Revitalizing Your Life

As we age, our hormone levels begin to decline. Hormonal imbalance can cause many bothersome symptoms such as the dreaded menopausal symptoms. The solution: replace those missing hormones! Bio-Identical Hormone Replacement Therapy (BHRT) can help restore your hormones and regain that youthful zest you thought was gone. Health & Beauty scores an exclusive interview with Dr. Shirley Elzinga on what BHRT can do for you. Dr. Elzinga specializes in BHRT and also practices as a chiropractor and acupuncturist in Beverly Hills, USA.

H&B: What are bio-identical hormones?

Dr. Elzinga: Bio-identical hormones are hormones that begin with a soy base. The molecule is then altered to be bio-identical to our natural hormone molecules. In other words, the basic composition is exactly the same as what our body produces. In comparison, a synthetic hormone contains components that will have a different breakdown from the natural hormones and this is what causes the side effects. Bio-identical hormones are produced by a compounding pharmacy which prepares the hormones and individualizes it into different dosage forms that meets the needs of the individual.

H&B: Why do you think more people are turning to BHRT? Is there a safety issue with conventional therapies?

Dr. Elzinga: Synthetic hormones are entirely different than bioidentical hormones. A multitude of studies have demonstrated many harmful effects of synthetic hormones whereas the medical literature supports no harmful effects of natural hormones, only beneficial effects. The Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) was published in 2002 and it sparked many safety questions and confusion. It should be stressed that synthetic estrogen (Premarin) and synthetic progesterone (Provera) were used for this study. It demonstrated increases in heart diseases, breast cancer and blood clots. Follow-up studies demonstrated synthetic progesterone (Provera) increases the risk of breast cancer. Synthetic Provera is a chemical altered hormone and is a completely different molecule than a natural biologically identical hormone, progesterone. Another problem with the WHI is the age group of the women studied. The average age was 65 years old and never had hormone replacement therapy and then was treated with synthetic hormones. This age group is a risk factor for age related diseases. Therefore, we should only use the bioidentical estrogen and bioidentical progesterone and avoid the problems associated with synthetic hormones and we should begin BHRT early to achieve healthy aging and retard the age related diseases.

H&B: Can anyone take BHRT?

Dr. Elzinga: In terms of gender, both males and females can take and benefit from BHRT. Many studies have shown that by 40 years old, your hormone levels are less than the optimum range so 40 is the age that you should start asking questions. The oldest patient I had that began BHRT was 99 years old and received many benefits from the bioidentical hormones.

H&B: Are there any conditions where one should not take BHRT?

Dr. Elzinga: If you have prostate cancer, get treated and then be evaluated for BHRT later on. Breast cancer survivors can take BHRT after they have been cleared of cancer for five years. BHRT does not increase the risk of breast or prostate cancer, but if you already have cancer, we do not want to prescribe certain hormones that could interfere with treatment.

H&B: How is it used?

Dr. Elzinga: Oestrogen is administered in a capsule to be taken orally, or as a cream or patch applied to the skin. When given as a cream or patch, it loses the protection of the cardiovascular benefits, but retains the bone and brain protection benefits. Progesterone is done sublingually in the mouth. Progesterone should be taken regardless of whether you have a uterus or not. There are receptor sites for progesterone throughout the body and studies have shown that natural progesterone is protective to the breast. Progesterone is useful for alleviating premenstrual symptoms (PMS) in younger women. Thyroid hormones are administered by capsules. Compounded bioidentical testosterone cream is applied daily to maintain optimum levels providing better results in women and men.

H&B: Will there be drastic effects if BHRT is stopped once it is taken?

Dr. Elzinga: No. The whole approach in BHRT is to monitor the blood hormone levels in an optimum range of when you were younger. If you stop BHRT, your hormone levels will gradually decrease to your present age and you will lose the benefits of maintaining hormone balance. Replenishment and balancing hormones alleviate the age related changes experienced in normal aging. The best way to look at BHRT is that it increases the quality of life so you feel better longer.

Health & Beauty Magazine
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia