How are Bioidentical Hormone
Replacement Therapy (BHRT) Treatments Created?
If bioidentical hormones are purchased at a compounding pharmacy, a cocktail of hormones is created, uniquely tailored for each individual patient. If they're purchased at a conventional pharmacy, these hormones are available in a range of set doses. In both instances, the prescriptions are based on a series of tests administered by a doctor. Many of the bioidentical hormones used are made from soybeans and wild yams, which contain unique compounds that are processed chemically and made into identical replicas of hormones the body produces. They are used for their cost-effectiveness as well as their ability to readily extract compounds and turn them into exact replicas of human hormones.
What's Wrong With Synthetic Hormones?
Hormones are chemicals produced in your body
and give signals to your cells for a variety of functions that help to maintain
your health. By working together, hormones may stimulate or inhibit growth, activate
or inhibit your immune system, regulate your metabolism, or control the reproductive
cycle, depending on the particular hormones.
Physiologically, hormones act through
somewhat of a "lock and key" mechanism with cells. Hormones in our body bind to
specific receptors on our cells; the receptor is like a lock and the hormone is
like a key. When a hormone binds to its own, unique receptor, the cell generates
a response to that particular signal. The chemical structure of the hormone is analogous
to ridges on a key. If a hormone has a slight variation in the chemical structure,
it may very weakly bind or not bind at all to its receptor and therefore will not
give the appropriate signal to the cell, just as an inexact copy of a key may fit
into its lock but may not turn the lock.
This point is particularly significant
when discussing the function of synthetic hormones, which are not exact copies of
hormones found in your body. Synthetic hormones may give undesirable messages to
cells, which may lead to increased risks of breast cancer and coronary heart disease
as we saw before with synthetic progesterone. The WHI study, as well as almost all
hormone replacement treatments in the 20th century, used synthetic hormones. Additional
studies that found increased health risks focused on the synthetic hormones, too.
Many of the increased health risks may be due to the inappropriate signals given
by these inexact hormone replicas.
The bottom line is that giving the same signals
as naturally-found, human hormones to produce the same cellular response requires
using exact replicas of our hormones.
Why Should I Use Bioidentical Hormones?
In general, hormones in the body maintain your health. Hormone levels generally
decline as we age, and health maintenance concerns arise. When hormone-producing
glands do not function properly, hormones become imbalanced or deficient, and
severe consequences develop. If hormones such as estrogen, testosterone,
progesterone, DHEA, cortisol, growth hormone, thyroid hormone, or insulin are
imbalanced or at improper levels (too high or too low), some of the symptoms
that may occur include:
- Abnormal metabolism and/or poor
- Sexual dysfunction / vaginal
atrophy / urinary incontinence
- Sleep disturbance and/or
- Energy / staminia decline
- Depression / mood swings
- Disease vulnerability to colon
cancer, heart disease, stroke, osteoprosis, tooth loss, Alzheimers, mascular
degeneration and cognitive decline
- Accelerated aging
- Weight gain despite proper diet
- Hot flashed
- Skin Atrophy
Are There Health Risks With Bioidentical Hormones?
As discussed before with the WHI study, researchers suggested that the culprit of the increased health risks was in fact the synthetic progesterone. Many studies have compared the effects of synthetic progesterone and bioidentical progesterone, and the tables on the left show the general results.
decreases not only the risk of breast cancer but also the risk for
cardiovascular disease, whereas synthetic progesterone increases the risk for
both. These results bolster the idea that bioidentical hormones are better, more
beneficial, more physiological, and safer than their synthetic cousins.