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From the Townsend Letter for Doctors & Patients
July 2003
The Importance of Hormones
review by David Goldstein, MD
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The Miracle of Natural Hormones, 3rd edition
By David Brownstein, MD
Published by Medical Alternatives Press
4173 Fieldbrook
West Bloomfield, Michigan 48323 USA
Paperback, ISBN 0-9660882-0-4
232 pp. $15.00

The Miracle of Natural Hormones, 3rd Edition is a must-read for patients and practitioners alike who are interested in natural hormones. Dr. David Brownstein has published a wonderful synopsis of the benefits of natural hormones. He draws on over 10 years' experience with using natural hormones to treat a variety of illnesses including thyroid disorders, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, autoimmune disorders, menopausal symptoms and arthritis. The 3rd edition of this book has been revised and updated and contains two new chapters explaining why synthetic hormones have failed and why natural hormones should be the treatment of choice as well as new information about detoxification.

Chapter 1 gives the reader an overview of natural hormones and describes why conventional medicine has ignored their use. Dr. Brownstein makes the case that many chronic illnesses may have a hormonal imbalance as the underlying cause of the illness. He believes that it is impossible to achieve your optimal health and to treat chronic illness without balancing the hormonal system. Dr. Brownstein feels it is much more efficacious to use the natural hormones in combinations rather than using them individually. In addition, he recommends using small physiologic doses of natural hormones, not large pharmacologic doses.

The next chapter, titled "The Failure of Conventional HRT: The Women's Health Study Initiative" gives an in-depth analysis of why it is so important to use natural hormones as compared to synthetic hormones. Dr. Brownstein dissects the women's health study, which made headlines across the country. He aptly points out the negative results of the women's health study including the increased risk of breast cancer, coronary artery disease, stroke and deep vein thrombosis.
Hypothyroidism is covered in Chapter 3. Dr. Brownstein points out the limitations of relying solely on blood tests to diagnose hypothyroidism. Taking into account the patient's symptoms, the physical signs, the basal body temperatures as well as the blood tests is a more comprehensive way to diagnose a hypothyroid condition. He also takes issue with the commonly used synthetic thyroid medications, such as Synthroid or Levothroid. Dr. Brownstein feels that natural desiccated thyroid hormone is more effective. Numerous case histories are illustrated in this chapter including:

  • Fatigue and chronic fatigue immune dysfunction syndrome (CFIDS)
  • Headaches and migraine headaches
  • Infertility
  • Poor recovery from infections
  • Poor response to Levothyroxine (Synthroid and Levothroid)
  • Seizure disorders

Dr. Brownstein finishes this excellent chapter by discussing the physiology of the thyroid gland. He shows how a T4 conversion block and thyroid hormone resistance may be the reasons why the conventional blood tests miss many cases of hypothyroidism. Nutritional support and dosing of natural thyroid hormones are reviewed as well. This chapter alone makes this book worthwhile.

Chapter 4 provides an introduction to the adrenal hormones. Dr. Brownstein writes, "There is a close interaction between the adrenal glands and the thyroid gland. If there is inadequate production in one gland, there will be serious consequences for the other gland." He feels it is absolutely necessary to properly balance the entire hormonal system, not relying on single therapies.

DHEA is covered in Chapter 5. The benefits and indications for DHEA are covered here. Again, many case studies are included which illustrate the effectiveness of DHEA in treating:

  • Allergies
  • Asthma
  • Cancer
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Headaches
  • Hypertension
  • Ulcerative Colitis

As with the other chapters, Dr. Brownstein gives nutritional recommendations and dosing guidelines.

Natural Progesterone is discussed in Chapter 6. Dr. Brownstein makes it clear that Provera, the synthetic version of natural progesterone, is a dangerous drug and should never be used for any condition. Case studies illustrate the effectiveness of natural progesterone in treating:

  • Depression
  • Fibroid Tumors
  • Osteoporosis
  • PMS and menstrual irregularities

Natural progesterone is not only for women. Dr. Brownstein believes that natural progesterone is also a large part of hormone balancing in men.

Natural estrogens are the subject of Chapter 7. Dr. Brownstein describes the controversies and pitfalls with using estrogens (natural and synthetic versions). In treating osteoporosis, he feels it is very beneficial to use a combination of natural hormones, including natural testosterone, DHEA, and natural progesterone along with dietary and lifestyle improvements.

One of the most interesting parts of this book to me was the information about Natural Testosterone (Chapter 8). Dr. Brownstein's case studies point out the benefits of using natural testosterone as part of an overall hormone-balancing regimen to treat a wide variety of illnesses including:

  • Aging
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Congestive Heart Failure
  • Diabetes
  • Fatigue
  • Low Libido
  • Lupus

The case studies are compelling. He also makes the case that testosterone therapy can benefit men who have an enlarged prostate gland. This would make sense in that an enlarged prostate gland usually occurs in older men, when their testosterone levels are very low. Dr. Brownstein gives his recommendations of proper dosing for men and women as well as proper nutritional support.
Melatonin is covered next (Chapter 9). Melatonin may be appropriate for treating insomnia, cancer and jet lag. In addition, Dr. Brownstein feels that melatonin can aid in a detoxification regimen, as it is a powerful antioxidant.

Natural hydrocortisone is reviewed in Chapter 10. Natural hydrocortisone is effective at treating hypoadrenal states. Perhaps the most interesting part of this chapter was the validation of using natural hydrocortisone in animals. Dr. Brownstein describes how a veterinarian, Dr. Plechner, has been treating animals for adrenal malfunction with small amounts of hydrocortisone. Dr. Brownstein and Dr. Plechner's therapy have mirrored one another, each providing validation for the other. As Dr. Brownstein writes, "There is no better way to validate a therapy than to have it confirmed in an animal model." As a physician, I would have to agree, this information is indeed compelling and cannot be ignored.

Chapter 13 covers detoxification. Dr. Brownstein gives specific recommendations on how much and what type of water to drink, heavy metal detoxification, improving diet, sweating and flushing the liver. This section is to the point and very easy to read.

The Miracle of Natural Hormones 3rd Edition is a wonderful update and revision of Dr. Brownstein's previous book. I have found it a wonderful resource for both my patients and myself. I cannot recommend this book enough to all in search of their optimum health.

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