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.

Summation

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.

Venus & Mars: A Nagging Problem

by Ginger Marin

So, listen, I heard this ridiculous remark the other day from a man … who thinks he’s some expert on women.   He said women are vicious, that they use sex as a means to get back at men.  Well, that may very well be the case in some respects but not this one.  His basis for such a remark goes something like this: (says the man to his girlfriend) “You would deny yourself pleasure by not having sex with me just because you’re angry at me.  How stupid.”

When I’m truly angry at a guy, I sure as hell wouldn’t want to make love to him.  I’d much rather hit him with an ax and my guess is that’s how a lot of other women would feel too.  The nerve of that guy.   For him to think that women just turn off their emotions as if they were little dripping faucets really shows how little this so-called expert knows about women.  I guess I should have explained it to the guy but I was too busy thinking that such an insensitive soul would never get it anyway.  I let him blabber on until fortunately the subject changed again.  It seems his ex-wife raked him over the coals during their divorce.  No denial of pleasure there.

A nag is, by definition, a person who finds fault or complains in an irritating and persistent manner.   And we all know what she looks like: always scowling, hair in curlers, wears a house dress and large beat up fuzzy slippers; one hand poised on hip; the other wields a rolling pin.  Well, that surely isn’t me.  Although, I’ve certainly been accused of being one.

It seems to me that if men would do what they say they’re going to do when they say they’re going to do it, there would be a lot fewer nags in the world.  You know the kind of man I’m talking about.  The one who promises every day for a month to fix something; the forgetful man who complains that you have to remind him to do those things and when you do, he promises to do it the next day which means you have to remind him again, until the next day rolls around and he procrastinates further until many weeks pass and whatever it was that needed doing still needs doing.  I mean, if I could do it myself, I would.   I really do resent having to remind my partner continually to perform his chores.   After all, I’m doing mine every day.  I am the one who feeds our seven children three meals a day.  I grant you they’re just our pets but, hey, we’re talking three different varieties here and it’s a lot of work.  Then there are the traditional female house chores that we never seem to get away from doing.  I doubt we ever will, because, if we left them to the men, they too would never get done.

What goes on in their strange little minds anyway?  That if he doesn’t do it, I will?  Sometimes.  That it’s all a fantasy  and doesn’t really need to be done?  I don’t think so. That some gremlin will spring from the walls and do the work for him?  Haven’t met any of them yet.  That the problem will simply go away if he closes his eyes to it long enough?  Oh! that it were so.  No, it’s something else but I haven’t figured out what it is yet.  Perhaps they enjoy taunting and calling the one they allege to love a nag.  Maybe it’s that male superior attitude that says “no one tells me what to do”.  Yes, that’s it, isn’t it?  We women are just not allowed to tell men what they need to do in their lives that they’ve chosen to share with another person.  It’s not really a partnership.  They sleep late while we clean the house; they meditate while we toil; they read while sitting on the toilet while we shop for the groceries.

It’s all clear to me now.  That’s our lot in life.  So while he chooses to sleep till noon,  missing his eleven o’clock appointment that I reminded him about the night before, I’m out toiling.  Then when I’m reproached for not waking him up, I can only respond one way:  “You mean you want me to nag you?”

Author Ginger Marin is an actor, freelance writer and storyteller.  You can also find her on Google+

Supermarket Scanners Are Evil

by Ginger Marin

A package of LU cookies, Pims to be exact, was marked $2.09 at my local supermarket, but the scanner spat out $2.17.  I noticed this and brought it to the attention of the checker who wanted to take the cookies back to the aisle to see for herself, but I showed her where it was labeled $2.09.  It seems checkers are no longer accustomed to actually looking at packages for prices anymore.  It’s a foreign concept to them.  Instead, the fate of my money is left to the almighty computer once again, you know those gods of the circuit world that never make an error.  Hah!

I always keep an eye on what the scanner’s doing as at all times and still check my cash register receipt to make sure all the prices are in order.  Oddly enough, I’ve never found a mistake in my favor, just a sale item I didn’t know about.  But, I do know, that if not for my vigilant eyes, the supermarkets would be swiping money from me left and right.  What about all those items marked down on sale that you load into your basket only to find the scanner’s still charging regular prices?  Happens all the time.

Last month I bought a skin lotion that was on sale for three dollars off.  Now that’s a big savings! The scanner once again spat out the regular price.  I mean the only reason I bought the thing in the first place was because it was on sale.  And what amazes me, is that the checker will go running down the aisle to see that you’re right, charge you the sale price, but then doesn’t have the common sense to tell the manager that the computer’s not up to par, so that the next person, whose eyes may not be quite so vigilant, gets gypped.  I mean what does to take to do this right?    It’s either on sale or it isn’t.

Yesterday, the same store had cookies, actually “Biscotti” in little cellophane bags hanging on a rack with a sign $2.49 – on sale for $2.09.  There’s that damn $2.09 again, must be something about it the computer doesn’t like…maybe it’s the computer’s equivalent of 666, the mark of the devil.  Anyway, the scanner spits out $2.59.  Well, not only is that not the sale price, it’s not even the regular price!  Where did it come up with that one?  Does the computer just decide one day to pick different numbers out of its memory chips?  Is there a Ouiga board inside making predictions that the price of Biscotti will be $2.59 next week?  I’m reminded of the old adage:  “They can send a man to the moon, but they can’t _______ .”  And, it’s the truth.

Double-coupons.  Now there’s a great gimmick the supermarkets came up with. Whoever thought that one up ?   I’ve saved as much as $23.00 on a single order with all those double-coupons adding up.  Of course, everything’s so over-priced anyway, you’re still only paying what it should cost.  But, never mind, that’s another subject.  The coupons are a life-saver.  But, what the supermarket giveth in coupons, the supermarket taketh away at the scanner.  I figure it’s all designed to even out in the end.  (since this article was written the price of biscotti and Pims have gone up significantly; supermarket scanners are still a bit quirky.)

Author Ginger Marin is an actor, freelance writer and storyteller.  You can also find her on Google+

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