WHAT IS BHRT? (Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy)
UNFORTUNATELY - as we age our hormones decline . . . . or, perhaps more appropriately expressed - as our hormones decline we age. This decline occurs at different rates for different hormones for different people and is further complicated by the hormonal influences of the world we live in. Hormones largely determine who we are - male vs female, old vs young and - all too often - healthy vs unwell.
WE LIVE in a hormonally complex world. In addition to our own fluctuating hormone levels, we are repeatedly exposed to numerous environmental agents that disrupt sensitive hormonal pathways either by acting as hormone mimickers or by blocking hormonal action.
BIOIDENTICAL HORMONE REPLACEMENT THERAPY entails the use of hormones that are identical to those produced by your body to treat symptoms of hormone deficiency or imbalance. In addition, there is a growing body of evidence showing the effectiveness of bioidentical hormones in promoting health and preventing disease (see below).
WHO IS A CANDIDATE FOR BHRT?
BECAUSE the production of our hormone levels begin to decline at around age 30 anyone who is experiencing symptoms consistent with hormone deficiency is a candidate.
These symptoms may include fatigue, depression, decreased libido, poor memory, hot flashes, menstrual irregularities, muscle/joint aching, vaginal dryness, anxiety/nervousness, irritability, weight gain, breast tenderness, decreased muscle strength, joint pain, dry skin, poor concentration/memory, cold or heat intolerance, brittle hair, hair loss, dry/brittle nails, muscle aches, decreased motivation, osteopenia/osteoporosis.
WHAT ARE SOME OTHER BENEFITS OF BHRT?
HORMONES DECREASE INFLAMMATION
INFLAMMATION is like that tough and boisterous neighbour down the street - nice to have around when you need to move your piano, though you don’t really want to invite him over for dinner every night. In other words, we all need inflammation. Without it we, couldn’t survive the simplest paper cut or initiate the complex energy pathways needed to flee a charging saber tooth tiger (or deal with whatever else is stressing you out).
UNFORTUNATELY, too many of us have too much inflammation too much of the time. Inflammation in acute situations is life-saving. When it's cranked up all the time, it's life- sucking.
ONGOING RESEARCH is identifying chronic inflammation as the basis of heart disease, diabetes, asthma, arthritis and even dementia (amongst many other ailments). And nothing treats inflammation better than hormonal balance! As an example, research has shown that at least 30-40% of type II diabetic males are low in testosterone. Treating these males with testosterone replacement therapy has been shown to significantly improve their diabetic control as shown by a decreased fasting glucose, decreased insulin resistance, decreased cholesterol and even a decreased waist circumference (Kapoor 2006).
HORMONES MAINTAIN MUSCLE MASS
SARCOPENIA is defined as an age-related decline in muscle mass and quality. This process is ultimately what leads to the frailty and decreased mobility found in an average nursing home. It is viewed as one of the primary factors leading to a loss of one’s ‘functional capacity’. Research has shown the that proper hormonal balance slows this age related loss of muscle mass.
HORMONES MAINTAIN COGNITIVE ACUITY
The pathway of gradual cognitive decline leading to DEMENTIA often starts many decades prior to diagnosis. While there are multiple factors implicated in the development of dementia, numerous studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of hormone replacement therapy in preventing cognitive decline and dementia.