Life Extension Magazine December 2007
The Textbook of Bio-Identical Hormones
By Dale Kiefer
For the past 27 years, Life Extension has interacted with pioneering physicians who have developed novel methods of treating chronic illnesses.
While these doctors prescribe avant-garde therapies in their daily practices, their innovations too often remain unpublished and out of the public domain, thus depriving the world of vital life-saving information.
Edward Lichten, MD, FACS, has painstakingly put into writing the many successful protocols he has discovered in his decades of clinical practice. Among the disorders covered are congestive heart failure, type II diabetes, adrenal exhaustion, migraine, insomnia, andropause, osteoporosis, fibromyalgia, and others.
The Textbook of Bio-Identical Hormones provides creative strategies for circumventing chronic illnesses that are not adequately treated by mainstream medicine. It will help enlighten both physicians and interested lay people about aggressive, but safe methods to combat the most prevalent health concerns of today’s aging population.
Dr. Lichten’s Personal Experience
Based on his extensive clinical experience, Dr. Lichten’s book not only illustrates the essential benefits of restoring hormone balance in aging men and women, but more importantly, directly tackles the controversy that surrounds hormone replacement. Unfortunately, most physicians fail to properly understand the body’s need for hormones at all stages of life, and are therefore unnecessarily reluctant to prescribe proper hormone therapy for their patients. Despite the complexity of this topic, the Textbook of Bio-Identical Hormones speaks to the reader in a friendly, conversational tone. Dr. Lichten clearly states from the very beginning of the book that, “I am compelled to write this book because of the dangerous state of confusion that exists concerning what aging women and men should do to properly balance their hormones.”
Vitamin D for Protection
The Textbook of Bio-Identical Hormones opens with an important discussion of the often overlooked yet critically important pro-hormone, vitamin D. Once believed to do little more than regulate bone health, vitamin D is a multi-functional hormone precursor that is increasingly being recognized as a crucial factor in protecting against various cancers, preserving bone integrity, bolstering the immune system, and even warding off debilitating depression.1-3
Dr. Lichten emphasizes that, “The majority of humans do not have adequate blood levels of vitamin D and maladies that occur in response to less than optimal vitamin D include insomnia, heart disease, and cancer.”
So, what does vitamin D have to do with hormone therapy? Dr. Lichten makes an interesting connection, “I am particularly concerned about women being prescribed estrogen drugs without factoring in their needs for natural progesterone, vitamin D and a healthy diet,” he states. “Vitamin D functions as a cell regulatory brake to protect against the initiation and progression of common cancers, including those of the breast. Prescribing aging women estrogen without ensuring adequate vitamin D status is analogous to driving a car without brakes,” he states.
Dr. Lichten is not alone in sounding the alarm regarding this crucial but underappreciated pro-hormone. His chapter on vitamin D is supported by the knowledge that vitamin D insufficiency, as well as outright deficiency, is rampant among men, women and children throughout the developed world, including the United States.4-6
In 2005, leading vitamin D researcher, Dr. Michael F. Holick wrote, “Vitamin D deficiency is now recognized as an epidemic in the United States.” From his laboratory at Boston University School of Medicine, Dr. Holick has been toiling for years to bring attention to the dire health implications of this looming epidemic. He warns, “In adults, vitamin D deficiency…causes a loss of matrix and minerals, thus increasing the risk of osteoporosis and fractures…There is mounting scientific evidence that implicates vitamin D deficiency with an increased risk of type I diabetes, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, hypertension, cardiovascular heart disease, and many common deadly cancers.”3
Take Charge of Your Own Body
One of the most important aspects of Dr. Lichten’s book is that it provides a road map for regaining one’s health, and ideally, for extending one’s life span. “The body can most often heal itself if supplied with the proper building blocks of vitamins, minerals, fats, and especially bioidentical hormones,” writes Dr. Lichten, “The contents of this book are aimed principally at individuals who want to take charge of their own bodies.” To that end, Dr. Lichten describes a variety of conditions and health issues and potential solutions to these problems, which may be implemented by the patient in concert with his or her physician.
Some of these conditions and their suggested treatments, such as bioidentical estrogen and progesterone for the treatment of symptoms of menopause, will likely be familiar to readers. But others may come as a revelation. In all cases, Dr. Lichten provides detailed examples from his own experience, describing the process of discovery that led him to unexpected causes, and novel treatments, for his patients’ medical complaints.
A New Approach to Diabetes
One of the most innovative chapters in the book is Dr. Lichten’s unique approach to treating men with diabetes, a disease that is presently at epidemic levels. Unlike traditional treatments, which can include insulin and other medications, Dr. Lichten believes that the key to alleviating the threat of diabetes is rebalancing a man’s hormones.
As men grow older, their testosterone levels decline dramatically.7 This phenomenon is referred to as andropause, or the male equivalent of menopause. Declining levels of testosterone are linked with many health complaints of aging men, such as erectile dysfunction, muscle wasting, and diabetes.
In his clinical practice, Dr. Lichten found that testosterone therapy provided profound benefits for men with diabetes. Replenishing testosterone levels helped to dramatically improve blood sugar control, boost energy levels, and promote wound healing in these men. For many of his patients, testosterone therapy proved even more beneficial than oral diabetic medications. While abundant medical literature supports testosterone’s role in promoting healthy blood sugar metabolism,8-10 physicians have been frustratingly slow to incorporate this approach into mainstream medical care. If you or someone you know has trouble controlling their glucose levels, this chapter will be of critical importance.
Sleep deprivation has been linked with a range of serious health issues such as heart disease, obesity, and even cancer.11 In the attempt to avert these deadly consequences, Americans now spend billions of dollars each year on sleep aids and medications. The dangerous and sometimes bizarre side effects of sleep-inducing drugs, such as daytime sleepiness and memory loss12 have left doctors and patients looking for safe and effective ways to promote healthy sleep patterns.
Dr. Lichten has developed a formula using gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) lozenges, high-dose vitamin D, and pharmaceutical-pure L-tryptophan to successfully treat countless patients plagued by chronic insomnia. He has found that when restful sleep patterns are restored and hormones are balanced to reflect a more youthful state, up to 75% of clinically reported depression is resolved.
Say Goodbye to Fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia causes many aging women (and some men) to suffer chronic and debilitating muscle pain. Conventional medicine offers little in the way of effective relief.
Dr. Lichten treats fibromyalgia by first restoring healthy sleep patterns and then identifying the anabolic hormones that are so often deficient. By combining solid nutritional therapy with optimal anabolic hormone balancing, Dr. Lichten has seen dramatic recoveries in patients who had lost all hope.
Reversing Congestive Heart Failure
Five million Americans suffer from a chronic condition in which the heart is unable to pump enough blood to oxygenate the tissues.
Mainstream cardiologists have long overlooked the critical role of nutrients like carnitine, taurine and high-dose coenzyme Q10 that heart muscle cells require to sustain their energy production.
Dr. Lichten goes beyond nutrients and has developed an aggressive program that uses individually tailored doses of anabolic and growth hormones that are so often deficient in those suffering from congestive heart failure.
In patients who were sent home to die, Dr. Lichten’s comprehensive approach has reversed the course of patients who were destined to perish from inadequate cardiac output. Many of these patients have resumed a normal quality of life.
To think that 53,000 Americans die each year from congestive heart failure, when an effective protocol was developed by Dr. Lichten many years ago is a medical travesty.
Thyroid Disease: The Unsuspected Illness
Dr. Lichten terms thyroid problems as “the unsuspected illness.” He writes, “Though thyroid dysfunction contributes to an extensive symptom list that includes cold hands, cold feet, brittle nails, hair loss, and a host of other problems, the connection to all aspects of general health makes the thyroid gland so very important.” Dr. Lichten believes that changes in the Western diet correlate with the proliferation of thyroid disease, but notes that few other health care professionals have made the connection. Even “slight variations in normal thyroid function can dramatically affect health,” he notes. This chapter, in particular, illustrates the ongoing battle over pharmaceutical industry-supported synthetics versus natural, bio-identical hormones.
In Dr. Lichten’s experience, patients are more likely to experience relief from thyroid hormone imbalances with bio-identical thyroid hormones, which contain a mix of various natural thyroid hormones, rather than synthetic drugs, which feature single hormones. He treats each patient according to his or her individual needs. In his clinical experience, bioidentical thyroid hormones appear to work best for many patients, and are also cost effective, he concludes.