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From the September 2nd, 1997 issue of Smart Drug News [v6n2]. Copyright (c) 1997, 1998. All rights reserved.

Book Review:

Natural Hormone Replacement Therapy

review by Anna C. Boroughs

Natural Hormone Replacement for Women Over 45
by Jonathan V. Wright, M.D. and John Morgenthaler
Smart Publications (ISBN: 0-9627418-0-9), $9.95 softcover.

In this book, Jonathan Wright and John Morgenthaler are occasionally silly, often-times downright contentious, and their arguments always thoroughly well-reasoned. Sound like a rare combination? It is. Natural Hormone Replacement is a unique piece of work and an excellent resource.

As a 23-year-old woman already on natural hormones for reasons other than menopause, my reviewing this book seemed a bit like preaching to the choir. So I did what any responsible professional would do — I called my mother.

My mother has been on “orthodox” hormone replacement therapy (Premarin and Provera) since shortly after beginning menopause two years ago. When she reached the full dose, she began to experience a recurrence of migraine headaches, which had begun in her twenties upon taking birth control pills. After dropping back to a lower dose, she still was left with weight gain, bloating, and abdominal discomfort. She was on the verge of giving up on hormone treatment altogether when I suggested she read this book.

Natural Hormone Replacement for Women Over 45 is thorough. The authors describe in detail the many roles that hormones play in metabolism and health, in a way that I found both interesting and accessible — without “dumbing down” the material or oversimplification. I particularly liked the discussion of the uses of natural hormones other than estrogens and progesterone, such as DHEA and testosterone. While I found the detail refreshing, my mother said it was “perhaps more than she needed to know.”

For people unfamiliar with the machinations of the FDA, this book may seem contentious. Wright and Morgenthaler are adamant and precise in pointing out the degree to which our modern medical/scientific institutions steer us towards expensive patentable drugs and away from less expensive, more natural, less risky therapies. The recurring bottom line appears to be the almighty dollar; there’s simply not enough profit to be had in developing an unpatentable product. While both my Mom and I agreed that this was an important topic to document, she found it a bit tedious to read.

A few readers might find the aggressiveness with which they berate modern medical trends a bit off a turn-off. However, I think they are right on target when they say, “Sometimes medical science seems perverse, doesn’t it?”

My family had always tended towards a listen-to-the-nice-doctor-while-he-fixes-your-problem philosophy. But we have been, one by one, reassessing that assumption over the past few years. Discouraged by and distrustful of most doctors’ arrogant intractability, I found Wright’s and Morgenthaler’s acknowledgment of gaps in present-day knowledge about natural hormone replacement therapy to be refreshing. Such honesty in any polemic is admirable, as was their emphasis on a comprehensive wellness-oriented lifestyle.

In summary, they approach their subject with a surprisingly buoyant sarcasm that gets a “zany and delightful” rating from Anna and a “cheesy” rating from Mom. But perhaps the bottom line regarding this book’s effectiveness is the fact that my mother will be starting natural hormone replacement next month. Mom was ultimately persuaded by the basic message, “why not use what your body can use?”