Monday, June 27, 2011

Testosterone Good - Estrogen Bad

Testosterone Good - Estrogen Bad Part 1
There is so much drama around hormones today. You have the “hormones are all bad” group. And the “I’m going to inject myself with every hormone I can find group”. I have seen people from both groups over the last two decades. I have seen my patients attitudes evolve over the years and my own thinking on the subject has evolved over that time too.
Let’s start out by figuring out what hormones are. Hormones are small molecules that function as programs for our body. The are made of different substances depending on the hormone. Some are proteins and other are simple rings of carbon and hydrogen, others resemble fats (cholesterol). This may be one reason why cholesterol reasons rise in older age as the body tries to find a way to make more hormones.
The important thing about hormones is not what they are made from. The important quality of hormones is their shape. On the surface of each cell is a receptor site. Each hormone fits into a different receptor site. This is commonly referred to as a lock and key relationship. When this connecting is made the cell receives a message. This is exactly the same as the relationship between printing software on you computer and your printer. The software you run (hormone) tells the printer (cell) what to do.
The role of hormones in our body from the history of human kind is the same as other body system, and that is to carry on our genes through reproduction. The average life span in the Greek age was about 30 years old. The truth of the matter from that point on is that our body is not programed for optimal performance after that. It is kind of like driving your car along a road and then you come to and there is nothing but water in front of you. The car was never programed for that environment and your body was never programed to be older than 30 years old.
After that it is up to us. So that brings up back to hormones. If we don’t want our health to follow a random and unpredictable course after 30 then we need to use our brains to make choices about how we want to program our bodies. This is pretty convenient when you consider that the brain (our thinking) very often improves with age. We can make decisions that influence our health. One of these decisions is about hormones.
One of the hormones that declines with age is testosterone. This hormone declines in both men and women as the age. This can be a very big problem because testosterone is an anabolic hormone. This means that it builds and strengthens tissues like bone and muscle. Testosterone also creates a sense of strength and well- being. It keeps us more muscular and less fat. Normal testosterone levels prevent the formation of cancer including prostate cancer.
On the other hand we have estrogen. Bad, bad estrogen. Well, it is not that estrogen is necessarily bad. The problem is that ever thing in this modern culture causes our estrogen levels to rise. The fact we consume a high fat, high sugar diet leads to increased absorption of estrogens. Even those patients that are aware that diet is important, and try to eat a natural diet, are eating a far higher percentage of their diets as fats and sugars. As if that were not enough extra estrogen is seems to sure out that every chemical we manage to create has estrogen like activity when it is absorbed by out bodies. This starts with a baby’s first bottle.
Excess estrogen makes you fat, irritable, depressed and lethargic. Women know how it feels when this hormone is out of balance. Estrogen excess is associated with all kinds of problems with blood sugar, water balance, allergies, thyroid problems and fatigue. Worst of all excess estrogen increases the risk of all kinds of cancers in men and women. Estrogen excess makes men and women old, fat, brittle and irritable.
Even though the problem seems strait forward, answers have not been easy. I have treated this condition throughout the last 17 years in my Phoenix clinic. The problem with the various pharmaceutical approaches the increasing testosterone levels is that the body keeps wanting to convert the testosterone to estrogen. Even body builders that are totally committed to keeping their testosterone levels high with a variety of pharmaceutical drugs end up often with excess estrogen. Resulting in the unfortunate condition known as “man boobs”. This often requires surgical correction. Plus many of these approaches are of both questionable legality and questionable safety, making them out of the running.
Legal, prescription alternatives for raising testosterone are not much better. The topical creams and gels must pass through the fat tissue under the skin where the are vulnerable to conversion to estrogen. Other options include sublingual testosterone which is quickly absorbed and rapidly excreted. Injections are inconvenient and also dangerous to the tissues with long term use.
The thing to recognize and remember with hormones is that they are only signals. They are not a fuel or a building block. All we really need is to have our testosterone level be relatively higher than our estrogen level. Testosterone at 200 and estrogen at 100 is the same as testosterone at 2 and estrogen at 1. In both cases the signal is twice as strong for testosterone activity as for estrogen.
Testosterone Good - Estrogen Bad - Part 2
Luckily almost every naturopathic therapy can work toward increasing our testosterone levels. One important thing to do is to decrease the amount of inflammation in the body. When the adrenal glands are managing inflammation they can not create testosterone. When the testes or ovaries decrease the level of testosterone the adrenal glands are able to take over part of the responsibility.
One simple inexpensive what to decrease inflammation in your body is too eat the diet that is compatible with your blood type. When we eat foods that are not compatible with our blood type we get the same reaction in our body that we would get if we received the wrong blood in a blood transfusion. Foods have blood types also.
Another way to support testosterone production is to directly support the adrenal glands with nutrients or herbs. If a case is severe we can do nutritional testing in our phoenix practice that gives us a graph of exactly how the adrenals are working during the day. This tells us exactly when to give the medicines and which medicines to give.
We can also use herbs that block the conversion of estrogen to testosterone. It is surprising the amount of herbs that have this as one of their actions. Nature must have intended us to eat foods that block estrogens. There are several products on the market that do this. One effective product is Aromastat by Dr. D’Adamo. This blocks the conversion of estrogen to testosterone. This is a good place to start with supplements if you body is not as androgenic (not as lean or as strong) as you would like it to be. Like most medicines this available on my D’Adamo store on my website.
There are also herbs that directly raise testosterone levels, but I am still researching the best option right now. Yes, after 17 years of practice I continue to learn and experiment and if you are a friend on facebook or get my email I will let you know when I decide on the best herb or nutrient to directly raise testosterone. I hope to have this in the next few weeks.