Bioidentical Hormones

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Cortisol | DHEA | Estrogen | HGH | Insulin | Progesterone | Testosterone | Thyroid

What are Hormones?

Our bodies contain some 60 trillion cells that must communicate with each other in order to carry out functions. Their language is conducted by hormones, the body’s “chemical messengers” that transport information from the brain to the glands, from the glands to the cells and from the cells, back to the brain.

Hormones enter the cells through receptor sites much like a key unlocks a door. Once inside, they get to work flipping the switches that control growth, development, and mental and physical functions throughout life.

Hormones exist in harmony with each other – they are partners in a delicate balancing act. When one’s hormone levels are in the right proportions, the body functions properly. As we age, the hormones that work to keep us healthy begin to decline and balance is lost, causing unwanted symptoms, disorders and disease that can wreak havoc on our health.

Why do Hormones Decline?

Hormonally and physically speaking, your body peaks around the age of 25. After that, your body produces fewer hormones. We oftentimes assume that things like foggy memory, low libido, menopause weight gain, hair loss and others are simply a part of “getting older,” however these symptoms are often the result of an underlying hormonal imbalance that can be easily corrected with the use of bioidentical hormones.

As we age, it becomes increasingly important for both women and men to balance their hormones, to effectively safeguard themselves against osteoporosis, heart disease and cognitive problems.

In women, the symptoms of aging often first appear during early menopause (perimenopause), when estrogen and progesterone levels begin to wane and continue to decline throughout menopause. The symptoms of these hormone imbalances are often debilitating and can begin as early as age 30.

For men, they experience a more gradual loss of hormones, mainly testosterone, and the result is called andropause, also known as “male menopause.” Unlike the sudden loss of estrogen that women face during menopause, the gradual loss of testosterone happens over time and is often misdiagnosed or even dismissed as “male mid-life crisis.” The symptoms men experience are similar to what menopausal women experience. As many as 25 million American males between ages 40 and 55 are experiencing some degree of male menopause.

Natural Vs. Synthetic

Not all hormone replacement therapy (HRT) regimens are created equal. Premarin, Prempro and Provera and other synthetic variations of HRT, are manufactured by pharmaceutical companies to be mass-produced as a one-size-fits-all treatment for hormone imbalance. These synthetic hormones gained a lot of negative attention in the media following the abrupt halt of the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) trials, after scientists found that women who used these synthetic hormones were at a greater risk of cancer, blood clots, stroke and heart attack. Ever since, the safety, efficacy and potential side effects of hormone replacement therapy have been topics of great controversy.

In the years following the WHI trials, many women began seeking out HRT alternatives that would not jeopardize their health. This new-found interest in a more natural approach to hormone balance has shifted the focus to bioidentical hormones. It is important to remember that the only forms of hormone therapy that have been clinically tested were those used in the WHI trials – synthetic hormones derived from the urine of pregnant mares. Bioidentical hormones are derived from plant and animal estrogens and are then compounded in a pharmacy to create hormones that are molecularly similar to naturally-occurring hormones.

When is BHRT Necessary?

The human body contains upwards of one trillion cells that rely on a delicate balance of hormones to help carry out a variety of functions. Think of hormones as chemical messengers. When cells do not communicate with one another, physiological systems do not function optimally. Many of the symptoms often attributed to hormone imbalance are, in fact due to complications at the cellular level. The best way to address these issues is to go straight to the source – measuring and balancing your hormone levels.

The ebb and flow of hormone levels is different for women and men. In women, hormone levels peak around the age of 35 and then abruptly decline, resulting in symptoms commonly associated with menopause and perimenopause. In men, hormone levels peak in his mid-late thirties and then gradually decline as they age. In men, the decline of hormones is referred to as andropause – the male menopause.

Although hormone levels naturally decline as you age, hormone imbalances can occur at any point in the lifecycle and for a variety of different reasons. And just like menopause and andropause, these imbalances can be corrected through hormone replacement therapy. One common example is thyroid disorder. A thyroid disorder is when the thyroid gland either produces too few or too many of the hormones, triidothyronine (T3), thyroxine (T4) and thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). When an individual is suffering from an overactive thyroid, it is referred to as hyperthyroidism. If the thyroid is underactive, it is referred to as hypothyroidism. Both thyroid conditions can result in a wide range of symptoms, including fatigue, weight gain, weight loss, constipation, dry skin, brittle hair, muscle aches, heavy menstrual periods, depression and cold/heat intolerance.

Adrenal fatigue is another hormone imbalance that commonly occurs throughout the lifespan. This condition affects the adrenal glands – they become overworked, due to an excessive production of cortisol, the body’s natural “stress hormone.” Adrenal fatigue can become a serious health concern if overlooked or left untreated. This condition has been linked to a variety of diseases and medical conditions including diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure (hypertension) and metabolic syndrome.

Bioidentical Hormones A-Z

Here is a list of hormones and their role in the human body:

Cortisol

  • Responsible for responding to stress
  • Helps protect you against your environment (allergens)
  • Mobilizes energy, improves fatigue
  • Increases bone density
  • Increases your appetite for sugar
  • Decreases bone mass, muscle mass, and slows down your metabolism

DHEA (Dehydroepiandrosterone)

  • Improves neurological function
  • Increases sense of well being
  • Improves immune function
  • Improves stress tolerance
  • Increases metabolism

Estrogen

  • Protects against heart disease, stroke
  • Decreases cholesterol
  • Lowers incidence of Alzheimer’s
  • Alleviates symptoms of menopause
  • Improves memory

HGH (Human Growth Hormone)

  • Decreases body fat
  • Increases muscle mass
  • Improves tissue healing and protein synthesis
  • Increases bone density
  • Quicker illness recovery
  • Increases capacity to exercise
  • Increases skin hydration and elasticity
  • Improves sense of well being
  • Decreases incidence of illness

Insulin

  • Responsible for getting blood sugar into all cells
  • Increases muscle mass
  • Increases fat storage
  • Increases risk of diabetes, hypertension and stroke

Melatonin

  • Responsible for maintaining sleep
  • Helps alleviate “jet-lag”
  • Improves one’s mood
  • Improves the immune system (by decreasing cortisol)

Pregnenelone

  • Promotes formation of other hormones
  • Repairs brain and nerve tissue
  • Enhances many brain functions
  • Reduces aging skin
  • Improves sense of well being
  • Increases energy and mobility
  • Improves sleep quality
  • Reduces harmful stress effects
  • Reduces aging brain deficiencies

Progesterone

  • Protects against breast and uterine cancer
  • Protects against fibrocystic disease
  • Helps fat metabolism
  • Helps normalize blood sugar
  • Helps reverse osteoporosis
  • Helps thyroid hormone function
  • Acts as a natural antidepressant
  • Protects against nervousness
  • Protects against anxiety and irritability

Testosterone

  • Improves brain function
  • Increases energy
  • Increases strength
  • Increases bone density
  • Increases libido
  • Improves sexual sensitivity
  • Improves sexual function
  • Improves HDL and LDL levels
  • Improves cardiovascular health

Thyroid

  • Increases energy
  • Increases fat burning, and controls weight
  • Increases your heart rate
  • Increases your appetite