Wildflower speaks to Dr Marion Gluck, founder of the UK’s leading hormone-balancing clinic, about the importance of bioidentical hormones in restoring and maintaining optimal health at every stage of life
Dr Marion Gluck trained as a doctor in her native Germany more than 30 years ago and has since gained global acclaim for her work in women’s health and bioidentical hormone balancing therapy, which can help reduce menopause and perimenopause symptoms. The Marion Gluck Clinic in London has led the way in the use of bioidentical hormones to restore and maintain optimal health and hormone balance for patients, improving wellbeing and quality of life. Here, Dr Gluck talks to Wildflower about her pioneering work…
Why did you move into this particular area of women’s health and wellbeing?
While working as a GP in Sydney, Australia, I began to realise that traditional hormone replacement therapy (HRT) did not suit all my patients. Many on conventional, “one size fits all” HRT therapy did not feel well on it and suffered weight gain, mood swings, loss of libido and breakthrough bleeding. These were women in their 40s and 50s who were working full time, raising a family and/or looking after elderly parents, and were often the main breadwinner; in other words, they couldn’t slow down and needed to be as active, clear-headed, energised and healthy as they were in their 30s.
I’ve always been interested in complementary medicine so I started to search for an alternative to conventional HRT. I discovered a compounding pharmacy that tailor-made bioidentical hormone prescriptions for patients, which gave me the opportunity to prescribe bespoke bioidentical hormone prescriptions for each of my patients.
What is bioidentical hormone replacement therapy and how does it differ from traditional HRT?
Bioidentical hormones have been around since the early 1940s and are now increasingly accessible and becoming more mainstream in balancing hormones. They are produced from the chemical diosgenin, which is extracted from plant sources such as Mexican wild yam and soy and converted into progesterone with the identical molecular structure to the human hormone. This is then, in turn, converted into bioidentical hormones. Synthetic hormones have a different molecular structure compared with naturally occurring hormones in the body and they do not behave in the same way as the ones made by our bodies. That is why many women have side effects and do not tolerate synthetic versions of hormones.
What can a patient expect at the clinic?
The Marion Gluck Clinic specialises in hormone balancing therapy using bioidentical hormones. We put compassion and integrity first and are driven by our mission to always do what is right for our patients as individuals. We offer expertise in all hormone-related conditions, including perimenopause, menopause, polycystic ovary syndrome, premenstrual dysphoric disorder and depression. We also treat andropause, sometimes known as the “male menopuase”, and provide testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) for men.
When women come to us, we go through their history and do a hormone blood-screening test. We then prescribe a completely customised and carefully calibrated dose of bioidentical hormones to take either in lozenge form, so they’re absorbed into the blood stream via the mouth, or in a cream via the skin. Within weeks, sometimes days, my patients report better concentration and improved energy, mood and sex drive. They sleep better, their confidence is restored and they feel healthy again. Many women have had their life radically changed.
Please tell us about the unique way that the clinic works?
Bespoke bioidentical hormone therapy can be life changing for a patient’s quality of life and is incredibly rewarding for practitioners. Our team of doctors has built the treatment into our practise because the results are so satisfying for doctor and patient. Training is required in order to learn how to diagnose and treat the typical conditions, including premenstrual syndrome, perimenopause, thyroid dysfunction and andropause.
In March last year, when the realities of the Covid-19 pandemic became apparent, we acted quickly to protect the safety of our patients and staff. In a matter of days, we had closed our clinic on Wimpole Street and moved all of our bookings to telephone and video consultations. Our incredible patient care team took on the task of calling hundreds of patients to change those bookings and did a remarkable job. And just like that, the Marion Gluck Clinic went online.
We’ve certainly learned a lot operating as an online-only clinic. We’ve discovered that many of our patients prefer to speak with us from the comfort and convenience of their own home. We’ve also realised that there are many patients in the UK for whom travelling to London every few months is a barrier to attending the clinic. The change also means that our doctors and staff can enjoy improved quality of life and personal safety in this time of uncertainty.
Have you noticed attitudes changing towards the menopause?
The wellbeing of women is very important, no matter which stage of life you are at. Menopause is a totally natural occurrence that affects all women, but I felt that messages around menopause were somewhat discouraging, amounting to a statement of resignation that a woman’s health inevitably declines after menopause. We need to talk more about prevention and guidance for health practitioners and women on how to maintain a vibrant and abundantly healthy life post menopause. Although it can be called “the change”, it should only mean that a woman’s reproductive stage of life has changed. We cannot stop menopause, but we can certainly replenish all the hormones our body is beginning to produce less of. Hormones control our wellbeing, energy, mood and metabolism. In fact, they control and nurture – yes, nurture – every function in our body.
What else would you say is important for women’s health and wellbeing when they are approaching – and then steering themselves through – the menopause?
With one in four people experiencing a mental health problem, the connection between our hormones and mental health needs to be highlighted as the two are inextricably linked. Hormones control every function in the body — sleep, metabolism, fertility, energy, weight management, mood and intellect, just to name a few. Consequently, hormones in disarray cause havoc in our lives, from mood swings, anxiety, insomnia, weight gain and fatigue to the extremes of post-natal depression, severe anxiety and panic disorder, paranoia and psychosis.
With our treatments, we intend to give hope, understanding and choices to all women suffering from the turmoil of hormone fluctuations, or those experiencing changes that take them away from the person they want to be.