A Natural Program for Vaginal Health

Anthurium © lynette sheppard

Anthurium © lynette sheppard

A Woman’s Touch Sexuality Resource Center based in Madison, Wisconsin, offers an alternative approach for sexual health and education. Many of their clients are menopausal and post menopausal women who suffer pain, dryness, and dysfunction. Their non-pharmaceutical program involves internal and external moisturizing combined with massage to recondition the tissues of the vulva and vagina.

To really understand the benefits and how-to’s of the program, download their pdf brochure here. On the one hand, it is fascinating. On the other hand, I had to say “Duh! Of course this makes all the sense in the world.” We often think of lubrication but rarely of reconditioning and renewing our vagina.

Owned and operated by two women; Ellen Barnard, MSSW and Myrtle Wilhite, MD, MS, A Woman’s Touch center is passionate about vaginal health and rejuvenation. They are in the process of making their own massage wands for the program, so women have a safe, affordable tool for rehabilitation. Check out their Indiegogo Crowdfunding Campaign here.

And this video illuminates the project:

 

Whether or not you use hormone therapy, this program can be a pathway to better vaginal health. Physical intimacy is an integral part of life and we shouldn’t have to forego an active, healthy sex life because of pain or dryness. I am very excited about this program and ready to try it myself. While my vaginal health is pretty good now, massage has never been a component. And as a nurse, hello, I know that increasing circulation to any tissue results in healing and renewal. Who’s with me?

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Taking the Softer Path after the Pause: How to Manage Healthy Weight and Feel Great Naturally Over 40

Butterfly Dream © lynette sheppard

Butterfly Dream © lynette sheppard

This guest post by Lynn Louise Wonders suggests we tap into the wisdom of our own bodies during this transition (and after.) Read it carefully – it’s so good that I wish I’d written it! Enjoy!

By the time we hit the age of menopause, we start to realize that the body seems to have a mind of its own.

We can no longer bake in the sun working for that golden tan without paying the steep price of leathered skin.

Gone are the days of noshing on an entire bag of chips and bouncing to the gym the next day to work it off easy-peasy.

The upside of this slippery slope is that we can begin to realize and REVERE the fact that this body has not only a mind of its own but a wisdom. An intelligence.

With hormones gone awry, metabolism halting with a screech and a growing desire to be deeply connected and respectful of what our bodies are trying to tell us, many of us middle aged women are seeking a holistic weight loss solution.

We don’t want the stimulant diet pills or the plans where we eat only pickles for weeks where we lose a lot of weight only to gain it all back later.

We don’t want to spend hours daily pumping iron and racing on the treadmill (okay, some of us love that! but many of us don’t, right?).

We are seeking a softer path.

A path that is easier on the joints and meanders flexibly within our very full lives.

We have teenagers, careers, community projects, meaningful hobbies, relationships to nurture.

We want to FEEL good in our bodies.

We want our eyes to shine and our skin to be clear with a glow from the inside that comes from leading a healthy, well-balanced life.

There are so many lifestyle changes that can be made in order to observe a holistic plan for wellness and weight loss. It all begins, though, with learning to mind the body. Want to give this a try?

Sit where you are. Look up from your computer or device and gaze around you. Try to just notice. Pay close attention to the objects and sounds in and around the room you’re in without labeling anything. Without analyzing. Without judging anything as good, bad, pretty, ugly. Just notice it.

Now, close your eyes. Feel the seat underneath you, the floor under your feet. Allow your body to sink into the support there.

Notice sounds in and around the room. Don’t react. Just notice.
Begin to notice your breath. Notice how it comes in and out of the body on its own accord. Feel the sensation.

When you practice this non-judgmental noticing with a healthy dose of deep reverence for the wisdom your body is eager to share with you, you will begin to hear guiding messages from your body.

If you eat something… say… a big hunk of bread… and you notice 10 minutes later your belly is really bloated… there might be some information to notice there.

If you notice your lips are cracked and dry no matter how much moisturizer you put on them… there is likely a message there to uncover.

Many times we need a health practitioner to help us figure out what messages our body is sending us. Sometimes we need supplementation of particular vitamins or minerals.  And sometimes if we listen, pay close enough attention without giving way to frustration with the messages (a.k.a. symptoms) we might just feel our way to a new direction.

If our bodies feel stiff and tight from sitting all day, some stretching and moving is in order. But how often do we continue to sit and sit and sit because we have a work deadline or we just ignore the body’s signals?

Same thing with releasing excess weight for women over 40.

If we are carrying excess weight the body has some information for us. In order to release that excess weight we have to tune in to what the body needs first and foremost.

Holistic weight loss for women over 40 begins with a profound choice to slow down, tune in, breathe deeply and mind your body. Listen…. really listen. Look for the softer path…
Along my own personal  journey and in my coaching programs with women over 40, I see that when we are at the great pause in life, our bodies and perhaps even our spirits are calling us to do this differently. With mindfulness we are able to make different choices.

Here are 7 ways you can create a softer path after the pause to support healthy weight release:

Begin a daily practice of mindfulness as described above. Sit for 10 minutes each day. Leave the eyes open for the first minute and then close the eyes.  Observe, notice sensations, sounds, smells without judging or evaluating. Bring this mindfulness practice into daily life – grocery shopping, driving, meal preparation and especially at meal time.

Seek out the dark leafy greens, fiber-rich fruits and veggies as central to your meals.

Step away from sugar, wine and white flour.

Get a dose of Omega 3 at each meal to ease inflammation in the body (wild caught salmon, walnuts, flax-seed)

Create a healthy sleep regimen – 8 hours of slumber in a cool, cotton nightie and a dark cool room each night. Remove all electronics from the bedroom.

Take a brisk walk 20 minutes every day. Make this a standing date with yourself. Look up at the tree tops, swing your arms, smile as you savor your aliveness.

Learn to relax and respond rather than react. Number 1 and 2 are a start for cultivating this practice. Add in purposeful relaxation time. Massage, hot baths, guided meditations, a restorative yoga class.

You are in the most incredible stage of life. Listen to your body’s wisdom. Relax into your true self.

Lynn Louise Wonders is a licensed professional counselor and a holistic mind+body coach, helping women over 40 redesign their lives.  She offers a wide array of holistic services, programs and products through her online marketplace www.wonderswellness.com and live in-person at her brick-n-mortar location Wonders Wellness Center located in metro Atlanta, GA.
Check out Lynn’s Facebook pages: Wonders Wellness and Wonders Yoga and Counseling
Her Twitter handle is @lynnwonders

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Yoga for Menopause – Enjoy this guest post by Allannah Law!

Cat yoga

by Allannah Law!

At some point in a women’s life, often in her late forties, she will find herself going through yet another transitional stage. And that stage is menopause – the cessation of her periods. If only it were that simple. Imagine waking up one day, your period is due, yet never arrives – and thinking – ah! I must be in menopause! However, as we well know, menopause can be a hell of a lot more complicated than that – its more like arrrgggghh! Menopause!!!!! Most women enter menopause somewhere between their mid forties and early fifties. However, as Dr Chistiane Northrup describes in her inspirational book – The Wisdom of Menopause – PERImenopause can start as early as 35.

My cousin discovered this to her dismay. She had just turned 39 when she went to her GP with symptoms of increased irritability, insomnia and feeling flushed. She was unduly worried- the symptoms were manageable – but she felt maybe her contraceptive pill was not agreeing with her. Her doctor suggested a hormonal profile, during her checkup, as well as some routine bloodwork. She was horrified when the results came back. Her oestrogen level was well below normal, in fact, she had a count of one (should be about 100By the time she was diagnosed at 39, she had been going through perimenopause for years and was in the stage before menopause!

So how can yoga help? Yoga can help because the purpose of yoga is balance. Postures, breathing techniques, relaxation and meditation are designed to balance your mind and body. Yoga works directly with your nervous system, increasing the parasympathetic response – allowing the body to relax and restore. When your nervous system is stable it stops your hormonal system from over reacting. The cycle of stress is well researched. When we are stressed our sympathetic nervous system (SNS) goes into overdrive, causing the hormonal system to flood our bodies with hormones, including cortisol and adrenaline. This provides our bodies with the energy we need to run or defend ourselves – fight or flight. When these hormones leave our body, we are left fatigued, the body needs to restore itself. When we are constantly stressed, these hormonal levels are routinely high, leaving no time for the body to restore. At any time in a woman’s life, this can cause major physical and mental reactions including lowered immunity, anxiety, depression and even Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. At menopause however, when we need hormonal balance as much as we did at the onset of our period, it can be devastating.

Yoga also works directly on your endocrine system – balancing the body’s hormonal levels, reducing oestrogen excess if needed; or encouraging the body to produce more, depending on the stage you are at. One of the most well researched yoga techniques is Progressive Muscle Relaxation, which has now been proven to reduce stress and anxiety; promote healthy sleep; improve wellbeing and immunity and reduce pain and discomfort in the body.

The best news is that these techniques, once learnt, can be practised at home, or whenever they are needed to bring relief and calm. The key is knowing what to practise and when. Helpful poses include forward bends, gentle inversions and lying postures. Strengthening poses are also useful, as they build bone in your body,and decrease the risk of osteoporosis. There are also pranayama (breathing techniques) created specifically to cool the body and calm the mind. Meditations and visualisations, practised before bed, will bring deep and restful sleep. But a word of caution, not all yoga styles are suited to menopause. And I’ll be writing next post on why not all yogas are equal – ESPECIALLY when it comes to menopause.

Allannah law is a fully qualified Yoga Teacher and Therapist. She specialises in Women’s health with a particular interest in fertility, pregnancy, post pregnancy and menopause. www.yogayin.com

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Premature Menopause Symptoms and Treatment

Early Metamorphosis © lynette sheppard

Early Metamorphosis © lynette sheppard

This guest post by Dr. Andre Berger demystifies symptoms and outlines help for when the Big M comes early. I know several women who started menopause in their late 20’s  / early 30’s. If you think the Change is body and mind boggling when you are 50, think what it might be if you were a younger adult. I’m sure you’ll find it informative.

The average age for the onset of menopause is approximately 51 years of age. However, some women may experience menopause before the age of 40. This early onset can be due to genetics, medical procedures, illness, or causes that are unknown. Whether it is caused naturally or induced, it is called “premature” menopause.

Premature Menopause Symptoms and Treatment

Women undergoing premature menopause will experience symptoms such as mood swings, hot flashes or other symptoms associated with menopause. However, those going through premature menopause often face additional emotional and physical concerns. For example, since menopause signals the end of fertility, women who want to get pregnant may face difficulty doing so.

Symptoms of Premature Menopause

The sign is the same as natural menopause and can include which is 12 consecutive months with no period.

Accompanying symptoms are caused by the decrees of estrogen and may include:

Vaginal dryness
Bladder irritability
Emotional changes such as depression and mood swings
Dry skin, mouth or eyes
Decreased sex drive
Difficulty with sleeping

In addition to these symptoms, if you are under the age of 40 and have any of the following, you should consult a physician to determine if you are actually experiencing premature menopause

Undergone radiation or chemotherapy
You or a family member have an autoimmune disorder
Your mother or sister went through premature menopause

Premature Menopause Diagnosis

You will likely undergo a physical exam plus blood and diagnosing testing to exclude any other medical conditions, including thyroid disease or pregnancy. You may also undergo tests that measure your estradiol, progesterone, cortisone, and testosterone levels.

The most important tests is a blood test that measures the Follicle-Stimulating Hormone (FSH) that signals your ovaries to produce estrogen and Luteinizing Hormone (LH). When the ovaries slow the production of estrogen, the follicle-stimulating hormone levels rise. If these levels rise above a certain level, this is a good indication that you are in menopause.

Premature Menopause Treatment

Premature menopause can be treated and managed with methods used for natural menopause. However, women dealing with infertility issues caused by premature menopause should discuss their options with a reproductive specialist.

Women experiencing premature menopause are experiencing lower estrogen levels that can lead to overall health changes. Additionally, these women may be at higher risks for conditions such as osteoporosis, heart disease, as well as increased risk for colon and ovarian cancer, cataract formation, gum disease and tooth loss.

If you feel you are experiencing premature menopause, consult a physician.

Dr. Andre Berger is the founder of Rejuvalife Vitality Institute in Beverly Hills, CA, and the author of the acclaimed book “The Beverly Hills Ant-Aging Prescription. Dr. Berger is Secretary of the California Academy of Cosmetic Surgery, has been board certified by the American Board of Emergency Medicine for 20 years and is a diplomate of the American Board of Anti-Aging and Regenerative Medicine, and the American Board of Holistic and Integrative Medicine.

 

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Happy Hair Days Are Here Again

tangled sunflower © lynette sheppard

tangled sunflower © lynette sheppard

Thinning hair has plagued me since the beginning of menopause. Actually, it freaked me out more than any other symptom! And I had plenty of them. When I dashed to the dermatologist and hairdresser in a panic, they were less than concerned or interested. I really felt alone.

Thankfully, those days are behind us. More and more, thinning hair is recognized as a frequent and disturbing malady for Menopause Goddesses. While overall, my thinning has slowed and stabilized, I still long for fuller hair with more body.

I help matters by having my hair cut in layers, and getting periodic highlights to “fatten” up my hair so it looks fuller. Still, anything that can help, I am game for.

When the Redken folks were looking for women with thinning hair to try their new Cerafill product line specifically geared to us, I raised my virtual hand up high. Pick me, please. Pick me. And they did.

For two weeks, I used the Cerafill solution to thinning hair. I used the Defy shampoo and conditioner. Then I worked in the Cerafill Maximize Dense FX which thickens hair diameter. I also tried the fourth product they sent called Cerafill Maximize Texture Effect, which really fluffed up my hair.

Cerafill defy

Cerafill defy

densefx-and-texture-effect-122x350

Previously I’d had pretty good success using my previous shampoo and conditioner – Nioxin. As for products to fluff, I changed every other month – they all worked okay. I did feel like my hair seemed thicker subjectively using the Cerafill products almost right away. But I wondered if I wasn’t just talking myself into it.

Yes, I should have taken before and after pictures but other than the inadvertent neck selfies when my iPhone camera flips to front facing, I rarely take photos of myself. I’d have to depend on my sense of touch.

Near the end of two weeks of use, off I went to a professional conference. A woman came up to me out of nowhere and said, “I love your hair. I would give anything to have hair like yours!”  I stammered a “Thank you” and went to the restroom to take a look in the mirror. While I wouldn’t say I felt that I looked dramatically different, my hair did look full and normal. Normal is big when you have thinning hair, believe me.

I got more compliments on my hair over the three days of the conference than I have had over the last 12 months. I think that would constitute a successful trial of Redken’s new Cerafill thin hair solution.

Tomorrow, I go to see my hairdresser. I’ll let you know what he says!

In the interests of full disclosure:   I am participating in a Vibrant Influencer network campaign for Cerafill powered by Redken. I am receiving a fee for posting; however, the opinions expressed in this post are my own.* I am in no way affiliated with Redken and do not earn a commission or percent of sales.

*If you regularly read my blog, then you know that I don’t endorse anything lightly nor do I pretend to like something when I don’t.  Nuff said.

For more information, check out these links:

Redken Cerafill Webpage
Cerafill Salon Finder
Redken Youtube Page has some cool videos of real people and their experiences with the products, so you don’t have to just take my word for it.

Yes, there is hope for our hair after menopause. Hallelujah!

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Beat the Summer Heat with this Survival Kit

Mele in the Grass © lynette sheppard

Mele in the Grass © lynette sheppard

The dog days of August are upon us, which is a double whammy for an already thermically challenged Menopause Goddess. Time to head for water – a pool, riverbank, or beach. Or even your back yard. And to help you cope with the summer heat wave, we are offering a giveaway to one lucky goddess.

Estroven, a well-known company in helping women manage hot flashes and more through the menopause transition, has sent us their “Beat the Heat” survival kit, designed to keep you cool while you enjoy summertime. It includes a beach towel, a water bottle (got to stay hydrated), sunscreen, (wrinkle prevention), a two month supply of Estroven weight management (which also helps with hot flashes – sort of a 2 for 1 supplement, woo hoo), an ice sphere which is a cute little plastic thingy that you can freeze water and fruit in and add to any beverage for extra cooling and flavor, and a booklet of nutrition tips from Estroven’s expert, LeAnne Skinner.

And of course, you’ll need reading material, so I will throw in an autographed copy of “The Big M”, the chronicle of our Menopause Goddess group adventures, guaranteed to make you laugh out loud. (And there are lots of helpful tips for surviving, even thriving during menopause and beyond.)

OK, so the contest. All you have to do is “like” Estroven (click here) and Menopause Goddess Blog (click here) on Facebook. Once you have “liked” both pages, send your mailing address and email to me at lynette@9points.com. We will draw a lucky winner from the contestants in one week – on Monday, August 11. (BTW, I only need your address, etc. to facilitate getting you your prize, should you win. I won’t use it for any other purpose.)

Oh, and if you have already “liked” Menopause Goddess Blog FB page in the past? Then just “like” Lusome’s FB page and send me your info. You don’t get left out just because you are an early adopter or loyal follower.

Note: The Estroven supplement contains soy isoflavones and black cohosh. If you are allergic to soy (like me, sigh), then you may not take the supplement. OK, stay cool and start liking!

PS. Congratulations to Peg Daley, who won the Lusome sleepwear giveaway!

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Menopod: Cool New Device Relieves Hot Flashes Naturally

frozen flower © lynette sheppard

frozen flower © lynette sheppard


The folks at Alexander Medical sent me one of their “cool” devices to try. It’s called the Menopod. Small enough to carry in a purse and discreet to use, this little powerhouse really does stop hot flashes in their tracks.

It works by counteracting what happens during a hot flash. When we suffer menopausal vasomotor instability (hot flash), our surface blood vessels dilate causing a flush and sensation of heat. With the menopod, we can reverse the process. Press the power button when the discomfort starts and place the device on the back of your neck. It’s copper cooling plates put 41 degrees F (5 degrees C) right where your thermoreceptors are most sensitive. The brain (for reasons unknown to me, even as a registered nurse) responds by vasoconstriction of surface vessels and blessed cooling of the flash.

Here’s a little more info straight from the developers.

FYI, the Menopod was “born” when CEO Patricia Copeland went through menopause hell with hot flashes, especially as she was not a candidate for hormonal treatment. Menopause goddesses like Patricia make things happen!

I have been carrying the Menopod around with me for a couple of weeks, and it works like a charm. Sure, ice cubes or a bag of frozen peas might work too, but they are horribly inconvenient most times. And messy. And usually not instantly available.

The menopause folks have launched an Indiegogo campaign to make sure this device is available to menopausal women everywhere: here is the link:  https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/menopod-hot-flash-relief/x/8032073. 

You can buy it at a greatly reduced price during this promotion, but only until August 26. I bought mine! Too too cool. And that is a great thing to be for a menopausal woman. Just sayin’.

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Giveaway: Cooling Sleepwear Can Be Yours

Daisy Chain © lynette sheppard

Daisy Chain © lynette sheppard

Earlier this month, we had a guest post about the innovative “cool” new sleepwear from Lusome. I got to try it – and it’s an absolute winner in my book. With a feeling of soft brushed cotton along with its wicking ability, we can be dry and cool all night long. Which is heaven, as those of us who have been hot, wet, then cold in rapid succession can attest.

Anne sleepwear © Lusome

Anne sleepwear © Lusome

The Lusome folks want to give away one of their lovely cool gowns or jammies to a lucky Menopause Goddess. And because we goddesses don’t have a lot of time or energy thanks to this transition, we will make it super easy.

Just “Like” Lusome’s Facebook page (click here) and then “Like” Menopause Goddess Blog Facebook page (click here.) Once you have “liked” both pages, send your mailing address and email to me at lynette@9points.com. We will draw a lucky winner from the contestants in one week – on Monday, August 4. (BTW, I only need your address, etc. to facilitate getting you your prize, should you win. I won’t use it for any other purpose.)

Check out the Lusome website for all the beautiful styles and start thinking about the one you want! I chose the Anne gown – and I love it.

Oh, and if you have already “liked” Menopause Goddess Blog FB page in the past? Then just “like” Lusome’s FB page and send me your info. You don’t get left out just because you are an early adopter or loyal follower.

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Older Ladies Rock!

Donnalou Stevens

Donnalou Stevens

Donnalou Stevens is a true Menopause Goddess. Her hilarious midlife song Older Ladies has gone viral. Watch it and you’ll see why. This may just be our new anthem as we journey our Second Adulthood. Enjoy. And you can find more on her website at donnaloustevens.com

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Menopause Supplements and Licorice

Candy Dish © lynette sheppard

Candy Dish © lynette sheppard

This informative guest post comes to us from our friends at menopausesupplement.com. Licorice may just relieve our hot flashes – just think, we might be cool without hormones or the latest trend of prescribing antidepressant drugs. (Talk about using an elephant gun to kill a fly – antidepressants purely for hot flashes? Really?) Read on for enlightening info including how licorice has effects similar to SSRI antidepressant drugs – without the big dog side effects.

Menopause Supplements and Licorice

When faced with menopause symptoms, many women turn to menopause supplements because of the health risks associated with hormone replacement therapy. The most common herbal remedy for menopause is black cohosh. While some women have experienced success with black cohosh, many have been left disappointed and forced to take more drastic action for their menopause symptoms. What many women do not know is that licorice is a viable alternative and research is continually showing what a great menopause supplement it can be.

A recent study conducted with 90 women showed that licorice root is effective in reducing the frequency and severity of hot flashes. In fact, licorice showed approximately a 90% reduction of severe hot flashes while the placebo only showed less than a 10% difference. After 8 weeks the test group stopped taking licorice which resulted in hot flashes going back to their original levels, confirming that licorice is effective.

No one knows for sure why licorice is effective for hot flashes but it may be a combination of two interesting properties of licorice. First of all, licorice has similar properties to a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI).  A SSRI influences a neurotransmitter called serotonin which is thought to have a role in affecting body heat and thereby reducing hot flashes. Additionally SSRIs are generally used for their role in elevating mood and may be beneficial for women going through mild or moderate menopause mood symptoms*.

Another reason licorice may be so good at alleviating menopause symptoms is that it is a phytoestrogen which means that it mimics the effects of estrogen in the body.  Menopause symptoms are closely connected to diminishing estradiol (a type of estrogen). It was previously known that that glabridin, a molecule in licorice, functions like estradiol.  In one of the pioneering studies on glabridin, glabridin was proven to be a phytoestrogen that actually binds to estrogen receptors in the body. According to the study, “The stimulatory effects of 2.5–25 μg/animal glabridin were similar to those of 5 mg/animal estradiol.” So it makes sense that a natural substance that shares the same structure as estradiol, and is confirmed to operate similar to estradiol in the body, will have beneficial effects with respect to relieving menopause symptoms.

Overall, licorice-based supplements have been clinically studied and found to greatly reduce common menopause symptoms by naturally replace the bodily substances that are diminished during menopause.

While it may be tempting to attack the candy aisle at the grocery store, you should know that licorice candy is not really licorice and furthermore taking licorice for an extended period of time can be bad for your health. There is a menopause supplement based on a licorice extract called MenoSupp that is specially formulated for safe daily consumption. You can learn more about licorice and MenoSupp at: www.menopausesupplement.com.

1. Lida Menatia, Khosheh Khaleghinezhadb, Mitra Tadayonic & Amir Siahpooshd. (2013). “Evaluation of Contextual and Demographic Factors on Licorice Effecting on Reducing Hot Flashes in Postmenopause women.” Health Care for Women International, 00:1-13 (2013).

2.  Ofir R., Tamir S., Khatib S., Vaya J., Inhibition of Serotonin Re-uptake by Licorice Constituents. Journal of Molecular Neuroscience. 2003 Apr 20 .(2):135-140

3. Snait Tamir, Mark Eizenberg, Dalia Somjen, Sarit Izrael, Jacob Vaya. “Estrogen-like activity of glabrene and other constituents isolated from licorice root.” Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, 78 (2001) 291-298.

 

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