Power Surge News

Issue 18


A Free E-Mail Newsletter
of the Power Surge Women's
Midlife and Menopause Community
The Power Surge Web Site
Dearest (Alice Stamm)
Founder and Facilitator

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I hope you've garnered some helpful information from the 17 previous newsletters, feel generally more enlightened about menopause, and have made educated choices as a result of information provided.

Power Surge extends warmest wishes for a joyous holiday season.



[Or, Everything You Wanted To Know About Melatonin

But Were Too Sleepy To Ask]

We've all had gazillions of questions about this new, natural hormone, Melatonin. I hope this article provides some answers.

LONDON (Reuter) - It can do everything from preventing jet lag to helping you live an extra 30 years -- or can it? Some doctors say melatonin may go the way of other miracle cures that turned out to be useless or, worse, damaging to health. A series of books extolling the virtues of the naturally produced hormone have caused a stampede to health stores, with U.S. consumers sweeping melatonin tablets from the shelves. Such passionate American espousal alarmed British regulators, who ordered it to be made available only on prescription.

Melatonin is a hormone produced naturally in the pineal gland, a pea-sized organ in the center of the brain. It works with the neurotransmitter serotonin to regulate sleep. Secreted naturally as darkness falls, it regulates fertility in animals and governs the sleep cycle. Children produce it in large quantities but production falls with age, dropping steeply in middle age. It is known to help regulate sleep in people with sleep disorders and is prescribed in Britain to help counteract jet lag. But it is the huge number of other claims that has made it a runaway best-seller. The books use the best marketing techniques of the publishing world to drive home their point.

``Stay Young the Melatonin Way'' hails it as ``the most exciting medical breakthrough of our time'' and promises it can reverse the effects of aging. `The Melatonin Miracle'' calls it ``nature's age-reversing, disease-fighting, sex-enhancing hormone.'' The authors, all doctors, say they regularly take varying doses of the hormone themselves. Their claims are based on laboratory evidence that melatonin acts as an anti-oxidant, sweeping up free radicals -- electrically charged molecules that otherwise roam the body, chemically reacting with cell walls or DNA and causing damage that can lead to cancer, heart disease and other illnesses.

Italian researchers found that mice whose drinking water had been spiked with melatonin lived 25 percent longer. Walter Pierpaoli of the Foundation for the Aged in Ancona, Italy, swapped the pineal glands of old mice with those of young mice. The young mice given the old pineal glands died early while the elderly mice with youthful glands lived longer than average. Other researchers say it is difficult to apply such findings to humans. ``It does have some free radical scavenging activity,'' said Josephine Arendt, an endocrinologist at the University of Surrey in southern England. ``But I have yet to see any evidence of this in humans.'' Arendt, who said she tested the hormone on herself before using it on humans, said other claims were not borne out. ``I have personally taken it since 1981 and I have, in the process, become old, grey, wrinkled and fat,'' she said. Arendt says there is good evidence that taking synthesised melatonin tablets helps prevent jet lag and regulate sleep patterns in some people. ``I just think it's a shame to hype it like this, and to tell people that it's going to make them live another 30 years is really, really exaggerating.'' She says the timing and amount of dose is vital and no one should take melatonin unsupervised. Arendt expressed concern about its long-term effects. ``There is no evidence at all for what it will do to pregnant women and particularly to their babies. There is good evidence to indicate it may affect puberty if given to children.'' She added: ``You should not even consider taking melatonin from any animal source.''

Most of the companies that make melatonin tablets keep its formula secret. But some scientists working with the hormone describe getting it from rats that have been whisked up in a blender, while other sources may include cattle. Children given Human Growth Hormone from corpses have developed Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD), a fatal nerve disorder that turns the brain spongy. There are fears that people can get CJD from exposure to infected brain tissue from cattle with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE or mad cow disease). There is a more natural source -- melatonin is secreted into urine at night. Those seeking a truly natural dose could follow the ancient practice of Indian yogis and drink their own urine each morning. Scientists point to the case of L-tryptophan, an amino acid popular in the 1980s for its alleged sleep-inducing properties. One bad batch of tablets distributed by Showa Denko, a small Japanese company, was linked to 35 deaths and 1,200 poisonings, and most stores took L-tryptophan off their shelves.

However, most researchers say melatonin has shown itself to be extraordinarily safe.

"We know that melatonin can be cleared from the circulation very quickly by the liver,'' said one British researcher who asked not to be identified."`The only way to kill yourself on melatonin is to suffocate on it.''


COLLEGEVILLE, Pa., Dec. 4 /PRNewswire/ -- Rhone-Poulenc Rorer Inc. (NYSE: RPR) announced today that it has launched Menorest(R) (transdermal 17-beta estradiol), a new hormone replacement therapy (HRT), in Australia, France, Spain, and the United Kingdom. To date, Menorest has been launched by RPR in seven countries. The drug obtained regulatory approvals in France on December 21, 1994 and in Australia on May 2, 1995, for the treatment of postmenopausal symptoms. Menorest was approved by regulatory authorities in the United Kingdom on April 25, 1995, for disorders due to natural or surgically induced menopause and in Spain on August 10, 1995, for the treatment of postmenopausal symptoms and the prevention of osteoporosis. "RPR is steadily and quickly making Menorest available in Europe, giving women a new option in hormone replacement therapy," said Richard Forrest, Senior Vice President, RPR Europe. The Menorest patch is designed to be comfortable, cosmetically- appealing and easy to use. It incorporates innovative matrix technology in which the adhesive functions as both the drug platform and as a means of affixing the patch to the skin. The result is a patch that is small, thin, flexible, and translucent.

To meet the specific needs of different women, Menorest is available in a variety of dosage strengths (37.5, 50 and 75 micrograms per day), delivering 17-beta estradiol into the bloodstream continuously for three to four days. This allows for blood levels of estrogen to be as close as possible to those seen in women before menopause. All of these benefits may lead to improved compliance and management of menopause symptoms with HRT. Menopause normally occurs in women around the age of 50 when blood estrogen levels fall, causing unpleasant symptoms, such as hot flashes, night sweats, and vaginal dryness. Today, it is estimated that more than 60 million women in Europe are in the menopausal age range. Noven Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Nasdaq: NOVN) is the innovator of the matrix technology used in Menorest and is committed to becoming a fully integrated pharmaceutical company capable of developing, manufacturing, and marketing pharmaceutical products which incorporate alternate drug delivery technologies. Noven is at the forefront in the development and commercialization of advanced transdermal drug delivery systems. Rhone-Poulenc Rorer Inc. is a global pharmaceutical company dedicated to improving human health. The company invested more than $600 million in research and development last year.

Rhone-Poulenc Rorer Inc.; Noven Pharmaceuticals, Inc.


So many women ask about ...

Natural Progesterone & Libido

The Female Body manufactures many types of Estrogen but only one Progesterone and Natural Progesterone is the source of Libido or Sex Drive in women.

Sources of Natural Progesterone

Natural Progesterone is produced by the corpus luteum after ovulation and balances the side effects of otherwise unopposed estrogen. Under the influences of dietary antagonists stress,anovulatory cycles, and menopause, Progesterone production ceases or is suppressed and the effects of, can be observed. Most women experience Loss of Libido, mood swings, headaches and otherwise unexplained weight gain from the lack of Progesterone that is required for proper thyroid function.

Natural Transdermal Progesterone Cream, applied topically is stored in the fatty tissues for use as required by the body and has been shown to reverse the effects of Estrogen Dominance listed below:

  • Increased Body Fat
  • Interference with Thyroid Hormone Activity
  • Depression & Headaches
  • Salt and Fluid Retention
  • Blood Sugar Irregularities
  • Reduced Oxygen in All Cells
  • Decreased Libido (Sex Drive)
  • Loss of Zinc and Retention of Copper
  • Excessive Blood Clotting
  • Increased Risk of Breast Cancer
  • Reduced Vascular Tone
  • Increased Risk of Endometrial Cancer
  • Endometriosis
  • Uterine Cramping
  • Infertility
  • Restraint of Osteoclast Function

It is also important that we distinguish from its counterparts in the drug industry - PROGESTINS. Although these drugs are commonly referred to as Progesterone, this is a misnomer. In some ways they mimic the effects of Natural Progesterone in the body, but in other important ways they gravely interfere with Natural Progesterone and can create and exacerbate hormone related health problems, and be a primary contributor to Estrogen Dominance.

Traditional treatments

These have included tranquilizers, diruetics, dietary changes, thyroid supplements, herbs, vitamins, exercise and accupuncture. While these may provide some easing of symptoms, the underlying causes remain.

Successful Treatments

Dr. Joel T. Hargrove of Vanderbilt University Medical Center has seen a 90% success rate in treating PMS with oral doses of natural progesterone. An even higher rate of success has been reported by Dr. John R. Lee, M. D., using Transdermal Natural Progesterone in his practice for more than 15 years. The difference between the methods of application is that oral progesterone requires 5-8 times the daily dose to obtain the same results of Transdermal Progesterone. Approximately 80% of oral progesterone is intercepted by the liver and conjugated by glucuronic acid for excretion in the bile. In fifteen years of clinical practice Dr. Lee has observed the consistent benefits and safety of natural progesterone therapy. He makes this statement:

"Though not completely understood, PMS, (and all of its complicating symptoms), most commonly represents an individual reaction to estrogen dominance, secondary to relative progesterone deficiency. Appropriate treatment requires correction of this hormone imbalance and the most effective technique, at present, for acheiving this is supplemental Transdermal Natural Progesterone.

Where to Order Natural Progesterone

  • Nutrition Warehouse sells FemGest™
    More information on the resources page

There are also other creams which are similar. A very good one is named Progestone-HP, made by Dixie Health Inc. and is carried by many health


Natural Progesterone, The Multiple Roles of a Remarkable Hormone, John R. Lee, MD. BLL Publishing, April, 1994
Scientific American Medicine Updated 1992, chapter 15 section X, pg 9
Lee, JR. Osteoporosis Reversal: the role of Progesterone. Intern Clin Nutr
Prior, JC. Vigna YM., Alojado N. Progesterone and the Prevention of Osteoporosis
Canadian J of Ob/Gyn & Women's Health Care 1991
Bergkvist L, Adami H-O, Persson I, Hoover R, Schairer C. The Risk of Breast Cancer after Estrogen and Estrogen-Progestin Replacement. New England
Journal of Medicine 1989; 321:293-297
Lee, JR. Osteoporosis Reversal with Transdermal Progesterone. Lancet 1990
The Simple Soybean and Your Health, Drs. Mike & Virginia Messina. Avery Publishing Group. 1994


"I'm concerned about the chance of blood clots when using The Pill or hormones. The pamphlets say that the possibility of blood clots is a major risk but do not go into any detail as to the frequency that t his happens, statistics on such occurrences, or whether or not symptoms occur before a blood clot, etc. I need more information!

Thanks, Nervous"

Dear Nervous,

The most serious complications attributable to birth control pills have been cardiovascular and circulatory system diseases. Cardiovascular disease is most likely to occur in women who are: smokers, sedentary, overweight, more than 50 years old, high blood pressure, diabetic, history of heart or vascular disease, and/or those women who have an elevated cholesterol level (Contraceptive Technology 1994). These factors are much more important in determining a woman's risk for cardiovascular disease than are the possible side effects of low-dose combined oral contraceptives (the most commonly prescribed birth control pills). These new low dose pills have much less effect on blood clotting than earlier pills, and there is much less risk for women who don't have any of the other risk factors listed above for cardiovascular disease. The estrogen in the combined pills seems to be the component capable of a cultivating blood clotting mechanisms. Although tests can help a clinician to predict who will not clot, no tests exist that can predict who will clot abnormally while taking pills. This is something you need to discuss with your provider when you have your annual exam and talk about hormones as contraceptive options. If you have any of the predisposing factors to cardiovascular disease, the combined pill may not be for you. If you don't, the risk from these pills alone is relatively small. In order to make a good decision for you as an individual, talk with your provider before s/he writes the prescription.


So many women complain of elevated cholesterol during menopause. High cholesterol should always be addressed if the corrections seem apparent.

  • Reduce weight if you're overweight. Obviously, reduce fat intake in your diet, and avoid stress whenever possible. Exercise! One cannot stress the importance of exercise enough in almost all health-related issues. These seem to be very important factors in cholesterol numbers. Bear in mind, but do not let it be a determining factor in NOT addressing high cholesterol, that many people's health is not threatened by higher cholesterol readings than the "average." In many cases, it's familial. Check with other family members as to their cholesterol readings. Also, ask your doctor for the LDL and HDL numbers. They are, oftentimes, more important than the single cholesterol reading of, say, 170 or 230. Read on about cholesterol . . .

"Do you have any information on cholesterol? -- Seeking"

"Dear Seeking,

"Cholesterol is an essential part of life; it is used to make important hormones, such as estrogen and testosterone; it is used to make bile; and it is incorporated into our cell membranes. We get cholesterol into our bloodstream either from foods or by manufacturing it ourselves. Each day your liver makes about 700 milligrams of cholesterol, and each day we eat an average of 300-500 milligrams in our food (animal products only). If your diet doesn't contain enough cholesterol, the liver makes more.

"Large scale studies have demonstrated that a person's cholesterol level can closely predict the risk for premature heart disease. Researchers hypothesize that cholesterol distribution throughout your body works like this: the liver puts together packages called lipoproteins, made of proteins, cholesterol and triglycerides (fats either made by the body or derived directly from foods).

The largest of these are called very low-density lipoprotein, or VLDL. As it circulates through the bloodstream, VLDL drops off the triglycerides to the muscle and fat cells to be used for energy or stored for later use. When VLDL drops off its triglycerides, it breaks up into smaller low-density lipoprotein, or LDL. LDL carries cholesterol throughout the system, dropping it off where it can be used for cell metabolism. Cholesterol carried by LDL that is not used, broken down by the liver, or excreted, is left to circulate in the bloodstream where it accumulates in the arterial walls. Nodules, called plaque, are eventually formed, decreasing the flow of blood over time, a condition called atherosclerosis.

"The liver makes another type of molecular package known as high-density lipoprotein, or HDL. Like the other lipoproteins, HDL is composed of protein, fats, and cholesterol, but HDL carries less cholesterol than LDL. As it circulates through the bloodstream, HDL seems to have the beneficial capacity to pick up cholesterol and bring it back to the liver for reprocessing or excretion. In simple terms, then, LDL brings cholesterol into the system, so it's often called 'bad' cholesterol; and because HDL clears cholesterol out of the system, it has been dubbed 'good' cholesterol. HDL and LDL are formed only IN THE BODY. You can't eat 'good' cholesterol; no type of cholesterol you eat is good for you."

[Dearest note: Lecithin is a natural emulsifier which absorbs the fat in our bodies. Lecithin granules can be purchased at any health food store. The granules are more effective than the tablets, and can be taken simply along with your orange juice in the morning. One heaping tablespoon is the recommended dosage].


Numerous women have come to Power Surge complaining of menopause-related migraines. Women who've never had a migraine headache in their lives are suddenly incapacitated by them. Here, then, is some information to help those of you suffering from migraines.


What is it?

A migraine headache is a recurrent, throbbing headache generally felt on one side of the head. Migraines usually begin in early childhood, adolescence, or young adult life.

What causes it?

Migraines are caused by a rapid widening and narrowing of blood vessel walls in the brain and head. This causes the pain fibers in the blood vessel wall to become irritated. Blood vessels in the scalp are often involved. The following items and events (precipitants) have been reported to cause migraine attacks:

  • Hunger
  • Cheese
  • Changes in weather
  • Nuts
  • Fatigue
  • Avocados
  • Oral contraceptives
  • Chocolate
  • Menstrual periods
  • Menopause
  • Foods cured with nitrates (e.g., hot dogs)
  • Emotional stress
  • Meat tenderizers (e.g., MSG)
  • Alcoholic beverages.

It is not known why some individuals have migraines and others do not.

What are its common symptoms?

There are many forms of migraine headaches. The classic migraine and the common migraine are the two main types:

CLASSIC MIGRAINES -- There is usually a warning (aura or prodrome) of an approaching headache attack. Eyesight may suddenly change. Bright spots or zigzag lines are seen. Many people experience double vision or temporary, partial blindness. The change in eyesight is often followed by numbness and tingling of the lips, face, hands (on one or both sides), weakness of an arm or leg, dizziness, unsteadiness in walking, drowsiness, slight confusion of thinking, and inability to speak or slurred speech. Any given person may have only one or a few of these symptoms, and they tend to occur in the same combination in each attack. The symptoms may last for 5 to 15 minutes or more. As these symptoms disappear, a throbbing headache begins on one side of the head. The severity of the headache builds. Once the headache becomes very painful, people often have nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and noise.

COMMON MIGRAINES -- A throbbing headache begins suddenly without warning of an attack. The location of the headache varies. The pain may be on both sides of the head, or it may shift from side to side. Nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and noise usually accompany the headache. Children who have migraines experience mostly common migraines and, therefore, do not have any warning. In addition to the headache, some children experience abdominal pain, which gets better after vomiting.

Is it contagious?


How long will it last?

Migraines can last from a few hours up to several days.

How is it treated?

Treatment for this problem consists of two important parts: (1) what you can do, and (2) what your health care provider can do.

What can you do?

There are many measures you can try to reduce the pain

  1. Some people find relief by applying heat to the area of the head where the pain is most severe. Apply heat in the form of a dry towel warmed in the oven or use a heating pad set on a low setting. Other people gain relief by applying an ice bag wrapped in a towel to the painful area.

  2. Lying down in a dark, quiet room at the first sign of an attack may also decrease the pain.

  3. Many people find a relaxation technique helpful when they are lying down.

    Concentrate on a soothing thought or image and take slow, deep breaths.

    [Dearest note: Try breathing into a small paper bag when in the throes of a migraine, or when you feel one coming on. The paper bag cuts down on the oxygen [organ stimulant], and increases the carbon dioxide intake during inhalation [organ relaxant]. Inhale/Exhale for about 30 seconds to one minute. It has served me well during severe headaches/migraines, as well as during anxiety ridden moments - such as holiday shopping].

  4. Record on a calendar the date of the migraine, the time it started and ended, and the amount of medication you took. Remember to bring this record with you on follow-up visits to your health care provider. It will help in your treatment.

What can your health care provider do?

Medications are needed by some individuals. Your health care provider may prescribe one or more of the following medications.

  • Analgesics -- These medications reduce the pain of a migraine.
  • Ergotamine preparations -- These medications interfere with the widening of the blood vessels in the head and decrease the pain of migraines. Note: To enable your body to use most of the medication, it is important to take the medicine at the first sign of an attack. Special arrangements are necessary for school-age children to allow them to take the needed medicine in school.

  • Other medications -- Biofeedback is another method being used successfully by some people to reduce migraine attacks and their severity. Your health care provider may refer you to a specialist in biofeedback therapy.

Can you prevent it?

Because migraine headaches may recur for years and constant use of medication can lead to serious side effects, prevention is a key aspect in the management of migraines:

  1. Pay close attention to your diet. See if a migraine can be prevented by avoiding certain foods (e.g., nuts, cheese, avocados, chocolate, bacon, ham, hot dogs, cold cuts) and tenderizers used in food preparation. If hunger precipitates a migraine, eat frequent small meals on a regular basis. Women who have migraines just prior to their menstrual period should lower the salt in their diet. This helps to decrease water retention associated with precipitating attacks. Avoid alcoholic beverages. Alcohol causes the blood vessels in the body to widen, which contributes to the pain of migraines.
  2. If stress or emotional conflict triggers the onset of a migraine, it is important to find ways to reduce the stress in your life. Regular exercise (e.g., walking, biking, swimming) and relaxation techniques (e.g., yoga, meditation) may help you. Exercise and relaxation not only reduce stress but, in addition, decrease the severity of the pain and frequency of the headaches. A trained counselor can be helpful in providing assistance to identify stresses in your life and to make suggestions to resolve the problems.
  3. A regular schedule for sleep is necessary if fatigue precipitates attacks.
  4. Fatigue may become exaggerated at times of weather change.
  5. Women with a history of migraine headaches should avoid oral contraceptives. Your health care provider can suggest alternative forms of birth control.

Common myths

It is a myth that only women get migraines. Men do suffer from migraine headaches. However, migraines occur in women about four times as often as in men. It is also a myth that all bad headaches are migraines. There are many causes for headaches. A tension headache can be as painful as a migraine. People who have head pain should have a medical evaluation.


It is important to return for your follow-up care as advised.


Call your local community center, YMCA, YWCA, or adult education program for information about classes in yoga, meditation, aerobic dance, or other exercise classes. A community mental health center can assist in an evaluation for stress and make a referral to a counselor for you.

Remember.....Notify your health care provider if you have any of the following:

  • Headaches that last longer than 2 days
  • More than 3 migraine attacks in 1 month
  • Warning symptoms of a headache that do not disappear when the headache begins
  • Marked change in the severity of the headache
  • Questions concerning the symptoms you are experiencing


    • Shamansky, S., Cecere, M. C., & Shellenberger, E. (1984). Primary Health
    • Care Handbook: Guidelines for Patient Education. Boston: Little, Brown & Co.
    • This information has been provided to you via Med Help International (a non-profit organization).




The Power Surge Newsletter disclaims any representation for the accuracy or completeness of information contained herein. The sharing of information herein is not indicative of Power Surge's personal endorsement of same. It is purely for informational purposes. Health matters should be taken up with one's personal physician. Nothing in the Power Surge Newsletters, chats, message base, bulletin boards is intended as a substitute for professional medical advice. Opinions expressed are Dearest's and the authors who contribute to Power Surge and don't reflect the opinions of America Online.

Sharing is what Power Surge is all about


Good Health!


Power Surge Bookstore

Books! Books! Books!

'Power Surge recommends Revival Soy Protein to replenish estrogen

Doctor-formulated Revival Soy Protein is the #1 doctor-recommended soy protein in the country. Soy isoflavones eliminate menopausal symptoms.

Read one of Medical Director,
Dr. Aaron Tabor's transcripts

Ask the Soy Doctor 

'For natural, bioidentical hormones, Pete Hueseman and Bellevue Pharmacy Solutions

Why put your body through the rigors of adjusting to the "one-size-fits-all" HRT when naturally compounded, bio-identical hormones can be tailor-made to your body's needs?

Read Pete Hueseman's,
most recent transcript about natural, bio identical hormones.

Ask The Pharmacist

Also, read Paul Hueseman, PharmD's transcript
on bio-identical hormones



Visit our recommendations page for tips and advice on multi-vitamins and supplements to help ease menopausal symptoms, and improve your overall health.



If you haven't already done so, why not check out our extensive Educate Your Body area. There you will be able to read articles on midlife issues, as well as answers to commonly asked questions such as:

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