(NaturalNews) Proactive is a great way to describe Lori Steiner. When other women were lining up to get hormone substitution drugs in the late 1990s, Lori realized their dangers and began researching aging and bioidentical hormones. Having worked all her life as a teacher and administrator in the Los Angeles public schools, educating herself came naturally, and she ended up creating her own anti-aging program. Because bioidentical hormones are exact copies of the hormones made naturally in the body, they cannot be patented by the drug companies, and there is no media hype to sell women and doctors on how great they are. Much of what is known about them comes from the actual experiences of pioneering women like Lori, who has used bioidenticals for the past ten years. She has agreed to share her journey and conclusions about aging and bioidentical hormones with NaturalNews readers.
Barbara: Lori, I am thrilled that you have agreed to this interview. Tell us about the time period in your life when you made the decision to attend to your health in a big way. What were the motivating factors?
Lori: My interest was initially motivated when I watched helplessly as my own parents eroded from the ravages of diabetes and Alzheimer's. Their reliance on allopathic medicine and their lack of knowledge in the areas of natural healing and nutrition were contributing factors to their suffering. I was determined to carve out a totally different path for myself and my family. It was a gradual transformation. The cumulative effect is that I have developed a life long commitment to safeguard my health and the health of my family. I began voraciously researching all the available data on vitamins, nutrition, bioidentical hormones, and supplementation. My philosophy is that mind, zest for life, spirituality, health, and lifestyle are all so inextricably intertwined that one aspect cannot function independently of the others. All areas must be addressed, and all components must be ready for acceptance before a person is able to begin the journey.
In this journey I have found that the first line of defense against aging and disease is nutrition, wholesome food, and the elimination of harmful substances that are lurking in so much of the food consumed on a daily basis by an unsuspecting public. My parents suffered so much from health issues brought on by a lack of knowledge about the impact of nutrition on well being. My father died at the age of 62 from complications of diabetes. He became blind from the disease. My mother survived on coffee and something sweet to accompany it. Her focus was never food, and that was a negative. She had colon cancer before developing Alzheimer's, and Western medicine did not have the answers to help either of them. I started to distrust doctors as I lived through the trauma with my family.
Gradually I began learning about the impact vitamins and minerals, from food primarily but also from supplements, have on health. As I began to raise my own family, nutrition became a major consideration. I believe, however, that it was when I began the transition to menopause that I escalated by efforts to protect my health in order to avoid ending up like all the horror stories I was hearing and reading about. I researched everything I could get my hands on. The message resounding loud and clear with me was "Let food be thy medicine." I watched my weight, ate balanced meals, and prayed I wouldn't suffer through menopause. Yet I knew I was changing in some strange way. I felt nervous and anxious every so often. It was then that I began to research the impact of declining hormones on emotional and physical well-being. I was also very concerned about the aging process, both the obvious outward manifestations as well as its effect on health and wellness. Being an educator and avid reader, I began to read all I could about the pros and cons of hormone replacement. At that point, I was on my way to taking full charge of my health, an action which ultimately has affected my appearance, the way I perceive myself, and the way others perceive me.
Barbara: At the time you decided on hormone replacement, hormone substitution drugs were extremely popular, and their detrimental effect on women was not yet known. What made you turn your back on this traditional form of hormone replacement and seek out someone who would prescribe bioidentical hormones?
Lori: My research convinced me, beyond a shadow of doubt, that bioidentical hormones were the way to ease the transition and that progesterone in particular helped maintain and build bone mass. I read the books of Dr. John Lee, then Harvard Medical School professor. His convincing arguments against synthetic hormones and in support of bioidenticals made tremendous sense to me. Yet with all my research, my gynecologist was of the conventional mind-set that upheld the drugs Premarin and Provera as the ultimate solution to the woes of menopause. This was ten years ago when mainstream medicine refused to recognize the efficacy of bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (bHRT). I was scolded for my thinking, and chastised that I was being foolish and irrational to refuse hormone drugs. I was warned that my heart, bones, and brain would suffer the consequences of my ill-conceived ideas.
Just as I was finding it difficult to counter the wisdom of traditional medicine, I had the opportunity to hear the wife of television celebrity Judge Wopner speak. She had suffered a coronary while on synthetic hormones, and attributed this near-death experience to the very hormones her doctor had told her would protect her heart. She warned the audience, over a decade ago, not to take synthetic hormones. This was the impetus I needed to stand my ground. I felt empowered once again and certain I had made the correct decision despite the opposition of many medical professionals. This was three years before the 2002 Women's Health Initiative that rocked traditional wisdom with evidence supporting the possibility that synthetic hormones increased the risk of breast cancer, heart disease, blood clots, and stroke in menopausal women.
Barbara: You are one of the true pioneers who have so much information to offer women contemplating these decisions today. What have you learned about bHRT along the way?
Lori: I have learned that bHRT must never be equated with hormone drug replacement (HRT), the first being a natural alternative, and the latter being a foreign element that the body rejects. If a doctor lumps these two vastly different approaches into the same category, it is time to find a different doctor. I believe that declining hormones make a person more susceptible to the ravages of the aging process across the board, from skin elasticity to disease resistance. If hormones are replaced utilizing bioidenticals so that they approach youthful, pre-menopausal levels, the results can only assist in the journey to remain as vibrant as possible through the latter stages of life. Bioidenticals coupled with a healthy attitude toward nutrition, exercise, and sleep, will make each passing year something to look forward to. With each passing year I feel mature, but I am keeping aging at bay. Aging is not something I fear and dread. A sense of control is empowering in and of itself. Confidence in one's well-researched conclusions and knowing that what feels right is right makes all the difference.
Barbara: What have you learned about the medical profession?
Lori: I have lost confidence in the vast majority of medical practitioners because their philosophy doesn't match my own. It is unfortunate that we as Americans have medical insurance coverage that that benefits us only when we see doctors who promote pharmaceuticals. The pharmaceutical industry is propelled by greed and deception. Being that I hold firm to my beliefs in the powers of nature to prevent and cure disease, I approach any appointment with a doctor of Western or allopathic medicine in a way different from the average person. I am armed with knowledge and no longer intimidated if my belief is in opposition to the doctor's. I have been able to utilize conventional physicians to get the blood tests that I want, and I keep my own records. Knowledge is so very powerful. I refuse to blindly accept the decisions of the medical community as the ultimate truth. The proponents of conventional medicine are dragging their feet when it comes to prevention of disease. My metamorphosis, though, did not happen overnight. It is a process that proves experience is the best teacher. I hope to empower others to take responsibility so their later years can be as rewarding and fulfilling as they should be.
Barbara: How would you describe your current health status, including your looks and weight?
Lori: I am above all an extremely spiritual individual. Balance is the key to wellness, and this balance involves a synergy that radiates from a healthy mind, body, and spirit. I am in excellent health at the age of 61. My weight is optimal, and I look several years younger than my age. I'm not on an ego trip, but just stating a fact for which I am very grateful. My family is all important to me. If I forsake my health, I will not be able to reap the benefit of what my husband and I have created. I plan to enjoy life as long as I can. I believe it is imperative to pursue everything in as positive a light as possible. If you enjoy whatever you do, you will never work a day in your life. That is my philosophy. I love everything I do.
Barbara: Tell us about your health regimen
Lori: My health regimen is focused on prevention, so I live to protect and preserve by life and the lives of my family members. Because my first line of defense is nutrition, I focus on that. Raw, fresh, organic produce, free-range poultry, wild fish, and whole grains are the foods I purchase. I drink water as my primary beverage, and believe in a balanced diet. I eat super foods high in anti-oxidants, like blueberries and kale, and foods high in fiber, like kidney and black beans. I remember to include the good fats like olive oil, avocado, and nuts, while excluding hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated products. I read labels and can identify ingredients that may be detrimental but have been renamed to appear innocuous. No artificial sweeteners. Safeguards include supplements which I research regularly. Exercise, adequate sleep, social interaction. I have periodic blood tests for monitoring purposes. And of course, my bioidentical hormones. I believe the merits of bHRT should be explored by both men and women who want to remain youthful in mind, body, and spirit. As of now, I believe bioidenticals will remain a lifelong commitment for me, and I will continue to be an advocate for bHRT.
Barbara: Sleep and sex seem to be the areas of greatest interest for women contemplating bioidenticals. When hormones are declining or out of balance, sleep becomes almost impossible. Sex becomes impossible too because of lack of interest and lack of physical response.
Lori: Yes, I can attest to the fact that hormones that are out of balance can make trying to sleep a nightmare. However, this was an issue for me only once in my life after the birth of my second child, when my hormones could not handle additional stress in my life. At that time, I was not aware that bioidenticals could help remedy such a situation, so I resorted to medicines that me doctor prescribed. In retrospect, how much quicker and easier a process this would have been had I known what I know today. Being that I have kept my hormones at pre-menopausal levels through menopause, I have not experienced any sleep issues since that time some 29 years ago.
As to sex, I remember when I was younger feeling bloated and sexually irritable one week out of every month. Therefore, I was not as cavalier in experimenting with hormones for the sake of reviving a rip-roaring sexual upheaval. I am pleased that I still have an interest in being sexy, looking attractive, and maintaining an interest in sex. I attribute this to not allowing testosterone to wane to the point where none of this mattered anymore. The wonderful part of bioidenticals is that they are natural and match as nearly as possible the hormones I once naturally produced. Symptomatically, one can tell if one's hormones are too low. It shows up in mood, temperament, and appearance. Although bioidenticals may not be a panacea, they most assuredly should be a part of the equation for the woman looking to age slowly and gracefully, and to hold on to feelings of peace and tranquility while still maintaining a sexual side.
Barbara What advice can you give to women thinking about bHRT?
Lori My advice to any woman contemplating bioidenticals would be to find a knowledgeable anti-aging specialist and go for it, because there is everything to gain and nothing to lose. Ignore the rantings of traditional doctors who, like a broken record, repeat that they cannot condone bioidentical hormones for lack of adequate studies to prove they are safe. There should be no fear. If we wait for more research, it may very well be too late. The time to take charge of your future is now.
Barbara is a school psychologist, a published author in the area of personal finance, a breast cancer survivor using "alternative" treatments, a born existentialist, and a student of nature and all things natural.