To understand bio-identical hormones, we have to look back , not too far, into history. A medical study, called the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI), was conducted to determine the effects of combined estrogen and progestin (a synthetic estrogen) on menopause. The researchers stopped the trial in 2002 because the hormone users had slightly higher health risks. These risks included of breast cancer, blood clots, heart disease and stroke. Progestin was the culprit because it was a synthetic drug with lots of by-products that had unwanted side effects. Physicians stopped the combination therapy in women even though the increased risks were small. Soon, many women found that their menopausal symptoms returned and they were as unbearable as ever.
The arrival of Bio-identical Hormones
As a result, women now look to something more “natural” to manage menopausal symptoms. The term natural hormone is a misnomer. Though the source of the hormones may be plant or animal, the active hormone still has to be processed for the end consumer use. So a more appropriate term to use would be “bio-identical” or “bio-mimetic”. This means that the derived hormone resembles and behaves like your body’s own hormone. It becomes virtually indistinguishable from that of your body’s. The body uses and eliminates them from the body just like those made by the body.
This has many advantages. Firstly, unlike synthetic progestins, bio-identical hormones do not have by-products that wreak havoc on the body, manifesting as multiple side effects. Bio-identical hormones will also register on lab results, giving the physician or clinician a way to correlate dosage with symptoms to achieve better therapy.
Yams and soy are know sources for bio-identical estrogens, progesterone and testosterone. These plant sources afford the pharmaceutical companies a cheaper and faster way to synthesize the bio-identical hormones. Although a bio-identical hormone could be created purely synthetically, it would prove to be very expensive and time consuming and therefore not good for business. So, when you ask the compounding pharmacists to use or include natural hormones, he will not be grinding down yams and soy to get your hormones. That will take him a few months. You surely don’t want to wait that long.