Hormones are the biochemical messengers of the neuroendocrine system, a complicated network of chemicals, glands, nerves and feedback loops that orchestrates actions of cells and systems throughout the body. They keep our metabolism and immune systems running in smooth order.
Our bodies function at peak efficiency in our youth when hormones are at their highest. It is at that time that our immune system is generally at its strongest; we build muscle instead of fat, injuries heal quickly, energy is plentiful.
Decline in key hormones is a primary cause of aging. Dr. Vladimir Dilman, major author of the Neuroendocrine Theory of aging and a renowned Russian researcher in anti-aging and more recently Dr. Thierry Hertoghe of the Acedemie de Medicine Generale de Belgique, believe that recreating the fined tuned hormone balance of youth is fundamental in controlling aging.
Individual Assessment is Essential
As we age, the ability to produce and release certain hormones diminishes. An individual’s genetics, nutrition, exercise levels, stress and lifestyle all play an inextricable role in how this occurs. Clearly the aging process itself is different for each individual so any longevity plan must be tailored to meet each person’s needs and goals. This is especially true when the discussion of hormone replacement arises. Careful assessment of laboratory findings and how they relate to each individual experience of hormone change is essential in the decision making process.
Because of the delicate interplay of hormones, supplementation should not be undertaken without the supervision of a qualified healthcare professional.
Our anti-aging plans include accurate laboratory monitoring of hormone levels and progress discussions on a regular basis.
When intervention to promote healthy hormone balance is indicated, recommendations for, whenever possible, a natural approach, should be discussed. What does “natural” mean? Firstly, it can simply mean making the lifestyle and nutrition changes that will promote one’s optimal level of healthy hormone production. Phytonutrients and amino acids can promote certain diminishing hormones. Important hormones such as insulin, cortisol, glucagon and growth hormone are strongly influenced by exercise, diet and stress changes. Excess insulin and excess cortisol are the archenemies – responsible for fat accumulation, brain-aging, increased inflammatory tendency, high blood pressure, elevated blood lipids, oxidative stress and the list goes on. Growth hormone is responsible for a myriad of repair and rejuvenation tasks throughout the body and considered by some to be the closest thing to a “fountain of youth”. Levels of human growth hormone (HGH) are enhanced by the presence of certain nutrients and exercise and are diminished by elevated glucose and insulin.
All of our anti-aging programs emphasize and educate on the importance of maintaining proper glucose and insulin levels, managing stress, and exercising regularly.
“Natural” also means utilization of supplements that are bioidentical to your declining natural hormones. These differ from synthetic hormones in their actual molecular structure. Because pharmaceutical companies cannot patent “natural” substances, they market synthetic versions.
It is the general opinion of most anti-aging physicians as well as that of other enlightened health care professionals that using natural, bioidentical molecules is a safer and effective choice in most instances. Furthermore, natural supplements can be easily customized in terms of dose and specific hormone requirements of the individual.
Hormones-Sex and Much More!
Of course, when anyone speaks of hormones, the first thought in most minds is their reference to sex. And, yes, healthy hormone levels are essential for libido, performance and pleasure.
Perhaps, less generally known are hormones’ essential role in the harmonious orchestration of body and brain activity. Their decline to a fraction of what they were in our youth may set the stage for the mind-body deterioration we associate with “old age”. Here are some of the hormones which are tested in an anti-aging program:
DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone)– sometimes referred to as the “mother of all steroids” is the most abundant steroid hormone in the human body. It is the precursor to testosterone and estrogen. DHEA is five to six times more concentrated in the brain where it protects, in particular, from the ravages of excess cortisol. Additionally, it stimulates growth hormone receptors and modulates insulin sensitivity, diabetes, and obesity; it is a potent immune booster and has benefits in memory and cognitive processes, collagen and skin integrity and may help with depression and insomnia.
Pregnenolone– is the foundation hormone for other hormones including DHEA, progesterone, and testosterone. It is produced from cholesterol in the mitochondria (the energy powerhouse of the cell). Studies have shown that it has a potent stimulatory affect on the memory and cognitive function of brain and also helps block the effects of cortisol. Other benefits may include anti-inflammatory properties, improved mood and sleep, enhanced sense of well being.
Testosterone-generally known for promoting sex drive in both men and women, this hormone plays an important role maintaining muscle skin and bone integrity. It strengthens the immune system and increases some mental functions particularly visual spatial ability.
Estrogen– generally considered a female hormone; it is produced in small amounts in men. It has a positive effect on many organs throughout the body. It protects against coronary artery disease, improves lipids and raises good (HDL) cholesterol. Estrogen preserves bone density, and supports collagen formation. It has positive effects on mood, memory and concentration and some studies have shown may help stimulate the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, preventing Alzheimer’s.
Progesterone-works together with estrogen in more than 300 receptor sites in the body. It is also a precursor for other hormones. Progesterone has a large number of functions and benefits on its own including promoting fat breakdown, maintaining bone, increasing energy, normalizing blood sugar, improving mood and protecting against cancer.
Thyroid-these hormones are vital in the regulation of metabolism and the production of other hormones. Thyroid hormone balance is crucial for health. Excess or inadequate thyroid function has detrimental effects on virtually every system. Obesity, heart disease, infertility, hair loss, mental illness, lethargy, visual disturbances, osteoporosis are just a few conditions arising from thyroid dysfunction.
Melatonin-is a hormone known for its role in controlling our body’s clock. It has been suggested that it may even control the aging clock of the brain. It is a key player in our sleep/wake cycles.
It is used a sleeping aid and also assists in recovery from jet lag. It is now recognized as a key element in maintaining hormonal balance. Additionally, melatonin is a potent anti-oxidant capable of scavenging free radicals working both on the inside and outside of every cell. It also stimulates the thymus gland (the key organ of the immune system) involved in the production of disease-fighting T-cells. Laboratory research has shown that decreasing melatonin accelerates aging and restoring melatonin re-establishes youthful function.
Human Growth Hormone (hGH)-is the primary hormone produced by the pituitary gland and regulates all other hormones levels within the body. It has been referred to as the “fountain of youth hormone” due to its remarkable role in deterring the effects of biological aging. HGH affects almost every cell in the body. Like other hormones, it begins to decline with age losing about 14 % per decade after age 30 to levels by the age of 65 that are less than half of what anti-aging researchers consider optimal. In many people, it can be replaced naturally by a program that combines nutrient supplementation, amino acid precursors that effectively stimulate the pituitary to produce hGH, exercise (especially weight training), and a diet that keeps insulin in check. This is the natural approach we choose at our clinic. For those with whom this approach fails to achieve desired results, daily injections of recombinant DNA growth hormone,( costing $$thousands per year), may be an option they could investigate.
Documented benefits of hGH therapy:
- increased lean body mass and muscle strength
- decreased body fat, especially in the abdomen
- increased bone density
- improved skin thickness and diminished wrinkles
- better energy and exercise recovery
- improved sleep and emotional stability
- increased immune response
- improved sexual function
- better lipid profiles
- increased well-being, cognitive function and mental alertness
A Final Note on Hormones
Different hormones perform different functions in the body, but they all work synergistically. There are reasons why all these hormones are in the body and why our body and mind function at their peak efficiency when these are at optimal levels and balance. Supplementing hormones should never be done without professional assessment and guidance.
All of us would like to have the best quality of life for as long as we live. And we are living longer. Today, we can explore effective new health care choices that can positively influence longevity and quality of life. Natural hormone replacement is one of those choices.