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Hormone Guide

Hormones decline as we age, sometimes slowly, sometimes all at once. Put another way, aging is just the slow decline of our hormones. The good news is that there's something you can do to slow or reverse aging; replace your hormones! We do not provide hormone therapy here at VIGEO, however there are BioIdentical hormone clinics available near you. Balancing your hormones can be a great step towards better health!

 

For further reading Dr. David Brownstein has a clear, concise book on Hormones called The Miracle of Natural Hormones, with many cases studies of people that have been helped with appropriate hormone therapy. The information from his book is paraphrased below, and might help you decide if any hormones are right for you to try. 

Adrenals

The Adrenal Glands sit on top of the kidneys and produce many of the hormones described in more detail below. The adrenal medulla is the “fight or flight” response, and produces both epinephrine and nor-epinephrine. The adrenal cortex produces the steroid hormone hydrocortisone, as well as the sex hormones pregnenolone, DHEA, estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. What’s important to understand is that the base ingredient for making hormones is cholesterol. Maybe think twice before taking a statin prescription, knowing that reducing cholesterol could reduce your ability to make hormones, too. Adrenal and thyroid function is closely related, so often a problem with one will be related to the other. Our hormones are a symphony and work best when they are all in balance!

DHEA

DHEA is made in the adrenal glands and is the most abundant steroid in the body. DHEA is a precursor hormone which is used to produce other hormones in the body.  Low levels of DHEA can be an underlying cause for Alzheimer’s, allergies, asthma, infections, cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, headaches, obesity, osteoporosis, and autoimmune diseases such as fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, Crohn’s, and migraine headaches. Adequate levels are measured through a blood test called DHEA-Sulfate, and women range from 1,200-3000 ng/dl, while men range from 2,000-4,000 ng/dl. DHEA is available as a supplement, but it IS a hormone and is not to be taken lightly. Appropriate doses are 2-5 mg a day for women, and 5-10 mg for men, and more is NOT better. Men who supplement Testosterone often need to supplement DHEA as well, because their natural production of DHEA has shut down.

Testosterone

Testosterone is produced by the testicles and adrenal glands in men, and in women in the ovaries and adrenal glands. While men produce about 10 times more of this hormone than women do, it is incredibly beneficial for both sexes to have the proper amounts of testosterone available. Testosterone benefits include increased muscle mass, decreased fat, more energy, a general sense of well-being, improved libido, to prevent and treat coronary artery disease and autoimmune disorders, as well as lessening negative moods and improving depression. Natural forms of testosterone are available by prescription, as a cream applied daily, or as an injection 2-3 times a week. 

Progesterone

Progesterone is produced in the ovaries by women, and in tiny amounts in men by the testicles. Progesterone is primarily produced in the second half of a woman’s cycle and is necessary for the survival of the fetus. Progesterone supplementation can be helpful in treating endometriosis, osteoporosis, PMS, help with thyroid function, restore libido, normalize blood sugar, help with sleep, protect against fibrocystic breast disease, and stimulate osteoblasts for bone building. It’s also a natural anti-depressant. There are progesterone receptors throughout the body, including bones, heart, liver, and brain. Progesterone and Estrogen need to be balanced in the body, and the ratio between them is as important as the level of each one. Bio-identical progesterone, available by prescription as a cream, can help replace hormones which decrease as we age. While women need more progesterone, men can sometimes also benefit from small amounts. 

Estrogens

Estrogens are produced in the ovaries, and consist of estrone, estradiol, and estriol. The level of estrogen spikes during the first half of a woman’s cycle, and then has another lesser bump in the second half. Estrogen supplementation can help treat PMS, hot flashes, mood swings and depression, reduce osteoporosis, improve skin quality, and improve memory loss. The ratio between estrogen and progesterone is very important and is often skewed estrogen heavy because of toxins in our environment. Known as “xenoestrogens” or “phytoestrogens”, these fake estrogens, which are found in soy, pesticides, plastics, etc, can throw our hormones out of balance. Estrogen is available as a prescription cream. 

Thyroid

The thyroid gland is shaped like a butterfly and located in the lower neck. Every organ, muscle and cell in the body relies on the thyroid for proper functioning. The thyroid regulates body metabolism and is responsible for energy production. When the thyroid doesn’t function properly, it affects many other glands and hormone production. Symptoms of hypothyroidism include fatigue, cold hands and feet, dry skin, psoriasis, eczema, acne, infections, constipation, PMS, menstrual disorders, infertility, high cholesterol, atherosclerosis, obesity, hypoglycemia, brittle nails, poor memory, depression, headaches, migraines, fibrocystic breasts, ovarian cysts, and weakness. Natural forms of thyroid known as desiccated thyroid are more effective than synthetic versions. The good news is that in many cases, taking Iodine and other cofactors can help with both the symptoms and the need to supplement with desiccated thyroid. See our Nutrition page for more information. 

Human Growth Hormone (HGH)

Human Growth Hormone is produced by the pituitary gland, and production peaks early in life and declines starting early at age 20. Signs of low human growth hormone include accelerated aging, skin wrinkling, low energy, low sexual function, increased body fat, loss of muscle tone, poor wound healing, varicose veins, poor immune function, and poor wound healing. It’s not that you don’t have growth hormone available in your pituitary gland, it’s more that your body forgets to ask for it as you age. The good news is that balancing your other hormones, including DHEA, can make growth hormones work better. The even better news is that unlike supplementing directly with Growth Hormone, there are peptides which can help signal your pituitary gland to release more of it. These peptides still operate under a negative feedback loop, which means they don’t shut down production of the hormone in your body.

Melatonin

Melatonin is a hormone produced in the pineal gland, which regulates our circadian rhythm. Light reaching our eyes at night slows down our production of melatonin, which peaks from between 2 and 4 am. Melatonin, which is able to enter every cell of the body, is produced from serotonin, which is converted from tryptophan. Melatonin levels peak at age 10, then fall off a cliff before age 30. Melatonin supplementation can aid as an antioxidant, help with jet lag, improve immune function, help with Long COVID and vaccine injuries, as well as slow aging. Men who supplement with melatonin often need to get up less at night to urinate. Melatonin is available over the counter. Try .5 – 3 mg to see if it helps and change brands if one doesn’t seem to be working. 

Pregnenolone

Pregnenolone is a steroid produced in the adrenal glands and in the brain. It is sometimes called the “mother” hormone, because pregnenolone it is a precursor to other hormones including testosterone, progesterone, DHEA, estrogens, and hydrocortisone. Pregnenolone helps with arthritis, depression, fatigue, memory issues, and mood swings.   Levels of pregnenolone are reduced by 65% by the age of 75. Men who take testosterone have shut down their natural production of pregnenolone, and could benefit from taking DHEA or pregnenolone to balance their hormones. Pregnenolone is available over the counter or from a compounding pharmacy, and smaller doses are best, from 10-25 mg. 

Hormones and How They Work

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