Why use hormones if your body naturally loses them as you age?
Like all mammals, we are programmed to begin to die after our ability to bear children declines. How does this happen? Well, primarily from a consistent, gradual decline in hormones. Though hormonal deficiency is a normal part of aging, something unnatural is happening. Through scientific advancements in medicine and technology we are living longer than ever before. The mean life expectancy is now approaching eighty years old. It is estimated that in twenty years there will be one million of us living beyond the age of one hundred. Take a hard look at the health of the 80-plus year olds around you. Is that what you want for yourself? You need to be proactive with your health and vision for your future. Using natural bioidentical hormones with vitamins, minerals and other supplements can improve the quality of your long-term health.
What are bioidentical natural hormones?
Bioidentical hormones are derived from plants (soy and yam) and have been altered to look and act exactly the same as the hormones made inside you. Bioidentical hormones are natural, not because of where they come from, but because they behave just as your own hormones do. They act at your cell receptors and break down in your cells (metabolize) exactly the same way as the estrogen and progesterone, naturally made inside our body, has always done.
Just because something is natural doesn’t mean that it is safe, right?
That is correct. Many natural things are potentially toxic. Anything that you put in or on your body must be used wisely. Too many of one type of vitamin, too much of one type of hormone, even too much of certain foods can be toxic or harmful. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t use natural supplements. We need to use them wisely. For example, iron is natural and doctors prescribe it routinely for anemia, but too much iron can damage your heart, liver, and other organs. We shouldn’t shy away from a natural substance simply because it may not be safe if used incorrectly. Yes, too much estrogen can be dangerous. To make it safe it has to be used transdermally, in the proper dose, and balanced with progesterone.
Bioidentical hormones are not FDA-approved, so how do I know if they are safe?
Actually many bioidentical hormones are FDA-approved. However, bioidentical compounded hormones are not FDA-approved because they do not need to be. Compounded hormone doses vary from individual to individual. They are individually tailored by physicians who spend years studying and training and whose judgment is regulated by medical boards. It’s not the FDA’s job to oversee doctors. Compounded hormones prescribed by doctors are produced by compounding pharmacists who are regulated by pharmaceutical boards. The FDA has approved certain standardized doses of bioidentical hormones that are not compounded for specific patients, such as bioidentical estradiol patches, testosterone gels, natural progesterone capsules, and vaginal creams. They are available with a doctor’s prescription.
Are there any studies supporting the safety or efficacy of bioidentical hormones?
Yes. Bioidentical hormones have been used by physicians worldwide since 1980. There are numerous studies showing their efficacy in reducing heart disease risk factors, protecting women’s uterine linings, and preventing waning bone densities. Studies using transdermal estrogen have not shown increases in blood clotting, as occurs with oral estrogen preparations.
In Europe, women are commonly treated with transdermal estradiol gels and natural progesterone, and there are many well-conducted studies proving their efficacy and safety. In a French study published in 2002, more than three thousand women using transdermal bioidentical estradiol gel and natural progesterone were followed for nearly nine years. These women were shown to have an improved quality of life, less bone loss, and reduced heart disease risk without an increase in breast cancer or clotting. Another French study of 54,000 women using estrogen (oral and transdermal), and synthetic or natural progesterone, showed that the risk of breast cancer was increased after only two years in the group using synthetic progesterone. No increase was seen when natural progesterone was used. This study was updated, and even after eight years of treatment, there was no increase in the natural progesterone group.
There are many other studies worldwide that support the use of natural hormones, with greater safety margins than synthetic hormones.