What are Bioidentical Hormones?
I hear this term “bioidentical hormones” often from patients and practitioners. What does this term really mean? It used to be just women who considered hormone replacement therapy but now the hormone industry is targeting men by focusing on fatigue, erectile dysfunction, and low testosterone levels. Hormone deficiency is often a perceived deficiency and needs to be confirmed with saliva testing.
Whenever I want to see what is going on with a patient’s hormones, I use a saliva panel. For women, the panel can be several samples taking through the month. Health Harvard explains bioidentical hormones as hormones that are identical in molecular structure to the hormones women make in their bodies. They’re not found in this form in nature but are made, or synthesized, from a plant chemical extracted from yams and soy.
Some facts about bioidentical hormones
I love Dr. Rona Nelson, she’s an ND in northern CA. Here are some things she shares about the facts of bioidentical hormones.
- Bioidentical hormones come from steroidal phytochemicals in plants. A lab engineers to extract the properties from the plant, such as wild yam. Afterward, converted, through many chemical processes, into the bioidentical hormone. So, in reality, it’s just like any other plant-derived drug or supplements out there. It’s not like you’re going to be applying wild yam to your skin.
- These are synthetic hormones and can cause side effects just like any drug.
- These synthetic hormones are not bioidentical to the ones found in your body and can have risks such as cancer.
- Get this. Bioidentical estrogen and progesterone are often added to skin care products. That’s why I only use USANA skin care. They are clean enough to eat. They wouldn’t taste good, but they are safe. Think about how many products you put on your skin from soaps, lotions, and creams to deodorant and even toothpaste!
- If you take hormones for longer than 3 months, your body will down-regulate the cell receptors of that particular hormone. That means you will create a hormone deficiency in your body.
- Blood lab tests will not accurately detect the presence of bioidentical hormones because many of them are unbound in the blood stream. So your labs may appear normal, but the only way to truly test hormone levels is with saliva testing.
What are the risks?
Wow, that is quite a list of facts to be aware of. Now, for some risks that I was completely unaware of. Did you know that when you are taking bioidentical hormones, they can be released through your pores and passed to family members and pets?
If you self-prescribe, you can be taking too much especially when combined with skin care products. This can disrupt your endocrine system. Remember, you can take too much which will desensitize your cell receptors and cause a perceived deficiency. That can throw off your entire endocrine system. Not something you want
Understand that hormone replacement therapy has many benefits for women in certain situations. If you’ve had a total hysterectomy or if you have menopausal symptoms that are unmanageable or if you have accelerated bone changes. People see hormone replacement therapy as a quick solution. But its the deregulation of hormones and how to balance that systemically they needs to work on.
How do you get exposure to hormones?
Let’s look at all the ways you can get exposure to hormones and hormone-like substances. They are in our food, skin care products and our environment. You can now purchase progesterone as an over the counter supplement. Bioidentical hormones are found in Lubriderm and Oil of Olay. When a product claims wrinkle removing or age defying that means it has estrogen added to it. Some popular brands are Clinique, Lancome, and Estee Lauder.
Men are faced with the temptation to look younger and have more energy. There are also a lot of men who use the same products women use. When they use these products, they are also at risk of hormone deregulation, which will only cause less than optimal health.
I mentioned earlier that these bioidentical hormones are passively shared with family and pets. This happens with skin-to-skin contact. An example of this is when one spouse sweats and shares a bed with the other spouse. Think of it this way, say your husband is taking bioidentical testosterone and you’re snuggling up to him night after night. What do you think that will do to your testosterone levels? Bingo! Your levels are going to begin to elevate, which can completely disrupt your hormonal balance. If the wife is taking progesterone, then her husband can absorb that and have increase female hormones in his body. This is not a good scenario all around.
Think of it this way, say your husband is taking bioidentical testosterone and you’re snuggling up to him night after night. What do you think that will do to your testosterone levels? Bingo! Your levels are going to begin to elevate, which can completely disrupt your hormonal balance. If the wife is taking progesterone, then her husband can absorb that and have increase female hormones in his body. This is not a good scenario all around.
If the wife is taking progesterone, then her husband can absorb that and have increase female hormones in his body. This is not a good scenario all around.
What are the Systemic solutions?
First, I would suggest working with a practitioner who can help you sort out your particular hormone imbalance. They will most likely start by addressing your adrenal glands and stabilizing your blood sugar levels. You’re going to need to change your diet, most likely. Another thing I always look at is the liver function. I love USANA’s Hepasil product, as that is a supplement that supports healthy liver function. You need your liver to function properly in order to clean out excess hormones, as well as to balance cholesterol levels.
After detoxifying and eating cleanly, you’ll need to support your endocrine system with herbal supplements. Everyone is an individual, so you’ll need to work with a practitioner to figure out what your body needs most.
I have seen many patients with hormonal issues. This can be an overwhelming and exhausting process to navigate and I understand their frustrations. But I urge you to work from a systemic standpoint to balance your mind, body, and spirit in order to live a more balanced and healthy life.