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July 13, 2003, Advanced Natural Medicine Bulletin - Do
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Bonnie Jenkins, Advanced Natural Medicine Bulletin
Editorial Comment:: The following information is presented for education on some realities about calcium pills, calcium and menopause, and some interesting info on the chemical formulations available today. The Natural Alternatives offered here offer highly effective alternatives, and details are available on the main web pages - < < < Katie's Natural Way > > >
I recently had the opportunity to attend a seminar by John Lee, MD. Since I had read Dr. Lee's best-selling book, What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Menopause, I was pretty excited to hear him speak - and I wasn't disappointed. But my ears really perked up when started talking about osteoporosis.
Now, most of us make the mistake of thinking that osteoporosis is an "old woman's" disease. But the truth is that, thanks to a poor diet and lack of exercise, this crippling and potentially deadly disease can actually begin when a woman is still in her teens or early 20's. Once bone loss starts, a woman can lose one-half to one percent of their bone mass a year. When menopause occurs, the rate of bone loss is even greater because of the abrupt drop in estrogen and progesterone.
The statistics are frightening. As we age, four out of ten of us will fracture a hip, spine or forearm due to osteoporosis. As many as five out of ten women will develop small fractures in their spine, causing pain and a shrinking in height.
The calcium cure?
Another mistake many women - and their doctors - make is that they consider osteoporosis a calcium deficiency disease. But here's some shocking news - if you're losing bone, it doesn't matter how much calcium you take! Why? Because osteoporosis is a disease of excessive calcium loss. In other words, calcium is being lost from the bones faster than it is being added.
One of the biggest problems with taking supplemental calcium is that most of the supplements on the market today aren't readily absorbed by the body -- so if you take 1,200 mg. of calcium carbonate a day, you're lucky to get a third of that in usable calcium. But traditional doctors still insist that it's the best way to naturally stop the progression of bone loss.
Bone-building drugs are also big with doctors. If you've seen the high-priced TV plugs or the ads in women's magazines for Fosamax, you know that Merck is expecting to make billions (yes, billions with a capital B) off of the drug. But, according to Dr. Lee, the promises of Fosamax are nothing more than smoke and mirrors. He says that Fosamax prevents the breakdown of old, weak bone, leaving no room for new and stronger bone. Indeed, studies show that Fosamax suppresses bone turnover and does nothing to boost osteoblast activity - two critical things that need to happen for healthy bone formation. It does, however, make the bones look denser on an X-ray, but this dense bone is actually weaker. Basically, Foxamax leaves bones more brittle because it inhibits new bone cell growth - something you don't want!
The growing number of women experiencing bone loss has also led doctors to routinely prescribe estrogen for osteoporosis. But as the evidence mounts against using estrogen or other HRT therapies, many women are just saying no to synthetic hormone replacement. And, truth be told, there isn't a lot of evidence that estrogen therapy does much to relieve osteoporosis anyway.
But Dr. Lee doesn't follow the pack. Instead, he suggests that osteoporosis is due to decreasing levels of progesterone, NOT estrogen. And he isn't alone.
Jerilyn C. Prior, MD, and her associates have also found evidence of progesterone's possible role in countering osteoporosis in a study of 66 premenopausal women between the ages of 21 and 41. All of the women were long-distance marathon runners, so you would expect that their bones would be in pretty good shape. But after a year, the researchers observed that the average spinal bone density had decreased about 2 percent. And the women who developed ovulation disturbances during the study lost 4.2 percent of their bone mass - in just one year. While there wasn't any correlation between the rate of bone loss and serum levels of estrogen, there was a close relationship between progesterone status and bone loss.
According to the researchers, the presence or absence of estrogen supplements
didn't have a discernible effect on osteoporosis benefits. After analyzing
all of the data, they concluded that progesterone deficiency rather than
estrogen deficiency is a major factor in the pathogenesis of menopausal
Although there are many forms and ways you can take natural progesterone, Dr. Lee promotes the transdermal method. By carefully observing his patients over the course of fifteen years, he proved the effectiveness of transdermal progesterone cream. His work has confirmed its safety and its remarkable benefits to his osteoporotic patients who had a history of cancer of the uterus or breast and to those who had diabetes, vascular disorders, and other conditions.
Dr. Lee had hoped that the progesterone would strengthen his patients' bones. To his surprise, it did; their bone mineral density tests showed progressive improvement and the number of his patients suffering osteoporotic fracture dropped to zero.
Dr. Lee points out that the "conventional treatment of osteoporosis with estrogen, with or without supplemental calcium and vitamin D, tends to delay bone mass loss, but not reverse it." His investigation into using transdermal progesterone cream instead of a synthetic estrogen replacement treatment demonstrates that "osteoporosis subsided, musculoskeletal strength and mobility increased, and monthly vaginal bleeding did not occur." Most striking were the results of dual-photon densitometry tests: "a 5-10 percent increase in bone mineral density and this was even evident in women 25 years after menopause."
After years of researching transdermal progesterone supplementation, Dr. Lee observed "a progressive increase in bone mineral density and definite clinical improvement including fracture prevention." He concluded that "osteoporosis reversal is a clinical reality using a natural form of progesterone derived from yams that is safe, uncomplicated and inexpensive."
One last thing . . .
Although calcium isn't the be all and end all when it comes to osteoporosis, it's still important to make sure you're getting enough. Calcium is vital to a number of physiological functions, including bone health.
According to Dr. Lee, everyone should take at least 600 mg. of easy-to-absorb calcium daily. Although you can easily get that much with a healthy diet, taking a calcium/magnesium supplement is an excellent form of health insurance. In fact, calcium supplements can help slow bone loss in some women. To be incorporated into bone, calcium needs the help of enzymes, which require magnesium and vitamin B6 to work properly.
It's also important to get some weight bearing exercise at least one hour three times a week or 20 minutes daily. Dr. Lee notes that a lack of exercise is one of the primary causes of osteoporosis. Using your bones keeps them strong and healthy, and weight-bearing exercise is the only thing besides progesterone found to actually increase bone density in older women. By weight-bearing I mean exercise that uses your bones. Brisk walking counts as weight-bearing exercise, but add some hand-held weights and it's even better.
This just in . . .
More news on the tea front . . . a new study has found that people taking antihyperglycemic drugs for their Type II diabetes can lower their plasma glucose levels with oolong tea. In the study, 20 diabetics, average age 61, were randomly divided into two groups, with one group drinking 1,500 mL of oolong tea a day and the other group consuming 1,500 mL of water a day for a total of 30 days. Following a washout period, the subjects were crossed over to the other group for an additional 30 days. By the end of the study, the researchers discovered that oolong tea significantly lowered plasma glucose, but the water had no effect.
While this study supports the theory that oolong tea can effectively lower plasma glucose in people with Type II diabetes, it's a shame that they didn't test the glucose lowering effects of the tea alone. If they had, they might have found what researchers at the USDA uncovered in another recent study - that oolong tea, as well as green tea, enhances insulin activity and lowers glucose levels by itself!
Thats a good thing, since some diabetics especially those with heart disease shouldnt take antihyperglycemic drugs. Research shows, although diabetes and heart failure often coexist, treating both conditions with one medication can be risky. Some oral insulin sensitizers are helpful for diabetics, but they arent recommended for treating patients with moderate to severe heart failure. Other drugs, like metformin, arent advised for diabetics who take medications for heart failure. Even though the FDA doesnt recommend prescribing anti-hyperglycemic drugs to patients with both diseases, a new study by the Denver Health Medical Center shows an increasing number of doctors are doing just that.
Whether you have heart disease or not, if youre diabetic, you may want to try reigning in your blood sugar with oolong tea. Along with lowering plasma glucose, this traditional Japanese beverage also enhances the function of enzymes, prevents oxidative damage, improves lipid profiles and aids in weight loss. Taiwanese researchers have also found that the antioxidant properties in oolong tea may play a significant roll in preventing cancer. In lab experiments, the researchers discovered that one particular compound in the tea, theasinensin A, actually caused cancer cells to commit suicide.
Tea time anyone?
Yours in health and happiness,
Advanced Natural Medicine Bulletin
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Chavassieux PM, et al. "Effects of alendronate on bone quality and remodeling in glucocorticoid-induced osteoporosis: a histomorphometric analysis of transiliac biopsies." Journal of Bone Minereral Research. 2000; 15:754-762.
Hosoda K, et al. "Antihyperglycemic effect of oolong tea in type 2 diabetes." Diabetes Care. 2003; 26:1714-1718.
Lee JR. What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Menopause: The Breakthrough Book on Natural Progesterone. Warner Books, 1996.
Pan MH, et al. "Induction of apoptosis by the oolong tea polyphenol theasinensin A through cytochrome c release and activation of caspase-9 and caspase-3 in human U937 cells." Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry. 2000; 48:6337-6346.
Masoudi, et al. Metformin and Thiazolidinedione Use in Medicare Patients With Heart Failure. Journal of the American Medical Association, 2003; 290:81-85.
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