FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Why should I see you and not just go to a regular medical doctor?
Berkson acts as consultant to many physicians of various licenses as she continually stays current on cutting-edge protocols and science that the average doctor does not have time to do. Also, Berkson is well aware of critical nutritional protocols and food do’s and don’ts to follow while on various hormonal protocols. Due to her background as a researcher, co-formulating a bio-identical hormone patent, and being hormonally-challenged herself (from the womb onward due to exposure to a damaging hormonal medication given to her pregnant mother) Berkson is aware of emergent metabolites and co-factors that keep HRT safer and can be used in certain high-risk situations. Berkson often consults with doctors so they can recommend dosages and delivery modes to help you. Or you can choose to work with the medical teams that Berkson already has in place. Berkson consults and coaches with clients and physicians all over the world in an educational manner. Tests can be ordered from most places around the world, though not all.
Are hormones safe to take?
They are not only safe to take but even prestigious societies like the British Menopause Society are now saying that their benefits also far outweigh their risks if used strategically and individually. At the Salt Lake City MedLink Wright/Rosensweet conference on treating menopause and andropause, the hormone specialist doctors said it is actually more risky to NOT take personalized HRT than to take it. The data available now make this clear, especially for an appropriate “window of opportunity”—the first 10 years of menopause and andropause— which can protect health for many years to come, especially the health of the brain and hippocampus (part of the brain where memory, self esteem and our personal “mojo” live.)
For example, brain protection. An article published in 2002 in the Journal of the American Medical Association, a top-notch peer review journal (which means that these articles are closely reviewed by experts before being allowed to be published), is called Hormone replacement therapy and incidence of Alzheimer disease in older women: the Cache County Study. This was a prospective study (carries more weight as you watch folks move into the future over time) that followed 1357 men and 1889 women from a single county in Utah and assessed and tracked their cognition. What protected brain function the most? HRT. But you had to be on it for at least 10 years, and the women that were had a 500% lower incidence of Alzheimer’s disease.
There is a huge body of data that now shows that the YOUNGER you start BHRT (bioidentical hormone therapy) and the longer you stay on it, the greater the benefits of avoiding serious aging issues. HRT is not just for avoiding hot flashes!
Are bio-identical hormones safer?
Bio-identical hormones are the exact copy of the molecules that the human body is used to processing for much of its physiologic signaling systems. Berkson wrote in-depth in Safe Hormones, Smart Women the in’s and out’s and science of why and how bio-identical hormones are safer than synthetic versions of hormones, or compared to not taking HRT. It is the synthetic progestins that have been linked to increasing the risk of breast cancer and stroke. The natural bioidentical progesterone has been shown to do the opposite; it protects breast health as well as brain health.
Presently there is a huge study involving 17 brain trauma centers giving intravenous progesterone, but only bioidentical works in this way, to protect head trauma patients from complications and to boost healing. The name of the study is called ProTECT. Why? Because progesterone, only “bioidentical”, protects the brain. IV bioidnetical progesterone is being given to boys and girls and men and women. Yes, to both sexes! Natural progesterone protects the entire nervous system. Synthetic progestins do not.
How will BHRT protect me from aging?
In the last few years there has been a flurry of randomized controlled trials that support the use of hormones to decrease heart disease by 50% (especially in younger women, from 50-60 years of age), to increase energy, cognition, and well-being, and to decrease insomnia, anxiety, depression, fatigue, resistant weight gain, and to improve lung function—all without increasing the risk of breast cancer or stroke.
Will BHRT protect me from Alzheimer’s Disease?
One of the most exciting concepts proven by science in the last decade is the use of hormone therapy to reduce brain atrophy (shrinkage as we age), especially in the hippocampus, which is our “seat” of memory, personality, and self-esteem.
Can’t my family doc just give me hormones?
The way we take hormones— delivery mode, the dose, cycling or not, and many other factors—plays a huge role in individualizing hormone replacement that is optimal for you. Many doctors have not been prescribing hormones for the last 10 years and, now that HRT is back in vogue, many are not aware of the diverse nuances that have been coming out in the recent peer review literature. Testing, sensible monitoring and tweaking to get it all working best for you is a process that must be respected. The more we mimic Mother Nature, the less trouble we get in. This holds true most of the time, but each person enters mid-life with their own hormonal footprint and the best way to take hormones and in what dose may vary from man to woman. Many doctors are not sophisticated in all these issues. For example, when progesterone is taken orally, the first hepatic-pass creates a new metabolite (allopregnanolone), which acts like a natural Ambien and helps promote sleep, along with nerve protection against aging nervous system diseases. The topical form does not do this. Many doctors are not aware of this.
Most doctors dispense scripts but don’t talk about nutrition.
Hormones lean heavily on nutrients, which lean on digestion, and these have to be addressed to have successful and safer HRT. Some women or men may say that they tried HRT but it didn’t work for them. This may be due to intracellular deficiencies or pollutants blocking hormonal email. These are all things that Berkson has researched, written about, and used in the clinical trenches for years. When you have a consult with Berkson, she takes all these factors into consideration and helps you examine every nook and cranny of possible boons or banes of your hormone health.
I went to my endocrinologist and he told me that since I didn’t have a uterus I didn’t need progesterone and, in fact, he told me that progesterone causes cancer.
This endocrinologist is in the dark ages. Click here for a more thorough read on this issue. Doctors used to prescribe progesterone in a synthetic form to women taking estrogen therapy to protect the uterus against uterine cancer. But we now know that most synthetic forms of progesterone, called progestins, are often confused by many doctors, specialists (like this endocrinologist), and even by the Physician’s Desk Reference. It makes it really difficult for patients to get it right if no one else can. Synthetic progestins either cause cancer or speed up the growth of pre-existing cancers. Natural bio-identical progesterone does not do this. In fact it is now clear from many epidemiologic and some new randomized and prospective trials (read Safe Hormones, Smart Women) that natural progesterone polices estrogen into acting more safely (click here on Kent Holtorf MD article below).
Science now knows that there are several estrogen receptors. Receptors are proteins that take email messages from hormones and deliver them to DNA, which then “tells” the cell what to do. This is a very short summary of why hormones deliver hormonal signals to direct cells to keep you healthy. Estrogen receptors take messages from the various 30-60 estrogens inside our bodies. One of these receptors is called estrogen receptor beta (many doctors do not know this yet since it was only discovered in the later 1990s). When estrogen receptor beta gets an estrogenic message, it then signals cells in your breast, ovary, and uterus, and in other cells like your lungs and colon, and gives them messages to NOT turn into cancer cells. Signaling of estrogen receptor beta is one of nature’s ways to keep us healthy and to keep our cells from turning cancerous. The more estrogen receptor beta activity we get, the less cancer we get.our hormone health.
Berkson calls estrogen beta signaling the GOOD ESTROGEN DOMINANCE.
Estriol is THE major form of estrogen that delivers signals, mostly to estrogen receptor beta. So it makes great sense to replace with estriol when you are taking any estrogen. In other words, if you are on a pill, patch or cream, estriol should be in there. If you have contraindications, it is possible to take estriol by itself (which is now known to be safe for many cancer survivors and even those in the thick of fighting cancer, but run this by your medical team, or have me gather the data and send it to them to read about!) Other substances can also signal or turn on the protective estrogen receptor beta, so you can use foods and herbs to do this if you are not going to go the hormone route. A metabolite of testosterone also signals estrogen receptor beta.
There is a science and art to taking hormone therapy and eating a diet that keeps you safer for longer.
But many doctors, even if they know these hormonal scientific nuances, do not know the dietary or nutraceutical part, which is critical to keep HRT as safe as possible. Various nutrients have been scientifically shown to keep hormonal metabolism safer and specific foods have been shown to make hormone therapy more deadly. It behooves you to work with a team of specialists that know these areas to address so that you can be the healthiest that you can be.
I don’t have hot flashes and I can sleep so why would I want to be tested and take hormone therapy?
Hormones do much more than stop symptoms of menopause, such as hot flashes, anxiety, and sleep issues in women and fatigue, breast development, muscle waning and gut gain in men. Hormones protect nerves, keep brain shape and neuroplasticity humming so your brain keeps working, and they even help maintain mitochondrial levels (energy furnaces of cells) so you have the oomph to keep going or even to want to get out of the house at night and keep dynamically “living.”