Published October 21, 2012
Although the wisdom that comes with age is nice, the wrinkles, ailing joints and general frailty are not. That’s why it is no surprise that ‘anti-aging’ is such a hot topic. Luckily, the key to anti-aging is within your reach. When it comes to relaying messages, inducing reactions and protecting tissue – it’s all about your hormones.
Your hormones are chemical messengers that are keeping your body functioning. From regulating metabolism and growth to controlling immune function and reproduction, hormones are major players in all that you do and all that you are – physically at least.
Most people associate human growth hormone and DHEA with aging, but progesterone, testosterone, estrogen and cortisol play a role in aging as well. If the delicate balance of any one of these hormones is destroyed, it can take a serious toll on your body, mind and spirit – and be mistaken as classic signs of aging.
DHEA is a precursor hormone produced from cholesterol by the adrenal glands inside the body. This hormone plays a crucial role in the formation of the sex hormones – estrogen and testosterone – as well as fuels the transformation that occurs as the body grows and matures.
Around your mid to late twenties, DHEA begins a gradual decline, which contributes to the aging process. By the age of 70, you generally have less than 10 percent of the DHEA you had in your twenties. Therapy with DHEA can be helpful in treating auto-immune disorders, obesity, dementia, osteoporosis and chronic fatigue. In some cases, it may be more effective to replace testosterone or estrogen to correct imbalances rather than DHEA , due to its role in converting to the sex hormones.
Progesterone serves multiple functions in the body of both men and women. It is vital for regulating the sleep cycle, as well as boosting immunity and brain function. In women, progesterone is an essential hormone of the reproductive process. Many women will experience fluctuations of progesterone throughout their life cycles. An imbalance of this hormone can lead to symptoms classically associated with aging, such as poor sleep, moody swings and foggy thinking.
Progesterone also serves as a precursor hormone, converting to estrogen, testosterone or cortisol on the steroid hormone pathway. Low levels of progesterone can lead to increased levels of cortisol and low levels of the sex hormones, which will trigger impaired immune function and a host of other issues associated with hormone imbalance.
The hormone HGH (human growth hormone) is secreted by the pituitary gland and is crucial for normal development and maintenance of organs and tissues - especially in children. HGH enhances tissue growth, increases muscle mass and strengthens bone density throughout the life cycle.
Hormone therapy with HGH is most commonly used in the medical industry to treat children with stunted growth or young people suffering from hormone deficiencies. In a few cases, HGH may be necessary for treatment of hormone imbalance in adults, but this is rare.
When FDA-approved HGH is prescribed, it is in the form of a powder with a diluting solution for use as an injection. This is the only formulation that has been approved by the FDA. Of the HGH sprays and pills that are available without a prescription, few have been proven to be effective.
Testosterone is the principle hormone in the group of hormones known as androgens. Although classically associated with men, testosterone serves functions in both men and women.
In men, testosterone deepens the voice during puberty, stimulates the growth of facial and body hair, increases sexual drive, and is responsible for sperm production. In regards to aging, testosterone contributes to energy, memory, moods, muscle mass and strength, and sexual stamina and performance.
Women must keep testosterone levels in fine balance, as it plays an integral role in mood, energy, weight and sex drive. Without enough testosterone, gaining and sustaining lean body mass can be difficult. As testosterone declines with age, it impacts weight management and sex drive.
The term estrogen collectively refers to the hormones, estradiol, estrone and estriol. Each has a different chemical structure and function. Like testosterone, estrogen plays a role in the physiology of both men and women. However, estrogen plays a greater role in the aging process for women than in men.
The primary role of estrogen in the female body is to stimulate growth and development of sexual characteristics and reproduction, induce the changes of the breasts during adolescence and pregnancy and aid the growth of the uterine lining during the follicular phase of the menstrual cycle. Estrogen is responsible for hundreds of functions in the female body including protecting women from heart disease and colon cancer. It also regulates several metabolic processes, including cholesterol levels and bone growth.
In men, estrogen aids in the facilitation of many of the physical changes men experience during puberty, such as chest and facial hair growth, muscle development and deepening of the voice. Estrogen also helps to protect the bones and the brain in men.
Pursuing hormone therapy for anti-aging
A specialized physician can help you determine if hormone therapy will treat or reverse your hormone imbalance and the symptoms often linked to advanced aging. Lab testing, followed by a thorough consultation, will ensure you get the quality treatment you need to live better and longer.