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Natural Progesterone
Dr. John Lee, a medical practitioner, independent researcher and author, has for 15 years conducted independent research into a natural, plant-derived form of progesterone. His non-pharmaceutically-funded research presents a much broader understanding of a woman's hormonal options and offers a totally safe, effective alternative that is free of all side effects. He has found that this natural hormone - used in conjunction with a good diet and lifestyle changes - is capable of eliminating much of the suffering associated both with premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and menopause.
Millions of women in the Western world now use natural progesterone - generally in the form of a cream which is rubbed into the body. They claim that they not only have relief from female symptoms but experience increased vitality, better skin and renewed emotional balance. Natural progesterone seems to have been totally overlooked by medical science while the erroneous focus has been on estrogen or synthetic progestins. Considering that it is non-patentable and inexpensive, it not surprising that this is so. It is well worth having a much greater understanding and appreciation for this remarkable hormone.

Some women who take progesterone experience unpleasant PMS-like symptoms. Individuals who had significant premenstrual symptoms while they were premenopausal are more likely to be affected. Changing the type of progesterone, the dose, the route of administration and the length of treatment can lessen this effect. These symptoms, a result of temporary estrogen recepter stimulation - allowing your body to be more sensitive to naturally occuring estrogens, usually disappear after two cycles or so. You can reduce the dosage of progesterone in the meantime.

Hormone levels may need to be tested prior to hormone cream use. Your doctor should know whether testing is necessary or not. Progesterone levels are best taken approximately seven days before menstruation. Salivary testing of hormone levels may not be accurate once hormone creams are used.

The natural progesterone available in cream form at health food stores typically contains 20 to 25mg progesterone per dose. Your doctor may prescribe doses of up to 100mg or more, but 30mg per day is helpful for most women in need of supplemental progesterone. Progesterone is also available for oral use, but must be specially prepared and is more expensive than creams. A reputable researcher, Ray Peat, Ph.D. claims that progesterone dissolved in Vitamin E is far better absorbed than other types/forms.

Men also produce progesterone, but about half the amount of females. Progesterone is made in men by the adrenal glands and testes. Progesterone is the primary precursor of the adrenal cortical hormones and testosterone. Unlike in women, replacement in men should be based only upon laboratory testing or when used in a prescribed manner for specific conditions. Men can use progesterone cream continuously, not needing to cycle progesterone use like premenopausal women.

In premenopausal women, progesterone is usually used from ovulation until just prior to the commencment of menstruation. In postmenopausal women it is used continually, with some doctors recommending taking a break from estrogen and progesterone use for several days to a week each month.

Recent data on the oral administration of micronized progesterone contradicts data previously published suggesting that super-physiologic serum levels of progesterone are present after oral administration of micronized progesterone. It has been established that the earlier studies were in error, as they utilized a standard RIA assay that was inappropriate for use with an oral formulation of progesterone because the assay did not have the specificity to distinguish between progesterone metabolites and the parent compound. This is particularly misleading when a compound such as progesterone is administered orally because 95% is converted into inactive metabolites on its first pass through the liver. This methodological flaw also explains the paradox noted by several investigators that despite the apparent super-physiologic levels observed after oral administration a synchronous secretory transformation of the endometrium does not occur. In addition, the high level of metabolites seen after oral administration have been associated with pronounced sedative and hypnotic side effects. [Am J Obstet Gynecol 1988; 159: pp.1203-9]

A second area of confusion revolves around the mistaken belief that micronizing progesterone somehow makes it bioavailable. Micronization permits absorption but does not alter the extensive first-pass biotransformation of progesterone as demonstrated in the studies cited above.

Progesterone used vaginally targets the uterus and is absorbed systemically as well.

For the topical treatment of sun-damaged skin, acne wrinkles, etc., progesterone in oil and especially with vitamin E can be applied directly to the affected area. It has been used for the treatment of arthritis, tendonitis, bursitis and varicose veins. Some of the progesterone will be absorbed systemically, but the highest concentration is sustained in the local area, helping to correct the problem. Intravaginal application of progesterone cream provides higher doses where needed in cases of endometriosis, fibroids and ovarian cysts.

CAUTION: If you are using progesterone cream and think you may be pregnant, suddenly stopping could cause a miscarriage.
 

 
 

Progesterone can help with the following:
 
 
Circulation  Varicose Veins
 Topical progesterone has been reported to provide some benefit.

Hormones

  Low Progesterone or Estrogen Dominance
 Estrogens and progesterone tend to be antagonistic hormones, each balancing the other. When progesterone levels are low, it can seem as though estrogen levels are too high, which may or may not be the case.

  Hypothyroidism
 Within weeks of using adequate natural progesterone cream, symptoms of hypothyroidism, in some women, may disappear. This is because natural progesterone increases sensitivity of estrogen receptors, and can therefore redirect estrogen activity and inhibit many of unopposed estrogen's undesirable side-effects, which include interference with thyroid hormone activity.


Not recommended for:
  Progesterone Excess

Infections

  Cystitis, Bacterial Bladder Infection

Inflammation

  Bursitis
 Topical progesterone has been reported to be useful in alleviating symptoms.

  Tendonitis
 Progesterone (especially when mixed with vitamin E) has been used topically for the relief of tendonitis pain.

Musculo-Skeletal

  Osteoarthritis
 Topical progesterone has been reported to be useful in alleviating symptoms.

  Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
 Progesterone and carpal tunnel syndrome are linked through the former's diuretic action. The reason for the symptomatic numbness of carpal tunnel syndrome is that the nerve which travels from the arm to the hand passes through a narrow bony tunnel in the wrist and if the surrounding cells are swollen with water (often worse in the morning) the nerve is pinched.
Progesterone is an excellent natural diuretic, with none of the side effects of the synthetic forms. Maintaining adequate levels of progesterone is often an effective remedy.

There have been cases of too much progesterone causing carpal tunnel syndrome, so caution is advised.

  Rheumatoid Arthritis
 Topical progesterone has been reported to be useful in alleviating symptoms.

Organ Health

  Enlarged Prostate
 Males also produce progesterone, although only about half as much as females do. Progesterone prevents the body from converting testosterone to di-hydro testosterone. It does this by inhibiting the enzyme 5-alpha reductase. Progesterone inhibits 5 alpha reductase more effectively than Proscar and saw palmetto which are the more standard agents employed in traditional and natural treatments for BPH. The dose of natural progesterone for men is 10-12mg per day (5-6mg bid) applied topically. Men do NOT need to cycle like premenopausal women and can safely take the progesterone daily.

Risks

  Increased Risk of Prostate Cancer
 Dr. John Lee, M.D., has found that progesterone cream is an effective treatment for prostate cancer. He has had a series of patients with metastatic prostate cancer who went into complete remission with natural progesterone. A typical dose is 5-6mg of cream on the back of the hands twice per day.

Tumors, Benign

  Fibroids
 Though systemic progesterone use is often indicated, intravaginal application of progesterone cream may provide higher doses to the area needing it, and counter an estrogen dominance at the site.

  Ovarian Cysts
 Intravaginal application of progesterone cream provides higher doses where needed in cases of endometriosis, fibroids and ovarian cysts.

The signaling mechanism that shuts off ovulation in one ovary each cycle is the production of progesterone in the other. If sufficient natural progesterone is supplemented prior to ovulation, LH levels are inhibited and both ovaries think the other one has ovulated, so regular ovulation does not occur. This is the same effect as contraceptive pills. Similarly, the high estriol and progesterone throughout pregnancy successfully inhibit ovarian activity for nine months. Therefore, adding natural progesterone from day 10 through 26 of the cycle suppresses LH and its luteinizing effect. Thus, the ovarian cyst will not be stimulated and, in the passage of one or two such monthly cycles, will very likely shrink and disappear without further treatment.

Tumors, Malignant

  Prostate Cancer
 Dr. John Lee, M.D., has found that progesterone cream is an effective treatment for prostate cancer. He has had a series of patients who had metastatic prostate cancer and went into complete remission with natural progesterone. A typical dose is 5-6mg of cream on the back of the hands twice per day.

Uro-Genital

  Premenstrual Syndrome PMS A (Anxiety)
  Menorrhagia (Heavy Periods)
 If progesterone levels are low or estrogen levels too high, avoid unnecessary estrogen use. The presence of hot flashes, night sweats, or vaginal dryness indicate levels of estrogen may be too low. Progesterone use at higher than normal doses for a few weeks may help resolve the excessive bleeding.

  Endometrial Hyperplasia
 The addition of progesterone or resumption of ovulation (which produces progesterone) can eliminate the hyperplasia.

  Fibrocystic Breasts
 Estrogens and progesterone are sometimes considered antagonistic hormones. When too much estrogen is present in relationship to progesterone, progesterone supplementation can restore balance. Elevated levels of estrogen may need to be dealt with separately. The administration of natural progesterone for fibrocystic breasts is suggested by John Lee, MD as a protective therapy that can reduce breast tenderness and fibrocystic changes. Natural progesterone is very effective in treating fibrocystic breasts.

  Premenstrual Syndrome PMS C (Craving)
  Endometriosis
 Progesterone intravaginally can reduce the bleeding and pain associated with endometriosis.

  Menopausal Status / Issues
 Natural progesterone can protect against facial hair and male pattern baldness that some women have after menopause. It can help with other symptoms as well, including hot flashes in some women.

  Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
 Many women with PCOS have had success using progesterone cream to help produce regular periods.

  Susceptibility To Miscarriages
 Progesterone is responsible for maintaining the uterus lining which is necessary for the survival of the embryo as well as the developing fetus throughout gestation. Progesterone can be taken in different ways, but a more directed topical action can be achieved by the use of vaginal progesterone cream or suppositories. Progesterone is prescribed daily for the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. The average dosage is 50mg of progesterone twice a day, but some women will be given a stronger prescription of 100mg 2-3 times a day.

  Female Infertility
 Progesterone is an important hormone in preventing miscarriage. Without adequate progesterone, the lining of the uterus will remain rigid making pregnancy difficult to achieve. The lack of normal progesterone production by the ovaries in the second half of the menstrual cycle is called luteal phase defect. Women who have this defect are either unable to have their fertilized eggs implant in their uterine lining or, if the egg is implanted, it is so weak that miscarriage is a certain outcome.

To lessen the possibility of miscarriage, women who have a luteal phase defect use progesterone supplements after ovulation to help maximize the chance of carrying a pregnancy to full term. Progesterone supplements are also prescribed to women who are undergoing in-vitro fertilization (IVF) and other methods of assisted reproductive technology (ART). Progesterone supplements are given to women following an egg transfer in certain types of fertilization methods. Treatment for all women using progesterone supplements continues for at least fourteen days following ovulation. If pregnancy occurs in a woman who is taking progesterone supplements, her doctor may decide to continue the treatment for another 8 to 10 weeks until placental production of progesterone can carry the pregnancy successfully.

  Premenstrual Syndrome / PMDD
 Progesterone continues to be widely prescribed by clinicians and widely used by patients, but remains a controversial subject. Some doctors have observed that progesterone administered vaginally, rectally, or topically (to the skin) can relieve the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS), BUT most well-controlled studies have not found natural progesterone to be effective against PMS.


Not recommended for:
  Premenstrual Syndrome PMS D (Depression)
 In patients with PMS Type D, progesterone levels may be elevated. You should have your hormone levels checked prior to any hormone therapy: using progesterone cream may only make symptoms worse.
 
 


KEY
May do some good
Likely to help
Highly recommended
Reasonably likely to cause problems







GLOSSARY

Acne:  A chronic skin disorder due to inflammation of hair follicles and sebaceous glands (secretion glands in the skin).

Arthritis:  Inflammation of a joint, usually accompanied by pain, swelling, and stiffness, and resulting from infection, trauma, degenerative changes, metabolic disturbances, or other causes. It occurs in various forms, such as bacterial arthritis, osteoarthritis, or rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis, the most common form, is characterized by a gradual loss of cartilage and often an overgrowth of bone at the joints.

Bursitis:  The bursa is a fluid-filled pad that allows your muscles to easily slide over other muscles and bones. Bursitis occurs when this pad becomes inflamed. It usually occurs when you overuse or injure a specific joint, but it can also be caused by a bacterial infection. Symptoms include pain and inflammation around joints such as the elbow, hip, shoulder, big toe, ankle or knee.

Endometriosis:  A condition whereby endometrial tissue builds up in parts of the uterus where it does not belong or areas outside of the uterus, forming 'ectopic implants'. Unlike the normal tissue lining the uterus, ectopic tissue has no place to shed in response to a decline in estrogen and progesterone. This results in debris and blood accumulating at the site of the implant leading to inflammation, scarring and adhesions that ultimately cause symptoms and complications. Symptoms typically occur in a cyclic fashion with menstrual periods, the most common being pelvic pain and cramping before and during periods; pain during intercourse; inability to conceive; fatigue; painful urination during periods; gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea, constipation, and nausea.

Estrogen:  One of the female sex hormones produced by the ovaries.

Hormones:  Chemical substances secreted by a variety of body organs that are carried by the bloodstream and usually influence cells some distance from the source of production. Hormones signal certain enzymes to perform their functions and, in this way, regulate such body functions as blood sugar levels, insulin levels, the menstrual cycle, and growth. These can be prescription, over-the-counter, synthetic or natural agents. Examples include adrenal hormones such as corticosteroids and aldosterone; glucagon, growth hormone, insulin, testosterone, estrogens, progestins, progesterone, DHEA, melatonin, and thyroid hormones such as thyroxine and calcitonin.

Menopause:  The cessation of menstruation (usually not official until 12 months have passed without periods), occurring at the average age of 52. As commonly used, the word denotes the time of a woman's life, usually between the ages of 45 and 54, when periods cease and any symptoms of low estrogen levels persist, including hot flashes, insomnia, anxiety, mood swings, loss of libido and vaginal dryness. When these early menopausal symptoms subside, a woman becomes postmenopausal.

Metabolite:  Any product (foodstuff, intermediate, waste product) of metabolism.

Milligram:  (mg): 1/1,000 of a gram by weight.

Ovarian Cysts:  These occur in two forms, namely "functional" and "organic". may not be present but can include pressure or pain in the abdomen, problems with urine flow or pain during sexual intercourse. Rarely, a very large cyst can become twisted and stop its own blood supply, possibly causing nausea, fever or severe abdominal pain. Functional ovarian cysts form part of the normal functioning of the ovary and are always benign. They may be either "follicular cysts", produced by all menstruating women every month and reaching up to 2-3cm in diameter before they rupture at ovulation, or "corpus luteum cysts", which appear after ovulation and may grow to produce "hemorrhagic cysts" if ovulation does not occur or is delayed. Rupture of such a cyst can sometimes cause painful ovulation or bleeding, which is often moderate and resolves by itself. Organic ovarian cysts may be benign or malignant and are not linked to the functioning of the ovary. They occur as either "dermoid cysts", which are benign tumors that may nevertheless recur on either ovary and contain elements derived from the skin (hairs, sebum, teeth), or other organic cysts.

pH:  A measure of an environment's acidity or alkalinity. The more acidic the solution, the lower the pH. For example, a pH of 1 is very acidic; a pH of 7 is neutral; a pH of 14 is very alkaline.

Postmenopause:  The postmenopausal phase of a woman's life begins when 12 full months have passed since the last menstrual period and any menopausal symptoms have become milder and/or less frequent.

Premenopause:  The period when women of childbearing age experience relatively normal reproductive function (including regular periods).

Premenstrual Syndrome:  PMS consists of various physical and/or emotional symptoms that occur in the second half of the menstrual cycle, after ovulation. The symptoms begin about midcycle, are generally the most intense during the last seven days before menstruation and include: acne; backache; bloating; fatigue; headache; sore breasts; changes in sexual desire; depression; difficulty concentrating; difficulty handling stress; irritability; tearfulness.

Sedative:  Calming, quieting; drug that quiets nervous excitement.

Serum:  The cell-free fluid of the bloodstream. It appears in a test tube after the blood clots and is often used in expressions relating to the levels of certain compounds in the blood stream.

Testosterone:  The principal male sex hormone that induces and maintains the changes that take place in males at puberty. In men, the testicles continue to produce testosterone throughout life, though there is some decline with age. A naturally occurring androgenic hormone.

Topical:  Most commonly 'topical application': Administration to the skin.

Varicose Veins:  Twisted, widened veins with incompetent valves.

Vitamin E:  An essential fat-soluble vitamin. As an antioxidant, helps protect cell membranes, lipoproteins, fats and vitamin A from destructive oxidation. It helps protect red blood cells and is important for the proper function of nerves and muscles. For Vitamin E only, 1mg translates to 1 IU.