Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Book Review: Natural Hormone Balance

I finally finished Natural Hormone Balance for Women by Uzzi Reiss, M.D./O.B. Gyn. It wasn't the easiest read - somewhat technical and granular. In this book, Reiss tries to convince women to take natural hormones instead of created ones - for example, take natural progesterone instead of progestin, which is in certain birth controls pills, and the IUD I just had removed. Natural hormones are exact replicas and many are made from soybeans and wild yams. Chapter 1 says, "These plants contain unique compounds that are processed chemically and made into the identical hormones you yourself produce. However, when you eat soy or yams, your body cannot utilize the compounds as hormones." You can access these hormones through prescription or over-the-counter (Appendix A gives places to buy natural hormones).

The book examines various types of natural hormones and their positive effects on the body such as feeling of youthfulness, clear mind, improved skin complexion, less anxiety, etc. Reiss says that since natural hormones can't be patented, pharma companies aren't researching them, so there aren't really many stats on their effectiveness. His "everyone's doing it wrong" approach (my words, not his) made me skeptic. But at the same time, it makes sense. Chemicalized, synthetic hormones aren't natural and your body might reject them.

Cancer is also addressed in the book, because most people including myself question the correlation of cancer and hormones. From what I gathered from the book, if you do the right combination of natural hormones, you won't increase your chances of getting cancer. It's complicated, and this post would be too long if I explained it further.

So what does this have to do with headaches? The book actually only mentions migraines and headaches a handful of times; it's more about looking and feeling younger and how to take the hormones. But if your hormones aren't balanced, bad things can happen to your body, like headaches. So it's worth getting your hormone levels checked via blood tests, which I'm going to do as soon as I can. Then, based on the results, I'll look into taking the natural hormones needed.