Bioidentical Hormone Therapy

Bioidentical Hormone Therapy

Our hormones play a major role in
how fast we age. The action of the various hormones is very complex. In part
they act to advance the life cycle according to the biological plan.
Alternatively, they may go haywire, promoting disease states associated with
the aging process.

Since hormones influence the rate at which we age,
considerable research is underway to evaluate the feasibility of “replacement
therapy” to forestall the aging process and the degenerative changes that
accompany it. “Replacement therapy” has been around for some time in the
treatment of menopause. Many gynecologists advocate the use of “estrogen” and
“progesterone” in the alleviation of menopausal symptoms. But “replacement
therapy” and the use of hormones should not stop there. The use of
testosterone, the adrenal hormones such as DHEA, pregnenolone, melatonin and
Human Growth Hormone are now just being investigated. The sex hormones, such as
estrogen, progesterone and testosterone, which are deliberately programmed for
decline, are obvious targets for intervention. In women, menopause is distinct.
In men, what is becoming known as “andropause” is less clearly demarcated,
perhaps masking the importance of testosterone. The adrenal androgens too, best
exemplified by DHEA, may pace aging in both of the sexes through a change of
life dubbed “adrenopause” by hormone researchers.

Let us take a look at these various hormones, and contrast some of them with
their synthetic counterparts.

Estrogen and Progesterone

When we talk of hormones and women, most of us think of estrogen and a few more
will also include progesterone. Estrogen and progesterone are closely
interrelated in many ways. In a normal functioning premenopausal woman,
estrogen is made from progesterone and/or androgens within the cells of the
body. After menopause, estrogens are converted from adrenal produced androgens
(DHEA), primarily in body fat. Estrogen and progesterone are, in many ways,
antagonistic; yet each sensitizes receptors for the other. A key to hormone
balance is the knowledge that when estrogen becomes the dominant hormone and
progesterone is deficient, the estrogen becomes toxic to the body; thus
progesterone has a balancing or mitigating effect on estrogen.

Estrogen is responsible for the maturation of young women at puberty. Estrogen
causes the accumulation of fat that gives the female body its contours, but in
excess or when it is not in balance with progesterone, can contribute to excess
fat accumulation. When women consume considerably more calories than what is
needed, estrogen production increases to supernormal levels and may set the
stage for estrogen dominance syndrome and exaggerated estrogen decline at
menopause.

In the United States and most industrially advanced countries, diets are rich
in animal fats, refined starches and processed foods. This provides calories in
excess to the bodies needs and leads to estrogen levels in women twice as high
as those do in women of the more agrarian third-world countries.

Estrogen Dominance Syndrome

In this context, it is worthwhile to compare the physiological effects of
estrogen versus progesterone:

Estrogen’s effectsStimulates breast tissues

Increases body fat

Causes salt and water retention

Depression and headaches

Interferes with thyroid hormone

Increases blood clotting

Decreases sex drive

Impairs blood sugar control

Causes loss of zinc and retention of copper

Reduces oxygen levels in all cells

Reduces vascular tone

Slightly restrains osteoblast function

Reduces vascular tone

Increases the risk of autoimmune disorders

Increases the risk of endometrial & breast cancer

Progesterone’s effectsProtects against fibrocystic breasts

Helps use fat for energy

Natural diuretic

Natural antidepressant

Facilitates thyroid hormone action

Normalizes blood clotting

Restores sex drive

Normalizes blood sugar levels

Normalizes zinc and copper levels

Restores proper cell oxygen levels

Restores normal vascular tone

Stimulates osteoblast bone building

Restores normal vascular tone

Precursor of corticosteroid disorders

Prevents endometrial and breast cancer

It is clear that excess estrogen, when unopposed or unbalanced by progesterone,
is not something wholly to be desired. It becomes clear that many of estrogen’s
undesirable side effects are effectively prevented by progesterone. I would
propose that a new syndrome be recognized: That of estrogen dominance. This
syndrome, with symptoms familiar to most women in industrialized countries,
commonly occurs in the following situations:

  • Estrogen replacement therapy.
  • . Premenopause (early follicle depletion resulting in a lack of ovulation and
    thus a lack of progesterone well before the onset on menopause).
  • Exposure to xenoestrogens (foreign chemicals that have an estrogen effect in
    the body that cause early follicle depletion).
  • Birth control pills (with excessive estrogen component).
  • Hysterectomy (can induce subsequent ovary dysfunction or atrophy).
  • Postmenopause (especially in overweight women).
  • Estrogen use in the meat industry.

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