October 6, 2010
Bio-identical hormones are exactly the same as those produced by the human body, possessing an identical chemical structure. Thus, they are different from those most commonly prescribed by conventional medical doctors because these synthetic hormones have had part of their molecular structure altered in some way, so that the pharmaceutical companies could obtain a patent on their drug.
Unlike these artificial hormones, which have been shown in large clinical trials to have lots of potential risks from their use, bio-identical hormones, when prescribed appropriately, have no increased risks from their use. Synthetic hormones have been shown to cause increased risk for blood clots and breast cancer, to name just two very serious conditions that can be caused by their use.
In contrast, the appropriate use of bio-identical hormones can actually help to prevent many health problems. For example, the appropriate use of bio-identical hormones can actually help to prevent cancer. Since certain cancers, such as breast and uterine cancer, are promoted by a relative excess of estrogen and a relative deficiency of progesterone, giving women who have too much estrogen an appropriate amount of progesterone to help counterbalance it, can actually help prevent them from developing breast cancer.
Most of the time, when people think about hormones, they are thinking of sex hormones, like progesterone, estrogen and testosterone. All human bodies make all three of these types of hormones, but in women the amounts of progesterone and estrogen are higher, and in men, the amount of testosterone is higher. However, there are other very important hormones made by both males and females that are not sex hormones, and these are the adrenal and thyroid hormones.
The adrenal glands are situated on top of each kidney and produce hormones, such as cortisol, that help the body to stand up to the effects of stress. Cortisol is not the same as it’s pharmaceutical relative cortisone and does not have the side effects that long-term synthetic cortisone use causes (impaired blood sugar regulation, poor immunity and weakening of the bones). Lack of enough natural cortisol causes weakness, fatigue, lack of stamina and can even cause dizziness and abnormally low blood pressure. And yet, even though fatigue is a common complaint heard often by primary care doctors, cortisol levels are rarely measured and even when they are, they are usually not measured in a meaningful way.