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Natural Awakenings Boston

Medicinal Compounds for Hormonal Balance : Business Spotlight

Sep 30, 2018 02:00PM ● By Nancy Somera

Hormonal imbalances affect both men and women. Whether related to stress, diet, sleep patterns, inflammation, pregnancy or aging, every person experiences a hormonal imbalance at some point in their life.

“As a holistic practitioner, the first thing I do when a client comes to me with hormonal issues is figure out what the symptoms mean and find the underlying imbalance,” says Dr. Gary Kracoff , doctor of naturopathic medicine, RPh, of Johnson Compounding and Wellness. “Depending on the issue, I may recommend lifestyle changes, herbal remedies, or a medicinal compound—as opposed to regular pharmaceuticals.”

The art and science of compounding was the standard for providing prescription medications before the emergence of pharmaceuticals. “While conventional, commercially-produced medications hold a one-size-fi ts-all approach to medicine, compounded medication is made-to-order, using the precise drugs and dosages needed by the individual,” says John Walczyk, RPh, owner of Johnson Compounding and Wellness.

Hormonal Imbalances in Women

When a woman comes into the wellness center concerned about menopause or other hormone-related issues, Kracoff checks the adrenals, the thyroid and runs levels to see which hormones are out of balance. “I then have a consult with my client to determine what might be causing the hot fl ashes, mood swings, night sweats, irregular periods, loss of libido, or other complications— many times these symptoms can be addressed by lifestyle changes, diet alterations, or herbal remedies,” he says.

If it’s found that the client needs further treatment, Kracoff , Walczyk and the compounding pharmacists can work with the client’s doctor to formulate the proper dosage of bioidentical hormones. While conventional hormone replacement therapy uses pregnant horse urine as the main ingredient, bioidentical hormones are naturally sourced from yams. Th e hormones in yams are identical to those in women; while only some of those from horse urine are similar, and those hormones that aren’t may potentially harm the body.

The bioidentical hormone medication is compounded onsite at the pharmacy, using the precise levels of estrogen and progesterone as discussed with the client’s doctor. Beyond getting the ideal dosage, compounded medicine is beneficial because it can be made without preservatives and other artificial additives. This is especially useful for clients that are gluten intolerant, lactose sensitive, or allergic to dyes—as these and other aggravators can be found in commercial medications to make them more shelf-stable.

Hormonal Imbalances in Men

Men also go through their own kind of menopause, called andropause. Most men experience a reduction in testosterone by the age of 45. This may result in low sex drive, erectile dysfunction, hair loss, weight gain, mood changes and more. Like with his female clients, Kracoff follows a similar approach of scheduling a consultation, testing hormone levels, finding the underlying issues and seeing if there are any lifestyle changes or herbal formulas that may remedy the problem.

If it would be beneficial, again, Kracoff can work alongside the client’s doctor to get a prescription, then they can compound the bioidentical hormones needed. The medicine is handcrafted and customized by one of the 10 compounding pharmacists on staff to include the optimal dose of testosterone. The pharmacy helps patients with erectile dysfunctions (ED) by working with their doctor to prescribe tablets, compounded creams or if needed penile injectables, to be self-administered directly before intercourse.

Johnson Compounding and Wellness has been serving the community since 1852. “Way back before big pharma took over, it was the norm for doctors to have a discussion with the pharmacist and come up with a recipe or formula for each patient, so that the prescription would be as efficacious as possible,” says Walczyk. “In the 70s, compounding was reduced to just 20 percent of business and almost disappeared, but it is making a big comeback as people become aware of the benefits.”

Walczyk, Kracoff and every other team member at Johnson Compounding and Wellness have a deep-rooted passion for wellness and functional medicine. “People say they feel the positivity right upon entering the wellness center with its wooden cathedral ceiling, wall of windows and array of natural products,” says Walczyk. Onsite there is the wellness center, open to the public; offices for consultation with Kracoff or other staff practitioners; and a compounding lab in the back where both herbal and pharmaceutical medications are made or dispensed.

“We also strongly believe in education and hold monthly lectures on a range of topics, including hormone-related issues, which are recorded and put on the website,” says Kracoff. “Anyone can feel free to stop in; and even if someone doesn’t have a consult scheduled, a staff member would be more than happy to answer any questions— we want this to be a fun place to learn and be well.”

Johnson Compounding and Wellness is located at 577 Main St., Waltham. For more information, call 781-893-3870 or visit