Feet Standing on a Scale

3 Natural Appetite Suppressants to Help With the Quarantine 15!

By | Blogroll, Uncategorized

Losing weight can be tough.  Sometimes we just need a little help…..

Many Americans struggle with their weight, especially now!  The Quarantine 15 is a real thing!  Sticking to healthy eating habits can be challenging, especially when you are starting new changes.  Taking something to help reduce your appetite can seem like an appealing option, but isn’t so simple.

Another weight loss drug gets yanked….

In February 2020, the FDA pulled another weight loss drug (Belviq) from the market due to an increased risk of cancer.  Belviq was FDA approved in 2012, and was the first weight loss drug that didn’t increase the risk of heart problems.  The increase in cancer risk was small, and mostly found after extended use of the drug.  If you’ve taken Belviq, you should stop using it, but no special cancer screenings or check ups are necessary.  Some other weight loss drugs have been found to increase the risk of suicide.   

With so many problems from weight loss drugs, what can be done if you feel like you need a little help getting started?

Good news!  Here are 3 natural appetite suppressants that not only help you stick to your diet, but they actually make you healthier!

Woman grabbing excess belly fat

Struggling with belly fat?

1.  Stay feeling full with 

This soluble fiber comes from a plant called Konjac root.  It absorbs water in your stomach and swells to make you feel full.  It also helps slow down stomach emptying, so the full feeling lasts longer.  It can help reduce your appetite and overall food intake.

Added bonuses:

It also feeds your healthy gut bacteria, reduces constipation, lowers cholesterol and improves blood sugar levels.


It can slow down the absorption of medicines, so don’t take your medicines at the same time.

You don’t have to swallow a pill!

How to take it:

Glucomannan is available in capsules or as a powder you can mix into smoothies.  But here is an even tastier way!

Try Japanese Shiritake Noodles, which are made from glucomannan.  They taste good (a little bit rubbery, but surprisingly good nonetheless), are very low in calories, and contain no carbs.   They can fit into almost any nutrition program: low carb, keto, plant based, paleo, vegan……

The noodles are available at most grocery stores and are typically in fluid filled packages (not dry like most noodles).  Common brands include Skinny Pasta and Miracle Noodles. Just heat and serve! 

Add veggies and tomato sauce, season with curry powder, or try this keto/paleo recipe for pad thai.

2. Ditch the sugar cravings with Gymnema 

Gymnema sylvestre is an herb from India that has been used for thousands of years to help with blood sugar control. It reduces the taste of sugar, reduces sugar cravings, and reduces sugar absorption in your gut.



Here’s a party trick you can try.  Open a gymnema capsule and drop some of the powder onto your tongue (warning: it tastes nasty).  The herb will affect your taste buds to block the taste of sweet. If you eat something sugary, it won’t taste sweet!

Added bonus:

It is also anti-inflammatory and helps to lower blood sugar

gymnema plant


Because gymnema can lower blood sugar levels, you need to use caution if you are on blood sugar medications so your blood sugar doesn’t drop too low, which can be dangerous.


How to take it:

Traditionally in India the leaves from the gymnema plant were chewed or brewed into tea.  In the west it is typically taken as a nutritional supplement.

3. Boost metabolism with Green tea

Green tea is one of the healthiest foods on the planet.  It contains nutrients called Catechins (such as ECGC) which boost metabolism and promote fat burning.  For example, in one study men burned 17% more fat if they took a green tea extract before exercise (compared with men who didn’t take the supplement).

Added bonuses:

Green tea contains L-theanine, which reduces anxiety. 

It is also a great source of antioxidants and studies suggest drinking more green tea may help prevent heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and memory problems…

The catechins in green tea help with blood flow. Increased blood flow to your brain can help maintain your memory.  Increased blood flow to the nether regions could help boost sex drive.  Not promising anything, but just saying….

The caffeine in green tea ALSO increases fat burning and decreases appetite because it affects hunger hormones.  Black tea has more caffeine than green tea, but is is more processed and has less antioxidants and therefore less overall health benefits.

Here is some more good news – coffee works too!cup of coffee

Caffeine (whether in coffee or tea) is an appetite suppressant. 

1 cup of green tea has about 40mg of caffeine, and 1 cup of coffee has about 95mg.  The dose used for weight loss is about 200mg (2 cups of coffee or 5 cups of green tea).  Too much caffeine is not a good thing, and not everyone tolerates caffeine the same due to variations in our genetics.


When consumed in excess, the ECGC in green tea can bind iron and reduce iron absorption.  This is probably only really important for people with underlying digestive challenges who are already struggling to maintain their iron levels.

Excess caffeine has well known side effects, including jitteriness, rapid heart rate and increased blood pressure.

How much green tea is too much?  Generally green tea is incredibly healthy and more is better.  But probably best to limit to no more than 5 cups/day to avoid the extra caffeine.

How to take it:

Some of the important nutrients in green tea, such as ECGC and l-theanine, are available in capsules.  I recommend just drinking the tea! You can add some lemon for flavor (and extra anti-oxidants), but probably best to skip the honey for now if you are trying to lose weight.

Bottom line:

No pill can make up for an unhealthy diet.  These suggestions are just to help you stick with your good intentions.

If you ARE sticking to healthy lifestyle habits and still not losing weight, there may be other issues preventing you from success.  You may need a Functional Medicine evaluation to help resolve the problem.

Yours in Health!


Dr Deb

New Year Fresh Start

3 New Years resolutions that will help your hormones!

By | Blogroll, Picks, 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

Happy Couple Using Hormone Pellets

Why are hormone pellets so popular?

By | Blogroll, Uncategorized

Have you heard about hormone pellets?  Here is why you may be interested  in learning more.

Hormones change as you age

As we age, things change.  One of those changes is a drop in our hormone levels!  Hormones, like estrogen and testosterone,  affect your energy, mood, memory, sex drive, and metabolism. (Did you know that the average woman gains 20 pounds as she goes through menopause and has three times the risk of depression?) Problems with your hormones affect the health of your skin, hair, and nails, and increase your risk of diseases like osteoporosis, dementia, and heart disease.

Bio-identical hormone therapy can help!

Bio-identical hormone replacement therapy can help you get back to feeling like yourself again!

When I started my practice in 2007, I mostly prescribed topical bio-identical hormone creams. This allowed me to prescribe the right mixture of hormones based on your unique needs (a pinch of estrogen, a dollop of progesterone and just a drop of testosterone, for example!).  It worked well – but not everyone had great results. In 2009, I started offering hormone pellet therapy, and now 70% of my patients prefer pellets to topical cream.

Hormone pellets are smaller than a grain of rice, contain a natural plant source of estrogen and/or testosterone, and are available in a variety of doses. They are inserted under the skin of your buttock in a simple, painless office procedure. The pellets gradually dissolve, and a small, steady stream of hormone is released into the bloodstream.

Pellets can fix hormone symptoms fast – sometimes within 48 hours!  The convenience is very popular – you simply come in every 3-4 months to have the pellet replaced.

Hormone pellets can help resolve your symptoms

Hormone pellets can  help with a wide variety of symptoms including:

– insomnia

– fatigue

– low sex drive

– lack of motivation

– hot flashes and night sweats

– heart palpitations

– headaches (especially premenstrual or hormonal migraines)

– irritability/mood swings

– depression

– anxiety

– memory loss

– leakage of urine

– aches and pains

– vaginal dryness

– lack of muscle tone

– dry skin and hair

– loss of strength

Pellets help with Low T

Bio-identical testosterone pellets are popular with men too.  They help men with the same symptoms! (just swap out vaginal dryness for erectile function!)

Are pellets safe?

This treatment seems “new” but in fact hormone pellets have been used with great success in the United States, Europe and Australia since 1938! Pellets deliver consistent, steady levels of hormones and avoid the fluctuations of hormone levels seen with other kinds of hormone replacement, like topical creams.

Hormones delivered by pellets bypass the liver, and don’t increase the risk of blood clots (which is a problem with estrogen pills).

Medical studies have found that hormone pellets are very effective at preventing and treating bone loss and for relieving menopausal symptoms, with even better success than pills or creams in some cases.  This is why they have become the most popular method of bio-identical hormone replacement in my practice – patients  are getting better results!

Pellets do not have the same risk of breast cancer as synthetic hormone replacement pills.  In fact, some studies show there may be a reduction in the incidence of breast cancer with pellet therapy. In a study on breast cancer survivors, testosterone pellets did not increase the risk of cancer recurrence.

I have listed some medical studies on hormone pellets below.

You have choices!

There are many options for bio-identical hormone replacement therapy including topical or vaginal creams, patches, pills, sublingual lozenges and pellets.  It is nice to have choices, and important to have thorough discussion of all your options, including all the risks, benefits and possible side effects, so you can make the best choice!

Wondering whether your symptoms could be due to hormone deficiency?  Take our hormone quiz! Please don’t suffer with symptoms due to hormone deficiencies.  You deserve to LOVE the way you feel!

Yours in health!

Dr Deb Matthew MD


Beneficial effects of testosterone therapy in women measured by the validated Menopause Rating Scale (MRS)Glaser R, York AE, Dimitrakakis C. Maturitas. 20011;68:355-361

“Testosterone, delivered by subcutaneous pellet implant has been shown to improve hot flashes, heart discomfort, sleep problems, depressive mood, irritability, anxiety, physical fatigue, memory loss, migraine headaches, sexual problems, bladder problems (incontinence), vaginal dryness, joint and muscular discomfort in both pre-menopausal and post-menopausal patients without adverse drug events”

Moderate dosage estrogen–androgen therapy improves continuation rates in postmenopausal women: impact of the WHI reports Gambrell and Natrajan CLIMACTERIC 2006;9:224–233

“Long-term studies with up to 30 years follow up, confirm the safety of testosterone therapy and absence of adverse drug events with the pellet implant.   No increase of breast cancer even after 20 years of hormone pellet therapy”

Skeletal effects of oral oestrogen compared with subcutaneous oestrogen and testosterone in postmenopausal women.  Savvas et al.  British Medical Journal 1988  Jul 30;297(6644): 331-333

“Subcutaneous oestrogen is more effective than oral oestrogen in preventing osteoporosis, probably owing to the more physiological (premenopausal) serum oestradiol concentrations achieved.”

Reduced breast cancer incidence in women treated with subcutaneous testosterone, or testosterone with anastrozole:  a prospective, observational study.  Glaser et al.  Maturitas 2013 Dec;76(4):342-9

“Testosterone and/or testosterone+anastrozole, delivered subcutaneously as a pellet implant, reduced the incidence of breast cancer in pre and postmenopausal women.”

frazzled perimenopausal woman pulling her hair

Are You in Perimenopause?

By | Blogroll, Hormones, Uncategorized, Women's Health

Tired?  Irritable?  Over 35?  Maybe its your hormones!

Before you go through menopause, there is a period of time (starting around age 35) where things start to change. The changes can be subtle or not so subtle. We call this phase of life “perimenopause”, and it can be one of the most difficult transitions in a women’s life. Sadly, some women are told to tough it out and that it will pass. And often women are told that they are too young to be in perimenopause.

Addressing the hormonal symptoms of perimenopause can dramatically improve quality of life for many women. Lets talk about what is going on.

The two hormones that are involved in your menstrual cycle are estrogen and progesterone.  Estrogen levels start to drop when you are in your late 40s or early 50s (the average age of menopause is 52).  Progesterone levels start to decline much earlier.  In fact,  your progesterone  may drop by as much as 80% between age 30 and 40.  When progesterone levels start to decline because of age, and symptoms of hormone imbalance become noticeable, we call this “perimenopause”.

Progesterone levels decline after age 35

Progesterone levels naturally vary over your menstrual cycle, so the symptoms vary as well.  Typically the week after your period is a “good” week; you are eating your broccoli, exercising regularly, and cleaning out your closet.  Then as you get closer to your period,  symptoms get worse and worse – you may feel irritable, anxious, negative, critical, impatient, and easily frustrated – and this can affect how you behave towards your family and co-workers!  Other common problems before your period can be waking up at night, feeling more tired and having food cravings.

In fact, this variation in symptoms over the month is a big clue that hormones are the problem.  If your mood symptoms or insomnia are exactly the same on every day in your cycle, it is less likely that hormones are the cause.

Progesterone has mainly been studied for its effects on your uterus and monthly cycle.  As progesterone levels drop, menstrual cycles can start to change.  Your period may get heavier, your cycles may become shorter (less than 28 days), and you may have more PMS symptoms.

It turns out that progesterone has other important roles to play besides regulating your period.   You have progesterone receptors on cells in all parts of your body, and surprisingly,  the cells with the most progesterone receptors are your brain cells.  (If you have PMS symptoms with mood swings and irritability you may not be surprised at all!)  Progesterone is naturally calming and helps with sleep.  It is sort of like nature’s version of valium or a glass of red wine.

Symptoms of perimenopause

Here is a checklist of symptoms that you may experience if your progesterone levels are dropping:

  • Insomnia
  • Night sweats
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Mood swings
  • Weight gain
  • Increased PMS
  • Pre-menstrual headaches
  • Heavier periods
  • Shorter cycles (periods coming less than 28 days apart)
  • Irregular periods

If this sounds like you, please know that there is help!   You can feel like YOU again!  To learn more click here

You can find more information at our website www.signaturewellness.org or contact the office at 704-752-9346 or questions@signaturewellness.org.

After all, living well is the best medicine!

Dr Deb Matthew, MD