Considerations for Using Natural Bioidentical Hormones – Part 1

By: Dr. Michael Lam, MD, MPH; Dr. Justin Lam, ABAAHP, FMNM


Our bodies produce hormones naturally and on a continual basis. Hormones are a necessary part of how the body reacts to stimuli and maintains proper function. When we have improper or deficient hormone production, there are a multitude of consequences to physical and emotional well-being. Natural bioidentical hormones are a type of supplementation that can help to restore the balance of hormone levels within the body.

What are Natural Bioidentical Hormones?

Natural bioidentical hormones prescribed by a doctor.The simplest explanation of natural bioidentical hormones is that they are a hormonal supplement sharing the same molecular structure as what is naturally produced in the body. The human body cannot distinguish a natural bioidentical hormone from what is produced in the body. Because of this, the same reaction occurs to bioidentical hormones as does to naturally produced hormones. There are many who believe this is a safer method of therapy for symptoms of menopause, and in some instances it is considered a tool for use in anti-aging.

However, where the usage of natural bioidentical hormones is concerned, the fact that many of these natural alternatives have not been as extensively studied by the FDA is a cause for concern for some medical professionals. There are differences in how some non-bioidentical hormones react within the body compared to natural bioidentical hormones. For example, some have longer solubility durations and increased specific targeting for purposes of symptom mitigation. Some bioidentical hormones are not significantly different from synthetic hormones and similar cautions apply.

Cortisol and Cortef

There are many examples of bioidentical hormones, but cortisol gives a good in-depth picture of how deficiencies arise and can be mitigated with the use of supplements. Cortisol is a bioidentical hormone that is produced by the adrenal glands. It’s necessary for many aspects of life, and it increases in response to stress as part of the fight or flight response.

Cortisol has a normal diurnal rhythm, meaning that it increases every day when we get out of bed and then slowly declines throughout the day, until finally the levels are low enough to allow for sleep. Since cortisol is released when we encounter stress, it also contributes to fat stores, weight gain, and even insomnia. Problems arise when the body cannot produce enough cortisol due to overly high demands placed on the adrenal glands to cope with stress. This problem results in low cortisol levels, which contribute to high levels of fatigue and lethargy. Many people who experience continued stress inevitably have low or suboptimal cortisol levels.

There is a bioidentical hormone that is sometimes used for depressed cortisol production known as Cortef. This product is often used to help raise cortisol levels to a more optimal standard, allowing negative symptoms to be overcome naturally.

It is important to note that we are not suggesting anyone take medication without first speaking with a health practitioner to ensure making the right decision. Natural bioidentical hormones are not going to be the right choice for everyone. Note that cortisol is in the steroid family, which means there are quite a few possible negative side effects from usage. Identifying any illness when you are not a professional can be dangerous and should be approached with care.

Estrogen Hormone Therapy Postmenopause

Postmenopause use of natural bioidentical hormonesWhen women enter into menopause, there is no shortage of suggestions as to how they should cope with the symptoms. One popular way is through therapy using natural bioidentical hormones. There is a natural decline of hormonal output in a woman’s body as she progresses through life, and some believe that it is best to augment those lost hormones with natural bioidentical hormone replacement.

After a woman’s period stops, hormone levels fall and it often causes many uncomfortable symptoms like hot flashes, vaginal dryness, and, in some instances, it can even aggravate conditions like osteoporosis. Because of this, hormone replacement is often considered a helpful way to mitigate menopausal symptoms. There are some advantages to these types of therapies.

One of the benefits of estrogen hormone therapy is the reduction in osteoporosis risk. Estrogens are considered the most effective way of increasing bone mineral density and preventing related bone fractures in women. However, there is also need for caution because when women discontinue hormone therapy, there is often a reversion back to the rate of bone loss that they were experiencing before the therapy was used. On the other hand, there have been studies demonstrating that after long term hormone therapy, bone loss in postmenopausal patients tends to show a long term net benefit.

There are also risks involved in natural bioidentical hormone therapy using estrogen and progesterone. There have been studies suggesting that there is a correlation between hormone therapy and breast cancer, which is very concerning. There are also side effects which can appear such as breast tenderness, leg cramps, bloating, headaches, and nausea. It will depend on the individual as to whether or not these symptoms and risks are worth bearing for the benefit of lessening the symptoms of menopause. For some it may be a simple solution, but for others, it may not be worth the tradeoff.

Hormone replacement therapy is a very serious thing to consider, so every person considering its use should undertake a careful investigation of the facts before making a choice. Hormone therapy could very well impact the rest of your life. It is always best to discuss your options with a professional so that you can make the best informed decision possible. You only get one body, so it is wise to be careful with it. To read more on the safety, please click the link.

Human Growth Hormone Deficiencies

Human growth hormone (HGH) is a naturally available replacement option for those who do not produce enough growth hormone on their own. There are many people who suffer from this, and a long list of symptoms that can be present in those who are affected. These symptoms range from reduced sex drive, reduced energy, increased body fat, and reduced bone mass, to heart issues. Because of this, growth hormone levels need to be kept in check. It is estimated that there are more than ten million people in who suffer from this condition.

Growth hormone is produced in the pituitary gland below the hypothalamus at the base of the brain. It has a role in a multitude of functions including the stimulation of the immune system, increase of muscle mass, calcium retention, and strengthening of bones. There are tests that can be done to determine if you are deficient in growth hormone, and there are natural bioidentical therapies that can be administered to help you recover to normal levels.

The growth hormone and natural bioidentical hormonesAs with everything that alters hormone levels in the body, therapy with HGH should not be taken lightly. There are many possible negative side effects that can occur when undergoing a protocol to normalize growth hormone levels. Though it is not terribly common, people have reported joint swelling, joint pain, an increased risk of diabetes, carpal tunnel syndrome, and there is a possibility it may even increase the risk of Hodgkin’s lymphoma. It is important to be aware of a multitude of aspects involved in any therapy before you decide that it’s right for you. Click here to learn more about hgh injection.

Hormone Imbalances

Hormones are produced by the endocrine system of the body, which is a network of glands that produce and release hormones controlling many important bodily functions. The endocrine system controls many things, including heart rate, bone and tissue growth, and the thyroid. Endocrine disorders result when glands produce either too much or too little hormone to properly regulate functions. This is often referred to as a hormone imbalance.

During hormone imbalance, the body has a dysregulated feedback system. It can’t produce enough hormones to meet demand, or it has difficulty removing hormones from the bloodstream at sufficient rates. The adrenal glands in particular, when exposed to high levels of stress, can become fatigued and unable to respond properly to the body’s needs, leading to a surprisingly common condition known as Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome (AFS).

 
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© Copyright 2017 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.


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8 Comments

  • Susan says:

    After seeing a Naturopath doctor, it looks as if I have many of the symptoms of AFS (waiting to see all the results of my lab tests). I brought along the results of my blood panel from my physical last year with a regular doctor (MD) and the ND said that my progesterone is low and that taking a plant-based progesterone supplement (on days15-28) could help with the disrupted sleep I experience almost every night. What are your thoughts about taking this supplement with AFS?

  • Robin Ham says:

    I’ve been using bio identical hormones about six months. Lately my panic/anxiety has increased at an alarming rate. As estrogen is produced somewhat in the adrenals after menopause, I’m wondering if that is the problem. My system can’t get rid of the extra estrogens. Buzzing internally is awful, tinnitus is horrible, can’t see living like this much longer. What do you think Dr. Lam? Am I overtaxing my adrenals with bhrt?