Dear Pharmacist: I started bioidentical hormones thanks to you, and feel dramatically better. I can't convince my sister, who still takes a prescription estrogen drug from horse urine. What can I tell her since she won't switch medicines? -- T.W., Decatur, Ill.
Forget the horse urine if you can, the bigger problem with estrogen is its byproducts! Most doctors agree, the human body preferentially breaks down estrogen hormone into cancer-promoting byproducts (termed metabolites) instead of anti-cancer metabolites. This is more apt to happen if you tax your liver with a poor diet, household chemicals and other toxins. Your liver is always on overdrive and it has to break down the estrogen that you take, eat or make. When I say "take," I mean take as medicine; when I say "eat," I mean eat from commercial meats or drink from plastic water bottles with BPA, and when I say "make," I mean the estrogen hormone that men and women naturally produce.
As women, we make estrogen for years (or take it or eat it). Men with prostate problems can benefit from what I'm about to say, too. The goal for all of us is to create more of the safer estrogen byproducts, and less of the harmful byproducts. Here's how to do that:
Methionine This dietary supplement supports pancreatic health, so I often recommend it for people who drink alcohol. Methionine provides sulfur (not to be confused with sulfa drugs), so it acts as a cellular cleanser. We call methionine a 'methyl donor' because it literally donates methyl groups to trigger a biochemical reaction in your body that rids you of poisons and harmful estrogen byproducts. Foods that donate methyl groups include beets, broccoli, leafy greens and sunflower seeds.
Methylcobalamin This over-the-counter form of vitamin B12 reduces nerve pain and helps spark energy. It provides that "methyl" group I mentioned above, which clears poisons from your body. It's this specific "methylcobalamin" form of B12 that helps you, so read labels before purchasing. If you take a drug mugger of B12, you may need more than the dosage recommended on the label, but ask your doctor if that's OK. Antacids, some diabetes medications, certain cholesterol-binding medicines and alcohol wipe out your stash.
Calcium D-Glucarate This supplement is not the same as plain calcium. Toxins and carcinogens have to combine with water-soluble substances to leave your body, so this one combines with estrogen to help it get out. Folks with cancer often have high levels of a bad enzyme, B-glucuronidase, and low levels of a protective substance called D-glucaric acid. This is yet another benefit to taking calcium D-glucarate supplements.
Iodine Deficiency of this protective mineral is common in women with fibrocystic breast pain and breast cancer. Iodine is essential for you to produce the thyroid hormone thyroxine, plus iodine has broad antifungal and antimicrobial benefits. It helps you make safer forms of estrogen.