Sunday, December 30, 2007

Hormone Replacement Therapy - Part 2
Estrogen Dominance and Natural Progesterone

While many troublesome menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, mood swings, vaginal dryness, insomnia and anxiety are caused by too little estrogen, other symptoms during perimenopause and menopause can be caused by estrogen dominance. This is most often due to either too much estrogen or a reduction in progesterone. Estrogen dominance can be a problem even for younger women who experience PMS, painful menstrual cramps or long, heavy periods.

In my post of October 7, 2007, Hormone Replacement Therapy – Part 1, I focused on Estrogen Replacement Therapy. Because of the known side effects of estrogen replacement, especially its known effects on the hyper-proliferation of both breast and uterine tissue, many women suffering from menopausal symptoms are looking for a natural alternative.

As I stated in my previous post: It has long been known that estrogen (both natural and synthetic) can increase the risk of certain cancers, yet these hormones continue to be prescribed by physicians. Estrogen has a direct effect on the uterine lining and is known to increase a woman’s risk of endometrial (uterine) cancer and some pre-cancerous conditions such as atypical hyperplasia. Estrogen can also increase the risk of breast cancer because of the effect of estrogen on breast tissue as well as the development of potentially deadly blood clots.

In my previous post, I recommended the use of black cohosh, red clover, and soy which contain natural phytoestrogens which can reduce and eliminate annoying menopausal symptoms without the dangerous side effects of estrogen. Since women during perimenopause and menopause experience a reduction in both estrogen and progesterone, it seems quite natural to add natural progesterone to balance the phytoestrogens in the formula. Natural progesterone is available in creams available in health stores and as Wild Yam Root which contains diosgenin from which progesterone can be synthesized. I will not recommend any specific products, but combinations of natural herbs with both estrogenic and progesterone effects can be found in pharmacies, health product catalogs, and on the internet.

And what about estrogen dominance? In this case, we will want to use progesterone to counteract the effects of too much estrogen secretion. This is a common occurrence in both menopause and perimenopause and is responsible for extremely heavy, anemia causing periods during perimenopause and the spotting that can occur during early menopause. While synthetic progesterone such as Provera and generic version medroxyprogesterone can have serious side effects such as proliferation of breast tissue, increase in blood glucose, anxiety, weight gain, blood clots, and even cancer, women can enjoy the benefits of progesterone therapy through the use of natural progesterone cream or Wild Yam Root cream or capsules without these side effects. These products can be easily found in pharmacies, health stores and catalogs, or online.

Although there is some controversy over the effectiveness of Wild Yam Root, probably brought on by the big pharmaceutical companies, in a future post, I will describe how Wild Yam Root cured my estrogen dominance.

For an affordable health plan that encourages consumer driven health care and alternative medicine visit: Health Plans Plus.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Gift Ideas for Mental and Physical Fitness

Whether you are shopping for holiday gifts or a gift for a special occasion like a birthday or graduation, why not choose a gift that has real educational value—a gift that promotes physical and mental fitness. These gifts will be appreciated by both young and old alike.

When my daughter was in elementary school, and even before that as a preschooler, I always chose gifts that had educational value and could help develop small motor skills. My daughter developed reading readiness through colorful rhyming and rebus books. Even before we had a computer with good graphics capabilities, we chose
board games with educational value. Candy Land has always been a kid’s favorite. It may seem like a simple game, but it teaches cooperation and following directions. Other games such as I Spy Preschool Game help develop the child’s matching, reading, and social skills. Preschool puzzles and Lego blocks help to promote small motor and spatial skills. Even a doll house or play kitchen can provide hours of imaginative fun. I enjoyed my second childhood as well while playing these games with my small daughter.

Once my daughter started elementary school and we bought a more up to date computer, we spent hours playing computer games. Every game that I purchased had an educational goal in mind whether science, thinking, reading or mathematical skills. These games were both challenging and a lot of fun to play. One of our favorite games was Math Rescue which combined drill on math facts with a challenging arcade style game. We also enjoyed The Learning Company’s Super Solver series with such titles as Treasure Mountain, Treasure Cove, Midnight Rescue, and Outnumbered. We spent many hours playing these games, and not only did my daughter and I have fun while she improved her math and reading skills, but we also spent quality time together and helped to build a strong relationship which we still have today.

As my daughter got older, we continued to play these computer games adding more sophisticated titles such as Where in the World is Carmen San Diego (also available as a board game) and more advanced math games. One of our favorites was Broderbund’s Math for the Real World which has the student solve real world math problems. We continued our use of both educational computer and board games during our six years of homeschooling 7th through 12th grades. An even greater variety of quality computer game titles is available.

Today many parents want to get away from video and computer games and encourage more physical activity. A large variety of
fun physical fitness products are available. Parents can choose from inexpensive volley ball and soccer goal sets to trampolines, pogo sticks and more adventurous z-lines and rope climbing sets. Bicycle riding can be fun for all members of the family and provide a great aerobic workout. Weather permitting families can engage in outdoor lawn games such as croquet, bocce, badminton, and miniature golf.

Classic board games such as monopoly, chess, and checkers offer many hours of fun while building strategic thinking skills. Multi-game tables are popular today, and provide children and adults with a variety of games to choose from at an affordable price—all promoting small motor coordination, skill building, and physical fitness. For the more serious sports people in your household, billiards tables and supplies, ping pong tables, and air hockey tables make beautiful and well appreciated gifts and are available in a variety of price ranges.

For more gift ideas visit The Family Gamer.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

The Tragedy of the Nebraska Mall Shooting - A Commentary

At a time that should be filled with the joy and warmth of holiday shopping for friends and loved ones, 8 Nebraska families are instead facing a terrible tragedy and have lost mothers, fathers, siblings, and close friends. Our hearts and prayers go out to these families in their time of need.

Could this incident have been prevented? It is hard to say, but I have no doubt that incidents such as the Westroads Mall shooting in a suburb of Omaha, Nebraska, the Virginia Tech massacre, and the tragic school shootings could have been prevented by a combination of better mental health services affordable for all and stricter gun control legislation.

What I don't understand is that we have strict licensing laws for driving an automobile, yet licensing laws for guns are very casual. Everyone agrees that it is important to have strict motor vehicle laws. In order to get a license to drive in most states, one has to pass a written test and take a 6 hour class before being issued a learner’s permit. In order to have the right to drive, the driver must pass a vigorous road test proving that he or she can handle the motor vehicle safely. No such requirement exists for gun ownership.

Why can’t the same standards apply to gun ownership? Shouldn’t potential gun owners have to take a required safety course? Shouldn’t a license and a very strict background check be required for all firearms, not just hand guns? Shouldn’t we make it more difficult for mentally ill or former felons to purchase guns? Should dangerous assault firearms, such as the SKS assault weapon used by the mall shooter, even be sold to the public? Surely this is no hunting rifle.

Instead, the NRA (National Rifle Association) and their Republican cronies fight every piece of gun legislation that is brought before the Congress. Even the Democrats run scared and have to show that they are macho and be photographed with hunting gear. At least as a woman, Hillary Clinton won’t have to demonstrate her hunting prowess as did Senator Kerry, when he was running for President in 2004, so that he would not offend the powerful lobbying arm of the NRA.

Those of us who are for strict gun licensing are not trying to take away the guns of hunters although in my personal opinion one can certainly choose a more constructive sport than shooting innocent animals. We are only trying to regulate the ownership of guns so that mentally ill punks like the Nebraska mall or the Virginia Tech shooter can't get their hands on deadly assault rifles.

It is time to stand up and demand sensible gun legislation. Adequate mental health treatment must be made available to all who need it regardless of their ability to pay. This is an educational issue as well. People need to learn the signs of serious mental illness so that they can intervene before tragedy strikes. The shooters in the incidents above all displayed signs of serious mental illness.