There has been a lot of talk about bio-identical hormones lately. These hormones are being promoted as a “natural” alternative to pharmaceutical hormones. Bio-identical hormones are not natural though. They are pharmaceutical drugs synthesized in a lab from plant sterols just like other pharmaceutical sex hormones.
The term bio-identical is rather misleading. The name implies that they are identical in every way to natural hormones. Although, this may not be the case. More than one substance can share the same atoms and the same number of atoms yet still not be the same. Location of the atoms and bond angles can make substances with the same atoms different. For example, glucose, galactose, and fructose are all C6H12O6 and yet they are all different sugars. Hormones are no different. When synthesizing a compound I don’t see any way to prove that all atoms are in the same exact position, nor that all bond angles are exactly the same. This is like the claims that natural and synthetic vitamin Es are identical. If this were the case though, then why are natural vitamin Es considerably stronger than their synthetic counterparts? There is obviously some differences. Since they have identical types and number of atoms the only difference that could explain the difference in activity would be different bond angles between these two substances or location of atoms despite the substances supposedly being identical.
Another false belief is that bio-identical hormones are safe. Ever hear of problems like progesterone dominance? I find it interesting that people promoting progesterone creams never bring up this problem. Could it be because it would hurt their sales or investments? Especially considering that the side effects of progesterone dominance are almost identical to the side effects of estrogen dominance. This has always made me wonder how many women are increasing their use of progesterone creams trying to treat what they feel is estrogen dominance, when in fact they are actually suffering from progesterone dominance.
Another fact that the sales people and sites fail to mention is that these hormones store in the body. They are not flushed within a short period of time as the sales sites claim. The majority of the hormones absorbed through the skin do not go directly in to the bloodstream. Instead the hormones store in the fat cells of the body and gradually increase in levels as the hormones accumulate. Many women that have been on progesterone creams for a while often have years worth of progesterone stored up in their fat cells. Keep in mind that this can also lead to atrophy of the glands that produce the hormones causing a dependence on the external source of hormones.