Daily nagging symptoms affecting your sense of self that you just can’t shake? Maybe you are wondering if hormonal imbalance is the culprit. Could bioidentical hormone replacement therapy(BHRT) be what you need and what is BHRT anyways?
Generally when we think of hormones and only relate them to sexual function. The fact is that a variety of hormones govern all of our body’s functions in some way or another. Hormones are integral in our body’s internal communication system; they both receive and send messages to the body through the glands that produce them. This complex system involves more than just estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone which are the usual hormones we think of in terms of health. In actuality, a number of other chemical messengers are also hormones and are major players in helping our bodies experience optimal health.
There are a few hormones that, depending on their current balance, most readily affect your overall health:
Some common symptoms and their hormones:
Our hormones play together to sync and harmonize our being to create optimal health patterns throughout the day and night. I like to think of it as our own “hormonal symphony.” Their job is to keep us healthy and they’re made for it! But sometimes, modern lifestyle tasks us with patterns and workloads that disrupt our body’s natural ability to control and balance our well-being.
So, when we start to experience persistent symptoms such as long-term anxiety or stress, brain fog, sleep or weight management issues, mood swings, and shifts in libido; investigating and caring for the glands that produce our hormones could be the place to start.
Adult Acne/Cystic Acne
Epinephrine/Adrenaline, Norepinephrine, Glucocorticoids, Mineralocorticoids, Cortisol, Cortisone
Concentration Issues/Brain Fog
EC Cells in Gastrointestinal Tract,
EC Cells in Gastrointestinal Tract
DHEA (as a precursor to Estrogen and Testosterone)
How you can help your hormones
Your practitioner will have many suggestions to help treat the symptoms you’re experiencing. However, working with your entire health team including both your provider and your Integrative or Functional Health Practitioner will likely yield the greatest benefits. The unique training of each health team member may complement one another in your health plan.
For example, while your family practice provider might prescribe antidepressants or sleep aids to help mask your symptoms and get you over the hump’ and on your way to recovery; your Functional or Integrative Health Practitioner will work on utilizing nutrition, supplements and possibly prescribe bioidentical hormones to get at the root cause of the problems you are experiencing.
Functional medicine looks extensively at the whole body to determine what is causing the problem and often uncovers a myriad of issues that all work together to create the health condition. Hormones often play a role but why they are imbalanced must also be ferreted out.
What is bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT)?
Bioidentical hormone therapy is a relatively new form of hormone therapy that holds great promise in the treatment of many of the conditions above, and particularly in the treatment of hormonal changes accompanying aging and menopause. Bioidentical hormones are man-made hormones derived from plant estrogens chemically identical to those that our body produces. Bioidentical hormones come in various forms, including:
Estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone are the most commonly replicated hormones used in bioidentical hormone treatment.
How BHRT works:
You can receive prescriptions for standard doses of bioidentical or traditional hormone therapy that are FDA approved. However, only with bioidentical hormone therapy is there the option of receiving customized, compound dosages created just for you. These are not FDA approved though, yet that doesn’t make it ‘wrong’. It simply means that because the FDA can only approve medications with standardized dosages, no pharmaceutical compounding could fall under their approval process.
Is BHRT necessary for me?
The answer, as in many health treatments, is ‘it just depends’. Personalized medicine is never just cut and dry. There are just as numerous treatment options to help re-balance your hormones as there are numerous individual patients. We custom compound Bioidentical hormones for many patients and have been for over 40 years. We see tremendous results and happy hormone patients year after year!
How can you help my hormone imbalance?
Once you’ve had a chance to share with your functional medicine practitioner the symptoms, situations, and concerns you’ve been experiencing, we can then start putting the pieces together to outline the best treatment options for you!
A Typical Functional Approach
- Testing: The first set of treatment and care options that your healthcare team often look at are nutrient deficiencies and a patient’s habits. It’s amazing how many maladies can be remedied when we have greater focus and dedication to providing our bodies with right nutrition, hydration, stress management, exercise, and adequate quality sleep.
- Lifestyle & Supplements: The next step could be a customized supplement plan. When you’ve committed to a healthier routine of nutrition, exercise, and sleep, supplementation of key nutrients and minerals could yield even greater results. We have many tools in our toolbox to help get you on the right path to a balanced system.
- Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy (BHRT): And, the third set of options (unless as mentioned before, you are struggling with your daily life related to hormonal imbalances in which case we would treat this first!) could be BHRT. Once you’ve made progress in building your personal health regime, hormone therapy could prove to be a treatment that provides great relief and balance in symptoms tied to hormonal changes in both women and men.
One of the best ways to learn more about whether you are a candidate for BHRT is to see a functional medicine practitioner. We can help with recommendations if you need someone and in fact, have a functional medicine nurse practitioner as the Director of our Foundational Health program here at Central Drug. Cherise Bludau-Branch APRN, FNP-BC FAAMM is a Fellow of the American Academy of Anti-aging and Metabolic Medicine and has been a nurse practitioner for over 20 years. Cherise can do testing to gain more insight into your current hormone levels, and dive deeper into any challenges you may be facing. Think: “Fix Root Cause” not just bandaid symptom treatment. We want to get you back to feeling your best.