Your endocrine system works with your nervous system to control important bodily functions. The endocrine systems responsibilities include regulating growth, sexual development and function, metabolism and mood. The endocrine system also helps give your body the energy it needs to function properly. Endocrine glands secrete hormones into the bloodstream. Hormones are considered chemical messengers, coordinating your body by transferring information from one set of cells to another.
Your endocrine system health can be affected by hormone imbalances resulting from impaired glands. A hormone imbalance can cause problems with bodily growth, sexual development, metabolism and other bodily functions. Endocrine system diseases or conditions include diabetes, growth disorders and osteoporosis.
Adrenaline (a survival hormone our body emits in a state of extreme stress) is produced and secreted by the adrenal glands. The adrenal glands are located adjacent to the kidneys and are responsible for the synthesis and secretion of different hormones that are essential for your body to functions. Several stress hormones are produced in the adrenal glands, including epinephrine and cortisol. Adrenaline or epinephrine is involved in neural and hormonal processes in the body and is the important hormone in the fight or flight reaction to acute or sudden stress.
Since compounded bioidentical hormone alternatives to U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved estrogen and progestogen formulations have the same active ingredient, they obviously are going to have the same benefits, and the same safety concerns. But unlike commercial hormones, the distributors and promoters of compounded hormones deny these risks. And that's really misleading. So, how do they get away with it?
Since the FDA does not regulate compounding pharmacies, they can make whatever claims they want. So, they tell women what they want to hear -- namely that compounded bioidentical hormones have fewer risks, fewer side effects, and are more effective than standard hormones even though there is no scientific evidence to prove that claim.
While women generally distrust the pharmaceutical industry -- which is legally obligated to back up their claims, does testing, and reports all safety risks and negative findings -- the general population seems to have little problem placing their trust in companies that have no such efficacy or safety standards. This combined with aggressive advertising and marketing has resulted in women believing that compounded products are safer than standard products.
It's pretty scary to think that millions of women are using prescription drugs that have never gone through a new drug approval process to substantiate safety, prove efficacy, and ensure quality.
Since it is the same active ingredient, what's the problem?
It's the dosages and protocols, which are commonly recommended, that have never been shown to be safe, much less safer or more effective than conventional prescription estrogen products. Transdermal progestogens from a compounding pharmacy are potentially dangerous since there is no evidence that they prevent the lining of the uterus from developing pre-cancerous or cancerous cells. Only oral progestogens have been proven to offer that protection.
Like many new phrases, “bioidentical” means different things to different people. Generally, however, most women inquiring about bioidentical hormones are referring to compounded hormones that are advertised as being safer and better than FDA-approved estrogen and progestogens distributed by pharmaceutical companies.
The only thing that is natural is to drink the horse urine or eat the soy plant (both are used in the manufacturing of hormones). All plant-derived hormone preparations, whether they come from a compounding pharmacy or a large commercial pharmacy, require a chemical process to synthesize the final product, which can then be put into a cream, a spray, a patch or a pill. Promoters of compounded plant-derived hormones use the terms "natural" and "bioidentical" because it is appealing to consumers and implies that it is not synthetic.
ACTH is made in the pituitary gland and travels through the bloodstream to the adrenal glands. It stimulates the adrenals to release cortisol, a key factor in many functions in the body's metabolism of fats, carbohydrates, sodium, potassium, and protein as well as blood pressure.
Tumors that cause a deficiency of ADH affect water and sodium balance. Insufficient ADH causes excessive and frequent urination and extreme thirst. The patient must drink large amounts of water to prevent blood sodium levels from increasing abnormally and causing dehydration.
ACTH deficiency means that the hormone is not stimulating the adrenal glands to produce cortisol, necessary in the regulation of blood pressure and cardiovascular function as well as regulation of the body's use of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats.
Adrenal insufficiency affects blood pressure, bone density, kidney function, and metabolism. The patient may suffer fatigue, stomach pain and weight loss, nausea and vomiting, especially in the morning, low blood pressure, dizziness and even loss of consciousness. Cortisol is necessary for life.
The relationship between testosterone and exercise is complicated. Yes, moderate exercise can raise testosterone levels somewhat, but if exercise is extreme, testosterone levels can actually drop. It's also true that low testosterone makes it harder to exercise, which can lead to a vicious cycle of inactivity and reduced hormone levels.
Extra fat on the body acts like a sponge, taking testosterone out of the blood and reducing libido, energy and other male-related characteristics. This is particularly true if the fat is carried around the belly or abdomen. Fat carried on the thighs or buttocks has less testosterone-draining effects.
Testosterone replacement therapy is only appropriate and safe for men who have below-normal levels and who don't have any medical conditions that could be made worse by testosterone, such as an enlarged prostate or evidence of prostate cancer.
First off, there are things a guy can do to raise his testosterone (T) levels naturally:
Eat a healthy diet
Lose some weight (fat -- especially belly fat -- acts like a testosterone "sponge")
A guy with low T also has medical options, the most popular being a testosterone gel. These products, which are prescription only, are applied daily to the skin of the shoulders, upper arms, or abdomen. The testosterone in the gel is absorbed into the body through the skin. If used correctly, testosterone levels can return to normal and stay there. Testosterone can also be raised via injections or patches. Your doctor can advise you about which delivery route might be best for you.
Testosterone replacement isn't a cure-all, and it shouldn't be used unless a guy has true hypogonadism. But I've seen it work for many of my patients, who report having more energy and a renewed interest in sex.