Most people have heard the term hormone at some point when in discussion with their physician. However, do you understand what the term means and how the different hormones and their corresponding within your body impact your health overall and how you feel on a daily basis? Hormones are chemicals secreted by the endocrine gland or nerve cells and regulate certain tissues or organs within the body. In recent years, the study of hormones and how they impact a person’s health has led to a new arena in the world of medicine known as hormone replacement therapy.
What is BHRT?
Often referred to a BHRT, there may be no area of medicine that has sparked more controversy in recent times than hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for men and women. Most of the debate concerning HRT has centered around the significant side effects that can occur when taking HRT. What is usually ignored by the media (as well as by many doctors and researchers) when considering the risk of HRT is the type of hormones that are used for replacement.
Numerous negative effects of HRT have been discovered through large scale studies and patient use. These negative effects are largely the result of treating patients with synthetic hormones that the human body was never designed to safely utilize. Synthetic hormones are manufactured by drug companies for replacement therapies. This could be because they are more profitable than non-synthetic hormones, yet synthetic hormones can often cause significant health problems.
Ideally, if a patient has a lower level of a certain hormone in their body, it would be supplemented or replaced with a biologically identical hormone substance. That way, the body receives exactly what is missing. This is called Bio Identical Hormone Replacement Therapy (BHRT).
The problem with BHRT from the perspective of a drug manufacturer is that bio identical hormones are natural substances that can not be patented. Without a patent, any manufacturer can produce the drug, driving the value of the drug down and reducing the profit. For this reason, BHRT is of little use to a drug manufacturer. In order to make a hormone profitable, the drug manufacturer must alter the molecular structure, thereby rendering it both synthetic and patentable. As mentioned above, these synthetic, patentable hormones can cause significant side effects in humans, and the side effects have led to HRT’s bad reputation for safety. Unfortunately, when HRT studies are released, newspaper and magazine articles are written, and medical advice given, the distinction between synthetic hormones and bio identical hormones is rarely made. The failure to explain the difference between synthetic and bio identical hormones has led to needless confusion.
At Wester Drug, we only use bio identical hormones for the replacement therapies we compound. Developing a hormone replacement treatment plan for a patient requires a high degree of individualization. Because of this, we offer bio identical hormones in a wide array of strengths, combinations, and dosage options. Depending on the needs and desires of the patient and his or her physician, we can compound bio identical hormones in trans dermal creams, vaginal creams, capsules, suppositories, nasal sprays, tablet triturates, or lozenges.
Bio identical vs. Synthetic Hormones: There Is a Difference!
Synthetic forms of progesterone and estrogen were developed because bio identical forms cannot be patented. So what’s the difference?
Synthetic hormones may have a structure similar to, but not exactly the same as, a hormone produced by your body. These chemical differences are significant. A synthetic hormone acts differently in your body and can produce substantially different effects. Bio identical and synthetic hormones should not be considered the same or used interchangeably.
Bio identical refers to the molecular structure that makes up the hormone. A bio identical hormone is derived from plants, including yams and soy, and are then modified in their chemical structure to make them molecularly identical to those in our body.
Do not be fooled by hormones that are marketed as “natural” or “plant-based,” because most do not come near to being bio identical to native human hormones or performing as such in the body. Examples of this are the numerous proprietary HRT options being marketed as “plant-based” and “natural,” as well as purely yam-based creams.
A good example of this is conjugated estrogens. They are the most commonly used oral estrogens. These mixes of estrogen are obtained from the urine of pregnant mares. Although its source is considered “natural” (horses), the molecular structure is certainly not naturally occurring to the human body. Bio identical hormones, when used with care, can have excellent results in resolving most hormone-related symptoms.
Hormones that we commonly compound for BHRT upon the request of a physician include the following
- Estradiol, Estriol, and Estrone
- Triiodothyronine (thyroid hormone)
- Levothyroxine (thyroid hormone)
Hormone testing makes treating a hormonal imbalance much more precise and reinforces the need for each person to be treated as a unique being. As with any other treatment plan that we offer, we are committed to providing you with all of the information necessary to make an informed decision. Ask us about the benefits of saliva testing and let us help you on the path to an informed decision today.