These days, many of us are looking to get healthy—and to stay that way. We strive to eat right, keep ourselves fit, and educate ourselves on the best techniques to maintain and improve our physical condition. But are you optimized?
You may wonder, what’s the difference? If you’re healthy, you must be functioning at an optimal level, right? Perhaps not. There are some processes that occur naturally in our bodies over which we have no control, such as a progressive decrease in hormones.
Both men and women begin to suffer from a decrease in hormone levels after age 30. These decreased levels are marked by symptoms such as sleep issues (including waking in the wee hours of morning and finding yourself unable to get back to sleep, which affects men particularly), difficulty sleeping in general, or not getting enough quality, restful sleep.
While we’re on the subject of sleep, women often experience sleep-robbing night sweats. During the daytime hours, many experience brain fog, forgetfulness, low energy with perhaps an afternoon crash, and, again ladies, how about those hot flashes?
Have you noticed increased moodiness? Many people also experience difficulty losing weight, often even with proper diet and exercise. Do you find that your workouts are becoming less effective, or find your performance and stamina flagging? Perhaps you have noticed your hair or skin is thinning. If you suffer from a lowered libido, perhaps it’s physiological in nature and origin—not merely familiarity based on lack of or reduction in interest.
If any of these symptoms sound familiar to you, perhaps you have already sought out, wondered about, or almost certainly been inundated by the myriad of hormone replacement options becoming available. Television and radio ads on the topic are widespread and prolific, each advertising the “Miracle Solution” to dwindling hormones. And the reality is, most everyone over 30 years old is at least starting to experience some of these symptoms, and could all benefit from the right type of hormone replacement therapy. It’s never too early to seek a combatant to the effects, nor is it too late to begin therapy in order to start seeing improvements.
In a market so saturated with products, processes, and programs looking to address this particular niche, it has become a “buyer beware” marketplace. Not all programs and systems are designed the same, and not all programs are right for everyone.
This is not designed in any way to add to the glut of advertising out in our mainstream media, but is instead to educate and provide some scientifically backed information to guide you to an informed decision that is best for you, your spouse, parents, family, and friends. The more symptoms you find yourself recognizing in yourself or others, the more the arrow points to hormone decrease.
I recently sat down with Jordan Bernard, ARPN, FRP-C, Family Nurse Practitioner with Optimized Wellness to discuss these issues and some of the available solutions.
Why has hormone replacement therapy become such a hot ticket item in recent years? The truth is, we are living longer as a society. Where our average life expectancy has steadily increased, we are now seeing more of the side effects of aging. Alzheimer’s, dementia, osteoporosis, and other ailments are on the rise largely because we are living to the ages where they begin to manifest. Good news, bad news.
“Aging is natural, suffering from it doesn’t have to be”, says Keith Reeves, CEO of Optimized Wellness, a Colorado BioTE certified provider, where their motto for Bio-Identical Hormone Replacement Therapy is “Remember when…and live it again.”
The answer is education. There are plenty of options out there for nearly everything, but as far as Hormone Replacement Therapy is concerned, here are some facts: routine tests do not examine the entire range of hormone and vitamin/mineral levels that are needed to determine how to optimize and balance our endocrine systems.
While a traditional test may show that we are within “normal” range, that does not mean that our levels of Vitamin D and B12 and hormones are where they need to be for optimal function, for example, nor that our thyroid is working at an optimal level, only whether it is within an acceptable level.
Acceptable is not optimized.
Balancing your hormone levels—estrogen, testosterone, and progesterone—along with the multiple other factors and endocrine functions that must be in synchrony for the system to function optimally, is a delicate dance requiring precise testing.
Once the factors are tested, then the correct levels of each hormone and its supporting elements of vitamins (and minerals) can be reintroduced.
This brings us to our next fact. There are several types of hormone replacement delivery systems available. Many insurance policies will cover synthetic hormone therapies in the form of injections, orally administered pills, and some topical applications. PremPro, a commonly prescribed method of hormone replacement therapy, is sourced from conjugated horse estrogen and medroxyprogesterone acetate. But do you want synthetic hormone sources or those harvested from other species to be introduced into your body?
Among the options frequently touted on the airwaves to a nearly excessive extent are centers for hormone replacement that offer only testosterone replacement, which does not address the necessary balance required when considering all the hormones that are designed to work together in symphony in an optimized system. While testosterone is a factor for both men and women, increasing testosterone levels alone is not a viable single avenue for ideal optimization. Testosterone is only one piece of the puzzle for either of the sexes.
The alternative is this: Bio-Identical Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT). In other words, you are replacing your dwindling hormones with exogenous hormones (sourced from outside the body and introduced from an external source into our systems) which are chemical messengers that have the exact molecular structure as endogenous hormones (meaning originating, growing, or developing from within our bodies’ inherent systems) and are more similar to those you originally manufactured in sufficient quantities through your 20s. Not usually covered under insurance, Bio-Identical HRT can often be covered under an HSA plan.
There have been concerns raised about some HRT methods causing undesirable effects and results. It has been found that some forms of synthetic hormone replacement methods have been shown to lead to increased risk factors for blood clots and certain types of cancer, including breast cancer. Bio-Identical hormone optimization, however, has been shown to protect against breast cancer, bone cancer, prostate cancer, and cardiac disease, which is the primary risk factor in women’s health today. Bio-Identical hormone therapy patients have also shown up to an eight percent increase in bone density year over year with continued use.
Bio-Identical hormone therapy using a subcutaneous pellet delivery method is also the most researched method of hormone replacement treatment, with the most documented studies performed over the years since 1939. There is a significant compendium of case studies, scientific reports, and other evidence supporting the proven effectiveness of Bio-Identical therapy. If you care to read extensive medical reports on the subject, they are certainly available.
The process for this type of Bio-Identical Hormone Replacement Therapy is fairly straightforward. First, a comprehensive blood test is ordered to determine present hormone levels and thyroid function as well as other factors such as Vitamin D and B12 that are required for optimal hormone balance. A consultation and medical history review is then conducted, and dosage and treatment recommendations are given. Most people are candidates for this type of hormone therapy, with some occasional exceptions.
In a simple 5-minute procedure, the pellets are inserted into the fatty tissue of the hip. The only lifestyle change is a brief time of limiting lower body exercise for one week after the pellets are first placed. The pellets start being absorbed into the bloodstream within 7 to 10 days.
A follow-up lab evaluation is set for 4 weeks for men and 6 weeks for women, whereupon your hormones are retested to make sure that levels are at their most ideal. (If not, a boost may be indicated to further fine tune hormone balance.) Women should receive dosing every 3 to 4 months to maintain optimization of hormone levels for maximum benefit, and for men every 5 to 6 months. Once a year a complete panel of blood work is retested to ensure that the dosage remains optimal for the individual.
Many report the benefits of this optimized approach to be improved sleep, more energy, higher libido, greater stamina and performance, more effective workouts, clearer thinking, and improved mood. If these results sound desirable to you, you may want to consider looking into how this method of Bio-Identical Hormone Replacement Therapy may help you to achieve them.
Author’s Note: I am thrilled to be able to announce that I will be starting a treatment program with Optimal Wellness! Be sure to check back in to Modern Gladiator in coming issues to find out about my own experiences with Bio-Identical Hormone Replacement Therapy. I can’t wait to personally experience the wonderful benefits and results and get OPTIMIZED!