The Special Health Needs of Women
By Dr. Aleksander Strande, M.S., Ph.D.
Historically women’s complaints 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 still routinely handed HRT or anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications.
Several studies indicate that 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, women were rarely subjects for research even though the results for men were routinely used in women’s 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 than men. Take these statistics for example:
• 80% of the people diagnosed with Osteoporosis are women.
• 75% of the people with Lupus are women.
• Twice as many women have arthritis as men.
• Hypothyroidism is 10 times likely to happen to a women 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 than men.
• Insterstitial cystitis is exclusively a women’s illness.
• Multiple Sclerosis occurs more often in women than men.
• Hormonal imbalances occur more often in women than men.
With all this obvious information staring at us in the face, why aren’t women’s illnesses considered more important than men’s? I believe this lies in our male-dominated medical and research field. First off, they simply don’t relate to some of the complaints of women, and secondly they are too arrogant to see that women 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 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 I had access to some very good doctors, but I became very frustrated since they did 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. Within thirty minutes of consultation he said my wife had Celiac’s Disease. He gave us a gluten-free diet, and dispensed some herbal extracts and supplements for her to take. We started that day and within a week she was more energetic and started feeling “normal”.
Although she must maintain a gluten-free diet, today she is extremely healthy and active. This was more than 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 are very informed. Not that I don’t 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 healthcare practitioner a vast array of information since they really pay attention to their symptoms. It is sad that a lot of 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 that 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.
I use therapeutic doses of liquid herbal extracts and supplements to alleviate my patient’s complaints. I love challenging conditions and 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, 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. His office is in Irvine, CA. He can be contacted for questions and appointments at (949) 587-1513. Please visit his website at www.simplyhealingclinic.com
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