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Homeopathic Alternatives to Hormone Replacement Therapy

Report on a Presentation by Dr. A.U. Ramakrishnan

CimicifugaIn the past, most physicians told female patients that hormone replacement therapy (HRT) was the best treatment option for menopausal women. It was said to improve bone ­density and reduce the risk of heart disease, ovarian cancer, and perhaps stroke.

Since 2002, however, prescriptions for HRT declined rapidly following highly publicized reports from the Women’s Health Initiative study that showed an increased risk of breast cancer, heart disease, stroke, blood clots, and urinary incontinence among postmenopausal women who were using estrogen and progestin. The results were so compelling that the first trial was terminated after five years, and the second trial was terminated after seven years. A recent, large-scale British study published in The Lancet found that women on HRT had a more than 20% greater likelihood of developing ovarian cancer.

Prescriptions for the most commonly prescribed forms of HRT in the US, Prempro™ and Premarin®, declined greatly from 61 million in 2001 to 21 million in 2004. According to an April 2007 report in the New England Journal of Medicine, the reduction in HRT prescriptions has been followed by a sharp decline in the rate of new breast cancer cases.

If not HRT, then what?

Women want answers as to how they can ease the transition through menopause and minimize bone density loss. Even though studies have shown that the rate of fractures is lower in groups taking estrogen, most women would prefer safer treatment options than HRT or the commonly prescribed osteoporosis drugs.

Dr. A.U. Ramakrishnan traveled from India to Denver to speak at the 2nd Annual Joint American Homeopathic ­Conference in April 2007. Pictured here, audience members listen with attention, and some step to the microphone to ask questions ­during Dr. Ramakrishnan’s presentation on Homeopathic Alternatives to Hormone Replacement Therapy.
Photo - Shirley J. Casey

Dr. A.U. Ramakrishnan, MBBS, MFHom, PhD, an internationally known medical doctor from India, presented “Homeopathic Alternatives to HRT” at the 2nd Annual Joint American Homeopathic Conference in Denver, Colorado, on April 14, 2007. An honorary physician to the President of India and co-author with Catherine R. Coulter of A Homeopathic Approach to Cancer, Dr. Ramakrishnan has successfully treated hundreds of women suffering with menopausal symptoms. “I don’t approve of the term hormone replacement,” he remarked, since nothing needs to be “replaced.” Menopause is a natural stage like childhood, puberty, or any other, he noted, and “our bodies are clever enough to balance the hormonal situation.”

Soothing menopausal complaints

In addition to commonly-used homeopathic remedies for menopausal symptoms, such as Sepia, Lachesis, and Pulsatilla (as mentioned in Hot Flashes & More), Dr. Ramakrishnan reviewed other remedies he has found to be beneficial including:

Cimicifuga. In India, this remedy is used empirically when a menopausal woman feels unwell but has no unique symptoms to strongly suggest a particular remedy. It is given in 6X potency, 2 times per day until improvement. Indications for this remedy include distress in the pelvic region, a bearing down sensation, pains moving from hip to hip across the pelvis, or backache.

Crocus sativa. This remedy may be indicated when the menstrual flow is black and stringy. The patient may have sudden mood shifts—from hilarity to depression or from anger with violence to repentance.

Nux vomica. For the irritable, chilly patient, whose symptoms are worse at night, especially at 3 a.m. (a common time for hot flashes). Often the woman may wake at 3 a.m. and be unable to get back to sleep.

Sanguinaria. Dr. Ramakrishnan calls this a great anti-inflammatory remedy and uses it when women have symptoms such as redness and burning of cheeks; flashes of heat; profuse menses; belching and flatulence; and any inflammation of mucous membranes like sinusitis or bronchitis.

Trillium pendulum. The woman needing this remedy may experience bearing down sensations accompanied by gushing, bright red menstrual flow. It may help patients who bleed profusely between periods and have a sensation as though the hips and back were falling to pieces.

Ustilago maydis. The patient may complain of heavy, long-lasting menstrual flow, with flooding, bright red blood, and clots. It is especially indicated when a woman has no period for several months, but then experiences a period of very heavy bleeding.

Valerian. Dr. Ramakrishnan gives this remedy in the 30c potency at bedtime to menopausal women and others who suffer from insomnia. He says they can take it as needed for as long as four to six weeks; and eventually they will no longer need it.

Oophorinum. Dr. Ramakrishnan has found this remedy extremely useful in treating many menopausal complaints; if a woman has problematic symptoms but no other homeopathic remedy is strongly indicated, he will often prescribe this one (discussed in more detail below).

Minimizing bone density loss

For menopausal and postmenopausal women, Dr. Ramakrishnan recommends paying attention to well-known osteoporosis risk factors and also taking 1000-1500 mg of calcium citrate per day, along with magnesium and 400-800 IU of Vitamin D. [A conference participant, Kristin van Konynenburg, MD, added that women should have Vitamin D levels checked via blood test because Vitamin D plays a key role in bone mineralization. If levels are low, she recommends 2000 IU (cholecalciferol form) per day for three months, followed by a recheck of levels.]

Dr. Ramakrishnan suggests medical screening for osteoporosis at the time of menopause and continued monitoring. Depending on the patient’s symptoms, he may suggest one of the following remedies for women with osteoporosis or osteopenia:

Calcarea fluorica. In the 3X or 6X potency, this is known as a Schuessler cell or tissue salt. The substance from which this remedy is derived, calcium fluoride, is a natural constituent of bones, tooth enamel, connective tissues, blood vessel walls, and the epidermis. Dr. Ramakrishnan often gives Calcarea fluorica to patients with osteoporosis (especially those not taking Oophorinum). He gives a 6X potency, 2 tablets, 2 times per day (morning and evening) for 3 to 6 months and then orders a bone density test to check progress.

Iodum. This remedy can act on the thyroid and the parathyroid. In osteoporotic patients who are hypothyroid, Dr. Ramakrishnan gives Iodum 6X, 2 times per day for a month and then re-evaluates thyroid function. Iodum can be indicated when a patient has inflamed and painful joints and bone pains at night.

Phytolacca. This remedy has an affinity for the glands and may help normalize glandular functions. For hyperparathyroidism, which can induce osteoporosis, Dr. Ramakrishnan gives one dose of a 200c potency every 2 weeks for 3 months. Other hyper conditions of glands may also respond to this treatment. In cases of hypo­thyroidism, he gives a 6X or 12X potency (2 pellets, 2 times per day for 2 to 3 months, sometimes longer). Women needing this remedy may have hard, painful breasts, copious and frequent menses, or ovarian pain often on the right side.

More remedies. Other remedies that may help people with osteoporosis, typically given under supervision of a professional homeopath, include Fluoricum acidum and Aurum metallicum. Both remedies are indicated for bone pain. Fluoricum acidum may be indicated when menstrual periods are copious, frequent, and last too long or there is other vaginal discharge. Patients needing Aurum metallicum may experience nightly bone pains; tearing pains in the joints; and many other symptoms. Symphytum is another remedy that may be considered.

Getting umph from Ooph...

Dr. Ramakrishnan emphasized the remarkable results he has achieved using the homeopathic remedy Oophorinum in low potency for women with troublesome peri-menopausal, menopausal, and post-menopausal symptoms and/or osteoporosis. He and his supervised students have treated nearly 1000 patients with this remedy over the past 7 years. He prescribes Oophorinum either alone or in conjunction with the patient’s constitutional remedy.

Oophorinum is made from healthy ovarian tissue extract and is therefore known as a sarcode (i.e., a homeopathic remedy prepared from healthy tissue). In low potencies, many believe that a sarcode acts like a tissue supplement. Dr. Ramakrishnan has found Oophorinum remarkably effective in normalizing hormonal imbalances.
Indications for giving this remedy include:

• Dryness of skin, lips, mouth, and vaginal tissues
• Painful coition; low libido
• Hot flashes
• Night sweats
• Sleep disturbances
• General lethargy and weakness
• Pains or aches throughout the body; joint pains
• Decreased bone density; low serum calcium levels
• Behavioral imbalances such as irritability, restlessness, fits of anger, depression, withdrawal from family and friends.

For women with strong symptoms, Dr. Ramakrishnan suggests starting with Oophorinum 3X or 6X; for those with milder symptoms, he gives 12X. He prescribes 2 pellets, 2 times per day (morning and evening) for 3 months. For women on HRT, he starts them on Oophorinum 6X and gradually decreases the HRT.

For women with bone density problems, Dr. Ramakrishnan may prescribe Oophorinum 3X or 6X for 6 months followed by a bone density scan. Based on the results, he may continue the remedy for an additional three months. Once bone density tests normalize, Oophorinum is discontinued and the patient’s constitutional remedy is given to help maintain bone density. He has given Oophorinum to women from peri-menopausal age through the 70s. For osteoporotic women in their 80s and 90s, however, he does not give Oophorinum but instead gives a constitutional remedy.

Work with a practitioner

When making health care choices during times of hormonal change, it’s good to know that homeopathy can be an effective alternative to pharmaceutical drugs—but it’s important that you work with homeopathic and other health professionals. Get baseline medical tests before starting homeopathic treatment: bone density and blood test results for FSH/LH, estradiol, and Vitamin D will show you where you started and how far you’ve progressed after 6 to 12 months. This helps you and your practitioners effectively evaluate your progress and make changes to your treatment plan.

To purchase a recording of Dr. Ramakrishnan’s presentation, contact Conference Recording Services
at www.conferencerecording.com or (510) 527-3600 and ask for NCH27-310.