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Bio-identical hormone replacement therapy

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Since the Women's Health Initiative trial on combined hormone replacement therapy (HRT) was cancelled in 2002, women have been demanding more information about different approaches to hormonal imbalances

Since the Women's Health Initiative trial on combined hormone replacement therapy (HRT) was cancelled in 2002, women have been demanding more information about different approaches to hormonal imbalances.

Treatment options include replacement hormones that are synthetic (chemically synthesized and molecularly different from human estrogens), natural (derived from the urine of pregnant mares and natural only for horses), or bio-identical (molecularly identical to human hormones and derived from natural soy or yam extracts).

Synthetic HRT formulations are patented by pharmaceutical firms that spend time and money marketing these conventional therapies to practitioners. These conventional HRT formulations may be warranted for some; however, other better options are available.

Bio-identical replacement hormones are enzymatically altered to produce hormones identical to those found in the human body, which results in normal physiological functioning.

When HRT is recommended for treatment of hormonal imbalances, bio-identical HRT (BHRT) can be considered as part of the treatment protocol. Used now for more than 15 years, BHRT works in concert with a physical exam, medical history, nutritional intake and lifestyle analysis, and laboratory testing.

To determine treatment options, a physician may order saliva hormone tests to measure the hormone level that is actually available to body tissues, rather than blood tests that measure only what may be available. A basic saliva panel includes tests of progesterone, estradiol, testosterone, cortisol, and DHEA-S (dehydroepiandrosterone sulphate) levels. Saliva test results are interpreted by a medical professional, who evaluates your symptoms and then works with a compounding pharmacist to develop treatment options.

According to Irene Wells, RNCP, who teaches at the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition, compounding pharmacists, in collaboration with the patient's physician, holistic nutritionist, and other health professionals, can prepare customized medications in a range of dosage forms. Capsules, cremes, and suppositories can all be prepared to meet individual patient needs, thus improving patient compliance.

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