Synthetic Hormone Replacement Therapy has been around since the 1950’s as a means to alleviate menopausal symptoms such as weight gain, insomnia, mental fogginess and low libido. After The Women’s Health Initiative Study released its findings in 2002 that synthetic hormone replacement therapy (HRT) treatment elevated the risk of cancer, many women suddenly found themselves without any relief and confused about what to do about their abandoned hormone health. Because of special interest groups, many physicians that practice mainstream medicine have not recommended Bio Identical Hormone Replacement Therapy (BHRT) as an alternative to traditional HRT.
Bio Identical Hormone Replacement Therapy recently had its profile raised to a much more significant level as Oprah signed on as a believer, but Chappaqua compounding pharmacist Phil Altman at the Healthy Choice Apothecary has her beat by more than a decade.
Because of his BHRT compounding capabilities and his holistic integrative approach he has helped thousands of women navigate the menopause maze. In comparison then to the synthetic HRT therapy, the body recognizes the compounded Bio Identicals as its own rather than something that seems like estrogen but doesn’t really belong. “It’s like it fits the lock but it doesn’t turn the key,” he says of the synthetic HRT.
Over the years pharmacist Phil Altman has worked with physicians by taking an active partnership – or forming what he calls “a TRIAD” where doctor, pharmacist and patient collaborate to formulate customized treatment regimens that meet the needs of the individual patient. He has lectured locally in the tri-state area and visits with physicians to help them understand the benefits of BHRT and how to answer related questions from patients.
Since Oprah aired her segment about BHRT women now know that they have choices and want to know more. Phil Altman has experienced an increased demand for his capabilities and has been happy to help by providing physicians and patients the knowledge, research and countless medical studies that have shown the process to be safe and effective. Bio Identicals have also been shown to be protective of health when levels of estrogen, progesterone and testosterone are restored to what they were when a woman was at her hormonal prime.
Bio Identical Hormones are commercially massed produced and are available at local pharmacies. But being massed produced, these products are standardized to specific doses, making them complicated for many women and physicians.
Through a process known as compounding, this problem can be circumvented. Compounding pharmacies like Phil Altman’s Healthy Choice can make Bio Identical products to fit the exact dose prescribed. This enables the pharmacist and the prescribing doctor to match the therapy to the specifics of each women.
Whether coming in a cream or a pill, compounding manipulates the amount of estrogen, progesterone and testosterone so it fits the profile of each individual women. When Bio Identicals are prescribed in physiologic dose, there are usually no side effects. If side effects develop, it is an indication that dosages need to be adjusted.
Currently compounding 2000 different varieties and a graduate of the National Association of Compounding Pharmacies, he says, patients and their doctors can get as specific as needed. “If they need it down to the minute then we are there to compound it” he says.
As more women are asking their regular doctors for a prescriptions for BHRT, some doctors don’t know enough, and still try to prescribe synthetic hormones. “We try to educate them,” says Altman.
As such, many doctors are receptive to Bio Identical and just need their awareness raised. If that does not work Altman recommends finding a doctor who specializes in hormone replacement or anti-aging medicine.
Of course, coming with his holistic tag line, he’s of a mindset that problems are not solved by just handing out a pill, and a person’s health cannot be easily summed up in a medical chart. Therefore, Bio Identicals or not, eating healthier, exercising and taking supplements could get the patient to a place of balance.
That also falls nicely in line with the way Susanne Somers originally brought BHRT to America’s attention. “It taught women that you can question your doctor, and you can find alternatives because there is not just one way to do this,” he concludes.
Rich Monetti interview of Phil Altman