to relieve the pain of arthritis; reduces symptoms of anxiety and depression; and is associated with fewer hospitalizations, physician visits, and use of medications. 
Exercise does not need to be strenuous to be beneficial.  People of all ages benefit from moderate physical activity, such as thirty minutes of brisk walking, five or more times a week.  However, despite the proven benefits of physical activity, more than 60% of American adults do not get enough exercise to provide health benefits.  More than 25% are not active at all in their leisure time. 
As with obesity, insufficient exercise is not limited to adults.  More than a third of young people in grades 9-12 do not regularly engage in vigorous exercise.  Daily participation in high school physical education classes dropped from 42% in 1991 to 29% in 1999.

Healthy Eating

Although Americans are gradually adopting healthier diets, a large gap remains between recommended dietary patterns and what Americans actually eat.  Only about one-fourth of U.S.  adults eat the recommended five or more servings of fruits and vegetables each day.  Poor eating habits are often established during childhood.  More than 60% of young people eat too much fat, and less than 20% eat the recommended five or more servings of fruits and vegetables each day.

Vegetables without Vitamins

Even when your patients do consume the recommended servings of fruit and vegetables, often what they eat is devoid of nutritional value.  When a nutritionist recently went to check out the latest US Department of Agriculture food tables, he found that some vegetables had extraordinarily low levels of vitamins.  The explanation he received was that the nutrient drain should be put in context.  It was explained that the 78% decrease in calcium content of corn was not significant because no one eats corn for calcium! Furthermore, he was told, the problem may not even exist at all.  The apparent nutrient dips result from the testing procedures.  For example, changes in the public’s perception of what the edible portion is may determine what parts have been analyzed over time.  In other words, back when the old food tables were made up, people may have been eating the corncob, too, so they got more nutrients.  So now you know why people need their vitamins!

Nutritional Supplements

Many chiropractors are contemplating whether or not they should offer vitamin and nutritional supplements to their patients.  One thing is clear, whatever doctors think of it, your patients have already made up their minds!
Nutritional supplements are big business, and a significant proportion of the population is taking them.  It’s estimated that about half of all Americans regularly use nutritional supplements not prescribed by their doctors.  A quick trip to the local health food store will reveal tablets with every imaginable combination of nutrients, vitamins, herbs, homeopathic remedies, whole food products, neutraceuticals, and more, in countless doses and formulations.  And it’s not just the health food store.  These days, the local pharmacist and even the supermarket offer much the same spectacle.  Vitamin companies spend millions of dollars in advertising hoping to convince the consumers to buy their brand.  Catchy phrases and fancy buzzwords are used to entice, stimulate and often mislead the general public.
More doctors are selling health-related products and, for this reason, it is important that you select reputable nutritional supplement companies.  Chose companies that use an FDA approved laboratory, conduct regular ingredient assays, and those that manufacture nutritional supplement formulas that make sense.  A word of caution: Prior to dispensing nutritional supplements to your patients, you should check the scope of chiropractic practice in your state.  The scope of practice varies from state to state when it comes to dispensing supplements.  The chiropractic scope of practice in the state of New Jersey, for example, does not allow chiropractors to “sell, dispense or derive any financial benefit form the sale of vitamins, food products or nutritional supplements.”  By contrast, the chiropractic scope of practice of the state of New York allows chiropractors to perform “nutritional counseling, including the dispensing of food concentrates, food extracts, vitamins, minerals, and other nutritional supplements.”
When prescribing supplements to your patients, be sure to perform a thorough drug and dietary history.  Many supplements can produce unwanted side effects when taken in combination with prescription and over-the-counter drugs.  For example, one popular herbal remedy, Saint John’s Wort, is now known to interfere with the action of a wide variety of prescription medications.  To help keep you up to date about the nutritional supplement market, the publishers of the Physicians’ Desk Reference recently released the PDR for Nutritional Supplements, which provides scientific analyses of the health benefits—or lack of—for hundreds of over-the-counter products ranging from vitamins to shark cartilage.
A good relationship with the supplement company’s sales representatives can also be very helpful.  An effective sales representative will keep you informed of the latest advances in their product line and will also provide you with useful patient education materials.  Some nutritional supplement companies provide physicians with nutritional surveys and assessments that are helpful in determining the supplementation needs of your patients.  Others provide seminars with credentialed experts on a variety of nutrition-oriented topics.  Those doctors who are considering adding nutritional supplements to their practice would do well to sharpen their clinical skills with continuing education courses on the subject.  Those chiropractors who become passionate about the possibilities of nutrition can also complete a 300-hour course of studies toward a Diplomate through the American Board of Chiropractic Nutrition. 
Chiropractic care does not exist in a vacuum.  Good nutrition plays an integral role in the maintenance of optimal health.  When properly researched, and effectively managed, advising your patients to include nutrition as part of their overall approach to wellness makes good sense. TAC

Dr. Mark Sanna is the CEO of Breakthrough Coaching, LLC, the leading resource for personal coaching to chiropractic and multidisciplinary practices throughout the country. 
He can be reached at Breakthrough Coaching, LLC, by calling 1-800-7-ADVICE.

Why magnesium for the chiropractic patient?

Back in 1992, Elin referred to mag-nesium as the fifth, but forgotten, electrolyte.1  This is not surprising, as magnesium’s importance is rarely mentioned, perhaps due to our culture’s obsession with calcium.   One would never know that magnesium plays a crucial role in bone metabolism, for it is never mentioned.  Even certain researchers do not consider magnesium when studying osteoporosis.  Alexandersen, et al., state that, “It is not a general practice to include a magnesium supplement in osteoporosis studies.”2  Such sentiments are inconsistent with well-known facts about calcium and magnesium metabolism.  A basic endocrinology book explains that magnesium deficiency creates a deficiency in calcium that cannot be corrected until magnesium levels are restored.3  In fact, magnesium supplementation has been used in the research setting in the treatment of osteoporosis. 
In a group of postmenopausal women in Israel suffering from osteoporosis who received magnesium supplements in the range of 250-750 mg/day for 24 months, in 87% of the cases, either trabecular bone density increased up to 8% or bone loss was arrested; in some cases, both an increase in bone density and arrested bone loss occurred.  Untreated controls, on the other hand, lost bone density at an average of 1% a year.4   In another study, postmenopausal osteoporotic women in Czechoslovakia received magnesium at levels ranging from 1500-3000 mg of magnesium lactate per day for two years.  Nearly 65% were classified totally free of pain and with no further deformity of vertebrae, with the condition in the remainder either arrested or slightly improved.4
Magnesium is not limited to improving bone health.  There are some three hundred bodily enzymes that require magnesium, which suggests that magnesium is vital for most cells and tissues of the body.  Deficiency in magnesium can have far reaching effects on many different tissues, to the point that a leading magnesium researcher wrote an article entitled, “Magnesium deficiency:  A cause of heterogeneous disease in humans”.5  Numerous conditions and symptoms can be promoted by magnesium deficiency, including osteoporosis, muscle dysfunction, depression, apathy, cardiac arrythmias, hypertension, atherosclerosis, and even stress and aging.5,6  
Literally no bodily system can escape without being insulted by magnesium deficiency, even the human genome.  In fact, magnesium is thought to promote genomic stability, such that DNA synthesis and repair depends on magnesium.7
Consider how the muscular component of subluxation may by driven by magnesium deficiency.  In particular, magnesium is required for ATP synthesis, which is needed for normal patterns of muscle contraction and relaxation.  Consider that ATP is needed to pump calcium back into the sarcoplasmic reticulum after muscle contraction.  Inadequate magnesium intake is likely to promote increased muscle tension.  Indeed, Rude explains this relationship quite concisely:  “The mechanism by which Mg affects the neuromuscular system relates to the fact that Mg stabilizes the nerve axon, as well as influences the release of neurotransmitters at the myoneural junction….  In Mg deficiency, there is a lower threshold for axonal stimulation and increased nerve conduction velocity, as well as increased quantity of neurotransmitter released.  Mg is also involved in calcium handling by the muscle cell.  With low intracellular Mg, calcium is more readily released from the sarcoplasmic reticulum and is reaccumulated more slowly….  This results in a muscle that is more readily contractible to a given stimulus and is less able to recover from contraction, i.e., tetany prone.”
With the above in mind, one can only hope that he is getting adequate magnesium in his diet.  Regretfully, this is not the case.  Marginal magnesium deficiencies are very common.  At the turn of the century (1900), magnesium intake was estimated to be 475-500 mg per day,8 which is substantially higher than today’s RDA’s.  The current US RDA for magnesium is 320 mg for women and 420 mg for men.  Intakes below the RDA are common, if not the norm, for the people of many countries, including the United States.7,8  While we cannot attribute this lowered intake to be the cause of the conditions and diseases mentioned above, it certainly makes sense to increase magnesium ingestion to at least the RDA. 
Researchers suggest that for every 2.2 pounds of body weight, which is equivalent to 1 kilogram (kg), we should be ingesting six mg of magnesium.  Accordingly, a 150-pound man (70 kg) would require 420 mg/day, while a 200-pound man (90 kg) requires 540 mg/day. 
As most in the US are deficient, it is suggested that we supplement five mg per kg of body weight to replenish what has been lost.6  Researchers have observed that between 950-1020 mg of magnesium per day is required to create a positive magnesium balance.7
For those taking calcium supplements, it is very important to add a magnesium supplement to the regimen.  The current accepted balance of calcium/magnesium intake is 2:1.  At present, the average intake of calcium in the US is thought to be about 1000 mg/day or greater (which includes supplements and fortified foods) and only about 250-350 mg of magnesium.  This imbalance, i.e., about a 4:1 ratio of calcium/magnesium, is thought to reduce magnesium absorption and further enhance magnesium deficiency.4
I suggest we give patients a nutritional adjustment by supplementing with magnesium.  Take magnesium about thirty minutes before eating a meal.  Divide your magnesium supplementation throughout the day if you are taking more than 300 mg, which will help to avoid the only side-effect to taking magnesium, that being loose stools. TAC

  1. Elin R. Magnesm: the fifth but forgotten electrolyte. Am J Clin Path 1994; 102:616-22
  2. Alexandersen P, Riis B. Ipriflavone and osteoporosis. JAMA. 2001; 286(15):1836-7
  3. Besser GM et al. Clinical Endocrinology. 2nd ed. London: Times Mirror; 1994: p. 18.10
  4. Dreosti IE. Magnesium status and health. Nutr Rev 1995; 53(9):S23-S27
  5. Rude RE. Magnesium deficiency: a cause of heterogeneous disease in humans. J Bone Mineral Res  1998; 13:74-958
  6. Durlach J, Bac P, Durlach V, Rayssiguier Y, Bara M, Guiet-Bara A. Magnesium status and ageing: an update. Mag Res 1997; 11:25-42
  7. Hartwig A. Role of magnesium in genomic stability. Mutation Res 2001; 475:113-21
  8. Saris NL, Mervaala E, Karppanen   H, Khawaja JA, Lewenstam A. Magnesium: an update on physiological, clinical and analytical concepts. Clin Chim Acta 2000; 294:1-26

Dr. Seaman is the Clinical Chiropractic Consultant for Anabolic Laboratories, one of the first supplement manufacturers to service the chiropractic profession.  He is on the postgraduate faculties of several chiropractic colleges, providing nutrition seminars that focus on the needs of the chiropractic patient.   Dr. Seaman can be reached by e-mail at [email protected].

Is Hormone Replacement “Therapy”?

During the third week in July of 2002, The Journal of the American Medical Association reported that a large scale clinical trial on hormone replacement therapy (HRT) had been halted five years into the study.1  Researchers at 40 clinics across the country had recruited 16,608 healthy volunteers, ages 59-79 (not at high risk for either heart problems OR breast cancer), and randomly assigned them to either Prempro or a placebo.  Chances of suffering a heart attack or pulmonary blood clot were elevated throughout the study, and stroke risk was high as early as the second year and remained high throughout the study.  That alone was not reason enough to halt the study, especially since hip fractures and colon cancer had decreased.  However, five years into the trial, it was clear that the development of invasive breast cancer was increasing and, combined with the cardiovascular outcomes, “It became very clear that the risks of treatment exceeded the benefit.”2

Estrogen Dominance

The female organs produce estrogen and progesterone in what sometimes seems to be a “tug of war”—during a woman’s cycle, concentrations of each hormone fluctuate at different times.  Since estrogen prevails for most of the cycle, it creates a condition commonly referred to as “estrogen dominance”.  This imbalance happens both in PMS and in menopause, when estrogen replacement therapy (ERT) is given.  Symptoms of estrogen dominance include, “water retention, breast swelling, fibrocystic breasts, pre-menstrual mood swings and depression, loss of sex drive, heavy or irregular periods, uterine fibroids, craving for sweets, and fat deposition in the hips and thighs”.3  Progesterone is an important hormone that balances estrogen.  When synthetic progesterone is given with ERT, it is called hormone replacement therapy (HRT); however, the synthetic version cannot be attributed with the beneficial effects of the natural progesterone.
Synthetic progesterone has been likened by Dr. John Lee, who has researched and written a book on natural progesterone, to a cook who needs eggs for a recipe and is given cheese—the effects just aren’t the same!

The Good News about Natural Support:
Natural Progesterone

“A growing number of doctors believe that if natural products were used, medical risks and side effects would be considerably lessened.  Research using hormones from natural sources have the benefits of synthetics, but fewer side effects.  A significant finding showed that the adverse effects of the synthetic progestins on blood-fats and cholesterol levels were eliminated with natural progesterone.”4


Plant phytoestrogens do not carry the risks of estrogen replacement therapy, and yet they have the ability to exert a weak estrogenic activity when they bind to estrogen receptors.  Phytoestrogens are found in some 300 foods, (including flaxseeds, tofu, cabbage, alfalfa, and fennel) and in some herbs, such as dong quai, red raspberry, black cohosh, chaste-tree berries (vitex), red clover, wild yam and licorice root. (*Dong Quai, black cohosh, and several other female herbs are contraindicated during pregnancy.)  Since the plant hormones have weak estrogenic activity, they are able to eliminate some of the symptoms of menopause and decrease the risk of osteoporosis that is associated with a lack of estrogen.  Used together synergistically, they are even more powerful.5
If plant estrogens provide weak activity where there was none before, does that increase risk for breast cancer?  There is no conclusive evidence that they do.  That could be due to the natural quality of the estrogen and, also, the fact that the plant estrogens may be exerting other beneficial effects.  For instance, these plant estrogens bind to an enzyme called estrogen synthetase, thus inhibiting production of the estrogen in the body, and offering additional protection in this manner.6
It is interesting to note that estrone, which is the main estrogen produced by the body after menopause, has been shown to be carcinogenic.  Estrone is one of three estrogens produced by the body.  Estriol is a weaker form (major hormone of pregnancy) that has not been proven to be carcinogenic, but is not used in HRT.  Estradiol (twelve times more potent than estrone, and eighty times more potent than estriol) is used in HRT, and is also correlated to cancers—the blocking of this estrogen by the phytoestrogens may explain the supposed protection that the phytoestrogens offer in premenopausal years.
It is also possible that, by binding the receptors, plant estrogens prevent the binding of xenoestrogens, highly toxic and carcinogenic substances in our environment suspected of causing breast cancer.  Xenoestrogens not only bind the receptors, but negatively affect the DNA of the cell.  In 1978, Israel banned several chemicals determined to be correlated with breast cancer—the incidence of breast cancer dropped 30% in women under 44 years old, even though it rose 4% overall worldwide.7  In contrast, the phytoestrogen-receptor complex that is formed does not bind to DNA as strongly as human estrogen.8  Additionally, phytoestrogens exhibit antioxidant, radical scavenging, hypolipidemic and serum cholesterol lowering properties.9

Phytoestrogen Support…

Dong quai is a Chinese herb high in phytoestrogens; it relieves hot flashes, vaginal dryness, and depression.10  “Scientific investigation has shown that dong quai produces a balancing effect on estrogen activity and a tonic effect on the uterus.” 11
Black Cohosh has a high phyto-estrogen content, and is recommended frequently for support of all female ailments.  In some clinical trials, black cohosh has been shown to be equally as effective as synthetic estrogen replacement therapy.12  It lowers blood pressure,13 and a review of eight human clinical trials found black cohosh to be “a safe, effective alternative to estrogen replacement therapy”.14
Wild Yam Root is a good source of phytoestrogens, and sterol compounds similar to progesterone.  It contains a natural steroid called dehydroepiandosterone (DHEA).  The root is used in the treatment of menopause-related symptoms.  It helps relax muscle spasms and is said to be beneficial for many female disorders, helping to relieve mood swings, depression, irritability, insomnia, headaches, and cramps.
Chaste Tree (or Vitex) has hormone balancing effects, helps alleviate hot flashes, and is used in the treatment of fibroids in uterine tissue, fibrocystic breasts, and endometriosis.
Red raspberry is full of phyto-estrogens, and is helpful in treating menopause, and associated symptoms such as hot flashes.15  It is one of the safest herbs and can be taken during pregnancy.
Red Clover has phytoestrogens and is also a rich source of bioflavonoids, isoflavonoids, folic acid, biotin, choline, inositol, pantothenic acid, vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B6, B12, C, and minerals such as copper, magnesium, manganese, selenium, and zinc.
Flaxseed is mildly estrogenic (contains phytoestrogens) and is rich in minerals needed by postmenopausal women.  Flaxseed is also high in essential fatty acids (EFA’s)—deficiency of EFA’s is partly responsible for skin, hair, and vaginal dryness, as well as the dryness of other mucous membranes. 
Other female nutrients helpful in menopause include burdock root, motherwort, damiana, gotu kola, Panax ginseng, and avena sativa.
Bioflavonoids and vitamin C:
  In a clinical trial, subjects received a supplement containing a hesperidin bioflavonoid combination with  vitamin C.  “The bioflavonoids were markedly superior to the other preparation’s relief of the hot flashes.  Bioflavonoids appear to restore the endothelium to a normal structure and help reduce the hot flashes and vasodilation.”16  Additionally, bioflavonoids are high in the phytoestrogens that can relieve symptoms.

Natural Support for Osteoporosis

One of the reasons that the large scale trial was not halted earlier was because hip fractures were decreased with estrogen.  Both phytoestrogens and natural progesterone can support healthy bones.  The bioactivity of several phytoestrogens in preventing bone loss “has been demonstrated in a well-recognized model of postmenopausal bone loss”.17
Jerilynn Prior, MD, of the Endocrinology and Metabolism Division of the University of British Columbia, notes that, “Progesterone acts on bone, even though estrogen activity is low or absent.  Because progesterone appears to work on the osteoblasts to increase bone formation, it would complement the actions of estrogen.” (Estrogen decreases bone breakdown.)  Another MD notes that osteoporosis has been reversed in women as much as 16 years past menopause, using natural progesterone in combination with other dietary factors and exercise.18
Phytoestrogens and natural progesterone cream can offer a lot in the way of support for women, both pre- and post-menopausally.  Over 16,000 women have been studied and have blasted the theory that HRT is a wonder drug for women in menopause.  The natural alternatives certainly do not carry the risks that come along with the medical hormone replacement, and more and more women these days want a healthier alternative. TAC


  1. JAMA July 17, 2002
  2. Marcia  Stefanick, chair of the Women’s Health Initiative’s Steering committee; Newsweek July 22, 2002:38-41
  3. Null, G. The Woman’s Encyclopedia of Natural Healing.  Seven Stories Press, NY, NY. 1996
  4. Hargrove J et al., Menopausal Hormone Replacement Therapy with Continuous Daily Oral Micronized Estradiol and Progesterone. Obstetrics and Gynecology. 1989;73:606, as cited in:  Ojeda, Linda, PhD.  Menopause without Medicine.  Hunter House Publ., Alameda Ca. 1989, p. 107
  5. Murray, M. Menopause. Prima Publ. Rocklin, Ca. 1994
  6. Lark, S. Fibroid Tumors & Endometriosis. Celestrial Arts, Berkeley, Ca. 1995;  p.125  
  7. Westin J & Richter E. Ann NY Acad Sci 1990;609:269-279
  8. Draper CR et al. J Nutr. 1997;127:1795-99
  9. Franke et al. 1994
  10. Balch, J.F., M.D. and Balch, P.A., C.N.C.  Prescription for Nutritional Healing.  1990.  Avery Publishing, Garden City Park, NY, p. 241
  11. Murray, M.T., N.D.  Natural Alternatives to Over-the-Counter and Prescription Drugs.  1994.  William Morrow and Company, Inc.  NY, NY
  12. Zen BL Gynakol 110-61, 1998
  13. Mowrey, DB. The Scientific Validation of Herbal Medicine.  Cormorant Books, 1986
  14. as cited by Lieberman, Shari, Journal of Women’s Health. 1998;7(5):525-529
  15. Balch, J.F., M.D. and Balch, P.A., C.N.C.  Prescription for Nutritional Healing.  1990.  Avery Publishing, Garden City Park, NY, p. 241.
  16. Smith, CJ, MD. Non-hormonal control of vaso-motor flushing in menopausal patients, Chicago Medicine, March 7, 1964
  17. J Nutr 1997;127:1795-99.
  18. Christiane Northrup, MD.  Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom.

Dr. Toohey received her Ph.D. in nutrition from Colorado State University in Ft. Collins, CO.  She has lectured to chiropractors and other health professionals across the country and also in Canada and Europe.  She has been invited by the Canadian MS Society to be a guest speaker at their annual convention in Vancouver (Nov.  16th).  Various lecture engagements have included speaking for the International College of Applied Kinesiology, the United Chiropractors of New Mexico, and the Florida Chiropractic Association.  You may reach Dr. Toohey by e-mail at [email protected].