Health and Hormones Part 2

Hormone Facts and Benefits

Progesterone functions as a Serotonin re-uptake inhibitor (SSRI), having the net effect of increasing levels of serotonin in the CNS which may explain why depression improves in some patients and why some PMS symptoms are satiated.

Progesterone restores Thyroid function which can be hindered by Estrogen monotherapy.  Proposed mechanisms are decreasing Thyroid binding globulin and/or facilitation of T4/T3 conversion.  (I don’t know the definitions of some of these terms, but will ask a nurse friend if she knows what they mean.)

TSH and T4 are often checked to diagnose Thyroid deficiency, however, T3 is seldom checked and yet it is the only “active” form of Thyroid.

Many patients will have “normal” TSH and T4 levels while T3 remains low or sub-optimal.

Andropause or low Testosterone in men has many causes.  Many men excessively aromatize Testosterone into Estradiol via the Aromatase enzyme found in subcutaneous fat.  Men also convert a certain percentage of Testosterone to DHT via 5-alpha-Reductase.

Ironically, the Hypothalamus receives signals to lower GnRH production, and thus, pituitary LH from the number of Estrogenic receptors that are occupied.  Therefore, a man with excessive amounts of Aromatase will convert a larger percentage of Testosterone to Estradiol shutting down GnRH-LH axis and ultimately Testosterone production.  This is why obese men usually low Testosterone and high Estradiol levels.

Many low Testosterone issues in men can be rectified by the addition of an aromatase blocker such as Anastrozole, along with a DHT blocker like Finasteride.  This has the net effect of preserving Testosterone and increasing production due to a lower percentage of Estradiol receptor saturation.  Anastrozole also decreases SHBG (sex hormone binding globulin) a protein which binds free Testosterone rendering it inactive.  Finasteride stops DHT formation which can cause hair loss and BPH.  (I think Anastrozole is a prescription for men to treat this condition.)

Topical forms of Testosterone may NOT be the ideal form since the applied ointment may be subject to Aromatase before it enters the bloodstream.  Also, a topical application can be washed/rubbed off before it is utilized by the body.

Although DHT was initially implicated as a possible mutagen in the Prostate, scientific studies failed to provide evidence.  Current, cutting-edge research has implicated metabolites of Estradiol as a mutagen.

NSAIDs and Opioids can dramatically decrease Testosterone levels via unknown mechanisms.

Testosterone can elevate free T3 cells in both men and women.

The herb Tribulus Terrestis mimics LH (Luteinizing Hormone) in men and can stimulate the Testes to produce Testosterone.  An exogenous source of Mg/Zn (I think this is magnesium and zinc) in a 10-1 ratio has produced elevated levels as well.

Zinc and the herb Chyrsin (1-3 gm/daily) are natural Aromatase inhibitors.

The product Biest (80% estriol/20% estradiol) was originally created because some studies showed that women with Estriol levels 4x greater than that of Estradiol had a lower incidence of breast cancer.

Vaginal creams containing Estriol (.5-2mg/gm) have an excellent anabolic effect on atrophied vaginal tissue and are not absorbed systemically.

Estradiol is 1000x more potent than Estriol systemically, suggesting that Estriol may have some function other than estrogenic.

The main source of Estrogen in the post-menopausal female is Androstenadione, an Androgen which aromatizes to Estrone.

Specific metabolites of Estrone have been identified as carcinogenic, specifically 4-OH and 16-OH Estrone while 2-OH Estrone has been shown to have some protective character.

While Estradiol has been shown in numerous studies to prevent bone resorption, Progesterone and Testosterone may increase Osteoblast and new bone formation.  Suggesting a balanced approach to Hormone Replacement Therapy may be best for bone density.

Testosterone esters (i.e. Cypionate, Proprionate, and Enanthate) aromatize more readily than other bio-identical forms.

Pregnenolone is made from cholesterol, and in turn, all other hormones are made from Pregnenolone. One theory suggests that when the body loses enzymatic ability to convert cholesterol to Pregnenolone, the body compensates by manufacturing increased amounts of cholesterol in a futile attempt at hormone production.  This would explain age-related cholesterol elevations.

A Canadian study showed that a combination of DHEA/Pregnenolone significantly lowered cholesterol levels.

DHEA was the first “anti-aging” hormone.  It was found that all major disease states are accompanied by low DHEA serum levels.

DHEA has been used in the treatment of some auto-immune diseases such as Lupus since it has been shown to modulate immunity.

DHEA can be a valuable adjunct in treating allergies for this very reason.

Pregnenolone has been shown to improve cognitive function and help with some inflammatory conditions.

Few practitioners prescribe Progesterone for women who have had hysterectomies, having the mindset that its only function is to “prime” the uterus.  Progesterone, however, is known to elevate GABA which may explain its beneficial effect on mood swings and certain types of headaches.