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Dr. Matthew

Scared That Estrogen Replacement Will Cause Breast Cancer? Lets Talk….

By | Blogroll

Worried about the risks of hormone replacement therapy?

You’ve probably heard that hormones cause breast cancer, which is pretty scary. The truth is estrogen  does NOT increase breast cancer, and for most women the benefits of estrogen replacement far outweigh the risks! 

Without hormone replacement, you are at risk for symptoms like hot flashes and vaginal dryness, but that is just the tip of the iceberg. There is a long list of other symptoms that you may not even connect with menopause, including fatigue, depressed mood, irritability, poor sleep, bad memory, changes in your hair, your skin, your sex life and the shape of your body!   These problems don’t just affect you – when you’re not at your best it can affect your relationships, your work performance and your quality of life! 

Many women put up with menopausal symptoms because they are afraid of the risks of hormone replacement. Sadly the risks of estrogen have been over-stated, mis-construed and mis-understood resulting in unnecessary suffering.

Did you know that consistently, across many studies, estrogen replacement has been shown to DECREASE the risk of breast cancer?  That is not a typo, I did mean to say decrease (as in lower, reduce, diminish…).  Estrogen has also been shown to reduce the risk of heart attacks and death!

But wait a minute, how many times have you heard that it increases risks?  How can this be?Lets go through the research and you’ll see for yourself.

The Women’s Health Initiative Trial (WHI) Started the controversy

The Women’s Health Initiative Trial (or WHI) was published in 2002.  Prior to this study there were many studies (done over many years) that showed many benefits of estrogen, including protecting your heart, brain and bones.The WHI found that women on hormones had an increase in the risk for breast cancer, and turned everything we knew about hormone replacement on its head.  Millions of women (and their doctors) suddenly saw hormones as dangerous and something to be avoided.  But was this interpretation accurate?

The WHI was a very large, expensive study in which women were given estrogen replacement. The estrogen they used was derived from the urine of pregnant horses, and was not bio-identical, meaning it wasn’t exactly the same as the estrogen that your ovaries make.Some women also got a synthetic form of progesterone (“progestin”).It turns out that the progestin was the real problem but for now, lets focus on estrogen, since that’s the hormone that got a bad rap.

Here is what we know

Estrogen is good for your bones (it helps reduce the risk of osteoporosis) and is the most effective therapy for hot flashes.  These facts are not in question.  But why are we so scared of estrogen?

Here is what the WHI results showed:

Women who started estrogen replacement (ERT) between age 50-59 had LESS Heart disease, LESS strokes, LESS breast cancer, and LESS risks of death.

Women who started ERT between age 60-69 had LESS heart disease and LESS breast cancer, but they had a slightly increased risk of blood clots and stroke.  There was no increase or decrease in overall deaths.

Women who started ERT between ages 70-79 had  increased blood clots, stroke and heart disease, and increased overall mortality, but STILL no increase in breast cancer. 

Did you catch that?  There was no increase in breast cancer (in fact for women under 70 there was LESS risk).   This data is from the same WHI study that trumpeted all over the news that hormones increase breast cancer!

So why does everyone “know” that hormone replacement causes breast cancer?

Here’s where that message came from…    

Women in the study were divided into 2 groups.One group of women had previously had a hysterectomy, and they received estrogen (ERT) with the results we saw above (no increase in breast cancer).

The other group of women still had their uterus, so they were give progesterone to protect their uterus from the effect of estrogen replacement. The pill they were given contained a synthetic version of progesterone (a “progestin”) which is not bio-identical (not the same as the progesterone their ovaries used to make) and this group of women had a slight increase in breast cancer rates. 

Sometimes  numbers can seem worse than they are….

The media proclaimed that the WHI found a 26% increase in breast cancer in women on hormone replacement (remember this was only true in the group of women taking synthetic progestins).While it sounds pretty scary, this doesn’t mean you have a 26% chance of getting breast cancer.In absolute numbers, for every 1,000 women taking estrogen/progestin there was 1 extra case of breast cancer (0.9 extra cases to be exact). I’m not recommending the use of synthetic progestin, but 1 extra case per 1000 women doesn’t sound like a huge increase in the risk.In fact the numbers were re-examined several years later and not found to be statistically significant (in other words, the slight increase in this group of women could have just been due to chance)

Other studies have shown that if estrogen is given with bio-identical progesterone (the same form of progesterone as your ovaries used to make) there is NO increase in the risk of breast cancer.

Hormone replacement has important benefits!

Lets look at some of the studies that showed the benefits of hormone replacement.

  • A Danish study of 1000 women found a 50% reduction in heart attacks, heart failure and death in women on hormone replacement.Women on estrogen only (the ones without a uterus) had a decrease in breast cancer, women on combined estrogen/progestin had no increase in breast cancer.In total, 26 women in the control group died, compared with 15 women on HRT = 42% reduction in the risk of death in the women on hormone replacement.

Effect of hormone replacement therapy on cardiovascular events in recently postmenopausal women: randomised trial.BMJ 2012; 345 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.e6409

  • Researchers in Finland looked at the effect of estradiol (bio-identical estrogen) on longterm health in postmenopausal women.Almost half a million women were studied.The results were pretty convincing. Risk of all cause mortality (death from ANY cause) was reduced by 12-28%;  the longer the women used the hormones, the lower their risk of death.In absolute numbers, there were 19 fewer heart disease deaths and 7 fewer stroke deaths per 1000 women using hormone replacement for at least 10 years.

Menopause. 2015 Mar 23.

  • “Over-interpretation and misrepresentation of the WHI findings have damaged the health and well-being of menopausal women by convincing them and their health professionals that the risks of HT outweigh the benefits.”

Climacteric. 2014 Jun;17(3):215-22.

  • “For healthy women aged 50-59 years, estrogen therapy decreases coronary heart disease and all-cause mortality”

Climacteric. 2014 Oct;17(5):540-56.

  • “Breast cancer risk increased marginally with estrogen/progestogen therapy, related to duration of use, but with estrogen-alone therapy, breast cancer risk decreased significantly, as did mortality. For younger women receiving estrogen alone, there is great consistency between all randomized trials, including the WHI and observational data showing a coronary benefit and a decrease in all-cause mortality.”

Climacteric. 2014 Dec;17 Suppl 2:12-7.

  • “In this paper, we review data supporting the use of HT administered to postmenopausal women, showing it to have more benefit than risk for symptom control, prevention of bone mineral loss and fracture, and improvement of the metabolic profile in women who began HT when they were less than 60 years of age and had their last menstrual period less than ten years previous. In hysterectomized women treated with estrogen only, a reduction in breast cancer risk was noted in all age groups

J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2014 Jul;142:4-11.

  • “Unlike oral estrogens, transdermal estradiol has been shown not to increase the risk of blood clot or stroke, and to confer a significantly lower risk for gallbladder disease. Unlike some progestogens, [bioidentical] progesterone is also not associated with an increased risk of blood clot, or with an increased risk of breast cancer.

Climacteric 2012;15(Suppl 1):3–10

And here is one more study…

This study shows just how much harm we have done by unnecessarily misinforming (and scaring) women and their doctors. It is pretty shocking….

  • A Yale study found that estrogen therapy was associated with a reduction in deaths from heart attacks and breast cancer in women aged 50-59 who had had a hysterectomy. The authors estimated that 90,000 women have died because they did NOT continue to take hormone replacement therapy after the WHI study was published.

The Mortality Toll of Estrogen Avoidance: An Analysis of Excess Deaths Among Hysterectomized Women Aged 50 to 59 Years. Sarrell et al American Journal of Public Health: September 2013, Vol. 103, No. 9, pp. 1583-1588.

The facts….

Hormone replacement has important benefits for women. There is no need to suffer with symptoms of hormone imbalance due to fear! Empower yourself with information, and you can feel like yourself again! 

If you have questions, please call to talk to a member of our team at 704-752-9346 or email us at questions@signaturewellness.org. You deserve to LOVE the way you feel!

Feeling tired and sad? It might be the “Winter Blues” (Seasonal Affective Disorder)

By | Blogroll

The winter months bring shorter days, less sunlight and more gloomy weather.  Have you noticed that you feel tired or sad?  Are you craving carbs? Have you stopped doing activities you usually enjoy?  If so,  it could be Seasonal Affective Disorder, aka SAD.

What can you do about Seasonal Affective Disorder?

Actually there are many simple and inexpensive ways to feel better.

  1. Light therapy: Sitting in front of a full-spectrum light box for 30min a day in the morning can improve symptoms of SAD in as little as a few days. They emit light similar to the sun and can be easily purchased without a prescription.  Try typing in “full spectrum light” on Amazon and many options will pop up. Light therapy can boost your energy, perk up your mood and help you sleep better!
  2. Vitamin D: Also known as the ‘sunshine vitamin’, over 70% of the US population is estimated to be deficient in Vitamin D! You can get some from eating foods like eggs and salmon, but the majority of Vitamin D is made in your skin in response to sunshine.  Most people need to take an extra Vitamin D supplement of at least 2000IU, especially during the winter months.  Your doctor can measure your vitamin D level in a simple blood test so you can make sure you are getting enough.
  3. Exercise: Endorphins and serotonin are chemicals in the brain that make you feel happy.  They are released when you exercise, so going outside for a walk (weather permitting), dancing, or visiting the gym can decrease your SAD symptoms. In studies, exercise has the same or better effects when compared with an antidepressant!

If you are having problems that are not going away with these simple measures and would like more help, please let us know.  A Functional Medicine approach (addressing hormones, nutrition, gut health, detoxification and lifestyle habits) can help transform your mental health! 


romantic couple

5 Common Causes of Low Sex Drive in Women…

By | Blogroll

If chocolates, hearts and flowers aren’t enough to get you into the mood this Valentine’s Day, you aren’t alone.  It is estimated that nearly 1 in 3 women between 18 and 59 years of age complain of lack of desire.  Here are some common causes:

  1. Stress.   When you are under a lot of stress, cortisol levels go up (causing your sex drive to go down).
  2. Fatigue.  If you are always tired, it is hard to muster up enough energy to really enjoy intimacy.
  3. Medications.  Many different prescription medicines can cause sexual problems, including anti-depressants, blood pressure medications and birth control pills.  Even anti-histamines can contribute to vaginal dryness.
  4. Depression is a real downer for sex drive (and many anti-depressants make the problem worse).
  5. Hormonal problems are common in women.  Low testosterone can result in vaginal dryness, loss of interest in sex and lack of arousal.  Menopausal hormone changes can result in painful sex.  Hypothyroidism is often associated with sexual problems (but your doctor may not even be aware of the connection or think of checking for this.)

Correcting the underlying problem is necessary if you want to get that spark back. 

Balanced hormones, including the use of bio-identical hormone replacement therapy where appropriate, is important.   Other tools, such as an OShot, can help restore sensitivity. 

If you are having problems and would like help, please let us know.  A Functional Medicine approach (addressing hormones, nutrition, gut health, detoxification and lifestyle habits) can help transform your sexual health!

Health benefits of dark chocolate

10 Reasons You Should Eat CHOCOLATE on Valentines Day!

By | Blogroll

The amazing health benefits of chocolate

Over $75 billion is spent worldwide every year on chocolate, and it is estimated that the average American consumes 12 pounds of chocolate every year.  The good news is that the cocoa beans (also called cacao beans) used to make chocolate are  a superfood – one of the healthiest foods around!

Top 10 reasons you should eat chocolate:

  1. One of the highest sources of antioxidants.  Cocoa beans have been found to have more antioxidants than blueberries, acai berries, red wine or green tea. 
  2. Great source of magnesium.  Magnesium is needed for over 300 processes in your body – for example, it is a natural muscle relaxer, helps with sleep, keeps your bowels regular, reduces anxiety, and prevents high blood pressure.
  3. Rich in polyphenols – which are natural mood boosting compounds.  They can help you feel more calm, so if you have chocolate cravings, indulging may actually make you feel better!
  4. Rich in soluble fiber, which helps maintain normal cholesterol levels and digestive health.
  5. Contains high amounts of trace minerals (such as manganese, copper, potassium, phosphorus, zinc,  and selenium)
  6. Contains nutrients called flavonols which help increase blood flow to your heart and brain, and can help lower blood pressure.  In fact, in one study, elderly men who ate chocolate regularly reduced their risk of death from heart disease by 50%!.   Flavonols also reduce the risk of blood clots and stroke. 
  7. Rich in healthy, anti-inflammatory omega 3 fats
  8. Helps stabilize blood sugar levels.
  9. Being evaluated for possible cancer prevention effects
  10. Helps increase HDL levels (“good” cholesterol)

What kind of chocolate should you eat?

In order to get these health benefits, you need to eat at least 70% dark chocolate.  The percentage refers to how much cocoa is in the chocolate; 70% dark means that 70% is cocoa and the other 30% is made up of other ingredients, such as sugar. 

If you are looking for healthy dark chocolate, read the ingredients!  It should list chocolate liquor, cocoa (or cacao), cocoa powder, or cocoa nibs as the first ingredient (any of these is ok).  The higher the percentage of cocoa,  the lower the sugar content and the more health benefits, but the chocolate also tastes more bitter. 

Is milk chocolate ok?

Milk chocolate has as little as 10% cocoa (the rest is milk, sugar and other ingredients).  This means you would have to eat MUCH more chocolate to get the same health benefits, but all the sugar and calories will erase the benefits of the cocoa.

What about white chocolate?

White chocolate is made from cocoa butter.  It has zero flavonols and does not have any health benefits. 

How much dark chocolate should you eat?

To get the health benefits of dark chocolate, eat 1 ounce at least twice a week, but eating 1 ounce daily is even better!  1 ounce is about 1 square.  Be aware that while dark chocolate is very healthy, it is not a low calorie food, so moderation is important.  

Add nuts or fruit!

Adding other healthy foods, such as coconut, almonds, or strawberries can add extra fiber, healthy fats and other nutrients, and can make dark chocolate even tastier!  Be sure to read the label and watch for hidden sugar.  

What if I don’t like dark chocolate?

Not everyone is a fan of dark chocolate, but you can develop a taste for it!  Start with 50% dark and work your way up to see if starts to grow on you.  If you really don’t like the dark stuff, you’ll have to pick other healthy foods instead.  Save milk chocolate only for a special treat, since this is just candy without any health benefits.


Eating healthy can taste good and be fun.  And since dark chocolate is good for you,  you can indulge and don’t have to feel guilty!

Remember, eating well is the best medicine.   Take care of yourself, because you deserve to LOVE the way you feel!

Dr Deb

low libido in women

Have you lost that lovin’ feeling? Here’s how to get it back

By | Blogroll

Did you know that almost 50% of women report a low sex drive? 

If your sex life – regardless of your age – has taken a nosedive, either because it is painful or unexciting due to lack of arousal, or if you suffer from vaginal dryness or urinary dysfunction, there is a simple treatment that can bring desire back and so much more!

We are pleased to offer a revolutionary procedure called an O-Shot.

Image result for o'shot

What is an OShot?

The O-Shot uses growth factors from your own blood that rejuvenate nerves and blood vessels, enhancing sensitivity and arousal.

It begins with a simple blood draw.  The blood is prepared to separate out Platelet Rich Plasma (or PRP) which contains growth factors.  The PRP is injected into 2 areas that are important for sexual response:  near the clitoris and into the upper vagina.  These areas are numbed with a topical anesthetic cream before injection, so you can expect little to no discomfort. 

The PRP activates stem cells located in the vagina and clitoris, which get to work regenerating tissues, and stimulating growth of blood vessels and revitalizing nerves for better sensation and function.

Although each woman’s experience may differ in some ways, many patients report:

  • Greater arousal 
  • A tighter vaginal opening
  • Stronger orgasm
  • Increased sexual desire
  • Decreased pain for those with painful intercourse
  • Increased natural lubrication
  • Decreased or resolved urinary incontinence 

For more information about how we may be able to help YOU, please give us a call!

704-752-9346 or contact us via our website at www.signaturewellness.org. 

3 New Years resolutions that will help your hormones!

By | Blogroll, Uncategorized

Ready to set your New Years resolutions? 

Here are some suggestions for easy-to-achieve  resolutions that can make a difference in your hormone balance!

  1.  Use only paraben-free personal care products  Parabens are chemicals commonly used as preservatives in lotions, shampoo, makeup etc.  They are hormone disruptors – meaning they interfere with how your hormones function.

Take a few minutes to read the labels of your products and toss any that contain parabens.  In 2019, read labels before you buy, and make sure to leave products with parabens on the shelf at the store. 

2.  Eat at least one serving of leafy greens every day.  

Leafy greens are packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants and have many health benefits for your hormones.  Most of us simply don’t eat enough, but there are lots of options:  collard greens, spinach, kale, beet greens, romaine and other lettuces, etc.

Make a salad, stir fry with garlic, toss in a smoothie….  If you think you don’t like greens, it may be that you just need to experiment a little bit to find some recipes that you like.  If you learn to make them taste good, it is easy to stick to eating them regularly!

3.  Start a mindfulness practice.  Stress is a huge cause of hormone issues.  Stress affects cortisol, your main stress hormone,  causing you to gain belly fat.  It also plays an important role in regulating your other hormones! When cortisol is out of whack, it throws your other hormones out of whack too. 

If only I could stick the benefits of meditation into a pill!  But just like exercise, meditation is something that only YOU can do for yourself.  The truth is that meditation can be a little hard (especially for type A, driven people who probably need it the most!). 

To help you get started, download an app on your phone called “CALM”.  It is free, and offers some quick and simple breathing exercises and guided meditations to get you started.  It also reminds you each day to take a couple of minutes to spend on yourself.  Self care isn’t selfish – its important!


These suggestions can help get you started on a healthy path to balanced hormones for the new year, because you deserve to LOVE the way you feel!

Yours in health!

Dr Deb

multivitamin for good nutrition

5 Things to AVOID in your multivitamin

By | Blogroll

 Are you taking a multivitamin?  It is important to make sure that it is good quality, or you may be wasting your time and money.  There are many multivitamins on the market that contain synthetic vitamins, or minerals that are hard to absorb.  Sometimes it can be hard to tell whether yours is a good choice!

Your first clue is where you buy your multivitamin.  If it came from Walmart, the pharmacy, or the grocery store there is a high probability that it is not great.

Fortunately, you can tell the quality of your multivitamin in just a few minutes by reading the label if you know what to look for.  Here is a quick list of things you DON’T want (and what to look for instead).

Vitamin label


5 things your multivitamin should NOT contain:

  1. dl-alpha tocopherol

    .  This is a synthetic form of Vitamin E that does not occur in nature.  The natural version is d-alpha tocopherol.  Can you see the difference?  (You may need to put your reading glasses on for this one!)  The synthetic version is dl-   and the natural version is d-.  Such a small difference on the label, but an important distinction!

  2. Folic acid

      You are used to hearing about folic acid and seeing it as an ingredient in fortified foods (and in the vast majority of multivitamins).  But did you know that folic acid does not occur in nature?  This is another synthetic ingredient used to fortify processed foods.   The natural form is folinic acid, or folate.  Look for a multivitamin with methylfolate (sometimes abreviated “MTHF”) – the neurologically activated form. 

  3. Cyanocobalamin

      This is a kind of Vitamin B12, but this form of B12 is not the natural form that is found in your food. “Cobalamin” refers to B12, and “cyano” refers to cyanide – yes, there is a cyanide molecule attached to the B12!  This is not going to harm you (it is just not the best kind of B12) but it will certainly help you to remember which one you don’t want!  Look for methylcobalamin (or “methylB12”), which is the neurologically activated form. 

  4. Calcium carbonate

      This form of calcium is hard to absorb (so it doesn’t work very well) but it is cheap for the manufacturer so it is very common.  Instead, look for calcium citrate, which is easier to digest and absorb.  This is even more important if you are taking a  separate calcium supplement.  Most of the common calcium supplements you’ll find on the shelf contain calcium carbonate, but calcium citrate is readily available if you take the time to check the labels.

  5. Magnesium oxide

     This is another example of a poorly absorbed mineral which is found in most multivitamins.  Minerals should be “chelated” (which means they are attached to another molecule for better absorption). Look for one of these chelated forms:  magnesium malate, magnesium glycinate, or magnesium citrate.  You don’t have to remember all the options – just remember to avoid the one with the X (oxide)!

Also make sure to look at the “inactive ingredients”

Inactive ingredients include the fillers that hold the multivitamin pill together and other ingredients that may have been added, such as artificial colors or preservatives.  Here are some things to watch out for:   

  • Food colors

Do you really care what color your vitamin capsule is? Look for colors such as FD&C Red #40, FD&C Yellow #6, and FD&C Yellow # 5.  No good quality nutraceutical company would ever put food coloring in their supplements, so this is a major clue that your multivitamin is not high quality.

  • Sugar     sugar

    Avoid sugar in any form, including sucrose, fructose, and dextrose.  Do I need to even comment about this one? 

  • Artificial sweeteners

    Sartificial sweetenersweeteners like saccharin, aspartame, acesulfame and sucralose are harmful to your gut bacteria and increase your chances of having blood sugar problems (among other negative health effects).  You won’t find these in a high quality multivitamin.  Liquid vitamins may have sweeteners to make them taste better –  acceptable natural sweeteners include stevia, lo han fruit and monk fruit.

This is an ingredient list from one of the most popular multivitamins marketed to children.  See if you can find any ingredients that are not recommended:

INGREDIENTS: Sucrose, Sodium Ascorbate, Stearic Acid, Maltodextrin, Invert Sugar, Gelatin, Vitamin E Acetate, Artificial and Natural Flavors, Niacinamide, Corn Starch, FD&C Red # 40, FD&C Yellow #6, Magnesium stearate, FD&C Blue #2 Aluminum Lake, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin A Acetate, Folic Acid, Beta-Carotene, Vitamin D3, Vitamin B12.

The label should also list things that the supplement does NOT contain, like common allergens.  Look  for a statement like this:  “Does not contain wheat, corn, soy, milk, yeast, egg……”

healthy diet with fruits and vegetables

No multivitamin (or any nutritional supplement) can ever compensate for poor nutrition.   Eat a healthy diet rich in fruit and vegetables of all colors of the rainbow.  Supplementing with a multivitamin can help ensure you are not missing any nutrients, but only if you do your homework and make sure that you are taking a good one!

If you would like to talk to us about optimizing your nutritional status, including testing for nutrient levels or reviewing your current nutritional supplements to make sure you are on the right track – please let us know!

As always –

Living WELL is the best medicine!

Dr Deb

Is Estrogen Replacement Safe?

By | Blogroll

Are you concerned about the risks of estrogen replacement?  You may be confused by conflicting information.  Lets set the record straight.

Menopausal symptoms aren’t for the faint of heart

 There are the hot flashes, sleeplessness, and fatigue  The bloating and forgetfulness (what was that word you were looking for?).    And then there’s vaginal dryness that can make sex painful (if you even care about sex at all anymore!).  

Estrogen replacement can help you feel normal again.  But many women are fearful.  They have heard that they could get breast cancer or have a heart attack, so they suffer through the symptoms.  If this is you, then please read on!  You don’t have to suffer any longer….

Estrogen has important benefits


First, lets talk about the benefits of estrogen.  It has literally hundreds of roles in your body!


Estrogen helps to protect your heart.  When you are premenopausal, your risk of a heart attack is much less than a man’s risk.  But after menopause, when estrogen levels drop, the risks become equal.


It also helps to keep your tissues hydrated.  Without estrogen you become dry:  dry eyes, dry mouth, dry skin, dry hair, dry vagina……


Your bone health also depends on hormones, and estrogen in particular helps to prevent bone loss.  While this may not be something you are particularly worried about right now, it should be!  If you have a broken hip because of osteoporosis, there is a good chance that you will end up in assisted living. Preventing bone loss now is very important for your future mobility and independence.  


 Estrogen makes you look younger!


Something you may be very concerned about right now is how old you look!  Estrogen affects skin health – it helps to provide hydration and blood flow to keep that youthful glow to your skin.    It maintains collagen which helps keep your skin elastic to minimize fine lines and wrinkles.  You may notice your skin aging rapidly as you go through menopause.  One research study found that women with higher estrogen levels looked on average 8 years YOUNGER than women with low estrogen levels!

Arguably the most important role of estrogen is on the health of your brain.  Estrogen is energizing to your brain, so if your estrogen levels are low you may feel more tired.  It is also important for the quality of your sleep, and obviously you have to be able to sleep to have good energy!


 Estrogen is an anti-depressant


Estrogen is a natural anti-depressant.  Serotonin is the natural brain chemical responsible for peace and joy.  Estrogen activates serotonin receptors, so obviously you want that!  If your estrogen levels are low, you may feel more flat, anxious or unmotivated.   You may have been prescribed an anti-depressant medication to try to boost serotonin levels (like Prozac, Celexa, or Zoloft for example).  If you can normalize your estrogen levels,  your mood may improve without the need for medication.


There is a very important relationship between estrogen and memory.   If your estrogen level drops you may find yourself forgetting things.  What is his name?  Why did you walk into the room? Where did you leave the car keys?  It can be alarming and you may even worry that you are experiencing the early stages of Alzheimers!  Fortunately  your memory can improve significantly with restoration of normal estrogen levels.  


 Menopause makes you gain weight


Did you know that the average woman gains 20 pounds as she goes through menopause?  Estrogen deficiency can cause you to pack on the pounds, even if you haven’t changed your diet or exercise. Of course, if you are tired, unmotivated and not sleeping well you may be finding it more difficulty to maintain healthy lifestyle habits!

As you can see, estrogen is very important for how you feel, how you look and how you will age.  But many women are scared of hormone replacement, so lets talk about where the fear came from and whether it is warranted.


Medical study suggested estrogen replacement is risky


In July 2002, the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) study found higher risks of heart disease, strokes and breast cancer in women on hormone replacement therapy.  Naturally women and their doctors were scared, and in the next 10 years hormone replacement use dropped by 79 percent.


Newer studies are showing that warning women off hormones was a mistake.


Is estrogen replacement safe?


A study done by doctors at Yale found that  estrogen AVOIDANCE may have led to as many as 90,000 preventable deaths.  The study found that estrogen therapy actually led to LESS deaths from heart attacks and breast cancer.   According to the authors:  “Estrogen therapy in younger postmenopausal women is associated with a decisive reduction in all-cause mortality” (meaning you are LESS likely to die if you are on estrogen replacement).  


Women on hormones live longer!


Another study supports this.  Almost half a million women in Finland were followed over 15 years.  The results show that the longer the women were on estrogen replacement, the lower their risks for heart disease and strokes.  In fact, all cause mortality (meaning death from ANY cause, including breast cancer) was reduced by up to 30%.


Part of the reason that you are getting conflicting messages, is because it wasn’t really estrogen that was causing the problems.  In the WHI study, some women were given a synthetic drug that mimics progesterone (called medroxyprogesterone acetate).  This drug is used to prevent uterine cancer, and it IS associated with an increase in the risk of breast cancer and heart disease, so please avoid it.  The natural (“bio-identical”) form of progesterone has NOT been shown to have these risks, so it is a better choice.


I want you to notice that these studies were looking at medical problems, like heart attacks. They didn’t consider the effects of menopause on your marriage and other relationships.   Or how the hormone changes affect your ability to function at work.  Or how changes in your energy and mood are affecting the quality of your life.  I think that you’ll agree these issues are also important!


 You don’t have to suffer!



While estrogen is not appropriate for everyone, for most women, there is no need to suffer with symptoms of menopause due to fear of hormone replacement. Your individual risks are related to many factors including your age, whether you are using bio-identical or synthetic hormones and the delivery method of the hormones (for examples pills vs topical estrogen).  Please ask us about your personal risks and the potential benefits you can expect, including improved memory, energy, mood, sleep and even younger looking skin.   It is important to be well informed!


 If you are interested in learning more about estrogen and whether estrogen replacement may be a good idea for you, click here.  Because I know that this is complicated and confusing issue for many women, I wrote a book to explain what you need to know if you are considering hormone replacement therapy.  You can find it here:  This Is NOT Normal! A Busy Woman’s Guide to Symptoms of Hormone Imbalance.
If you are interested in scheduling an appointment to talk with us about your personal situation, please call 704-752-9346, or email questions@signaturewellness.org.
Please don’t suffer out of fear.  You deserve to LOVE the way you feel!
Dr Deb

How to Get the Beauty of Healthy Skin

By | Blogroll


One of the first things people see when they meet you is your skin.  Having a clear, glowing complexion makes you look healthier, younger, and more attractive.   Healthy skin starts from the inside and nourishing your skin with a healthy diet and good lifestyle habits can help slow the aging process.

Here are 10 factors that damage your skin that you should avoid, and 10 factors to help nourish your skin and give you a healthy glow!

10 Factors that age your skin  


1.  Sun exposure

UV rays from the sun damage and age your skin.  UVA rays give you a suntan, but also cause wrinkles and premature aging.  UVB rays are the ones that cause sun burns, and can also trigger skin cancer.  Sun exposure can lead to areas of hyperpigmentation.  Dark spots are formed as part of skin’s the defense system as it is trying to protect itself.

Protect your skin with a good sunscreen that has an SPF of at least 30, but make sure that your sunscreen is not full of harmful chemicals.  Look for a mineral sunscreen that contains zinc oxide or titanium oxide, as opposed to a chemical sunscreen.  Chemical sunscreens are absorbed into your skin and then absorb UV rays, but some chemicals can have harmful effects.  Mineral sunscreens sit on top of your skin and reflect the UV rays – these are a healthier choice.  Most sunscreens sold at the pharmacy will be chemical based.

After experimenting with various sunscreens, I really love Daily Shield Lotion Tinted SPF 50 Sunscreen by Epionce.  It is great for all skin types, and contains both zinc oxide and titanium oxide as well as botanical ingredients including sunflower, argan oil, rosemary extract and apple fruit extract.  Apart from being an effective way to protect your skin, it also applies with a nice “skin feel” (it isn’t thick and greasy like most sunscreens) and it acts as a great base under makeup – in fact it was awarded “Best Under Makeup” by the Shape Magazine 2017 Sun Awards.

2.  Air pollution

Chemicals in air pollution are harmful and lead to dryness, acne, and aging skin.  For example, carbon monoxide (from car exhaust) depletes the supply of oxygen to the skin, which can cause a dull complexion, dryness and premature aging.  Sulfur dioxide (from power plant smoke stacks) can cause damage to the lipid layer protecting your skin, leading to irritation and skin sensitivity.

A good quality mineral sun screen (like Epionce’s Daily Shield Lotion) can also help to protect your skin from environmental toxins.

3.   Heat

Heat can also damage your skin.  A study done in 2016 study showed damage of collagen and elastin fibers, broken capillaries and development of dark spots when skin was exposed to  heat >90 degrees F.   Try to stay cool!

4. Smoking

Cigarette smoke contains many chemicals that are very harmful to the health of your skin and will lead to increased wrinkles and skin aging.  Now is a great time to quit!

5.  Sugar

You already know that sugar isn’t good for your health, but did you know it ages your skin?  When you eat sugar (or things that quickly convert to sugar in your bloodstream, like bread and pasta), your insulin level spikes and causes inflammation, which breaks down collagen and elastin.  Sugar sticks to proteins in your body (including collagen in your skin) which promotes wrinkles and also worsens rosacea and acne.  Ditch the sugar if you want healthy skin!

6. Processed food

Processed food won’t provide the healthy nutrients your skin needs, and will increase inflammation, which promotes wrinkles.  One of the most inflammatory foods is vegetable oil (like corn and soybean oil).  Look for extra virgin olive oil instead.

7.  Too much alcohol

Alcohol is a diuretic, and promotes dehydration and dry skin.  When your liver is busy processing the alcohol it won’t be able to be as effective flushing other toxins from your system.  Alcohol can exacerbate rosacea, acne and wrinkles.  It can also promote a ruddy skin complexion.


8.  Stress

When you are stressed, your body will make more cortisol – which is a “wear and tear” hormone that ages you prematurely.  It promotes thinner skin, age spots, and wrinkles.  Stress reduction, like yoga, breathing exercises and meditation, can help you feel healthy and help you have healthy skin!

9.  Menopause 

Women often notice rapid skin aging after menopause, mainly due to loss of estrogen.  In fact, in one study, menopausal women with the lowest estrogen looked 8 years older than menopausal women with the highest estrogen!

10.  Excessive cleansing

Unlike your pots, your skin doesn’t need to be scrubbed.  Irritating your skin by scrubbing or using harsh chemical cleansers and skin care products can accelerate aging.

10 Factors to keep your skin young

1.  Antioxidant Vitamins  

When your skin is damaged by any of the factors listed above, anti-oxidant vitamins, including Vit A, Vit C, and Vit E, are an important defense mechanism to help protect your skin.  The vitamins work together, so taking a pill with one vitamin won’t work as well as if you are getting all of them together in a good diet.

For healthy skin, eat a variety of brightly colored fruits and vegetables to increase your intake of these important nutrients (this is the most important step!).    You can also apply them to your skin.   Consider something like Intense Defense Serum from Epionce.  It contains natural sources of Vitamins A, B, C, D and E, and acts like a multivitamin for your skin!

2.  Omega 3s

Omega 3 fatty acids are natural anti-inflammatory.   Lack of omega 3’s can result in dry, scaly or irritated skin.  A common condition called “keratosis pilaris”, results in dry bumps on the back of the arms, and sometimes also on the outside of the thighs.  Increasing omega 3 intake can help resolve the problem.

It is hard to get enough omega 3s in our modern diet, so deficiencies are very common.  Eat more fatty fish (such as salmon), ground flax seeds, and walnuts to boost your levels, but a fish oil supplement can also be helpful.

3.  Exercise 

Credit:Jacobs Stock Photography Ltd Creative #:	148194479 License type:	Royalty-free Collection:	DigitalVision Release info:

Credit: Jacobs Stock Photography Ltd

Exercise is good for your muscles and heart, but it is also great for healthy skin!  Regular exercise nourishes the skin by pumping blood throughout your tissues. The improved circulation carries oxygen and nutrients to your cells, and carries away waste products.

4  Probiotics

Just as we all have bacteria growing in our gut, we also have bacteria growing on our skin.  We need the healthy bacteria (probiotics) to keep our gut health, and we also need the right balance of good bacteria for healthy skin.

Eating fermented foods, such as kombucha, kimchi, kefir, or sauerkraut can help to maintain healthy bacteria in your gut (and on your skin!).  You can also take a probiotic supplement.

5.  Water

Staying hydrated is very important for heathy skin.  Skin is 64 percent water – when you are chronically dehydrated, your skin will look more dull and dry.  The average woman will need eight 8oz glasses of water in a day – but you will need more in hot weather and when you are exercising.

6.  Sleep

A recent medical study looking at 60 women between the ages of 30-49 showed that women who were getting poor quality sleep had more skin aging compared with women of the same age who had good quality sleep.  They also showed that the skin of women with poor sleep had less ability to recover after sun exposure.  For a healthy body and healthy skin, aim for 8 hours of sleep each night.

7.  Vitamin D

Vit D really acts more like a hormone than a vitamin, and is important for healthy skin.  Instead of getting Vit D in your food, you make it in your skin when your skin is exposed to sunlight.  Your skin is constantly replacing dead skin cells, and you need adequate Vit D levels in order to efficiently carry out this task.  Vit D is important for the barrier function of your skin, which locks in moisture and keeps your skin soft.  If Vit D is insufficient, your skin will become thinner and more fragile, as well as getting dry and wrinkled, and can sag due to loss of the structural support under the skin.

10-20 minutes of sun exposure per day is important – without sunscreen, because sunscreen blocks 100% of Vit D production.  During the winter, the suns rays may not be strong enough to make an adequate amount of Vit D no matter how long you stay outside, especially if you live farther north.  Most people are Vit D deficient and require a Vit D supplement.  You can have your Vit D level measured to know whether you need to take a supplement, and how much to take.

8.  Polyphenols

Green tea, berries and pomegranates are rich in a family of nutrients called “polyphenols” which are powerful anti-oxidants.  Polyphenols help minimize sun damage from UV rays, reduce inflammation, and even protect your skin cells from DNA damage, minimizing the risk of skin cancer.  For healthy skin, make sure to include these foods in your diet.  Polyphenols are also available in nutritional supplements, including green tea extract, resveratrol and grape seed extract.

9.   SkinPen Microneedling treatments

If you want smoother, brighter skin with less dark spots, rough spots and fine wrinkles, consider microneedling, a new skin treatment that harnesses your body’s own natural ability to heal.  Microneedles stimulate your skin to make more restorative collagen and elastin and reduce inflammation.  It is also a great treatment for acne scars.  This is a very popular treatment because of the great results we see!

10.  Healthy skin care products 

Be careful what you put on your skin!  You absorb the chemicals in skin care products, so the general rule is: if you wouldn’t eat it, then you shouldn’t put it on your skin. Skin care products should be free of parabens, a hormone-disrupting chemical that is found in most personal care products including cosmetics, lotions, and shampoos.  If the product contains “fragrance”, this typically contains phthalates, another hormone disruptor.  Look for more natural choices.

We recommend Epionce skin care products.  They are formulated to be free of parabens, sulfates, gluten and fragrance, and we love the results!

If you take care of the health of your body, you will be rewarded with healthy skin!  If you want more information about how to get the beauty of healthy skin, we are pleased to offer a FREE skin consultation!  Call 704-752-9346 to book yours today.

As always, living well is the best medicine!


Dr Deb Matthew


Balance your Hormones so you can LOVE the way you Feel!

By | Blogroll

Are you noticing that you don’t quite feel like yourself anymore?  Maybe you are feeling more anxious or depressed.  Or maybe you just feel kind of flat and unmotivated – you have to push yourself to do the stuff that you really have to do, but the other things (the things you used to really enjoy!) just don’t get done.  Exercise often falls into this category.  But even if you are forcing yourself to walk or go to the gym, it can seem next to impossible to lose weight (especially that darn belly fat!).

You may be waking at 2am and 4am, and then having a hard time dragging yourself out of bed in the morning, or having a crash in energy in the afternoon.  You may have brain fog, or forget things, like why you walked in the room or where you left your keys.  Maybe you struggle to find that word you want.  You may even secretly wonder whether these are the first signs of impending Alzheimers!

You may have already  complained to your doctor and been handed a prescription for a sleeping pill or anti-depressant, when the real problem may be your hormones!

Hormones affect MANY things!

We all go through hormonal changes with age, and hormones affect MANY functions in your body!

Hormones affect your:

  • Energy
  • Mood
  • Sleep
  • Memory
  • Motivation
  • Self-esteem

They are important for the health of your:

  • Skin
  • Hair
  • Heart
  • Brain
  • Bones
  • Muscles
  • Urinary tract
  • Vaginal lining

The interplay between your various hormones is complex and is affected by many factors that are in your control. Your nutrition, stress, sleep, exercise, and general outlook on life all have an impact.  The good news is with some lifestyle changes you may find that you feel much better very quickly.

Hormone replacement is an option

Some women may feel better with hormone replacement.  Since we are all very unique, measuring your hormone levels to learn about your unique hormone pattern is an important first step.  You may be deficient in estrogen and progesterone.  Your next-door neighbor may have too much cortisol and not enough testosterone.

What are bio-identical hormones?

Remember that synthetic hormones are not a match to the hormones your body naturally produces. They are not likely to have exactly the same effects as hormones that ARE an exact match.  Hormones that are an exact match are called bio-identical hormones.

If you do elect to start on bio-identical hormones, watch for symptoms that may indicate that the dosage is not quite right. Some symptoms of estrogen excess, for example, can include breast tenderness and fluid retention. It could mean that the dose of estrogen was too high for you (we are all very unique and respond differently to the hormones) or it could mean that the balance between estrogen and progesterone is not quite right. A simple dosage adjustment should do the trick and resolve your symptoms quickly. Hormone replacement should help you feel normal again—there should not be any negative symptoms if dosed appropriately.

If you want to learn more, you can check out my book which is available here.


Don’t guess – test!

Once you have been on your treatment for a few months, your hormone levels should be retested. The type of test chosen (saliva, blood, or urine testing) will depend on the form of hormone replacement you are using (topical cream,  patches, pills, or pellets, for example).

Tips for best results….

But what if your hormones are balanced and you still don’t feel your best? Remember that hormone replacement is not a magic pill. You will need to do your part to make sure you are taking care of yourself – eating healthy foods, managing your stress, getting 8 hours of sleep, drinking enough water, and exercising regularly will all help you get the best results from your hormone replacement.

There are also underlying health factors that can diminish the results you get from your hormone replacement.  In fact, these factors may be the reason that you are having hormone problems in the first place!  Some examples of hormone-disrupting health issues included;

  • Hidden food sensitivities
  • exposure to toxins
  • chronic inflammation
  • digestive problems (like constipation and IBS)
  • nutritional deficiencies
  • chronic stress – this is the most common factor that we see.

Addressing all these issues (treating you in a holistic way, and not only focusing on your hormones) is the best way to get you back to feeling great!

You deserve to feel great!

You don’t have to put up with feeling exhausted, bloated, foggy brained, or irritable. If you are told by your doctor that you are “normal”, but you KNOW that you don’t feel well, don’t give up!  Find a doctor who can help you, because you deserve to LOVE the way you feel.

Best wishes on your journey to wellness.

Dr Deb


Deborah Matthew MD