In the News
Dr. Alicia Stanton Quoted in Men’s Health Article on How to Have More Energy
Date posted: October 15, 2012
9 Ways to Find More Energy
Skip the Red Bull. Step away from the 5-Hour Energy. We’ll show you the smartest ways to power up when your reserves are running low
By Cindy Kuzma, Posted Date: Sep, 14, 2012
Need An Energy Fix?
This Halloween, try out a really original costume: You, dressed as a man who’s rested, refreshed, and bursting with energy. Trust us—no one will ever recognize you.
Ah, if it were only that simple. But there’s no disguising the fact that fall is the sleepy season, thanks to the effect of diminishing daylight hours on your body. As the sun sets earlier and earlier each day, your levels of sleep-inducing melatonin begin rising sooner, says John Caldwell, Ph.D., a psychologist who has researched fatigue for NASA and the U.S. military. This can make you feel drowsy well before bedtime. Add to that the usual daily dose of work stress, a less-than-perfect diet, a chronic shortage of shut-eye, and hours gazing at glowing touchscreens, and it’s a wonder you’re not facedown at your desk by noon.
If that’s the trick, here’s the treat: simple, expert-approved strategies to help you power through your day. Just try to keep your eyes open long enough to follow our list, and you’ll find the solution best suited to your type of tired.
Check out our Top Sleep Tech Gadgets  to sleep better and longer.
• Energy Drain 1
You might be paying penance for too much pinot noir—or you might just be suffering from something called sleep inertia. This grogginess and disorientation you experience upon waking—which is especially severe if your alarm has interrupted deep sleep—can be as crippling as intoxication, according to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association. That’s because your barely awake brain needs time to reboot and bring its signals back up to speed after sleep. “It will probably take you 30 to 45 minutes to shake off the grogginess,” says Caldwell.
FIGHT IT: Drink cold water
Chugging ice water and splashing it on your face can speed the transition from comatose to conscious. “Cold triggers the stimulating hormone adrenaline,” says internist Jacob Teitelbaum, M.D., the author of From Fatigued to Fantastic! This helps your heart pump stronger, boosting bloodflow to your brain. Another benefit: Drinking water revives shriveled cells after hours of sleep-induced dehydration, which is known to cause tiredness. (For more ways to beat fatigue, see how you can Have Energy All Day Long .)
• Energy Drain 2
Your body responds to serious work and relationship stress the same way it would to a grizzly attac—by cranking out the fight-or-flight hormone cortisol. “This raises energy levels initially, but your body can’t keep up with the cortisol demand,” says integrative physician Alicia Stanton, M.D., the author of Hormone Harmony. The effect: Your cortisol plummets—and you tank just when you need to be on top of your game.
FIGHT IT: Drink green tea
Don’t drain the coffeepot. The megadose of caffeine will only leave you anxious and jittery, says nutritionist Jonny Bowden, Ph.D., C.N.S., author of The 150 Most Effective Ways to Boost Your Energy. Green tea, however, has just enough caffeine to boost production of the hormone adrenocorticotropin, which triggers the release of cortisol. It also contains EGCG, a flavonoid that promotes focus and calmness, Australian scientists say. To achieve Don Draper smoothness, grab a glass about 90 minutes before you need it to kick in. “Green tea takes longer to hit than coffee does,” says Bowden.
• Energy Drain 3
There’s a reason your eyelids feel like they have anvils on them. “Your body is not a machine,” says Matthew Edlund, M.D., director of the Center for Circadian Medicine in Florida and author of The Power of Rest. “It’s an organism that’s being continuously renewed and rebuilt.” Much of this regeneration, including growth of new heart and brain cells, takes place during sleep. If you consistently log less than you need, your body becomes increasingly insistent that you pay off your sleep debt, says Caldwell. Add to that the monotony of staring at spreadsheets, and the need for z’s becomes curl-up-under-your-desk urgent.
FIGHT IT: Take a b.s. break
Can’t catnap in your car? Go visit your office buddy. In one of Caldwell’s NASA studies, sleep-deprived participants acted more alert after taking a 7-minute break to chat. The simple act of ungluing your rear from your chair helps too: In a recent study from the Aeromedical Research Laboratory, fatigued folks performed better on an alertness test when they took it standing instead of sitting.
• Energy Drain 4
How was breakfast? “Your morning meal sets the stage for the way your blood sugar behaves the rest of the day,” says Dr. Stanton. If you skip it entirely, you deprive your brain and muscles of energizing glucose. Or if you grab a refined-carbohydrate meal, like a bagel, you’ll experience a brief sugar spike but then inevitably crash. When insulin rushes in, it helps clear sugar, but it also sends a signal to your adrenal glands to stop producing cortisol properly, says endocrinologist Eva Cwynar, M.D., author of The Fatigue Solution. This can trigger a wave of exhaustion known as “adrenal fatigue.”
FIGHT IT: Munch on protein
Grab a snack with at least 10 grams of protein—two hard-boiled eggs, say—to produce a steady rise in blood sugar and energy levels, counteracting a postcarb crash. “Protein causes a peptide called CCK to be released in your gut. It satiates you and stabilizes your cortisol and insulin levels for hours,” says Dr. Cwynar. Even if you ate a solid breakfast, a shot of protein can still help you power through the morning. Need more proof? Here’s The Truth about Protein .
• Energy Drain 5
Your feeling of exhaustion may be all in your head. In a recent Welsh study, cyclists who felt mentally fatigued stopped pushing themselves sooner than those who felt refreshed did, even though both groups’ cardiovascular and muscular responses to exercise were the same. Brain drain may increase activity in the anterior cingulate cortex, an area of your brain in which motivation, emotion, and perception of physical effort converge, the researchers say.
FIGHT IT: Cue up your iPod
Cranking LMFAO does more than just motivate you; it can also boost your exercise performance. “People listening to music can run about 15 percent longer,” Dr. Edlund says. The benefit extends beyond endurance: A recent study from California State University at Fullerton found that people who listened to tunes they liked performed squat jumps more quickly and forcefully. Use the PaceDJ app ($2, pacedj.com) to create a cardio mix of songs with tempos that range from 125 to 140 beats a minute. Then, when you lift, switch to a motivating playlist.
• Energy Drain 6
You were tearing through your to-do list before lunch, but now you can barely move your mouse. That’s because you’ve become mired in the circadian trough—also known as the afternoon slump—which typically strikes somewhere between 1 and 3 p.m. “Your levels of cortisol (the get-up-and-go hormone) are high in the morning but then drop in the afternoon,” says Bowden. Also at play are your levels of melatonin, the sleep hormone, which begin to rise around this time.
FIGHT IT: Bask in the light
To stay out of the trough, join the blues brothers. In a 2011 Swiss study, men who parked themselves in the glow of bulbs that emitted blue light produced less sleep-inducing melatonin. Purchase a compact fluorescent bulb marked “6500K”—an indication of cool light, which includes blue waves—and install it in one of your desk lamps. Turn the lamp on around lunch-time, and leave it shining until 5 p.m. “This will stabilize your circadian rhythms and even improve your sleep later on,” says study author Christian Cajochen, Ph.D.
• Energy Drain 7
Don’t stop at a java joint on your way to the bar. Combining alcohol and caffeine can increase risk-taking behavior possibly because the latter blunts the depressant effect of the former, according to a Cedars Sinai Medical Center review. Plus, the stimulating effect of caffeine may mask the feeling of being drunk. Mixing the two could reduce your ability to gauge your own intoxication, making you more likely to overdo it. When the energizing effects wear off, you’ll be sloshed and sleep deprived—a potentially lethal combination, says Dr. Edlund.
FIGHT IT: Take a power nap
Head, meet pillow. Just make sure you set your alarm: A 2011 study from Ireland showed that when you doze late in the day, you’re more likely to descend into slow-wave sleep, which if interrupted can bring on sleep inertia (see Energy Drain 1). So limit your nap to 10 to 20 minutes. Recent Australian research found that this interval is brief enough to keep you out of the slow-wave zone while still allowing sufficient time for the sleep to work its magic. (You’re resting body doesn’t lie. See what the 6 most common sleep positions say about you .)
• Energy Drain 8
While you may think you’re a free man, you’re really a slave to your circadian rhythms. See, your body is going to command you to start winding down about an hour before your regular bedtime. “You’re tired because your cortisol drops. It’s meant to be low so you can fall asleep and your brain can recover for the next day,” Dr. Cwynar explains. This is an instance when you’re supposed to feel tired—which means you need a big-time boost.
FIGHT IT: Chew gum
Caffeinated gum is what the U.S. Army hands out to its combat soldiers, so it should be more than sufficient for your duties as wingman or DD. For a boost that lasts 3 to 4 hours, says Caldwell, go with gum that has 100 to 200 milligrams of caffeine, such as Stay Alert Caffeine Energy Gum ($8/six-pack, stayalertgum.com). Gum is an even more efficient caffeine delivery system than coffee: “You release all the caffeine in about a minute,” Caldwell says. “It’s rapidly absorbed into your bloodstream through the blood vessels in your mouth and throat.”
• Energy Drain 9
Your body is swimming in hormones—except it’s low tide for testosterone. Your T levels peak in the morning (the reason for your morning erection) and then significantly drop in the evening, says Scott Isaacs, M.D., an Emory University endocrinologist. This hormonal decline can cause your sex drive to take a nosedive, he says. What’s more, it can affect your overall stamina: “Testosterone is one of the most potent energy boosters men have,” notes Dr. Cwynar.
FIGHT IT: Hit the gym
Lift iron to raise wood. “Men who work out regularly have higher testosterone and better performance in bed,” says Dr. Isaacs. A higher baseline level of the hormone means the nighttime slump will be less pronounced—and less likely to impact your sex life. Your T rises after just one workout, so exercise in the evening before a hot date. Keep it to about 30 minutes of weights or an hour of weights and cardio; going longer or doing only aerobic exercise may blunt your testosterone response, a 2012 study from Spain found. (For a quick workout to do during your lunch break, hit the gym with Men’s Health Speed Shred . The metabolic workouts will surely wake your body up!)
Dr. Stanton Featured in Delicious Living for Article on Natural Ways to Regulate Your Menstrual Cycle
Date posted: October 1, 2012
Natural Ways to Regulate Your Menstrual Cycle
Delicious Living, October 2012
By Laurie Budgar
Whether you’re experiencing heavy, frequent bleeding or light, infrequent periods, we explain the top reasons your cycle may be off and offer expert-recommended natural ways to get it back on track.
Forget what the school nurse told you back in fifth grade—hardly anyone has a menstrual cycle that lasts exactly 28 days. There’s wide variation among women, says Marcelle Pick, an ob-gyn nurse practitioner and cofounder of the Yarmouth, Maine-based Women to Women holistic health program. What’s important is when your normal shifts. Even then, an occasional irregular cycle is nothing to worry about, she says.
But hormonal shifts that produce significant and frequent cycle disruption are signals to pay closer attention. “Healthy menstruation is an indication of a healthy state of mind and a healthy body,” says Bobby Clennell, author of The Woman’s Yoga Book (Rodmell, 2007).
Balance is key, says Alicia Stanton, MD, an integrative physician and coauthor of Hormone Harmony (Healthy Life Library, 2009). At the beginning of your cycle, estrogen helps the egg develop; the ovulated egg then forms the corpus luteum cyst, which makes progesterone. Estrogen helps thicken the uterine lining; progesterone stops growth and stabilizes the lining for embryo implantation, she explains. If you don’t get pregnant, progesterone declines sharply and the lining sloughs off during the next few days. Or at least that’s the way it’s supposed to work. When it doesn’t, a few common causes are prime suspects.
Symptom: Heavy, frequent bleeding.
If your period suddenly starts coming more frequently for a few cycles in a row (say, every 20 days instead of your usual 28), or lasting longer (say, six days instead of three), or brings abnormally heavy bleeding that prevents you from doing your usual activities, it’s often a sign that your body is not producing enough progesterone to balance estrogen, Stanton says. So the lining keeps thickening until it breaks off and repeatedly sheds in fragmented pieces, she explains.
- Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). About 1 in 15 women has PCOS, a hormone-imbalance condition associated with insulin resistance. In PCOS, egg follicles form but they don’t release, leading to insufficient progesterone and sometimes heavy bleeding, Stanton explains. Even if you don’t have PCOS or insulin resistance, it’s important to shed excess weight. “Women who have a lot of belly fat have a lot of estrogen,” she says.
- Perimenopause. The earliest menopause signs—including hormone imbalance and failure to ovulate—can start in your late 30s and lead to heavy bleeding, says Pick. Chronic stress worsens the imbalance, because the adrenal glands direct cortisol production toward stress response instead of using cortisol as a building block for progesterone.
- A health condition or infection. Structural problems, such as endometriosis, uterine polyps and fibroids; low thyroid function; prolonged antibiotic use; and even infections like chlamydia and gonorrhea can lead to irregular, heavier periods.
- Reduce body fat through diet and exercise.
- Manage stress. Try meditation or a gratitude journal. “You can’t feel gratitude and stress at the same time,” Stanton says.
- Consider vitex or black cohosh supplements. Or, if you prefer an Eastern approach, consult an acupuncturist for treatment, which may include traditional Chinese “blood-moving” herbs.
- Apply warm castor oil. To stabilize flow, moisten a flannel pack (available at natural products stores; a folded, old T-shirt will do in a pinch) with warmed castor oil; place oil-side down on your lower abdomen with a hot-water bottle on top; cover with a towel. Do this daily for an hour (but not during your period) for a few months; then gradually reduce frequency to twice a month. Your period might initially become heavier or more painful, but that’s just stagnation clearing from the uterus, says Claudia Welch, author of Balance Your Hormones, Balance Your Life (Da Capo, 2011).
- Try yoga. Before your period, do supported versions of standing poses like triangle and half-moon to create space and ease in the pelvic region, suggests Clennell. During your period, restorative yoga postures such as reclining bound-ankle pose can restore energy and relax abdominal organs. The rest of the month, practice seated postures, such as seated wide- angle pose, to tone reproductive organs and relieve abdominal tension; and inversions, such as standing forward bends and supported head or shoulder stand, to stabilize hormonal output and regulate flow.
Symptom: Light, infrequent periods.
If your period comes infrequently, gets very light, or seems to stop altogether—and you’re not yet menopausal—stress of some sort is likely a primary factor.
- Low hormone levels. Intense exercisers often have very low body fat, which can diminish hormone levels and prevent the uterus from building up a lining, Stanton says. Chronic or extreme stress can worsen the problem by reducing effectiveness of the brain’s hypothalamus, which signals the ovaries to produce hormones. Women may not be aware of “invisible” stressors such as food allergies, toxins, and unstable blood sugar, she adds. Stress can also lead to PCOS, says Pick. Although the syndrome can create very heavy periods, it sometimes has the opposite effect, she explains.
- Insufficient nourishment. When nutrition and sleep levels are chronically low, the body prioritizes survival over reproduction, Welch says. The most common stress-related nutrient deficiencies include essential fatty acids (such as omega-3s), B vitamins (especially B6), and minerals (especially magnesium and zinc).
- Early menopause. “If you’re in your 30s and suddenly have low or scanty periods, get your hormone levels checked,” Stanton says. Family history, illness, and certain medical procedures can cause some women to go through menopause well before age 51, the average for U.S. women.
- Eat a healthy diet. Cut out empty calories from processed and sugary foods, and aim to eat lean protein (along with vegetables and whole grains) every two to three hours. It’ll help stabilize your blood sugar and reduce cortisol demand.
- Sleep well. Aim for at least 7 1⁄2 hours nightly. Supplement with a high- quality multivitamin and fish oil. You may want to look for a multi that targets stress, or take additional supplements of B vitamins, magnesium, and zinc. Ayurvedic and Chinese herbs such as shatavari, vidari, and dong quai may also help.
- Do forward bends. During your period, Clennell recommends practicing forward bends, which reduce tension in the abdomen, boost circulation in the pelvis, strengthen the internal reproductive organs, and help glands function properly during menstruation. Save back bends, lateral twists, and inversions for the rest of the month.
Dr. Stanton included in special Women’s Health publication
Date posted: May 16, 2012
MediaPlanet published a special Women’s Health publication that ran in the May 16, 2012 edition of the Washington Post. Dr. Stanton was included as one of the expert contributors. She offered tips for finding the right doctor and served as one of the panelists discussing the hormonal changes that occur during menopause.
Check out the Women’s Health publication.
10 Tasty Ways to Eat Flaxseeds
Date posted: November 2, 2011
Food and nutrition experts share their favorite ways to eat the so-good-for-you ingredient.
By Ysolt Usigan
November 2, 2011
Flax Gives Salads, Soups, and Sandwiches a Little Crunch
Dr. Alicia Stanton, an integrative medicine physician and author of Hormone Harmony and The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Hormone Weight Loss, says the oil in flaxseeds is the richest plant source of healthy omega-3 fats, which are necessary for the function of every cell. These healthy fats help reduce inflammation, balance hormones, protect against mood swings and depression, and prevent heart disease, diabetes, and inflammatory diseases like arthritis. The superfood is also high in fiber and can help relieve constipation.
Stanton suggests eating 1 to 2 tablespoons of flaxseeds or flaxseed oil daily to reap maximum health benefits. Try adding toasted flaxseeds to salads, soups, and sandwiches for a pleasant crunch. Stanton adds that while flaxseed oil has the highest concentration of the plant’s omega-3 fats, it has a low smoke point so it’s not recommended for cooking but is good for smoothies, salad dressings, and other foods.
Check out the full slideshow here.
Natural hormone balance at any age
Date posted: November 1, 2011
Delicious Living Magazine, October 2011
As women age, hormones have many opportunities shift out of balance. This guide offers an explanation for what affects hormones and how to regain balance during pregnancy, perimenopause, and menopause.
It’s not just puberty and menopause: Women experience hormonal changes throughout their lives. New research shows the onset of menopausal symptoms is often linked to the modern Western lifestyle, including nutrient-poor diets of refined foods, alcohol consumption, smoking, chronic stress, depression, lack of exercise, and exposure to endocrine-disrupting toxins found in common household products.
The good news about symptoms is that “women get a wake-up call,” says Marcelle Pick, RNC, MSN, a Yarmouth, Maine–based ob-gyn nurse practitioner. “When the body is out of balance, it really screams at them. Men have heart attacks. Women have an opportunity to get really healthy.” Making smart lifestyle changes—especially before peak transition times—can help smooth out symptoms, says Alicia Stanton, MD, an Enfield, Connecticut–based integrative physician and coauthor of Hormone Harmony (Healthy Life, 2009)
“Hormones tend to be more stable when women are in their 20s and 30s, unless they have a boatload of stress,” says Pick, who cofounded Women to Women, an integrative clinic that serves women both online and in person. Ordinarily, estrogen is high in the first half of your cycle; in the second half, estrogen comes down and progesterone goes up. Then they both plunge right before your period.
But many women—Stanton estimates as many as 80 percent—have a condition known as estrogen dominance, an imbalance believed to be triggered partly by excess body fat, poor diet, stress, and exposure to estrogenic factors in the environment, such as those leached from most plastics. “Either there’s too much estrogen in the system or not enough progesterone to balance the estrogen,” says Jennifer Johnson, ND, clinical faculty member at the University of Bridgeport College of Naturopathic Medicine.
PMS. Johnson says symptoms during the pre-period hormone drop may be worse for women with estrogen dominance. Common symptoms include headaches, breast tenderness, irritability, depression, bloating, and cravings.
Infertility. If you’ve ruled out structural problems (such as blocked fallopian tubes)—as well as issues with your male partner—and still can’t get pregnant, you may have low progesterone levels in the second half of your cycle.
Cysts or fibroids. “Estrogen is the proliferative hormone,” explains Erin Lommen, ND, a practitioner based in Clackamas, Oregon, and author of Slim, Sane, and Sexy (Fountain of Youth, 2009). That means it helps grow the uterine lining to prepare for pregnancy, but it also grows cysts, fibroids, and cancers. “Progesterone is the antiestrogen, or the balancer.”
Try a natural progesterone cream. You can pick this up without a prescription, but first be sure your progesterone levels really are low. Your doctor can do a saliva or urine test to find out. Look for a low-dose (2 percent) topical cream and check the ingredient list for USP progesterone rather than wild yam, which the body cannot metabolize into progesterone. Apply about ¼ teaspoon (providing 20 mg of progesterone) to the neck, face, chest, or inner arms; rotate the application site daily. Bio-identical progesterone is safe for women when used as directed, says Pick, but a health care provider should monitor any woman using hormones. Women with breast cancer or a history of breast cancer should not use progesterone cream.
Try supplements. Clamp down on crankiness with a B-complex that has at least 50 mg of B6. Take 500 mg per day of krill oil, or 2,000–3,000 mg of high-quality fish oil each day, with meals, to reduce inflammation and cortisol demand. Johnson also suggests evening primrose oil, 1,200–1,500 mg per day with meals, to ease cramps and help with other estrogen-dominance symptoms. Dandelion (both root and leaf)—100–200 mg, or 1/2 teaspoon of tincture, or two or three cups of tea daily—minimizes bloating and helps the liver eliminate excess hormones; it may not be safe for people on diuretics, Johnson cautions. For fertility issues, try vitex, or chasteberry, 300–400 mg daily unless you are already taking prescribed fertility hormones or are undergoing in vitro fertilization, she says.
Avoid environmental and dietary estrogen sources. These include many plastic water bottles; canned foods with BPA in the lining; personal care products with potentially hormone-disrupting chemicals, such as parabens, phthalates, triclosan, and many fragrances; and nonorganic
WHAT YOUR HORMONES ARE DOING
About ten years before menopause, your egg quality declines and your hormones begin to shift—estrogen diminishes a little, and progesterone plummets. “Everyone thinks perimenopause is due to low estrogen, but it’s low progesterone very early on,” says Stanton. “It’s not until the end that you get to the low estrogen.”
Brain fog. Researchers suspect lower estrogen may be partly to blame for the trouble some perimenopausal women report with memory and decision-making, but the stress of busy daily lives makes it worse, Pick says. Chronic stress can lead to adrenal fatigue, a collection of symptoms remarkably similar to perimenopause: insomnia, headaches, fatigue, anxiety, inability to concentrate, and depression. Research also suggests chronically elevated cortisol levels may decrease memory performance.
Weight gain. Yep, stress can make you fat. Cortisol releases sugar into the bloodstream to provide fuel during stressful times, and insulin mops up the excess. With too much sugar to process, the body becomes insulin resistant, and converts the excess to belly fat, or visceral fat, which is linked to greater risk for heart disease and other serious health problems. “Visceral fat is harder to lose,” Lommen says. And for many people, turning to refined-carb “comfort foods” when stressed worsens the cycle.
Sleep problems and hot flashes. Perimenopausal women may have trouble falling or staying asleep, possibly due to low progesterone, high cortisol demands, or a disturbance in melatonin, the hormone that helps regulate sleep-wake cycles. Erratic estrogen levels cause hot flashes, says Pick.
Eat right, sleep, and meditate. This will keep cortisol and insulin levels stable, and your weight down. Choose low-glycemic foods like lean proteins and complex carbs, which break down more slowly in the body. Sleep seven hours a night to stabilize cortisol levels and balance appetite hormones leptin and ghrelin. A new study published in Menopause found that women who participated in a mindfulness-based stress-reduction program, which included meditating and mindful stretching, had fewer, less-intense hot flashes, better sleep quality, and less anxiety and perceived stress.
Consider bio-identical hormones. They’re the exact same structure as the hormones you make,” unlike the hormones used in the now-infamous Women’s Health Initiative study, Stanton says. (See “Is Hormone Replacement Safe?,” TKwhere.) Nevertheless, the decision to use bio-identicals remains controversial. “They haven’t been studied to the same degree that synthetic hormones have,” Johnson says. “But I see women having fewer problems adjusting to being on them, and fewer side effects than with synthetic hormones.” Women who have a personal or family history of breast cancer, blood clots, stroke, or heart disease should discuss risks with their physicians. Finally, if you know for certain your progesterone levels are low, a natural progesterone cream also may improve symptoms.
WHAT YOUR HORMONES ARE DOING
Menopause occurs when you haven’t had your period for a year. At this point, you really start to lose estrogen. “Estrogen is anti-inflammatory, so when it begins to decline, some people have huge problems with joints. Others have hot flashes; some can’t sleep; some are very anxious,” Pick says. Research shows that estrogen may also protect the heart, brain, bones, and more.
Bone loss. Lower levels of estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone contribute to a more rapid loss in bone mass, Stanton says.
Risk for heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and certain cancers. “Hormones are the messengers in our body,” Stanton says. “They send messages between the brain, glands, and organs, and regulate inflammation. Every imbalance in hormones creates an imbalance in the body.”
HOW TO FEEL YOUR BEST
Take vitamin D. Take 2,000 IU daily for bone health, along with calcium (1,200–1,500 mg total daily from diet and supplements), and 400–600 mg magnesium; take all with food. For best absorption, split calcium into 500-mg doses, taking the last dose in the evening with magnesium, reducing the magnesium dose if loose stools result. “Vitamin D is very anti-inflammatory,” says Stanton. Ideally, get your D levels tested in spring and fall, and aim for a result between 30 and 50, Pick says.
Keep active. Do weight-bearing exercise, like standing on one leg—really. It puts pressure on hips, which lose bone mass easily, Johnson says. In one study of postmenopausal women, physical exercise also reduced menopausal symptoms and significantly enhanced quality of life, independent of whether participants were taking hormone therapy.
And what about the years after menopause? “We keep making hormones, we just aren’t cycling them [monthly for possible pregnancy],” Stanton says. “So the women who have sailed through menopause have stable, low levels of hormones,” though a major stressor can trigger an imbalance. To avoid a return to imbalance, Pick says, “continue to have joy in life, and keep taking steps toward vitality.”
8 Hidden Toxins: What’s Lurking in Your Cleaning Products?
Date posted: September 26, 2011
Published in October 2011 issue of Experience Life magazine.
by Jessie Scholl
Dr. Stanton is quoted in this article discussing the dangers of phthalates, which are found in many fragranced household products including scented soaps and air fresheners.
Dr. Stanton Quoted in October 2011 Issue of Shape
Check out page 99 of the October issue of Shape magazine. Dr. Stanton is quoted in the article “When Weight Gain is a Warning.” Dr. Stanton provides tips for treating an underactive thyroid and preventing a surge in cortisol levels with stress reduction techniques.
Hormone Harmony is a 2011 Living Now Book Award Winner
Date posted: May 5, 2011
Dr. Stanton’s debut book, Hormone Harmony, was just named an award winner in the Independent Publisher’s 2011 Living Now Book Awards, which honor the year’s best books that help readers attain healthier, more fulfilling and productive lives. Hormone Harmony received the silver award in the health/wellness category.
Read more about the awards and see the full list of category winners here.
Ten Foods that Lift Your Mood
Date posted: March 25, 2011
Dr. Stanton was recently asked to contribute to an article titled, “10 Foods that Lift Your Mood.”
Dr. Stanton recommended drinking green tea because the amino acid L-theanine has shown to improve mood while reducing stress and anxiety. She also suggested omega 3 fats like those found in coldwater fish because they support healthy brain function and protect against mood swings and depression.
Read the article for other foods that can improve your mood.
Guest on Dr. DeSilva
Date posted: March 15, 2011
Dr. Stanton was a guest on the Ask Dr. DeSilva radio show to discuss nutritional tips to maintain healthy and balanced hormones.
Listen to her interview here.
For more on Ask Dr. DeSilva, check out the site here.
Dr. Stanton Quoted in DietsinReview.com Article – “10 Things You Don’t Know About Heart Health, But Should”
Date posted: February 11, 2011
Dr. Stanton was recently asked to contribute to an article titled, “10 Things You Don’t Know about Heart Health but Should.” Dr. Stanton explained how testosterone is very important for heart function and how men can keep their testosterone levels up by limiting stress and getting enough sleep as well as eating a proper diet and strength training.
Read the article for other facts about heart health you might not know.
Top Nine Sex Myths You Need to Know
Date posted: December 9, 2010
By Jenny Block
Published December 09, 2010 | FoxNews.com
Many people like to think they know everything about sex. Interestingly, the more someone claims to know, the less they generally do know. The problem is, the only thing worse than not having the right information, is walking around acting like you do. It’s a particularly dangerous practice when a relationship is at stake.
So, in the name of myth busting, I enlisted the help of Alicia Stanton, MD, a board-certified OB/GYN and the author of “Hormone Harmony,” who specializes in treating men and women suffering hormone imbalances. She’s helped many patients overcome low sex drive and low libido.
So, here’s her take on the top nine sex-related myths and what the real scoop is about sex, desire, and making it all work.
Myth: Interest in sex decreases with menopause.
Reality: Many women maintain hormonal balance and interest in sex through menopause. And, pregnancy and menstruation are no longer a concern, spontaneity can reign. Also, they are typically more confident and knowledgeable about what they want, so sex has the potential to be better than ever.
Myth: The only hormone important for libido is testosterone.
Reality: Although testosterone is very important for libido and sexual function in men and women, other hormones play a part as well. Estrogen is actually very important for desire in both men and women. Also, a high level of cortisol, our “fight or flight hormone,” works against libido. If your body thinks that you’re running for your life, literally or figuratively, it is not going to be very interested in sex.
Myth: If you’re truly in love, desire for sex and high libido should come easily.
Reality: Relationships and making a real connection with someone takes time and energy. Relationships require as much attention as anything about which you are passionate. Focus on keeping your partner and his or her interests high on your priority list and you will find yourself discovering new ways to connect and keep the passion alive.
Myth: If you’re healthy, you should want sex all of the time.
Reality: A wide variety in sexual appetite or level of libido exists. The way you know if you’re having the “right” amount of sex is if you and your partner are both happy with your level of activity. There’s no need to compare yourself to others.
Myth: If you’re connected with your partner, you shouldn’t have to ask for what you need.
Reality: Even if you and your partner haven’t previously spoken much about your sexual relationship, it might be good to start talking. This is especially true if you’re entering a new phase of life, including childbirth, menopause, or andropause, often called male menopause. If you begin to notice changes in your body or sexual desire, be sure to let your partner know what’s going on. And, remember, communicating about what feels good enhances the experience for both of you.
Myth: Your most important sex organs are “south of the border.”
Reality: Although those places are lots of fun, remember that your brain is the biggest sex organ in your body. You always have the ability to choose how you feel and think about sex and your sexuality. The desirability a man or woman feels about himself or herself is a very potent aphrodisiac. If you feel irresistible, your partner will find you irresistible. Passion is contagious!
Myth: If you don’t have a partner, there is no sense in having a libido.
Reality: Having a loving relationship with yourself is essential. Even if you don’t currently have a partner, feeling sensual and desirable will add passion to many aspects of your life. It takes practice to learn what arouses you and what a potential partner finds arousing. Learning to pleasure yourself is an important skill that you can continue to enjoy on your own, or that you can teach to a partner one day.
Myth: Women are the only ones who have problems with low libido.
Reality: Although the sexual desire disorder known as low libido is more common in women, it occurs in men as well. Some physical causes include alcohol, various medications, stress, hormone imbalances (such as low testosterone), cocaine use, brain tumors that produce the hormone prolactin, diabetes, and other major diseases such as cancer.
Myth: Hormonal issues are the only cause of low libido in women.
Reality: There are hormone imbalances such as low estrogen, low testosterone, hypothyroidism, and high cortisol from stress, but there are many other potential causes as well. Physical problems such as vulvar or vaginal pain or dryness may cause an increase in frustration and reduced libido. Surgery or other major health conditions like cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure or arthritis can also reduce libido.
Also, relationship issues, psychological issues (including depression), alcohol, tobacco use, and weight issues may also contribute to low libido.
There’s no shame in finding out there was something you didn’t know. The important thing is that, now you do. And, even if all of this was old news to you, there’s likely someone else in your life who could benefit from Stanton’s wise words. It’s time that talking about this stuff stopped being so taboo.
When there’s trouble in paradise, it can be hard to see past the hurt feelings to discover the real cause of the problem. But being armed with the right information can make doing that just a little easier. Remember, no one wants sex to be a problem and, with the right info, it doesn’t have to be.
Jenny Block is a freelance writer based in Dallas. She is the author of “Open: Love, Sex, and Life in an Open Marriage.” Her work appears in “One Big Happy Family,” edited by Rebecca Walker and “It’s a Girl: Women Writers on Raising Daughters,” edited by Andrea Buchanan. Visit her website at www.jennyonthepage.com or check out her blog at www.jennyonthepage.blogspot.com.
The Secret Life of Sperm
Date posted: December 8, 2010
By Jenny Block
Published December 02, 2010 | FoxNews.com
We know where it comes from and what it does. But sperm is an amazing thing, with more secrets than most of us would have guessed.
And we’re not just talking trivia here (although these fast facts might help you win a bar bet or two…) But upping your sperm IQ can help you to protect your health and your reproductive interests. And, who knows, you just might impress your partner with your sperm know-how.
Dr. David Shin, the Chief at the Center for Sexual Health & Fertility in the Department of Urology at the Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey, offers up 13 facts about the little swimmers that may surprise you.
- Sperm are produced in the testes and take 10 weeks to mature.
- Mature sperm can wait up to two weeks in a holding area called the epididymis before they make their debut. The epididymis is a storage reservoir for sperm. It is an organ that sits on top of the testicle.
- Sperm only contribute 5 percent of the total semen volume. The rest is comprised of fluids, which provide nutrients and protective medium for the sperm as it travels through the female reproductive tract.
- Healthy men make 70-150 million sperm a day.
- Sperm can live up to five days in a woman’s uterus, which explains why women can get pregnant over several days each month based on when she ovulates.
- The Y sperm, which are sperm that makes males, swim faster than X sperm, which are sperm that makes females. The Y chromosome is smaller and has less genetic material compared to the X chromosome, so the Y carrying sperm can swim faster because it has less weight to transport compared to the X carrying sperm.
- Human sperm measures 55 microns (micrometers or one millionth of a meter)
long. The average width of a human hair is 100 microns.
- Sperm is derived from the Greek word sperma meaning “seed.”
- Sperm can only swim forward and not backwards.
- Normal sperm have a head, mid-piece and a tail. Abnormal sperm can have two
heads or two tails.
- In the United States, sperm counts (which refer to the number of sperm present per milliliter of semen at the time of any given ejaculation) are the highest in New York. This is according to a study published in the journal “Fertility and Sterility,” although researchers have no idea why. They do know that men in New York have 50 percent higher sperm counts than men in Los Angeles.
- Extended time in hot tubs or saunas can decrease a man’s sperm count, as heat adversely affects sperm production.
- Lubricants, lotions and saliva all result in decreased sperm motility. In a study published in “Fertility and Sterility,” researchers noted that many lubricants tended to be ‘toxic’ to sperm, despite labeling. The researchers found it was the ingredients in the lubricants, such as glycerin, and that the slight acidity created poor conditions for sperm.
According to the Mayo Clinic’s website, giving sperm a leg up can be achieved through:
* Taking a multi-vitamin daily
* Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables
* Reducing stress
* Getting regular exercise
* Watching your weight
* Steering clear of toxins, tobacco use and illicit drugs
* Limiting alcohol
In other words, having a healthy body can help one to have healthy sperm. And, ladies, you want your man to have healthy sperm if you’re trying to get pregnant, which is a lot less precarious a feat than many think.
“Human reproduction is surprisingly inefficient and quite complex,” said Dr. Alicia Stanton, an OB-GYN based in Glastonbury, Conn.
Even fertile couples having unprotected sex only have a 25 percent chance of getting pregnant, according to Stanton.
Why you ask? Well, because sperm have a long journey to accomplish and the majority of the little guys simply are not up to it.
The average sperm travels about 1-4 millimeters per minute, which would make the 175mm trip to the egg in the fallopian tube take between 45 minutes to almost 3 hours.
“It can take up to three days before a sperm reaches the egg,” Shin added.
“Of all the sperm ejaculated, only 25-50 percent is actually moving forward well,” Stanton explained.
Add to that the fact that at the young age of 25 the quality of a man’s sperm begins to decline, it truly is a miracle that any of them ever reach the finish line.
Sperm are amazing. But they are only as good as the body who produces and takes care of them. So, you can use these tidbits to help you with your next game of Trivial Pursuit or maybe if you get the phone call from “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.”
But, you’d be better served to use it to inspire you to find out more about all things sex. As the old saying goes, knowledge is power.
Jenny Block is a freelance writer based in Dallas. She is the author of “Open: Love, Sex, and Life in an Open Marriage.” Her work appears in “One Big Happy Family,” edited by Rebecca Walker and “It’s a Girl: Women Writers on Raising Daughters,” edited by Andrea Buchanan. Visit her website at www.jennyonthepage.com or check out her blog at www.jennyonthepage.blogspot.com.
Are Bioidentical Hormones Safe?
Date posted: November 10, 2010
Menopausal women are increasingly using them instead of hormone replacement therapy
by: Chris Woolston / AARP Bulletin published November 12, 2010
Sharon Rosen is pushing 70, but she has the hormones of a woman half her age, assuming that woman had especially hard-working ovaries. The retired elementary school teacher from South Windsor, Conn., rubs estrogen and progesterone creams on her skin every morning and evening. At bedtime, she applies another cream of estrogen and testosterone with a progesterone pill as a topper.
The hormones, she says, have turned her into a new, younger version of herself: Her infernal head-to-toe hot flashes are gone, her libido is back and her mind isn’t nearly as fuzzy as it was a few years ago. She’ll still occasionally lose a train of thought, she says, “but now I’m doing better than my husband. I tell him that he should be seeing my doctor.”
Rosen’s pills and creams exactly match the hormones her body once made naturally. That makes them “bioidentical,” a buzzword that has been making the rounds through talk shows and magazines and doctors’ offices for several years now. In 2008, Endocrine Today reported that a million or more American women were taking bioidentical hormones, and demand for the treatment certainly hasn’t waned since then. If anything, it’s soared.
Untested, unproven, popular
Many so-called bioidentical hormones haven’t been approved or tested by the Food and Drug Administration, but their appeal is obvious. Practitioners — including Rosen’s doctor, Alicia Stanton, M.D. — promote them as safe, natural alternatives to traditional hormones such as Premarin, a prescription estrogen that’s isolated from the urine of pregnant mares, and Provera, a synthetic version of progesterone.
“They do all of the things they are supposed to do,” says Stanton, a board-certified ob-gyn in Hartford and fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. “I don’t understand how someone could say that something that’s different than what our bodies make could be any better for us.”
But are bioidenticals really a healthy option? Cynthia A. Stuenkel, M.D., a clinical professor of medicine at the University of California, San Diego, and former president of the North American Menopause Society, has her doubts — to put it mildly. The problem: Most bioidentical hormones are sold without the controls, safeguards and testing required of prescription drugs. “Are they safe? Do they work? That’s never been shown in any real way,” she says.
Stuenkel’s not the only skeptic. The American Medical Association, the Endocrine Society and the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology have all taken strong stands against unapproved bioidentical hormones. A position paper from the Endocrine Society — an organization representing over 14,000 hormone experts from around the world — concluded that there are “no published studies in peer-reviewed literature” showing that bioidentical hormones are less risky or more effective than FDA-approved hormones.
The term “bioidentical” usually refers to hormones that have been mixed together or “compounded” at a pharmacy. Following a doctor’s instructions, the pharmacist can make the pills and creams extra strong or extra weak or somewhere in between. The pharmacist can customize in other ways, too, such as replacing the usual peanut oil in gel caps with olive oil. The estrogens and progesterone used in these compounded preparations are, in fact, identical in every way to the hormones found in a woman’s body. But it’s a bit of a stretch to call them natural. They’re created in laboratories by chemists who tinker with plant hormones from yams or soy plants.
Read the full article here.
Eight Quick Beauty Boosts for Dry Skin and Hair
Date posted: October 5, 2010
Been dealing with dry skin and hair recently? You may be able to blame it on menopause — but these tips will help you restore your luster.
(EverydayHealth.com article by Jennifer Acosta Scott with information provided by Dr. Alicia Stanton)
August 31, 2010
Medically reviewed by Lindsey Marcellin, MD, MPH
If you’re a women in your middle years and you find that you have dry skin and dry hair for the first time, your first inclination may be to blame your beauty routines. But the fact is, these changes can also be caused by menopause.
“Dry skin and hair are very common in menopausal women,” says Alicia Stanton, MD, an obstetrician-gynecologist in Hartford, Conn., and the author of Hormone Harmony. “Estrogen helps keep things hydrated and plump and youthful-looking. When estrogen levels drop during menopause, the skin gets more wrinkled and dry, and in some women, it can even be itchy.” This is because oil glands in the skin shrink after menopause, and less is secreted.
911 for Dry Skin and Hair
Nourishing your skin and hair from the inside and protecting them on the outside will go a long way toward easing these menopause symptoms.
Have your thyroid checked. Levels of thyroid hormone can decrease in menopausal women, which can also contribute to dry skin and hair. In fact, Dr. Stanton says, women who begin developing dryness should consult their doctor about having their thyroid function tested. Dry skin is a symptom of hypothyroidism, a potentially dangerous condition caused by low levels of thyroid hormone in the body.
Boost your intake of vitamins and minerals. Once medical causes for dry hair and skin have been ruled out, a few simple changes can often help relieve the dryness. Getting adequate levels of nutrients through a well-balanced diet and a multivitamin (or supplements that are approved by your doctor) may just give your body the boost it needs to get your hair and skin back on track.
Ban the tobacco. Tobacco use also reduces estrogen levels in a woman’s body, so quitting smoking may have a positive effect. “If you need another reason to stop smoking, that could be a good one,” Stanton says.
Baby your complexion. Topical treatments for dry skin and hair abound, but you don’t have to splurge on expensive brands. The key is to look for certain ingredients on the label. Skin products containing vitamins A and C, for example, can improve skin due to their antioxidant effects, while creams with collagen (a naturally-occurring substance that keeps skin firm) may help keep skin youthful-looking. For severely dry skin, seek out moisturizers with lactic acid or urea. “You don’t have to spend a ton of money,” Stanton says. “Many of my patients do fine with over-the-counter treatments.”
Soothe your scalp. If dry scalp is a problem, consider using a shampoo that contains zinc or selenium, ingredients that reduce dandruff for some people. Dry hair may also get a boost from a deep conditioner. Be sure to limit how often you shampoo and use your blow dryer and other damaging heat appliances. Whenever you’ll be spending a lot of time outdoors, treat your hair to a protective leave-in conditioner with zinc oxide and wear a hat; both will help your hair retain moisture.
Protect your hands. If you plan to be outside in cold weather, make sure you wear gloves — dry winter air can rob your hands of even more moisture. In the summertime, wear sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher — overexposure to the sun can make you more prone to dry skin, not to mention wrinkles and age spots.
Relax. If you really want to go the extra mile to combat dry skin and hair, try relaxing. Stress can lower your body’s levels of estrogen and thyroid hormone, Stanton says. Take time out of every day to unwind, and you may just be rewarded with a better complexion and healthier-looking hair. “Yoga and tai chi can relieve stress, and that can help your estrogen and thyroid levels,” Stanton says. “Things that allow you to decompress a little can provide some benefit.”
Hydrate from the inside. Finally, drink more water. Your skin can’t get hydrated if the rest of you isn’t. It’s an easy enough thing to do, but something that many women neglect during their busy day.
Guest Columns in EmpowHER
Dr. Stanton recently was asked to contribute two articles to the women’s health site, EmpowHER. Dr. Stanton offered “Tips for Balancing Your Hormones” and “How to Eliminate PMS Symptoms.”
The main point to remember for eliminating PMS symptoms is to do things that naturally raise your progesterone level. This can include reducing cortisol levels, balancing insulin, eliminating caffeine and reducing estrogen. The key for balancing hormones is keeping blood sugar stable, managing stress, taking supplements to fill in dietary gaps and reducing toxin exposure.
Read the tips for PMS here.
Read the tips for balancing hormones here.
The Beginning of the End: Is There an Upside to Perimenopause?
Date posted: June 3, 2010
by Erica Kain
June 3, 2010
At first I thought my friends and I were simply using perimenopause as an excuse for bitchy attitudes. But the more we experience unusual periods, sporadic cycles, and surprising symptoms, the more it appears that a genuine physiological phenomenon is at play.
After having our babies and heading into our early 40s, we notice that our bodies are changing and that we are going down the long, hot-flash-ridden path to the “change of life,” or menopause.
And it’s a long path. Perimenopause can begin as early as a woman’s mid-30s, and can last anywhere between two to eight years, as our bodies begin to wrap up the reproductive years.
News stories about late-in-life pregnancies, such as Kelly Preston’s, had me thinking that my fertility would stick around for a while. So when I started experiencing hot flashes at night, I thought, “Nah. Not me.”
Now that I’m looking for it, I see perimenopause everywhere (including Sex and the City 2).
We, the formerly fertile women, are now picking up ibuprofen and “super plus” boxes of tampons to deal with abnormal periods, signing up for yoga classes, and ingesting more soy than ever before—anything to alleviate the continued onset of perimenopausal symptoms.
Though perimenopause may seem like a less-than-comfortable transition, I’ve learned several surprising facts, and some nice upsides to this time of life.
Eggs gone bad
Our ovaries start running out of eggs as we age. And as their number decreases, their quality can deteriorate. This deterioration can cause unpredictable cycles for a decade before we can be pronounced menopausal.
“As some of the ‘poorer quality’ eggs start to develop, they may not develop normally and may not be released in ovulation,” says Alicia Stanton, MD, hormone health expert, in Hartford. If this occurs, Dr. Stanton explains, it may upset the hormonal balance, which may result in a skipped cycle and perimenopausal symptoms.
As eggs aren’t released as often, progesterone levels drop, and this can cause estradiol levels to fluctuate, says Dr. Stanton. “This might lead to symptoms of estrogen dominance—heavier menses, bloating, irritability, PMS, breast tenderness, anxiety, hot flashes, heart palpitations and fibroids,” she says.
Because these symptoms can often be confused with other health issues, women may overlook perimenopause as a cause.
However, one poor quality egg isn’t the end. A better quality egg may be released the next month, and the cycle may resume to normal. According to Dr. Stanton, many women “may have (perimenopausal) symptoms off and on for up to 10 years prior to having no menses for an entire year.”
Hormones play a role
In order to alleviate that overwhelming host of symptoms, Kent Holtorf, MD, an expert in natural bioidentical hormone replacement, advises testing your hormones. “Most doctors fail to detect the causative hormonal imbalance because standard blood tests generally miss the hormone imbalance causing the symptoms,” he says.
As mentioned above, low or improper ratios of hormones can cause perimenopausal symptoms, and low-dose birth control pills are sometimes prescribed to addresses this imbalance.
But lower egg quality and hormones aren’t the only factors that could trigger the onset of perimenopausal symptoms. According to Dr. Holtorf, genetic factors, weight gain, insulin resistance, and even environmental toxins, such as plastics and pesticides, can also affect the timing of perimenopause and menopause.
Is our mood really affected?
And what about our bitchy attitudes? Can we pin them on perimenopause? Yes, as it turns out.
“This bitchiness (as well as weight gain and depression) is typically due to a combination of progesterone and thyroid deficiency,” Dr. Holtorf says.
In fact, over 20% of menopausal women in the U.S. are diagnosed with thyroid dysfunction. And it might be worth having these imbalances treated. “When these [deficiencies] are addressed, the overwhelming majority of women will find significant improvement in symptoms,” says Dr. Holtorf.
What’s the good news?
After learning about all these symptoms that could be heading my way, I felt desperate for an “upside” to perimenopause. Dr. Stanton had some reassuring news for me: “It usually signifies a time when a woman can start thinking more about herself.”
She explains that a woman going through perimenopause has fewer responsibilities to others, the wisdom that comes from her 40 to 50 years on the planet, and children who can take care of themselves. “I find that this is the time when women re-evaluate their lives, jobs, and relationships and finally get the strength to do the best for themselves,” she says. And, she adds, because you don’t have to worry about pregnancy once you’re actually menopausal, you can really have fun with sex!
I knew those ladies in Sex and the City were onto something. Perimenopause may be nigh, but I feel prepared, and even intrigued, by this next chapter in our lives.