The Special Health Needs of Women
By Alex Strande, MS., Ph.D.
Historically many complaints from women were often considered hysteria, depression, or psychosomatic in nature. Even today, many women are not taken as seriously as men when they complain about symptoms to their doctor. They are routinely handed HRT or anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications.
Several studies indicate women are routinely more likely than men to have a delay in referral to specialists even though their symptoms might be similar. I believe part of this is the fact that prior to 1990, woman were rarely subjects for research even though the results for men were routinely used in womenís treatment.
Part of the reason for women being excluded in some of the major studies is because researchers feared birth defects. The impact of this is that the diagnosis and treatment of women has largely been ignored. In 1990 the NIH issued guidelines requiring women and minorities to be included in all NIH-funded clinical research.
Unfortunately, based on analyzing research articles and major medical journals from 1993-1998, only 1/4 to 1/3 of the studies analyzed data or results by sex of the subjects. So, the numbers have not improved over time, which is why women are handed Prozac when they complain of fatigue or sleeplessness.
Women are vastly different from men. Take these statistics for
* 80% of the people diagnosed with Osteoporosis are women.
* 75% of the people with Lupus are women.
* Twice as many women have arthritis than men.
* Hypothyroidism is 10 times likely to happen to a woman compared to a man.
* Fibromyalgia is 9 times more common in women than men.
* Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is 3 times more common in women than men.
* Migraine headaches affect women 3 times more than men.
* Women generally experience more chronic pain then men.
* Insterstitial cystitis is exclusively a womenís illness.
* Multiple Sclerosis occurs more often in women than men.
* Hormonal imbalances occur more often in women than men.
With all of this obvious information staring us in the face, why arenít womenís illnesses considered more important than menís? I believe this lies in our male-dominated medical and research field. First off, they simply donít relate to some of the complaints of women, and secondly they are too arrogant to see that women would have a lot to offer to the world of medical research.
Prior to working in the alternative healthcare field, I worked in traditional medicine. I was a scientist in a hospital. Suddenly, my very active and healthy wife became very ill with bizarre symptoms: fatigue, depression, loss of libido, constant illnesses and various physical complaints.
Since I worked in a traditional medical setting, I gathered all of my friends who were specialists in various fields of medicine to try to resolve the problem. I was lucky that I had access to some very good doctors. But I became very frustrated because they seemed to not have any answers. Most of these specialists wanted to medicate her with anti-depressants.
As my wife became sicker, I became more desperate. After six months with no answers, we visited a Naturopathic Doctor. With-in 30 minutes of consultation he said my wife had Celiacís Disease. He gave us a gluten-free diet, and dispensed some herbal extracts and supplements. We started that day. Within a week she was more energetic and started feeling ďnormal.Ē
Although she must maintain a gluten-free diet, today she is extremely healthy and active. This was over twenty years ago. I will always be grateful for the experience because it led me to my current profession.
I find my female patients to be a joy to work with. Most of them are highly motivated, conscious of their health and very informed. Not that I donít enjoy males, but about 60% of my male patients are getting dragged in by their wives. They are not as motivated. I believe women offer the health-care practitioner a vast array of good information since they really pay attention to their symptoms. It is sad that many Allopathic Doctors are not listening to them.
My approach is a detailed consultation with any patient where I listen thoroughly to their list of complaints. I then ask some specific questions to come up with an individualized protocol for the patient. This can take up to an hour or longer during the initial consultation. Studies indicate the average HMO doctor spends three minutes with their patient! Although this is not entirely their fault since insurance companies now dictate how long a doctor will spend with a patient. How can you heal someone when you are not listening to their complaints? It is imperative that we as practitioners listen to our patients.
Therapeutic doses of liquid herbal extracts and supplements are used to alleviate my patientís complaints. The vast majority of both my female and male patients have suffered for years and been tested or medicated with no relief. To get results, proper dosage of herbs and supplements are critical. By listening to my patients and following-up with them, they typically get results within 7-10 days, even with the most difficult conditions.
Alex Strande, MS, Ph.D., is a Naturopath and a Microbiologist,
located in Irvine, California. He can be contacted for questions and
appointments at (949) 587-1513. Please visit the website at:
Return to the January/February Index page