Traditionally, doctors have prescribed conventional – that is, synthetic hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to treat the symptoms of menopause, such as hot flashes, irritability, insomnia, vaginal dryness, and as a preventive measure against cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis. Studies have repeatedly proven, however, that the disadvantages of conventional HRT outweigh the advantages. In fact, women who have been treated with conventional HRT are at greater risk of developing breast cancer, heart attacks, strokes and life-threatening blood clots than those who have not used HRT.(WHI,2002) Not only are women being harmed, but the protective benefits are less than had been hoped. The fundamental problem with conventional HRT is that it consists of synthetic chemicals that our bodies do not recognize as their own hormones. Our bodies are therefore unable to process and break down these synthetic hormones in the same way that our bodies break down our own hormones. Harmful by-products are a consequence. Yet, many doctors continue to prescribe conventional HRT, albeit reluctantly, in spite of the latest findings of the WHI Extension Study. (WHI, 2010) Fortunately, there is an alternative that is both safer and more beneficial, when prescribed properly: bio-identical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT). (Holtorf, 2009)
Bio-identical hormones are so named, because they are biologically identical to our own hormones. In fact, our bodies cannot distinguish bio-identical hormones in any way from their own. For this reason, bio-identical hormones bind to our bodies’ receptors and are broken down in exactly the same manner as our own hormones.
Bio-identical hormones are derived from concentrating and purifying wild yam extract. The base chemical structure found in wild yam – diosgenin – is very similar to human progesterone. In fact, by removing only a few molecules from diosgenin it is possible to make an exact replica of human progesterone. Progesterone is the mother hormone from which most other hormones arise, including cortisol, DHEA, testosterone and estrogen. This means that by simply making a few modifications to the progesterone molecule, we can create a complement of other hormones that our bodies will accept and metabolize as though it were its own. Researchers have concluded that bio-identical hormones are associated with lower risk than conventional HRT, including the risk of breast cancer and cardiovascular disease. Also, bio-identical hormones have been found to be more efficacious than conventional HRT. (Holtorf, 2009)
Sign up for interesting and useful information on hormonal health.