Hormones are critical elements in almost every function of the body. The most common hormones replaced in Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy each play a critical role in your physical and mental health. Here is a brief description of the most major hormone functions.
Thyroid Hormone is produced by the thyroid gland in the front of the neck and regulated by the pituitary gland. It is often referred to as the master hormone. It is a metabolic hormone regulating temperature, metabolism and cerebral function. It is a massive contributor to energy levels and the body’s ability to maintain a constant temperature. Thyroid Hormone helps remove toxic metals and chemicals, increases fat breakdown, improves hair growth of the scalp and eyebrows, and reduces cholesterol levels and body weight. It is vital in the prevention of cognitive deterioration. It also serves as the Master Hormone, which gives it the ability to reduce cholesterol. Although infrequently used for this purpose, it probably is the safest and most beneficial cholesterol reducing agent. Thyroid Hormone is critical for fertility in women. Many women who go through expensive infertility treatments simply need Thyroid Hormone replacement. Think of the Thyroid Hormone as the overseer of the body, telling all the other organs to get to work! At Renewed Vitality we test six types of thyroid hormones. Rather than using the very wide “normal” reference range, we provide a personalized treatment plan that balances thyroid hormones to reach the optimal level to help you feel your best.
As one of the most abundant hormones in the body, it also functions as a precursor hormone, which means that other hormones are produced from it. Mainly secreted by the adrenal glands, DHEA can also be secreted from the skin and brain. DHEA is an essential component in many of the body’s metabolic and physiologic functions including regulating hormone balance, building the immune system, reversing the effects of stress, making sex hormones, increasing short term memory and maintaining levels of well being. DHEA promotes an anabolic (protein building) state, which increases lipolysis (breakdown of fat). It also increases strength, energy and libido. It has been linked to reduced cardiovascular risk and restored sexual vitality in several studies.
Adrenal function is another critical element in maintaining your health. Optimal adrenal health enables your body to handle stress, regulate immune function, and maintain blood pressure and blood sugar. The adrenal glands kick into gear when we are put in stressful situations. Adrenal glands move us into fight or flight mode which helps us cope with dangerous or stressful situations. In the days of the cave men this helped them survive wild animal attacks, but in today’s stressful world, our adrenal glands get worn out because many of us feel like we are being chased by wild animals all the time. Adrenal insufficiency can cause fatigue, recurring and persistent infections, hypoglycemia, sugar or salt cravings, moodiness, inability to cope with stress, and decreased cognitive ability (brain fog).
With comprehensive testing and bio-identical hormone treatment the negative effects of adrenal fatigue can be significantly reduced and in many cases overcome.
GROWTH HORMONE (Human Growth Hormone – HGH)
Growth Hormone is produced by the pituitary gland and converted by the liver into a protein called somatomedin-C or IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor-one). Most of the Growth Hormone functions in the body are due to IGF-1. There are multiple functions of Growth Hormone including tissue repair, cell rejuvenation, bone and muscle strength, brain function, enzyme production, integrity of hair, nails and skin and lipolysis (fat breakdown). Signs of aging are significantly correlated to a deficiency in Growth Hormone. These signs include body composition shifts from lean muscle mass and high energy levels to increased fat/body weight and low energy levels, decreased bone mineralization (slowing of bone growth/repair), waning of vitality, increased cardiovascular disease and increase in mortality. Decreased Growth Hormone can also result in impaired physical performance, poor sleep and diminished social interaction. Growth Hormone supplementation can create significant improvements in energy and sense of well-being, as well as decreasing muscle pain, body fat and signs of aging and wrinkles.
Melatonin is produced by the pineal gland, located in the brain. Regulating the circadian rhythm (pattern of wakefulness and sleeping), it acts as a neurotransmitter hormone. Research has shown that cells of the body rejuvenate and repair during the deeper stages of sleep. Deeper stages of phase 4 sleep help produce natural “CD4” killer cells which are very vital to a strong and healthy immune system and aids in essential Growth Hormone production. Energy and moods are aided by deep sleep. Disease prevention is linked to Melatonin’s powerful antioxidant effects. Deficiency of Melatonin is also linked to irritability, poor sleep, jet lag, hypersensitivity and premature aging. Melatonin has also been shown to reduce breast cancer cell development.
Pregnenolone serves as one of the major precursor hormones in our bodies. It is made in the brain, and is a memory enhancement hormone. Pregnenolone is important to cellular repair, particularly in the brain and nervous tissue. It also protects against neuronal injury and aids cerebral function. It is the main hormone used by the adrenal glands to make the adrenal hormones Cortisol, DHEA, Progesterone, Aldosterone, Testosterone and Estrogens.
Although Progesterone is found in both men and women, Progesterone is mostly a female hormone. There are four areas of the body it is produced in: the ovaries, the corpus luteum (ruptured follicle), the adrenal glands and the placenta in pregnant women. Progesterone is used to treat PMS (pre-menstrual syndrome). It is helps prevent uterine and breast cancers, osteoporosis/osteopenia, fibrocystic disease and ovarian cysts. Progesterone is neuroprotective, and can be used in ERs after head trauma to treat brain injury. Both men and women have Progesterone receptors in every cell of their bodies. Science has yet to discover all that Progesterone does for us. We do know, however, that it is tremendously helpful in women for better sleep and for anxiety control. The origin of this word comes from Latin; “Pro” means “for”, and “Gesterone” means “gestation”, clearly pointing out the importance of this hormone in child-bearing age women. Women who are chronically low in Progesterone have more miscarriages and more uterine fibroid tumors.
Although present in both men and women, Estrogen is primarily a female hormone secreted by the ovaries. Estrogen has been noted to protect against heart disease, stroke, osteoporosis/osteopenia, Alzheimer’s disease, memory disorders, vaginal atrophy (dryness), and urinary incontinence in women. It improves balance by improving the visual somato-sensory system within the central nervous system. It also prevents symptoms of menopause, including hot flashes, irritability, mood swings and temperature fluctuations. Estrogen deficiencies lead to sagging breast tissue and skin, increased facial wrinkles, fatigue, depression, mood swings and decreased libido. Estrogen is crucial in scheduling the menstrual cycle and works in partnership with Progesterone, both of which are essential to normal, healthy, female functioning.
Testosterone is produced by the adrenal glands, testicles and ovaries, and is vital hormone to both sexes. It contributes to muscle mass, strength, endurance, decreased fat, increased exercise tolerance, enhancement of well being, and sex drive. In men, Testosterone protects against cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes and arthritis. It also leads to improved lean muscle mass, increased bone density, decreased cholesterol, improved skin tone, improved healing capacity and muscle repair and increased libido and sexual performance. It prolongs the quality of life by decreasing age-related diseases, similar to estrogen in women, including the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease. Testosterone in is also extremely important in women for body fat reduction, libido, endurance, bone protection and energy.
It’s important to understand some wording about hormones. We have all heard the words synthetic, natural and bioidentical. There is a lot of confusion surrounding these words in relation to hormone replacement. Most believe synthetic is bad andnatural is good, and in most situations this is true. However, the most important issue is whether or not the hormone is 100% human bioidentical. The source of the hormone, whether natural or synthetic, is not as important as making sure the compound exactly matches what the body produces naturally. When a compound is bioidentical, the body can easily use it to heal itself.
The problem with most synthetics is that only synthetic hormones can be patented. Because of this, pharmaceutical companies have created synthetic hormones that attempt to mimic natural hormone function. Yet, these synthetics are structurally and functionally different from the natural hormones they are attempting to replace. These synthetic hormones can help the initial symptoms, but often produce negative side effects such as bloating, headaches, fatigue, weight gain, increased clotting, heart disease and possibly cancer. Most natural hormones, by contrast, are substances that are structurally identical to those our bodies would normally produce. And natural, bioidentical hormones, instead of causing disease, can actually prevent disease and help maintain a healthy body.
While hormones such as Estrogen and Progesterone may be obtained from wild yams or soy, the Thyroid Hormone has to be synthetically made in the laboratory. There is a brand of Thyroid Hormone that is derived from pigs (natural), that is sometimes necessary, but at Renewed Vitality, we prefer 100% human bioidentical Thyroid Hormone.
Over the past few years, some pharmaceutical companies have caught on to the idea of “natural” hormone replacement and now patent the specific cream, gel, patch or spray the hormone comes in. These products are expensive if you do not have insurance, and it is often much cheaper to purchase these products from a reliable compounding pharmacy.
Our staff and doctors can answer any questions you may have about hormone functions and hormone replacement therapy. We can assist you in finding the right treatments to start you on the path to being the healthy, active person you want to be. Call today for an appointment – (214) 389-1234!