Hormones from Hell
Interview with Ann Louise Gittleman,
Author of "Before The Change"

From PMS through pregnancy to menopause, hormones are a fact of life for all women — and the men they share their lives with. Dr. Phil and his wife Robin discuss how couples can ease the symptoms of PMS and perimenopause — the phase before menopause — and embrace the "change of life."

Let me say this book is so great because it's accessible," says Dr. Phil. "There's not a lot of mumbo-jumbo. It's a list of day-to-day, practical, things to do. I think it's a great resource for everybody."

Ann Louise explains: "The reason I wrote the book is that I thought I was going crazy until I realized that I was really going through 'the change.' Doctors didn't know what it was, so I had to do a lot of research myself. I think enlightened self-interest is the best reason for doing any of this investigation. If it can help me, it can help all of the women on the show."

Robin adds: "I researched and read everything that I could find in the bookstores and on the internet. I researched doctors daily, and tested everything and found that everything that worked for me, was in her book."

Dr. Phil asks Ann Louise, "What's the most important first step in treating perimenopause?"

"Number one, if you don't recognize it's happening, you can't do anything about it," replies Ann Louise. "Perimenopause is occurring in women as early as 35 years of age. That means so many of us will be going through symptoms like depression, forgetfulness, anxiety and sleeplessness. Women will be going to doctors who think they should be getting medicated rather than taking caring of perimenopause."

Dr. Phil adds: "When I was in practice, I had so many patients come to me with perimenapause that were on everything from Prozac to Elavil, antianxiety, antidepressants, and massive dosages of estrogen."

"Yes," says Ann Louise, "And that's totally wrong because what we're learning is that we have too much estrogen in the environment and many of us are not estrogen deficient. We're deficient in another very important hormone, progesterone."

Dr. Phil asks Ann Louise to review her perimenopausal treatment method, what she calls her "Peri Zappers," designed to 'zap' the symptoms of perimenopause.

Ann Louise starts out: "My 'Peri Zapper' number one, which is good for perimenopause and PMS, is flaxseed oil. You should get one to two tablespoons of flaxseed oil a day. Or get the ground up flaxseed and put it on your oatmeal or your popcorn. It's a great source of natural hormone balancing, and it keeps your blood sugar level so you won't go up and down like a rollercoaster.

"Number two is evening primrose oil. It's a PMS 'Peri Zapper' because the two are very closely aligned. Two weeks before your period, start taking at least 1000 milligrams of evening primrose oil, half in the morning, half at night. It's a great way to relieve irritability, menstrual headaches, as well as water retention and painful breasts."

Also, Ann Louise says women should take multi-vitamins, "But more importantly, magnesium. We've been sold a bill of goods about how important calcium is. It is important, but just as important, if not more so, is magnesium, especially with those mood swings and all that anxiety and irritability that women feel. Right before going to bed, I'd like about 400 milligrams of magnesium on everybody's night table, Dr. Phil."

Another mineral Ann Louise recommends women take is Zinc. "Zinc is an anti-anxiety mineral," says Ann. "It's very important as a precursor of progesterone to balance all the extra estrogen. Which is next, the progesterone cream. You can put that on topically. Just rub a little on the throat, some of the fleshy areas of the inner arms, even the palms.

"Exercise is next. You're venting all your frustrations, you're building strong bones for menopause, which is going to occur at about the age of 51. So we're going to build up and get some good lifestyle practices."

Ann Louise continues: "Next, you need to de-stress some stress. That's important because the more stressed we are, the more we use up our magnesium and our zinc."

Dr. Phil adds: "I found over the years, that there are certain types of massage that can help, like acupuncture point massage, and certain types of music can be helpful in de-stressing. Next, tell us about adrenal refresher."

"The adrenals are your backup system once you hit 'the change,'" says Ann Louise. "So you want to make sure those are really strong so you can withstand stress better. Take soy phytohormones in moderate amounts. We now know that too much soy can actually backfire on the system.

"And then last but not least, natural hormone therapy. If the synthetics don't work, you can always go to a natural compounding pharmacist and get a prescription that's individualized to exactly what you need."

Dr. Phil asks Robin, "What's worked best for you, because you've tried it all?"

"First of all," says Robin, "Before I started anything, I did the saliva testing, the hair follicle testing and the blood testing. I found out what minerals I was deficient in, and did mineral I.V.'s, and got myself healthy. I did everything naturally, I didn't' want to do any synthetic medications. I do everything on Ann Louise's list... I go to a compounding pharmacy, use an estrogen cream, my progesterone is natural, and I supplement with all the essential oils."

Dr. Phil mentions, "Robin is so into all of this. That's why we're doing this show. She kept telling me, 'You need to call Ann Louise. You need to do this show. This is a big deal!'"

Robin adds, "I believe now, after doing everything that I found worked for me, and then finding it in Ann's book, it's made everything so simple for me. I think I am a healthier person at 50 than I was at 40.