Bioidentical hormone therapy is a relatively new form of hormone therapy. Bioidentical hormones are chemically identical to those that occur naturally in our bodies. The alternatives are hormones that go beyond what we produce naturally.
It’s important to note that regardless of the source, all hormone supplements are “synthetic” in some sense. Laboratories synthesize these hormones from animals, plants, or bacteria. Labs today make human growth hormone using e. coli bacteria.
Originally – until the 1980s – the brains of human cadavers supplied human growth hormone. This doesn’t mean this “natural” hormone was better than “synthetic” hormones. When extracted from the brains of corpses, the hormone carried a risk, all be it a small one, of including proteins called prions that could infect the recipient with Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.
Bioidentical Hormones Versus Alternatives
What makes bioidentical hormones special is not their source. Instead, as the name suggests, it is that they are chemically identical to the hormone they replace. This is in stark contrast to hormones such as Premarin, synthesized from pregnant horses. It’s certainly “natural,” but Premarin contains forms of estrogen that don’t occur naturally in humans. They are more powerful in their effects than the type of estrogen – 17-beta-estradiol – which occurs naturally in people. Hormones that do not occur naturally in the human body may carry increased risks of cancer and other illnesses.
Bioidentical Hormone Therapy: What It Can Do For You
Bioidentical therapy is a simple concept: since your body produces hormones in smaller and smaller quantities as we age, we replace those with hormones chemically identical to them. No additions, no alternative forms that are not equivalent to these hormones. This is what we mean by “natural” hormone replacement. Not hormones that were extracted from human beings, but hormones identical to those that occur in us all – as opposed to hormones occurring naturally in another animal or plant species, but which are foreign to us.
Research isn’t conclusive about the safety of hormone replacement. You may think replacing hormones that are produced in smaller quantities naturally would be an obvious fit. However, keep in mind our bodies evolved in a way that causes hormone levels to fall as we age. Our aging bodies may have adapted to these changes in hormone levels in ways that are to our benefit.
However, research shows that hormone replacement does have positive effects. Estrogen replacement therapy, a common treatment for the symptoms of menopause, may be highly effective in treating menopause’s symptoms. Research also shows hormone replacement helps reduce the onset of osteoporosis.
Forms of Bioidentical Hormone Therapy
Hormone therapy can involve a range of products, some taken internally, and some used externally. These include pills, patches, creams, and lotions. While some products containing hormones are available over the counter in drugstores and health-food stores, it is well-advised consult your medical professional before embarking on any kind of hormone replacement.
Working with your doctor can target hormone replacement to your particular symptoms, while taking into account your personal health issues. Numerous women who have embarked on hormone replacement to cope with the symptoms of menopause have reported dramatic improvements in mood and reductions in hot flashes.
The research into the various forms of hormone replacement therapy is far from complete. Some studies have shown an increased risk of stroke, but a reduced risk of heart disease. So ask your doctor for an opinion on the value of hormone replacement therapy.