Problems with Bioidentical Hormone Replacement and HRT
The problem with Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) is that we are replacing a substance that is naturally produced in the body. Our body naturally produces a variety of hormones that control many of the functions in the body, including sexual function (HRT), thyroid function, and many more.
The production of hormones is controlled by a feedback mechansim. That is, when the hormone level drops, the body naturally responds by stimulating production. In the thyroid, production is increased by Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH). Production of the sex hormones is stimulated by Follicular Stimulating Hormone (FSH) and Luteinizing hormone (LH).
What happens when we use hormone replacement drugs?
When the body senses too much of any hormone, it naturally lowers the production by lowering the level of stimulating hormone (TSH, FSH and LH).
When we use external hormone replacement drugs (such as progesterone, testosterone, thyroid hormone, estrogens, and cortisol) the body responds by shutting down production.
In the short term, this can give an overworked gland a much needed rest. People often feel wonderful after beginning hormone replacement therapy, no matter which one is used!
After a few months, however, many people begin to experience side effects, often beginning with unexplained fatigue, altered sleep patterns (insomnia and hypersomnia), and depression.
Taking excess thyroid hormone will cause hypothyroidism, as the thryroid gland reduces it's function. That is why those taking Synthroid have their TSH levels checked once a month, and the dose is adjusted to make certain that the TSH levels don't go too low.
The exact same thing happens with hormone replacement therapy, except the consequences are much worse!
With hormone replacement therapy, the feedback mechanism has a much broader effect by shutting down the entire hormone production system, including the thyroid gland.
Medical researchers refer to this as HPA-Axis Suppression, where HPA refers to the Hypothyroid, Pituitary and Adrenal glands. HPA Axis suppression is a side effect of hormone replacement therapy.
The second major problem (beside HPA-Axis Suppression) with hormone replacement therapy is that few doctors test the levels of hormones before prescribing HRT. They typically say that lab testing is unnecessary (i.e. not covered by insurance), and most people get better with the standard HRT formula.
My first recommendation is to have ALL of your hormones checked before considering HRT, including all three estrogens (not just estradiol), progesterone, testosterone, and DHEA. Indeed, the specialty alternative medical lab tests commonly measure all of these once a week for an entire month (in menstruating women).
What's the problem with bioidentical hormone replacement therapy?
Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy uses natural forms of estrogen and progesterone, which is a BIG improvement over the synthetic drugs.
The difficulty is that you are still going to have HPA-Axis suppression.
The second problem that I have is that most doctors only prescribe one of the estrogens (estradiol), and ignore the other two (estrone and estriol). Only after Premarin was exposed as a real problem drug did these doctors switch. Most of them were forced to switch to bioidentical HRT - and as an added bonus it makes their patients happy, and is a drug, which they love!
What do I recommend for hormone problems?
First, get all of your hormones tested, including all three estrogens (E1, E2 and E3 ... Estrone, Estradiol and Estriol), progesterone, testosterone and DHEA.
Second, find a qualified naturopathic medical doctor that is trained in natural therapies for balancing women's hormones. Naturopathic physicians know a lot about women's medicine - traditionally over 50% of naturopathic medical students are women, and most of our patients are women!
A skilled naturopathic medical doctor will be able to review your symptome and the levels of your hormones and design a custom nutritional support program for your specific needs.
What's your next step?
The next step, after you have been diagnosed with a disease, is to find out what is the specific cause, and then choose supplements that address it. Phone consults are my specialty. Please call my at (239) 659-2684 to schedule a consultation.
The choice is yours
I recommend that you make an informed choice, and the goal of this web site is to provide you with the information to make a wise choice when it comes to your health and wellness.
As you can see, I don't sell any vitamins on this web site. There are thousands of vitamin stores that will sell you whatever vitamin you want, and many of them offer discounts.
If you are interested in some high-quality basic nutritional supplements, I recommend visiting the Store You will find my recommendations for a multiple, tasty chewable fiber wafers, high-potency probiotics, and fish oils.
Good luck in your journey towards health and wellness!!
Why don't you tell me what vitamins to take for this disease?
Unfortunately, that would be a clear violation of FDA regulations. Also, one of the most important aspect of naturopathy is: "Treat the person, not the disease". This is a profound statement, and many people have spent thousands of dollars on vitamins listed in books or web sites for a specific disease. This is what I call "vending machine medicine". It rarely works! The solution is to find a naturopathic physician, such as myself, to assist you.
Fantastic new books!
CAM Therapies has studies on natural therapies for over 100 diseases.
CAM Labs lists lab tests for 100 diseases.
Nutritional Genetics is a fantastic resource.