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Hormonal Imbalance Specialist

Bio Energy Medical Center

Integrative Health Care & Medical Center located in Ann Arbor, MI

The doctors at Bio Energy Medical Center in Ann Arbor, Michigan, look to bio-identical hormone replacement therapy, or BHRT, to best treat any hormone imbalance, in women or men.

Hormonal Imbalance Q & A

What is Bio-identical Hormone Replacement Therapy?

Bio Energy Medical Center offers Bio-Identical Hormone Replacement Therapy (BIHRT) for both men and women. Also known as "natural" hormone replacement, BIHRT is an attempt to return the body to a healthier state of hormone balance. Because the level of one hormone is influenced by others, we evaluate a whole series of hormone levels including adrenal, pituitary and ovarian/testicular hormones. Once these levels are determined, interventions include supplementation with herbs/nutrients, use of precursors (supplements that can be immediately converted into hormones), or the hormone itself. If hormones are prescribed, they are bio-identical. This means that the hormone is identical to that which the body is supposed to produce on its own.

What is the process for bio-identical hormone replacement?

The process begins with an evaluation of the individual's status. This means a blood draw or a saliva sample. Saliva testing is utilized in situations in which multiple levels are required, such as measuring adrenal function during the course of a day or following estrogen/progesterone levels during the course of a woman's monthly cycle. Blood testing is used in all other situations. For men and women who are not cycling, timing is not important, but the blood should be drawn in the morning. For women who are cycling, the best day to evaluate these levels is five to six days after ovulation. This usually means a blood draw on day 19 or day 20 of the monthly cycle (day one is the first day of the menses). Once levels have been determined (it usually takes about two weeks to get all results back) - supplements, precursors, or hormones are prescribed to balance these levels.

Progress is followed clinically (based on symptoms) and by blood work at three to four month intervals until a state of balance is achieved.

Is Hormone Replacement right for me?

At Bio Energy Medical Center, we'll help you sort through the misinformation and evaluate your individual risks and benefits to determine if BIHRT is right for you. Generally, women with irregular menses, PMS, polycystic ovaries, unexplained weight gain or fatigue, loss of libido, peri-menopause, menopause with symptoms, brain fog or memory loss, new onset depression, disrupted sleep patterns, problems with healing, and skin or hair changes may find BIHRT very helpful. And, men with loss of libido, unexplained weight gain, inability to increase strength with exercise, hair loss, memory changes/depression, unexplained fatigue and problems with healing may find BIHRT very helpful. Many men with heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, fatigue, obesity, hyperlipidemia, and/or metabolic syndrome, suffer from low levels of male hormones (especially testosterone).

What are the benefits of hormone replacement therapy?

Customized hormone replacement therapy is a system that has been used by physicians in Europe for over 50 years. This approach uses hormones that are derived from plants and are structurally identical to those produced by the body. They are customized on a patient by patient basis to meet the specific needs of each patient. Various dosage forms can be compounded such as: topical, capsules.

The price range for BIHRT varies according to the complexity and length of treatment needed.

What is different about Bio Energy's approach to thyroid health?

The primary difference is our focus on a complete work up and an attempt to determine the underlying cause of a person’s thyroid problems. Many people with thyroid issues actually have an autoimmune disorder called Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis and are unaware of this. Others have issues with the enzyme that converts their thyroid medication into its active form. Still others have thyroid problems because of nutritional issues such as iodine or selenium deficiency.

What is Hashimoto's thyroiditis?

This is an autoimmune disorder in which the body makes antibodies (anti-TPO antibodies) against the thyroid that interfere with its function. This is diagnosed by measuring the levels of anti-TPO antibodies. Standard thyroid replacement will help the hypothyroidism, but does nothing for the autoimmune disorder.

How is Hashimoto's treated and can diet help?

The key part of treating Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is to treat the immune dysfunction by focusing on the gut. The health of the intestinal tract plays a key role in proper immune functioning. We also know that the same genetics that put a person at risk for Hashimoto’s also puts them at risk for gluten sensitivity. They are a number of dietary and nutritional approaches to help with this.

I still feel hypothyroid, but my doctor says my thyroid numbers are fine. Why is this?

Most doctors will check thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) and free T4 (FT4). TSH is a pituitary hormone. You don’t feel TSH, it only affects the thyroid. The thought is that TSH is the most sensitive indicator of thyroid function, but this is based on the idea that TSH is only affected by thyroid hormone levels. We now know that this is not true. TSH can be directly lowered by a stress hormone releasing factor called CRH. If you are stressed, your TSH will not necessarily reflect you thyroid function. FT4 is a thyroid hormone, but not the active one. Most receptors in your body are for free T3 (FT3). Most thyroid medication is T4. Tissue has to convert it to T3 in order to activate it. There are about 10% of people who have genetic issues with this enzyme (resulting in higher levels of reverse T3—an inactive form of T3). Inadequate selenium can also affect this conversion. This means that without knowing TSH, FT4, FT3, and rT3, you really don’t have an adequate picture of your thyroid function.

Are there alternatives to Synthroid as a thyroid replacement?

Yes. There are a number of natural, porcine (pig based) thyroid medications available. These contain both T4 and T3 in a fixed ratio (4:1). There are a number of name brands such as Armour, Nature-Throid, West-Throid, and others. T3 is also available both in a commercial and compounded form. Thyroid can also be compounded by mixing T3 and T4 in custom ratios.

I am on thyroid medication and want to get off it. Is that possible?

There are some instances where resolving the autoimmune or nutritional issues that are causing hypothyroidism can be improved to the point where medication is no longer needed.