Many people consider Dr. John Lee responsible for bringing natural progesterone to the public`s attention. He began using it in the late 1970s for osteoporosis and then began to discover its effects on PMS, menopausal symptoms, and more. Dr Lee has reported his findings in several articles and two books: Natural Progesterone, and What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Menopause.
Dr. Lee was interviewed in June for AIM's Monthly Audio Journal. What follows are highlights of the interview.
After I had been in practice about 20 years, I had more and more people who had osteoporosis. In 1976 and 1978, it became apparent to everybody in medicine that estrogen therapy, as we were instructed to give (for osteoporosis), not only was not working very well for their bones, but was the only known cause of cancer of the uterus.
About that time I heard Dr. Ray Peat give a talk on natural progesterone. He said, in effect, that at menopause, ovaries quit making both estrogen and progesterone. Why are you replacing only the estrogen? Mother Nature never did that; Mother Nature never anticipated that women would be on only estrogen.
Dr. Peat was telling us that this natural progesterone existed, it was available in a skin cream, it was well absorbed through the skin, it did all these wonderful things, and you could give it to people who could otherwise not take the estrogen. So in my practice, I asked women who had osteoporosis to take the natural progesterone cream, and I followed their bone mineral density tests just to see what would happen.
It turned out that in three years time the women typically gained 15 percent more bone. It wasn't just merely a delay of the osteoporosis, the bones actually became better. And in the process of following these women, I learned all the other things that progesterone did for them. They reported to me that fibercystic breasts turned back to normal. Those that had acne or hair loss, like male pattern baldness, showed me that their hair was coming back. These were things that at first I found unbelievable, and yet when I researched them in our hospital library, to find references to see if anyone had studied them, I found that, yes, they had been studied and yes, they were known effects of progesterone. It was something that I was never taught in medical school, something that my colleagues were never taught in medical school. I thought perhaps I had slept through a class or something and that I had missed it ... but no one else knew about it either. We had come and gone and no one in medical school had been taught this, and they are still not taught this.
Women and doctors are confused about PMS. They read in supposedly reputable books that PMS refers to a collection of symptoms that generally occur the 10 days before a woman's period and on into at least a portion of her period time, and that this period of time is the time that progesterone is "dominant". Therefore, PMS is due to progesterone. The mistake they make is to never measure for the progesterone. If they would, they would find that women with PMS are low in progesterone. The ovaries should be making the progesterone and they are not. These women are estrogen and cortisol dominant. (If you use natural progesterone) you will have an 85, 90, 95 percent chance of bringing your PMS symptoms under control.
There are many tests that show that if you can get people off a high animal protein diet and on to a plant-based diet, their symptoms of menopause will he cleared or made much, much less. And this is very likely due to the phytoestrogens that are in plant food. They will modify the abrupt drop of estrogen that occurs around menopause. And people who follow a diet like that sail through menopause without these other symptoms. And this is so commonly found in studies that it just boggles the mind to think that the average doctor never mentions it to his patient. The average doctor goes right to estrogen.
So a plant-based diet, exercise, a positive approach towards life ... it would be much better if [women] would go on a diet and balance their hormones with progesterone.
We live in a sea of estrogens. In the past, prior to the middle part of the century, the other estrogens were the phytoestrogens, compounds in plants that have mild estrogenic effects. And people who live in parts of the world where they customarily eat these plants will pass through menopause with hardly any symptoms whatsoever. Since the middle of this century, however, we have had very potent estrogens in our food chain and in other exposures in our daily life. And these are petrochemical residue and many of these are estrogenic. And they are extremely potent and even in very tiny amounts, they will have estrogenic effects.
When the woman has her menstrual flow, she is making essentially none or very little of either hor- mone. The estrogen starts up about eight days after her period has started. From day 12 to day 26, there is hundreds of times more progesterone than there is estrogen. So if that is missing, then you have estrogen from day 8 to day 26, you have a whole month of nothing but estrogen, that woman is estrogen dominant (Editor's note: Estrogen dominance is believed to be one of the major factors in PMS and menopausal symptoms.)
We know that progesterone gives you more energy, we know that progesterone allows you to have better sleep. We know that progesterone allows you to concentrate and focus mentally on things so that you are not affected by peripheral stimuli. We know that progesterone helps digestion of food. We know that it helps the thyroid, we know that it helps energy, we know that it helps the skin; it hydrates the skin-it is a wonderful moisturizer for the skin. We know that it is a natural diuredic. There are studies showing that estrogen is related to auto immune disorders. And now we know, with certainty, that estrogen is the promoter for breast cancer as well as endometrial cancer and in both of those cases, progesterone serves to block that.
There is a revolution underfoot. The revolution is not being driven by the doctors. There are a few [doctors] who have tried this and ... they call me up after they have tried it on patients for about a year, and they tell me, "Everything you wrote in your book, turns out to be right. I can't believe it. It is working just exactly like you said, why didn't someone teach us this in medical school?"
The revolution is being driven by the women and it struck me that there is probably no better teacher for doctors than a resourceful, assertive, intelligent woman who knows what she is talking about. And when she goes to the doctor and says, "I tried the estrogen it made me bloat, it made my breasts swell, it made me feel terrible and I couldn't concentrate"-- and a whole list of side affects that I have listed in my book on estrogen dominance -- and "I have gone on the progesterone cream, reduced my estrogen, I am so much better and I want you to follow me in this ..." This is the thing that is going to carry the revolution.
Copyright © 2003 Loren & Kathy Schiele -- All Rights Reserved