Anti-Aging Medicine & Bio-identical Hormones
Mar 04, 2014 06:39AM
By Les Cole, M.D.
Oxidative stress and inflammation are major contributors to aging, causing the destruction of important chemical molecules—the molecules of metabolism, in your body and brain. Examples of oxidation in nature are rust and fire. Inflammation implies “a flame within”. Oxidation and inflammation are normal processes necessary for you to live, however, if you eat processed, additive-laced foods, lack exercise, have a chronic disease and/or are exposed to toxins (who isn’t?), your oxidative stress and inflammation levels will speed the aging process.
Stress a major contributor.
When you are stressed, cortisol, adrenalin and other catabolic hormones are produced. Catabolism is the process of breaking down the body’s protein for energy, and the largest stores of protein are in muscle, including your heart; but over time high levels of cortisol can also cause damage to portions of your brain. High levels of adrenalin can contribute to developing high blood pressure, vascular aging and heart disease. Your catabolic hormones increase as you age. Most people live with stress and don’t even realize it is the new norm. You can reduce your stress hormones and slow aging with lifestyle changes, like practicing yoga. Herbal nutraceuticals improve your body’s adaptive responses to stress. Bio-identical hormone replacement shifts your body from catabolism to anabolism (see below). Stress (catabolism) adds an additional burden of depleting your body of nutrients. Supplemental oral and IV nutrient repletion can reverse these depletions and slow your aging process.
Chronic disease is a contributor to aging.
Most chronic disease is a result of a mixture of malnutrition (nutritional imbalance), stress (catabolic imbalance), toxin exposure (detoxification imbalance), lack of exercise, hormone imbalance, and genetics in varying degrees. Your body has a wonderful ability to thrive, be healthy and live well even in the face of these imbalances, however, over time, these imbalances lead to imbalances in cellular metabolism contributing to aging of your cells. Prolonged imbalances in your cellular metabolism lead to oxidative stress, inflammation and poor structural protein production, which cause aging of and damage to your tissues and organs, resulting in diabetes, heart disease and cancer, to name a few. This is the epitome of “aging”! Identifying and correcting your metabolic imbalances early is the essence of Functional and Metabolic Medicine. Preventive and lifestyle medicine correct the inputs leading to metabolic imbalance. Most chronic diseases of aging are preventable, arrestable or partially or completely reversible, depending on how long the imbalances have been present and how much genetic contribution there is. As we learn more about genetic contributors, even many of these can be altered.
Bio-identical hormone replacement is crucial to slowing the aging process.
We’ve already noted that as you age, your catabolic hormones increase, which speeds aging. At the same time, most if not all of your anabolic hormones decrease or cease to function. Anabolism is the process of building healthy functioning cells, tissues, organs and organ systems, i.e. muscle and heart. Muscle itself produces hundreds of molecules that combat catabolism and aging. The sex hormones are major anabolic hormones. (Growth hormone and insulin are also anabolic, and adrenal and thyroid are equally important to health and aging. Look for future articles on these topics.)
The sex hormones estrogen and progesterone decrease precipitously at menopause causing severe symptoms for many women. Multiple studies have shown how important these hormones are to health and aging. A review of 27 different studies shows that women under 60 who replaced their hormones were 27 percent less likely to die. Another study predicts that anywhere from 18,600 to 91,600 women aged 50 to 59 who underwent hysterectomy may have died prematurely because they did not have their hormones replaced. And there are now many studies that show that bio-identical hormones, prescribed properly, avoid the increase in serious side effects seen in the older Women’s Health Initiative study which used estrogen waste products from horse urine and an artificial progestin, neither of which is compatible with healthy human cellular function.
It is estimated that (for women) estrogen has approximately 400 functions in the body.
This should make it abundantly clear that this is critical to your healthy functioning, wellness and slowed aging. Estrogen is an anabolic hormone and improves: fatigue, memory, concentration, neurotransmitter production, metabolism, insulin, muscle, sleep, blood pressure, hair, lipids, collagen, water content and elasticity in skin, energy, mood, mineral absorption, sexual interest, vaginal health and lubrication, oxidative stress, telomere lengthening and more. Progesterone improves: sleep, mood, fat metabolism, cholesterol, hair, fluid balance, inflammation, bone, thyroid, sex drive, immunity, and is neuroprotective among other functions. Women also lose testosterone at menopause and this can also cause symptoms and speed aging.
For men, generally after 40 but often earlier, testosterone levels begin to decline.
When testosterone is low it can cause: decreased sex drive, erectile dysfunction, loss of muscle and strength, loss of drive and competitive edge, joint pain and muscle stiffness, low energy, depressed mood, insomnia, decreased memory and ability to think, and “angry man syndrome”. Just from the symptoms you can see that testosterone has many functions in the body. Testosterone is highly anabolic and this function alone slows aging when maintained at optimal levels. In addition, testosterone decreases the risk of: diabetes, metabolic syndrome, dementia, heart disease, heart attack, bone loss, inflammation, and other diseases of aging.
If you are a woman entering menopause or premenopausal with PMS, or if you are a man approaching 40 or have any of the symptoms above, it is advisable to find out if you are a candidate for bio-identical hormone replacement.
For many, oxidative stress and inflammation can be improved and aging slowed with education and implementation of a healthy diet, oral supplementation, proper exercise, and IV nutraceuticals.
Dr. Les Cole practices Functional and Integrative Medicine at Orthomolecular Nutrition & Wellness Center, and holds certifications with (ABIHM) American Board of Integrative Holistic Medicine and (ABAARM) American Board of Anti-Aging and Regenerative Medicine. To schedule an appointment call 727-518-9808 or visit OrthoHormones.com to take a free hormone profile. See ad inside back cover.