"Treat the disease, you win some, you lose some. Treat the patient, you always win."
~Patch Adams~

Monday, March 25, 2013


The FDA has recently approved a new drug for peri/menopausal women called Osphena.  It's an oral drug that acts like estrogen on vaginal tissue, easing symptoms of thinning of the vaginal tissue, and the dryness that often causes sex to be painful or impossible.  Here is the FDA's press release about the approval of Osphena.

This drug is a perfect example of women getting screwed over by the pharmaceutical companies.  Bioidentical estriol cream  has been used for many, many years to treat vaginal atrophy. Estriol is the weakest of the three estrogens, and in a vaginal cream (compounded) is even used in  women who have been treated for breast cancer.   But because estriol cannot be patented, the drug manufacturers don't want to hear about it (or have women hear about it).  Doesn't it make more sense that if a woman is having a problem with vaginal dryness, that you give her something to put in her vagina rather than in her mouth?  I didn't even go to medical school and it's clear to me that topical treatment, replacing what the body has lost with age, makes more sense than giving an oral medication that has unwanted side effects.  I almost choked when I read that some of the side effects of Osphena are thickening of the uterine lining (that's because mainstream medicine hasn't figured out yet that women need progesterone too!), and hot flashes/excessive sweating.  Really?  Are you kidding me?

I've taken bioidentical estriol cream vaginally (at night just before bed) for more than five years, and it works fine.  It's relatively inexpensive (I think about $60 for a two month supply), and has no side effects.  If you are having an issue with dryness and/or painful sex, talk to your doctor.

Still very few signs of spring here in NC, as in much of the country.  Usually by now I am full time into capri pants and sandals, not this year!  I had a wonderful girl's day out with a friend on Saturday, lunch and theater (we went to see the national touring company of Wicked----it was amazing!) and I wore a sweater and a shawl.  I'll be glad to see April arrive.  Have a great week!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

One in three elderly have dementia when they die

I think many if not nearly all of my readers are affected by this report in today's USA Today.  Many of us are now or have had to care for elderly parents or grandparents, and far too many of our elderly loved ones have suffered from some form of dementia or Alzheimer's disease. I have a friend who lost her husband just about a year ago from frontal temporal dementia (at the age of 63, he developed the disease in his late 50's), and it was utterly painful to watch the progression of the disease and how it affected the entire family.  I feel truly blessed that although my mother was an invalid the last few years of her life, her mind was (very) sharp until the morning she died.  I'm not sure I could have kept her at home if dementia or other cognitive impairments were an issue along with her physical frailties.

I can't say that I know that bioidentical hormone optimization is cutting my risk for developing dementia in my later years, but I feel like better health at the cellular level, as well as keeping my hormone levels optimized, exercise, and keeping my mind busy and engaged are all helping in the fight.   For those of you who are currently taking care of loved ones with dementia and cognitive issues, my thoughts are with you.  It's a very difficult thing to endure, but please try to remember to take care of yourself too.  As my doctor told me when I was taking care of my mother "you can't pour from an empty pitcher."

Happy Spring starting tomorrow! It sure won't feel like it here in NC, we have had a cold, cloudy, miserable winter.  Today is the lone seasonal day of the week, tomorrow the high here will barely reach 50 degrees, and that is nearly 12-15 degrees below average. Boo, hiss.  Make it a great week!

Friday, March 8, 2013

F.D.A. Panel Advises Against Two Medicines to Treat Hot Flashes

There have been a number of articles all over the media this week about the FDA's decision to advise against two drugs that have recently been developed for hot flashes-----one is a form of Neurontin (originally used for epilepsy) and another called Sefelsa.  Check out this story from the New York Times.

Several interesting points in the story:

  • Hot flashes are caused by a hormone deficiency. Suffering from hot flashes is not indicative of a Neurontin or a Sefelsa deficiency.

  • In paragraph seven, the article discusses the 2002 Women's Health Initiative Study.  As I have detailed in other posts, that study (which has now been largely debunked for a variety of reasons) used SYNTHETIC hormones (Premarin and Prempro) which are not hormones at all, they are drugs-----made from horse urine.  The bioidentical hormones used in bioidentical hormone replacement therapy are synthesized in a lab, but are made from plant sources and have the IDENTICAL molecular structure of the hormones that we have in our bodies that we lose when we age.  

  • Paragraph nine sums it up nicely----a doctor is quoted as saying that women are "begging for alternatives" and if there are no effective drugs available "they will get help on their own without us".  I have news for that doctor, a lot of women, me included, are already getting help without relying on mainstream/conventional medicine.  We seek out doctors who are experts in bioidentical hormones, who know that balancing our hormones is a far healthier, safer option than filling us with daily handfuls of toxic, expensive medications.  

  • Both of the drugs not approved had only "marginal effectiveness".  I was having 10-20 moderate to severe hot flashes daily before I started on the bioidentical hormones (progesterone specifically).  Three days after I started the progesterone cream, I no longer had ANY hot flashes, and that was 6 1/2 years ago.  From 20 hot flashes a day to 0 in 6 1/2 years to me indicates far more than the marginal effectiveness the drugs provide.  Oh, and check out the side effects of Neurontin, they are frightening.  
At the end of the article, there is a mention about a drug for vaginal dryness called Osphena, and that will be the subject of a separate post.  

Have a great weekend, everyone, I am off to the gym, and then heading down to the quilt show today! 

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Calcium and VItamin D

If you have looked at any news this week (paper, Internet, TV) I'm sure you have heard that the US Preventative Task Force has come out saying that calcium and Vitamin D, taken at levels of 1000 mg of calcium daily and 400 IUs Vitamin D daily do not strengthen bones.  This article from USAToday is one of many covering the subject.

I have NEVER taken calcium for bone health, even after I was diagnosed with osteopenia in 2004.  Dr. Carr (who was my physician at that time too, he was still living in NC) told me that calcium was not what strengthened bones, and in fact, could cause kidney problems (kidney stones) and cardiac problems.  He put me on Vitamin D3, along with Vitamin K (helps with absorption), and he encouraged me to start weight training (resistance exercise). Working out in the pool is good cardio but does not stress the bones enough.  Ditto for fitness walking.

The study in the media this week is, in my opinion, a joke. Calcium does not build bone. Testosterone does.   400 IUs of Vitamin D is nowhere near enough for most (if not all) people, right now I am taking 15,000 IUs of Vitamin D, and once spring really gets here and I am outdoors more, I will probably back down to 10,000 IUs of Vitamin D.  Dr. Carr likes his patients to be at levels somewhere between 70-100 ng/ml (I believe the preventative task force considers 30 ng/ml to be "adequate"), and my blood work two weeks ago showed my Vitamin D to be at 78!  I've detailed in other posts on this blog that my last DEXA scan in 2009 showed a total reversal of my osteopenia, which of course thrilled me and my doctors.  I asked Dr. Carr and Dr. Hines (my pain management doctor) about repeating the DEXA (bone density) scan, and both said that given how many radiologic studies I have had after the accident, that it's not worth subjecting me to any more radiation unnecessarily.  Even if the DEXA showed some backsliding in my bone density, they wouldn't change the treatment (resistance training, testosterone and Vitamin D).  I will never, ever take the osteoporosis drugs, and I know Dr. Carr will never prescribe them for me.  Or for anyone.

My back and hip, as I have detailed before, are still quite problematic from a long ago car accident.  I fall every couple of months, sometimes my hip just doesn't hold me up when I put weight down on it.  If I am in the middle of a stride, I go down hard on all fours.  I haven't broken anything in all those falls, usually all I have is skinned knees and/or hands, and I'm usually pretty sore for a couple days afterward.

Please check with your practitioner before making any changes to your medications/hormones/supplements, and if you have not had a Vitamin D level checked lately, insist on it at your next visit.

Cold here in NC, I'm ready for spring! Enjoy the rest of your weekend.