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What are Bioidentical Hormones?


What are Bioidentical Hormones?

Definition

‘Bioidentical’ means the molecular structure of hormones exactly match with the molecular structure of chemicals that are formed in a human body. The ingredients used in the preparation of Bioidentical Hormones (BH) are extracted from plants and animals and hence it is marketed as natural.

Demand for natural approach in correction of hormonal imbalance has shifted the momentum towards BH from ‘Traditional Hormone Therapies’. Indeed the term natural is debatable; for the ingredient used in the preparation of BH are natural. However, this product has to be processed or synthesized with the help of enzymes in order to convert it into hormones that are easily absorbed by the human body

Uses of Bioidentical Hormones (BH)

The process of treating hormonal imbalance with BH is referred to as Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy (BHRT). They are mostly used in treating symptoms of

  • Menopause
  • Pre – menopause
  • Post – menopause
  • Osteoporosis

BHRT is suggested as per the requirement of each individual. The requirement can be assessed based on measuring the level of hormones present in the blood/saliva or simply by relating to symptoms. They are available in many forms

  • Cream
  • Suppository
  • Oral Drugs
  • Injection

Few practitioners’ advice compounded BHRT, which is a customized preparation of medication, tailored for a specific need of a patient. The concern is lack of evidence to claim the efficacy of these drugs.

Particular hormones used in BH are dehydroepiandrosterone, estrone, progesterone, testosterone, estriol and estradiol.

Significant concerns about BHRT

BHRT like in any other medication or therapies are subject to risk factors like increased risk of developing clots, heart attacks, stroke and breast cancer.

Few myths vs facts about BHRT

  • Myth: They are safe and more effective than approved Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT).
  • Facts– There is no scientific evidence as yet to substantiate the claim. It is claimed so because it is made from natural extracts of plant and animals.
  • Myth: BHRT can help in preventing or reducing the risk of heart diseases and breast cancer.
  • Facts– There are no long-term studies that support the above claim. Many practitioners suggest that like in MHT the BHRT could also increase the possibility of heart attacks, dementia, and breast cancer.

Practitioners or physicians have to be vigilant while prescribing BHRT and need to counsel the patients in detail to help them take an informed decision.

Conclusion

All regulatory bodies have concluded

  • There is a lack of evidence to back up claims that Bioidentical Hormones Replacement Therapy is superior to government approved Hormonal Replacement Therapy.
  • Customized compounded hormonal therapy can cause additional risk, as the preparations potency and the level of purity are questionable. It also lacks to state the side effects of any new compound added.
  • The compound hormonal drugs are based on the physicians’ knowledge and symptoms stated by the patient. Hence, there are high chances of either over dosage of insufficient dosage, as there is no tried and tested formula for preparing the medication.