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Archive for the ‘Bio-Identical Hormones’ Category

Your thyroid may not be working

“I have always thought that my thyroid was not working right, but my doctor says my thyroid is fine”.  This is something that I keep hearing.  I also hear “my doctor says my thyroid is fine but I feel terrible.”  If you are interested in having our staff review your thyroid give me a call.  Every week we are helping patients find balance with thyroid.

Did you know that thyroid medication is one of the most commonly prescribed medications in the US?  Our staff nurse Anita Hester, RN has written about thyroid imbalance.  You can review it here and here.

It is time to get answers to the reason you feel:

  • Fatigue
  • Increased sensitivity to cold
  • Constipation
  • Dry skin
  • Weight gain
  • Puffy face
  • Hoarseness
  • Muscle weakness
  • Elevated blood cholesterol level
  • Muscle aches, tenderness and stiffness
  • Pain, stiffness or swelling in your joints
  • Heavier than normal or irregular menstrual periods
  • Thinning hair
  • Slowed heart rate
  • Depression
  • Impaired memory

We have a nurse, two pharmacists and a physician trained in functional medicine to help you finally get it right.

Hormone balance and infertility

Is it time to find answers to your infertility?Regel Silver Polished

I am close to several couples that have struggled with infertility.  Some never had a positive pregnancy test and others have had miscarriages.  This part of life is one that can change you and your relationship with your spouse.  We often have the opportunity to work with women that are low in progesterone and need a hormone balance.  I physician recently discussed his experience with infertility and how balancing his wife’s hormones made it possible to get pregnant.  Here is his story.

Physician Story

Pharmacist Story

One of my neat stories that I recently heard comes from a recent customer.  I was explaining to a women how to properly use her medication for her child’s wart.  She said that without a compound that we provided a few years ago she would not have a child with warts.  She explained that she had had multiple miscarriages and finally found out that she had low progesterone levels in the first trimester.  We formulated a progesterone suppository for her and she was able to maintain her pregnancy.

If you know someone that has poly-cystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) or any other infertility issue we are a resource that understands your struggle.  Share this post with those that need this.

Options for feminine discomfort

What is vaginal discomfort?

Vaginal discomfort includes dryness, urinary incontinence as well as painful intercourse.  If you think you are the only one that is suffering from this condition, let me say that you are not alone.  Research shows that postmenopausal women and women that have had a hysterectomy are most likely to suffer from this condition.  Over the last 13 years vaginal dryness/discomfort is one of the top three symptoms that most of our female patients commonly complain about.

What causes vaginal discomfort?

Low estrogen levels in the vaginal tissue are the main reason why a patient would suffer from these symptoms.  For most patients, a low estrogen level begins around the age of 45.  If you have had a hysterectomy or if you have early onset menopause you can experience symptoms of low estrogen at an earlier age.

Did you know that many women who take birth control or have an Intra-Uterine Device (IUD) also suffer from vaginal dryness/discomfort?   It turns out that birth control lowers the amount of testosterone produced by the ovaries and increases a protein secreted by the liver known as sex-hormone-binding globulin (SHBG).  SHBG binds to testosterone and makes the molecule inactive. The higher the SHBG level, the lower the functional testosterone level.  Also, the synthetic progesterone component in some birth control pills actually turns off the testosterone receptor if given in high doses.  Since both estrogen and testosterone receptors in the vaginal tissue contribute to lubrication, it is no wonder that low testosterone not only makes this area drier, but also more painful.

Regel Silver Polished

How can we help?

Recently the medications that are prescribed to treat vaginal dryness/discomfort and urinary incontinence have had a price increase and are, for some individuals, no longer covered by insurance companies.   This increase in price has pushed some to ask for alternatives to these manufactured options.  Our pharmacists are capable of creating a formulation that can provide you the most relief without the high cost.  We are able to create the perfect balance that your body needs to relieve your symptoms of vaginal dryness, urinary incontinence and painful intercourse.

Let us help you overcome this by contacting Natalie Danielson, Pharm.D. or Anita Hester, RN at our pharmacy.   You can reach me by email at natalie.danielson@regelpharmalab.com

Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis

What is Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis and what can you do to manage or maybe even prevent it?  Our staff RN, Anita Hester gives some suggestions about this often overlooked problem.

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Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis is an autoimmune thyroid condition that can cause symptoms of overactive as well as low functioning thyroid.  An autoimmune condition means that antibodies, which normally fight off harmful invaders in the body, begin to attack healthy tissues by mistake.  It is believed that this is sometimes the result of viral, bacterial or fungal infections, as well as other factors.  Many times the symptoms of too much thyroid hormone such as anxiety, fast heart beat, weight loss, and fatigue may appear at first, then as the thyroid gland suffers damage, symptoms reflect low thyroid function.  A simple blood test called TPO can check for these antibodies.  TPO (thyroid peroxidase) is an enzyme made in the thyroid gland that is important in the production of thyroid hormone.  The TPO test measures the level of an antibody that is directed against TPO.

Higher than normal TPO may indicate increased chance of developing autoimmune conditions.

Since TPO is not commonly checked by many practitioners, patients may have thyroiditis, or other autoimmune conditions such as lupus, Sjogren’s or rheumatoid arthritis developing and not know it.  Unfortunately, many find out when symptoms become so severe that they interfere with activities of daily living.

So how does this condition get started?  There’s not a simple answer, but a lot of it may start in the GI tract.  Many patients produce too little stomach acid, take acid suppressants, use antibiotics or oral contraceptives which can impair digestion and absorption of nutrients.  Eating too much sugar and carbs, processed foods, skipping meals and stress can also lead to poor digestion.  With this impaired gut functioning comes imbalance in intestinal flora,  hormone imbalance, blood sugar problems and increased cortisol.  If not corrected these can lead to more serious issues like chronic inflammation, food allergies, toxin buildup, decreased immunity, anemia, leaky gut, adrenal problems and ultimately thyroid dysfunction.  Impaired immunity makes one more prone to chronic infections, leading to more antibiotic or steroid use and the vicious cycle continues.  Proper diet, probiotics, and adequate nutrients like iodine and selenium are helpful along with the right medications for optimal thyroid function.

If you suspect you have thyroid problems, ask your practitioner for a full thyroid panel including TPO.  Bring us the results and we can review them with you so you can better understand what is going on with your thyroid.  Check out the website thyroidpharmacist.com to get more detailed information about thyroid issues.

Comment below if you have something to say about a thyroid issue you are experiencing.

 

Is there something besides Synthroid?

 

All too often I talk to patients who have been on thyroid medication for years, but still suffer with the same symptoms.  They don’t know that other medications, as well as nutritional advice for thyroid imbalance are available.  In her last blog, our staff  RN, Anita Hester, gave an overview of thyroid dysfunction (see http://regelpharmalab.com/blog/is-your-thyroid-okay/) and now will provide some helpful information for managing thyroid problems.

The first thing I suggest to my hormone patients and anyone else who comes into the pharmacy with certain complaints is to have their doctor draw a thyroid panel : TSH, T3, T4, TPO.  T4 is the most abundant thyroid hormone which is then converted into T3, affecting almost every physiological process in the body.  T4 is changed to T3 by an enzyme that is dependent on certain nutrients, especially zinc and selenium.  Nutritional deficiency and sometimes other medications can cause poor T4 to T3 conversion.  It is often important to also evaluate rT3 (reverse T3).  The body normally converts some of the T4 to T3 and the excess T4 turns to reverse T3 as a way of getting rid of it.  Too much reverse T3 is often the result of an iron problem or cortisol problem, or both.  This excess can cause the same symptoms of hypothyroidism.

Thyroid-Physiology

Sometimes a patient has “normal” levels of TSH, T3 and T4 but they have an elevated TPO, meaning that their thyroid has developed antibodies against itself.  This can lead to a condition known as Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis.  We will take a closer look at this problem in the next blog.  Some patients have an overactive thyroid or hyperthyroidism which can cause equally frustrating symptoms.  Needless to say, any abnormal thyroid function can lead to more serious health issues if not properly addressed in time.

All hormones, including thyroid hormones, work together to make the body function properly.  If there is an imbalance with any of these then ultimately it will affect the entire relationship. That is why it is important to check all of these hormone levels and supplement with bioidentical hormones when necessary.  Excess estrogen, low DHEA, low testosterone, and low progesterone can inhibit proper thyroid function.  If the adrenal glands are suffering from fatigue, it is best to support them with nutritional supplements before beginning medication for a thyroid problem.  If not, the thyroid medication can cause further stress to the adrenals when it increases the body’s metabolism.

So back to the subject of medications and treatments…generally many practitioners only prescribe synthetic T4.  Many patients are treated successfully with these medications, but others see no relief of their symptoms because they may also need T3.  There are several T4/T3 combination medications, the most well-known being Armour Thyroid.  Some patients may only require T3 which is available with the synthetic Cytomel or in a generic Liothyronine Sodium.  Your thyroid medication can be specifically tailored to your individual needs at Regel Pharmalab if the standard drug and dosage typically offered does not relieve your symptoms.

Things that you can do to promote healthy thyroid function are:

  1. Eat a well-balanced diet, and supplement with a multivitamin or thyroid support product containing iodine, zinc, selenium and l-tyrosine. Avoid soy which can reduce T4 to T3 conversion.
  2. Reduce stress and get plenty of Vitamin C to help with adrenal health and balance cortisol. Refer to Dr. James Wilson’s book on Adrenal Fatigue to see if you may be suffering from this common problem.
  3. Be aware that oral estrogens, birth control pills, beta-blockers, lithium, and chemotherapy can interfere with thyroid function.
  4. Protect your thyroid from injury, extreme cold, and radiation.
  5. Check your hormones with a saliva test to assure that they are in balance.  Estrogen/progesterone balance affects thyroid hormones.

If you are having symptoms of thyroid dysfunction, ask your practitioner for a full thyroid panel.  A very  informative book is The Women’s Guide to Thyroid Health  by Kathryn R. Simpson.  Talk to your compounding pharmacist about other options if you feel your present medication is not giving you the symptom relief you desire.  We can also direct you to practitioners who understand that each patient’s situation is unique and should be treated as such.

What symptoms are you experiencing with your thyroid medication that you would like to correct?  Comment below.

Is your thyroid okay?

“I’ve always been told my thyroid is normal,” or “I’ve been on thyroid medication for years but I still don’t feel well.”  Is your thyroid okay?  That is a question that is asked of patients when they come in for hormone consultations and most of the time these are the responses we hear.   In many cases their thyroid function is fine but often we find patients whose symptoms are partly due to problems with their thyroid function.  Since every cell in the body depends on proper thyroid hormone levels in order to function optimally, the thyroid gland has many critical roles in the body, including balancing hormones.  Our staff RN and BHRT Specialist, Anita Hester explains the importance of thyroid testing.

Video and Film

 

There are many symptoms of thyroid dysfunction.  When someone has low function they may experience low body temperature, constipation, fatigue, hair loss, weight gain, depression, and mental fogginess to name a few.  Signs of an overactive thyroid may be weight loss, hyperactivity, heart palpitations, heat intolerance and fatigue, among others.  Some patients may even have hot flashes or night sweats.  Many of the common hormonal imbalance symptoms that we hear about are the same as with thyroid imbalance problems.

There are two main schools of thought about thyroid problems in this country.  The most common or conventional method of determining dysfunction is to look at blood levels of TSH or thyroid stimulating hormone. If it is determined that medication is needed then synthetic T4 thyroid hormone is prescribed.  A more holistic approach considers patient symptoms as well as levels of the thyroid hormones T3 and T4 along with TSH.  The practitioner determines if there is a need for T4, T3,  or both.  Often both are needed and a natural combination of the two is prescribed.

The T4 hormone converts to the active T3 hormone which exerts a variety of effects on the body.  Sometimes the body does not convert well and it is necessary to supplement with T3.  Dr. David Brownstein is a well-known expert on thyroid problems and has written several books explaining why it is important to have a more holistic approach.  You can find out more about Dr. David Brownstein at http://www.drbrownstein.com/ 

Understanding The Thyroid

 

Problems with thyroid function can be a result of genetics, toxins, nutritional deficiencies, poor eating habits, autoimmune disease, trauma to the gland, viral infection, etc.  It is important to have thyroid hormone levels checked regularly, drink plenty of water, avoid processed and high fat foods, eat more fresh fruits and vegetables (preferably organic), use iodized salt, avoid toxins, take a multivitamin containing zinc, selenium and iodine daily and protect your thyroid from injury and radiation exposure.

During a hormone consultation, thyroid levels are considered along with estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, DHEA, cortisol and Vitamin D.  Be watching for my next blog in which I will have more information on options for thyroid treatment, how it affects other hormones and why you may not be on the right thyroid medication.

For additional information on hormone testing or questions about your thyroid, give me a call at (901) 757-9434 or email me at anita@regelpharmalab.com .

Comment below on what you’ve been told about your thyroid.

The Importance of Estrogen

When talking with women about what we do here at Regel PharmaLab I hear a variety of
responses when it comes to the topic of estrogen.  This hormone seems to be the one that gets
the most attention.  Researchers have found over 400 functions of estrogen in the female body.
I will let our Bioidentical Hormone Specialist here at Regel, Anita Hester, RN, explain some of those
important functions and hopefully clear up some of the confusion about this important chemical
messenger.

There are actually many kinds of estrogens produced by the body, but the three main ones
are estrone, estradiol and estriol.  They are produced mainly in the ovaries but also in the
adrenal glands, liver and fat cells.  Estrone is a sort of reserve estrogen that comes from
estradiol in the ovaries.  If the estradiol level gets too low then the body can use estrone to make
more estradiol. Estradiol is the strongest, most active form.  This is the form that you lose at
menopause when the ovaries stop working.  Estriol is the weaker of the three estrogens and
has been shown to be protective for the breasts.  It has been used for this purpose in Western
Europe for many decades.

Estrogen Types Graphic

All of the estrogens are important for many reasons such as decreasing fatigue, decreasing
total cholesterol, maintaining memory, maintaining bones, improving sleep, helping with
absorption of minerals, controlling symptoms of menopause such as hot flashes, preventing
vaginal dryness, keeping skin moisturized, acting as an antioxidant, facilitating a multitude of
neurological actions, turning on progesterone receptors, decreasing the incidence of dementia,
preventing depression, balancing pH, regulating mood, maintaining sexual desire, and much
more.

As you can see, estrogen is very important for us as women.  As we age our bodies become
deficient and we may suffer from a lot of annoying symptoms.  Estrogen deficiency also puts us
at risk for many problems such as cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, and dementia to name
a few.  Deficiency of estrogen can be remedied safely by replacing what is missing with natural
hormone therapy.  Bioidentical estrogens are an exact match to the estrogens that your body
makes.  Using natural estrogen (along with natural progesterone which is necessary to balance
estrogen) instead of taking synthetic estrogens, makes hormone replacement safer.  Most of our
hormone patients are using much lower doses of estrogen to relieve symptoms than women
who are on synthetic estrogens, which are made from horse hormones.  Also, we know that
research has shown topical estrogen therapy to be safer than oral therapy.  Saliva testing can
determine if there is a need for estrogen, progesterone and testosterone.  If you are
experiencing hormone imbalance symptoms, we can help you.  Would you like to know more about saliva testing and our Cool Ladies Club contact us at (901) 757-9434 or info@regelpharmalab.com.  For even greater details come to one of our seminars where we provide education about bio-identical hormone replacement therapy.  Follow this link  http://regelpharmalab.com/events/bhrt-seminar.

Are you a “Cool Lady?”

Join our new Cool Ladies Club at Regel and you will be, no doubt!  Pharmacy Educator for Regel, Angie Kerby, will tell you more.

Cool Ladies Club Artwork

With years of experience helping patients control hormone imbalances, we have learned three things:

  1. Frequent saliva testing is the best way to keep hormones balanced for aging ladies who experience any of the symptoms that can go along with pms, perimenopause, or menopause such as anxiety, hot flashes, insomnia, mood swings, night sweats, osteoporosis, and weight gain.  It is important to stay healthy and keep these symptoms relieved as our bodies go through many changes.
  2. Vitamin deficiency is common for ladies who are in this period of their lives.
  3. Education about these issues is sought after by health conscious ladies in today’s society. 

These are the reasons we were inspired to form the Cool Ladies Club.  We wanted to make these resources available to our customers and make it affordable for them.   This can allow ladies to  achieve optimum hormonal health and maintain it throughout the time period in which their body is aging and in need.

Membership Includes:

¨   Discounted Saliva Test Kits

¨   Follow-up Consultations

¨   Quarterly Lunch & Learn Seminars – (Bring a friend for no additional charge.  If you are unable to attend, no worries, our seminars are recorded for you to listen to at your convenience, and you may gift a friend for the free lunch.)

¨   Monthly Wellness Conference Calls – (These scheduled conference calls are also recorded so that if the timing is not right for you, you may call in and listen to a playback of the conference at your convenience and supporting documents are available for you to download for your review.)

¨   15% Discount on all Supplements

To learn more about the Cool Ladies Club you may contact Anita @ (901) 757-9434 or email her at anita@regelpharmalab.com.  Another great way to learn more about the Cool Ladies Club and about Hormone Balancing is by attending one of our seminars on Bio-Identical Hormone Replacement Therapy (BHRT.)  Our next one will be Thursday, March 5th @ 6:00 here at Regel PharmaLab.  Go to our website to reserve a seat for you and a friend   http://regelpharmalab.com/events/bhrt-seminar 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why Saliva Tests?

Customers often ask why we utilize saliva hormone testing.  There are many reasons, but reliability, accuracy of measuring available hormones and convenience are three of the main reasons we utilize this tool.  Saliva testing has been FDA approved for many uses from recovering DNA information, disease markers, hormones and even bone density monitoring for astronauts at NASA.  It has been scientifically established as a highly accurate way to measure hormone levels equivalent to conventional blood testing.  In 2012, over 600 studies were published in peer-reviewed journals using saliva analysis of hormones.  I am going to turn this over to Anita Hester, RN and our BHRT Specialist, to explain this further.

Saliva Test Kit Image

 

The basic testing kits we offer are from a well respected company called ZRT Laboratory.   They are safe, easy, non-invasive and accurate in measuring estradiol, progesterone, testosterone, DHEA-S and cortisol.  Founded by Dr. David Zava in 1998, ZRT is staffed by trained laboratory technicians, scientists, and doctors.  Dr. Zava was educated right here in Memphis at the UTHSC. He has a Ph.D in Bio-chemistry, and is an internationally known speaker and author on hormone imbalance, bio-identical hormone therapy, saliva testing, and breast cancer research.  ZRT is dedicated to research and testing, and also focuses on education of patients as well as practitioners.

So how can a saliva test be more accurate than a blood test?  We believe that saliva testing can be more accurate than blood testing because it evaluates only the hormones available for the body to use versus a blood test which tests all hormones in the blood.  The salivary hormone levels more closely relate to symptoms that patients feel such as hot flashes, fatigue, low libido and more.

Regular saliva testing is important to keep hormones at optimal levels to help reduce risks of certain types of cancer, heart disease, osteoporosis, and dementia just to name a few.  As we age, our bodies and hormones needs change.  Patients who get regular testing have the best results.  Patients on the same dose of hormones for several years without regular testing are often experiencing symptoms and don’t realize that it is related to an imbalance.  Our bodies gradually got used to the symptoms that first brought us to the point of seeking help with our hormones.  In most cases patients don’t realize just how poorly they feel until their energy and vitality bounce back once hormone therapy is initiated.

Here is an example of saliva test results so you may see the comparison between testing:

Saliva Test Results Image

 

Saliva testing is convenient and easy.  No need for a doctor’s appointment since samples are collected by the patient at home, allowing convenient timing of collection especially for measuring cortisol which sometimes is measured at specific times of the day or night.  Everything is provided in the kit.  You simply follow the instructions provided to collect your sample, and drop it off at any UPS store.  It usually takes about a week for us to receive the results.  You will be notified when it is time to schedule a consult to discuss them and a customized plan for balancing your hormones will be designed specifically for you.

Do you have more questions about balancing hormones?  Comment below or give us a call.  For a more thorough explanation of saliva testing contact anita@regelpharmalab.com.

Holiday Stress for women: A Christmas Gift no one wants

Several years ago, I was so frustrated with our success in helping women with their hormone symptoms.  Among these problems are hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, weight gain, sleepless nights, mental fogginess, and the list goes on.  At first, we were having success with each individual’s plan.  We were able to help women feel “normal” again.  Symptoms were reduced to almost none and overall the individuals felt great.  We even had a few husbands come in to show their appreciation by saying, “thank you for giving me my wife back.”  But all of a sudden symptoms were returning to these patients.  I struggled with this for a few years until I noticed that most of these individuals would have issues around the holidays.

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I then decided to call a friend of mine in Texas and discuss this issue. He enlightened me to what he called “Holiday Stress”.  I had no idea what he meant by this. He informed me that patients already dealing with hormone issues and daily stress tend to have further hormone changes around the holidays.  The added stressors of the holidays can alter the way the body utilizes the hormones and throw them out of balance again.  This, in turn, throws off the hormone balance (symptom improvements) that we had worked so hard to create.  (See the blog on Progesterone)  So I decided to ask patients what their life is like normally and then during the holiday season.

Here is what I found out.  Preface this with the fact that most are between the ages of 45 and 60 and are female.

  • Work full time
  • Have 1-3 children (teenagers and or empty nest)
  • Cooking
  • Packing lunches
  • Laundry
  • House cleaning
  • Shopping

Holiday Stressors (all the above plus)

  • Heavier cleaning of house (relatives visiting)
  • Christmas Decorations
  • More Cooking
  • More shopping
  • Tighter budgets
  • Wrapping gifts
  • Household clutter (for those neat freaks)
  • Relatives
  • Traveling

My first impression of this list was WOW.  How in the world can you keep up with this daily stress and then keep your sanity during the holidays?  Often times I tell patients to have a Merry Christmas and then I realize that most women that I see daily are not going to be Merry for Christmas.

So what can you do about this?  Women need to find a way to pass along some of the responsibilities to others who can help.  Freeing yourself of some of the burdens that you place on yourself is so rewarding.  It is possible to have a Merry Christmas this year but you may have to change a few things so that everyone is not trying to avoid you at all cost this year.

Tips that may help:

1. Make your own list of what is stressful for you this time of year and ask others to help you accomplish these tasks.
2. Ask them to help you determine what they think is important for you to do and the things that you can take off the list.
3. Get some sleep.  Set a bedtime so that you are not running on fumes by the time Christmas is here.
4. Do not stop your exercise routine.  Or maybe start one.
5. Don’t forget to take any vitamins you include in your daily regimen.  You need them now more than ever.  Call us if you need help finding extra energy
through vitamins and minerals.  (901) 757-9434

Make Christmas Merry this year!  It is your choice.

What helps you handle Holiday Stress?  Post in comments Please.

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