Yesterday I submitted 2 long responses to your comments/questions and they did not show up. So I guess we will communicate here.
It is possible that you did not take enough pregnenolone. Some people over at the Peat forum claim to get benefits from as little as 10mg of pregnenolone. I did not perceive any benefits at such a low level. I started to feel some benefit at 25mg and I increased it until 50mg seemed to really help me. Some people say that pregnenolone increases their stress by increasing estrogen and cortisol, but I don’t know. I think what is happening is that some of the pregnenolone is being converted to progesterone and the progesterone drives out excess estrogen and causes estrogen dominance wake up symptoms.
As to whether pregnenolone will be better for you. There is no way to know until you try. But consider this: Pregnenolone can be converted into progesterone, but it may not be. Your body decides. If you want the benefits of progesterone (drive out estrogen, etc) then take progesterone, as it is already in the form that you want.
You asked about progesterone creams. Progesterone creams are not well absorbed into the blood stream because progesterone is best dissolved in vitamin E and oil. Those creams are water-based. Since progesterone has an affinity for fat, it builds up in the fatty tissues (even when you rotate site of application). When the body breaks down the fatty tissues, the progesterone will be released and can cause hormonal imbalance. Having progesterone stored in your fat tissues gives you a constant supply. But progesterone should be cycled. Our ovaries cycle progesterone. Or, if no fat is broken down, the progesterone stays trapped in your fat cells where it is doing you no good. That is why progesterone creams stop working after a while.
Progesterone is best taken orally, dissolved in vitamin-E. The best progesterone on the market is Progest-E, which was developed by Ray Peat. These guys currently have the best price: http://www.electricalbody.com/product/natural-progesterone-oil.htm . I rub it into my gums or put it on my tongue, move it around my mouth, hold it for a couple of minutes, before swallowing. Since it is dissolved in vitamin E, it is not destroyed by the liver like other oral progesterone. If you are going to take progest-E for estrogen dominance, it is recommended to start with a high dose to push out the estrogen quickly. A small dose will keep you in a constant state of estrogen dominance wake up.
Ray Peat says that pregnenolone reduces cortisol and other stress hormones and energizes the brain. I agree with him. It certainly does that for me.
Many people take both pregnenolone and progesterone. I am currently taking both. I started taking progest-e again a few days ago. I first tried progset-E several months ago and it caused estrogen dominance symptoms, which is normal. At the time, I did not want to deal with the symptoms so after a couple of weeks, I stopped the progesterone. I felt I wanted to give my body a chance to heal more and lower estrogen before driving it out. It seems to me that if a person has a lot of estrogen, then the drive-out phase will be much longer and more miserable (my reasoning, not Ray Peat’s). So I used pregnenolone (100mg day) and five 325 mg of aspirin per day, along with 5mg Vitamin K to prevent bruising. I also took vitamin b6 (in the P5P form), which lowers prolactin. When estrogen is high, prolactin is almost always high and it can cause a lot of problems just like estrogen. I also used vitex (chasteberry). Vitex lowers prolactin and balances the progesterone/estrogen ratio in favor of progesterone. In addition, I took one or two vitamin E capsules per day, because vitamin E also antagonizes estrogen.
Personally I believe Vitex is as important as the other supplements, although no one on the Peat forum talks about it. I first learned about vitex 13 years ago when I was having horrible PMS. After a few months of using vitex, my PMS symptoms were so much improved. I never got perfect relief, because there were other pieces of the puzzle which I was not aware of until I found Ray Peat. Also, I was still a vegetarian and my body was very messed up from that. Many of the people on the Peat forums are using drugs to lower their estrogen and prolactin and other stress hormones, but I prefer to at least try vitamins and herbs before drugs.
I understand not liking the idea of thyroid. Thyroid may not be necessary. Diet and supplements can fix everything for some people. Unfortunately some people do need thyroid but there is no way of knowing until you have given the diet and other supplements a try for at least a few months.
Many people gain weight eating Peat style. I myself have not gained any weight. Or I should say I noticed a few pounds gain and I made adjustments. Remember that extra weight does not always mean extra fat. Eating nutritionally dense foods like milk and eggs can increase lean muscle tissues, include making the bones heavier and denser, so always go by body composition and measurements, not the scale. Also, if your salt intake is too low, you may become bloated from ingesting a lot of fluids.
Having said that, some people really do gain extra fat on the Peat Plan. Anytime you gain fat, you are ingesting more calories than you can burn. If you are gaining fat, look at your starch and fat intake. Ray Peat says that starch causes weight gain and I agree. Four hundred calories of starch is not the same as four hundred calorie of sucrose or lactose. Peat also says that too much fat will cause weight gain. Coconut oil, butter and cream are not free foods just because they are healthy. Some people go overboard and take several tablespoons of coconut oil because of its ability to stimulate the thyroid. But Ray Peat says that people trying to lose weight should not use a lot of coconut oil, maybe one teaspoon three times per day. If you are drinking whole milk, maybe consider 2% or 1%, if you can stand it.
In short, when you are trying to lose weight, decrease (but don’t eliminate) fat, eliminate starch, 100% if possible. But don’t starve yourself. Create a small caloric deficit that your body can handle. If you starve yourself your metabolism will slow down. Fruit, fruit juice, eggs, milk and gelatin for a while may help to get the weight off. Then you can reintroduce starch and more fat as your metabolism increases. Also, liver once a week and shellfish for minerals like zinc, selenium and copper. Vitamin A is necessary for the conversion of cholesterol into progesterone and minerals like copper and selenium are important for the thyroid. In addition, make sure that you are not ingesting too much beta carotene from fruit or vegetables. Too much beta carotene can suppress thyroid function.
I know this opinion is not popular here, or even with Ray Peat, but I believe that exercise is essential to weight loss, particularly for women with estrogen issues. Just because excess exercise and cardio are bad does not mean no exercise is good. Weight training, in particular, is good for weight (fat) loss. I discovered that when I was in college, when everyone was claiming that aerobic exercise was the key to weight loss. Also, weight training causes the muscles to produce testosterone, which opposes estrogen.
Many of the people on the Peat forum refuse to exercise yet complain about weight (fat) gain. Or they do a few deep knee bends with 5 pound weights and wonder why they are still flabby. We were not meant to be sedentary creatures. And I think moderate cardio, like fifteen minutes a few times a week, actually lowers stress hormones and detoxifies the body through sweating.