In an article titled “Which alternative treatments work?” Consumer Reports surveyed 34,000 readers on the effectiveness of alternative versus conventional treatments in 12 conditions.
The results were definitely not surprising in general, but were sad overall.
Clearly alternative is no longer alternative for a majority of problems from arthritis to neck pain, to back pain and fibromyalgia. Conventional treatments, specifically pharmaceuticals, keep falling short in the promise of improving symptoms, let alone cures. We know that, we have known that and finally the word is getting out further into the world at large. That’s the good news.
Pharmaceuticals still have some of the markets cornered on certain conditions. Interestingly, consumers believe better choices are found in pharmaceuticals when they coincide with drugs most heavily promoted by the drug industry, primarily via direct physician indoctrination. Examples are cholesterol lowering medications, antidepressants, sleep remedies and respiratory medications. Ask any primary care physician who makes up the bulk of the pharmaceutical sales reps on their office door steps?
Now, for what ails me and concerns you - hormone treatments for menopause.
Three years after the disaster of the Women’s Health Initiative, Consumer Reports has generated yet another example of a unilateral and limited survey that reminds me way too much of the Newsweek article of the summer of 2002.
Only, now the public, who has been buying over the counter herbal snake oil remedies to the tune of billions of dollars for the past 3 years is realizing they don’t work.
So why has still no one interviewed the 34,000 women about bioidentical hormones and why is the public buying the overrated, underperforming OTC stuff?
The answer? One part is the aggressive marketing by the sellers of the products and largely the lack of support and care from their totally uninformed and/or disinterested doctors.
The women have spoken and they say the Black cohosh, oil of evening primrose, Estroven and all the other fancy named over the counter menopause remedies don’t work!
That is the good news.
The bad news is that Consumer Report has not gone any further than the ill fated 2002 National Institute of Health Report. It documented that the readers surveyed believed (rightfully so) that hormones do work better for the treatment of symptoms of menopause. I know that, unfortunately, this comes neither as a shock and nor a relief.
The larger problem still looms larger than a 300 pound gorilla.
The problem is that the only hormone therapies Consumer Reports looked at and clearly knows of is synthetic HRT, the same hormones we all know increase the incidence of cancer, heart disease and blood clots. The same bad hormones studied by the Women’s Health Initiative, the hormones made of horse urine, the ones just like the ones used in birth control pills. Yes, all those horrible ones. We got it!
How many more times can we hear it?
The disappointment comes from the blatant silence and absence of bioidentical hormones as an option to be reviewed, surveyed and talked about.
You may be wondering why no progress has been made by conventional medicine and consumer publications 3 years after the demise of the NIH study and after the overwhelming success of numerous books describing the benefits of bioidentical hormones? Books like The Sexy Years- by Suzanne Somers, Diane Schwartzbein, Uzi Reiss, Christine Conrad, John Lee, Jonathan Wright and mine as well have opened the door to successful long term treatments with bioidentical hormones for thousands of women whose lives have permanently changed for the better.
The explanation gets clearer and more worrisome with each passing year and every unilaterally skewed article I read and review.
Here it is, again, for you to know and share with anyone who will hear.
Bioidentical hormones are molecularly different from synthetic hormones. They are prescription medications, unavailable over the counter. They are FDA approved and have been in use for more than 25 years. The only physicians who know about them are self taught and have done their own research to find the abundant scientific data on them (my own library houses more than 100 articles from conventional medical publications on the benefits of bioidentical hormones and their successful and safe usage since the early 1980).
The missing link can easily be found in the following piece of information.
The pharmaceutical industry does not have patents on bioidentical hormones since they are formulated to look exactly like the molecules of hormones that occur in nature. This means less money for the particular pharmaceutical company since the product made to order by the compounding pharmacy or lab can conceptually be easily duplicated.
Consumer Reports will not know about the existence of natural/bioidentical hormones or the difference between them and synthetics because of the loud noise made by pharmaceuticals about the similarity in the effectiveness of synthetics and bioidenticals, and the lack of difference between the two.
That is solely because they want you and your conventional doctor to believe the hormones are the same and the side-effects are the same. Everyone is getting it, symptoms of hormone imbalance and aging occur when you lose our hormones so replacing or supplementing them is the only way to forestall illness and make it all better. But if you chose bioidenticals over synthetics, the pharmaceutical industry cannot control where you get the hormones and what the combinations are. It is all about money, not your wellbeing.
Your physician is constantly bombarded by information provided by pharmaceutical industry representatives who sell synthetics and have no interest in your physician even knowing there is a difference between natural hormones and synthetics.
The results are sad and the article in Consumer Reports is only another example of how powerful the pharmaceutical industry is and how much work still has to be done to provide the public with honest, balanced and safe information.
You who are living proof of the results of my integrated wellness and bioidentical hormone program need to make your voices heard. Women need your help.
I am committed to you and to teaching physicians. This Fall I will begin a national campaign to educate physicians and unify the methods of treatment with bioidentical hormones so the results can be quantified and reported back to the public and the medical community.
I turn to you asking you to please spread the word. Explain the difference and do not let your friends succumb to another attack by the pharmaceutical industry that is bringing back the synthetics under the guise of being the only viable option for relief of symptoms and treatment for menopause.
We all need perspective. The most successful perspective is one that honestly integrates the use of the proper doses and combinations of bioidentical hormones with hormone friendly diet, exercise, stress management, sleep and correct supplement regimen. And there is plenty of room for conventional and alternative medicine to join hands and help you feel great all the time, safely!