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Letters to the Editor Issue 23

by Letters(more info)

listed in letters to the editor, originally published in issue 23 - November 1997

Natural Progesterone

My own Health Authority, recently advised my doctor not to prescribe natural progesterone and informed her that she would be held personally liable if she did, even though it had not been, as they put it, “blacklisted” and giving no reason why they were giving this ‘advice’.

I contacted the office of the prescribing adviser asking why this apparently new directive was being made and I received a letter from Dr Peter Savage, Director of Prescribing, who confirmed the HA position, i.e. “Progest is not blacklisted. . . and yet, “the prescribing GP would be taking on the full clinical responsibility and be liable for any problems that may ensue.”

Personally, I am very disappointed; I was feeling so much better from using natural progesterone and for now, had even deferred surgery, so surely, in effect, I am potentially saving the NHS a good deal of money.

My Health Authority confirmed it was up to individual doctors whether or not to prescribe and that the HA merely advise and have no power to prevent. Forgive me, but is there a bit of a mixed message here? It is true, I do know of local doctors who are not just prescribing natural progesterone, but also doing it on an NHS prescription and commendable as they are, acting in the best interests of their patients, they are at risk of making themselves potentially very vulnerable to any future litigation.

I twice contacted my local CHC, Community Health Council, about all of this asking them for their help and when they finally got back to me, they said they were unable to help.

Higher Nature will/can not give out any information regarding their product; they will only send information direct to an individual’s prescribing practitioner.

There is the Natural Progesterone Information Service and they can only be contacted via a Box number. The Natural Progesterone Information Service, BCM Box 4315, London WCIN 3XX. They provide a list of doctors prepared to make private consultations; I am financially dependent on disability benefits which do not stretch to private medicine.

I have recently noticed a small box advert in a national paper, “PMT? OSTEOPOROSIS? MENOPAUSE?” and another PO Box number. This suggests to me that some companies may have found a way of by-passing the medicinal control regulations.

One can buy Mexican Yam “food supplements”, over the counter, but is it is not as effective as the cream, which because it is used directly on the skin is absorbed straight into the blood system and therefore is more efficient – indeed a similar process to HRT patches but without the adverse side effects.

Finally, I decided to contact the Medicines Control Agency directly; they are an executive agency directly answerable to the Secretary of State. Initially the MCA were not prepared to give me any information which may be confidential between them and the licensed products manufacturers. They were a little more forthcoming when I clarified my information, that this product had deemed to be “borderline”.

The MCA confirmed that although natural progesterone had not been “blacklisted, it had joined other substances which will shortly also have to be regulated, such as homoeopathic and herbal remedies.” They went on to explain, “the regulations in this area are changing and that the monitoring, inspection and enforcement departments will start having closer links with these ‘grey’ areas of alternative medicines.”

Later, I spoke directly to the MCA ‘border-line’ substances unit to which the main MCA information line referred me to and they managed to further confuse me by telling me the product I was interested in had, “surfaced recently, there is no specific evidence or any particular concerns. It is not a ‘black-listed’ substance, there is no such thing. . . ” I read out my letter from my HA Consultant Prescribing Advisor, specifically referring to Pro-gest as not being a “blacklisted” substance but the officer would not comment.

Finally, I was told it was entirely up to my doctor “whether or not to prescribe this product, any other product or indeed, a gin and tonic.” My doctor has since confirmed she is not prepared to prescribe me natural progesterone.

I was aware of the previous governments attempts to prevent the easy access and use of many ‘alternative’ remedies, via the National Medicines Act. However, I had thought the resulting and vociferous nationwide campaign had put an end to this; it seems not.

I am left with many concerns and many more unanswered questions. Given our new government and including so many new women MPs I have hope and I have written to my MP asking him to urgently investigate this matter; or else, it seems for the moment, progesterone will continue to be the forgotten hormone.

Silba Knight
Personal Counsellor, Independent Training Consultant and Writer

Natural Progesterone – a response from AnnA Rushton of NPIS

Silba Knight has very clearly laid out the confusion around the availability and use of natural progesterone. Eighteen months ago I founded the Natural Progesterone Information Service (NPIS). Since then over ten thousand women have contacted us for help and in that period the situation it seems to me is less clear, not more. So many women are asking their doctors about natural progesterone and pressure has grown on them to deal with patients who come seeking information to make a health choice, rather than patients that just want a prescription. Natural progesterone, although only available on prescription, is classed as a natural medicine. Because it is not a drug, doctors do not have information about it, nor do they know where to look. NPIS does not have the resources to contact every doctor, and it has been the concerted effort of many individual women that has brought this information out into the public domain. They have read about it, talked to us and to each other, and taken a doctor’s information pack to their GP. Without these women, knowledge of the benefits of natural progesterone would be much less widespread.

Many doctors do contact us and then go on to prescribe for their patients. However, it’s a matter of luck and geography whether you get prescribed on the NHS, privately or not at all. It is up to the individual doctor and they are putting themselves in a vulnerable position if they do not have the backing of their own Health Authority. In practice, this means many doctors will not give a prescription for it. This has led to incredible hardship for women who have been receiving considerable health benefits but who have now had their freedom of choice taken away. Paying privately is simply not an option for many women, and I believe they should not have to.

Women are able to bring back natural progesterone from the USA for their own use, but it is no longer legally possible to import it by buying outside the UK and having it sent in. We have been told that such orders are being held at Customs and returned to the sender, whether this is the USA, Channel Islands or anywhere else. This action is new, and seems to reflect a much greater pressure to make natural medicines less available. We have been through this with so many things, vitamin B6 being only the last of a very long line. Many women are buying Mexican yam cream instead as it is still freely available over the counter, but it does not contain natural progesterone and cannot offer the same benefits – although it is frequently advertised as if it does. Yam cream does have a role to play in women’s hormonal health, but its effects are mainly oestrogenic and it cannot be converted into progesterone in the body in any useful quantity.

The MCA’s statement that ‘this product has surfaced recently’ simply is not true. Natural progesterone has been in use and available over the counter for over 50 years and the ability to manufacture it has been known since the 1930s. It is not ‘new’. In the USA where progesterone creams are manufactured, Pro-Gest cream is freely on sale in many States. Clinical research as to the effectiveness and safety of natural progesterone has been carried out worldwide – including the most recent trial in England showing the very real benefits to menopausal women in preventing heart spasm, the major cause of heart attacks in that group.

Finally, perhaps we should remember the words of Dr John Lee, the man whose theory of ‘oestrogen dominance’ has been instrumental in bringing the benefits of natural progesterone to the attention of women and their doctors.

“Women are far more knowledgeable, intelligent and intuitive than their doctors give them credit for. There is no teaching force for doctors more formidable or effective. . .”

If you want to pass on prescribing information please write to me, with an SAE if possible please, to NPIS, P.O. Box 131, Etchingham TN19 7ZN.

AnnA Rushton
Founder – NPIS

A further comment from the Editor

In order to empower women with the most up-to-date information regarding Natural Progesterone and Nutritional, Herbal, Homoeopathic and Lifestyle approaches to the treatment of Menopause symptoms, Positive Health has assembled an international panel of speakers, including Dr John Lee, Dr Shirley Bond, AnnA Rushton and Leslie Kenton, for a Symposium called ‘Natural Approaches to the Menopause’ to be held at the Imperial College, London on 25 April 1998.

Details can be found on page 11 of this issue. For further information and/or to book your place, please telephone 0117-983 8851.

The importance of the iliopsoas muscles

It was with great interest that I read the article that Allan Rudolph PhD wrote in issue 20 in which he points out the importance of balanced and functioning iliopsoas muscles within the body.

In my experience I have found that the iliopsoas muscles have a lot to answer for! I had the good fortune of being trained by a therapist who had studied the problems caused by these muscles, of which there are two pairs – a Major and a Minor. (Although the Minor is not present in a small percentage of the population.)

The body gives subtle tell-tale signs which the therapist can easily recognise when acquainted with unbalanced iliopsoas muscles and I must agree strongly with Allan Rudolph when he says that “the iliopsoas has become neglected as a major cause of pain and postural problems”. The iliopsoas is also prone to lesions and abscess, and one of its major functions is to collect toxins from all over the body; indeed, as well as those which are listed in his article, problems with these muscles can lead to many irritating symptoms ranging from catarrhal states to general lethargy, depression and mental confusion.

Poor clearance of toxins by the muscle can lead to toxic states and chronic allergy. The energy flow within the body is disturbed creating blocks and depletions which can be experienced in many ways.

Contraction of the iliopsoas, because of its position, can lead to kidney problems and also limit movement of the diaphragm causing shortness of breath.

This is also one reason why often correction of misalignment of common conditions of the musculo-skeletal system is only temporary. Consideration of the iliopsoas muscles is of prime importance before carrying out any body work and should also be considered when other conditions fail to respond to treatment.

There are many acute causes for imbalance of these muscles but in my experience this problem can be passed through families.

There are various procedures for releasing and balancing the iliopsoas and the method which I use and find most beneficial in my clinic involves complete release of all the muscles groups which are interdependent with the iliopsoas. This preferably needs to be addressed in one session otherwise tension can reoccur during visits and long term benefit is slow to obtain.

Nina Pearson
Compementary Practitioner and Principal of
The European School of Healing & Complementary Medicine.

Holistic Nutrition

I write regarding the letters in your Aug/Sep. edition under the heading of ‘Holistic Nutrition’. Having been a vegetarian for fourteen years I agree wholeheartedly with Lisa Saffron over the importance of encouraging everyone to eat more vegetables. However, this Trust is concerned with the holistic approach to health, and I suggest that the environmental information available emphasises the need to look at how vegetables are produced and how the production methods affect the overall health of the consumer.

As stated, MAFF have warned consumers to discard the tops of conventionally grown carrots due to the high level of chemical residues. It is hoped that the Health Authorities have noted this and have enquired from MAFF what level of chemical residues have been found in other vegetables; organic producers are not permitted to use chemicals in the growing cycle.

Although in this country there are a few scientific studies to suggest that organically grown vegetables are better for the health than conventionally grown, much has been done in other parts of the world, particularly in Germany, and Elm Farm Research are able to produce substantial evidence on this aspect.

In the Sunday Telegraph on 3rd August, Edward Goldsmith, Editor of The Ecologist reported: “Few people realise just to what extent we are being exposed daily to these poisons. Take a typical healthy lunch eaten by the average New Zealander, for instance. Alison White of the Pesticide Action Network takes this as being composed of a white bread roll filled with luncheon sausage, tomato, lettuce and butter, followed by an apple.

“The ingredients were found to contain residues of the following pesticides, most of which are proven or suspected carcinogens. Luncheon Sausage: DDE, chlorpyrifosmethyl, fenitrothion, pirimiphosmethyl. Tomato: alpha-endosulfan, beta-endosulfan, endosulfan, endosulfan sulphate, chlorothalonil, dichlofluanid, dithiocarbamates, iprodione, procymidone, vinclozolin, permethrin. Lettuce: alpha- endosulfan, beta-endosulfan, endsulfan-sulphate, chlorothalonil, dithiocarbamtes, iprodione, procymidone, vinclozolin. Butter: DDE; White Bread roll: chlorpyrifos-methyl, pirimiphosmethyl. Apple: chlorpyrifos, captan, iprodione, vinclozolin.

“The cancer establishment and its experts will deny that these pesticides do any harm. They will insist that all of them have been carefully tested by their scientists. This, of course, is totally untrue. There are roughly 70,000 chemicals in commercial use and more than a 1000 new ones are put on the market every year. Only a minute proportion – probably less than 5% – have been studied at all for their carcinogenic potential. Worse still, it is by no means certain that their possible carcinogenicity can even be established by scientific tests. A recent study published in Science Magazine shows that combinations of two or three common pesticides can have 160–1600 times greater ability to disrupt hormones (one of the principle ways chemicals can cause cancer) than have the same pesticides used individually. Needless to say, current tests are exclusively conducted on pesticides taken in isolation from each other.”

While I would concur wholeheartedly with Lisa Saffron’s view that the health of the majority is better on a balanced diet based on unprocessed plant foods with a minimum of meat, fat, salt, sugar, preserved and processed foods, I submit that there is also evidence to suggest that were such diets organically produced the level of health obtained would be considerably higher both from the actual consumption and the environmental advantages.

Readers might like to know of two books available from The Maperton Trust Bookshop. They are: The Basic Guide to Pesticides produced by the Rachel Carson Council, and The Feminisation of Nature by Deborah Cadbury which looks at the cumulative effects of oestrogen on the health of man and his habitat. Our telephone no. and e-mail address for those interested in obtaining these books are: 01963 32651, and:

Gordon Smith
Maperton Trust


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