by Jeffrey Dach MD
What is a bioidentical hormone?
First of all, let us look at the definition of a bioidentical hormone, and how they differ from the synthetic hormones offered by the mainstream medical system.
Upper Left Image: Natural Redhead courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. Bioidentical Hormones are Natural.
How is a Synthetic Hormone Different from A Bioidentical Hormone?
Bioidentical hormones are the hormones that exist in the human body naturally. Synthetic hormones are these very same human hormones that are chemically altered.
Why Chemically Alter a Human Hormone?
The drug companies hire chemists to alter the structure of human hormones in the laboratory so the drug company can obtain a patent on the new chemical structure, which is a new drug. This alteration is required in order for the drug company to obtain a patent which gives exclusive marketing rights to the drug company. The patent is necessary to protects profits. Because of a quirk in our patent laws, only chemically altered substances can be patented. Natural substances like human hormones cannot be patented, and are therefore generally not as profitable to manufacture.
Hormones fit onto their receptors just like a “lock and key”, so any slight alteration of their chemical structure creates a “monster hormone”. These resulting “monster hormones” are never found in the human body or anywhere else in nature. The reality is that these synthetically altered monster hormones should never have been approved for marketing and sale to the American People, and yet that is exactly what your mainstream medical doctor will offer you if you ask for hormones.
Left Image: Boris Karlof in Frankenstein 1931 Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. Respresents Monster Hormones.
Examples of a chemically altered hormone (see below):
Why do we use the word bio-identical to describe natural human hormones?
You are probably wondering why do we use the word, “bioidentical”? That’s an excellent question. I can remember back when I was in first year medical school learning biochemistry at the University of Illinois in Chicago. Our class used Lehninger’s classic textbook of biochemistry. Lehninger never used the word, bio-identical hormones, because all hormones are by definition, bioidentical hormones. They simply used the word, “hormone”. Using a word like “bioidentical” was simply redundant and unnecessary for a biochemistry textbook, as it should be today.
The Information War and Terminology
Years ago, after the invention of synthetic monster hormones, an information war was launched by the drug industry creating confusion in the public and even among medical professionals about the difference between natural human hormones and synthetic monster hormones. Because of this information war, we must now use the terminology, “bioidentical” hormones which really means human hormones in order to different these from the monster altered hormones.
So it is an embarrassment to medical science that we are forced to use the word “bio-identical” for natural hormones found in the human body. We shouldn’t feel that we are forced to do this. It should be sufficient to use the same old names in the biochemistry text books. The simple word “hormone” should suffice. Yet here we are again finding ourselves using the word “bio-identical hormone” thanks to the “Information War” going on between natural medicine and the drug industry.
How do Hormones Work?
Hormones are messengers that attach directly on to the DNA of trillions of our cells and influence gene expression.
See diagram below showing hormone attaching to DNA in the Nucleus:
The hormone enters the cell, attached to a receptor, and then enters the nucleus of the cell where it binds directly to the DNA. Once bound to the DNA, the hormone messenger turns on DNA expression of protein synthesis. DNA contains the source code for the manufacture of proteins. The Hormone is a messenger that tells the DNA to produce these proteins.
Why Are Proteins Important ?
Proteins are the major building block for the human body, and all life for that matter. Proteins serve a variety of functions. For example, “structural” proteins make up the structural elements of the body such as bones, skin, arteries, hair, connective tissue, ligaments, tendons, muscles. Other proteins called enzymes are involved in energy production. There are proteins involved in communication, neurological function, and cognition called neurotransmitters. There are proteins involved in the immune system called antibodies, and the list goes on. The types of proteins are a very important part of the makeup of the organism.
Regenerative and Reparative Proteins
We need a constant supply of proteins to repair the body’s wear and tear. A marathon runner, for example, suffers wear and tear on the tendons, ligaments and muscles used in the marathon run. Recovery time after a marathon depends on the speed of repair of these injuries. During recovery, new proteins and new cells are manufactured and used for repair.
Diagram below shows the hormone (red molecule at upper left) entering cell, attaching to the DNA, and turning on protein synthesis.(see below)
In order to live, we need to make new cells. As our older cells and cell layers age and eventually die, we must have the ability to manufacture new cells. Examples are blood cells that must be replaced by the bone marrow every 90 days, the skin cells that slough off as the outer layer to be replaced by new layers of cells underneath. The gastrointestinal lining is generated at the basal cell layer. THese basal cells mature as they migrate to the surface where they eventually live out their life span, die and slough off.
All of the parts of our bodies are require new cells to replace old ones. These new cells are made of proteins , so regeneration of new cell layers requires the DNA to be “turned on” to make these new proteins and cells.
Hormone Levels Decline with Age
We know from observational studies that hormones levels decline with age. Starting around age 50, hormones levels decline to low levels. In women, this is sudden decline in hormone levels is called menopause around age 50 with cessation of ovulation. In men, hormonal decline after age 50 is called andropause, with a gradual in testosterone levels.
Chart of Life Span from 1600 to 2010. (see below)
Above chart courtesy of : Broken Limits to Life Expectancy Jim Open and James W.Vaupel
Starting around 1820, the time of the Industrial Revolution, we see a linear increase in life span. I suspect this is due to the improved living standards, better nutrition and mass production of goods and services. Before 1900, most people did not live past 50, so hormonal decline was not an issue. However, after 1900, an increasing population was living longer after the age of 50 with hormonal decline. This is an even greater trend now, with the largest over 50 population in the history of western civilization. All of these people are living with hormonal decline, and the accompanying degenerative diseases associated with hormonal decline.
Lack of Reparative Proteins Leads to Degenerative Diseases of Aging
Without the hormone message attached to the DNA, which turns on DNA expression and protein synthesis, we all begin to suffer from the lack of reparative and regenerative proteins leading to the degenerative diseases of aging.
Natural Medicine will provide bioidentical hormone replacement which will serve to prevent or reverse these degenerative diseases of aging. Here is a list with the mainstream drug treatment offered.
List of the Degenerative Diseases Drugs Used
|Atherosclerotic Vascular Disease||Lipitor|
|Immune System Dysfunction||Cipro, Z-pack|
|Loss of Libido||Viagra|
Degenerative Disease Means Great Profits for Drug Companies
The major drug companies make most of their profits on blockbuster drugs aimed at one of the above degenerative diseases of aging.
BioIdentical Hormones Prevent Degenerative Diseases of Aging
Since all of these degenerative diseases are directly caused by hormonal decline, they can be prevented or reversed (at least partially reversed) with the use of bio-identical hormones, representing direct economic competition with the drug industry which sells a drug for each degenerative disease (see above chart).
Natural Medicine Means Lost Profits for the Drug Industry
If bio-identical hormones were widely used, this would mean massive lost sales and lost profits for the drug industry. It is not difficult to understand why there is animosity and competition between the drug industry and natural medicine, and especially between the drug industry and natural bioidentical hormones, with a raging information war going on.
Two Excellent Articles on the Superiority of Bioidenticals over Synthetics
The_Bioidentical_Hormone_Debate_Ken_Holtorf_MD-3 The Bioidentical Hormone Debate: Are Bioidentical Hormones (Estradiol, Estriol, and Progesterone) Safer or More Efficacious than Commonly Used Synthetic Versions in Hormone Replacement Therapy? by Kent Holtorf, MD
Hormones__in_wellness_and_disease_prevention_common_practices_current_state_evidence_Erika_Schwartz_Kent_Holtorf Hormones in wellness and disease prevention: common practices, current state of the evidence, and questions for the future. Schwartz ET, Holtorf K.
For more on this topic, read my previous articles:
Broken Limits to Life Expectancy Jim Oeppen and James W.Vaupel*
Postgraduate Medicine: Volume 121: No.1 January 2009.Bioidentical Hormone Debate Safer More Efficacious Than Synthetic Kent Holtorf Postgraduate Medicine 2009
The Bioidentical Hormone Debate:Are Bioidentical Hormones (Estradiol, Estriol, and Progesterone) Safer or More Efficacious than Commonly Used Synthetic Versions in Hormone Replacement Therapy?Kent Holtorf, MD
Conclusion: Physiological data and clinical outcomes demonstrate that bioidentical hormones are associated with lower risks, including the risk of breast cancer and cardiovascular disease, and are more efficacious than their synthetic and animalderived counterparts. Until evidence is found to the contrary, bioidentical hormones remain the preferred method of HRT. Further randomized controlled trials are needed to delineate these differences more clearly.
MARCH 16, 2009 The Truth About Hormone Therapy Wall Street Journal
By ERIKA SCHWARTZ , KENT HOLTORF , and DAVID BROWNSTEIN, Mainstream medicine has been given a wake-up call on a matter critical to the health of 65 million women in the U.S. At issue are the options for treatment of menopause
Prim Care. 2008 Dec;35(4):669-705. Hormones in wellness and disease prevention: common practices, current state of the evidence, and questions for the future. Hormones Wellness Disease Prevention Erika Schwartz Kent Holtorf Prim Care Clin 2008
Schwartz ET, Holtorf K. Confusion and controversy surround the use of estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, growth hormone, and thyroid hormones. This article discusses age-related hormone loss and supplementation therapies for age-related hormonal deficiencies as possible first-line therapeutic modalities to be considered in our search to improve quality of life, prevent chronic illnesses, and maintain wellness. The well-informed use of hormones in wellness and disease prevention will result in symptomatic improvement and should be considered an integral part in the armamentarium of options we offer our patients.
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