What is Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy? by Joseph J. Collins, RN, ND
Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy is exactly what it sounds like; it is using hormones that are biologically identical to the hormones you naturally make in your body – instead of synthetic or animal hormones which do not exist naturally in the human body. Much has been said about bioidentical hormone replacement (BHRT), and about the (obvious) benefits of giving the body the same molecule it had been making for years – instead of something that does not exist in nature, or something concentrated from horse urine.
Bioidentical hormone replacement therapies include prescriptions of estrogens, progesterone and testosterone, as well as thyroid hormones, and cortisol. The most important thing to keep in mind is that these hormones have a molecular structure that is bioidentical to human hormones.
They are not animal hormones extracted from animal urine. They are not synthesized to be different from human hormones. However, they are synthesized from plant sources. These hormones can be synthesized from diosgenin, a steroid saponin which is used for the commercial synthesis of cortisone, pregnenolone, progesterone, and other steroid products. Or the bioidentical hormone can be synthesized form stigmasterol, an unsaturated plant sterol that occurs naturally in soybean oil. Women may benefit from specific bioidentical hormone combinations of estrogen, progesterone and/or testosterone, depending on their menopause type®. Men can benefit from bioidentical testosterone.
Cortisol, in low dosages can benefit some cases of adrenal fatigue. Bioidentical T3 and T4 are useful for treating hypothyroid patients that are doing poorly on thyroid hormones extracted from animals.
The ability to obtain bioidentical hormone replacement therapy from compounding pharmacies is one of the greatest advances in healthcare that we will see in our lifetime. It should be seriously considered by any person experiencing decreased power, passion or productivity in their lives. This especially holds true for patients with chronic illnesses of every kind. Every chronic illness causes increased stress in the human body. One of the consequences of increased stress is decreased production and function of hormones. Suboptimal hormone health has been identified as coexisting with cardiovascular, neurological, and gastrointestinal disorders as well as systemic conditions such as diabetes and autoimmune diseases. When any of these diseases is researched, suboptimal hormone function can be found as at least contributing to the problem.
But BHRT is not to be taken lightly. It is not a weak therapy. It is a powerful therapy that is more deserving of the respect than it gets. By discussing measures we can all take to ensure the BHRT is is used in a safe and effective way, we can see BHRT get the full respect it deserves.
Next: BHRT Safety