Dr. Robert Sieman, who retired in 2011 after a long career delivering babies, now treats hormone imbalances for both women and men, Photo by duane tinkey
Dr. Robert Sieman, who retired in 2011 after a long career delivering babies, now treats hormone imbalances for both women and men, Photo by duane tinkey

New Leaf Wellness PLLC in Clive strives to help people reclaim their lives from two conditions that can significantly affect their quality of life: hormone imbalances and migraines.

The clinic’s owner and practitioner, Dr. Robert Sieman, practiced as an obstetrician and gynecologist locally for 33 years before starting the clinic, which recently rebranded itself.

New Leaf specializes in treating patients using derived natural hormones, which the company said are structurally the same as hormones a person would produce naturally. The hormone pellets, which are packaged and sterilized by a compounding facility in New York, are inserted beneath the skin to deliver the hormones.

Good niche, bad partner

Sieman, who in June 2011 hung up his stethoscope from his OB/GYN practice, initially launched the clinic in December 2011 as HRC Medical Center, part of a Tennesee-based group of hormone replacement centers. He saw hormone replacement as a good fit, particularly since he’s also a licensed pharmacist.

“I felt it was a good niche to keep myself occupied and busy,” he said. “Obviously, I think there are a lot of issues that women have when they reach perimenopause and menopause.”

Earlier this year, however, some events caused Sieman to break all ties with HRC. In October, the corporate owners of HRC and its operations in Tennessee were accused by the Tennessee attorney general of making deceptive and unsubstantiated claims about the benefits of its hormone replacement treatments. In a 160-page complaint, the attorney general also accused HRC Medical of not disclosing potentially harmful side effects of the treatments and of having minimally trained technicians administer the hormones. The attorney general is seeking to close the company’s Tennessee operations and to assess civil penalties for violation of the state’s consumer protection act.

New Leaf, launched in September in the same Clive location, is a completely separate operation and is not affiliated in any way with HRC, said Art Mattson, owner of New Leaf Centers, a medical practice management company that provides business services to the Clive clinic.

“Upon learning of HRC Medical’s serious legal issues in Tennessee, Dr. Sieman promptly terminated his contract with the Tennessee corporation and its clinic in Iowa,” he said. Mattson said his clinic management company also terminated its contract with HRC.

“Our office here in Iowa was run a lot differently than other HRC centers,” Sieman said. “We felt the best thing was to get away from HRC.”

Though Sieman had previously provided the same Amor Vie hormone replacement treatments as HRC, “our patients were always initially seen by a physician, myself,” he said. Sieman noted that he’s also “very conservative” in dosing the hormones. “We try to tell our patients that if they have any questions or concerns to come to us, which they’ve done.” As with any treatments, results will vary from person to person, he added, “and we can’t cure everything.”

The Iowa attorney general’s Office of Consumer Protection has no written complaints on file regarding HRC in Iowa, said Geoff Greenwood, an agency spokesman.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not regulate the compounding of bio-identical hormone replacement therapy drugs, and cautions people to become informed about potential risks before seeking treatment.

No more hot flashes?

Although hormone production begins to decline with age, treatment may be suitable for any adult who is experiencing symptoms of a hormone imbalance, not just older people, said clinic manager Lynn Hall. “There’s no special age,” she said. “Our youngest patient is 21 years old and our oldest is 86 currently in this clinic. There are many people in their 20s who are on the program because they are having significant hormone imbalances.”

The hormones – testosterone for men and estrogen, testosterone and progesterone for women -- are compounded from the root of the Mexican yam plant, which yields hormones that are identical in structure to human hormones. The progesterone is taken by patients as a pill under the tongue.

“Almost every patient reports significant improvement, and many report that symptoms they used to experience are now gone,” New Leaf says on its website, which also warns of potential side effects. For women, those could include hair growth, acne, lowering of voice and breast tenderness or enlargement.

Women who have gone through menopause are “very happy (with the treatment) because they can get rid of their hot flashes,” said Karla Thompson, one of the clinic’s two nurses. “We can get them feeling 100 percent again.”