Hormones play a major role in human health and longevity and integrative medicine is all about holistic approach toward heath; therefore, it is not surprising that integrative medicine has dedicated treatment for hormonal imbalance!
In this article, we will take a look at Hormone Replacement Therapy; therefore, you can decide if you need to visit a good integrative doctor and discus the possibility of undergoing Hormone Replacement Treatment.
What is Hormone Replacement Therapy?
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is an integrative treatment to replace hormones that are lower than normal in your blood in order to restore balance in your body, mind and life and relieve unpleasant symptoms associated with hormonal deficiencies.
Your body produces many hormones throughout your life. Their level fluctuates during day and at critical points in life such as puberty, pregnancy and menopause or andropause.
They are involved in all vital functions and regulate many complex mechanisms such as metabolism, reproduction, mental state and nutrient transport into cells just to name a few.
Healthy lifestyle choices promoted by integrative medicine can prevent hormonal disturbance but after years of smoking, alcoholism, caffeine over consumption, obesity, nutrition deficiency, use of medications, disturbed sleep pattern, excessive exercise, environmental pollutions, long hours of work, emotional stress and abusive relationships the hormonal balance becomes disturbed and creates painful symptoms and conditions. In this circumstance the hormonal system must be brought back to a balanced state by Hormone Replacement Therapy; therefore, the new healthy lifestyle planed by your integrative practitioner can be effective in preventing further imbalances in the rest of your life.
Since Integrative medicine has individualistic approach, one HRT formula cannot be effective for all but main hormones that usually need replacement include:
Human Growth Hormone (HGH) is a protein which is created in the brain by pituitary gland and through complex mechanism it regulates functions such as body composition, fluid retention, metabolism and muscle/bone growth throughout your body. At early stages of life it is responsible for rapid growth but in adulthood it becomes a potent healing agent. Synthetic HGH was developed in 1985 and has been used safely for people with deficiency. It is also used to enhance athletic performance and has anti aging capability to turn back the biological clock in order to have youthful skin, body and mind.
Cortisol is produced by adrenal glands located above the kidneys in order to regulate metabolism, immune system, blood pressure and blood sugar levels. It has an important role in cognitive abilities and response to stress but under constant physical, mental and emotional pressure it is over stimulated resulting in Adrenal Fatigue condition which in long run will result in cortisol imbalance and can have symptoms such as fatigue, sleep disturbance and cravings.
DHEA is a steroid produced also in adrenal glands in order to create sex hormones such as estrogen and testosterone and is involved in modulating inflammation. Its peak release happens at early adulthood but declines with ageing. DHEA replacement therapy can have anti ageing effect and enhances mental and physical performance in addition to burning excess fat. It also relieves androgenic and estrogenic hormone reduction symptoms.
Thyroid Hormones are secreted from thyroid glands in lower front of neck in order to regulate cellular metabolism and temperature along with helping brain and heart function properly. Low levels of thyroid hormones results in Hypothyroidism which is associated with heart problems, joint pains and obesity along with symptoms such as cold sensitivity, hair fall, skin dryness, irregular periods and depression.
Estrogen is a sex hormone which is made more in women than men. It is made mainly in ovaries and testes but adrenal glands and adipose tissue can also produce estrogen. Other than creating female characteristic like breasts, wider heap and regulation of menstrual cycle, estrogen is involved with bone formation, cholesterol regulation and sperm count. Some research suggests estrogen has a role in preventing inflammation in the brain hoping it can help cure Parkinson’s disease.
Estrogen levels fluctuate throughout life and even within a month in female menstrual cycle. It peaks at puberty and middle of menstrual cycle, decreases with premenopause and stops at menopause. remenopause is a phase when menses becomes irregular and PMS symptoms such as bloating and fatigue intensifies until reaching menopause in which ovaries do not produce hormones and menstrual cycle stops permanently. Menopause usually starts at 50s and has very unpleasant symptoms such as hot flushes, night sweats, mood swings, vaginal dryness and low libido which may take years to pass. Osteoporosis is a serious side effect of menopause along with possible cardiovascular disease. Postmenopause women may need to start HRT early in order to prevent such diseases.
Progesterone hormone is a female sex hormone and is produced in ovaries as well. Its production has a pattern in regard to estrogen and if disturbed, can lead to Estrogen Dominance resulting in irregular menstruation and menopausal symptoms. Low levels of progestron also prevent pregnancy or maintenance of the fetus.
Testosterone is a sex hormone which is produced more in men than women in testes and ovaries respectively. Its production peaks at puberty and decrease with aging. It is associated with male characteristics like deeper voice and facial hair and is vital for fertility, sex drive, muscle/ fat ratio and even red blood cell production. Testosterone levels might be too low at Andropause (male menopause) which causes unpleasant symptoms such as low libido, erectile dysfunction, muscle loss, mood swings and weight gain. In women of reproductive age, excess testosterone might lead to PCOS (Polycystic ovary syndrome) in which due to formation of cysts, ovaries fail to release egg and menstrual cycle becomes irregular and symptoms such as infertility, diabetes and depression might develop.
What are the side effects of HRT?
The benefits of HRT outweigh the side effects if there is any but feel free to discuss your concerns with your integrative doctor.
Since integrative medicine is patient centric, you must feel comfortable to inform your integrative doctor if you have history of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, womb cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes and liver diseases; therefore, the best treatment is selected for you in order to prevent complications.
You must also reveal any medication you are taking because some drugs such as birth control pills, anti seizure and anti depression medications can interfere with HRT. Even vitamins and minerals supplements can influence hormone replacement therapy.
What types of HRT are available?
Bioidentical hormone replacement therapies are available in different ratios and they come in variety of forms such as pills, patches, creams, gels and injections which according to your unique circumstances can be taken all at once or in cycles until your deficiency is met or your symptoms vanish.
How long does the HRT take?
HRT is specifically designed for your unique needs; therefore, the duration of treatment differs and will only be planned after assessment of specialty lab test results in order to reveal the current state of your heath.
Usually dosing will be low at the beginning of treatment and results will be monitored closely and if needed, changes will be made in dosing, the form and ratio of hormones until your hormones are at a healthy level or your symptoms have stopped.
After Hormone Replacement Therapy you will be provided with a comprehensive lifestyle plan in order to prevent any further hormonal imbalance; therefore, you can live a happy, healthy and long life.