HORMONAL OPTIMIZATION, THE ULTIMATE GUIDE
Taking control of your hormones gives you better control in life; and with a vast knowledge of our hormones, it is possible to control growth and almost every part of our development and body functionality.
WHAT ARE HORMONES?
Hormones are tiny chemical substances that travel from the endocrine glands to the intended location through the bloodstream. Because there are many different types of hormones and their functions vary from type-to-type, their destinations will differ based on the function it is meant to perform.
Hormones greatly influence the growth, development, and activity of an organism. It is important to note that hormones are produced in response to various stimuli (internal or external. They circulate through the bloodstream and based on the response they will exert their influence on certain organs called target organs. They can either speed up (excites), slow down (inhibits), or alter the activities of their target organs.
This is why hormones play such an enormous role in aging. Certain hormones will speed up or slow down growth functions and development as mentioned above. This is why kid’s and teenagers’ hormones are always said to be out of whack. They are speeding up and slowing down as kids age quickly in the beginning and then as they get older it tapers off.
Our target organs have cells with unique receptor molecules on their surfaces. The appropriate hormones then fit into these receptor molecules to engage in their function. These functions are achieved by either affecting the permeability of the cell to certain substances, promoting protein synthesis, or increasing the activity of certain enzymes for that organ.
This is where certain hormones can be affected by things such as human growth hormone treatment and anti-aging techniques. When these processes are disrupted or changed around, we may be able to slow down hormones that cause us to age faster.
Hormones also assist the nervous system in coordinating the various parts of the body to develop harmoniously. Therefore, many hormones work on maintaining a consistent internal environment. Some hormones directly impact growth and development while others may be focused on agility. Some hormones also may affect several organs at once while others only target specific areas.
Typically, the body responds to hormones slowly. Examples of slow responses would be growth in general, sexual maturity, and pregnancy. Each of these could take months to years rather than a few hours. The exception is that a few hormones bring about a rapid response, i.e., adrenaline.
Testosterone levels are a great example of hormones that may come about quickly but then drop off at a gradual rate in men after the age of 30 or 40. Testosterone is a younger boy will have a quick adrenaline response to sexual maturity but as they get older that response will slow and become less prevalent. Of course, unless you engage in testosterone therapy.
Seeing that hormones have a powerful effect on the body systems, their production must be balanced as an imbalance can produce very severe outcomes. Serious illnesses can arise if an endocrine organ malfunctions and produces too much or too little of its hormones.
PRODUCTION OF HORMONES
Humans have several glands that produce secretions. Some of which deliver their secretion to wherever they are needed through ducts. There are known as exocrine glands, Hormones however are produced and secreted from glands that do not have ducts called endocrine glands or ductless glands. A ductless gland as the name implies does not have a duct or tube through which its secretions are carried away into the body system.
While the exocrine gland pours its secretions out of the body, endocrine glands are glands of internal secretion Hormones produced by these glands pass directly into the bloodstream. The blood plasma then distributes these hormones to the target organ.
The body requires only a small number of hormones to bring about their effects on an organ or system, these amounts in the blood are usually regulated by some feedback mechanism. If it is overproduced, a signal is sent to the production center to stop production. If it is lacking, a signal is sent to begin production and secretion. Once the effects of the hormones are over, they are destroyed in the liver and excreted from the body through urine, some within minutes and others lasting for days.
How this relates to hormone therapy is that these hormones can be blocked/altered from reaching the cell receptors mentioned before. If the function, is not completed or able to work then this can have anti-aging effects as the process is slowed down some.
The Endocrine system comprises all the endocrine glands in the human body. The human body consists of different endocrine glands positioned at specific areas of the body. These glands could be discrete like thyroid and adrenals, or a group(s) of cells within an organ such as the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin.
Before considering the different types of glands, their function, effects of over secretion, and deficiency, it is important to consider a small body at the base of the forebrain. It sits just above the pituitary gland called the hypothalamus and it regulates activities such as temperature control, sleep, and thirst. It also collects information from the brain and sense organs while monitoring the level of hormones in the blood. It acts as a link between the nervous system and the endocrine system.
ENDOCRINE GLANDS AND THEIR HORMONAL SECRETION
There are essentially seven endocrine glands in the human body. Each has a list of hormonal secretions. These glands are:
- Pituitary Gland
- Thyroid Gland
- Adrenal Medulla
- Adrenal Cortex
But the glands we mostly focus on when it comes to hormonal therapy are the pituitary, thyroid, ovaries, adrenal medulla, and testes. This is because the easiest hormones to control with anti-aging are melatonin, DHEA, testosterone, estrogen, endorphins, and so on.
The pituitary gland is also referred to as the master gland this is because its hormones control the activities of the other glands. It is located at the base of the brain, just below the hypothalamus and it consists of two lobes – the anterior lobe and the posterior lobe. The anterior lobe secretes hormones such as growth hormones, gonadotropins, thyroid-stimulating hormones, adrenocorticotropic hormone, and prolactin. The posterior lobe however releases oxytocin and antidiuretic hormone.
While the pituitary gland controls a lot of different hormones, we can zone in on the growth hormone and the effects it has on aging.
GROWTH HORMONE (GH)
Growth hormones are produced mainly during childhood or adolescence, it is produced from the pituitary gland and is stimulated by the growth hormone-releasing factor from the hypothalamus. Its release is influenced by the age of an individual, sometimes stress and exercise.
Growth hormones are targeted at most tissues in the body to promote growth, increase cell production and muscle mass. It also helps in the regulation of protein metabolisms, carbohydrates, and fats. This is done by enhancing protein synthesis, breaking down stored fats, and decreasing the uptake of glucose by cells while increasing the level of glucose in the blood.
The growth hormone is one of the main hormones that can be impacted by hormone therapy in an effort to create an absence in the growth hormone itself. By blocking this hormone from its receptors, you can slow down age-development for the physical appearance.
Because the idea is to mimic the hormone produced by the pituitary gland, the injections are made identical in the labs. They then are set out to be administered by injection therapy from a medical professional. These injections go into the fatty tissues of the body. Likely you will go a series of injections ever so often.
The essential duty of the thyroid-stimulating hormone as the name implies is to regulate the secretion of thyroid hormones from the thyroid gland and therefore; like the thyroid gland, plays its role in growth and metabolism, and skin function.
While the specific hormones are the ones that would be altered under the thyroid gland it is still important to address TSH as means to anti-aging because it is the starting point for the thyroid functions.
ADRENOCORTICOTROPIC HORMONE (ACTH)
Adrenocorticotropic secretion is majorly caused by stress stimuli such as pain, shock, infection, or extreme cold. It stimulates the growth of adrenal glands and the release of hormones such as cortisol from the adrenal cortex.
Stress plays a major factor in our aging as more stress ages our bodies faster. That’s why regulating our cortisol levels can be a major factor in hormone therapy treatment.
For instance, if you are lacking or have excessive levels of ACTH this may be treated.
Deficiency: The lack of ACTH would decrease the secretion of hormones from the adrenal glands. In severe cases the person would h the inability of an individual to cope with stress, therefore, leading to the death of such a one.
Excess/Over secretion: On the other hand, leads to the excessive release of hormones from the adrenal glands.
The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped gland located at the neck region, just below the larynx. It produces and stores the triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4) hormones, these hormones are similar in chemical structures and perform basically the same function in the body.
The thyroid gland in particular has been linked to aging. This is because increased aging has been directly correlated with lower TSH levels as briefly mentioned.
TRIIODOTHYRONINE (T3) AND THYROXINE (T4)
The release of the T3 and T4 are stimulated by the secretion of the Thyroid-stimulating hormone from the pituitary gland. These hormones accelerate the rate of metabolism by causing the breakdown of glucose and fats to release energy and increasing cellular respiration and production of heat, they also enhance the physical growth and mental development of an individual.
Deficiency: The lack of these hormones is known as hypothyroidism. In infants, it leads to cretinism which results in mental, physical, and sexual retardation. In adults, however, it results in a decrease in the rate of metabolism, goiter, a significant drop in body temperature, and weight gain since less food is respired.
Excess/Over secretion: Known as hyperthyroidism this leads to an increase in metabolic rate which would result in an increase in heart rate, oxygen consumption, and body temperature. It could also lead to over anxiety and weight loss and in some cases the growth of tissues behind the eye known as exophthalmos resulting in the protrusion of the eyeballs from the eye orbits.
The adrenal medulla occupies the center of the adrenal gland and produces the hormone adrenaline (epinephrine), which is secreted in times of fright, anger, stress, and anxiety.
The adrenaline has several functions, including;
1. The increase of body blood sugar by speeding up the breakdown of glycogen into glucose in the liver and muscles.
2. It helps to increase the metabolic rate and thereby more energy Is released into the tissues for respiration.
3. It helps in the increase of muscle strength and acts as fatigue resistance.
4. It helps in the increase of heart rate and a rise in blood pressure to ensure a faster passage of oxygen and glucose to the muscles.
5. It aids in the constriction of arteries in the skin causing pallor, thereby channeling more blood to the muscles.
6. It increases blood coagulation, relaxes the bronchiole, and increases airflow in the lungs.
7. It causes the dilation of the pupils to enhance vision.
8. It contracts the hair muscles, causing “goose pimples”.
Deficiency: The lack of adrenaline causes a decrease in blood glucose level and blood pressure.
Excess/Over secretion: causes the elevation of the blood sugar level, heart rate, and blood pressure.
Note: People with stressful lifestyles are constantly secreting adrenaline into the bloodstream. This constantly prepares their body for action, fight, or flight. But since the action is never taken, continued exposure to that lifestyle and an extended secretion of adrenaline may become harmful to the body. This could result in muscle tension and headaches (migraine). Or even high blood pressure which can lead to hypertension. Hypertension can turn into strokes and heart diseases, as well as fatigue, pain in the stomach, and even diarrhea.
All these are serious causes that lead to aging more quickly than someone who has a more relaxed lifestyle.
While the adrenal cortex plays a huge role in hormones for the body, it doesn’t play a massive role in hormones that affect aging. The adrenal cortex is more known for blood pressure regulation. While the adrenal cortex does play a role in also regulating your metabolism and immune system, they don’t have the main hormones that are worked within hormone therapy.
The pancreas is another organ that plays a vital role in our lives but not one that has to do with hormones and anti-aging qualities. Its function relies heavily on how we respond to high and low blood sugar and are the production of insulin.
The Ovaries are located at the pelvis and produce estrogen and progesterone. This is where what is commonly referred to as the youth hormones can be worked with to slow down the process of aging.
The production of estrogen is stimulated in the pituitary gland and during ovary development. It essentially controls the formation and development of the female sex organs and secondary sex characteristics e.g., breast development and hair growth. It also controls the menstrual cycle, the development of mammary glands, and promotes sexual urge.
Estrogen naturally falls as women get older.
Deficiency: A lack of the secretion of estrogen would lead to underdevelopment of the reproductive system and secondary sex characteristics.
Excess/Over secretion: This would lead to an abnormal urge for sex.
Also known as the pregnancy hormone, progesterone is produced during ovulation and helps maintain the lining of the uterus after ovulation. It also helps in the implantation of a fertilized egg in the wall of the uterus as well as the development of breasts during the later month of pregnancy.
Deficiency: A lack of progesterone secretion may lead to the abortion of the fertilized egg from the uterus since it is not implanted in the walls of the uterus.
Excess/Over secretion: would lead to an irregular menstrual cycle, underdevelopment of the mammary gland, and abortion of fertilized egg.
The testes are located at the scrotum and produce the hormones Testosterone and androsterone. These hormones are responsible for the development of male physical characteristics.
Testosterone is a tropic hormone and is stimulated from the pituitary gland during the development of the testes. It controls the development of the primary and secondary sex characteristics in adults such as muscular body, deep and loud voice, and hair growth. It also increases sexual urges and promotes blood circulation and cell respiration.
Testosterone naturally decreases as men get older. Different therapies can help combat this. They mostly come in the forms of:
Deficiency: Lack of testosterone will result in poor development of the reproductive system and underdeveloped secondary sex characteristics.
Excess/Over secretion: would lead to an early onset of secondary sexual characteristics in adolescent males and a high sexual urge.
HORMONAL OPTIMIZATION THERAPY
Having discovered the different types of glands and the hormones they secrete. I am certain you found something common amongst them, and this is that they have an optimal level by which they function. If they fall short or go above this level it can lead to severe consequences that sometimes include death. Besides anti-aging, these reasons are also why hormonal therapy can be relevant.
Hormonal optimization is done after an assessment is carried out to determine the levels of hormones in the body, if it is below its threshold, plans are developed to improve hormonal functions. And if your body is not secreting hormones as it should, HRT could be your option.
Common signs that you may need hormonal therapy are:
- Mood changes such as irritability.
- Physical changes such as unexplained weight loss or weight gain.
- Low libido
- Changes in bowel/bladder habits
- Increased risk of bone loss due to aging, fatigue, and probably failures of alternative treatments.
Using this therapy could quickly restore quality of life with an increase in energy and less fatigue. Symptoms would also greatly be reduced.
HORMONAL REPLACEMENT AND OPTIMIZATION THERAPY FOR ANTI-AGING
Aging is a natural phenomenon that happens to every individual over an extended period of time. The rate at which an individual ages can be directly traced to the reduction in hormonal secretion. The levels of hormones reduce with age. Although some hormones will remain at the same level from youth while a few others increase. But even when the levels of hormones do not decrease, endocrine functions generally reduce with age because hormone receptors become less sensitive.
But with advanced knowledge and technology, aging can be greatly slowed down by the careful manipulation of the secretion of these hormones. As specific hormones could be optimized or replaced to increase life expectancy and physical changes that may come as a result of aging.
Aging is not only a factor of how old that individual is but also a function of many factors such as lifestyle and stress. An individual consistently under stress for example will age twice the speed as an individual that exercises moderately and eats healthily. All these functions are directly or indirectly under the control of the hormones we’ve listed above.
Hormone optimization or replacement could also be a great way to combat age-related conditions such as:
- low testosterone in men,
- perimenopause, menopause, or post-menopause syndrome for women
- Treat deficiencies
Deficiencies can only be treated after a test is done. The basic three reasons why people do hormone replacement and optimization are for disease prevention, physical appearance, and feeling better.
Predominantly hormone growth therapy and testosterone therapy are the two therapies most commonly used. Having said that there are more options available than just those two.
COMMON HORMONAL THERAPY
Glands produce very important hormones that are related to aging processes, this includes estrogen, melatonin, endorphins, and testosterone. Listed below are some hormonal therapies that would help the fight to reduce aging while maintaining a younger-looking appearance.
Melatonin plays a large responsibility in sleep cycle control. It also determines the adequate amount of sleep essential for emotional, mental, and physical well-being. Someone who is sleep deprived is generally more apt to illness or develop a decreased ability to fight off common cold and viruses than persons who have an adequate amount of melatonin. Melatonin is widely called the “wonder drug” and is said to extend life expectancy by up to 25%.
It is also known to locate and destroy free radicals that increase the risks of cancer and heart disease. But by the time one clocks the age of 40, there is a lower production of melatonin. However, with melatonin therapy and supplements in minute doses, it tricks the body into believing that we are much younger than we are. Although, it should be taken under caution and a strict recommendation. This is because it should not be taken under certain conditions and age ranges.
Endorphins are hormones the brain releases when we exercise. When we exercise its production and distribution are increased. It enhances the mood of an individual making one feel good and happy. Research proves that a high level of endorphins keeps individuals active while maintaining a positive attitude. This helps reduce stress and the damage stress would often cause our bodies. During HRT, these chemicals can be induced by helping an individual reduce stress and thereby slow aging.
Estrogen is considered one of the strongest hormones in the body. Aside from helping to prevent breast cancer, heart disease, and bone loss, its level also affects various tissues and organ systems. These range from bones to liver as well as the brain and excreta. It also helps women maintain strength and flexibility of the skin, reproductive organs, blood vessels, and tissues during childbearing and beyond.
This is why going for estrogen therapy, supplements and cream would improve wrinkles. The dermatologic literature is full of studies demonstrating the benefits of estrogen on skin thickness, levity, hydration, and hydration. As a woman goes through menopause, she notices changes in her skin that were previously not there. The need for maintaining adequate estrogen levels for maintaining youthful skin is therefore essential.
Testosterone helps promote the ability of the body to use up the protein in the formation of bone, muscles, and skin. Men about the age of 40 to 70 often experience a decrease in the levels of testosterone secreted by the body. But like women, they also have the option to use hormone replacement therapies after appropriate consultations and when determined suitable by physicians.
Through the use of any of the before mentioned medications usually, a client will undergo testosterone therapy for life once started. Some of the most common gels taken are Androgel and Testim.
Androderm is one of the most common patches while some men prefer to use injection which the most common one is Depo-Testosterone.
DHEA which is also fondly called the “fountain of youth” hormone is produced by the adrenal glands, it is directly connected to our immune capacity, memory, and energy levels as it plays a vital role in our bone strength and density. It also plays a role in the way in which each person could handle stress. DHEA is also available as a supplement, as are estrogen, testosterone, melatonin, and estrogen replacement therapy.
ACTH is also known as the body’s stress hormone. Oftentimes, chronic stress has a negative influence on our aging process. ACTH stimulates the adrenal gland to secrete and disperse cortisol through the body. Although cortisol is necessary for many-body operations, when it is released as a response to stress, it may lead to negative effects such as poor skin condition, weight change, premature aging of immune cells, aches, fatigue, pains, and insomnia.
Progesterone can help in the improvement of skin conditions, help sleep and anxiety, and is equally important to women’s health. It is synergistic with estrogen,
Some other hormones, including melatonin, help with sleep. Vitamin D is also a hormone and can improve immunity and skin enhancement. Pregnenolone helps with cognition. Metformin for weight reduction and so forth.
Consumers however should bear in mind that any hormone supplements should be taken with great caution, as too much may create even greater hormone imbalances within the body. Discussing hormone supplementation with a doctor is essential for those in their mid-40s or older. It is imperative to consult with a proven clinician with a lot of expertise as taking certain hormones without consultation and dosage without prescription could cause more harm than good.
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