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The Hunger Project Bolen Report
Ohm Society
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Progesterone Print E-mail
by Ron Kennedy, M.D., Santa Rosa, CA

Dr. Kennedy The word "natural," when used to modify the meaning of a word which names one of the hormones, means that the hormone under consideration is an exact replication of the hormone as it is found in the human body. In the case of progesterone, it is found in a variety of plants, including the European mistletoe and in the Mexican wild yam. This does not mean you should try to supplement from plants. Supplementation should be done using pharmaceutical grade bio-identical (orthomolecular) hormones with doses prescribed by an experienced doctor based on the results of precise testing of your current hormone status. Anything less and you are asking for trouble.

The word "phyto-hormone" is used to denote the fact of plant origin. "Phyto" means "plant." The FDA is well aware of the presence of phyto-hormones in nature; that is why they have issued proclamations declaring certain plants "toxic." This can be interpreted to mean, "toxic to the capitalist interests of the medical/pharmaceutical superstructure for which the FDA is the unofficial guardian." These plants are sources of natural hormones, which can be extracted and sold at a fraction of the cost of competing synthetic (and therefore toxic) hormones. It is well-known that the FDA is committed to the financial health of the American pharmaceutical industry.

A fact of life is that aging results in the progressive decrease in the body's ability to manufacture hormones at youthful levels. Many of the physical changes people experience with aging are not inevitable, but are correctable with hormone therapy. Of course, the pharmaceutical industry has long since realized this, but they have a large problem: if they don't make it, they cannot patent it and, if they cannot patent it, they cannot make a large profit on it. In the case of phyto-hormones, the pharmacy of origin is nature, and the pharmaceutical scientist is God. It is hard to compete with God. God makes good stuff!

During childbearing years, progesterone is made by a succession of short-lived glands. Each successive gland is called a "corpus luteum." The corpus luteum develops from the cells surrounding that place on the ovary from which the recently departed egg was extruded to make its journey down the Fallopian tube. This tiny gland lives through the last half of the menstrual cycle, until menstrual flow begins, then it shrivels up and dies, unless pregnancy intervenes. Therefore, in the absence of pregnancy, a woman has an abundant supply of progesterone for the last half of each cycle and relatively little through the first half.

If the egg is fertilized and implanted, the corpus luteum continues to function and increases its output of progesterone through pregnancy. The function of progesterone is to nourish and prepare the wall of the uterus for implantation of the fertilized egg and to continue this nourishment through pregnancy.

Progesterone production from the corpus luteum begins two days before ovulation and has the effect of increasing sex drive, making intercourse and fertilization more likely. If fertilization and implantation do not take place, this particular corpus luteum withers and dies, and progesterone level falls to a low level until the next corpus luteum appears from the next ovulation.

Therefore, progesterone levels are low from day 26 until ovulation, usually around day twelve. Then levels are high until day 26, unless pregnancy occurs in which case, levels are even higher throughout pregnancy.

Another function of progesterone is known only by what happens when it is no longer present in youthful levels. Because most progesterone is produced by the corpus luteum, and because there is no further corpus luteum formation after menopause, progesterone levels fall precipitously at menopause and remain low for the rest of a woman's life.

Not by coincidence, another thing happens concurrently around menopause and especially the next five to six years: demineralization of bones, which is called "osteoporosis." Osteoporosis can be prevented with the use of natural progesterone. It also can be reversed with the use of natural progesterone.

Much attention has been paid to the largely unsuccessful, or partially successful, attempt to prevent osteoporosis with estrogens. Because there is no large profit in natural progesterone, the drug companies have not alerted physicians to the value of this good medicine. Consequently, docs are out there following the party line: horse estrogen (Premarin), vitamin D and calcium for osteoporosis prevention.

Many women, who now are disabled with hip fractures and other debilitating complications of osteoporosis, followed that advice. That regime can slow down osteoporosis in some cases but has nothing like progesterone's power to prevent demineralization of bones and remineralize osteoporotic bones.

The fact that osteoporosis can be prevented and reversed with natural progesterone is not something which drug companies want you to know about, because there is not much money in natural progesterone. However, they would love to have you know about all the possible uses of their synthetic (patented) estrogens.

The major use of synthetic estrogens is, of course, for birth control, and they are combined with synthetic progesterone-like substances (called "progestins"). It is important to realize that progestins are synthetic — made in labs other than nature's lab — and are profoundly incompatible with the human body, as any woman who has taken BCPs can tell you. Here is a partial list of warnings to be found for your friendly BCP, found on the package insert and caused by the progestin content.

Possible side effects:

  • Birth defects
  • Loss of vision
  • Thrombophlebitis, embolism, cerebral thrombosis
  • Liver dysfunction, cholestatic jaundice
  • Breast or genital malignancy
  • Fluid retention, migraine, asthma, epilepsy
  • Heart and kidney dysfunction
  • Menstrual irregularities
  • Depression, nervousness, fatigue
  • Decreased glucose tolerance, may exacerbate diabetes
  • Breast tenderness, galactorrhea (flow of milk)
  • Skin eruptions
  • Acne, alopecia, hirsutism
  • Edema, weight changes
  • Cervical erosions
  • Pyrexia, nausea, insomnia, somnolence
  • Anaphylactic reaction (sever, life-threatening allergic reaction)
  • Hypertension

If you bother to read the fine print, you will see that almost every synthetic drug is sporting such a warning. Man's lab is just unable to compete with nature's lab. In the case of natural progesterone, given in proper doses, here is a list of possible adverse side effects:

None.

It is a short list; a list of nothing. There are no side effects — hard to believe, but true. The first tenet of medicine, part of the Hippocratic Oath, an oath taken by all doctors when they graduate from medical school, is, "First, do no harm," or Premum non nocere in the original Latin. Many doctors have forgotten this basic tenet of medicine under the hypnotic influence of a blizzard of propaganda from pharmaceutical companies touting their latest patented, money-making, synthetic nightmare.

Estrogen and progesterone exist and do their respective jobs in relation to each other and must be in a certain proportion to each other to work best. Estrogen acting in the absence of progesterone goes out of control in certain ways. Estrogen and progesterone mutually antagonize the effects of each other, thus making possible the cyclic nature of ovulation, fertilization, implantation and gestation in human reproduction. If fertilization and/or implantation do not occur, estrogen and progesterone are involved in resetting the system to try again one month later.

At around age 45 to 50, the woman's supply of oocytes (eggs cells) diminishes from millions at birth to around 1000. Because the major source of estrogen is the oocytes, this depletion of oocytes induces a condition of hypoestrogenemia — and thus menopause. So, age itself does not account for menopause, but rather the falling estrogen levels from the depletion of oocytes. Proper nutrition and avoidance of toxins delay menopause by preserving greater numbers of viable oocytes.

Even though estrogen levels fall at menopause, progesterone falls even more, because there is no longer the monthly creation of a corpus luteum to make progesterone. Because estrogen and progesterone balance each other, there comes to be a condition of estrogen dominance after menopause. The regulating hormones of the pituitary gland sense this imbalance and give the neurochemical command for more estrogen and progesterone. This creates an even larger imbalance, because the ability to make progesterone is so extremely compromised while there still are around 1000 eggs left to make estrogen. This imbalance accounts for the myriad symptoms and complaints seen in the doctor's office at this time of a woman's life.

The solution for this situation is natural progesterone along with a good diet and avoidance of toxins. Progesterone supplementation should be considered when there are signs of estrogen dominance: edema, swelling of breasts or fibrocystic disease, loss of sex drive, mood swings with depression, uterine fibroids, irregular or heavy menses, weight gain around hips and thighs and craving for sweets.

For the premenopausal woman who may be experiencing anovulatory (no eggs traveling down the Fallopian tubes) cycles, progesterone provides relief from estrogen dominance/progesterone deficiency between days twelve and 26. For the premenopausal woman, the symptoms of hot flashes, mood swings, etc., are eliminated. For the postmenopausal woman, the advantage of progesterone is a continuing good sex drive.

It is unlikely that estrogen supplementation will be needed since a good diet includes a number of phytoestrogens (estrogens of plant origin) and everyone is exposed to xenoestro-gens of petrochemical origin from the environment. Also, progesterone sensitizes all estrogen receptors, so that there is a heightened response to estrogen which is present. If, after three months, there are neither hot flashes nor vaginal dryness, there is no need for estrogen.

The sources of progesterone are the wild yam and placentas harvested at birth. The synthetic substitutes for progesterone (the progestins) are made from the wild yam. The progesterone molecule is altered so that it can be patented.

Few doctors are even aware that natural progesterone is available and far safer than the pharmaceutical attempt at substitution for the real thing. At present, you cannot obtain USP progesterone from standard pharmacies. For this, you must find a compounding pharmacist. Most docs don't know how to find a compounding pharmacist, or even what they are!

Many pelvic diseases improve with progesterone therapy given before menopause. These include pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), vaginitis, Mittelschmerz (pain on ovulation), ovarian cysts and endometriosis.

PMS

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a problem for many woman (and therefore many men) and involves physical and mental changes. PMS begins around seven to ten days before menses and brings a tidal wave of negative emotions for which husbands and boyfriends are sometimes blamed. The mental effects of PMS are so severe that they even have been used as a defense in court against the charge of murder! Some of the physical effects are a loss of interest in sex, headache, weight gain, back ache, breast tenderness and fatigue.

The treatment of PMS is notoriously unsuccessful. The need for an effective treatment is made clear by the many vitamin/mineral/supplement entries on the market for treatment of PMS. The symptoms of PMS read like a catalog description of estrogen dominance. If estrogen levels are higher than normal, or if progesterone levels are lower than normal, the stage is set for estrogen dominance. If there is an anovulatory cycle, the woman is exposed to an abnormal full month of estrogen effects, relatively unopposed by progesterone.

That PMS should occur at all, even in the absence of anovulatory cycles, is a comment on the effects of the industrial age on our immune systems and on our hormone systems as well. Nature did not design women to become physically and emotionally unstable every month. You can be sure that this syndrome has its origins in the toxic chemical soup in which we live in the modern world. (A similar situation holds for men in that progressively decreasing sperm counts and infertility among men is related to pollution.)

The treatment of PMS with progesterone is 100 to 200 mg. transdermally or 25-50 mg. by mouth from day fourteen to day 25 of the cycle.

Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis, the progressive demineralization of bone, causes 1.3 million fractures per year in the U.S., at an estimated cost of $10 billion. Thin white women fare worst and risk factors include smoking, vitamin D deficiency, calcium and/or magnesium deficiency, a meat-based diet, alcohol consumption and lack of exercise. Until now, the most effective therapy was "estrogen" (not the real human variety) with vitamin D replacement, and the best one could hope for was to slow the disease down and maybe even prevent it.

No hope has been offered to reverse osteoporosis with "estrogen" therapy. Also, the risk of cancer, as well as a panoply of other symptoms of estrogen dominance, mars the use of horse estrogen (Premarin) as well as synthetic estrogens. Despite the clear warnings attached to estrogen therapy, even outlined in the best textbooks of medicine, mainstream establishment medicine has stayed with "estrogen" therapy. This is a tribute to the power of pharmaceutical company propaganda. To handle a part of the risk of osteoporosis — which could be handled safely with natural human progesterone — the drug companies recommend that you take their products and increased your chances of dying of cancer.

Although there have been many therapies for osteoporosis over the years, the fact that none of them could reverse the condition gave testament to the fact that the cause of osteoporosis was simply not understood. Now, it appears that, in women at least, the cause is the loss of adequate progesterone supplies at menopause. This conclusion is arrived at by reverse logic, because replacement of progesterone has the power to reverse osteoporosis, and strengthen and remineralize fragile bone in the older woman.

Of course, the progression of osteoporosis is much more of a problem for women than it is for men. Men also experience osteoporosis, but typically about twenty years later than women and even then not to the extreme degree seen in women. We can hardly say that loss of progesterone is the problem in men, because men do not produce large quantities of progesterone in the first place.

Apparently, in men, the hormone which has the most to do with bone mineralization is testosterone. However, although testosterone does decline gradually in men, there is not a precipitous drop in level comparable to the drop seen in a woman's progesterone level with menopause. Nevertheless, men are protected from osteoporosis by supplemental testosterone in their autumn and winter years of life.

Osteoblasts and Osteoclasts

There are two types of cells responsible for bone maintenance. They are called "osteoclasts" and "osteoblasts." The root word "osteo" refers to bone. The root words "clast" means to break down, and "blast" means to construct. Therefore, osteoclasts break down old bone and clean up the mess, so that the osteoblasts can come in and build new bone. This is happening at a microscopic level at all times. Progesterone (and testosterone) activate osteoblasts. The turnover time for complete renewal of bone is ten to twelve years, so the development of osteoporosis is a slow affair, and the complete reversal can require a decade or more. Improvement, however, is sooner — six months to one year.

When all of these facts are considered together, it is obviously wise to begin progesterone therapy at menopause (and testosterone at male menopause) to achieve prevention of the disease. Bone density changes in the negative direction accelerate at menopause, and within five years most of the damage is done. This is the critical time for prevention.

Supplementation

Although vitamin and mineral supplementation in the absence of progesterone therapy are relatively useless in reversal of osteoporosis, when used as an adjuct to progesterone they make for more rapid rebuilding of bone structure. Here are the essential nutrients for bone reconstruction, along with suggested daily dosage levels for adult women:

Calcium: premenopausal: 800 mg., postmenopausal 1500 mg. (same for men over 65)

Phosphorus: 1.5 times the calcium intake (for example, if calcium is taken at 800 mg. per day, phosphorus supplementation should be 800 x 1.5 = 1200 mg.)

  1. Magnesium: 300 mg.Beta-carotene: 50,000 IU
  2. 15 mg. Vitamin C: 2000+ mg.
  3. Vitamin D: 300-400 IUVitamin B6: 50-100 mg.

Progesterone Even Earlier?

It also is true that bone density begins to decrease at about one percent per year beginning at age 35. Therefore, a case can be made for progesterone therapy in an asymptomatic woman beginning at age 35. Nevertheless, it is never too late to begin, because osteoporosis is now a reversible, not only a preventable, disease.

Other Factors in Bone Regeneration

Of course, there are other factors in the regeneration of bone. If a woman invests in progesterone therapy (or a man in testosterone therapy) and wants it to work in the best possible way, sup plementation with calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, all the trace minerals, vitamins A, C, D, K and B6 is in order.

Exercise

The other factor, which is very important, is exercise. Even mild, but daily, exercise has an effect on bone remineralization. Somehow bone tissue is able to detect the stress of exercise and knows that it must respond by building a stronger structure to stand the stress. This is especially true for weight lifting exercises.

What To Avoid

Diuretics remove calcium and should be avoided. Long term antibiotic therapy kills off normal intestinal bacteria which make vitamin K for us. If antibiotics are used, it is best to supplement with vitamin K also. Fluoride in all forms should be avoided. Metabolic acidosis, such as that caused by lung disease typical to smokers, also demineralizes bone and should be avoided. Alcohol abuse also is known to cause osteoporosis, as does hyperthyroidism.

When progesterone levels fall at menopause the woman is left with all the effects of unopposed estrogen. Two of these effects are increased risks of uterine (endometrial) and breast cancer. Of the three estrogens in the human body, two are known to be procarcinogenic: estrone and estradiol. These need to be balanced by progesterone and/or estriol (which is anti-carcinogenic) in order to reduce the risk of these two types of cancer. So here is one more benefit to the use of natural human estrogen: it has the proper balance between estrone, estriol and estradiol.

Progesterone may be taken as a capsule form or as a gel, which is rubbed into the skin. The cost is only about $18 per month for the transdermal gel and slightly more for the oral form, depending on the dosage. Some people believe the oral form is somewhat inferior to the transdermal route of administration, in that whatever is taken orally and absorbed through the stomach and intestines goes directly to the liver through the portal venous system and there 75% of it is quickly deactivated and prepared for excretion through the bile duct, right into the small intestine and thus on out of the body.

Parenthetically, let me add that from time to time I hear that fluoride makes strong bones and strong teeth. I doubt either is true, but the scientific evidence is now solidly lined up against this assertion regarding bones. The incorporation of fluoride into bone structure makes it weaker, not stronger, much to the chagrin of the aluminum industry, which has been selling this side product of aluminum production to be dumped in our water supply for over forty years now.

The time was, not long ago, when menopause was a time in life for a woman to fear. Men who were fully informed about the medical dangers of being a woman were glad to have been born male. With the discovery of the myriad benefits of progesterone therapy, a man can now secretly envy women who have the possibility to slow aging and prevent disease with this very powerful, inexpensive and, best of all, natural treatment.

Sources

  • Lee JR Natural Progesterone: The Multiple Roles of a Remarkable Hormone BLL Publishing, Sebastopol, CA 1993
  • Nelson DR, Zhang Y, Hannan MT, et al. The effect of postmenopausal estrogen therapy on bone density in elderly women. N Eng J Med 1993;329:1141-1146.
  • Stevenson JC, Ganger KF, et al. Effects of transdermal versus oral hormone replacement therapy on bone density in spine and proximal femur in postmenopausal women. Lancet 1990;336:265-269.
  • Prior JC, Vigna YM Spinal bone loss and ovulatory disturbances. N Engl J Med 1990;223:1221-1227.
  • Reported in article Sperm-count drop tied to pollution rise. Medical Tribune 1992;March 26
  • Rudy DR Hormone replacement therapy. Postgraduate Medicine 1990;Dec.:157-164.
  • Johansen JS, Jensen SB, Riis BJ, et al. Bone formation is stimulated by combined estrogen, progestagen. Metabolism 1990;39:1122-1126.
  • Kleerekoper ME, Peterson E, Phillips E, Nelson D, et al. Continuous sodium fluoride therapy does not reduce vertebral fracture rate in postmenopausal osteoporosis [abstract] J Bone Miner Res 1989;Res 4 (Suppl. 1):S376.
  • Hedlund LR, Gallagher JC Increased incidence of hip fracture in osteoporotic women with sodium fouoride. J Bone Miner Res 1989;Res 4:223-225.
  • Follingstad AH Estriol. The forgotten estrogen? JAMA Jan. 2 1978;Vol 239, No. 1:29-30.


The information in this article is not meant to be medical advice.�Treatment for a medical condition should come at the recommendation of your personal physician.

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