Progesterone: A Key Ingredient for Optimal Health

Progesterone: A Key Ingredient for Optimal Health

Posted on March 4, 2016, 6 a.m.

Dr. Daniel F. Royal weighs in on the benefits of Progesterone.

There seems to be a common misconception among physicians and patients that all hormones are the same.  Of course,   this is not true, but it shows the pharmaceutical propaganda machine is working. The basic difference between chemical   hormones and natural hormones is that one has side-effects and the other does not. This is because side-effects are a   property of drugs not foods. Consequently, it follows that hormones obtained from natural food sources, also known as   “bio-identical hormones,” do not have the same negative effects associated with synthetic hormone drug products.

The most common prescription hormone drugs include various forms of estrogen and progestin, a synthetic progesterone   that acts more like estrogen than progesterone. Female patients are typically prescribed these synthetic hormone drugs to   help with their menstrual cycle or menopause. In general, estrogen has a very broad physiological role for males as well   as females. The effects of estrogen include, but are not limited to, the following: water retention, aging, stress, memory   loss, hypoglycemia, increased fat, hypothyroidism, miscarriage, infertility, uterine fibroids, blood clotting, vascular spasm,   increased cholesterol, gall bladder disease, and cancer.

The main cause of hormone-related health problems in women is not due to the absolute deficiency of estrogen or   progesterone but rather the relative dominance of estrogen and relative deficiency of progesterone. For this reason,   hormone replacement therapy (HRT) with estrogen alone without an opposing progesterone, such as the prescription   drug Premarin, should be avoided. This chemicalized hormonal substitute differs from the natural estrogen in one’s body   and contributes to increased estrogen. Increased estrogen, in turn, increases the risk of DNA damage, cancer (e.g.,   endometrial, breast cancer, etc.), and estrogen dominance. Other contributing factors to excess estrogen include adrenal   fatigue, environmental estrogen, obesity, stress, poor diet, and lack of exercise.

Estrogen excess may result in such common maladies as depression, weight gain insomnia, anxiety, blood sugar   imbalance, migraine headaches, and chronic fatigue due to adrenal gland exhaustion. Moreover, stress can result not   only in adrenal gland exhaustion, but reduced progesterone output and increased estrogen production. A further reduction   in progesterone output contributes to all the problems associated estrogen dominance (“Acute stress persistently   enhances estrogen levels in the female rat,” Shors et al., Stress. 3(2):163-71, 1999

Interestingly, nature has provided us with progesterone, which acts as an antagonist to estrogen. For example, estrogen   stimulates breast cysts while progesterone protects against breast cysts. Estrogen enhances salt and water retention   while progesterone is a natural diuretic. Estrogen is associated with breast and endometrial cancers, while progesterone   has a cancer preventive effect. In fact, studies have shown that premenopausal women deficient in progesterone had 5.4   times the risk of breast cancer compared to healthy women (“Breast cancer incidence in women with a history of   progesterone deficiency,” Cowan et al., Am J Epidemiol, 114(2):209-17, Aug 1981).

Here are some answers to frequently asked questions that patients have about progesterone:

1. Is progesterone supplementation safe? Yes. No side effects have been attributed to natural progesterone in either   the scientific or medical literature. While large doses of estrogen have been found to destroy certain areas of the   adrenal cortex, large doses of progesterone have been shown to have anti-stress effects without harming the   adrenals.

2. Should I take progesterone if I’m pregnant? A “Medical News” item in a 1976 issue of JAMA reports a study   showing that progesterone probably plays a critical role in preventing rejection of the fetus by the mother. Its use   before and during pregnancy is also associated with a reduced incidence of birth defects.  Studies in animals have   also shown that prenatal progesterone increases brain size, which is associated with a long life.  Conversely, excess   estrogen reduces brain size and damages behavior, which may, in turn, adversely affect a subsequent generation   (“The Epigenetics of Sex Differences in the Brain,” McCarthy et al.J Neurosci. 2009 Oct 14; 29(41):12815–12823).

3. Can I use progesterone for weight loss? Yes. The primary reasons for using progesterone for weight loss purposes   are to decrease the effects of insulin and adrenaline. This is because insulin transports sugar into the fat tissue for   storage which, in turn, stimulates the release of adrenaline to raise sugar levels again creating a positive feedback   loop. Consequently, as the episodes of hypoglycemia decrease the production of adrenaline to counteract   hypoglycemia also decreases. Decreased adrenaline means that less sugar is produced, less insulin is needed for   storing sugar as fat, and thus, more weight can be lost.

4. Does progesterone help with insomnia? Yes. Progesterone, which is most highly concentrated in the brain tissue,   increases GABA production in the brain which, in turn, promotes sleep.

5. What is the recommended daily dosage of progesterone? The physiologic dose of progesterone for the non-  pregnant female is 10-50 mg/day and 10 mg/day in the post-menopausal female. Pregnenolone, a precursor to   progesterone, may be taken as anywhere from 30-150 mg/day for women whereas the physiologic of pregnenolone   for a man is 5-10 mg/day. In general, the best time to use progesterone for weight loss is 1-3 minutes before eating.

by Daniel F. Royal, DO, HMD, JD Owner of the Royal Medical Clinic, Henderson, NV

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