An Excerpt from the August 2015 issue of Dr. Brownstein’s Natural Way to Health Newsletter
In this month’s issue of Natural Way to Health, I’d like to tell you an interesting story about a patient I was very close to.
This patient was an 84-year-old female who was suffering from severe arthritis in her hips and knees. She had difficulty getting up and moving around. She was also losing her hair and exhibited nervous symptoms such as pacing for no apparent reason.
On physical exam, the patient had signs of reduced heart rate and weakness in her muscles. Lab analysis showed that she had low-normal thyroid and adrenal hormone levels, as well as elevated estrogen.
Finally, she tested low for the immune system antibodies IgG, IgA, and IgM.
After I got the tests back, I treated her with a combination of hormones including thyroid hormone, natural hydrocortisone, DHEA, pregnenolone, progesterone, and testosterone, as well as a number of vitamins and minerals.
Within two weeks, all her symptoms were better, including a significant improvement in joint discomfort.
In addition, her energy returned to youthful levels, and her hair began to grow back.
Member of My Family
Who was this patient? Her name was Trey Brownstein, our first family dog. Trey was a German Shepherd/collie mix that was about 12 years old (84 in human years) when she started exhibiting the symptoms I described. In fact, she got so ill that my wife and I
Discussed, whether we would have her put to sleep.
But Trey had been with us since before we had children, and we loved her, and she was part of our family. Needless to say, it was not an easy discussion to have.
Around that time, I had just published my first book, The Miracle of Natural Hormones, and I had been asked to go to New York City to lecture on the clinical uses of bioidentical, natural hormones. After my talk was completed, I was approached by a man from the audience.
“For more than 35 years, I have seen the exact same things you talked about in dogs, cats, and bighorn sheep,” he told me. “I’ve been diagnosing thyroid and adrenal hormone problems in animals and using natural hormonal therapies to treat them. My patients get better on these therapies, yet they want to take my license away.”
The man was Al Plechner, DVM — a veterinarian.
Dr. Plechner handed me a few articles he had written about his success using natural versions of hormones to treat dogs, cats, and, yes, bighorn sheep. (Why bighorn sheep? I was thinking the same thing!)
Dr. Plechner’s work with animals mirrored the issues I was seeing with my human patients.
And just like my patients, when Dr. Plechner rebalanced an animal’s hormonal system, its health improved.
I told Dr. Plechner about Trey, and admitted that we were thinking about putting her to sleep.
“Have you ever checked her hormone levels?” he asked.
Since then, Dr. Plechner and I have become friends, and shared much information.
When I returned home, I brought Trey to my office, where my nurse Cindy — who was a former veterinary technician — drew blood. Trey’s bloodwork showed low-normal thyroid levels, high estrogen levels, and low adrenal cortisol levels.
Those results were very similar to what I see in my own patients who have hormonal imbalances.
When I treated Trey with thyroid hormone and cortisol, all of her symptoms improved. And when I added smaller amounts of the adrenal hormones DHEA, pregnenolone, testosterone, and progesterone, along with a daily multivitamin, her health improved further.
Trey lived until she was 14-and-a-half (about 101 in human years), when we had to put her down due to failing hips.
Recently, I called Dr. Plechner about Pepper Brownstein, a Rhodesian Ridgeback mix that joined our family after Trey.
When Pepper turned 11 (77 in human years), she started to exhibit symptoms similar to those that Trey had exhibited. She had trouble getting up, and would begin her gait by limping for a bit.
She also showed signs of anxiety, like turning around in the middle of a walk and wanting to go straight home.
Dr. Plechner once again suggested that I check her hormone levels. Pepper’s tests came back a lot like Trey’s: She had low thyroid and adrenal hormones with elevated estrogen and low immune system markers.
Pepper was treated with thyroid hormone, Depo-Medrol (a steroid similar to cortisol), DHEA, pregnenolone, progesterone, and testosterone. Immediately after starting the therapy, her symptoms resolved.
Pepper will be 12 soon, and we hope to have a happy, healthy dog for years to come.
Same Problems in Humans
Every cell in the body — be it human or canine — depends on an adequate supply of hormones, such as thyroid and adrenal hormones, to repair injured tissues and to stimulate the immune system.
Without the correct balance of hormones, sick patients have a difficult time overcoming illnesses, and people in general cannot reach their optimal health.
Dr. Plechner’s 45-year experience with treating animals by balancing their hormones was a fight against a condition called atypical cortisol estrogen imbalance syndrome (ACEIS), or Plechner’s Syndrome.
Plechner’s Syndrome involves “. . . hormonal imbalances that have possibly deregulated (lowered) animal and human immune systems, and thereby have undermined their natural protection against illness and disease which has unfortunately robbed them of good health and longevity.”1
Dr. Plechner further writes, “It must also be recognized that adrenal and thyroid hormones act together in order to re-regulate the immune system and get it back into balance. Without this re-regulation, immune cells lose their regulation . . . due to elevated levels of total estrogen, and deficient or defective levels of cortisol. Immune cells not only lose their protective abilities to fight against bacteria, viruses, and fungi, but may also lose their ability to make antibodies against vaccines.”
These are the exact same problems I see in my human patients.
Because of Dr. Plechner’s work, I started checking all of my patients’ immune system functions by evaluating the markers for the antibodies IgG, IgA, IgM, and IgE. After evaluating thousands of patients, I can state with certainty that far too many people needlessly suffer with hormonal and immune system imbalances.
These imbalances are being caused by three major factors: hormone-disrupting chemicals in the environment, nutritional imbalances, and the medical use of synthetic hormones.
The good news is that once an imbalance is identified, it can be reversed using bioidentical, natural versions of our own hormones.
Beware of These Chemicals
We are facing a disaster due to the pollution of the environment with hormone-disrupting chemicals.
These substances have chemical structures that mimic our own hormones. Therefore they are able to bind to and stimulate our bodies’ hormone receptors.
Many of these chemicals mimic the structure of the sex and adrenal hormone estrogen, which can cause overstimulation of the estrogen receptors, resulting in an estrogen-dominant imbalance.
This estrogen-dominant state may be the underlying cause of — or at least a contributing factor in — the epidemics of both breast and prostate cancers.
Here are the most common hormone disrupting chemicals we face on a daily basis. It is best to avoid contact with these substances.
Bisphenol A (BPA) is found in many canned foods, because it lines the cans to prevent food from sticking. It is also found in receipts printed on thermal paper, like those found in many credit card machines.
BPA has been linked to breast and other endocrine cancers as well as problems with obesity and heart disease. More than 90 percent of Americans have BPA in their bodies.
Dioxins disrupt hormone signaling in the body. They cause disorders in both male and female hormones.
Dioxin-like products can be produced when chlorinated products are heated. One common source is the chlorinated sweetener Splenda, which is found in many consumer food products, including sodas, gum, and candy.
Phthalates are found in plastic products such as food containers, PVC pipe, and many cosmetic products. A list of phthalate-free products can be found at www.ewg.org/skindeep/.
Perchlorate is a by-product of many manufacturing processes that has been shown to contaminate much of our produce and milk. It has also been found in municipal water supplies, as well as in beer, wine, and wheat products.
One study found that perchlorate levels were elevated in nearly 70 percent of breast milk samples tested.2
Other studies have shown high perchlorate levels in both organic and nonorganic lettuce products. 3
The entire lower Colorado River is contaminated with perchlorate. Guess where the majority of U.S. citizens get their winter vegetable supplies from? Exactly: Farms that are irrigated by the lower Colorado River.
The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) detected perchlorate in 100 percent of 2,820 urine specimens tested.4
Perchlorate inhibits iodine uptake in the body. Iodine is required for estrogen balance and estrogen metabolism. Perchlorate has no therapeutic value.
Organophosphate pesticides are contained in the chemicals we use on our lawns. These chemicals interfere with hormone signaling in the body, disrupt testosterone communication, lower testosterone levels, and raise estrogen levels. They also disrupt thyroid hormone levels.
Widespread Nutritional Imbalances
NHANES is an annual research program that evaluates the nutritional levels of approximately 10,000 U.S. citizens. The first NHANES report was issued in 1971.
Every single NHANES report that looked at nutritional levels has shown a significant proportion of the U.S. population is deficient in basic nutritional areas.
For instance, iodine is required for production of all the hormones in the body. If a person does not have sufficient iodine intake, glandular tissues — including the thyroid, ovaries, uterus, testicles, breasts, prostate, and pancreas — will be negatively affected.
We are currently suffering an epidemic of problems in glandular tissues. One in seven U.S. women have breast cancer. One in three men have prostate cancer. More people are being diagnosed with thyroid cancer than ever before.
All of these issues can be traced to iodine deficiency.
NHANES has shown that the proportion of the U.S. population with moderate-to-severe iodine deficiency has increased more than 300 percent in the last 40 years.5
A 2005-2008 NHANES study found that nearly 60 percent of women of childbearing age were deficient in iodine.6
Fetuses need the mother’s supply of iodine to develop healthy glandular tissues. But NHANES found that in almost two-thirds of women, the median urinary iodine concentration (the best measure of body iodine status) of mothers was inadequate to supply enough iodine for a developing fetus.7
Our food cannot supply enough iodine to meet our needs — especially in this toxic world. For most people, supplementation levels range from 12 to 50 mg per day.
It is best to have your iodine levels checked by an iodine-knowledgeable healthcare provider before beginning supplementation.
But iodine is not the only nutrient that affects the endocrine glands. Other nutrients that are crucial for hormone functioning include B vitamins, magnesium, zinc, selenium, and chromium, as well as vitamins C and D.
Working with a knowledgeable healthcare provider can help you pinpoint which nutritional supplements would be most beneficial for your individual biochemistry.
I have written extensively about iodine in my book, Iodine: Why You Need It, Why You Can’t Live Without It.
Synthetics Block Cells
It is unbelievable to me that in the year 2015 I should still have to write about the dangers of synthetic hormones. There is no reason anyone should still use synthetic hormones when there are natural, bioidentical versions of hormones readily available.
Hormones are secreted by glands and travel through the bloodstream where they enter cells and bind to their receptors. After binding to their receptors, a chemical reaction takes place and the effect of the hormone is realized.
Synthetic hormones bind to and occupy receptors, thereby blocking the natural version of the hormone from binding.
Many synthetic hormones have been found to overstimulate the cell’s receptor, which can cause adverse effects.
Doctors have to stop prescribing synthetic hormones like Provera (which is commonly used for female hormone replacement therapy).
The Women’s Health Initiative found that the use of Provera caused a 26 percent increase in invasive breast cancer.8
Once women were told to stop using Provera, their risk of breast cancer dropped back to a normal level.
As I noted, we are experiencing an epidemic of breast cancer. And it is being caused, in large part, by doctors prescribing toxic synthetic hormones to their patients.
Unfortunately, synthetic hormones aren’t the only things we have to worry about. We are swimming in a sea of xenoestrogens — naturally occurring and synthetic substances that mimic estrogen. They are found in plastics, pesticides, animal feed, and birth control pills.
When exposed to xenoestrogens, adult male fish have a 50 percent decline in fertility.9
Take the Right Kind of Hormones
Dr. Plechner’s experience with his animal patients reflects what I have seen in my practice. If you have a pet, I encourage you to seek out a veterinary doctor who is knowledgeable about natural therapies. His book, Pets at Risk, can help guide you on the proper care for your furry housemates.
Dr. Plechner believes that if a dog, cat, or bighorn sheep’s hormones are properly balanced, that animal can live a quality life to a ripe old age. For dogs, that means into their late teens, and cats into their 20s.
I forgot to ask him how long bighorn sheep live.
Balancing hormones can have a tremendously positive effect for both men and women. I have seen fatigue, depression, brain fog, heart disease, and other symptoms improve or sometimes even be cured simply by balancing the hormonal system.
But if you are going to take hormones, it is best to use a bioidentical, natural version of the hormone.
You should also eat a healthy diet with food that is free of pesticides and synthetic hormones. That will help keep your endocrine system balanced.
The key is to educate yourself.
- Env Sci and Tech, Vol 42, No. 21, 2008.
- Env Epidemiology;17:400-7, 2007.
- Thyroid, Vol 21, No. 4, 2011.
- Thyroid, Vol 21, No. 4, 2011
- Thyroid, Vol 23, No 8, 2013.
- JAMA, Vol 288, No. 3, 2002.
- Environ Toxicol Chem, June 2004.
David Brownstein, M.D., is a board-certified family physician and one of the foremost practitioners of holistic medicine. Dr. Brownstein has lectured internationally to physicians and others about his success with nutritional therapies in his practice. His books include Drugs That Don’t Work and Natural Therapies That Do!; Iodine: Why You Need It, Why You Can’t Live Without It; Salt Your Way To Health; The Miracle of Natural Hormones; Overcoming Arthritis; Overcoming Thyroid Disorders; The Guide to a Gluten-Free Diet; B12 For Health; The Guide to a Dairy-Free Diet; and The Soy Deception. He is the medical director of the Center for Holistic Medicine in West Bloomfield, Mich., where he lives with his wife, Allison, and their two daughters, Hailey and Jessica. For more information about Dr. Brownstein, please go to www.drbrownstein.com.