What are hormones?
Hormones are basically chemicals that carry message from your glands to the cells of tissues and organs in your body. They are also responsible for achieving a state of balance or stability in your body by maintaining proper chemical levels in your bloodstream. The brain creates a signal that causes hormones to be secreted into the bloodstream by the glands that produce and store them. These glands make up what is known as the endocrine system.
There are over 30 different hormones that your body produces, and they influence the function of the immune system, and even alter behavior. Before you are born, they guide development of your brain as well as your reproductive system.
What role do hormones play in your body?
Many people associate human growth hormone and DHEA with the aging process, but estrogen, progesterone and testosterone play a major role as well. If the delicate balance of any one of these is disrupted or destroyed, it can take a serious toll on your body…and worst of all, it can mistakenly be attributed as a normal part of aging!
Changes in estrogen levels, even as early as peri-menopause causes a disruption in chemicals in our brain. These chemicals include Serotonin, Dopamine and Gaba and are all diminished when estrogen levels decline. These chemicals are critical in maintaining mood, energy levels, sexual function, improving sleep…and decrease stress.
Estrogen’s effect on mood is due to its ability to decrease serotonin levels and endorphins when levels are low. When estrogen levels are balanced women experience a dramatic improvement in mood. Estrogen protects nerves in your brain and encourages the formation of new communications between nerves.
The primary role of estrogen for women is to stimulate growth, sexual characteristics and reproduction. Estrogen is responsible for hundreds of functions in a women’s body, including the very critical role of protecting them from heart disease, colon cancer and strokes. It also is involved with bone growth and cholesterol.
In Men, estrogen is also important, not only is it responsible for changes in puberty, including facial and chest hair, but also muscle development…and as men age it helps protect their bones and brain.
Having trouble sleeping? It could be your progesterone levels. Progesterone is vital for regulating sleep for both men and women, as well as boosting the immune system and increasing brain function.
Many women will experience a fluctuation of progesterone levels and these changes lead to the classic aging symptoms, including insomnia, mood swings, and brain fog.
An imbalance of progesterone and estrogen versus a deficiency could be the problem. Progesterone, like estrogen, causes multiple effects throughout the body. Many of the effects of progesterone can be credited to its ability to counter-balance the action of estrogen. Multiple physical and psychological problems at midlife are often caused by an imbalance between progesterone and estrogen, rather than a specific deficiency.
Known as the male hormone, testosterone imbalances can wreak havoc with both men and women as they age. Testosterone is the principle hormone in a group of hormones called androgens and decreases with age. Men with Low-T can experience a range of symptoms including: Low sex drive, erectile dysfunction, hair loss, fatigue, loss of muscle mass, decrease in bone mass, mood changes, etc. Women need to keep testosterone balances in check as well. Testosterone in women plays a key role in energy, weight gain, sex drive and mood. Without testosterone, keeping a lean body can be difficult.
DHEA is produced from cholesterol by the adrenal glands. This hormone plays an important role in the creating of the sex hormones estrogen and testosterone, as well as helps the transformation of the body as it grows and matures.
Why DHEA gets so much attention, is because beginning in your late twenties DHEA starts to decline which contributes to the aging process in both men and women. By the age of 70 you have lost over 80% of your DHEA. Balancing your DHEA levels can help with obesity, brain fog, dementia, osteoporosis, loss of energy and chronic fatigue.
Why do hormone levels decrease as you age?
To put it bluntly, aging is not supposed to be good for us! Aging is a pre-programmed and genetic process to get us out of the picture, and the reduction of hormones is one of those processes. The truth is, in this day and age, we outlive our hormone supply.
Eating right and exercising helps maintain better levels of some hormones, but it cannot stop age-related hormone loss. Our productions of essential hormones starts to diminish as early as the age 25, and by 80 we have lost 50%-80%. By the age of 50 we have had over 20 years of hormone deficiencies.
What are the symptoms of a hormone imbalance?
Although the symptoms of a hormonal imbalance can be similar in both women and men, there are some significant differences.
The only way to know for sure is to meet with a board certified physician, one who is experienced with hormone replacement. You then should go through a comprehensive and specific testing procedure to determine if your hormones are imbalanced.
Synthetic versus BioIdentical Hormones
The term “bioidentical hormones” refers to hormones that are exactly the same in structure and function as those produced by the human body. Substances derived from plant or animal tissues are modified on a molecular level in a laboratory until they precisely match and mimic natural human hormones.
Synthetic hormones, in contrast, are not identical in structure and function to those produced by the human body. Synthetic hormones are made to be completely different…and done so on purpose. Drug companies aren’t allowed to patent a bio-identical structure, so they invent synthetic hormones that are patentable.
Up until 2002, women going to conventional doctors were prescribed Premarin, an FDA-approved synthetic hormone derived from the urine of pregnant horses. Premarin was the best selling drug in the U.S. and generated $2 billion dollars a year for the pharmaceutical company that produced it.
In 1994 a study called the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) was started with the plan to establish that Premarin would not only relive symptoms of menopause, but would also protect aging women from heart attacks, strokes and cancer. But that study was abruptly stopped because overwhelming evidence was found that the drugs were unsafe, and increased the risk of heart attacks, strokes and breast cancer. That of course led doctors to systematically take millions of women off of hormones overnight.
Because Bioidentical Hormones precisely match the hormones produced by the human body there are few undesirable side effects and the therapy is effective for both men and women. However the delivery method of taking bioidentical hormones is also important and should be administered in a natural way and monitored by a qualified hormone replacement physician.
Restoring a proper hormone balance
Restoring hormone balance has been shown to have a beneficial effect on quality of life for both men and women. For women, estrogen and progesterone therapies are believed to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, significantly protect from heart attack, and reduce the bone loss associated with osteoporosis. For men, testosterone therapy can reduce risk for chronic diseases. Low testosterone has and has been linked to diabetes, heart disease, stroke, osteoporosis, and prostate cancer.
Why don’t doctors prescribe hormone therapy?
To be clear, most doctors dedicate their lives to their profession and certainly want to do right by their patients. That is why millions of women were taken off Premarin when the study came out announcing it as a dangerous choice. The problem is doctors must rely on the research of pharmaceutical companies to guide them through the complicated issues of prescribing medications.
Pharmaceutical companies have created amazing drugs and solutions that have helped and even saved millions of lives. However, those companies also are driven by profit, and in order to create revenue for their company, they need to be able to patent the drug they create. Because they cannot patent a substance that exists in nature, they have to make a substitute…and that is what they have to do when creating hormones. Although these patented synthetic substitutes mimic the activity of natural hormones, they frequently have side effects…as was the case with Premarin.
Confusion, ignorance and misinformation about hormone replacement continues. Unfortunately, the hormone debate can be summed up in three words—confusion, ignorance and misinformation. This misunderstanding is not only from the patients standpoint, but also the doctors. Millions and millions of women are being helped by bioidentical hormones. But the medical community is slowly seeing the light, and more and more physicians are prescribing bio-identical hormones every day!
It’s All About Balance
Hormone balance is a critical factor in our health and happiness. The same hormones that keep us healthy and growing in our earlier years, can be the cause of emotional and physical distress as we grow older. People with a healthy hormone balance tend to be healthier and enjoy a higher quality of life…free of many of the major diseases like stroke, thyroid problems and heart disease.
But people with long-term hormone imbalances have to endure many of the symptoms we mentioned early, including weight gain, fatigue, poor libido, memory loss and a host of others symptoms. To replenish your hormones and help avoid these health issues, you now have an amazing alternative — BioIdentical Hormone Replacement Therapy.
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“After two years of insomnia, I found Dr. Sinda’s clinic. I was terribly exhausted and was searching for a way to treat my symptoms without the use of harmful sleeping pills. Not only did Dr. Sinda explain in-depth the reason for the sleep difficulty, he also explained the delicate balance bio-identical hormones can play in improving overall health without damaging overall well-being. Also to note, visits at Innovative Directions in Health are a true joy, where I never feel I’m fixing something that’s broken. Instead, a visit here feels like I’m ensuring a positive, high quality of life with people truly invested in my future.” – K.R.
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“Finally someone who understands how to address out of balance hormones in a healthy all natural way! My 5 year search is over and I feel great since Innovative Directions in Health came into my life and helped me understand what was actually happening and then gave me the solution so I could sleep, think straight and have energy again. Thank you Dr. Sinda and the IDIN staff!” – J.L.