In The Menopause Industry: How the Medical Establishment Exploits Women, Sandra Coney recounts this sordid tale: "Warnings about the dangers of estrogen had been made sporadically for nearly 30 years. In particular, it was known that estrone, the form of estrogen in Premarin, could be associated with the development of endometrial cancer. As early as 1947," she discloses, Dr. Saul Gusberg of Columbia University "called the ready use of estrogen 'promiscuous' and warned that what was going on was a human experiment." He had observed too many estrogen users coming in for dilation and curettage (D&C) for abnormal bleeding caused by endometrial overstimulation, as well as documented cancerous and precancerous changes of the uterus.

FDA Warnings About Estrogen

With time and with more investigation of the serious problems that were occurring, the FDA finally insisted that all prescriptions be accompanied by warnings about the risk of cancer, blood clots, gallbladder disease, and other complications. When this estrogen scare reached the public, sales began to decline. Without a moment to lose, however, the American Pharmaceutical Manufacturers' Association and the public relations firm for Ayerst Pharmaceutical, Hill and Knowlton, wasted no time in producing sales strategies and an intense promotional campaign. This included articles sent out to magazines (Reader's Digest, McCall's, Ladies' Home Journal, Redbook) and 4,500 suburban newspapers in order to "preserve the identity of estrogen replacement therapy as effective, safe treatment for symptoms of the menopause."

Those with monied interests were so opposed to the FDA's plan for packaging the warning inserts that they took legal action, for "patient information would reduce sales of estrogen drugs and, therefore, reduce profits." Other organizations that joined in opposition were the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the American College of Internal Medicine, and the American Cancer Society. They claimed that "giving patients information violated the physician's right to control how much information to disclose to patients and threatened medicine's professional autonomy." Eventually the U.S. National Women's Health Network introduced a brief to the court in favor of the FDA," and the FDA won out.

Does Your Doctor Know of the Dangers of Estrogen?

Many of us don't recognize when we may have been given the wrong type of hormone. We are completely dependent upon what our medical doctors advise with respect to trying new formulations that have just come on the market. Yet, year after year, as we fail to get results from medicines developed through costly technology, we can't help but perceive the undercurrents of greed associated with products that are promoted at the sacrifice of public health. Slowly but surely, we are beginning to think twice about what's in store for us and are asking more questions that challenge the physician's monopoly of information.

What the medical establishment calls breakthroughs are often justified in the name of "consumer protection." However, we need to be mindful and learn as much as we can about what is best for our welfare. I think we should seriously consider the words of John Lee, M.D., over a decade ago concerning this frustrating situation:

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The emerging realization that estrogen should never be given unopposed, i.e., without progesterone, due to its risk of developing endometrial carcinoma makes natural progesterone a valuable addition in those cases where menopausal symptoms require treatment.... It is amazing to me that, given the extensive supporting medical references presently existing, estrogen without concomitant progesterone is still commonly prescribed.

Estrogen: 59% Increase in Breast Cancer Risk

A study reported by Graham A. Colditz, M.D., in Cancer Causes and Control showed a 59 percent increase in breast cancer risk for women who had used synthetic HRT for over five years, and an additional 35 percent risk for those fifty-five years of age and older. In conjunction with Harvard Medical School, Dr. Colditz extended his study of 121,700 nurses for a total of sixteen years. A later report published in the New England Journal of Medicine (June 15, 1995) concluded with similar figures and noted "a clear, significant increase in risk" associated with standard, long-term synthetic hormone replacement therapy.

I have personally witnessed more than one of my friends and colleagues, after twenty or thirty years on various estrogenic substances, undergoing a mastectomy of one breast and another mastectomy two years later, and within about four more years they had died. They were denied a decent quality of life in what should have been their golden years.

We must all become more informed so as to avoid a possibly tragic outcome. If you need estrogen for any reason, ask for what may prove to be a safer form, estriol. Even then, try it only after you have investigated other avenues.


The need for natural progesterone is confirmed and reiterated in numerous research papers. Progesterone has been prescribed for more than thirty years with no reported increase in cancer incidence. In fact, a "Women's Health Report" in McCall's tells of research indicating that "progesterone deficiency -- which women with PMS have -- actually increases the risk of developing breast cancer. "This article records an astute observation by Phil Alberts, M.D., who heads a PMS treatment center in Portland, Oregon, that the stress that occurs during PMS often triggers ailments that do not seem at all related to one's hormones.

Who would guess that colds, flu, asthma, allergies, epilepsy, migraine headaches, and various endocrine disorders might be connected with a severe progesterone deficiency? Dr. Alberts explains that problems such as these, seemingly unrelated to PMS or menopause, tend to manifest themselves at times when a woman's immune system is depressed. Progesterone is the real missing ingredient for increasing vitality, enhancing sexual libido, and reducing sleep disturbances.

Upon finishing my personal research, I was overcome with strong feelings about the injustices inflicted upon the thousands of women who need this information and desperately deserve to be helped. However, turning my thoughts to a more positive sort of reflection, I began to think of all the medical doctors who are looking for better and more natural ways to help women avoid PMS and menopausal symptoms.

For example, Niels H. Lauersen, M.D., says, "In my practice, hundreds of women who were severely handicapped by PMS have been completely symptom-free with progesterone." We can place further reliance on the reinforcement of progesterone when we read in Dr. John Lee's book that progesterone also seems to assume a preventive role in PMS and other conditions.

No wonder we feel gratitude for those who have introduced us to this natural treatment. We need to hear about the new findings over and over again. Otherwise, over and over again we will be enticed into trying synthetic hormones that only steer us further from homeostasis, the hormonal and metabolic balance we want to achieve.


One of the first things women ask is whether there are any adverse side effects with natural progesterone. All of my investigation says there have been no negative results -- only positive. In fact, Dr. Niels Lauersen tells us: "Progesterone is not believed to be cancer causing. No human cancer has been reported during progesterone treatment; quite the reverse, progesterone has been used in treating specific uterine cancers."

Dr. John Lee mentions that when the proper progesterone dose is determined, "because of the great safety of natural progesterone, considerable latitude is allowed." Occasionally, a slight feeling of drowsiness may indicate that you're using more than your body needs.

Not only does natural progesterone have no serious side effects, but it is a precursor of other hormones including adrenal corticosteroids, estrogen, and testosterone. Dr. Lee informs us that it participates in the ultimate formation of all the other steroids and hormones. Progesterone is beneficial in treating or preventing

  1. irregular menstrual flow; cramping
  2. bloating; depression; irritability
  3. migraine headaches; insomnia; epilepsy
  4. miscarriages; infertility; incontinence; endometriosis
  5. hot flashes; night sweats; vaginal dryness
  6. hypoglycemia; chronic fatigue syndrome; yeast infections
  7. heart palpitations and other cardiovascular disorders
  8. osteoporosis (reversible by increasing bone mass)

With progesterone, blood pressure often returns to normal, body fat is burned up for energy, and cell membrane function is safeguarded. Progesterone not only has an anti-inflammatory effect but also helps balance the cellular fluid, which protects against hypertension.

However, be especially careful if you are taking estrogen for the purpose of preventing heart disease. Epidemiologic investigations and many other studies show that estrogen has no coronary benefit and that its use increases not only the risk of cardiovascular disease but also the risk of stroke or even bleeding from a brain artery. Doctors have been giving estrogen on the basis of a study "limited to postmenopausal women free of any history of cardiovascular disease or cancer." Statistics can be easily manipulated, with mainstream medicine's focus on estrogen and its eagerness to prescribe estrogen hormone replacement therapy. As Dr. Lee says, the media have perpetuated the estrogen myth, even though the hype was built on flimsy evidence.

It should be noted that the severity of endocrine or reproductive system disorders can be affected not only by hormonal imbalance but also by poor diet, or by nerve interference within the neuromusculoskeletal system. Many doctors do not adequately address these factors or the probable underlying progesterone deficiency, which is often accompanied by an overabundance of estrogen. Instead, they rely on treatment with antidepressant drugs, aspirin, ibuprofen, other analgesics, or sleeping pills. Fortunately, a much more effective remedy is available in the form of natural progesterone cream, which offers these further benefits:

  1. protects against fibrocyst formation, especially in the breastkeeps the uterine lining healthy
  2. helping to prevent fibroids, etc.
  3. assists thyroid hormone actionnormalizes the blood-clotting mechanismrestores libido (sex drive)acts as a natural antidepressant

Adverse symptoms can begin when a woman is in her thirties or even at the onset of menses in her teen or preteen years. So it is important to be thinking about natural alternatives in the years prior to menopause. Prevention is essential for any health condition, and the sooner we look into natural sources, the sooner we can start to think, look, and feel as young as we are. After studying what natural progesterone does for the bones, the heart, and the body as a whole, we can better understand the need for it as part of a natural HRT program.

Natural Hormone Supplements

I so often hear women repeating the same thoughts I once had: "I won't take hormones. I don't believe in taking pills." That's because many people don't make the distinction between natural ingredients and most of the drugs that are continually portrayed on TV. Yes, NHRT (Natural Hormone Replacement Therapy) is in a different class, as it represents a natural replacement that the body needs; and yes, we do need to continue to resist commercial inducements to take pills, and to try to ignore the medical hype.

Concerning the need for NHRT, Dr. Betty Kamen states in her book Hormone Replacement Therapy: Yes or No? that even if you don't have menopausal symptoms and have a good diet and exercise regularly, the use of natural progesterone is still recommended to fortify one's body for today's steady diet of stress. And to be realistic, she points out, no diet is perfect anyway; and we all cheat on top of that. No matter how diligent we are in maintaining a proper diet, there are always days when we want to escape from the stresses of life, saying, "Everything will be OK. Here, have a treat -- something sweet. It will make you feel better!"

Cravings for ice cream, doughnuts, or other simple carbohydrates can be pretty powerful. When stress takes over your senses, no one has perfect control, and if you do, you are the exception. It's easy to forget in that moment that the sugar will only stress one's system more. But, while using natural progesterone does not justify such lapses, we can take some comfort in the knowledge that it helps support the adrenals and our stress glands and helps protect against hypoglycemia.

Dr. Kamen confirms my own experience as to the need for natural progesterone when she says, "Perfect lifestyles/diet may be impossible for perfectly good reasons. Don't feel guilty. Feel better! Natural progesterone could make the difference."

Natural HRT

Natural HRT has made me feel like myself again. And I truly believe it will begin to reverse whatever damage the synthetic HRT may have done to my body. Fortunately, I did take antioxidants back then (and still do) to fight any free radical damage, and I added other vitamin and mineral supplements to my daily diet to help counter what might have been toxic to my system.

It is interesting to note that progesterone, a precursor of other hormones, is so nearly perfect for our body chemistry that even its promoters can't exaggerate its importance. Without it I can testify that I felt stressed, run-down, and dependent on medical help; with it, I feel energetic, calm and, most important, free. Menopause does not have to be treated as an illness. It can be better viewed as a challenge! Once a woman establishes proper hormone balance through natural methods, she'll find she's taken a great step towards increased vitality.

It's Safe, It's Sound, It's Easy

For some practical guidance, let's look now at two principal means by which to supply natural progesterone most efficiently to the body: either oral capsules (taken by mouth) or transdermal cream (applied directly to the skin).

The most popular way to apply natural progesterone is with the cream. Dr. John Lee reports that he has been using transdermal natural progesterone in postmenopausal women since 1982 and has seen remarkable success. "Progesterone," he says, "like all gonadal steroids, is a relatively small and fat-soluble compound which is efficiently and safely absorbed transdermally. Not to use it in cases of progesterone deficiency is imprudent, to say the least. He cautions, however, that any product containing mineral oil may "prevent the progesterone from being absorbed into the skin." Furthermore, according to Dr. Raymond F. Peat, certain components of mineral oil (which is in many cosmetics) are toxic, and any that does get into the system does not metabolize.

The cream is now available in many brands and formulations and at varying strengths. Researchers have measured the levels of hormone in women who were using various wild yam creams that do not contain USP (U.S. Pharmacopeia) progesterone. While many of these creams worked well, some were found not to have much effect. However, according to Aeron LifeCycles Clinical Laboratory in San Leandro, California, most of the creams that contained USP progesterone did produce hormonal changes in most women.

Christiane Northrup, M.D., in her book Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom, also recommends natural progesterone over synthetic because it is compatible with the body and does not have the side effects (bloating, depression, etc.) produced by progestins. Dr. Peat agrees that transdermally applied progesterone is effective for most symptoms as well as for long-range maintenance. Dr. Lee points out that in the beginning stages of treatment some of the application maybe retained in the subcutaneous fat layer sometimes delaying the initial physical response. However, the longer a woman uses the cream, the greater the benefits.

During the years of menopause, I personally found the use of the transdermal progesterone cream to be adequate for my needs. As I proceeded into postmenopause, however, I felt that the micronized natural progesterone, taken orally in combination with estriol, was more effective in meeting my body's demands. During periods of excessive stress, I add the cream to my program as well, since the progesterone is a precursor of the adrenal hormones. This, in combination with daily nutritional supplements, seems to take care of all my postmenopausal problems.

References & Recommended Books:

John R. Lee, What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Menopause.

Alan R. Gaby, Preventing and Reversing Osteoporosis (Rocklin, CA: Prima Publishing, 1994), 9, 10, 21-22.

Raquel Martin, Today's Health Alternative.

Betty Kamen, Hormone Replacement Therapy

Dr. Christiane Northrup, Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom

This article was excerpted with permission from the book:

This article was excerpted from the book: The Estrogen Alternative by Raquel Martin with Judi Gerstung, D.C. The Estrogen Alternative
by Raquel Martin with Judi Gerstung, D.C.

Reprinted with permission fo the publisher: Healing Arts Press, a division of Inner Traditions International,

Click here to order this book.

Editor's Note: Where to buy progesterone cream
Due to readers' requests we have searched and found
a source of progesterone cream such as mentioned in the article.

We now sell a natural progesterone cream "Pure-gesterone
which contains natural progesterone, organic mexican wild yam,
as well as beneficial herbs.

To read more on this product
or to purchase some,
click here

About the Authors

Raquel Martin, author of the article from the book of the same name: Estrogen Alternative

Raquel Martin suffered for years after the left side of her body was temporarily paralyzed from a blood clot in her brain in the early 1970s. She went to many specialists and tried many drugs which caused further chaos in her body. Eventually she learned to do her own research and make her own decisions. She discovered the cause of her disorders and took control of her health. She has recovered, and her life is now dedicated to spreading information about the need for safe natural alternative therapies. Her other works include Today's Health Alternative & Preventing and Reversing Arthritis Naturally. Visit her website: for information on upcoming seminars.

Judi Gerstung, D.C., is a chiropractor and radiologist with special interest in the detection and prevention of osteoporosis. She lives in Colorado.