About 4 years ago, I became increasingly interested in the medicine of hormones and how they work in your body, particularly as we age: the question being, “How can we maximize our potential as human beings, in terms of good health, vigor, energy, and mindfulness, as we age?”
In 2017 I studied extensively and participated in 4 courses, over a total of 100 hours of course material, on the subject of “Mastering the Protocols for Optimization of Hormone Replacement Therapy”, taught by Dr. Neal Rouzier: a fascinating learning experience.
I would like to present here, an overview of the concepts of natural hormone replacement therapy. I won’t be discussing specific hormone literature, as I have previously done with testosterone, and also vitamin D. There will be further essays written on estrogen and progesterone, and thyroid at later times.
This essay will be predominantly a series of passages from Dr. Rouzier’s booklet of “Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy” and should give you very good insight into what this is all about.
“Conventional medicine has always held the belief that aging is inevitable and that the progressive deterioration that occurs in our adult years cannot be altered. This is simply not true. We have also been lead to believe that the diseases of aging, such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, and senility, are all a part of the normal aging process. The downward spiral of physical and mental decline that we have come to accept as a natural part of growing older is becoming recognized as somewhat controllable and preventable. The most effective solution of any disease process is prevention of that disease. We are now in an era where mainstream medicine is now focusing on slowing down the aging process with the science of genomics, telomeric application and optimal hormonal supplementation. Research is showing that maintaining our hormone levels in a youthful state can help prevent the debility and illness that accompany the aging process. Hopefully this will lead to increased longevity by preventing the illnesses that usually lead to our demise, and more importantly is the possibility that our quality of life in our later years may be significantly enhanced.”
“Over the last 50 years research in the fields of endocrinology and immunology has improved our knowledge as to how and why we age. The rate and incidence of disease formation as well as the rate of aging are partially controlled by our endocrine and immune systems. The endocrine system regulates our body’s temperature, reproduction, growth, aging and immune system. Communication between the nervous system, the endocrine system and the immune system makes it possible for us to adapt and survive in our environment. It is through hormones that these systems interact with each other. Hormones are molecules that are released into the blood stream and exert biochemical effects on distant organs and cells. Hormones can affect every cell in the body by activating receptor sites on the cell and thereby cause an internal activation of protein synthesis and activity. The hormone’s effect is determined by a specific receptor site on the target cell. Hormones exert different actions on different cell types in different tissues. A decrease in the production of hormones begins in middle age and continues to diminish in a linear fashion until old age.”
“Hormones are either proteins or derivative of cholesterol. These molecules are manufactured in endocrine glands, which include the adrenal glands, the testes, ovaries, pancreas, thyroid, pituitary gland and pineal gland. When there is degeneration and aging of the organs, the levels of hormones diminish. In addition, the specific receptor sites on the cells tend to change and deplete and become less interactive with hormones as they once were in our younger years. Whether the problem is low hormone levels or hormone resistance, the solution is optimal hormone replacement.”
“Whatever the cause may be, any decrease in stimulation of the receptor site will result in a decrease in stimulation of the cell, decrease in cellular repair, decrease in protein synthesis, inability of the cell to regenerate and a gradual destruction of the cell. This is what occurs with age. A deficiency of hormones will therefore result in an imbalance in this very precise, self-regulating system.”
“For many years, medicine has recognized the health benefits of replacing these waning hormones. For most physicians, synthetic hormones were the only option. Now it is possible to produce natural hormones that in every way match those produced by the body. Most hormones can be derived from plants, such as soy and yams. What is most important is that the end product is a molecule identical to the hormone molecule found naturally in the body. This applies to all hormones—thyroid, estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, DHEA. We have come to understand that synthetic hormones, which are chemically different that those naturally found in the body, can cause a whole host of side effects and even cancer. it does not make sense whatsoever to replenish with chemically different hormones when bio-identical hormones, to which our bodies are accustomed, are available.”
“You might ask, ‘if there are hormones available that are natural to my body, who do doctors prescribe synthetic hormones?’ The explanation involves the powerful pharmaceutical industry in the United States, politics and economics.
The molecule of the natural hormone is identical in structure to the hormone naturally found in the body. Pharmaceutical companies cannot patent natural or bioidentical compounds. However, they can patent chemically different molecules that are highly profitable. A patent will guarantee that a pharmaceutical company will have an exclusive right to manufacture and profit from their product. After the tremendous monetary investment that goes into developing and studying a pharmaceutical product, it is logical that the pharmaceutical companies would want their investment protected with an exclusive, patented product. Therefore there is little research and minimal marketing of natural hormones.”
“A large part of marketing a drug involves the education and instruction of a physician on how and when to prescribe it. Much of what physicians know about drugs comes directly from pharmaceutical companies promoting a product. Because pharmaceutical companies don’t manufacture natural hormones, most physicians do not learn about them unless they do personal research, and education.”
“Where does one fill prescriptions for natural hormones? There is a special type of pharmacy known as a compounding pharmacy. These are regular licensed pharmacies that are capable of providing you with any drug from pharmaceutical companies. But compounding pharmacies are able to do more. They are able to use the pure pharmaceutical grade hormone and compound it into the specific dose and form ordered by the physician. They can produce pills, capsules, liquids, and creams. This type of program is highly customized and personalized.”
“To summarize, a bioidentical hormone has a chemical structure that is identical to the hormone naturally produced by the body. We refer to them as natural because they are natural to the human body. Natural hormones cannot be patented by drug companies. Synthetic hormones have a structure similar to but not exactly the same as a hormone produced by your body. These chemical differences mean that the synthetic hormone acts differently and produces substantially different effects. Natural (bioidentical) and synthetic hormones should not be considered the same or used interchangeably. They are entirely different. A multitude of studies have demonstrated many harmful effects of synthetic hormones whereas the medical literature supports no harmful effects of natural hormones, only beneficial effects.”
“More people are beginning to realize that they no longer have to accept the fact that their health, appearance and function must deteriorate. They no longer want to accept growing frail and feeble...Science is creating a new paradigm of preventive medicine by allowing our bodies to remain stronger, healthier, and more vigorous...
"Hormone replacement therapy, however, is not a panacea. It will not reverse aging. It will not keep us permanently at one age. We will still continue to age and lose cells secondary to a process that is regulated genetically. With hormones we may be able to slow the precipitous decline that occurs after midlife; no sudden falling off in our physical and mental health. We hope to stay resilient. We aim for a gradual transition that will be less noticeable that it would be without hormone replenishment. The purpose is to simply replenish the hormones that already occur naturally in our body and boost them back up to the appropriate medically sound levels necessary to maintain youthful health and vigor. Which hormones to replenish, how much to replenish and how to adjust the hormones so that they have a synergistic effect is the art and science of the specialty of natural hormone replacement medicine, which is a key aspect to preventive medicine.”
Much appreciation to Neal Rouzier, MD, with whom I studied extensively to learn this very interesting area of medicine.