Face it — sometimes aging just stinks! You are tired, feel worn down, your muscles hurt, you feel crabby, have a hard time sleeping and your libido is in the tank. All of these symptoms are part of aging, an inevitable, natural process that involves many different systems in the human body. These include the endocrine, gastrointestinal, immune, musculoskeletal and cardiovascular systems. The diseases that are so often tied to aging usually affect one or all of these systems. Menopause, hypothyroidism, low testosterone, autoimmune diseases, heart disease and arthritis all are examples of age-related conditions.
Those feeling the effects of the aging process the greatest are Americans classified as “baby boomers,” who total about 78 million people of the total U.S. population. These individuals want answers for their health issues and want to feel better as they age. As such, they are now seeking out newer and more natural treatments to help them slow the aging process down and optimize their health as they age. One such treatment that has garnered much attention recently is bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT).
BHRT is the use of hormones like estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, thyroid hormone and cortisol to correct underlying deficiencies of the female reproductive organs, the male reproductive organs, thyroid gland and the adrenal glands. Bioidentical hormones differ from their synthetic counterparts in that they closely resemble the hormones that are made natively by the human body. When applied topically, injected or taken orally, these medications are recognized by the body as “self” and do not have to be synthesized or changed by the body. This allows for greater absorption, easier processing and less adverse reactions as compared to synthetic hormones.
Women are using BHRT to help with many unwanted symptoms of menopause and other age-related endocrine disorders including fatigue, poor mood, hot flashes, low libido, dryness of skin and hair, insomnia and weight gain. Men may also benefit tremendously from using bioidentical hormones. The most common reasons men seek hormone replacement therapy are erectile dysfunction, low libido, fatigue, loss of muscle mass, weight gain, mood changes and insomnia.
With respect to BHRT, naturopathic physicians (NMDs) and other integrative practitioners are specially trained in accurately assessing hormone imbalances and effectively and safely treating using bioidentical hormones. Other therapies offered by naturopathic physicians that may benefit those with age-related decline include: clinical nutrition and nutritional supplementation, acupuncture and intravenous vitamin and mineral infusions.
BHRT is a very powerful therapy that not only has the potential to treat unwanted symptoms of aging but it can also reduce body-wide inflammation, the precursor to disease. It has also been shown to reduce the risk for developing a whole host of other conditions like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, osteoporosis and Alzheimer’s disease. Obviously, BHRT can have amazing effects on the body, however, quite possibly one of the most important effects of BHRT is the ability to help people improve the quality of their life as they age. Wouldn’t we all like to feel better as we age?
• Ahwatukee Foothills’ Dr. Matthew Cavaiola is a licensed naturopathic physician and acupuncturist, who treats a variety of conditions and illnesses associated with the aging process. Reach him at (602) 432-2900 or visit www.phoenixantiagingclinic.com.