Natural Hormone Replacement Therapy
A number of methods available for treating menopausal symptoms are considered “natural”. They include maintaining a healthy lifestyle through diet, exercise and stress reduction; the use of herbal medicines like dong quai, black cohosh and licorice; and the use of phytoestrogen (plant) products which contain flavones. While many women find these natural therapies helpful, they are not the same as natural hormone replacement therapy (HRT).
Natural hormones are derived from chemical precursors found in plants. Soybeans and wild yams are the most commons sources of these chemicals. For a soy or yam precursor to be converted into a hormone, it must be done in a laboratory. Therefore, natural hormones, like their synthetic and animal-derived counterparts, can be pharmaceutical compounds.
Natural hormones are identical in molecular structure to the hormones the body makes, thus they are called bio-identical. When a bio-identical hormone circulates through your system and binds with a receptor, the fit is the same as if your body had produced that hormone.
Animal-derived and synthetic hormones are similar to human hormones, but they do not have the same molecular structure. When one of these binds with its receptor, the fit is not exact, sometimes resulting in side effects.
For many years conventional HRT has consisted of a standard prescription of hormones – most commonly 0.625 mg of premarin (animal-derived) and 2.5 mg. of provera (synthetic). Premarinis a combination of estrogens derived from the urine of pregnant mares. Provera is synthesized in the laboratory from natural progesterone, than modified for reasons of product patenting. Synthetic hormones have been shown to increase the risk of breast cancer.
Natural hormone replacement consists of bio-identical estrogens, the most common being Tri-est which consists of estradiol, estrone, and estriol in a 10-10-80% and Bi-est which consists of estradiol and estriol in a 20-80% formulation both of which are designed to match the body’s natural ratio. Natural progesterone creams are also available in a variety of strengths.