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The Hormone Solution    by Erika Schwartz order for
Hormone Solution
by Erika Schwartz
Order:  USA  Can
Warner, 2002 (2002)

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* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

The author of The Hormone Solution, Dr. Erika Schwartz, is a physician with twenty years of private practice and 'a philosophy that the absence of disease does not equal wellness.' The fact that 'research on menopause is limited, solutions scarce, information contradictory' led her to her own search for solutions for herself and her patients, and to recommendations for treatment of normal hormonal 'changes that affect women (and men) throughout their lives' (one thing that I appreciateded was that this book covers hormone issues for men as well as for women).

The author begins by laying out the 'Hormone Story'; where they're produced, what they do, and how they interwork through the decades of our lives. Symptoms of hormone imbalance are covered for teens upwards, and treatment options laid out objectively - conventional methods, alternative therapies and natural hormones. Dr. Schwartz's quote of a typical comment from new patients - 'I've done a lot of research, gone online, read magazines and books on the topic of hormone replacement and menopause - and I'm lost' - sounds like part of a conversation many of us have often had with friends.

The concern expressed about conventional medicine with respect to treatment of hormonal changes is that it treats symptoms, but not their root causes, and side effects can be problematic. The concern with alternative treatments is the lack of regulation (in North America) of herbs and supplement, and bioavailability - 'the amount of active ingredient ... that gets into your bloodstream and can be effectively used by your body.' From her experience (personal and in her practice), the author claims that 'any other type of treatment except carefully and correctly administered natural hormones is not very effective on a long-term basis.' She explains the difference between natural and synthetic hormones, and gives dosage guidelines for natural hormone supplementation. This is the main message of the book. Resources at the end include websites, compounding pharmacies and a reading list.

Dr. Scwarz explains the value of conventional tests in diagnosis of disease, while emphasizing the importance of symptom relief to measure success in hormone supplementation. She also goes into studies of the relationship between synthetic hormones and cancer; gives advice on diet, exercise and lifestyle at different stages of life; and covers testosterone deficiency and supplementation for men. Whether or not you follow the author's program for a 'natural solution to all symptoms of hormone imbalance', you will find her book to be an invaluable resource for its straightforward explanation of symptoms, tests and alternative treatments.

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