The high stress level of modern living, together with our excessive exposure to electromagnetic fields and other pollutants, plus our pesticide-laden, nutrient-depleted food, is taking an early toll on our lives – resulting in premature ageing and poor quality of life.
Alternative, functional and natural medicine can successfully be used to slow down the ageing process. Having said that, we know the natural approach is still ridiculed. It is a bit like Schopenhauer’s Three Stages of Truth: first, it is ridiculed, then violently opposed. We have not yet reached its acceptance as self-evident yet, but I am hopeful. I do not consider spending the last 20 years of my life in a wheelchair, being spoon-fed, as successful ageing. Making it till 90, but being crippled with various dreaded medical conditions, is no achievement!
Let’s pause for a minute here to have a look at the words we use to describe ageing. We talk about turning 30 (like milk that has turned sour), or pushing 40 and reaching 50 or making 90… We become adults, but hit 70!
THE WRITING IS NOT ONLY ON THE FACE
The most obvious sign of ageing is most likely visible wrinkles. But there are other signs that show the body systems are not dealing well with the stressors of life and these include: insomnia, weight gain, food sensitivities, moodiness, memory issues, lack of libido and energy, reduced mobility, dull hair and skin…
One of the most successful approaches to ageing is bio-identical hormone (oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone) replacement therapy. Integrative medicine doctors and various specialists in Age Management Medicine take into consideration nutritional status, DHEA, growth and thyroid hormones, cortisol, insulin levels and so on. Hormonal levels (too high or too low, as well as in relation to one another) are investigated by means of blood and/or saliva tests. Integrative practitioner Dr David Nye uses Wilson’s Temperature Syndrome as the most accurate test for thyroid function: ‘To test the temperature in my experience is a more accurate test than blood or saliva.’
Dr Bernard Brom added the following comment to this article: ‘As one becomes older and the body ages, a change in hormonal status occurs, and in some men and women this is accompanied by symptoms and signs. Many doctors suggest that by optimising hormonal status and returning the body systems to the hormonal levels of youth we can reverse ageing.
While this is certainly true for some individuals, the rule of individual biochemical individuality holds sway. This means that each person is unique and not everyone will respond to just hormonal changes. We are indeed so complex and unique as individuals that integrative doctors will have to vary their approach in dealing with the process of ageing.’
After careful evaluation, bio-identical hormone replacement therapy may be prescribed in an effort to restore the body’s hormonal levels to ranges reflective of a youthful state or to levels appropriate to that person. These may be much smaller doses appropriate to the total picture, on both cellular and energetic levels. Sometimes transdermal, injectable and/or oral supplemental forms are prescribed.
It is important to make a clear distinction between hormone replacement therapy and bio-identical hormone replacement: bioidentical oestrogen and progesterone are bioengineered from natural plant products and contain the exact same chemical structure as hormones occurring naturally in the body. Synthetic hormones are produced by altering the natural structure of the hormone (and in turn its effect on the body) in order to obtain a patent. Synthetic hormones are chemicals with a level of toxicity found in all chemicals. Need I mention the 2002 Women’s Health Initiative study (using hormone replacement therapy) that was called off prematurely to protect the participants?! Yet these harmful drugs are still prescribed.
Bio-identical hormones will gradually produce a biochemical change that will result in more energy and a feeling of well-being if that approach is appropriate for that person. The ultimate goal of any integrative approach, with hormones generally only part of the protocol, is to reach balance on social, spiritual, emotional and physical levels.
Despite all the medical progress, we need to take an active part in our ageing process and do everything we can to slow down time and remove stressors. As discussed so many times in Natural Medicine, integrative medicine seeks to identify the root of our symptoms and provide effective therapies that are tolerated by the body. Some drugs may be effective, but not well tolerated, causing side effects. Your anti-ageing/integrative doctor or endocrinologist can measure your progress with laboratory tests and via clinical observation. It is important not to lose sight of vitamin D levels and a range of other nutrients so often deficient today, and the effect of long-term use of prescription medications and over-the-counter drugs not only on hormone levels but also in disrupting many functions and even causing nutrient deficiencies.
A handful of practitioners in South Africa may use bioimpedence analysis as part of First-Line therapy, to measure cellular health and integrity of cell membranes. Heart rate variability tests to measure the responsiveness of the autonomic nervous system, pH tests, and measurement of electron and mineral levels in blood, urine and saliva are all tools to assist the integrative practitioner to find the cause of declining health and support healing.
We need to know what our bodies need, what we are depleted in, and then add that back, together with lifestyle changes to minimise stress and the toxic burden of modern living. Don’t wait until you are sick. Make sure you keep your body in optimal nutritional status and your hormones in balance. There is no pill that can reverse bad eating habits and an unhealthy lifestyle.
‘Seventy-five per cent of our health and life expectancy after the age of 40 years is modifiable on the basis of the choices we make.’ ~ Dr Bernard Brom
Age should not be defined by a number, but by our energy levels. No one is ever going to know your body as well as you do – so do the research and find a medical practitioner that can respect your body and your choices.
Please visit www.fagron.co.za/patient/ to find a practitioner in your area. There is a form that can be completed.