Hormones: The Connection to Healthy Living
Bioidentical Hormone Therapy: Questions & (Confusion) and Answers
Bioidentical hormone therapy is making headlines as the medical community begins to research its benefits in treating diseases from diabetes to breast cancer, symptoms of menopause, low testosterone, and other issues associated with preventative health care and anti-aging.
So, what is bioidentical hormone therapy? That depends on which physician you ask.
Let’s start off by defining hormones. Simply stated, hormones are messengers the brain relies on to tell your cells what actions to take. Hormones , for example, can tell a cell to grow or stop growing, to reproduce faster or slower, to divide or even when to die. Hormones help the body grow, mature and maintain itself.
The Power of Hormones
You might say hormones call the shots. Hormones come in all shapes and sizes from small minerals to very large proteins. Hormones can be created from protein, amino acids, fatty acids and even cholesterol. Hormones made from cholesterol are called steroids. Here are a few examples of the various types of hormones:
- Protein hormones: insulin, human growth hormone, and parathyroid hormone
- Amino acids: thyroid hormones
- Fatty acids: Eicosanoids
- Cholesterol: testosterone, estrogens, progesterones, cortisol, DHEA and hundreds of other steroids
Male and female cells rely on the same hormones, such as estrogens (estradiol is the most potent), the male hormone testosterone, the stress hormone cortisol, and thyroid (the hormone responsible for metabolism).
Although we all have the same hormones, men and women have different levels of these hormones in their bodies—and as we grow older our levels of important hormones naturally decline. Enter hormone replacement therapy. Hormone replacement therapy can be a preventative healthcare strategy to help slow the aging process by maintaining more youthful hormone levels.
Hormones Fight Aging
As with any medical treatment, there are risks and rewards associated with hormone replacement therapy. Studies show that the benefits are significant.
Consider the importance of hormones as they relate to aging. Hormones help maintain muscles and bones. Hormones play a role in preventing heart disease. Hormones may even protect against Alzheimer’s. As our body ages, our natural hormones decline. Hormone replacement therapy can help sustain the structure and function of the body and the treat many diseases that are often associated with aging.
Bio-identical Hormone Benefits
Hormone replacement therapy has evolved, and it is safer and more effective today than in previous decades past. For example, doctors For example, doctors used hin the past used horse estrogens-- for many years by doctors. Horse estrogens that contain many different types of estrogens, some biologically identical to humans, but many and many not.
Doesn’t it make sense that hormone replacement therapy would replace the missing hormone with identical hormones rather than synthetics? That’s the concept behind bioidentical hormones.
Bio-identical hormones come from the Mexican yam, which contains a chemical called diosgenin.. Laboratories have technology to change diosgenin to human hormones (steroids). Many studies, especially those in the European literature, show the marked superiority of natural hormones over their synthetic counterparts. Natural bioidentical hormones are approved by the FDA for the treatment of menopause in women and low testosterone in men.
Customized Hormone Therapy
Bioidentical hormones therapies can be customized, which is an important factor in any treatment. The same dosage of hormones is not appropriate for every woman, for example, because every woman’s hormonal makeup is different. Much the same, every man’s testosterone levels are different, so one approach or treatment does not fit all.
Compounding pharmacies specialize in making natural bioidentical hormones. These hormones are medications that can be customized for the unique needs of each individual patient.
The FDA although approving of natural hormone therapy in the treatment of menopause and low testosterone, does not approve of customizing dosing of these hormones to the individual.
Subscribe to the ageology Ageology’s Hormones News feed to stay up to speed on our anti-aging physicians’ best practices in hormones, stress, nutrition, fitness, health, and more!