Deena's Story: Menopause and Memory


This is the story of my patient Deena. When she first came to see me she was 51 years old and was suffering from hot flashes, night sweats, sleeplessness, fatigue, irritability, memory loss, and weight gain. She felt like she was suddenly aging very rapidly. These symptoms are more than mere nuisances; they are indicators of hormone imbalances and deficiencies that put a woman at increased risk of cancer, heart disease, dementia and osteoporosis. Deena was suffering from 4-5 hot flashes with night sweats every night making it impossible to get a good night’s sleep. She was tired and irritable most of the time, but the symptoms that had her the most worried were her rapid weight gain in her mid section and her terrible short-term memory loss.

Here are the chief symptoms Deena reported on her first visit:

Deena’s Mom developed signs of dementia in her late 50’s and was finally diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease when she turned 70. Watching her mom go through those years made Deena very concerned for herself as she did not want to become like her mother. The good news is that if you keep your key hormones at their optimal level, you can greatly reduce your risk of dementia and Alzheimer ’s disease, as well as reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease, osteoporosis, and other degenerative diseases of aging. As soon as I hear a patient tell me that their memory is slipping, I know that they are beginning to run low in the hormone Pregnenolone. This typically means that several other hormones made from it will also be low as well.

Pregnenolone: The Memory Hormone

Pregnenoloneis the most highly concentrated hormone in the human brain. It is the key hormone that nourishes the brain and protects the nervous system. It is called the “Mother Hormone” because from it all of the other key hormones are derived. Pregnenolone is made in the brain and the adrenal glands from cholesterol and then converted in the liver to DHEA and Progesterone, which then are ultimately converted into all the other key hormones, including Cortisol, Testosterone and the three Estrogens. Beginning at age 35, the body’s natural Pregnenolone levels start to decline. By age 50 they are 50% reduced and by age of 75 the body’s production of this essential brain hormone is almost totally depleted. It’s no wonder we associate memory decline, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease with aging. Pregnenolone enhances memory by stimulating concentration and clarifying cognitive thinking. It reduces irritability, enhances sleep, fights fatigue depression and protects the joints from inflammation and arthritis. A deficiency of Pregnenolone leads to poor memory, depression, and cognitive decline as well as decreasing bone density, lean body mass and muscle strength. Pregnenolone is known to stimulate the N-Methyl-D-Aspartate (NMDA) receptors in the brain. These receptors play an important role in regulating the function of the synapses between neurons that influence learning and memory. Aging is associated with a decrease in production of Pregnenolone as well as the number of NMDA receptors, which may partly account for the loss of memory and onset of senility that occurs with age.

Clinical Evaluation

When I start working with a new patient, I start by asking him or her to fill out a comprehensive symptom assessment that goes over all 12 major body systems, 10 key hormones and the 5 most important neurohormones. These must all be balanced and supplied at optimal levels in order for you to achieve truly dynamic health and vitality. Once I have obtained the history and review of symptoms, I perform a physical exam to look for additional clues of hormonal and system deficiencies so that I know what tests to perform.

Lab Tests

Finally, I order lab tests based on the individual signs and symptoms of each patient. Lab tests include blood, urine and/or saliva specimens drawn at specific times of the day and the monthly cycle if a woman is still menstruating. Because so few doctors order these tests, very few labs have developed or implemented accurate lab tests to assess hormone function in men or women. Likewise, most doctors are not knowledgeable in the accurate interpretation and assessment of hormone and neurohormone lab tests.

Here are the results of Deena’s initial and 3-month follow-up lab tests.

As you can see 6 out of 7 of Deena’s hormones were deficient, including Estriol, and Estradiol, Progesterone, DHEA, Testosterone and Pregnenolone at her initial visit. This is not unusual. All of these hormones tend to decline as we age, but Deena’s levels were especially low. Here is what I prescribed for her:

Initial Rx

  1. Pregnenolone 50 mg twice daily (for memory and as precursor to Progesterone, DHEA, etc)
  2. Progesterone 50 mg once daily at bedtime, dissolved under the tongue (for calming mood, sleep and building bones)
  3. DHEA 10 mg once daily at bed time (for weight gain, irritability and stress)
  4. Testosterone 2 mg once daily at bedtime, dissolved under the tongue (for mood, energy, weight gain and libido)
  5. Estriol 2 mg, 2 times daily, dissolved under the tongue (for hot flashes, night sweats and sleeplessness)
  6. Peak Advantage High Potency Multi-Vitamin 3 capsules twice daily with meals
  7. GSE Ultra 110 (Grape Seed Extract) 1 capsule twice daily (to build Collagen and reduce Cellulite)
  8. Vitamin D3  5000 IU once daily (to build bones and prevent cancer and heart disease)

How Does Deena Feel Now That Her Hormones Are Balanced?

Portrait Of Senior Couple In ParkWithin the first month, Deena felt a dramatic difference. She began feeling like her old cheerful self again. Gone were the hot flashes, vaginal dryness, the moodiness, the sleeplessness and the fatigue. She felt an improved sense of alertness and a calm sense of well-being like she used to feel. Within three months Deena could tell a big improvement in her memory recall. She was readily remembering people’s names now and details of news stories she had heard. Those simple changes alone were worth more to her than anything else. She no longer lived in fear of losing her mind. She also noticed that her sex drive increased significantly, which she didn’t expect. She thought her sex drive was ok before, but now she realized that it had been gradually fading. Initially Deena rated her libido at a 4, on a scale of 0 to 10. However, within a month of taking DHEA and Testosterone that I prescribed for her, she said that her sex drive had increased to an amazing 8 out of 10. Deena’s husband noticed a remarkable difference in her overall mood and her sex drive, which enhanced their loving relationship and brought them even closer together. Oh and she has lost 5 lbs so far.

Balance Your Hormones / Balance Your Life!

Here’s the bottom line, all of these hormones are essential for life. A deficiency of Pregnenolone leads to poor memory, depression, and cognitive decline as well as decreasing bone density, lean body mass and muscle strength. Natural Progesterone calms the nervous system, improves sleep, builds bones, offsets the potential cancer risks of Estrone (E1) and Estradiol (E2) by surpressing a protein known as bcl-2 that promotes cancer cell growth, and by promoting Tumor Suppressor Protein (known as p53). DHEA and Testosterone are key to balancing one’s mood, energy, interests and physical strength. They strengthen the muscles and bones, lower total cholesterol, raise the good HDL cholesterol and prevent plaque from building up in the arteries and fat from accumulating around your mid-section. A deficiency of estrogen will cause thinning of the bones, vaginal atrophy, thinning of the skin, easy bruising, wrinkles, hot flashes, sleeplessness, depression and droopy breasts. But make sure you take Estriol (E3), the safe Estrogen. Too much Estradiol (E2) increase a woman’s risk of dementia and when Estradiol is combined with synthetic Progestin it doubles a woman’s risk of dementia. Too much Estrone and Estradiol also cause irritability, proliferation of the uterine lining, uterine cancer, breast tenderness, breast cancer, blood clots, dementia and strokes.

Restore Your Hormones to Optimal Levels for Optimal Health

Optimal levels of hormones provide a veritable fountain of youth. Nature designed hormones to work synergisticly to keep your body strong, active and beautiful. The major cause of deficient hormone levels is the aging of the endocrine glands that occurs due to the increasing stress and toxic load of our modern lifestyle. Without help your glands will simply wear out and wither away. They will become overwhelmed with toxic waste and oxidative damage and no longer be able to keep up with the stress of life. The cells of the glands will die faster than they can be repaired. The good news is that you can change the course of your own aging process. You can test your hormones, find out which hormones are deficient and replenish or replace them. You can take natural supplements to repair and rebuild your glands and restore the hormone levels back to level of a healthy  30-35 year old. The fountain of youth is within you.

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Dr Hansen, Hansen Clinic of Natural Medicine

About the Author

Dr. Clark H. Hansen is a licensed Naturopathic Medical Doctor (N.M.D.) who has been in private practice in Scottsdale, Arizona, since 1986. He is the President and Medical Director of the Hansen Clinic of Natural Medicine, Aesthetics and Mesotherapy. Dr. Hansen is one of the most well respected Naturopathic Physicians in the country and a Diplomat of the World Society of Anti-Aging Medicine.

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