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Natural Hormone Replacement Therapy

Natural hormones is a term reserved for those chemicals that are derived from plant sources and that are exact duplicates of what your body produces. These differ from some of the other hormones that have been chemically altered, which sometimes have more of an adverse impact on the body.

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There are four groups of natural hormones that are of major concern:
  1. Estrogens
  2. Progesterone
  3. Testosterone
  4. Dihydroepiandrosterone (DHEA)

The Estrogens include estradiol, estrone and estriol. The plant source of these chemicals is the soybean. These estrogens are prescribed for replacement therapy due to menopause, ovarian failure or for women who have had a hysterectomy with removal of their ovaries. The estrogens can be used as a single agent or in combination.

There are benefits to prescribing the natural hormone replacement of estrogen. When prescribed for menopause, estrogen can alleviate, in most cases, hot flashes, vaginal and urinary tract dryness, sleeplessness and mood swings. There are also cardiovascular benefits to replacement therapy. They would be: increasing HDLs and decreasing LDLs, protecting against premature heart disease, hypertension and high cholesterol. Lastly, hormone replacement therapy can help osteoporosis if treatment is begun early enough.

The side effects that women can experience can include: nausea, loss of appetite, breast tenderness, headaches and alterations in body chemistry. The increased risk of cancer is also present. Although, the concern of cancer can be mediated by lowering the dose of estrogens or by adding progesterone. A thorough analysis of the benefit — risk ratio with your physician or health practitioner is wise.

Estrogens can be taken by mouth, under the tongue or dissolved in the cheek pocket, rubbed into the skin, inserted vaginally or transmitted through the skin with a patch. The advantage of the transdermal, vaginal or sublingual routes is that the dose can be lower than the oral dose. The action in the body is more natural when the drugs can go directly into the bloodstream instead of passing through the stomach. Some disadvantages to these systems include: inconvenience and messiness of vaginal creams, the extra time it takes to rub in a topical gel, patches that won't stick and the taste or time it takes to dissolve a sublingual lozenge. The therapies' pros and cons should be discussed with your physician, pharmacist or health care provider.

Progesterone is derived from the Mexican Yam or the soybean. Progesterone can be prescribed for infertility, luteal phase defect, PMS or in combination with estrogens for menopause. Researchers have conducted studies involving oral capsules filled with lactose (milk sugar) or oil (peanut oil), vaginal or rectal suppositories, sublingual lozenges and topical gels.

The major side effect of progesterone, when taken in a capsule form, is drowsiness. If taken with food, the drowsiness effect is reduced. Although the older literature discusses serious side effects when progesterone is used during pregnancy, this risk is involved with the use of progestins (i.e. 19-nortestesterone progestogens). The use of natural micronized progesterone has been extensively reported on and endorsed by clinicians and researchers. The benefits are clear. All hormones have to be used appropriately and in a responsible way in accordance with the recommendations of your physician, but no serious or adverse side effects have been noted with progesterone use.

The use of Testosterone in women include breast carcinoma and low~or decreased libido in the aging process. The side effect profile of testosterone should be discussed with your physician. However, low dose therapy can be achieved by the sublingual

by Joseph Serio R.Ph. Registered Pharmacist

Information on this site is provided for informational purposes and is not meant to substitute for the advice provided by your own physician or other medical professional. You should not use the information contained herein for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication. You should read carefully all product packaging. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem, promptly contact your health care provider.