Are you feeling moody, depressed, irritable, fatigued, or simply feeling "out of kilter? Are you losing hair or libido or feeling hot and aged? Are you finding it difficult to lose weight or perhaps having persistent acne? These are some of the signs of having a hormonal imbalance. In both women and men, one of the hallmarks of getting older is a decline in hormone levels. Production of estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, thyroid, DHEA, melatonin, human growth hormone, and other hormones tapers off after we reach our 20s and 30s. Age-related hormonal deficiencies contribute to the signs and symptoms of aging and that’s why bio-identical hormones—which are identical to those produced in the human body—are a cornerstone therapy used by Carla Brook, NP-C.
The word hormone comes from a Greek word that means “to spur on.” That's exactly what hormones do within your body -- they act as catalysts to spur on chemical changes within your cells that supply energy and aid in development (ref). Many of our physiological processes are regulated and mediated by a complicated, interconnected network of hormonal signaling pathways. If any of these become imbalanced due to age, disease, or medical treatments, hormone replacement therapies (HRT) are sometimes recommended to help re-balance body chemistry, eliminating symptoms or reducing the risk of developing complications (ref).
Hormones are vital for prime body functioning; they perform five different types of activities in human body including 1.) Growth, 2.) Repair, 3.) Sexual Reproduction, 4.) Digestion, and lastly 5.) Homeostasis.
Synthetic and pharmaceutical hormones are administered to rectify any deficiencies by traditional hormone treatment. Since the chemical composition of conventional hormones is different from the hormones produced naturally in the human body, they remain structurally foreign to the human body. This is the major cause of several undesirable side effects.
Bio-identical hormones are synthesized such that they are structurally identical to their natural counterparts. Thus, these hormones offer the purity of manufactured hormones with the added benefits of being identical to what the body would normally produce. For these reasons, bio-identical hormones potentially offer the safest, most natural options for those undergoing hormone replacement therapies (ref). Please click to read an articles titled New Analysis Finds Bioidentical Hormones Safer Than Standard Hormone Replacement Therapy and The Bioidentical Hormone Debate by Kent Holtorf, MD to learn more about the advantages of using bio-identical hormones versus synthetic hormones.
Our approach at Riverbend Integrative Medicine is to offer tailor-made treatments for each patient and their unique hormone makeup. We work closely with compounding pharmacies to give you an individualized prescription that will help you get back to feeling like yourself. We also completely understand that hormones affect all aspects of life, including the mind, body, and spirit as a whole. Therefore, the treatment must be extended to and coordinated with the complete physiology and psychology of each patient. Lastly, we promote empowerment and partnership at Riverbend Integrative Medicine within our patients, giving them the confidence to heal himself or herself.
The list is everlong, however, some of the most common conditions that bio-identical hormones can aid in treating are:
- Hyperthyroidism and Hyperthyroidism
- Adrenal Fatigue
There are a few popular bio-identical hormones including (ref):
- Progesterone: This is secreted by the adrenal glands, the ovaries, the brain, and in time of pregnancy, the placenta. It is used to naturally balance the effects of estrogen. Natural progesterone allows women to feel much better than they do on synthetic progestins since it's less likely to cause side effects. Studies show micronized bio-identical Progesterone may protect against uterine cancer, breast cancer, osteoporosis, fibrocystic disease, and ovarian cysts.
- Estrogen: This hormone is secreted by the ovary and there are three basic forms of estrogen including estradiol, estrone, and estriol. Studies have shown that bio-identical estrogens may protect against strokes, osteoporosis, Alzheimer's disease, urinary tract atrophy, vaginal dryness atrophy and poor body fat distribution.
- Compounded Thyroid: The thyroid is considered "metabolism central." This gland effects energy regulation in every cell, organ and tissue in the body. It regulates temperature, metabolism, and cerebral function. It also increases carbohydrates, lipids, and proteins breakdown resulting in weight loss as well as lower cholesterol. Thyroid hormone is known to protect against fatigue, low body temperatures, colds and other viruses, weight gain, dry skin, headaches, depression and mood swings.
- Pregnenolone: Pregnenolone is a hormone that keeps our brains working at peak capacity. Research has shown that pregnenolone improves memory, mental function, concentration and overall well-being. Pregnenolone is a precursor to other hormones and improves cellular repair, enhances memory and learning, reduced PMS symptoms, boosts immune function, protects cerebral function, protects against neuronal injury, and can be used to treat autoimmune disorders.
- DHEA: Dehydroepiandrosterone, or DHEA, is a natural steroid hormone. It is produced from cholesterol by the adrenal glands, testes in men or ovaries in women, and the brain. In both men and women, the body's production of DHEA increases dramatically before puberty. DHEA levels usually peak when we're in our mid-20s, and decreases with age. DHEA is known as a natural antioxidant that may restore immunity, improve memory and energy, slow the aging process, positively affect depression and anxiety, and improve psychological and physical aspects of sexuality.
- Testosterone: Testosterone is secreted mainly from the testes of males and is primarily considered the male hormone. As this declines with age, there are health and appearance problems that accompany this loss. Studies report men may experience increased bone density, formation, minerals, increased energy, improvement in sexual function, decreased body fat, increased muscle strength, and decreased heart disease.
- Testosterone (for women): Healthy women naturally produce small amounts in the ovaries. It helps control a women’s libido and also may be known to enhance the functions of estrogen. Studies report women adding prescription ordered testosterone may experience enhancement of sexual drive, relief of menopausal symptoms, restoration of energy, and strengthening of bone.