Gut health, hormone health, and weight loss are three key areas where supplements and medications can be overpriced, unsafe, and ineffective. More often than not, people seeking treatment for these areas are already experiencing symptoms, are anxious to find relief, and want to get back to normal as quickly as possible. Not all supplements and medications are created equal. Without proper vetting, women risk experiencing complications and side effects and wasting a lot of money. It is essential to “do your homework” before you buy. This week on Fox 17, Dr. Bitner discusses how to separate fact from fiction regarding probiotics, hormone medications, and weight loss drugs.
Probiotics are bacteria shown to help gut health. Studies show that for some people, probiotics improve symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, traveler’s diarrhea, and periodontal disease and to help prevent diarrhea after antibiotics. Many probiotic products on the market are in pill form, typically expensive, and do not always contain what it says on the label. The best way to get a variety of gut bacteria is to consume fermented food such as kombucha, unfiltered apple cider vinegar, miso soup, sauerkraut, or kimchi.
Hormone medications, including testosterone, are powerful and beneficial if used correctly and for the right reason. However, hormones in the wrong doses can be harmful, and synthetic hormones, such as birth control pills, can increase the risk of blood clots. Hormone creams available over the counter are not likely safe or effective. Understanding the basics of any drug you take and the expertise of the Health Care Provider prescribing it is important. For example, testosterone can be safe for women to use in perimenopause and menopause for specific reasons if it is FDA-approved and bioidentical. Testosterone used at doses appropriate for teenage boys in the form of pellets and troches, though, can harm women and cause lasting effects, including hair loss and voice change. Prescribers should know the guidelines and offer informed consent whether the medication is FDA-approved and how to know if the dosing is correct.
Weight loss drugs are improving lives by reducing the risk of diabetes and heart disease. These drugs, unfortunately, can be hard to obtain and very expensive. Hopefully, soon they will be more widely available and covered by more insurances. For now, be very careful and avoid consuming compounded weight loss drugs. Always stick with FDA- approved weight loss drugs. Companies are offering these drugs with little to no medical supervision. Make sure you are getting close medical supervision and under the care of a certified obesity doctor or a Health Care Provider who is well-trained in using these drugs and will keep you safe. Visit the FDA’s website to learn how to buy drugs safely online.
Jane* was 48 and in late perimenopause. She had low libido and mild depression in addition to night sweats. Because it was safe for her, she started estrogen medication. While her hot flashes were better, she still had symptoms. Jane decided to visit a clinic to receive testosterone pellets (not recommended at true. Women’s Health) after being promised a rapid improvement of symptoms.
At first, Jane felt great. After several doses, however, her voice deepened, she started losing hair, and became irritable and anxious. Jane made an appointment and discovered her testosterone level was 340, way above the safety limit of 70. After stopping the use of the testosterone pellets, her level came back down. She then started FDA-approved testosterone, which was a fraction of the cost and gave her no more side effects. Her hair stopped thinning out, and her moods were normal again. She was hopeful she would gain other benefits, such as improved muscle mass and bone mass. Most importantly, she felt like herself again.
Health Tip of the Week:
Be smart, and do your homework on hormones, weight loss drugs, and probiotics. Ask these questions:
- Is this medication or supplement FDA approved?
- Are there studies available that show that this product is safe and effective?
- Does your provider know whether this supplement or medication is safe for you?
Good products and medications are available. Being informed about products and who is prescribing them will help you find the best solution to treat your health needs.
Watch the full segment.