Bio-identical is the name given to hormones that have the exact same molecular structure as the hormones naturally produced by the human body. A hormone exerts its effect on a cell receptor in the same fashion that a key would insert into a lock. Any deviation from the molecular structure of the hormone will cause problems when it tries to fit into the receptor. Synthetic hormones are similar, but not identical to the ones the body makes.
Synthetic hormones are prescribed in traditional hormone replacement therapy (HRT). The problem is that although synthetic hormones are able to squeeze into the receptor, the message they send to the cell is different than a natural hormone. In some cases (such as progesterone and bone), the synthetic hormone will exert the exact opposite response that the natural hormone would. Synthetic hormones have also been known to have higher incidence of side effects, and lesser improvements on symptoms than their natural counterparts.
There is a misconception that bio-identical hormones are derived from nature, and have no science associated with them. On the contrary, they are synthesized in a laboratory from plants such as soy and yam. This is a scientifically driven process, and the studies to assess their safety and effectiveness are conducted with scientific rigour. In the field of integrative medicine, physicians prefer bio-identical hormones whenever hormones are prescribed. Our practitioners give serious thought to the best method to deliver each hormone carefully, while considering safety, effectiveness and potential side effects. In general, transdermal delivery (cream applied to the skin) is preferred, as this method will bypass the liver and avoid potential conversion into unwanted metabolites. In some circumstances oral or injectable forms are preferred.
The types, combinations and dosages of bio-identical hormones are customized to fit each individual patient and will be discussed in the course of your treatment. The most common hormones prescribed are estrogen, progesterone, testosterone and DHEA. The majority of bio-identical hormone prescriptions will need to be prepared by a compounding pharmacy in their lab. Compounding pharmacies adhere to strict regulations and certifications to ensure accuracy and quality when preparing the medicine as prescribed by the physician. We strongly suggest that you utilize pharmacies that have been trained through the professional compounding centers of America PCCA to ensure standardization of quality.