Traditionally, the menopausal years have been associated with instability and irritability, "hot flashes", irrational behavior, diminished interest in sex (or excessive interest, in some cases!), disturbances in calcium and zinc metabolism, backache, pyorrhea, osteoporosis, and "menopausal arthritis" - to name a few common symptoms.
The purpose of this article is to review the question of menopause in the light of the newest research and to help readers who are approaching menopause, as well as those already in menopause, to realize that most menopausal symptoms can be prevented or greatly minimized with proper understanding and nutritional means. Certainly, none of the traditional problems associated with menopause have to be experienced as early as they are by most women. Menopause, in fact, can be postponed for as long as 10-20 years. Moreover, the negative experiences of menopausal syndrome will be minimal, even nonexistent, if one has led a health-building life and adhered to an Optimum Diet.
Now, most American women confronted with the first distressing symptoms of menopause, such as hot flashes, run to their doctor, and the average doctor will immediately put them on estrogen therapy. If he is a conventional doctor, he will most likely prescribe a diethylstilbestrol type synthetic estrogen. If the doctor is the "new breed", and nature-oriented, he may prescribe a more "natural" form of estrogen, a so-called conjugated hormone naturally occurring in pregnant mare urine, usually Premarin. In whatever form, estrogen therapy is not only completely unnecessary, but is a very dangerous way of trying to interfere with a natural process in this period of a woman's life.
Nutrition Forum receives hundreds of questions from the readers regarding every conceivable health problem, including menopause. Here is what one concerned woman wrote to me recently:
"Dear Dr. Airola, I am 49 years old, and I must have reached the age of "change of life", since my menses have practically stopped - three or four months in between. I went to my gynecologist; and he immediately said that I must take estrogen. Since I have been health-oriented for many years, I am leery about taking drugs - so I went to another gynecologist. He also prescribed estrogen, the synthetic kind to boot. He said I must take it or I would have all kinds of problems and will be an old sick woman in no time at all. Now, tell me, doctor, why do I have to have this drug? My mother, who was very healthy and lived to be 92, and my aunt, who lived to be 89, never took estrogen. And my mother looked very young and had a beautiful complexion at the age of 90! Why must I take estrogen?"
Why, indeed? During the thousands of years of present civilization billions of women lived healthy and happy lives and aged gracefully, without taking estrogen injections. But, in this drug-oriented era, doctors are more concerned with the elimination of an unpleasant symptom than the health of the whole body. Also, keep in mind that our profit-oriented medical system is built on the principle: "The more disease - the more profit!" It is not really interested in promoting health, since disease represents profits. Huge money is made on unnecessary operations and unnecessary or useless drugs and injections. You must see your doctor's insistence on hysterectomy and/or estrogen injections in the light of the above.
Then again, many women in our culture must assume some blame for the existing estrogen-therapy craze. Fearing the approach of old age, and trying desperately to stay young in our youth-worshipping society, they demand from their doctors supposedly rejuvenative estrogen therapy. And doctors, of course, willingly oblige.
"Dear Dr. Airola, I took Premarin for 12 years, also 800 I.U. of vitamin E daily, plus all other vitamins. Three weeks ago my doctor told me, after taking a biopsy, that I have cancer of the uterus. I have to take 25 radiation treatments, a 4-week rest, and then have a complete hysterectomy. I am 60 years old. What should I do?"
"Dear Dr. Airola, I am 48 years old. In June of this year, I had to have a hysterectomy, because doctors found a fibroid tumor the size of a walnut. My problem is, I was put on estrogen therapy. I have heard lots of arguments for and against it, so I asked my doctor. He said, "nothing to worry about." He told me of all the dreadful ways I would suffer if I didn't take estrogen. This morning I read in the paper: Two studies link estrogen therapy to cancer. I have a book by Robert A. Wilson, M.D., called Feminine Forever, which convinced me of the importance of estrogen therapy. Now I am very worried. What do you think I should do?"
The scientific studies referred to in this letter were conducted recently and reported in a reputable medical journal. 1 One study was made at the University of Washington in Seattle, where the records of 317 patients with uterine cancer were compared with an equal number of patients with other types of cancer. The study found that women exposed to estrogen therapy had about five times greater risk of developing cancer of the uterine lining. The second study was carried out by the Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Los Angeles, and Drs. Harry K. Ziel and William D. Finkle, who found that the cancer risk factor increased five to seven times in middle-aged women on estrogen therapy. The risk increased in proportion to the length of time the drug was used. For women who had used estrogen for seven or more years, the risk of developing cancer of the uterus was fourteen times higher than normal.
These studies, and many other reports from world-wide medical literature, suggest clearly that estrogen (whether in the form of the contraceptive pill or Premarin) is a definite cause of uterine cancer. Doctors would do well to wake up from the "estrogen craze" and be more cautious in prescribing estrogen therapy as a standard treatment for menopausal syndrome.
Cancer is not the only condition you are inviting when taking synthetic estrogen. Studies at Oxford University by Dr. Joel Mann showed that women between 40 and 44 who took the birth control pill increased by five times their chances of dying from a heart attack.
How badly misused estrogen therapy is at present was pointed out by Dr. Sheldon H. Cherry, of Mount Sinai Medical School. Dr. Cherry said that of the $80 million a year women spend on menopausal and postmenopausal pills and injections, only 20% may be justified. 2 Dr. Cherry says that, "the indiscriminate use of estrogen therapy by all women of climacteric age, irrespective of individual symptoms, as advocated by some, is not warranted; indeed, it may well be dangerous. There is good evidence that estrogen use may also cause an increase in blood clots in the legs and brain."
A British study supports Dr. Cherry's view. In a six-month study, half of the women were given "natural" estrogen (Premarin-type), While the other half of the women received dummy pills - sugar pills coated with the same material as the estrogen pills. The women were monitored for such common symptoms of menopause as nervousness, depression, insomnia, dizziness, headaches, joint pain, and hot flashes. Doctors were surprised to discover at the end of the first half of the study that there was no significant difference between the response to estrogen and the placebo - both groups improved dramatically - except that hot flashes were not relieved as completely in the placebo group. 3 Thus, the conclusion was that the symptomatic relief effected by estrogen could be largely psychological. The British study also clearly established that so-called "natural" estrogen causes the same potentially dangerous increase in blood clotting as the synthetic variety.
Well, this all sounds rational and sensible enough, but through my life-long close association with, and study of, women, I know that you cannot expect them (nor men, for that matter) always to be rational and sensible. Marital unhappiness, unfulfilled dreams, fear of losing sex appeal and femininity, jealousy, vanity, misguided instinct for liberation, the daily look in the mirror and at the scale, play havoc with emotions and rational thinking, and most women are ready to run, not walk, to the nearest doctor in the search of a "fountain of youth" - even if it is only in the form of an estrogen pill or injection.
I will attempt to show how you can turn the wheel of life and reverse the aging processes without carcinogenic drugs and injections; how you can prevent and minimize the symptoms of menopausal syndrome; how you can actually postpone menopause for 10 or more years; and how you can, in fact, stop growing old and start growing younger - all this with perfectly natural, harmless, nutritional, herbal, and other biological means.
It is easy to advise optimum nutrition, but what is it? There are almost as many nutritional philosophies as there are nutritionists. Confusion in this area is rampant, compounded by hundreds of new fads, and books by "experts" published each year. On the basis of my own life-long studies of nutrition, I have concluded - and this conclusion is supported by a growing number of doctors and nutritionists around the world - that the Optimum Diet with the greatest potential of building health, preventing premature aging and traditional menopausal syndrome, as well as extending youthful appearance and vitality far into old age, must comply with these seven basic principles:
One of my readers wrote to me recently:
"Two years ago, when I was 47, I found that I had reached the 'change of life' age with unmistakable symptoms of disrupted menstrual cycle and bothersome hot flashes. Hot flashes were unbearable and very frequent - at times every few minutes. I resisted the urge to run to my doctor and turned to the menopausal section of your book, How To Get Well. 9 You advised taking 1200 I.U. vitamin E and stated that it stimulates the production of estrogen. You also suggested PABA as being a natural substitute for estrogen, and pantothenic acid for delaying of menopause. So, I started taking 1200 of E per day, plus all the other vitamins you recommended, and drank licorice tea, which you advised. And, in less than a week, my hot flashes and other symptoms disappeared completely. Within a few months, my periods became normal, and now, two years later, I am still menstruating as regularly as ever. I feel like a young girl again. And my husband says these vitamins are doing something to me, and that I never was so sexy in my life. Thank you for writing that wonderful book."
A striking example of how vitamins can improve the body's own estrogen production and postpone menopause!
Dr. N .R. Kavinoky treated a group of menopausal patients with 10 to 25 I.U. of vitamin E daily. They were relieved of hot flashes and backaches. In another group of 79 patients, using larger doses of vitamin E 50-100 I.U. per day - Dr. Kavinoky reported even better results: fatigue, nervousness, restless sleep and insomnia, in addition to hot flashes, were reduced in more than half, and nearly all patients were relieved of dizziness, heart palpitations, and shortness of breath. 10
Henry A. Gozen, M.D., reported on his vitamin E treatment of 66 patients with menopausal troubles. He said that vitamin E eliminated serious symptoms in 59 patients out of 66. 11 W.H. Perloff, M.D., reported on his treatment of 200 menopausal women with vitamin E doses of 115 to 150 I.U. daily: 26% were completely relieved of all undesirable symptoms, and another 26% were improved. He believes that higher doses of vitamin E might have relieved those who did not respond.
E - up to 1,200 I.U. Vitamin E stimulates production of estrogen and helps alleviate hot flashes and other distressing symptoms of menopause. 10 12
B6 - up to 100 mg. Vitamin B6 enhances the effectiveness of estrogenic hormones and helps prevent "menopausal arthritis", numb fingers, burrs, etc. 12 It also helps control menstrual edema. 13
PABA - up to 100 mg. PABA is a natural substitute for estrogen; an estrogen synergist - it enhances the effect of estrogen. 7
Folic acid - up to 5 mg. Folic acid is similar to PABA in its action as an estrogen synergist. 7
B12 - 50 mcg. Vitamin B12 is synergistic with folic acid and other B vitamins.
Pantothenic acid - up to 100 mg. Pantothenic acid can help delay menopause.
A - 25,000 units. Vitamin A is essential for the healthy function of sex glands.
C - up to 3,000 mg. Vitamin C is a detoxifier, rejuvenator, and a stimulant of thyroid and sex glands.
B-complex, high potency. B vitamin complex formula can help enhance the effect of specific isolated B vitamins: PABA, folic acid, B6, and pantothenic acid. B Vitamins can boost thyroid gland and increase sexual vigor.
Kelp - up to 5 tablets or 1 tsp. granules. Kelp improves the function of the thyroid gland, a primary sex gland stimulator, and can help prevent obesity often associated with menopause.
Calcium-magnesium supplement, to support parathyroid function. 8
Zinc - up to 30 mg. Zinc is needed for reproductive hormone and enzyme production, for the formation of RNA and DNA, and for proper vitamin and mineral utilization, especially for the metabolism of Vitamin A.
D - up to 1,000 units. Vitamin D improves mineral metabolism and utilization.
Betaine Hydrochloric Acid - 1 tablet after each meal. Supplementary hydrochloric acid will improve mineral assimilation in older people who often have a low output of their own digestive acids.
A comprehensive trace-element formula with iron, copper, zinc, manganese, selenium, etc. - all youthifying factors. 15
Whey powder - up to 2 tbsp. The regular use of whey will help improve digestion and assimilation of foods and prevent intestinal putrefaction and constipation, which is often associated with menopause.
Many herbs sold in health food stores today are either in capsule form, or in the form of dried herbs, prepackaged in cartons or bags. The best way to use herbs: take 1 tsp. of dried herbs or open and empty 2-3 capsules of powdered herbs into a cup and pour boiling water over it. Let stand for 10-15 minutes, sweeten with honey, if desired, and drink. For therapeutic uses, take 2-3 cups a day, on empty stomach.
Mental and emotional stresses and constant fears and worries not only can produce any ailment in the medical book, but will also age you before your time. Do not worry about getting old, just do something to postpone aging. You must also get sufficient sleep, rest, and relaxation - even develop the habit of taking an afternoon siesta.
An active sex life is important in keeping young. As I said in one of my books, 6 "We do not stop sexual activity because we grow old - we grow old because we stop sexual activity." My research indicates that vibrant health, long life, and sexual virility go hand in hand. Sexual interest and activity keep your sex and adrenal glands producing hormones, and these hormones in turn will help to keep you young. Interest in sex should remain (although, of course, at a slightly diminishing level with age) as long as we live, if the Optimum Diet, with emphasis on the gland-stimulating vitamins, minerals, and herbs, is maintained. Research shows that the sexual desire is not lessened by menopause; it often is increased. This may be due, in part, to the fact that for many, menopause represents a liberation from the fear of pregnancy.
What a health-building life style can do to improve the quality of your life, increase vitality and youthful energy, femininity and sex appeal (and, conversely, what a health-destroying life style can accomplish) is dramatically illustrated by the following case from my files:
The couple told me that they were desperate for help. First they had tried everything else - medical specialists, expensive tests, fancy clinics, a long line of drugs, psychiatrists, more medical specialists, more drugs - without receiving help - actually getting worse. Then, in desperation, they came to me. Here is their story in his words:
"We had pretty good health until a few years ago. Then something happened. My wife became tired all the time, lost all of her interest in life - just laid in bed all day, complaining of aches and pains. Doctors couldn't find out out what was wrong with her. Her menses stopped, so doctors gave her drugs and hormone shots, suspecting premature menopause.
But nothing helped. I began putting on weight a few years ago. I am tired all the time, hardly able to move. I can't sleep. Our sex life is completely finished, too - I haven't touched my wife for a year. Not that she cares - she is so beat that sex is the furthest thing from her mind. I'm afraid of losing my job - I can't think straight, and I bark at everyone at work. After a few hours at the office, I am ready to quit and go home. Coffee is the only thing that keeps me going - I drink a cup about every half hour."
As he talked, they both chain smoked. The interview revealed that the couple had been violating all the known rules of health for decades. Their lives centered around almost nightly parties where they drank lots of alcohol. Their diet consisted largely of coffee - at least 10-15 cups a day - frozen dinners, sweets, and party snacks at night. They hardly ever ate fresh vegetables or fruits, nor whole grain bread and cereals. Their physical exercise was limited to walking from the bed to the bar and to and from the car. It is significant that none of the doctors they consulted had ever asked them what they ate, or how they lived.
When I suggested to them that their premature aging - her premature menopause, gray hair, rundown condition; his obesity, lack of vitality, sexual impotence - was brought about by their terrible living habits, their total disregard of all the elementary rules of health, they looked not only surprised, but disappointed. They expected that I would give them a bottle of vitamin pills which would miraculously wipe out all their problems and restore their health and vitality. Instead, I said that if they wanted their health and youth back, their libido and vitality restored, her menstrual cycle normalized and menopause postponed, they must stop smoking, stop drinking alcohol, soft drinks, and coffee, and stop eating nutritionless junk foods. They must give up all-night parties, and start a regular program of strenuous physical exercise beginning with long walks and swimming. I outlined nutritional and supplementary programs for them along the lines of diet and vitamins suggested in this article.
It was difficult to convince them to make such a drastic change in their life style. It had never occurred to them - nor to the doctors they consulted - that their condition had anything to do with their way of living. But, they had no choice: life was so miserable that they were willing to try anything.
The first few weeks were dreadful. Without the stimulation of alcohol and coffee, (they couldn't stop smoking for another 6 months) they could hardly drag their feet. But, month after month brought gradual improvement, and, finally, after 6 months, they reported that my rejuvenation program "accomplished a miracle." They felt like two new people! All tiredness was gone, her hair began to turn dark, menstrual regularity was restored, and she was full of vitality and slept like a baby. He lost over 30 lbs., enjoyed his work at the office again, and their sex life was completely straightened out. I have never seen a happier or more enthusiastic couple!
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