Bioidentical Versus Synthetic Hormones — What You Need to Know

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Hormones are minuscule but mighty. 

The body’s endocrine system glands secrete powerful chemical messengers: hormones. 

The hormone-secreting endocrine glands include the adrenals, ovaries, pancreas, thyroid, thymus, pituitary (the master gland), and more.

The balance (or imbalance) of hormones can make all the difference between whether we feel bouncy or blah, fantastic or fatigued, and attractive or apathetic. 

In short, hormones affect everything from how our body functions to how we feel. 

How do hormones work?

Let’s use a Star Wars analogy to picture it. 

Imagine that your endocrine glands are the mother ships. In order to send vital information to the rest of your body, these glands constantly send out small ships (hormones) to deliver messages.  

Your body’s rapid response system is your hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. These three endocrine glands launch their hormone ships to different parts of the body with emergency messages.

The hypothalamus sends one hormone, which stimulates the pituitary to send another. That hormone then stimulates the adrenals to release cortisol and adrenaline. Then, those hormone “ships” dock in still other parts of the body with the messages: “Danger! Danger!”

Some of the cortisol and adrenaline hormone ships dock at the heart, telling it: “Beat faster!” More blood goes to the muscles (to help you fight or flee).

Some adrenal hormones dock at the lungs, telling them: “Breathe faster!” (More oxygen for the fight or flight response.)  

And some hormone ships dock in the digestive tract, telling it: “Stop digesting!” (because it’s more important to fight or run). 

Needless to say, the body’s sex hormones are also shut down. 

This is a tiny example of how a few of your hormones work, all the time, day and night, delivering vital information to keep your body healthy. 

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When everything is working well, that is. When hormones are out of balance, everything feels out of balance.

How do hormones become imbalanced?

That’s a big question with an even bigger answer.

Of course, disease can affect the endocrine glands (diabetes, for example). Endocrine gland disease may be caused by genetic predispositions or by so-called autoimmune diseases. 

But, increasingly, we find that environmental toxins can and do affect our hormones. The study of epigenetics has shown that everything we do and are exposed to affects our gene expression. External stimuli can cause our genes to function in healthy or unhealthy (diseased) ways. The great news is that we have a tremendous ability to turn the diseased gene expressions back toward health.

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Another big cause of hormonal imbalance is stress. 

Remember our earlier stress example, and how the perception of danger affected the whole body? Short-term stress is a reaction to danger; when the danger passes the body recovers. But prolonged feelings of stress (better defined as anxiety) turns your gene expressions away from health and toward disease. 

Hormonal imbalances are triggered by many more lifestyle habits, such as nutritional deficiencies, environmental toxins, sleep imbalances, and natural life changes, such as pregnancy, menopause, andropause, and more. And not just in women, but in men and children, too. 

All ages are affected by environmental toxins, and even today’s children suffer from stress. It’s no wonder hormones are imbalanced.

Are your hormones imbalanced?

Perhaps you or someone you know might benefit from the quiz linked below. 

To help bring your body into balance seek care from a practitioner who uses a holistic approach. By holistic approach through lifestyle adjustments, nutritional supplementation if needed, and if necessary, carefully individualized and monitored bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT), your practitioner will help your body get back in balance.  Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy is very different from the typical synthetic hormone replacement therapy that has been used for decades. Research within the past 28 years has shown that synthetic hormones carry serious risks of side effects, such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, and more.

What are the differences between synthetic and bioidentical hormones?

Going back to our earlier Star Wars analogy, as the mother ships (the endocrine glands) send out their small ships (hormones) to carry messages to the body’s organs and glands, the messenger ships have to land on docking stations (specific hormonal receptor sites) to deliver their messages. 

Docking stations are sized specifically for each ship. If a ship only fits the station halfway, only half the message is delivered. Synthetic hormones don’t fit perfectly, and they can’t communicate like bioidentical hormones.

Instead of “Danger!” the message might be: “Da…!” “Day” is the wrong message. 

Hormones and their receptor sites fit together like hands into perfectly fitting gloves. Naturally sourced, bioidentical hormones, recognized by the body, fill all the fingers of the receptor-site “glove.” 

Best of all, they work well without negative side effects. 

Controversy and Conflicts of Interest

As scientific research progresses, therapies must change. Change is always opposed by those who profit from older therapies. Those with vested interests in the status quo criticize treatments based on newer knowledge.

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For example, you may find “studies” that cast doubt on compounding pharmacies creating custom bioidentical hormone replacement therapies, specifically tailored for each person. However, check the “potential conflicts of interest” of those study authors. It’s an unfortunate fact that many universities and researchers depend on funding from the drug companies who profit from selling the older “one-size-fits-all” hormone treatments.

Sincerely unbiased scientists and scholars look beyond the status quo and search for what works best.

It is becoming more clear that bioidentical hormones, made from natural sources and formulated for each unique individual, are safer and more effective than the more commonly used synthetic hormone preparations. Feel free to do your own research, keeping in mind the bias you may see in the literature. Sadly, no economic incentive exists to research natural formulations that cannot be mass-produced. 

You are unique

One size can never fit all. We are all unique individuals, even within the same family. 

Individual preparations, based on each individual’s specific hormonal needs, are formulated in a compounding pharmacy. No single drug can be patented to correct everyone’s delicate hormonal balance

Ask your Thomas Seashore pharmacist about our compounding services for natural, bioidentical hormone replacement.

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