Conditions Treated

Conditions Treated

Conditions Treated with Bioidentical Hormones

by Rashmi Gulati, MD

Dr. Rashmi Gulati

Hormones are chemicals that are rhythmically pulsed out by our endocrine system, messenger molecules traveling throughout our circulatory and lymphatic systems to convey important information. Complex feedback loops help govern myriad processes that allow the body to maintain an ever-shifting dynamic homeostasis, inside and out. Hormones regulate multiple life-critical activities in the human body—energy supply, growth, repair, reproduction, digestion—as well as those that make life comfortable, meaningful, and enjoyable for us—such as our mood, libido, and appetite.

Many different problems can arise when an imbalance of hormones prevails in the body, whether the imbalance concerns alterations in the ratios between different hormones, or in their pulsatile patterns of release. For example, an imbalance between estrogenic hormones may lead to bone loss, vaginal dryness, uterine or breast cancer. Inadequate progesterone regulation may cause infertility, hormonal headaches, or mood disorders such as depression. Disturbances in insulin regulation invoke inflammatory responses that lead to heart disease and diabetes. Testosterone imbalance can disturb libido, or lead to polycystic ovaries, unwanted hair growth, or excessive hair loss. And chronically elevated stress hormones have a deleterious effect throughout the entire body.

But just as imbalance can engender a chain of deleterious downstream events, so can restoration of the hormones' physiologic levels bring a return of health and optimal function to the body's systems. Bioidentical hormones, when applied in the proper way and dosage, can reset the balance, prevent chronic degenerative diseases, and offset accelerated aging.

  1. Insulin resistance. Replacement of the hormone insulin has been a mainstay of diabetes treatment since its therapeutic benefit was discovered in the 1920s. Insulin is normally secreted by the pancreas to help balance blood sugar, which increases upon ingestion and breakdown of foods. The insulin attaches to cells and promotes cellular uptake of sugar from the blood to fuel metabolic processes. Mediation of this process also keeps the blood clear of excess sugars, which can potentially cause other severe health complications. Diabetes typically results from a lack of insulin secretion from the pancreas or insulin resistance of the cell receptors. For most diabetics, supplementation of insulin is a routine part of treating and managing their condition.
  2. Menopausal symptoms are another common concern for which hormone replacement may be considered. During menopause ovarian function declines, diminishing the body's reserves of estrogen and progesterone, both of which are vital for helping to balance many aspects of physical, mental, and sexual health. Estrogen replacement therapies have been a component of menopause treatments since the 1930s, and are intended to alleviate many of the common symptoms, such as hot flashes, mood disturbances, and the atrophy of uterine and vaginal tissues that can compromise a woman's quality of life. In addition, the timely supplementation of estrogen and progesterone in women who undergo surgical, chemical, or premature menopause can help ward off osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease, which appear to strike more frequently due to the physiological changes that occur during early menopause. These treatments can not only extend a woman's life, but improve the quality of her health and well-being during the later years.
  3. Premenstrual syndrome, mood swings, and hormonal headaches. Low-level hormone replacement can also be quite helpful in reducing the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and other perimenstrual disorders. As progesterone and estrogen levels fluctuate during the menstrual cycle, some women experience anxiety, depression, mood swings, headaches, cravings, acne, breast tenderness, and other discomforts. Many of these symptoms can be relieved through nutritional modification, but should dietary changes prove ineffectual, bioidentical hormonal supplements and targeted neurotransmitter support may be considered.
  4. Androgen imbalance. In men, levels of the hormone testosterone naturally begin to decline after age forty. Although production of this sex hormone does continue, some men experience noticeable changes in their more masculine traits. Beard growth, muscle tone, and libido may all become reduced. The perceived loss of virility, as well as reduction in testosterone, can lead to anxiety, self-consciousness, and other emotional symptoms. Women, too, may benefit from testosterone supplementation when levels are extremely low. Because there is still sufficient testosterone for the body to remain healthy, hormone replacement therapies for both men and women in this context are somewhat controversial.
  5. Thyroid dysregulation. The thyroid gland releases hormones that control the speed and efficiency of metabolism. An overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) secretes excessive hormones that can put the body into overdrive, causing hyperactivity, increased heart rate, and shortness of breath. This state depletes the body's energy reserves more quickly than a person can replenish them, leading to unwanted weight loss, profound fatigue, and other chronic conditions. Conversely, an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) results in lethargy, low blood pressure, weight gain, and sensitivity to cold. Treatment of low thyroid hormone conditions (or to compensate, following aggressive treatment of hyperthyroidism) is very effectively handled through replacement with bioidentical thyroid hormones and micronutrient support.
  6. Adrenal disorders are also candidates for hormone replacement. The adrenal glands are primarily responsible for the secretion of hormones related to the body's stress response, such as cortisol and adrenaline. Insufficiencies of these hormones may be due to medical conditions such as Addison's disease, autoimmune adrenalitis, pituitary or adrenal tumors. More often, however, the causes of adrenal insufficiency are nonspecific. Many cases are thought to be caused by a syndrome known as adrenal fatigue, in which the adrenal glands have become worn out due to chronic stress, causing lower levels of hormone to be released. In all of these cases, hormone replacement and supplemental support can be helpful for alleviating the many symptoms, which may include dizziness, nausea, fatigue, low blood pressure, and muscle pain and weakness.
  7. Sleep disorders. Many travelers supplement with the hormone melatonin to help speed recovery from jet lag. Melatonin is a hormone secreted by the pineal gland that helps regulate our daily sleep-wake cycles. Levels of this hormone naturally increase in response to darkness, eventually peaking in the middle of the night and tapering off as the morning hours approach. Upon traveling to another time zone, travelers may take melatonin to become sleepy at more appropriate times, adjusting their bodies to the local daily schedule. People whose occupations require them to quickly change their sleep schedules (if they must start working the night shift, for example) may also take melatonin. Although distribution of melatonin-containing products is prohibited in some countries, they are available in the United States and considered safe for intermittent or short-term use under the guidance of a qualified practitioner.

These are just some of the conditions and concerns associated with hormonal imbalance that needlessly compromise countless individuals' quality of life daily. Patients Medical can safely address these and many other forms of hormonal imbalance using bioidentical hormone therapies as one of a comprehensive range of natural treatment modalities. Given adequate support, you can jumpstart your body's innate healing mechanisms, and discover how good you can feel. Enjoy all the benefits of hormones that are well calibrated, smoothly functioning in a dynamic homeostasis that allows you to flourish the way Nature intended.

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Our job at Patients Medical is to listen, to connect the dots between a patient's medical history, symptoms, and their underlying causes. Patients Medical is a superb place for women and men to secure integrative and holistic health care from providers who give personalized care, partner with the patient to focus on the root cause of their illness, support their recovery, and help them maintain good health.

To make an appointment with one of our physicians, please call us at 1-212-794-8800. We look forward to hearing from you.

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