Dr. Connie Jackson: Restoring Hormonal Balance and Vitality in Women and Men
Nov 29, 2012 05:23PM
● By Kim Childs
About 30 years ago, Dr. Connie Jackson was a young mother with two small children when she decided to pursue a medical career. Her quest was fueled by frustration with her kids’ pediatric care, which favored pharmaceutical approaches to problems over exploring underlying issues. Jackson began with a degree in nutrition science and went on to become an obstetrician and gynecologist in 1991, working for decades in conventional medical settings while continuing to study integrative medicine. Two years ago, she opened private practices in Brookline and Stow to concentrate on functional medicine and bioidentical hormone replacement therapy for men and women. Natural Awakenings asked Jackson to explain her integrative approach to patient care.
Many people are talking about functional medicine these days. How do you define it?
To me, it means exploring who the individual patient is, understanding what is going on with them, learning what their symptoms are and evaluating and treating them accordingly. This means not going by lab values only. For example, many people have been told that they can’t have low testosterone or hypothyroidism, or that they can’t be perimenopausal, because their numbers are normal. But those lab numbers have a very large reference range and they may not fit the individual patient. A functional approach means not only looking at the lab values, but also listening to the patient to hear what their issues and symptoms are. I can then devise a treatment plan that is right for them.
There has been some controversy about hormone replacement therapy and bioidentical hormones. Where do you stand on the issue?
Most of my practice is geared toward restoring hormonal balance with bioidentical hormone replacement therapy. That’s been my interest since I graduated from my residency, and I use it to treat hormonal imbalances in women, teenage girls and men.
It’s well documented that oral estrogen and synthetic progestin, which is called Provera, can have dangerous medical consequences. That is why I do not prescribe them. Bioidentical hormones, however, are derived from yams and are biologically similar to what the human body makes. Because they’re mostly used as transdermal creams and patches, they don’t have to be metabolized in the liver. This eliminates the clotting risk that comes with oral synthetic estrogen, and it also means that they can be prescribed at a much lower dosage than oral medications.
What symptoms do you see in patients that suggest the need for bioidentical hormones?
Patients come to me with such issues as irritability, hot flashes, night sweats, mood changes, low sex drive, sleep disturbances, hair loss, depression, decreased stamina and energy, fatigue, difficulty with mental focus and memory and the inability to think clearly. My evaluation of them may include blood, urine, saliva and GI analysis. Once I have the results, I’ll design an individualized treatment plan to restore normal physiologic levels, and it may include bioidentical hormones and nutritional and herbal supplements as well as pharmaceuticals.
What kinds of results do you see from these therapies?
It’s not unusual for my patients to tell me, “Now I can function and think more clearly, my sleep is no longer disrupted, my hot flashes have improved and I’m not turning red and sweating all day.” When we can identify and treat their imbalances and improve thyroid and adrenal function, my patients become more energetic and interested in life again. Often I help my patients to see issues that have never been addressed. What I love about my work is that it gives me the chance to identify underlying problems and individualize treatment plans instead of using a one-size-fits-all approach to medicine. So rather than automatically prescribing a drug for a diagnosis like depression, I look at what may be causing the depression, including hormonal imbalances and an underactive thyroid. I can then treat the underlying issues that we’ve identified. My ability to think and use my training in this way is very satisfying.
Dr. Connie Jackson practices at 55 Pond Ave., Brookline; and 132 Great Rd., Stow. For more information, call 617-232-0202 (Brookline) or 617-879-0403 (Stow) or visit ConnieAJacksonMD.com.