Progesterone in the elderly

by Penelope
(Alexandria, VA)

I am 70 years old. I used hormone replacement therapy for a very short time in my late 50s. I suffer from terrible, chronic insomnia, which is no longer helped by medications. I am desperate. Would it help me to use Progest cream or some other form of natural progesterone, and what are the negative effects?

Comments for Progesterone in the elderly

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Jan 22, 2014
Progesterone in the elderly
by: Carol K

Hi there. I cannot comment about Progesterone helping you sleep, so I will leave it up to someone like Joy to answer, but you could try Melatonin, which is known to be the sleep hormone and which diminishes as we age. GOOGLE - Melatonin and you should find a lot of information. I hope this helps.

Jan 22, 2014
Progesterone in the elderly
by: RJ

Hi Penelope!
Just want to pass on my experience with my parents; ages 78 and 79. I do not know if you are active or not, but I have found, especially with my father, now that he is so inactive, sleep is so very hard. Lunesta made him spaced out and he only took half a pill every other day. He had a bad spot on the bottom of his foot and nothing was helping...he's diabetic...so I told him to start using the Natpro that it would help...it did and also helped his sleep too. My mother doesn't have sleep issues, so I cannot use her as an example...but she does use the Natpro...not high...except when she fell a few weeks back and hit her head really hard...egg knot...and I put almost 1/4 of a tube on that spot to help the pressure and pain that was building. She was fine. Along with the cream I take GABA and taurine...I also recently introduced selenium. God Bless! RJ

Jan 22, 2014
Another idea tht might help
by: Jo

I had chronic insomnia and finally found something to help which is a good quality organic pulp-free orange juice with salt added. I have a few large mouthfuls right before bed and if I do wake up I sip on it and go straight back to sleep. It needs to taste fairly salty. I am amazed that it puts me to sleep. I had tried just about everything.

It is worth a try and even it doesn't help, it can do no harm.

Hope you find a solution to help you sleep. It's the most debilitating condition imaginable.

Jo.

Jan 23, 2014
Insomnia
by: Penelope

Thank you all so much for your thoughtful comments. I am touched that people care as much as this.

I am 71 in March, an artist working part time. I try to exercise (walk 1/2 hour) every day though at the moment the weather is interfering with this. I do a little yoga.

I have struggled with sleep issues since menopause, which made me think of using Progest cream. My reading indicates that progesterone can help with sleep.

So during the last 20 years, I have taken almost every medication available for sleep. My condition is complicated because I have fibromyalgia with neuropathy, so when it's time to sleep even if I'm tired, I am in pain. But at this point, medications only seem to make me worse.

Last year - the worst year of my life - I decided I had to take charge myself, so I took a mindfulness meditation course, which was very helpful. I looked up all the foods that might help depression and anxiety, and changed my diet. Finally, at the end of the year, I decided I had to face life with courage and not allow my condition to stop me doing things. My doctors would always say to me," I know you feel bad, but this condition won't kill you."

So I am trying to be present no matter what is going on, and I'm practicing good sleep habits - all of which is helping. The only problem is that good sleep is irregular. Sometimes I'll have a good night and sometimes a terrible night and I never know why, so I can't come up with a cause.

This is the reason I thought I'd try to find out about progesterone. Thank you all so very much for helping.

Jan 23, 2014
Progesterone in the elderly
by: RJ

Penelope, I agree with Jo about the salt. I drink...oh about 1/2 tsp of Himalayan salt in some warm water every night, which helps the adrenals and also sleep. Himalayan salt won't hurt you...only table salt or white salt. God Bless! RJ

Jan 24, 2014
Insomnia
by: Penelope

Thank you for your recommendations about the Himalayan salt. I shall try this!

Jul 08, 2014
71 year old who kept waking up with hot flashes
by: Anonymous

I read Dr. John Lee's books about post menopausal symptoms, and talked to my health care provider, asking for progesterone and possibly estrogen as well. She was very reluctant to prescribe either of these, but after much deliberation, she said, "why don't you try a small dosage of progesterone at bedtime. It might help you sleep through the night and alleviate your waking up 6 times a night from hot flashes." So, I started taking 50 mg of progesterone by mouth via 2 25mg capsules. I was able to sleep through the night, which was a huge improvement; but the other great side effect is that it gave me a huge energy boost. I was sleeping 9 hours a night, now about 7.5 hours. I feel much more energetic. That may be because I am getting a good night's sleep. But, it feels even more powerful. Also, my skin is better.

Jul 09, 2014
Progesterone in the elderly
by: Carol K

I got my husband to try the salt and honey solution and it really helped with sleep. GOOGLE - Salt and sleep. Apparently you MUST add something sweet to the salt - honey or fresh orange juice and the salt must not be normal table salt. Progesterone cream will also help. I would do both and maybe add Melatonin, as I mentioned before :). Good luck

Jul 09, 2014
Insomnia
by: Penelope

Dear Friends
Thank you so much - all of you - for your helpful thoughts and kind wishes.

I am happy to report that I am sleeping much better. I no longer take Ambien, a drug I've been taking for probably 20 years. A while ago, a doctor said to me, "You know, Ambien is not putting you to sleep now. Your system has adapted to it but it's not doing anything helpful." I paid a lot of attention to this.

I began to reduce the dose one quarter at a time until now I no longer need it. My next goal is to get off Clonazepam. I talked to another doctor about this and she said, "Let your system get well used to not being on Ambien before you try this." Which made sense to me. So I'm still taking a fairly small dose of Clonazepam and Neurontin for neuropathy and will soon begin to reduce the C.

I am seeing my gynecologist soon and I plan to talk to her about progesterone. I know there are some concerns about taking hormones when you are older, so I'll be careful about that.

Also I have just read about a supplement for adrenal support that contains gaba - the brain chemical in Clonazepam. As I phase out the C, I will introduce this supplement. It's expensive, so I would hope not to have to take it for long.

I have learned to control pain much better by learning mindfulness meditation (MBSR - Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction). In this case, I was helped by many conversations with my neurologist about how we experience pain. It was a revelation to me to know that there are no pain receptors in the brain. If I take steps to reduce pain in my feet as soon as it starts by using a cool cloth draped over them, and do some breathing and get present, I find I can keep the discomfort to a minimum. Has the disease gone? No - but I'm learning to control it without these harmful drugs.

I'm sure the medicine of the future will not use such chemicals. Research will reveal many natural ways we can treat chronic conditions. Yes - some drugs are necessary, but they do not hold all the answers. To be able to get off sleeping pills after all this time is just a miracle.

Thanks again for all your support. I'll still be tuning in to see how you are all getting on, and to learn about the discoveries you are making. And I'll let you know what my gynecologist says about the progesterone.

Jul 11, 2014
Fibromyalgia
by: Elaine

I just wanted to let people who suffer from the above that MSM (only good quality) works really well for sufferers. You will have to take it slowly to work out your level. It is bitter, but I put it into veg caps and it really helps aches and pains.

Nov 23, 2014
Progesterone for the elderly
by: Barbara

Penelope,
It's hard to get through all the information out there regarding health issues. This includes the information from our doctors. I'm convinced that the pharmaceutical companies don't want us to be well, so we can take one drug for this then another to treat the problem(s) the other caused. $$$ for them. You're smart in asking what others have experienced. Regarding progesterone, a study was done that oral progesterone is only absorbed at a rate of 5% of the prescription. The cream is absorbed at a rate of 95%. Mine was prescribed to be taken at night b/c it promotes sleep. Staying as active as you can is really good. Yoga is awesome to keep you stretched out and gain balance. Our biggest problem on so many different areas of the body is inflammation. That is better addressed by using systemic enzymes. Not just any systemic enzyme. They are manufactured differently. Check out Zymmesence. Good luck!

Dec 01, 2014
Sleep problems
by: PJG

Dear RJ and Carol:
Thanks you for your kind posts. I have used melatonin for a very long time. I do think it helps, but only minimally for someone with chronic insomnia.

I am in my early 70s and I'm very active. I am now taking taurine and hoping to get off my 5 mg Ambien. I plan to add a progest supplement but have not yet decided which one. I know that I suffer from low level anxiety, but will not take any anti-anxiety or anti-depressant meds. Instead, I plan to look into cranial stim to see whether it might work for me. I have to find a way to get to sleep despite a varying degree of pain, as I have non-diabetic neuropathy. Horrible!

Everyone's experience helps me to expand my knowledge. Thanks tons!

Dec 01, 2014
Insomnia
by: PJG

Barbara:
Thanks for this. I agree big pharm is not our friend! I plan to look into Zymessence. Thanks tons!

Dec 03, 2014
Sleep deprivation
by: Anonymous

Dr Reckeweg R14 homeopathic drops just the best. I have to take 15 drops each night with no side effect, but my husband only take 5 which is enough for him. Brilliant stuff as no groggy feeling next day.I can't take progesterone at night as it keeps me awake.

Dec 10, 2014
Sleep problems
by: Wray

Hi PJG We do have a page on Anxiety you could look through. There are many natural substances which help. Interestingly tryptophan helps both sleep and anxiety, it's the precursor to serotonin, which is the precursor to melatonin. GABA can help, but it's a difficult amino acid to use. As progesterone stimulates the GABA receptor sites, I feel this is a much better option, plus there are no adverse side effects. Progesterone also helps sleep, see here. If you do try progesterone I feel you will need at least 200mg/day. Progesterone and Vitamin D both help neuropathy. See these papers on vitamin D here, here, here here. And these on progesterone here, here and here. It's essential to take magnesium when taking vitamin D, it's the main co-factor. A lack of either vitamin D or magnesium leads to pain. A lack of magnesium causes substance P to rise, see here and here. Substance P is a nociceptive, neuropeptide involved in causing pain and nausea. Substance P inhibits progesterone, see here, but if enough is used, progesterone suppresses substance P, see here. "Accumulating evidence indicates that the neuropeptide substance P is predominantly involved in neurogenic inflammation and pain perception...... Intriguingly, decreased pain sensitivity is found to be associated with high plasma progesterone levels. We hypothesize that progesterone may attenuate nociception and associated inflammatory response." Continued below

Dec 10, 2014
Sleep problems Part 2
by: Wray

Hi PJG Oestrogen stimulates substance P, see here. So it's essential to use enough progesterone to inhibit oestrogen. Please check vitamin D and magnesium levels. A lack of vitamin D causes insomnia, see here and here. Magnesium taken at night also helps sleep, see here. A recent study has found sleep complaints associated with Insulin Resistance, see here, has anyone checked this? The best study to my mind says "In insomnia, which is a very common sleep disorder, objective sleep measures, EEG activity, physiologic findings, HPA axis activity and inflammation markers suggest that it is not a state of sleep loss, but a disorder of hyperarousal present both during the night and the daytime," see here. If you feel this is the case, please consider taking tyrosine. Although a non-essential amino acid, tyrosine is one of the most important. It's the precursor to the neurotransmitter dopamine, and the stress hormones adrenaline and noradrenaline. It's also the precursor to the two thyroid hormones T3 (triiodothyronine) and T4 (thyroxine), plus melanin, the pigment found in hair and skin. It's part of the enkephalin peptide involved in regulating and reducing pain, and increasing pleasure. Lack of protein and stress lower tyrosine levels, with a subsequent reduction in dopamine and noradrenaline. A drop in dopamine increases levels of prolactin, the hormone of lactogenesis, but also an inflammatory hormone. Dopamine is essential for a normal sexual response, increased prolactin causes a drop in libido. Tyrosine is essential for any stressful situation, cold, fatigue, emotional trauma, prolonged work, sleep deprivation, it improves memory, cognition and physical performance, and is used for weight loss treatments. ADD patients have significantly lower levels of tyrosine, phenylalanine, tryptophan, histidine and isoleucine. Acute, uncontrollable stress depletes dopamine and noradrenaline, leading to depression and a rise in corticosterone, tyrosine reverses this. The rate limiting step in dopamine synthesis is the enzyme tyrosine hydroxylase. Insufficient levels of vitamin D inhibit tyrosine hydroxylase, resulting in a disturbance in the dopamine pathway. This is essential for motivation and vitality, levels rise when rewarded, resulting in feelings of pleasure. Continued below

Dec 10, 2014
Sleep problems Part 3
by: Wray

Hi PJG A lack of tyrosine can lead to addictions to tobacco, alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, heroin and glucose. These substances raise dopamine levels. Tyrosine is used effectively for substance abuse. High cortisol at night can cause havoc with your sleeping. Have they checked your evening cortisol levels, as there seems to be a rise at that point in insomniacs. If cortisol is high, zinc lowers it, see here and here. Maybe you lack nitric oxide, also essential for sleep, see here. It is made endogenously from nitrites/nitrates and arginine, but a major source is the direct affect the sun has on our skin. The action of sunlight triggers the release of NO which is then absorbed through the skin. Do you get enough sun? Some comments above mention taking salt at night, it's excellent if the adrenals are stressed, and sodium is low. A lack of salt can cause insomnia, see here. It's a long article, but if you put 'salt' into 'find' you'll pick up the passages where salt is mentioned. We do have a page on Menopause you could look through. And another on How to use Progesterone Cream. You say you're not sure which progesterone cream to use, please have a look at the ingredients in our cream, there are no nasties. Finally, some doctors have reservations about progesterone, in particular for older people. I know of one man, now 88, who's using it. RJ mentioned above that her parents are using it. And I've been using it for 18 years, I'm now 66. I'll continue using it to the day I die! Take care Wray

Dec 10, 2014
Reply to Wray
by: PJG

Wray:
Thank you so much for your long and detailed comments. It's going to take me a while to read and fully digest it all. Some of the things I'm already doing. Some of them I've been aware of but have not yet done. Some of them are new to me. Rest assured I shall look into all of them and am optimistic that there will be some possible solutions for me. I am pretty sure that I fall in the "hyper-aroused" category both night and day, so that one really resonates. And this is only one point that sticks in my mind. There are many.

Thanks again for your kind attention to my multi-faceted issues. I confess at this stage in my life, I'm tired out with trying this and that to fully understand, and solve some of the problems associated with chronic pain and insomnia, mostly without success.

Dec 14, 2014
Reply to Wray
by: Wray

Hi PJG I found that hyper-arousal aspect so convincing, I'm pleased you did too. The complexity of the body makes it so difficult to pin point what the problem is, I think this is why we get dished out drugs. Treating a symptom is easier than looking for the cause. I do hope you find relief soon. It would be so interesting to hear if you do, and helpful to so many. Take care Wray

Dec 14, 2014
SLEEP AND PAIN
by: PJG

Yes, Wray, I shall certainly share any results. I was involved in complementary health care for many years (neuromuscular therapy and craniosacral therapy) where I saw many people suffering terribly with pain syndromes of every kind. I knew that I had something similar but I had not developed peripheral neuropathy and insomnia at that time, so I could cope. I know that we are like the "canary in the coal mine." These stress-related conditions are very much of our time, and there are no easy solutions out there. Aspects of modern society (pollution, unremitting stress, food supply, etc) and our inability to adapt, certainly cause this as you talk about.

It's asking a lot of patients to adequately educate themselves on every aspect of these complicated conditions. As I say, I'll be happy to share my own experiences.

Dec 17, 2014
SLEEP AND PAIN
by: Wray

Hi PJG Ah I love craniosacral therapy, I have it often. You're so right about the stress related conditions, I look around with alarm as all my friends are in various ways overly stressed. Not to mention the people writing in to this site, and myself! It is far too complicated for us. I'm sure you could add other pain relieving therapies etc. When you have the time we'd love to hear if any of the suggestions helped. Take care Wray

Nov 04, 2015
Elderly with lichen sclerosis
by: Anonymous

I am 76. Do you think progesterone will help lichen sclerosis? I am using clobetasol steroidal cream but it is not helping.

Jan 30, 2016
natural progesterone
by: Mary

in the book What your doctor may not tell you about Menopause. The breakthrough book on Natural Progesterone, by John R. Lee, Md. Page 318. A question is ask to Dr. Lee: How long should I stay on progesterone supplementation? Answer: Since progesterone has so many positive benefits and no known side effects, there is no reason to discontinue it. I tell woman to continue to age 96 and then we'll reevaluate. I have been on natural progesterone now for 5 years. After some tweaking with doses, 25mg works wonderful for me. I am sleeping soundly and my anxiety feeling is now gone. I just recently reduced my dosage and behold my sleeping problems and anxiety came back. So I went back to my daily dose of 25mg. I have had extreme menopausal symptoms for years and this is the best I have felt since using the progesterone. I will continue with it as long as I feel I should, even into my golden years if needed. Please do as much research into your own health. If your only problem is sleeping, then I would look into other natural solutions. The majority of doctors I have been to do not know enough about natural progesterone and you have to do your own homework and make your own decisions. I hope this helps.

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