Women face a crucial choice with little medical data
by Debby Bruck and Manfred Mueller, MA, DHM, RSHom(NA), CHC
First published in 1993. Updated in 2012 by Manfred Mueller
How safe is the menopausal medication estrogen, the most widely prescribed drug in the USA? Answers may be years away, and yet 1.3 million American women who enter menopause each year must decide whether it out-weighs possible links to cancer and other illnesses.
Estrogen has been prescribed since the 1940’s to ease hot flashes, headaches, vaginal dryness, insomnia, mood swings and other signs of menopause, when the body’s natural supply of the hormone declines. In 1975 studies show estrogen (premarin) increased the risk of cancer of the endometrium (the uterine lining). By 1980 the drug was back in favor with the use of progestin (a synthetic progestogen with effects similar to progesterone), a second hormone taken with estrogen that appears to reduce the risk of endometrial cancer. In recent years, the medical establishment has strongly promoted estrogen because of evidence that it protects postmenopausal women against osteoporosis (the loss of bone mass that can lead to deformities and crippling fractures), cardiovascular disease and perhaps Alzheimer’s.
This is done in spite of the strong evidence that continued administration of so-called conjugated estrogens increase the risk of cancer in both animals and humans. Studies have shown an increased risk of endometrial and breast cancer. There is also a threefold increase in the risk for gallbladder disease. Other serious long-term risks include blood clots, strokes, liver cancer and tumors, high blood pressure, heart disease, glucose intolerance with symptoms similar to diabetes
In spite of mounting scientific evidence about long-term adverse effects, physicians try to persuade women to take premarin or other hormones, emphasizing the negative aspects of menopause. Keep in mind that no matter what product you use, long-term hormone replacement therapy (HRT) increases the risk for cancer and many other serious or fatal illnesses.
Many women do not remain impressed by the propaganda of the pharma-industry for long. The Massachusetts Women’s Health Study showed that about 40 per cent of those on hormones soon quit taking their medication or took them intermittently. Twenty percent never filled their prescriptions. Women are saying, “Wait a second…” Possible direct side effects from HRT are bleeding, bloating, nausea, weight gain or mood changes (at a cost of up to $30 per month).
The premarin industry is a multibillion-dollar enterprise. An estimated eight million women are currently taking the drug. In addition to increasing the risk of disease in older women, this industry is taking its toll in another population: young female horses. The premarin industry spells misery and death to hundreds of thousands of horses and foals. Premarin is produced from the urine of pregnant mares. The young mares are impregnated, and fitted with a rubber collection cup attached to a hose. They are kept in stalls for the entire duration of pregnancy, and re-impregnated as soon as possible after the birth. Most young foals are usually killed as a by-product of the PMU (pregnant mare urine) industry, while some are kept to replace worn-out mares.
Women unwilling to take hormones for the rest of their life have other options. Physicians suggest moderate exercise, no smoking, and eating a low-fat diet high in nutrients. Exercise helps to control weight gain, bone density, blood pressure and cholesterol level, and to ease hot flashes, sleeplessness and anxiety. In addition to change in life-style there is the option of homeopathic treatment.
But what about the risk of osteoporosis? Did you know that fluoride added to drinking water causes osteoporosis? You can reduce the risk of osteoporosis simply by filtering all fluoride from your tap water. Fluoride is a chemical byproduct of aluminum, steel, cement, phosphate, and nuclear weapons manufacturing. It has no proven benefits and increases the risk of osteoporosis in both men and women. Installing a whole house filter that will remove fluoride, moderate exercise and a diet high in vegetables will effectively prevent osteoporosis. Homeopathic treatment can reverse osteoporosis after it already has already been established.
Homeopathic treatment has helped millions of women through the change of life, without the dangerous side-effects of the cruder conventional drugs. Homeopaths do not assume from the beginning that a woman who is going through the change of life necessarily is in need of a medicine. In order to prescribe a medicine for actual menopausal symptoms, homeopaths consider the complete symptomatology of the patient, her individual constitution, overall health, medical history, past drug use, mental, physical and emotional state. The advantages of homeopathic treatment are obvious. Besides its minimal cost, it has long lasting effects. The remedies do not suppress symptoms, but act as a stimulus to the person’s vital force to balance an existing disorder.
Menopause, the transitional life phase associated with the cessation of menstruation, usually occurs between the ages of 40 and 50. Not all women experience symptoms or need treatment. In those women who exhibit symptoms and in the absence of treatment, menopause may last from a few months to, in rare cases, over three years. The expression “climacteric period” though less commonly used is the scientific term for menopause. The symptoms vary but include: period disorders, circulatory disorders like hot flushes, heaviness of the legs, high blood pressure and osteo-articular disorders. A homeopath must take each individual case into consideration and treatment.
Because of the difficulties in finding the proper individual remedy for each patient it is not advisable to try to treat oneself with homeopathic remedies, except for temporary alleviation of otherwise harmless symptoms. It is therefore important to consult an experienced homeopathic practitioner.
Remedies are prescribed after a complete clinical exam and laboratory tests to determine if there are any serious conditions present which would need other medical attention. Listed below are some of the most commonly used remedies for symptoms during the “Change of Life”.
- Aconite – heavy, hot, bursting, throbbing headache, violent onset of symptoms, cystitis, painful urination, anxiety, restless, fearfulness; worse from lying on painful side, at night, cold, dry winds, music.
- Anacardium – vomiting in morning, cursing, impaired memory; worse from hot application; better from lying on the side with gentle massage.
- Arnica – small spontaneous hemorrhages or hemorrhages caused by the slightest trauma
- Arsenicum – anxious, worry, restless, insomnia, irritable, cold, wants head raised by pillows, thirst for small drinks often; worse after midnight, wet weather, by cold or cold food and drink.
- Aurum metallicum – congestion, puffiness, dark red face, bad temper with anxiety, depression, melancholy and a lack of self-confidence; palpitations with congestive flushes in the head or chest; vascular symptoms relieved by cool temperatures despite being sensitive to the cold; used for uterine or ovarian fibroma.
- Belladona – hot flushes start and end abruptly, with profuse sweating of the face; pupils dilated, worse from exertion, lying down, slightest noise or slight jarring motion, better from firm pressure, sitting up and tightly wrapping head.
- Caulophyllum – weakness in the reproductive system; hemorrhage, heaviness and prolapsus, excoriating leukorrhea, period too soon or too late; sensitive to cold, wants warm clothing, hysterical, fretful, apprehensive, rheumatism of small joints and stiffness of the back, sensitive spine; sleepless, restless.
- China (Cinchona officinalis) – discharge is accompanied by paleness, hypotension (low blood pressure), physical and psychic weakness with tinnitus and eyesight disorders, and easy sweating.
- Cimicifuga – muscular, crampy pains; agitation; pains like electric shocks; migraine; sensation of a cloud enveloping her, dream of impending evil; loquacious; pains from eyes to top of head; pain across pelvis from hip to hip; worse morning; the more profuse the flow the greater the suffering; better for warmth and eating.
- F.S.H. – (follical stimulating hormone) of the pituitary gland may help regulate hot-flushes when menopause has already begun.
- Fluoricum acidum – heaviness of legs with burning sensations improved by cold compresses; low bone density.
- Glonoinum – throbbing of the head, more pronounced flushes than Belladona.
- Graphites – fat, cold-sensitive, anemic patients, very impressionable, sad, melancholic and indecisive; flatulence and constipation; oozing rashes, keloid scars, sebaceous cysts; scanty periods with discharge of pale blood, often with voice hoarseness; profuse white, liquid, irritating leukorrhea; hot flushes, sudden perspiration; aggravated by cold humid weather, improved by being warmly dressed and being outside.
- Hamamelis virginiana – often completes the action of Arnica when the patient has dilated, painful veins, with a sore, bruised feeling that the veins are about to burst. Symptoms aggravated by heat.
- Helonias – tired with backache; weakness with tendency to prolapse ; monthly congestion with suppressed menses; better when busy doing something; does not like to be contradicted; pain and weight in back; breasts swollen, nipples painful and tender, worse for motion and touch
- Ignatia amara – hypersensitive women with paradoxical modalities; nervousness, numbness in various parts, “sinking” sensation, flushings, constipation and a sensation of a ball in the throat, jerking of limbs on going to sleep, frequent sighing.
- Kali carbonicum – obesity, anemic, cold-sensitive, anxious, quickly discouraged, weakness in the kidneys or legs; stabbing, stinging and burning pain with sweating around the painful spot; pain is aggravated by rest, cold or draft and improved with movement (Rhus-tox); loss of appetite, “biliousness” taste of bile in mouth on waking, flushing; worse at 3AM.
- Lachesis mutus – hefty women with blotchy complexion, bad-tempered, proud, suspicious, jealous, nasty and vindictive; alternate between loquacious and complete silence, hot flushes and cold feet, left-sided migraines, symptoms worse on waking from sleep, heat in the morning, external pressure (from clothing) intolerable – especially around waist and neck, melancholic, irritable, increased sex drive; symptoms aggravated if menstrual periods are delayed, overly light or non-existent, by heat, sleep and particularly upon awakening; improved by starting periods.
- Natrum sulfuricum – flabby individuals, fat around abdomen, hips and thighs; slow to react, depressed and sad; pains aggravated by humidity, wet and cold weather-, improved by changing positions or by slow, progressive movement. Pain in lumbar region, knees, the right hip and ankles.
- Nux vomica – authoritative women with important professional responsibilities. These women are sedentary and overworked, tired out by the problems and disorders of menopause.
- Pulsatilla – vaginal dryness, excoriating, burning; recurring thoughts, wide-awake in evening, sensitive, weepy, desires attention and sympathy, changeable symptoms, thirstless, desires open air, worse from heat, warm room, rich, fat foods, better from open air, cold food and drink.
- Sabal serrulata – mental confusion; cannot remember anything; depressed; pain and aching in temples; pain starts at the root of the nose and goes up into the head; pain is in the base of the brain and runs down to the mid-cervical region; painful urination with ovarian pain; bladder feel full; difficulty sleeping.
- Sabina – periods are early, heavy and prolonged. Discharge of red, clotted blood, aggravated by the slightest movement with violent pain extending from the sacrum to the pubis.
- Sanguinaria canadensis – hot flushes localized in the face and neck, circumscribed redness of the cheeks just over the cheekbones, a sensation that the ears are burning, burning sensation of the palms of the hands to the soles of the feet, relieved by the cold or uncovering the feet (Sulphur); violent headache settling over right eye.
- Secale cornutum – long heavy periods, discharge of black blood, flow increased by slightest movement with false labor pains. The patient is aggravated by heat; improved by cool temperatures or by removing clothing.
- Sepia – leukorrhea, sacral pain, persons of dark hair, eyes and complexion with fine delicate skin, rings around eyes and mouth; chronic uterine infections; weeping when telling problems, complaining, bad-tempered, sad, dislike being contradicted, depression, they keep away from other people and prefer to remain alone; heaviness in the pelvic region as if the uterus were about to fall out of the vagina; lumbar or lumbago-sacral pains; sit with the leg crossed-, greenish-yellow, irritating foul-smelling leukorrhea which makes intercourse painful; irregular periods, discharge of black blood; early menopause.
- Silica – thin, tired, cold-sensitive patients; fibroids, ovarian cysts, pain and or bleeding, generally pleasant yielding gentle patient, when pushed too far obstinate, irritable, head sweat that soaks the pillow at night, wakes up at night because hands have gone to sleep, headache starts in occiput settles over right eye; flushes from hot foods and drinks, better cold foods; hands and feet damp.
- Sulphur – hypertension, flushings, hemorrhoids, varicose veins, eczema, acne, gout, arthosis, arthritis; all of these disorders may alternate with each other and are relieved for a short while if periods start up again. Dislike heat, like to stay in cool places.
- Sulfuric acid – flushes worse in the evenings and after exertion; general weariness, sensation of quivering all over the body; trembling; hurried feeling; black fluid hemorrhage; sensitive to touch and cold-sweating after eating; worse standing.
- Thuja – women with a complex past medical history who have been treated with many drugs, oral contraceptive, antibiotics and corticosteroids; many genital infections or lesions, fibromas, polyps, cysts, etc.; unhealthy skin with warts, moles and growths, perspiration smells foul; greasy, oily face, varicose veins on nose, edema of body; frantic, sad, depressed and obsessive.
- Valerian – great irritability and nervousness, depression of spirits, sensation of ball in throat.
- Vipera – heaviness of the legs aggravated by letting them dangle, relieved by elevating the legs.
Make the Decision Wisely
Before deciding to take hormone replacement therapy it is wise to ask questions and do some research. A Gallup poll in 1993 showed that 36 percent of women get most of their information from their physicians. Even then, doctors tend to focus on short-term effects of menopause rather than long-term health risks. Eighty-four percent of the time, hormone therapy is recommended (in 1993), with little or no discussion of alternatives. There are gentle natural methods available, it is up to you to search them out.
2012 Update: Fortunately, as a result of the education carried on daily by knowledgeable alternative practitioners, more and more women have become aware of the dangers of hormone replacement therapy today and have been seeking (and finding) alternatives. This has even caused a shift in the attitude of conventional doctors toward HRT treatment of menopausal symptoms.
It is important to keep in mind that menopausal symptoms are mostly encountered in women that have a history of hormonal imbalance before menopause. Homeopathic treatment can effectively prevent these symptoms and restore balance long before menopause.
Homeopathy is very effective for hormonal disorders, especially menopause. If you are not able to affect relief with self treatment, consider making an appointment with a qualified homeopathic practitioner.
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