Hello again, VCMD family! Welcome, and thank you for having enough curiosity in Dr. Gregory’s Meta-Moments for wanting to learn more on ways to improve your health and vitality. Before we jump into our discussion, I would like to start with a quote, which I would like to begin incorporating at the beginning of every post. I hope this quote provides a sense of inspiration for our discussion and a source of inspiration to carry with you throughout the following week, as it will for my family and myself. Additionally, this parallels my Instagram posts that I do on Sundays. “Your perspective is always limited by how much you know. Expand your knowledge and you will transform your mind.” -Dr. Bruce Lipton.
If you recall from my previous blog post, I will be reviewing three separate books over several weeks: Boundless, Metaphysical Anatomy, and The Biology of Belief. Why you ask? Because each piece approaches the human body in unique ways. For example, each book purports that health, wellness, and meaning are not solely derived from our physical/morphological elements but are rooted in our cognitive/evaluative systems. Furthermore, each book posits through the use of the scientific method to oppose traditional abstractions. Here’s another example: Western education teaches that unchanging biochemical pathways are the primary mechanisms that influence our health; however, it is the emotional and intuitive neurochemical, neuroplastic, and quantum mechanical aspects that significantly impact our well-being. In due time, I will discuss these processes in more detail and provide a few practices for bio-hacking your body (see my next blog).
In this two-part blog post, we will focus on the book Boundless, specifically how two hormones (estrogen and testosterone) have a substantial impact on our quality of life.
I genuinely believe Boundless provides a wonderful and comprehensive explanation as to how these two hormones influence much of our physiology and biochemistry, as well as provides evidence on how correcting imbalanced hormone levels can support vitality, well-being, and overall health. For those of you following along in the book, I am basing this conversation off of pages 392, 393, and 397-399.
Let’s begin by first discussing estrogens. Although there are several estrogens (e.g., estrone, estradiol, and estriol), to keep things simple, I will refer to all estrogens as just estrogen. Estrogen is a sex hormone responsible for developing and regulating the female reproductive system and secondary sex characteristics. Several functions include stimulating the enzyme choline acetyltransferase (ChAT), which is involved in acetylcholine production, a neurotransmitter deficient in patients with Alzheimer’s disease.1 Moreover, estrogen increases the metabolic rate2, regulates body temperature2, improves insulin sensitivity3, prevents muscle damage4, anti-obesity effects5, maintains collagen6, and enhances magnesium uptake7, to name a few primary roles. Nonetheless, estrogen also has several essential roles in males, such as modulating libido, erectile function, and spermatogenesis. In males, testosterone is converted to estrogen via the enzyme aromatase, mainly in the testes, brain, skin, and bone.
Normal levels tend to vary for men and women. Men tend to have relatively continuous estrogen levels and only have a noticeable change during aging. Women, however, have substantial fluctuations in estrogen levels based on the phase of the menstrual cycle. Estrogen is produced primarily by the ovaries. Beginning at puberty to 45-55-years-old, the human ovaries alternate monthly between the luteal and follicular phases during the menstrual cycle. Follicles within the ovaries start to develop via stimulation by follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), a hormone found in the anterior pituitary gland.
Note that estrogen levels are at their lowest during the majority of the follicular phase. Towards the end of the follicular phase and right before ovulation (day 14), the ovarian follicles’ granulosa cells release the oocyte, and estrogen levels are at their highest during the cycle.8 During the ages of 45 to 55, women have exhausted their supply of primary ovaries, thus not producing sufficient estrogen levels. Consequently, women enter their post-reproductive phase of life, known as menopause. Every year, about 1.3 million women in the United States enter menopause.9 Furthermore, most women are expected to live 1/3 or more of their lives in menopause.9 Low estrogen levels can cause symptoms like weak bones (osteoporosis), age-related bone fractures, mood swings, hot flashes, headaches, depression, trouble concentrating, and fatigue.
Regarding testing, there are several methods available. I prefer blood draws, although I know several doctors who offer salivary testing and do the testing several times during the menstrual cycle to monitor a dynamic trend. However, salivary hormone testing is unreliable because of differences in hormone pharmacokinetics and absorption.10
Personally, there is only one beneficial, researched-based method for achieving optimal estrogen levels, and this is through bio-identical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT). Bio-identical hormones are compounded hormones derived from natural sources (i.e., plant-based sources, such as soy and yam) and designed to be structurally indistinguishable from natural hormones allowing them to mimic the hormones in your body. Once you begin BHRT, your estrogen levels begin to stabilize, leading to several advantages. For example, your body and brain begin to function optimally; your sleep will improve leading to a better mood; your skin begins to look smoother, tighter, and healthier; and your hair follicles will start to produce hairs again.11,12,13
Please pay close attention if you are experiencing symptoms of low estrogen. Maybe you’ve noticed your sleeping patterns have become disturbed, your libido is off, perhaps you’re experiencing more joint pain, or you just overall are not feeling like your energized self and can’t figure out why. There is no reason for you to suffer when effective restorative treatments are available! It is very important for you to consider that possibility. Thank you so much for reading! Have any questions or comments? Please leave them below! Love you all.