Bioidentical science

Bioidentical Hormone Listing

Our Bioidentical hormone guide covers the major hormones used in natural hormone replacement therapy: estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, and DHEA.  This is not to say that there aren’t other natural hormones your BHRT doctor might prescribe, or others that may come into use at some point.  However, for the purpose of this listing we are staying with the more common Bioidentical hormone ingredients used right now.

Bioidentical Hormone List

Estrogen:

The majority of estrogen that women produce is called estradiol and this hormone is produced primarily in the ovaries.  Post menopause, women produce an entirely different type of estrogen and this new hormone, while supposed to keep thing in balance, often creates an imbalance given that it is different, can be less powerful, and can also be less plentiful.

Thus, for those who create a bioidentical hormone mix for replacement therapies, it follows that the goal is to produce a natural bioidentical hormone to the original estradiol that has been lost in menopause.  That is exactly what BHRT sets out to do, and many have reported feeling the same as they did before the natural decline that started before menopause after getting the natural hormone replacement with Estradiol.

It must be noted that Estradiol is not found in any FDA-approved drug, and thus its safety and the effectiveness of this natural hormone replacement therapy has not been scientifically quantified to government standards.  Nevertheless, many women who have had BHRT with estradiol have reported excellent results.

Progesterone:

Progesterone is a bioidentical hormone that is often administered in pill form and also with transdermal skin patches.  This hormone is also one that women produce less of post menopause, and therefore natural hormone replacement is based on naturally replacing what is lost.

While estrogen (in the form of estrodil) is the focus of most traditional hormone replacement as well as BHRT, progesterone should not be ignored, and in some cases could even be the primary target.  More commonly, however, progesterone is used as an adjunctive to estrogen because the latter can cause abnormal thickening of the lining of the uterus.  Progesterone is thought to prevent this thickening. Progesterone is also used for those women in their childbearing years who unexpectedly stopped menstruation.

Practitioners should be able to assess what combination of the two major hormones you would benefit from in your BHRT.  This is a vital step because while natural hormone therapy is effective, you still want to know what the effect is of each one of the natural hormones or otherwise you will have to continue to take both long after perhaps only one is necessary.

Testosterone:

This experimental bioidentical has been reported to improve libido and energy in postmenopausal women.  There are some concerns about side effects and the effectiveness of this natural hormone replacement treatment since it is not adequately researched yet, so stay tuned for more information.

Of course this bioidentical hormone is also excellent for men as a BHRT, as its levels decrease as men age leading to lower libido, decreased energy in general, and sometimes even depression.  Most practitioners suggest that this BHRT only be used to treat a known deficiency and not to just to promote improvements that come with an elevation in this hormone.  And again, this natural hormone is relatively new and should be approached with caution.

DHEA:

DHEA represents a new possibility for bioidenticals because it has a different mechanism of action in the body.  When this natural hormone is taken, it is first converted to testosterone and then to estrogen.  Thus DHEA may be a strong alternative to estradiol for women who have naturally lost estrogen in menopause. DHEA may also have benefits for women long before menopause as well.

DHEA as a bioidentical hormone for replacement therapies is also in its infancy, so once again, stay tuned.  The potential of this bioidentical includes improving women’s overall reproductive health.  Many other benefits of this BHRT have been postulated, but the research is either inconclusive or just beginning, so it may be worth following the findings before pursuing treatment.

These four hormones are the primary ones used in natural hormone replacement today, and results have been very positive.  As we’ve stated many times, your results may vary based on the quality of the bioidentical used, the expertise of the BHRT practitioner, and your current needs.  Other factors include other medical conditions you have and your unique physical makeup.

For all of these reasons it is important that you first talk to your primary care physician if you are considering natural hormone replacement.  It is also important to consult with her or him to be sure that there is not a medical condition that is causing the hormone deficiency, especially if the hormone replacement might only temporarily mask that condition.

Cortisol:

Bioidentical Cortisol is probably the most complicated of the bioidentical hormones we cover.  People may suffer from either too much or too little cortisol, and in some cases they may actually experience both of these situations at different times so this BHRT approach has to be carefully monitored.  That said, whether you have too little or too much, addressing your cortisol levels can be quite important and provide relief.

Having too much Cortisol is often the result of having too much stress and not enough coping strategies designed to reduce that stress.  Cortisol is referred to as “the stress hormone” because it is released during periods of prolonged stress.  Basically cortisol is released during times when you have the “fight or flight response” due to a stressful situation.  This rise in cortisol can be helpful and is certainly normal in those who experience this reaction a few times a month.  However, those who either experience stressful situations too often or do not know how to manage them can have more prolonged cortisol releases which can be a problem.  In many cases people are unaware that they have a heightened cortisol level, but the consequences such as unexplained weight gain can be a problem.

Having too little cortisol is usually due to disease, infection, or genetics, and that can also create problems – in fact some of the symptoms of low cortisol levels are similar to those that people experience who have too much.  This is one hormone where you absolutely need to have your levels tested, and perhaps repeat tested so that you may be in different states of mind during the tests.  After the testing is done and compared to your recent and longer-term history you may be prescribed a bioidentical therapy approach that is designed to raise or lower this hormone level.  Repeat tests, either under the same circumstances as the first one, or at least under a variety of circumstance, will be needed along the way to see how the treatment is going.

Bioidentical Hormone Conclusions

These are the main bioidenticals used in natural hormone replacement.  That said, this page and the pages that follow may oversimplify the bioidentical hormone approach, given that your own unique formula requires a very specific level and type of ingredients to give you relief from your unique imbalance.  It is not quite as simple as knowing which hormone is low and then dosing that hormone; instead you need to understand which potential ingredients will break down in a way that provides the most effective re-balancing for you.  In addition, you may find that you are low on more than one hormone, or that a precursor is more effective than the actual hormone.  The assessment phase will answer some questions but you still may need to experiment with the actual ingredients (especially if you are going the custom compounded route) in your bioidentical hormone formula.

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