Hormones – Mind-Body Health & Anti-Aging

by Ginger Marin

The mind-body connection posits that a well mind provides for a well body and vice versa. So when it comes to aging and brain health, one must also take into consideration the state of one’s hormones.

What are Hormones?

Hormones are the body’s messengers that transport important information from the brain to the glands and from the glands onto the cells and from the cells back to the brain. They serve to rejuvenate, regenerate and restore our bodies. Hormones are considered optimum from the age of 25 – 30 years. This is the same period, generally, in which our bodies are at their strongest and healthiest.

What Causes Aging?

Hormone levels progressively decrease during our lifetimes causing the changes in our bodies and minds that we call aging. The human body was never designed to live as long as we’re living today. Thanks to advances in medical care and sanitation, we have drastically increased life spans. However, the glands that produce our hormones do not regenerate and continue to decline, producing fewer hormones with each passing year.

Associated with this process is the onset of overt diseases, changes in mood, dysfunctional memory, decreased ability to learn, decrease in hair growth and graying, decreased quality of facial skin, decreased lean body mass with an increase in percent body fat, infections, cancer, decreased wound healing, diminished sex drive and many other aspects that represent our quality of life and youthfulness.

The Need for Hormone Replacement

It has become increasingly important for both men and women to keep their hormones balanced to protect against these age-related ravages and to enjoy an overall sense of well being. Diet and exercise alone will not be as effective unless a person’s hormones are balanced correctly. For optimal safety, only hormones that are low should be replaced and retesting of hormone levels should be done regularly.

Bio-identical hormones are manufactured in the lab to have the same molecular structure as the hormones made by your own body. They could also be called human-identical hormones.

Bio-Identical vs Synthetic

Bio-identical (also called bio-equivalent) hormones get their start in nature and are found in soy beans, wild yams, red clover and black cohash. The human body can recognize these bio-identical hormones and can use them just as it would as if produced by the ovaries, testes, or adrenal glands. Most side-effects experienced with bio-identical hormones are associated with either an incorrect dosing or an imbalance in the selection of the hormones.

By contrast, synthetic hormones are intentionally different. Drug companies cannot patent a bio-identical structure, so instead, they invent synthetic hormones that are patentable (such as Premarin, Prempro and Provera, the most widely used examples). Synthetic hormones are not easily recognized by the body even though they may produce similar effects. Because they are hundreds of times more potent than the hormones that our body makes, they are often associated with significant side effects.

Though bio-identical hormones have been around for years, many practitioners are unfamiliar with them. There are several branded versions now available for use in the kind of hormone replacement therapy (“HRT”) typical of synthetic hormones. This is generally a one-size-fits-all dosage regime.

The greatest success, however, is with an individualized approach. Laboratory tests of hormone levels should be done (a “hormone panel”) to determine the state of a patient’s levels. If and when warranted, a precise dosage is prescribed of bioidentical estrogen, progesterone, testosterone or DHEA that is made up at a compounding pharmacy. Each patient is then monitored carefully through regular follow-up hormone panels to ensure symptom relief at the lowest possible dosage.

In the initial stages, a hormone panel might be taken every three months. That way, the doctor has the opportunity to fine tune the final prescription to address any personal goals. Whether this might mean an increase in mental acuity, improvement in depression and moods, increase in sexual drive, or improved physical ability; slight variations in the dosage, or dosage form, can often provide the sought after results. Once balance is restored, a panel may be taken only once a year.

HRT: Pills vs Topical Creams

It would seem reasonable that the easiest way to take hormones is by swallowing a pill. Unfortunately, once the hormones are absorbed by the blood they go directly to the liver where some of the hormones are inactivated.

Topically applied hormones are absorbed directly from the skin right into the blood where they immediately start working. Eventually, all chemicals end up in the liver being inactivated and/or converted to other substances. Another benefit of using topical creams is that dosage can be easily adjusted by increasing or decreasing the number of applications per day.

An important aspect to Compounded Bio-Identical Hormones is whether-or-not they have been tested for bio-availability. That is, once applied to the skin, the component hormones are easily absorbed from the cream, through the skin, and into the blood. Each component hormone and blended preparation of hormones have been tested extensively during the Federal Application and Patent application process. Each customized preparation is designed based upon laboratory testing and the personal goals of the patient.


Bio-identical hormones are better and safer than synthetic hormones. Our body can metabolize bio-identical hormones as it was designed to do, thereby minimizing side effects. Compounded bio-identical hormones can be matched individually to each woman’s (or man’s) needs, something that’s not possible with mass-produced products. Synthetic hormones, on the other hand, are quite strong and often produce intolerable side effects. And many European medical studies suggest that bio-identical hormones are indeed safer than synthetic versions.

It should be noted that the original studies on the effectiveness and health risks associated with HRT were based solely on synthetic/equine-based hormones.

Hormones – An Overview For Anti-Aging & Brain Health

by Ginger Marin

Hormones are the body’s messengers which transport important information back and forth from the brain to the various glands and cells. They serve to rejuvenate, regenerate and restore our bodies, but, they are often overlooked when it comes to the proper functioning of the body.

Here’s a quick look at the function of the primary hormones in the human body. As you peruse the list, you’ll see that many are engaged in proper functioning of the brain. The health of the brain cannot be separated from health of the body; both interact, and to ignore one is to limit the success of the other. People looking for real health and, especially anti-aging protocols, must look to their hormones and work toward a proper balancing act. That can be accomplished with hormone testing under the guidance of a endocrinologist or anti-aging physician.

CORTISOL – stress hormone

Responsible for responding to stress
Helps protect you against your environment (allergens)
Mobilizes energy, improves fatigue
Increases your appetite for sugar
Decreases bone mass, muscle mass, and slows down your metabolism

DHEA – the mother hormone

Improves neurological function
Increases sense of well being
Improves immune function
Improves stress tolerance
Increases metabolism

ESTROGENS – primary female hormone

Protects against heart disease, stroke
Decreases cholesterol
Lowers incidence of Alzheimer’s
Improves memory
Alleviates symptoms of menopause: headaches, mood swings, bloating, hot flashes, fatigue, waning or lost libido

HUMAN GROWTH HORMONE – the growth hormone

Decreases body fat
Increases muscle mass
Improves tissue healing and protein synthesis
Increases bone density
Quicker illness recovery
Increases capacity to exercise
Increases skin hydration and elasticity
Improves sense of well being
Decreases incidence of illness

INSULIN – storage hormone

Responsible for getting blood sugar into all cells
Increases fat storage
Increases risk of diabetes, hypertension and stroke

MELATONIN – sleep hormone

Responsible for maintaining sleep
Helps alleviate “jet-lag”
Improves mood
Improves the immune system (by decreasing cortisol)

PREGNENELONE – gateway hormone

Promotes formation of other hormones
Repairs brain and nerve tissue
Enhances many brain functions
Reduces aging skin
Improves sense of well being
Increases energy and mobility
Improves sleep quality
Reduces harmful stress effects
Reduces aging brain deficiencies

PROGESTERONE – primary female hormone/pregnancy hormone

Protects against breast and uterine cancer
Protects against fibrocystic disease
Helps fat metabolism
Helps normalize blood sugar
Helps reverse osteoporosis
Helps thyroid hormone function
Acts as a natural antidepressant
Protects against nervousness
Protects against anxiety and irritability

TESTOSTERONE – primary male hormone

Improves brain function
Increases energy
Increases strength
Increases bone density
Increases libido
Improves sexual sensitivity
Improves sexual function
Improves HDL and LDL levels
Improves cardiovascular health

THYROID – metabolism hormone

Increases energy
Increases fat burning, and controls weight
Increases your heart rate
Increases your appetite
Aids cognition
Protects against depression and dementia

Menopause & Andropause: Decline in Female and Male Hormones

Menopause has usually been associated with the onset of hot flashes, sweating, mood swings, depression, metabolic problems, and the risk for Alzheimer’s Disease, heart attacks and bone fractures. Additionally this hormone deficiency can result in a change in the psyche with mental fatigue, lack of focus, decreased attention span, increased irritability, decreased ability to recall both recent and long term memory and the ability to learn new information.

These symptoms have been primarily associated with the progressive decrease in the body’s production of Estrogens and Progesterone. What we now know is that the female body also needs those hormones that have traditionally been associated with the male; testosterone, dihydrotestosterone, DHEA and others for many of the same reasons that males do.

In Anti-Aging Medicine, testosterone deficiency is known as Andropause, the male counterpart to Menopause in females. Just as effected women are with the decline of estrogen and progesterone, males experience a similar more surreptitious process that leads to a decline in male characteristics. In addition to the common physical symptoms related to low testosterone such as decreased sex drive and erectile dysfunction (ED), men also may have symptoms similar to those seen during menopause in women: hot flashes, increased irritability, inability to concentrate, depression.

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