Natural Hormone Replacement

Hormone Replacement

Menopause is a natural process in the body. Intervene if necessary. You don’t have to do hormone replacement therapy (natural or conventional).


Oestrogen refers to a group of female hormones that are produced mainly by the ovaries. Oestrogen is responsible for the development of female sexual characteristics, growth stimulating effect on breasts and regulates reproductive functions. There are 300 different oestrogen receptors in the female body and that is why menopause affects the whole body of a women.

During menopause many women suffer from severe mood swings, night sweats and hot flushes, lower libido thinning and drying out of the vaginal epithelium. Any ERT (oestrogen replacement) natural or synthetic will improve these symptoms. ERT alone stimulates growth in many tissues like uterine lining and breast and may increase risk for cancer and that is why synthetic progestin is combined to suppress this effect.

HRT has risks as well as benefits. Oestrogen promotes youthful cell division. Benefits are such as improving moistness of skin and vaginal tissue, improve thinning of vaginal membranes, improve libido, reduced menopausal symptoms, and improve wellbeing, improved memory, immune system and neurological function.

How safe are conventional HRT and ERT?

Common side-effects are like: enhance blood clotting, fibroids, weight gain and headaches. Oestrogen (ERT) use can increase cancer risk with 34%. Various studies have proofed that if a woman is on oestrogen therapy for 5 years or more, her chances of developing breast cancer increase 1.7 to 2 times. HRT does not protect your heart and has a partial beneficial effect on bones because it suppresses osteoclastic activity (broken down process) and has no effect on osteoblastic activity (new bone formation). Women who had been on HRT loose bone faster if they stop when compared to a group of women who never took HRT. Osteoporosis starts at the age of 30 when oestrogen levels are at its highest – there is no osteoporosis prevention benefit in HRT.

Oestrogen dominance and progesterone

Oestrogen dominance occurs when there is no balance between oestrogen and progesterone. This happens when additional oestrogen is taken without considering the progesterone levels. The above can be aggravated by xeno-oestrogens in our environment. Oestrogen levels drop but never stop, where progesterone drops to zero and this may prove to be the major cause of menopause.

The safe fest way to supplement progesterone is in the form of a bioequivalent progesterone cream.

Common side effects associated with oestrogen dominance are: face puffiness, excessive uterine bleeding, night-time swelling and PMS symptoms. Oestrogen dominance is very important in the menopausal and postmenopausal women in whom progesterone levels may decline to very low levels.

When the above women use conventional HRT (oestrogen + progestin) they normally gain weight because of the effect on insulin and the tendency to eat more refined carbohydrates. These foods cause chronically elevated blood sugar levels with chronically elevated insulin levels. This leads to elevated triglycerides, insulin resistance, high blood pressure and weight gain. Oestrogen (in the HRT combo) suppresses glucagons secretion – and it is glucagon that has the ability to control elevated insulin levels. What happens now is that insulin levels rises further – the lipid profile worsens and women gain more weight.

Environmental oestrogens

HRT patients should realize that par from the oestrogen they get from their HRT; they also are exposed to daily xeno-oestrogens (acts like extra oestrogen) in plastic and herbicides. This leads to infertility, increased cancers (breasts, cervix and testes), endometrioses, ovarian cysts and fibroids. These xeno-oestrogens are metabolized by the P450 enzyme system in the liver. Overload of this system leads to storage of these endocrine disrupters in the connective tissue and negatively affects hormonal systems.

Other hormones that are important in menopause

Cortisol and DHEA

High cortisol secretion (adrenal hormone) is common in most chronic lifestyle diseases and is also high after menopause. DHEA levels are generally low after menopause. This hormonal status is more important in women than men because their hormones only come from the adrenal glands (no more hormones from uterus), but men still get androgenic hormones from the testis. When women get no oestrogen from the ovaries, the replacement of DHEA has a positive effect on bone density. DHEA has a balancing effect on cortisol and has a potent anti-aging effect.

Thyroid hormones

Low thyroid hormone levels are common in older women. Replacement of thyroid hormone has also been associated with bone loss. But when you replace oestrogen, your thyroid dosage needs to be increased.

Insulin and insulin resistance

High insulin levels are becoming more common in obese women. Many hormones have an effect on insulin secretion. Relatively high cortisol levels (because of stress and age), extra oestrogen in HRT and low DHEA levels (because of aging) are the main contributors to insulin resistance. An elevated insulin level has a potent effect on the liver and is also associated with high cholesterol levels.

Probiotics and hormones

Gut bacteria helps to balance hormones. Dysbiotic bacteria produce amines, indoles and phenols and they are all toxic. They can interfere with neurotransmission and other hormone signals. Keeping your gut healthy does not only support your immune system, protect your gut lining but also helps to balance your hormones.

Menopausal symptoms – what works?

  • Exercise, yoga and acupuncture

Vigorous physical exercise and the above will reduce hot flushes.

  • Blood sugar control

Eat low GI foods with protein and/or eat 5-6 times a day.

  • Probiotics

Gut bacteria helps to balance hormones.

  • Vitamins C and E

Vitamin C helps your hormones to work – take 1-2 grams a day. Vitamin E helps with vaginal dryness – take 600mg a day and remember it takes 30 days before it really works.

  • Essential fatty acids

Essential fats will balance hormones and stabilize moods.

  • Soya and red clover

Both contain isoflavones and are effective in hot flushes. Also eat more tofu – it will help.

  • Black cohosh

Helps for hot flushes, sweating, insomnia and anxiety.

  • Dong quai

Works very well for hot flushes – high success rate.

  • Bio-identical hormones – They are without preservatives, adhesives, dyes, binders and fillers. Tests performed in France on these bio-identical hormones were not associated with increased risk of breast cancer. These bio-identical hormones in combination with other strategies are known to reduce the risk of breast cancer and heart disease. But we must realize that there is no scientific data to proof those bio-identical hormones are without risk.

Progesterone cream

Works very well for hot flushes – high success rate. It has an anti-cancer effect and four times more effective at reversing osteoporosis

Bio-identical Estrogen cream (Tri E cream) – high success rate.

In a nutshell

  • One shoe does not fit all

  • It takes 30 days for hormones to settle on medication (conventional or natural).

  • Healthy lifestyle – balanced diet plus exercise

  • Probiotics – take daily – it helps to balance hormones.

  • Try the natural remedies first as discussed e.g. soya, red clover, black cohosh and dong quai.

  • If no joy – blood tests for – menopause profile, DHEA and thyroid

  • Step 1: progesterone cream

  • Step 2: progesterone cream, DHEA, bio-identical Estrogen cream

  • Step 3: Conventional HRT – not to be used longer than 5 years


  1. New Optimum Nutrition Bible – Patrick Holford

  2. Prescription Alternatives – Earl Mindell

  3. Natural medicine – Beth Maceoin

  4. Herbal Medicine – expanded commission E Monographs

  5. Natural Medicine – issue 2

  6. Genesende Voeding – Dr Willem Serfontein

  7. Gesondheid vir `n leeftyd – Dr Christiaan

8. Townsendletters – April 2006 # 273

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