Customized Medicines

Customized Medicines
Dr. Sonja O'Bryan, Pharm.D., ABAAHP Board Certified Health Practitioner Diplomate-American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine: "Creative Medicines" for Hormones-Weight-Pain-Fatigue-Skin Diseases-Pediatrics-Autoimmune Disorders-Veterinary Needs. Using Complimentary, Integrative, Regenerative, Bio-Identical, and Lifestyle Medicine For Health and Healing.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Sneezing and Leaking: The Hormonal Link

Stress incontinence is the most common cause of incontinence in women who are in the reproductive years or early postmenopausal years. It is defined as urine leakage due to abrupt increases in abdominal pressure caused by such things as exertion, sneezing, coughing, laughing, bending, or lifting.  Stress incontinence is often a result of childbirth or thinning of the estrogen dependent lining of the outer urethra.  Symptoms similar to having a urinary tract infection could be described with this condition even though a urine culture does not test positive for bacterial organisms. Patients who are overweight will often have more bouts with stress incontinence because of the amount of pressure above the urinary system and weight reduction is important in the wellness plan for urinary tract health.

Muscle strength training exercises.
Kegel exercises can have a role in improvement of incontinence. To perform kegel exercises, patients are instructed to specifically contract the pelvic muscles instead of the abdominal, thigh, or buttock muscles with a 10 second contraction followed by a 10 second relaxation method.  It is typically recommended as a repetition process of 10 to 15 times.  Although helpful, most people will forget to do the process or slack off after a certain period of time.  So just for good measure and since you're reading this blog, go ahead and do your Kegels today! (smile)

~Could hormones affect incontinence? Absolutely!!!
Interestingly, and unknown to many women, is that hormones can play a significant role in the urinary health of a female. A decrease in ovarian estrogen production can result in noticeable changes to the vaginal, urethral, and bladder tissue. This often presents as urinary frequency and urgency of urination.  In addition, it's estimated that 1 in 2 women will have an atrophy condition of the vaginal tissue with aging.  This can cause a burning sensation, difficulty and pain with sexual intercourse, and reoccurring urinary tract infections if not addressed.   If you are suffering with any of these problems, then make sure to have your hormone levels checked.  Treatment with a low dose hormone replacement therapy can have a great impact on symptom improvement and the health and integrity of the uro-gynecological tissues.

We provide at-home testing kits that can be used to evaluate your hormone status.  If you having been suffering with incontinence in silence, or if you are having other problems highlighted in this blog, then please reach out and let me help you get things back on track.  You'll be happy that you did and the simple, convenient, and affordable process might just save you some embarrassment with your next sneeze or cough.

To your good health,
Dr. Sonja

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The Link: Economic Decline and Fertility Rates

Fact Sheet: The Decline in U.S. Fertility

by Mark Mather

(July 2012) In the United States and other developed countries, fertility tends to drop during periods of economic decline. U.S. fertility rates fell to low levels during the Great Depression (1930s), around the time of the 1970s "oil shock," and since the onset of the recent recession in 2007 (see Figure 1). The U.S. total fertility rate (TFR) stood at 2.0 births per woman in 2009, but preliminary data from the National Center for Health Statistics show that the TFR dropped to 1.9 in 2010—well below the replacement level of 2.1.1 A similar decline—or leveling off—of fertility rates has been reported in Ireland, Italy, Spain, Sweden, and several other European countries.

Figure 1
The U.S. Fertility Rate Has Fallen During Periods of Economic Decline

* Estimated by PRB.
Source: National Center for Health Statistics

This recent fertility decline may be just a short-term response to high unemployment rates, or it may signal a longer-term drop in lifetime fertility. Most recessions have had relatively minor effects on fertility rates—often lasting two to five years. Recessions generally affect the timing of fertility but not the overall number of children that women will have in their lifetimes.2 Longer-term trends in fertility are determined by broader societal factors, including trends in marriage; economic development; cultural norms; and women’s education, employment, and access to contraception. Although fertility rates bottomed out during the Great Depression, the birth rate had been declining throughout the 1920s—a period of rapid economic growth—as more couples used birth control to limit family size.3
The U.S. fertility rate is edging closer to TFRs in Europe, where many countries are grappling with very low birth rates (averaging 1.6 children per woman) and potential labor shortages.

Fertility Rates Converge for Different Racial/Ethnic Groups

Fertility rates in the United States have fallen since 1990 among all major racial/ethnic groups (see Figure 2). The Latina fertility rate dropped sharply in recent decades, from 3.0 births per woman in 1990 to 2.4 births per woman in 2010; and for black women from 2.5 to 2.0. Fertility rates among white and Asian women have also dropped, but at a slower pace, resulting in similar fertility rates among different racial and ethnic groups.

Figure 2
Fertility Rates for Latinas and Black Women Are Approaching Those of White and Asian Women.

* Preliminary data.
Source: National Center for Health Statistics.

Relatively high unemployment rates among African Americans and Latinos may have played a role in the recent fertility decline—especially among those with less education and lower incomes.4 But increasing college attendance, especially among women, is another potential factor. Education affects the timing of marriages and first births, typically delaying both. Thus, the U.S. fertility rate may drop further if the share of women attending and completing college continues to increase. Among 18-to-24-year-olds, more women than men are enrolled in college in every racial and ethnic group.5
A prolonged decline in African American and Latina fertility rates will affect the future racial and ethnic composition of the United States. The Census Bureau recently reported that over half of all U.S. infants are racial/ethnic minorities.6 The U.S. population is currently projected to reach "majority-minority" status (the point at which less than half of the population is non-Hispanic white) in 2042. For several decades, immigration has been the driving force behind rapid racial/ethnic change in the United States, but a sustained drop in fertility rates could slow the pace of growth of the country’s minority population.

Young Adults in U.S. Postpone Childbirth

The decline in U.S. fertility has been driven primarily by a trend among young adults to postpone having children. Forty years ago, birth rates among women in their 20s were significantly higher than those of women in their 30s. In 1970, there were 168 births per 1,000 women ages 20 to 24, compared with 73 births per 1,000 women ages 30 to 34. However, this gap has steadily narrowed over time. By 2009—for the first time in U.S. history—birth rates among women ages 30 to 34 (97.5 births per 1,000 women) exceeded those for women ages 20 to 24 (96 births per 1,000 women). In 2010, the birth rate among teens dropped to 34 births per 1,000 girls ages 15 to 19—the lowest level ever recorded in the United States.
This recent drop in births among young adults could be linked to the recession. In Europe, high rates of unemployment and low levels of economic security are strongly associated with declines in fertility among young adults.7 The economic downturn may have had a similar effect on young adults' fertility in the United States.
However, longer-term fertility trends may depend on future trends in women's employment and earnings relative to men.8 Women outnumber men in college and make up a growing share of the labor force. The recession hit male-dominated jobs the hardest, contributing to a growing share of women who now outearn their husbands.9 As more women become primary breadwinners, fertility decisions are more likely to hinge on women’s earnings than they did in previous decades. A growing reliance on women’s employment and earnings could further dampen U.S. fertility rates in the coming decades.

Mark Mather is associate vice president of Domestic Programs at PRB.


  1. The total fertility rate estimates the number of births a woman is expected to have during her lifetime based on current age-specific fertility rates. Replacement level fertility is the level of fertility at which a couple has only enough children to replace themselves, or about 2.1 children per couple.
  2. Tomáš Sobotka, Vegard Skirbekk, and Dimiter Philipov, "Economic Recession and Fertility in the Developed World," Population and Development Review 37, no. 2 (2011).
  3. U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Achievements in Public Health, 1900-1999: Family Planning," accessed on June 26, 2012.
  4. Gretchen Livingston, "In a Down Economy, Fewer Births," accessed on June 7, 2012.
  5. Linda A. Jacobsen and Mark Mather, "A Post-Recession Update on U.S. Social and Economic Trends," Population Bulletin Update (December 2011).
  6. U.S. Census Bureau, "Most Children Younger Than Age 1 Are Minorities," accessed on June 7, 2012.
  7. Wolfgang Lutz, Vegard Skirbekk, and Maria Rita Testa, "The Low Fertility Trap Hypothesis," in Vienna Yearbook of Population Research, ed. Dimiter Philipov, Aart Liefbroer, and Francesco Billari (Vienna: Vienna Institute of Demography, 2006); Lisa Bell et al., "Failure to Launch: Cross-National Trends in the Transition to Economic Independence," Luxembourg Income Study Working Paper Series 456; and Christian Schmitt, "Gender-Specific Effects of Unemployment on Family Formation: A Cross-National Perspective," SOEP 127 (2008).
  8. Diane J. Macunovich, "Using Economics to Explain U.S. Fertility Trends," in "What Drives U.S. Population Growth?" Mary M. Kent and Mark Mather, Population Bulletin 57, no. 4 (2002).
  9. Richard Fry and D’Vera Cohn, "New Economics of Marriage: The Rise of Wives," accessed on June 7, 2012.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Have You Had Your Iodine Level Checked? Here's Why You Might Want To

Today's research took me to an area of health that grabs my attention almost as much as the realm of hormone balance.  I personally realized that I was a bit iodine deficient after testing my levels about 1 year ago.  I then started doing some restoration therapy to address it.  The testing was super simple to perform (an at home urine kit) and quite affordable at a cost of $75. Today's blog is just to share some key facts about iodine and it's importance to the body in health and prevention of disease.  I know your time is as limited as mine, so I will keep this blog in "bullet points" for easy-breezy access to the nuts and bolts of information.  So, here goes....

*Iodine is a member of halogen family which also includes fluorine, chlorine, bromine, and astatine. 

*Every cell in the body contains and utilizes iodine which is concentrated in the glandular system

*The thyroid gland contains the largest amount of iodine although it can also be found in breast tissue, salivary glands, parotid glands, pancreas, CSF, brain, stomach, skin, and other places.

*The absence of iodine is known to be a promoter of cancer

*IoDIDE is a salt.  Breast tissue, prostate tissue and the stomach prefer iodINE, whilst the thyroid, salivary glands and the skin prefer ioDIDE. In other words, the body needs both.

*Iodine is essential for the normal growth and development of children.  In fact, researchers have established that a baby's IQ is set by the age of 2, and iodine is what sets the IQ.  (Interesting huh?)

*A deficiency of iodine can result in cretinism, mental deficiency, deafness, and delayed development. 

*In Japan the average person eats 13.8mg/day of iodine.  In America, 168mcg (huge difference)

*The U.S. has the highest breast cancer incidence in the world, while Japan has the lowest.

*In the U.S., there are 7 deaths per 1000 live births, in Japan it is 3.5, the lowest in the world.

*We are taking the iodine out of bread, milk, and salt.  Half of our cooking salts contain no iodine.

*With high blood pressure, the first point of therapy is to remove salt from the diet.  (Think about it)

*Iodine deficiency results in fibrocystic breast disease and dysplastic changes of the breast.

*Low iodine levels leads to a high estrogen state. 

*Researchers connect an increased prevalence of Attention Deficit  (500% in 5-6yrs) to so many pregnant women who are iodine deficient.

*Researchers connect iodine deficiency to Fibrocystic Breast Disease, Polycystic Ovaries, cysts, and ovarian cancer. 

*Our environment has competitive inhibitors of iodine.  Do a "google" search of halides and the impact on iodine status and thyroid health.

*I recently came across a set of prescriptions from the 1950's and 60's.  In them, I couldn't help but notice all of the Rx's for Iodine Supplementation.  We don't see that very much at all today.

*Possible symptoms of iodine deficiency: thyroid disease, goiter, weight gain, infertility, memory loss, emotional instability, breast cancer, fibrocystic breasts, prostate cancer, cold hands and feet, swelling, low energy, indigestion, heart palpitations, brain fog, dry skin, hair loss, fatigue, constipation, intolerance to heat, menstrual disorders, A.D.D., and sleep disorders. 

This blog (hopefully) gives compelling evidence that iodine levels should be checked out in the "health-care" approach to longevity and in the prevention of disease.  I am a provider of an at-home testing kit that will allow you to do a personal check of your iodine status.  Give our team a call and we can walk you through the process.

To your good iodine health,
Dr. Sonja

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

One Size Does NOT Fit All

When you are heading into the clothing store you might find something with the label One-size-fits-all.  That's great if you are buying sunglasses, a hat, or even some styles of clothing, but when it comes to medicine and the individual needs of a person, it's often not the best way.  One of the questions that I often respond to is, "Dr. Sonja, what is it that you actually do?"  Well, in a nutshell, I design custom medicines!  Creative Medicines!!  And "I" is not even the way I should respond.  I have a staff surrounding me that really know how to make things happen under my direction and supervision.  I get phone call after phone call, in a days time, from physicians, practitioners, and patients from all over the country asking me what possibilities exist for their specific concerns. 

......What kind of concerns?

I just wanted to share some of the neat things that we were able to intervene on in recent weeks so that you have an understanding of what it means to customize medicine.

Patient 1: Hemorrhoids!  Yep, a patient with the horrible problem of hemorrhoids.  I received the call and was happy to share that I could design a suppository formulation with multiple ingredients that would heal his problem.  His case also happened to be higher in the rectum area causing fissures and tears.  No problem.  We can design medicine for any area of the body and any need.  We also make a cream that's magical for hemorrhoids.  NO kidding.  GI Doctors write for it all the time. 

Patient 2: Fertility and Miscarriages A woman with fertility issues and a history of lost pregnancies.  We tested her hormone levels, and I worked with her OB/Gyn to help her get into a normal menstrual cycle pattern.  We also created progesterone suppositories that helped her sustain a pregnancy.  Love that!!  I especially love baby pictures 9 months later. 

Patient 3:  Profuse Sweating A young teenager with horrible sweating causing embarrassment and irritation.  I designed a deodorant formulation that will dry up the sweating and stop the rash.  Yes we have dispensing units that allow us to make deodorant like you see in the stores.  It's really "cool" to be able to provide this treatment.  We've used it and put it to the test over and over in patients.  The patients always come back.

Patient 4:  Autism A child with autism who requires a small dose of medicine and needs a specific flavor for palatibility issues.  No problem!

Patient 5:  Shingles A patient with shingles who had intense stinging and burning pain along with a rash caused by this terrible disease.  On her, we were able to customize a medicine with 3 ingredients that put a halt to the pain and allowed healing.  Yeah!! 

Patient 6:  Vaginal Dryness A woman with a condition called Lichen Sclerosus who has suffered for 8 years before finding us. She also had hormone deficiencies resulting is significant vaginal dryness. Thankfully a referral was made by her provider to me and YES I had a formulation that we started about 4 weeks ago with her.  She reports that she is improved and regaining some of her life back.

Patient 7: Menopause A woman with horrible symptoms of menopause.  Sweating, depression, fatigue, irritability, and the whole gammet.  I consulted with her privately, tested her hormone levels, and designed a formulation specificially to her need by collaborating with her personal physician.  This is the majority of our business. Bio-Identical Hormone Replacement. It's the future of medicine now and women in our care are doing great.  It's spreading like wildfire. 

Patient 8:  Psoriasis A man with psoriasis who did not like to wear shorts or short sleeves because of the embarrassment of the patches and silvery areas on his elbows and knees.  No problem.  We again had a multi ingredient recommendation that cleared him up wonderfully and even added a shampoo for his scalp too.  He's doing great!

Patient 9:  Diaper Rash A baby with horrible diaper rash.  We actually intervene a lot to provide Happy Hiney's.  Our magic BUTT Paste will do the trick.   Our pediatricians and providers write for it all the time to soothe bottoms for our little patients. 

Patient 10:  Animal Care A cat with hyperthyroidism.  Yes, we do veterinary work too.  We make a special medicine that can be rubbed into the non-hairy pat of a cats ear to fix it's thyroid disease.  It's a pretty common formulation for us to make.  We also help animals with anxiety, wetting, and allergies.   Years ago, I made medicine for sharks.....and a sick elephant.....oh, and lets not forget the Llama.  No kidding.  :)

Patient 11:  Restless Leg Syndrome  This morning I'm working with a physician on a patient with plantar fasciitis, horrible insomnia, and restless leg syndrome.  She wants to go a natural approach.  My research gives compelling evidence that there are often neurotransmitter deficiencies that can be evaluated with targeted therapies to restore those levels to norm.  Her physician and I have worked through her medical history, failed therapies, concerns, and symptoms and will give her the TLC that is necessary to figure out where the problem exists.

Here's some other needs that have come up just in the last couple of weeks:  Fibromyalgia, Anxiety, Depression, Alzheimer's Disease, Low Testosterone (Andropause), Weight Gain, Autoimmune Disease, Thyroid Disease, Acne Treatments, Scar Therapy, and I'm now providing agents for Medical Spas to use in Anti-Aging Procedures.  The list could go on, and on, and on. 

So to say that I have the coolest job in the world is TRUE.  I never know what's coming in a days time, but with some years (cough....cough...actually almost 25) of experience and knowledge behind me, I can now make some great recommendations to heal whatever ails.  It really is amazing to make "Creative Medicines" for a living.  I've met a lot of great people who felt trapped by their physical need but who fortunately made the phone call to see if there was a better way.  Trust is not taken lightly because I have to calculate percentages, and determine if certain medicines can be added together, and figure out a way to make it the most effective to the need.  It's really quite intense at times, but we have great resources, libraries, and consultants available to us.  

The cost of customized medicine is always a concern for people.   No joke, I can often design a medicine for the same price that you would pay on your insurance copay.  Really?  Yes! And often cheaper.  Truth!!

If you are struggling with something, ANYTHING, please don't hesitate to call.  I would love to help you out and share some options.  Let's get you FIXED!! 

To your good health,
Dr. Sonja

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

A Common Hormone Link: Infertility, Osteoporosis, and Cancer

Infertility, Osteoporosis, Cancer, and Natural Progesterone

Natural PROGESTERONE, which has many beneficial functions that are described in a new book* by John R. Lee, MD,
  • is a precursor of other sex hormones, i.e., estrogen and testosterone
  • maintains secretory endometrium (the inner secretory lining of the uterus)
  • protects against breast fibrocysts
  • is a natural diuretic
  • helps use fat for energy
  • is a natural antidepressant
  • helps thyroid hormone action
  • normalizes blood clotting
  • restores libido
  • helps normalize blood sugar levels
  • normalizes zinc and copper levels
  • restores proper cell oxygen levels
  • protects against endometrial cancer
  • helps protect against breast cancer
  • stimulates osteoblast-mediated bone building
  • is necessary for survival of embryo and fetus throughout gestation
  • is a precursor of cortisone synthesis by the adrenal cortex.
On the other hand the various synthetic progestins are not precursors of the adrenal hormones or the sex hormones and cannot be easily broken down by the liver. Dr. Lee mentions many side effects from synthetic progestins, including that they may
  • increase the risk of birth defects such as heart and limb defects if taken during the first four months of pregnancy . . .
  • cause fluid retention, epilepsy, migraine, asthma, cardiac or renal dysfunction . . .
  • cause or contribute to depression . . .
  • decrease glucose tolerance; diabetic patients must be carefully monitored.
In this review of Dr. Lee's book the effects of natural progesterone in combating female infertility, osteoporosis, and cancer will be outlined. .
In the menstrual cycle at the crucial time—right after ovulation— low levels of progesterone in relation to estrogen can result in female infertility. Progesterone is the natural hormone that makes possible the survival of the fertilized egg; It is produced by a special tissue (corpus luteum) formed by the follicle from which the matured ovum emerges. Progesterone is essential for the proper development of the uterine lining so that it can receive and nourish a fertilized ovum. As the placenta develops, it assumes and progressively increases the production of progesterone for the duration of the gestation period, i.e., until birth of the baby. During the third trimester, progesterone is produced at the rate of more than 300 milligrams per day, an astounding level of hormone production which, for other hormones, is usually measured in micrograms per day. . . . Progesterone (unlike estrogen and testosterone) is devoid of secondary sex characteristics. Thus, its effects in promoting the development of the fetus are independent of the baby's gender. The fetus is allowed to develop according to its own DNA code and not be affected by the hormones of the mother.
Bones are living tissue and, unlike teeth, they can grow as the body grows, mend when broken, and continually renew themselves throughout life. Bone can be thought of as mineralized cartilage. . . . Bone forming cells (osteocytes) differentiate into osteoclast and osteoblast varieties. Osteoclast cells continually travel through bone tissue looking for older bone previously mineralized and in need of renewal. Osteoclasts resorb (dissolve away) such bone leaving tiny unfilled spaced (lacunae) behind. Osteoblasts then move into these spaces and produce new bone. This astounding process of continual resorption (by osteoclasts) and new bone formation (by osteoblasts), called remodeling, is the mechanism for the remarkable repair abilities and the continuing strength of our bones.
At any stage in life, one's bone status is a product of the balance between these two functions of bone resorption and new bone formation. . . .
  • Estrogen retards osteoclast-mediated bone resorption
  • Natural progesterone stimulates osteoblast-mediated new bone formation
  • Some progestins [synthetic forms of progesterone, which can be patented, used profitably in birth control pills, and which have many deleterious side effects] may also stimulate new bone formation to a lessor degree.
Many factors are involved in osteoporosis. Exercises, particularly weight-bearing ones, and appropriate nutrition are absolutely essential for avoiding osteoporosis.
Mineralized bone (hydroxyapatite) is a crystalline structure and, as such, will respond to physical stress just as other crystalline structures do. In particular, any force tending to distort the crystalline arrangement generates an electric voltage, called the piezoelectric effect, producing a small electric current (discovered by Pierre Curie in 1883). This also happens in mineralized bone and may explain the wondrous ability of osteoclast and osteoblast action in constructing and reinforcing bone trabeculae along lines best suited for maximum strength and physical efficiency. When viewed microscopically, trabeculae remind one of the vaulted chambers and flying buttresses of the best Gothic churches.
Dr. Lee deals with many factors in the treatment of postmenopausal osteoporosis and summarizes as follows:
Since calcium is the predominant mineral in bone building, it is helpful to follow the chain of events that facilitate its bone use from ingestion to incorporation into bone.
facilitating factors
Ingested calcium
gastric hydrochloric acid (HCl) and vitamin D
Absorbed calcium
exercise, progesterone (stimulates osteoblasts), estrogen (restrains osteoclasts), magnesium, micronutrients. Avoid excess protein, diuretics, antibiotics, fluoride, and metabolic acidosis.
Bone incorporation
Natural progesterone is effectively absorbed through the skin. Dr. Lee. has had excellent success increasing the bone density of osteoporotic patients who used progesterone cream, not constantly but as prescribed, along with a diet emphasizing leafy green and other vegetables (Over 5000 plants contain progesterone-like supplements, and appropriate exercise.
Interestingly, a comparison of patients younger than 70 years of age with those over 70 showed no difference in the bone response to progesterone. Further, patients who are now well up in their 80's continue to enjoy strong bones without evident bone loss while continuing their use of natural progesterone. Age is not the cause of osteoporosis; poor nutrition, lack of exercise, and progesterone deficiency are the major factors.
Breast cancer and uterine cancer are promoted by some and controlled by other gonadal hormones, namely, the estrogens and progesterone. The three principal estrogens produced by our bodies are estradiol, estrone, and estriol. The latter is particularly high during pregnancy. In the Journal of the American Medical Association; in 1966;it was reported that women with breast cancer excreted 30 to 60 per cent less estriol than non-cancer controls; and that remission of cancer in patients receiving endocrine therapy occurred only in those whose estriol quotient rose. On the other hand, estradiol and estrone are known promoters of uterine cancer. Specifically, among the three major natural estrogens, estradiol is the most stimulating to breast tissue, estrone is second, and estriol by far the least.
What about progesterone? Breast cancer and uterine cancer tend to occur when estrogen levels are high relative to progesterone. Dr. Lee calls this &estrogen dominance.
In the case of breast cancer, consider the following observations:
  • Breast cancer is more likely to occur in premenopausal women with normal or high estrogen levels and low progesterone levels. . . . it also occurs after menopause when women are given estrogen supplements without progesterone.
  • Among premenopausal women, breast cancer recurrence or late metastases after mastectomy for breast cancer is more common when surgery had been performed during the first half of the menstrual cycle (when estrogen is the dominant hormone) than when surgery had been performed during the latter half of the menstrual cycle (when progesterone is dominant). . . .
  • Treatment of males with estrogen (for prostatic cancer or after trans-sexual surgery) is associated with an increased risk of breast cancer
  • Recently, industrial pollutants having potent estrogenic effects, called xenoestrogens, are being recognized as a pervasive environmental threat, likely to be a contributing factor in the incidence of breast cancer. . . .
The cancer protective benefit of progesterone is clearly indicated by the prospective study in which premenopausal women with low progesterone levels were found to have 5.4 times the risk of developing premenopausal breast cancer and a 10-fold increase in deaths from all malignant neoplasms compared to those with normal progesterone levels. . . .
Thus, the evidence is strong that unopposed estradiol and estrone are carcinogenic for breasts, and both progesterone and estriol, the two major hormones throughout pregnancy, are protective against breast cancer.
Dr. Lee asks why the natural and beneficial hormones progesterone and estriol are not prescribed for women rather than the deleterious synthetic estrogens and progestins. He answers by pointing out that the synthetic forms, which are never found in any living creature, can be patented and sold profitably and that many doctors, who get advertisements for the synthetic products from the pharmaceutical companies, are not aware that the natural hormones, progesterone and estriol are also available.
[Editor's note: I thoroughly enjoyed reading Dr. Lee's book. It is delightfully written and most informative.]

Natural Progesterone: The Multiple Roles of a Remarkable Hormone , BLL Publishing, P.O. Box 2068, Sebastopol, CA 95473; 99 pages, paperback.
Article from NOHA* NEWS, Fall 1994
*The American Nutrition Association was formerly known as the Nutrition for Optimal Health Association [NOHA].

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Special Products for Special Concerns of Special People

Often people don't completely understand what to take or where to turn for their anti-aging and wellness recommendations.    A little of this, and a little of that, can add up to a lot of unnecessary $pending on regimens that a person might not actually need.  Can you relate?  This is where our team fits best.  Not only do we design custom regimens for hormonal imbalance and pain, but we also design custom and over-the-counter integrative and functional regimens as well .  I refer to it as prescribed supplements.  In fact, if I'm working with a physician or practitioner on a patients profile, I also include specific recommendations for nutraceuticals in addition to hormone therapy customs.  Why?  Key nutrients are essential in how hormones metabolize in the body.  If a person is relying on diet alone to make that happen, I can almost guarantee it's not enough.  With our clinical databases, clinical support team, and networking providers coast-to-coast, we can find answers for YOU and get you on a regimen to address your unfortunate family medical history, your current diagnosis, or simply your attempt to just be healthier overall.  You are the most important person in our world and it's why we are seeing such tremendous success in Branson MO. 

  I work primarily with pharmaceutical grade and high quality products for which you must be a healthcare practitioner to purchase and use in patient care.  When selecting products, I also try to keep cost and effectiveness at the forefront of what I stock and offer to clients.  And remember, we have access to the top anti-aging/wellness/functional/regenenerative/integrative product lines out there.  We provide a great resource to patients.  I'm proud of that and have seen a tremendous shift over the last 10 years in how people are trying to stay ahead of the disease curve. 

To give you and idea, here's a few of the special orders that I have placed for patients and practitioners over the last few weeks.  Some of these have been so popular and effective with patients that I keep them in stock.

~Weight loss product clinically proven to have effect in 2 weeks with no stimulant effects.  I actually did a trial of this one to make sure it didn't cause the jitters.  It doesn't.  All good!!  

~Stress and Adrenal Fatigue Restoration Protocols.  Again, I've personally tried many of the products that I recommend and continue to take many of the supplements in this regimen myself.

~Products for reduction of high Homocysteine levels

~Ovulation regulation for fertility

~Testosterone support formula for Men

~End Fatigue Sleep Revitalization Formulas

~Anxiety Balance formulations

~Healthy Hormone Metabolizers

~Glucose Support Formulas

~Alzheimer's/Dementia Brain Support Formulas

~Polycystic Ovary Syndrome support

~Womens GI Formulation

~Anti-inflammatory Nutraceuticals

~Joint and Muscle Restoration Products

~Skin Care Agents

~Blood Pressure Support Formula

~Meal Replacement Shakes

~Collagen Support Formulations

~Skin care/ Fine lines and wrinkles remedies

And remember that we also offer testing kits:
Hormone Testing
Adrenal Testing
Thyroid Testing
Weight Management Testing
Iodine Testing
Fertility Testing
Sleep Profile Testing .....

Standard Tests
Saliva, blood spot and dried urine are used for the minimally-invasive hormone testing.  The simplicity of sample collection and stability of samples in storage and transport have made these ideal for clinical use as well as research.  See the table below for a full list of our current test offerings.
TestBlood SpotSalivaDried Urine
Estradiol (E2) 
Progesterone (Pg) 
Testosterone (T), free  
Testosterone (T), total  
Estriol (E3)  
Estrone (E1)  
Cortisol (C), free  
Cortisol (C), total  
Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA)  
Free Thyroxine (fT4)  
Free Triiodothyronine (fT3)  
Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH)  
Thyroid Peroxidase Hormone (TPO)  
Thyroxine (T4), total  
IGF-1 (Somatomedin C)  
Luteinizing Hormone (LH)  
Follicle-Stimulating Hormone (FSH)  
Insulin (Ins), fasting  
Cholesterol (CH), total  
HDL Cholesterol (HDL)  
High-Sensitivity C-Reactive Protein (hsCRP)  
Hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c)  
Triglycerides (TG)  
Vitamin D, Total  
25-OH Vitamin D2  
25-OH Vitamin D3  
Iodine (I)  
Bromine (Br)  
Arsenic (Ar)  
Selenium (Se)  
Mercury (Hg)  
Creatinine (Cr)  

.......and the list goes on and on in all that we are providing.    It truly is the FUTURE of medicine NOW!!!  If you would like a personal evaluation and a custom designed regimen, please don't hesitate to call our team.  We're happy to answer your questions, make recommendations, work with your doctor, or whatever you need.  We can also ship the products straight to your home.  Or, if you're in the area, stop by and see us personally.  It's a great city to catch a LIVE Family Friendly show while you're visiting. 

To your good health,
Dr. Sonja

Monday, September 8, 2014

Part 2: Metabolic Changes with Aging

Thanks for staying tuned in to the blog.  All 90,000 of you.  :)  WOW!

As promised I wanted to follow up with part 2 (of 2) discussing the metabolic changes that can come about with the aging process.  Could obesity, diabetes, and poor metabolism be connected to menopause and hormonal imbalance?  Science is showing that the answer is YES!  Are cholesterol, depression, and heart disease connected?  Again, science is proving YES!

Here's some key evidence and interest of where hormone balance is headed.  I've served in this realm for many, many years and I can tell you that the trend in medical care to pay attention to hormonal imbalance and it's connection to disease is moving up, up, up.  Remember to check back to Part 1 for more information about hormones and aging as well.

Insulin Resistance and Diabetes:
The HERS study and the WHI study, suggest that estrogen alone, or when estrogen is combined with progestogen, actually can reduce the instance of new-onset diabetes.  (Remember that medroxyprogesterone (synthetic), is not the same as progesterone.  You want to do the bio-identical version to get the best health benefits.)  Furthermore, integrating hormone replacement therapy into the care of those with impaired glucose tolerance, metabolic syndrome, and diabetes has been shown to improve glucose.   Not only that, but the evidence is showing strongly that insulin resistance is improved, lipid/cholesterol profiles are improved, blood pressure is improved, and abdominal obesity is improved when hormones are appropriately restore and balanced.  With estrogen loss it appears that a woman faces increased central body fat, increased low-density lipoproteins, increased triglycerides, decreased HDL's, increased glucose and increased insulin resistance which can all lead to other diseases.  Instead of putting a Band-Aid on these other problems, it might be a good idea to look into hormone deficiency as an underlying contributor.  Will we one day see hormone therapy included in regimens for diabetes and cardiovascular disease?  It's not out of line if you ask me and other professionals serving in this unique area of medical care.

Blood Pressure/Cholesterol/Depression/Anxiety 

Here's some real data shared from a physician serving in the realm of bio-identical hormone replacement therapy.  Her information was cited in OBGYN news magazine Jan 15, 2009 after she tracked 150 women on transdermal (cream or topical) hormone replacement therapy at baseline and then 1 yr later.   Look at how the numbers moved.  In a positive direction.  Yay!

Blood Pressure 133/80 -------->121/76 @ 1yr on therapy
Triglycerides 175--------------->120 @ 1yr on therapy
Fasting glucose 110------------->92 @ 1 yr on therapy
Hamilton Depression Score 6.6--------->5.0 @ 1 yr on therapy
Hamilton Anxiety Score 9.6 ------------>6.5 @ 1yr on therapy

WOW right?  Pretty compelling evidence.....

Body Fat Redistribution "The Spare Tire Syndrome"

The explanation for this peri- & post- menopausal nuisance can go in a lot of directions, but I'll try to zone in on a few reasons for this common complaint.  Often women don't feel good due to poor sleep (progesterone deficiency), hot flashes (estrogen deficiency), body aches, and adrenal fatigue.  The body tries to compensate for the loss of energy and low level adrenal hormones by triggering cravings for sugar, salt, and caffeine.  Guess where those things hang out after consumed?  Right where they are not wanted.   A diet will be a great struggle for a person until these weight contributing factors are dealt with appropriately.  Hormones should be tested and that's why the lab that I have used for over a decade has now come out with a Weight Management Testing Kit. Remember also that lifestyle modification to address sleep and stress is a crucial piece in 'figuring' things out too.  That's where it's important to work with a practitioner looking at all aspects.

Also worth mentioning, is that between the ages of 20-40, women also experience approximately a 50% drop in DHEA levels.  Gasp!  That can have a major impact especially for women complaining of fatigue, weight gain, poor concentration, and so on.  Low DHEA can also have a significant impact on metabolism.  Many prescribed supplements for weight loss will include DHEA as an agent to help move the numbers on the bathroom scale down.  I would not suggest that you take DHEA without doing a hormone panel because of it's capability to metabolize into other hormones that you may not need.   Again, work with someone well educated in the area of hormonal imbalance.

Low Testosterone
If you don't have enough, you're going to notice.

 Declining testosterone production is another offending culprit in the weight/metabolism world.  Addressing "Low T" can help with lean muscle mass, vitality, stamina, and weight control.  Get this! I just reviewed a patients profile today and at 50 years old the normal range is 16-55 (saliva) for Testosterone.  She came in at a 10.  No wonder she's drained, gaining weight, and having other associated symptoms.  No wonder!!  She's feeling the impact of low T.  It's not just a man thing.

Please do yourself a health favor and get your hormones tested.  Talk with your doctor about your symptoms and assess and address your personal imbalances.

To your good hormone health,
Dr. Sonja

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Part 1: Metabolic Changes With Aging

Today's blog is to mention just a few of the metabolic changes that can occur in the process of aging.  Although many things can be expected, it does not mean that they cannot be prevented, treated, or simply pushed back a few years from what's typically normal.  Women especially tend to gain and struggle with their weight more than ever before after going through menopause or experiencing a hysterectomy.  They also complain of dry, brittle hair, aging skin, poor concentration, fatigue, insomnia, etc.   To give you some of the reasons for this, it's probably easiest to break things down into some categories to help you better understand.   So, here goes...

Thyroid: By the age of 60, about 17% of women and about 9% of men have been diagnosed with hypothyroidism.  That's just those we know about.  Thyroid disease is one of those conditions that seems to go undiagnosed because values look "normal".   My position statement is that normal is not necessarily optimal.  Plenty of patients that I have come into contact over the years struggled for a long time until they finally found a practitioner that was willing to treat their symptoms outside of the numbers appearing normal.  My experience has been that after a hysterectomy, most women should stay on top of thyroid health like never before. Many women will tell you that they had a hysterectomy and then a few years later received the diagnosis of hypothyroidism.  Why?  The endocrine system is intricately designed with hormone and feedback loops.  Upset one thing and something else is going to be affected.  Experience has taught me a great deal simply by listening and putting two and two together.

Perimenopause: This period of time for women usually begins in the 40's with about 95% of women seeing this transitional onset into menopause at the ages of 39-51.  The average time this stage lasts is about 2-8 years and with it comes a lot of biological changes.  Ovarian function changes, menstrual cycles begin to vary, there's less frequent ovulation thereby resulting in lower progesterone production, and the hormones estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone all begin to decline.  Estrogen production can go low enough that menstrual cycles will cease to exist and after missing 12 periods, a woman is deemed to be in menopause.  Just think about a time period of YEARS when describing the changes that take place.  This is why I encourage women to test at least in their early 40's so that a benchmark can be established.  I personally tested at 37 years old and found some hormonal imbalances that I have addressed ever since.  Hormone restoration to youthful years is possible with custom/compounded bio-identical hormone replacement therapy.  Yay!

Menopause: Once menopause strikes, the adrenal glands try to pick up the pace to help what's been lost in the function of the ovaries.  Androstenedione, DHEA, and DHEA Sulfate, hormones produced by the adrenal glands, also take a dive resulting in about 70% less production than what the body was used to operating in younger ages.  Testosterone production decreases by 25% after menopause.  This can bring on loss of vitality, poor stamina, bone loss, loss of lean muscle mass, incontinence and many other things.  Even though things decline, the problem really comes into play because of the shift of hormones.  The androgen to estrogen ratio becomes significantly more out of balance because of estrogens plummet and there's less conversion of`androstenedione to testosterone.  This results in hair thinning and the pesky facial hair and acne that older women complain of.  Even with testosterones decline, there's still not enough estrogen to oppose it. 

Okay, so that's part 1.  I know there's a lot to process when talking about hormonal imbalance, but the BIG message in all of this, especially if you can relate to the content of this blog, is to assess and address the imbalances.  Better sooner, than later. 

In Part 2 we will cover insulin resistance, diabetes, obesity, and metabolism.  Stay tuned!

To your good hormone health,
Dr. Sonja

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Are Your Symptoms Due To Hormonal Imbalance?

Today I'm doing just a quick BLOG to list symptoms that can be related to hormonal imbalance.  Some of these symptoms appear sooner than others (even as young as 35) in the aging process, and the majority of people express that they are not willing to dry up and wear out without a fight against the natural progression of aging.  I know that personally, I am not.

Hot Flashes
Night Sweats
Vaginal Dryness
Mood Swings
Loss of libido
Hair growth on the face
Panic attacks
Weird dreams
Urinary tract infections
Vaginal itching
Low back pain
Aching ankles, knees, wrists, shoulders, and heels
Hair Loss
Frequent urination
Sore breasts
Varicose veins
Urinary leakage
Dizzy spells
Migraine headaches
Memory lapses
Weight gain
Blood pressure problems
Weepy or Tearful
Emotionally Sensitive
Short tempered
Blood Glucose Problems

 I have had the privilege of helping hundreds of women and men over the years.  I enjoy hearing feedback from each of them as they share all of the improvements and benefits they have noticed as a result of achieving hormonal balance again.   If you are having problems on this list, give me a call.  Don't suffer through the changes of "The Change"of life.   Testing kits are available from our office offering an affordable and convenient way to evaluate your body's hormonal change. Give us a call today!

To your good health,
Dr. Sonja

Thursday, August 14, 2014

The "Pauses" of Aging

Most people are familiar with the terms Menopause and Andropause, but did you know that there are other "pauses" that go along with the stages of aging?  It's true!!  Have you ever wondered if there truly are reasons for those "Senior Moments" that many will complain of as they 'pause' to find the right word, thought, or expression for something?  There's a true correlation to the stages of aging and the various 'pauses' that come about as a result of the biological clock ticking.  Memory, for instance, can change as speed of brain processing declines resulting in roughly 10msec of decline every decade after the age of 40.  This is why it can take 10-30 years for a person to 'develop' Dementia.  Other changes can be evident if a person will begin to pay close attention to their body and it's signs. 

Take a look and see how you measure up.

ElectroPause -a decline in electrical activity of brain waives-age 45


Pineal Pause-Melatonin-age 20

Pituitary Pause-Hormone feedback loops-age 30

Sensory Pause-Touch,hearing,vision, smell-age 40

Psycho Pause-personality, health, mood-age 30

Thryo Pause-Calcitonin and Thyroid Hormone levels-age 50

Thymo Pause-Glandular size and immune system-age 40

Cardio Pause-Ejection Fraction and Blood Flow-age 40

Pulmono Pause-lung elasticity and function with blood pressure increase-age 50

Adreno Pause-DHEA-age 55

Nephro Pause-Erythropoietin levels and Kidney Clearance-age 40

Gastro Pause-Nutrient Absorption-age 40

Pancreo Pause-Blood Sugar Levels-age 40

Insulo Pause-Glucose Tolerance-age 40

Andro Pause-Testosterone in Men-age 45

Meno Pause-Estrogen,Progesterone,Testosterone in Women-age 40

Osteo Pause-Bone Density-age 30

Dermo Pause-Skin, Collagen, and Elastin-age 35

Oncho Pause-Fingernails and Toenails-age 40

Uro Pause-Bladder Control-age 45

Geno Pause-DNA-age 40

~(Braverman, M.D., Bajaj, D.C.-A4M-Healthcare Practitioners Guide-1st Edition)

Now thinking about all of this and where YOU might stand, are you interested in knowing more about your "Biological Age"?  Are you interested in preventing or prolonging the onset of some of these markers? Are you interested in testing some of these things to be more specific?

Get started on a regimen for Anti-Aging TODAY!  PAUSE for a moment and give me a call.

To your good health,
Dr. Sonja

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Bone Loss With Aging

Over her lifetime, a typical woman will lose 42% of her spine and 58% of her femur.  In the U.S. an estimated 34 million people are at risk for developing bone loss, and 80% are women.  Fractures result in 800,000 emergency room visits, 2.5 million office visits, and 180,000 nursing home placements costing an estimated $14 billion.  20% of women die within the first month of their femoral fracture.  Sadly, most screenings for bone loss do not begin until age 65 when a significant amount of bone loss has already happened. 

Anti-Aging Bone Health
It is imperative that young women have regular menstrual cycles, adequate Vitamin D levels, and adequate calcium and protein during the ages of 15-25.  This is an important time of bone maturation, strength, and density.  I encourage young women to be on a supplement that contains Vitamin D, calcium, and multivitamins because this time in life is so important.

This class of medication was first developed for Pagets Disease in the 1960's. They were not intended for the treatment of osteoporosis, but in the 1990's we saw marketing for these agents come about to help with bone density loss. 

~Reversible side effects of this drug class: Kidney toxicity, join pain, muscle aches, fever, musculoskeletal pain, gastritis, low calcium (wow!!), eye complications, asthma (aspirin-sensitive), altered taste, and central nervous system side effects.

~Irreversible side effects with chronic use
Osteonecrosis of the jaw.  (Awful!!)  Have you ever wondered why dentists offices want to know if you are on Fosamax, Boniva, etc?  This is why.  Look up information about the mini-epidemic called "phossy jaw" related to factory workers with jaw necrosis after continuous exposure to phosphorous fumes. 

Spontaneous femoral fractures.  Even though some might consider this a rare side effect, when one considers that 190 million prescriptions are written worldwide for osteoporosis, this could translate into millions of men and women with the risk of potential fractures.

Hormones and Bone Health
Vitamin D is a steroid hormone and along with parathyroid hormone, and calcitonin, carefully control calcium metabolism. Limited sun exposure, skin pigmentation, and geography are well recognized causes for low Vitamin D.  I suggest 10-30 minutes (at least) in the sun each day.  It's a natural way to obtain Vitamin D.  In the winter months, it might be advisable to increase your Vitamin D supplement regimen due to less exposure to the sunshine.  D essentially drives calcium into the bone. It's important to have both in your vitamin regimen.

Sex Hormones
~Estrogen deficiency accelerates bone loss. 
~Progesterone deficiency is connected with reduced bone growth.  Women who have consistent low progesterone and those who do not have menstrual cycles are at risk.  It is important to supplement progesterone in young women especially who have PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome).
~Androgens (DHEA and Testosterone) are important for bone health in both sexes.  Low free T is associated with increased hip fractures. DHEA levels directly correlate with bone mass. 

Melatonin has positive effects on bone.  It directly stimulates osteoblasts (bone builders) and increases collagen production.  It also enhances sleep which indirectly raises growth hormone levels.

Vitamin K
Specifically K2-of the 3 forms of Vitamin K, this one is made by bacteria in the gut, ensures calcium is deposited in the bone and not into the arteries. 

Here's a good protocol to follow:
Vitamin D3: 2,000-5,000 units/day
Vitamin K2: 50-150mcg/day
Vitamin C: 1000-4000mg/day
B Complex Vitamin
Vitamin E: 200-800 units/day

This is one of the most common mineral deficiencies in adults.  High doses of calcium, without magnesium, can worsen magnesium deficiency. 

Potassium Citrate
Oral supplementation has shown an increase in bone density of postmenopausal women. 

Diet and Exercise
An alkaline diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, with limited protein and avoiding dairy, artificial sweeteners, and preservatives promotes an alkaline environment leading to improved bone health.

Exercise two times a week helps to maintain bones, and three times a week (or more) has been shown to increase bone.  Get out and exercise!

To your good bone health,
Dr. Sonja

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Are You Tired of Being Tired?

Are you tired of being tired?  If you are like most Americans you will probably answer "yes" to this question. Stress and fatigue are the main reasons that people go to the doctor these days and they present themselves in the most unusual of ways.  Honestly, often symptoms of stress can look similar to hormone imbalance so getting to the root cause of the problem is key in making a patient feel better and gain some control back in their life.  A simple test can provide the clear answers to a "stress fracture" (play on words) instead of a hormone problem.  But before we get to that, here's some simple facts on the issue of stress and running around like crazy people all the time.  See how you measure up.....

First let's start off with the common causes of stress these days:
Overwork/physical or mental strain
Excessive exercise
Sleep deprivation
Poor digestion
Chronic illness
Chronic severe allergies
Use of steroids
Insufficient sleep
Chronic pain
Temperature extremes
Toxic exposure
Nutritional deficiencies
Family issues
Alarms clocks/deadlines
and many others that you can add to the list

The Effects of prolonged stress:
Unexplained hair loss
Lowered body temp
Weak muscle tone
Difficulty with weight
Inability to concentrate
Excessive hunger
Poor memory/confusion
Digestive dysfunction
Feelings of frustration
Auto-immune disease
Heart palpitations
Lowered resistance to infection and colds
Low blood pressure
Sweet/salt cravings
Rheumatoid Arthritis
Weight gain
Inability to make decisions-Indecisiveness.
Respiratory illness/colds/bronchitis
Fatigue and reduced stamina

It's common to hear that people are worn out these days and just can't seem to get enough sleep.  "I'm dragging", "I'm asleep by 8 o'clock", or "I'm just tired of being tired." I hear these from men and women all the time.  In fact, I visited with a physician group today and in their assessment forms for patient referral they were delighted to see an evaluation area for stress and lifestyle influences.  Why? Because stress and lifestyles factor in to the equation of hormonal imbalance and it's important to include. 

Other reasons to test:
The "stress hormones" are important to evaluate because if a woman has low DHEA 'prior' to menopause, her chances for cancer are increased.  Conversely, if the levels are high 'after' menopause, her chances for cancer are increased.  It's important to know how your body is adapting to stress, the influence it has on you at your age, and ways to compliment your body's response to stress for health and longevity.  If your Cortisol is in the tank, then you're going to feel like you're in the tank as well. It's a fatigue indicator that can be evaluated.  Listen up! These same hormones, if out of balance, can cause a host of other problems as well.  The list goes from depression, to weight gain, to vaginal dryness, to poor blood sugar control, to immune problems, and on and on.  You better believe that I test my hormones and my adrenal EVERY year without fail.  It's key to an individuals peak performance.

So how do you test for stress? 
Call our office and we can explain the process to you.  It's very, very simple and affordable.  A testing kit can be mailed to your home and we can guide you on the best day and time to send your sample.  A common profile to assess key sex hormones and stress hormones typically costs less than $130.  If the kit comes from my office, I will be the one to read the results and connect with you personally. If you have great insurance and want to have your doctor do a lab evaluation, the same key hormones can be tested by blood.   I just met with a client who has great insurance and will head in to her doctors office to get tested soon. 

So, if you're tired of being tired, call us ASAP.  Our staff is ready to help and I personally can direct you on the best supplements for your lab profile and additional health problems.
To your good health,
Dr. Sonja

Thursday, July 24, 2014

An Up Close and Personal Testimonial

  This is one of those blogs that makes me smile.  Why?  It's about someone close and I love her story and know that you will too.  

It's great to see celebrities come forward with their treatments and recommendations, but I think there's greater importance when family and friends share their personal stories about the same things.  This is written by my sister-in-law Stacy about what hormone "balance" and testing did for her.  This is what I'm blessed to get to do everyday both professionally and personally.

Stacy Weaver O'Bryan Testimonial
" Unfortunately, for years I had suffered from endometriosis, fibroids, and a couple of other factors, which ended with me having a full hysterectomy at age 39. My hormones were already very out of whack, and, thinking back on things, my gyno NEVER questioned me about my moods, only my "plumbing" issues.

FORTUNATELY, my sister-in-law is Dr. Sonja Pinnell O'Bryan!! After a casual yet in depth conversation about Bio-Identical Hormone Replacement Therapy, I decided to pursue treatment through Sonja. I had to talk to my gyno about using Bio-Identical Hormone Replacement Therapy, who wasn't familiar with it but was willing to work with Sonja to design my hormones. He now refers clients to her :) Wait, wait, back to ME! Since starting my Bio-Iden's, I have felt GREAT! My moods are mellow, I have energy, and I finally feel like myself. Also, I have found it easier to lose weight - actually 47 lbs! It seemed before that no matter what I did I couldn't lose weight. Once I started seeing my weight loss efforts were finally paying off, it was easier to change my eating lifestyle since I could see it was now beneficial!

Dr. Sonja has been a blessing to work with, she is very concerned to help me be as normal as possible :) I have found it very important to communicate with Sonja about issues I may be having - it's amazing what hormones control. Many many many thanks to my sister-in-law, my friend, my medicine maker!!!"

For more information on testing and treatment:

Hormones and Weight: The Link

 This blog looks at one family of hormones, the steroid hormones, that have been closely linked with how your body manages to control your weight, and when “out of balance” may result in weight gain. This family of steroid hormones can be grouped into the sex-hormones and adrenal hormones. The sex hormones include the estrogens (estradiol, estrone, and estriol), progesterone, and testosterone. The adrenal hormones include DHEA and cortisol. 
Estrogen and testosterone
Estrogens are known as the female sex hormones and testosterone as the male sex hormone. While both estradiol and testosterone in fact have a wide variety of functions in both sexes, women in their youth have about ten times more estrogen than men, and men have about 10 times more testosterone than women. These stark differences in estrogen and testosterone levels in women and men define many of the characteristics that make men and women look and behave differently, including the way our body fat is distributed.
Women tend to have fat stores under the skin (subcutaneous fat), around the hips, and in the breasts. This results in the characteristic female curves that contribute to the characteristic hour-glass figure. When estrogen levels are high, excessive fat deposition occurs primarily around the hips and thighs leading to the typical pear-shaped body type, referred to as “gynoid obesity” or female type obesity.
Normally, healthy men have very little estrogen and subcutaneous fat. When they start gaining weight, it tends to be in the belly, in the intestinal space, and is known as “visceral fat” or “central weight gain”. This results in the characteristic apple-shaped body type, known as “android” (male type) obesity, when weight gain becomes excessive. However, this is also the type of fat that is the most metabolically active and therefore easiest to lose – men generally lose weight more easily than women for this reason. Visceral fat is very easily mobilized in response to adrenalin (the “fight or flight” hormone) and strenuous activity. Think of the hunter-gatherers from which we are descended – the males would store visceral fat preferentially when food was plentiful so that it could be easily used as fuel for the muscles when hunting for the next meal.
The picture is a little more complicated in postmenopausal women, when estrogen levels become very low while testosterone continues to be produced from the ovaries and adrenals. Normally estrogen rules over testosterone at the tissue/cellular level, but when estrogen levels drop at menopause and testosterone levels remain the same this estrogen/testosterone ratio shifts in favor of testosterone dominance. The presence of testosterone that is not counteracted by estrogen, a relative “androgen excess”, tends to promote the male type body fat distribution, and women who tend to gain weight during and after menopause often find that their waistline thickens and they become rather more apple-shaped than pear-shaped. The same effect is seen in women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), who over-produce androgens. Studies of estrogen replacement therapy in postmenopausal women consistently show that this can prevent central weight gain, by maintaining a relatively higher level of estrogens than testosterone.
Fat tissue itself is an endocrine (hormone-producing) organ. It contains the enzyme aromatase, which converts testosterone to estradiol and androstenedione to estrone. In obese postmenopausal women, estrone can become the predominant circulating estrogen, rather than estradiol. Estrone is about ten times less potent than estradiol and its presence in the absence of estradiol is a hallmark of menopause.
DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) is the precursor for the production of estrogens and testosterone in tissues where they are needed, and it therefore circulates in the body in significantly greater quantities than the other steroid hormones. Studies of DHEA supplementation have found no significant effect on body weight, but one of its natural metabolites, 7-keto DHEA, is known to increase the metabolic rate and has been found to help with weight loss.
Progesterone is well known for its ability to balance and optimize the effects of estrogens. With each monthly cycle, estradiol stimulates the proliferation of the breast epithelial cells and those of the reproductive tissues. Progesterone produced in the second half of the menstrual cycle then slows the estrogen-stimulated proliferation, allowing for tissue specialization and differentiation. For the same reason, progesterone is needed to balance estrogen replacement therapy to prevent excessive growth and proliferation of the uterine lining to reduce the risk of endometrial cancer. We know that synthetic progestins are also used for this purpose, but while they effectively suppress endometrial proliferation they have been found to have adverse effects in other areas, notably the cardiovascular system and the breast. Natural progesterone is without these adverse effects, and indeed has many beneficial effects in the body. But some women find that it can contribute to weight gain or bloating. Studies have found that women tend to have an increase in appetite and food intake in the latter half of the menstrual cycle, and during pregnancy, when progesterone levels are higher than usual. An encouragement to eat more in preparation for a pregnancy and during gestation would make sense physiologically, but we don’t need excessively elevated progesterone levels otherwise. Some forms of progesterone replacement therapy may lead to excessive progesterone levels that can increase the risk of insulin resistance, which will promote fat storage rather than utilization for energy. It is important to monitor progesterone levels, as with all hormones, during supplementation to ensure that levels are not out of physiological range and well balanced with estradiol and testosterone. Bloating or weight gain could mean you are using too much progesterone.
Cortisol is an adrenal hormone essential for blood glucose regulation, fat storage and utilization, and control of other body functions like the immune system.  Cortisol acts in synergy with many other hormones to help regulate their actions. Cortisol is released from the adrenal glands in response to stressors sensed by the brain. These stressors come in many different forms and include low glucose levels, emotional or physical stress, or invasion of the body by pathogens. Cortisol mobilizes glucose from the glycogen stores in the liver to be used as short-term energy for the muscle. While normal physiological levels of cortisol are essential to survival, excessive levels caused by chronic stressors shut down non-essential body functions, such as the immune system, and by suppressing the production of other hormones, such as sex hormones, growth hormone, and thyroid hormones. When stressors are present for extended periods the system goes awry and we develop a chronic stress condition and persistently elevated cortisol levels. When this happens, the effects of cortisol on blood sugar result in an increased appetite, particularly for carbohydrates (“stress eating”) and storage of more glucose as fat, especially in the visceral area, which has more cortisol receptors than other types of fat tissue. Stress-related weight gain can be treated by finding and reducing sources of stress, as well as relaxation techniques to reduce the harmful effects of stress on the body.
When you understand more about your body and how it is hormonally regulated, it is easier to see that hormones, when in balance, are friends rather than foes.  The entire endocrine system includes many more hormones than are mentioned above, which are involved in metabolic processes and other bodily functions that can affect our weight and our overall health. But even taking just the reproductive hormones and cortisol, and a little common sense, we can conclude that:
  1. We have changing reproductive hormone levels as we age. In our attempts to replenish hormone levels back to youthful levels, we sometimes upset the balance as we replace hormones to levels outside an ideal range, and we don’t recognize the effects this hormonal imbalance has on weight gain.
  2. Weight gain itself affects hormone balance.
  3. Our bodies have highly efficient stress responses, but the extreme, prolonged stresses of modern life have created an unhealthy hormonal imbalance (excessive cortisol) that has contributed to weight gain.
It is important not to ignore the elephant in the room, the highly palatable and refined foods that dominate the “Western” diet, which are clearly associated with the obesity epidemic. These are not the foods our ancestors ate.Our bodies have not adapted hormonally to the challenges of regulating fat stores when presented with these foods in excess.
Keeping our hormones in balance while maintaining a healthy diet, following an exercise program, and aiming for a stress-reduced lifestyle is key to optimal wellness and longevity.  (ZRT blog)

So what are you waiting for?  Give me a call and get your hormones tested?

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Be Proactive: Common Hormone Symptoms in Five Age Groups

I'm revisiting a book this morning,  The 30 Day Hormone Plan, by Dr. Erika Schwartz, M.D. In it's pages, I came across something that I suppose every woman would enjoy knowing for herself.  After following many patients for a number of years, Dr. Schwartz realized that she could break down frequency of symptoms according to age ranges in five major groupings.  What if women could be more proactive with the hormonal shifts expected with the seasons of aging?  What if they could prevent or lessen the impact that hormonal imbalance can bring? Good idea right? Right!

Hopefully, you can use the guidelines for these age groupings to help you sift through your own symptoms:

Group 1: (ages 16-early 20's)
Mood swings

Group 2 (ages mid-20's-mid-30's)
Weight Gain
Postpartum Depression
Mood Swings

Group 3 (Ages 30's-early 40's)
Weight Gain
Occasional loss of libido
Occasional night sweats
Menstrual irregularity

Group 4 (Ages 45-55)
Hot Flashes
Night Sweats
Loss of libido
Mood Swings
Weight Gain
Muscle and Joint Aches
Vaginal Dryness

Group 5 (Ages 55+)
Hot Flashes
Night Sweats
Weight Gain
Loss of Libido
Stiffness in Muscles and Joints
Chronic constipation
Chronic illness (osteoporosis and heart disease)

So, how do things line up for you personally?  I can guide you on testing and anti-aging therapies to help you be proactive in the journey of hormonal change.  Give me a call today 417-231-4544

Live, Look, and Feel Better, Longer!
Dr. Sonja

Thursday, May 1, 2014

The Owners Manual of Hormones and Aging

If there's one thing I've learned after serving professionally in the field of custom Anti-Aging Medicine and Bio-identical Hormone Replacement Therapy, it's that each person is genuinely unique.  The human body has provided centuries of research and discovery which, of course, continues on to this day and will for centuries to come.  I read continually to stay abreast of current trends, statistics, and studies to predict how things might shift in our medical "gold standard" approach and to personally educate myself to help others to understand better.  And, oh my, have I seen some shifting over the years.  This is good for you.  No, it's bad for you.  No, it's back to being good for you....  You know the drill.  It's bothersome to me that medicine has truly been a 'practice' in terms of writing prescriptions and suggesting therapies for what a clinician "thinks" it might be.

This morning I consulted with a young woman who had gone through a hysterectomy in her late 20's.  Now in her 30's and about 6 years beyond the surgery, she is having significant symptoms.  Her personal physician wants to prescribe an anti-depressant to control her hot flashes, but she feels there is more to her condition.  Through discussions, she is also experiencing weight gain, irritability, low libido, vaginal dryness, and more. Modern advancements have provided the tools and testing mechanisms to truly find out what the problem is, so why not use them? One such advancement is the use of saliva, urine, blood spot, and serum testing to determine hormonal, neurotransmitter, and adrenal imbalances.  NASA has used these 'discoveries' to determine if an astronaut is fit to travel to outer space and back.  I know we all can't fly to the moon, but for each of us it's like taking a car to the Auto Shop and having a diagnostic evaluation done.  Our vehicle to health is our body and keeping it in tip-top condition is important.  You own your body and it won't get you where you want to go, and as far as you could go, if things aren't running at optimum.

Here's some tips that you might find in your Hormone Health Owner's Manual:

Tip #1
Estrogen is like the gas pedal and there are 3 unique kinds: Estriol, Estradiol, and Estrone.  Your age, lifestyle, social history, toxin exposure, medical history, weight status, stress level, etc. can all play-in to estrogen levels.  Though Estradiol comprises around 10-20% of your levels, it alone controls 80% of the activity in your body.  If you're low, you're going to feel it.  Rapid aging, dryness,  mental fog, irritability, fatigue, and more can be related to your gas pedal malfunctioning.

Tip #2
Progesterone is the brake pedal.  It is known to calm things down a bit, keep estrogen in check, and help with sleep, bone health, and emotions.  This hormone is most often connected to PMS, infertility, fibrocystic breasts, and absent or sporadic menstrual cycles.

Tip #3
Take control of your stress.  Where there is stress (emotional, physical, mental), there is inflammation! Cortisol is the stress stabilizer and secreted to help regulate inflammation and serve as a messenger to the brain telling it the status of the conditions below.

Tip #4
Support your Adrenals.  After menopause (natural or surgical) the adrenals take the lead in hormone production.  What used to be controlled more-so by the ovaries in women and testes in men, has now become the assumed responsibility of the Adrenal Glands.  Our modern lifestyles, diet, and environment are requiring Pit Stops to assure better care of our body.  If the adrenals are taxed, so will be the person.  Adrenal Fatigue is REAL.  If you have it, you'll feel it.

Tip #5
Incorporate Nutraceuticals into your care plan.  If you're not doing a core nutrition regimen then START!
B-Complex, Magnesium, Omega Fish Oils, L-Theanine found in green tea, antioxidants, Glucosamine, Calcium, Vitamin D, etc.   Proper hormone metabolism is dependent on having the proper nutrient in the proper amount to make things function in the body better.

Tip #6
Get a hormone and adrenal assessment and stop pretending that your symptoms do not exist.  If someone tells you it's "normal" to feel a certain way, beware!! If you do not feel your normal self, then it's time for a diagnostic check-up.  Did you know that you can have a good assessment done for just $130?

Tip #7
Go to a provider that will listen.  If things don't quite seem to add up in your own mind, it might be time to consider an alternate view or opinion.  The information is out there, so do your own homework and follow your heart.

You should personally own your health.  Have you checked your owners manual to see if things are running as smoothly as possible?  I do hope so, but if not, I can provide information and an at-home testing kit to help you in these areas of your health.

To your good health,
Dr. Sonja