Agrowing number of people have unique health needs that off-the-shelf prescription medicines cannot meet. For them, customized, compounded medications - prescribed or ordered by licensed physicians and mixed safely by trained, licensed compounding pharmacists - are the only way to better health. Bio-Identical Hormones are an example of compounds that are not commercially available in a convenient, effective form.

There are approximately forty million women currently in menopause. This is growing by two million women a year. Recent studies about using synthetic hormones to treat menopause symptoms are confusing, inadequate and even frightening. Are there any better hormone options?

Fortunately, there are Bio-Identical Hormones. These are natural plant-based hormones that are exactly like the hormones we make ourselves. Each woman has her own hormone "blueprint" that is best for her. Bio-Identical hormones can be measured and adjusted to match each blueprint. Bio-Identical hormones are formulated by compounding pharmacists in more convenient, effective forms than standard commercially available synthetic medications. Being able to individualize a dose is superior to other traditional "one size fits all" synthetic hormone therapy, having more health benefits and fewer side effects. As we age past forty, many hormone levels naturally start to decline. Worldwide research of the past twenty years has confirmed this conclusion: There appears to be tremendous health benefits of hormone replacement during the aging process.

The following is a brief description of many of the hormones that decrease as we age. Bio- Identical replacements for these hormones are available. Some or all of these hormones may be supplemented during hormone replacement therapy.

DHEA is a hormone secreted by adrenal glands located above the kidneys. This hormone is precursor to the sex hormones: testosterone, estrogen, and progesterone. DHEA promotes an anabolic (protein building) state. It reduces cardiovascular risk by increasing fat metabolism. DHEA stimulates the immune system, restores sexual vitality, improves mood, lowers cholesterol and reduces body fat. Recent studies point to DHEA as an anti-stress hormone, reversing the effects of stress on the immune system.

Thyroid hormone is a metabolic hormone secreted by the thyroid gland that regulates blood circulation, body temperature, metabolism and cerebral function. It contributes to energy levels, temperature regulation, and body warmth. It increases fat breakdown, resulting in weight loss as well as lowering cholesterol. It protects against cardiovascular disease and improves cerebral metabolism. Thyroid function is best evaluated by laboratory levels of THS, free T-4, and free T-3 along with clinical correlation of symptoms. Abnormal TSH levels indicate primary hypothyroidism, while abnormal free T-3 and free T-4 cause secondary and tertiary hypothyroidism.

Testosterone is an important hormone secreted by the adrenal glands, testes, and ovaries. It contributes to energy, muscle mass, strength, endurance, decreased fat, increased exercise tolerance, enhancement of well-being, and psychological status. Testosterone protects against cardiovascular disease, hypertension, obesity and arthritis. It leads to improved lean muscle mass, increased libido, and sexual performance.

Testosterone levels dramatically decline after the age or forty in both men and women. The most common symptom of declining testosterone, andropause (male menopause) is fatigue and is often experienced by men in their mid-forties. Testosterone is extremely important in the female as well as the male, making supplementation absolutely recommended for both.

The estrogens are secreted by the ovaries. Men also make a small amount of estrogen from conversion of testosterone. In women, estrogen protects against heart disease, stroke, osteoporosis, Alzheimer's disease and memory disorders. It protects against vaginal atrophy (skin thinning), urinary leakage (incontinence), and prevents symptoms of menopause including hot flashes and temperature dysregulation. Estrogen improves balance by improving the visual somatosensory system in the central nervous system. Estrogen deficiency results in the urogential (urinary and genital) atrophy, incontinence, saggy breast skin, increased face wrinkles, decreased energy, depression, mood swings, decreased libido and insomnia. The use of estrogen replacement during menopause is a classic example of optimizing hormone levels to younger levels to avoid some of the diseases of aging (osteoporosis, heart attack, and stroke).

Progesterone is secreted by the ovaries during the second half of the menstrual cycle. It is only produced from an ovulating ovary. During reproductive years, it prepares the uterine lining for the embryo implantation. After menopause, progesterone supplementation protects against uterine and breast cancers, osteoporosis, fibrocystic breast disease and ovarian cysts. Most U.S. physicians prescribe synthetic progestins that cause side effects such as bloating, headaches, fatigue, and weight gain. Natural progesterones are as effective and generally do not cause these side effects.

In summary, the basics for optimal health and longevity are proper diet, exercise, nutritional supplementation, and hormone replacement therapy. These are fundamental to stopping cellular degeneration and allowing regeneration of tissue, proper healing and slowing of the aging process.

Hormones are natural substances that have existed in our bodies since conception. The rationale for treatment is based on the recognized health benefits of hormone levels produced during younger healthier times. When taken as prescribed and monitored closely by medical practitioners trained in hormone replacement management, negative effects of hormone replacement therapy are rarely encountered.

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