Thursday, September 23, 2010

Aspartame is, by far, the most dangerous substance on the market that is added to foods.

Aspartame is, by far, the most dangerous substance on the market that is added to foods.
Aspartame is the technical name for the brand names NutraSweet, Equal, Spoonful, and Equal-Measure. It was discovered by accident in 1965 when James Schlatter, a chemist of G.D. Searle Company, was testing an anti-ulcer drug.

Aspartame was approved for dry goods in 1981 and for carbonated beverages in 1983. It was originally approved for dry goods on July 26, 1974, but objections filed by neuroscience researcher Dr John W. Olney and Consumer attorney James Turner in August 1974 as well as investigations of G.D. Searle's research practices caused the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to put approval of aspartame on hold (December 5, 1974). In 1985, Monsanto purchased G.D. Searle and made Searle Pharmaceuticals and The NutraSweet Company separate subsidiaries.

Aspartame accounts for over 75 percent of the adverse reactions to food additives reported to the FDA. Many of these reactions are very serious including seizures and death.(1) A few of the 90 different documented symptoms listed in the report as being caused by aspartame include: Headaches/migraines, dizziness, seizures, nausea, numbness, muscle spasms, weight gain, rashes, depression, fatigue, irritability, tachycardia, insomnia, vision problems, hearing loss, heart palpitations, breathing difficulties, anxiety attacks, slurred speech, loss of taste, tinnitus, vertigo, memory loss, and joint pain.

According to researchers and physicians studying the adverse effects of aspartame, the following chronic illnesses can be triggered or worsened by ingesting of aspartame:(2) Brain tumors, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, chronic fatigue syndrome, parkinson's disease, alzheimer's, mental retardation, lymphoma, birth defects, fibromyalgia, and diabetes.

Aspartame is made up of three chemicals: aspartic acid, phenylalanine, and methanol. The book "Prescription for Nutritional Healing," by James and Phyllis Balch, lists aspartame under the category of "chemical poison." As you shall see, that is exactly what it is.

What Is Aspartame Made Of?
Aspartic Acid (40 percent of Aspartame)
Dr. Russell L. Blaylock, a professor of neurosurgery at the Medical University of Mississippi, recently published a book thoroughly detailing the damage that is caused by the ingestion of excessive aspartic acid from aspartame. Blaylock makes use of almost 500 scientific references to show how excess free excitatory amino acids such as aspartic acid and glutamic acid (about 99 percent of monosodium glutamate (MSG) is glutamic acid) in our food supply are causing serious chronic neurological disorders and a myriad of other acute symptoms.(3)

How Aspartate (and Glutamate) Cause Damage
Aspartate and glutamate act as neurotransmitters in the brain by facilitating the transmission of information from neuron to neuron. Too much aspartate or glutamate in the brain kills certain neurons by allowing the influx of too much calcium into the cells. This influx triggers excessive amounts of free radicals, which kill the cells. The neural cell damage that can be caused by excessive aspartate and glutamate is why they are referred to as "excitotoxins." They "excite" or stimulate the neural cells to death.

Aspartic acid is an amino acid. Taken in its free form (unbound to proteins) it significantly raises the blood plasma level of aspartate and glutamate. The excess aspartate and glutamate in the blood plasma shortly after ingesting aspartame or products with free glutamic acid (glutamate precursor) leads to a high level of those neurotransmitters in certain areas of the brain.

The blood brain barrier (BBB), which normally protects the brain from excess glutamate and aspartate as well as toxins, 1) is not fully developed during childhood, 2) does not fully protect all areas of the brain, 3) is damaged by numerous chronic and acute conditions, and 4) allows seepage of excess glutamate and aspartate into the brain even when intact.

The excess glutamate and aspartate slowly begin to destroy neurons. The large majority (75 percent or more) of neural cells in a particular area of the brain are killed before any clinical symptoms of a chronic illness are noticed. A few of the many chronic illnesses that have been shown to be contributed to by long-term exposure to excitatory amino acid damage include:

•Multiple sclerosis (MS)
•Memory loss
•Hormonal problems
•Hearing loss
•Alzheimer's disease
•Parkinson's disease
•Brain lesions
•Neuroendocrine disorders

The risk to infants, children, pregnant women, the elderly and persons with certain chronic health problems from excitotoxins are great. Even the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB), which usually understates problems and mimics the FDA party-line, recently stated in a review that:

"It is prudent to avoid the use of dietary supplements of L-glutamic acid by pregnant women, infants, and children. The existence of evidence of potential endocrine responses, i.e., elevated cortisol and prolactin, and differential responses between males and females, would also suggest a neuroendocrine link and that supplemental L-glutamic acid should be avoided by women of childbearing age and individuals with affective disorders."(4)

Aspartic acid from aspartame has the same deleterious effects on the body as glutamic acid.

The exact mechanism of acute reactions to excess free glutamate and aspartate is currently being debated. As reported to the FDA, those reactions include:(5)

•Abdominal pains
•Fatigue (blocks sufficient glucose entry into brain)
•Sleep problems
•Vision problems
•Anxiety attacks
•Asthma/chest tigShtness.
One common complaint of persons suffering from the effect of aspartame is memory loss. Ironically, in 1987, G.D. Searle, the manufacturer of aspartame, undertook a search for a drug to combat memory loss caused by excitatory amino acid damage. Blaylock is one of many scientists and physicians who are concerned about excitatory amino acid damage caused by ingestion of aspartame and MSG.

A few of the many experts who have spoken out against the damage being caused by aspartate and glutamate include Adrienne Samuels, Ph.D., an experimental psychologist specializing in research design. Another is Olney, a professor in the department of psychiatry, School of Medicine, Washington University, a neuroscientist and researcher, and one of the world's foremost authorities on excitotoxins. (He informed Searle in 1971 that aspartic acid caused holes in the brains of mice.)

Phenylalanine (50 percent of aspartame)

Phenylalanine is an amino acid normally found in the brain. Persons with the genetic disorder phenylketonuria (PKU) cannot metabolize phenylalanine. This leads to dangerously high levels of phenylalanine in the brain (sometimes lethal). It has been shown that ingesting aspartame, especially along with carbohydrates, can lead to excess levels of phenylalanine in the brain even in persons who do not have PKU.

This is not just a theory, as many people who have eaten large amounts of aspartame over a long period of time and do not have PKU have been shown to have excessive levels of phenylalanine in the blood. Excessive levels of phenylalanine in the brain can cause the levels of seratonin in the brain to decrease, leading to emotional disorders such as depression. It was shown in human testing that phenylalanine levels of the blood were increased significantly in human subjects who chronically used aspartame.(6)

Even a single use of aspartame raised the blood phenylalanine levels. In his testimony before the U.S. Congress, Dr. Louis J. Elsas showed that high blood phenylalanine can be concentrated in parts of the brain and is especially dangerous for infants and fetuses. He also showed that phenylalanine is metabolised much more effeciently by rodents than by humans.(7)

One account of a case of extremely high phenylalanine levels caused by aspartame was recently published the "Wednesday Journal" in an article titled "An Aspartame Nightmare." John Cook began drinking six to eight diet drinks every day. His symptoms started out as memory loss and frequent headaches. He began to crave more aspartame-sweetened drinks. His condition deteriorated so much that he experienced wide mood swings and violent rages. Even though he did not suffer from PKU, a blood test revealed a phenylalanine level of 80 mg/dl. He also showed abnormal brain function and brain damage. After he kicked his aspartame habit, his symptoms improved dramatically.(8)

As Blaylock points out in his book, early studies measuring phenylalanine buildup in the brain were flawed. Investigators who measured specific brain regions and not the average throughout the brain notice significant rises in phenylalanine levels. Specifically the hypothalamus, medulla oblongata, and corpus striatum areas of the brain had the largest increases in phenylalanine. Blaylock goes on to point out that excessive buildup of phenylalanine in the brain can cause schizophrenia or make one more susceptible to seizures.

Therefore, long-term, excessive use of aspartame may provid a boost to sales of seratonin reuptake inhibitors such as Prozac and drugs to control schizophrenia and seizures.

Methanol (aka wood alcohol/poison) (10 percent of aspartame)
Methanol/wood alcohol is a deadly poison. Some people may remember methanol as the poison that has caused some "skid row" alcoholics to end up blind or dead. Methanol is gradually released in the small intestine when the methyl group of aspartame encounter the enzyme chymotrypsin.

The absorption of methanol into the body is sped up considerably when free methanol is ingested. Free methanol is created from aspartame when it is heated to above 86 Fahrenheit (30 Centigrade). This would occur when aspartame-containing product is improperly stored or when it is heated (e.g., as part of a "food" product such as Jello).

Methanol breaks down into formic acid and formaldehyde in the body. Formaldehyde is a deadly neurotoxin. An EPA assessment of methanol states that methanol "is considered a cumulative poison due to the low rate of excretion once it is absorbed. In the body, methanol is oxidized to formaldehyde and formic acid; both of these metabolites are toxic." They recommend a limit of consumption of 7.8 mg/day. A one-liter (approx. 1 quart) aspartame-sweetened beverage contains about 56 mg of methanol. Heavy users of aspartame-containing products consume as much as 250 mg of methanol daily or 32 times the EPA limit.(9)

Symptoms from methanol poisoning include headaches, ear buzzing, dizziness, nausea, gastrointestinal disturbances, weakness, vertigo, chills, memory lapses, numbness and shooting pains in the extremities, behavioral disturbances, and neuritis. The most well known problems from methanol poisoning are vision problems including misty vision, progressive contraction of visual fields, blurring of vision, obscuration of vision, retinal damage, and blindness. Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen, causes retinal damage, interferes with DNA replication and causes birth defects.(10)

Due to the lack of a couple of key enzymes, humans are many times more sensitive to the toxic effects of methanol than animals. Therefore, tests of aspartame or methanol on animals do not accurately reflect the danger for humans. As pointed out by Dr. Woodrow C. Monte, director of the food science and nutrition laboratory at Arizona State University, "There are no human or mammalian studies to evaluate the possible mutagenic, teratogenic or carcinogenic effects of chronic administration of methyl alcohol."(11)

He was so concerned about the unresolved safety issues that he filed suit with the FDA requesting a hearing to address these issues. He asked the FDA to "slow down on this soft drink issue long enough to answer some of the important questions. It's not fair that you are leaving the full burden of proof on the few of us who are concerned and have such limited resources. You must remember that you are the American public's last defense. Once you allow usage (of aspartame) there is literally nothing I or my colleagues can do to reverse the course. Aspartame will then join saccharin, the sulfiting agents, and God knows how many other questionable compounds enjoined to insult the human constitution with governmental approval."(10) Shortly thereafter, the Commissioner of the FDA, Arthur Hull Hayes, Jr., approved the use of aspartame in carbonated beverages, he then left for a position with G.D. Searle's public relations firm.(11)

It has been pointed out that some fruit juices and alcoholic beverages contain small amounts of methanol. It is important to remember, however, that methanol never appears alone. In every case, ethanol is present, usually in much higher amounts. Ethanol is an antidote for methanol toxicity in humans.(9) The troops of Desert Storm were "treated" to large amounts of aspartame-sweetened beverages, which had been heated to over 86 degrees F in the Saudi Arabian sun. Many of them returned home with numerous disorders similar to what has been seen in persons who have been chemically poisoned by formaldehyde. The free methanol in the beverages may have been a contributing factor in these illnesses. Other breakdown products of aspartame such as DKP (discussed below) may also have been a factor.

In a 1993 act that can only be described as "unconscionable," the FDA approved aspartame as an ingredient in numerous food items that would always be heated to above 86 degree F (30 degree C).

Diketopiperazine (DKP)
DKP is a byproduct of aspartame metabolism. DKP has been implicated in the occurrence of brain tumors. Olney noticed that DKP, when nitrosated in the gut, produced a compound that was similar to N-nitrosourea, a powerful brain tumor causing chemical. Some authors have said that DKP is produced after aspartame ingestion. I am not sure if that is correct. It is definitely true that DKP is formed in liquid aspartame-containing products during prolonged storage.

G.D. Searle conducted animal experiments on the safety of DKP. The FDA found numerous experimental errors occurred, including "clerical errors, mixed-up animals, animals not getting drugs they were supposed to get, pathological specimens lost because of improper handling," and many other errors.(12) These sloppy laboratory procedures may explain why both the test and control animals had sixteen times more brain tumors than would be expected in experiments of this length.

In an ironic twist, shortly after these experimental errors were discovered, the FDA used guidelines recommended by G.D. Searle to develop the industry-wide FDA standards for good laboratory practices.(11)

DKP has also been implicated as a cause of uterine polyps and changes in blood cholesterol by FDA Toxicologist Dr. Jacqueline Verrett in her testimony before the U.S. Senate.(13)


1.Department of Health and Human Services, Report on All Adverse Reactions in the Adverse Reaction Monitoring System, (February 25 and 28, 1994).
2.Compiled by researchers, physicians, and artificial sweetner experts for Mission Possible, a group dedicated to warning consumers about aspartame.
3.Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills, by Russell L. Blaylock, M.D.
4.Safety of Amino Acids, Life Sciences Research Office, FASEB, FDA Contract No. 223-88-2124, Task Order No. 8.
5.FDA Adverse Reaction Monitoring System.
6.Wurtman and Walker, "Dietary Phenylalanine and Brain Function," Proceedings of the First International Meeting on Dietary Phenylalanine and Brain Function., Washington, D.C., May 8, 1987.
7.Hearing Before the Committee On Labor and Human Resources United States Senate, First Session on Examing the Health and Safety Concerns of Nutrasweet (Aspartame).
8.Account of John Cook as published in Informed Consent Magazine. "How Safe Is Your Artificial Sweetner" by Barbara Mullarkey, September/October 1994.
9.Woodrow C. Monte, Ph.D., R.D., "Aspartame: Methanol and the Public Health," Journal of Applied Nutrition, 36 (1): 42-53.
10.US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, No. 84-1153 Community Nutrition Institute and Dr Woodrow Monte v. Dr Mark Novitch, Acting Commissioner, US FDA (9/24/85).
11.Aspartame Time Line by Barbara Mullarkey as published in Informed Consent Magazine, May/June 1994.
12.FDA Searle Investigation Task Force. "Final Report of Investigation of G.D. Searle Company." (March 24, 1976)
13.Testimony of Dr Jacqueline Verrett, FDA Toxicologist before the US Senate Committee on Labor and Human Resources, (November 3, 1987).

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Why Do So Many Skin Care Products Use These Potentially Hazardous Ingredients?

Why Do So Many Skin Care Products Use These Potentially Hazardous Ingredients?
Simple answer: because they’re cheap, readily available, and easy to dilute.

Are they in the products you currently use? It’s time to check. Go grab your containers of skin care products and check them against the following …

Ingredient Use Dangers
Parabens Heavily used preservatives in the cosmetic industry; used in an estimated 13,200 cosmetic and skin care products. Studies implicate their connection with cancer because their hormone-disrupting qualities mimic estrogen and could disrupt your body’s endocrine system.

Mineral Oil, Paraffin, and Petrolatum These petroleum products coat the skin like plastic – clogging pores and creating a build-up of toxins. They can slow cellular development, creating earlier signs of aging. They’re implicated as a suspected cause of cancer. Plus, they can disrupt hormonal activity. When you think about black oil pumped from deep underground, ask yourself why you’d want to put that kind of stuff on your skin…

Sodium laurel or lauryl sulfate (SLS), also known as sodium laureth sulfate (SLES) Found in over 90% of personal care products! They break down your skin’s moisture barrier, potentially leading to dry skin with premature aging. And because they easily penetrate your skin, they can allow other chemicals easy access. SLS combined with other chemicals may become a "nitrosamine" – a potent carcinogen.

Acrylamide Found in many facial creams. Linked to mammary tumors.

Propylene glycol Common cosmetic moisturizer and carrier for fragrance oils. May cause dermatitis and skin irritation. May inhibit skin cell growth. Linked to kidney and liver problems.

Phenol carbolic acid Found in many lotions and skin creams. Can cause circulatory collapse, paralysis, convulsions, coma, and even death from respiratory failure.

Dioxane Hidden in ingredients such as PEG, polysorbates, laureth, ethoxylated alcohols. Very common in personal care products. These chemicals are often contaminated with high concentrations of highly volatile 1,4-dioxane that’s easily absorbed through the skin. Its carcinogenicity was first reported in 1965, and later confirmed in studies including one from the National Cancer Institute in 1978. Nasal passages are considered extremely vulnerable, making it, in my opinion, a really bad idea to use these things on your face.

Toluene May be very poisonous! Made from petroleum and coal tar… found in most synthetic fragrances. Chronic exposure linked to anemia, lowered blood cell count, liver or kidney damage…May affect a developing fetus.

So, having read the above, do you really think it’s OK to put these things on your skin?


I don’t think so either.

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Friday, September 17, 2010

Bioidentical Estrogen, Heart Disease, and Cholesterol and Your Health

Estrogen refers both to natural estrogen hormones in the body and estrogen products used in medications. The main forms of estrogen found in women's bodies—endogenous estrogen—are:

estradiol, the main estrogen made by women’s ovaries before menopause (also described as 17-beta estradiol and E2)

estrone, a weaker estrogen produced both in the ovaries and in fat tissue from other hormones, and the main estrogen found in women after menopause (E1)

estriol, the weakest of the three main forms of estrogen, made in the body from other estrogens (E3) and found in utero with growing fetus.

The amount of these estrogens in the body varies over the course of the menstrual cycle. After menopause, estrone becomes the predominant endogenous estrogen in women’s bodies even though the ovaries continue to produce small amounts of estradiol, as do the secondary hormone-production sites. The adrenal gland continues to produce androstenedione, which is converted to estrone and estradiol in body fat and in muscle and skin cells. In addition, the ovaries continue making small amounts of testosterone, which can be converted to estradiol, but often is not in significant amounts.

How does estrogen function in the body?
Estrogens, particularly estradiol, are powerful female hormones that make a girl develop into a woman capable of reproduction. Whether from your own ovaries or from an external source, estrogens work in the body by traveling in the blood to body tissues where there are estrogen receptors. Estrogen receptors are found in the brain, breasts, heart, blood vessels, uterus, vagina, bladder, liver, bones, skin, and gastrointestinal tract. Estrogen molecules bind, or attach, to estrogen receptors much like a key fits into a lock, and this leads to effects that vary from one body part to another.

Not all parts of the body have estrogen receptors, and not all estrogen receptors are alike. Estrogen receptors in bone tissue are not the same as estrogen receptors in breast tissue, for example. There are other factors that influence the differing effects of estrogen in different parts of the body, but not a great deal is known about these other factors.

What are the effects of lower estrogen levels?
Because estrogens have important effects on so many body tissues, it is not surprising that when a woman’s estrogen levels drop (especially when they drop suddenly), there may be negative or potentially negative effects. One of the most noticeable effects, of course, is the end of menses, the monthly periods. The end of menses is due in part to estrogen levels that are too low to stimulate the lining of the uterus (endometrium).

In addition to the end of menses, significant estrogen loss can also lead to:

hot flashes and night sweats with disturbed sleep
vaginal dryness and loss of elasticity of vaginal tissue , elasticity of skin, blood vessels, heart vessels
increased urinary tract infections and problems with urinary incontinence (difficulty holding one’s urine)—although childbirth appears to be the most important cause of incontinence in postmenopausal women
loss of sexual desire and function
changes in mood, or depression
memory problems and possible increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease
breast changes—loss of firmness
skin changes—thinner skin, less collagen and moisture in the skin
loss of bone density—may eventually lead to osteoporosis
increase in cholesterol levels—may increase risk for heart disease
loss of numerous beneficial effects of estrogen on body organs and systems
Estrogens used in ERT, HRT and NHRT

Estrogen products may provide either a single type of estrogen or mixed estrogens. The most commonly prescribed form of estrogen for HRT in the U.S. for many years has been a mixture of estrogens extracted from the urine of pregnant mares (Premarin, and the estrogen in Prempro and other estrogen products that begin with Prem-). Prempro is the combined synthetic estrogen/progestin formulation that was found in the WHI study to be associated with a somewhat increased risk of breast cancer, heart attack, stroke, and blot clots.

There are many alternatives to Premarin available to women today. Other estrogen products, including bio-identical estrogens, are made in the laboratory from plant materials, usually wild yam or soy. Estrogens can be taken in pill form or as sublingual (under the tongue) tablets. There are also estradiol skin patches (transdermal estrogen), and some estrogen products can be used in the vagina. An estradiol skin gel (EstroGel) is available in many countries including Canada and the U.S. An estrogen nasal spray is being tested. Most estrogen products delivered through the skin are bio-identical estrogens, but some oral and vaginal estrogens are not (e.g., Premarin, Ogen, Cenestin, Premarin vaginal cream). The estrogen used in transdermal patches is bio-identical estrogen (estradiol); however, the estrogen used in the contraceptive skin patch (Ortho Evra) is a synthetic estrogen.

Examples of estrogen products
Oral (pills): Estrace, generic estradiol, Ogen, Premarin, Cenestin
Transdermal: Vivelle, Climara, Alora, Estraderm (skin patches)
EstroGel (now available in the U.S.)
Vaginal: VagiFem, Estring
I prefer to use the Wiley Protocol transdermal estrogen because it is bioidentical and is the only standardized cyclic hormone therapy available at this time to replace hormones the way young cycling female hormones are.

Estriol is not often used in HRT, although it is possible to have an estrogen cream that contains estriol made to order by a compounding pharmacy. Estriol, while much weaker than estradiol, is still able to cause systemic effects on the user, and studies have found that oral estriol can stimulate the endometrium. Vaginal estrogens are less likely to cause systemic effects and are sometimes effective for restoring vaginal and urogenital tissues to premenopausal conditions and reducing urinary tract infections.

Different products may have somewhat different effects and side effects. Oral estrogens seem to have more side effects than estrogens delivered through the skin or the vagina, apparently due to the "first pass" through the liver that occurs when drugs are taken by mouth.

The differences between oral and transdermal estrogens
Oral estrogens are quickly broken down by the liver, and this "first pass" through the liver seems to be responsible for certain side effects as well as for the positive effects of oral estrogen on cholesterol levels, lowering LDL (the "bad" cholesterol) and raising HDL (the "good" cholesterol). Oral estrogen sometimes raises triglycerides (another type of blood fat) and women who have high triglyceride levels should be aware of this.

Transdermal estrogen given in the doses I prescribe can raise HDL and lower LDL cholesterol, and it does not affect triglycerides, so it may be a better choice in women with elevated triglyceride levels. Avoiding the first pass through the liver also may prevent the increased risk of blood clots and gallbladder problems associated with oral estrogens.

UPDATE: Results of a study reported in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology (April 2003) show that Premarin pills, a form of oral estrogen, increase C-reactive protein (CRP) in the blood, while Climara, an estrogen skin patch, does not. CRP is a marker of inflammation in the blood that has been found to be a heart disease risk factor. Read Could Heart Risks of Estrogen Replacement Be "Patched" Up? for more information. The study confirms earlier research showing that transdermal estrogen does not raise CRP levels in the blood, while estrogen pills do (Vehkavaara S et al., 2001).

Transdermal estrogen and oral estrogen have differing effects on androgens in the body. Oral estrogen lowers free testosterone and can lead to androgen deficiency (affecting libido among other things), while transdermal estrogen has little effect on testosterone levels. Transdermal estrogen may offer other advantages over oral estrogens, although more research is needed.

I have over 500 women on transdermal estrogen and progesterone using the Wiley Protocol who are doing awesome. I've been tracking their progress since 2008 and have amazing results and data showing how replacing your hormones to reflect what your hormones do in young cycling women restores health and well being.

Call my office in Wilmington (815) 476-5210 or Lombard (630) 627-3700 to set up an appointment or email me at

Thursday, September 2, 2010

More About Estrogen. It's Functions and Purpose in Men and Women

About Estradiol

Estradiol is the most active form of estrogen in the human body.

As well as the being one of the most important "female hormones" which is responsible for a normal monthly cycle, estradiol is known to support normal function in quite a number of important physiological processes including -
1. bone mineral density & osteoporosis prevention's
2. proper heart and blood vessel health & arteriosclerosis prevention.
3. Mood
4. sex drive
5. thyroid function
6. skin elasticity (which decreases without estradiol and causes thin skin and wrinkles)
7. and fertility

Peri- and post-menopausal women may monitor the decreasing levels of this hormone that occur with aging. Cycling women experiencing PMS symptoms that
may be due to a hormonal imbalance may also monitor estradiol.

In men estradiol does not play as important a role as it does in women, though men also have a small amount of estradiol normally in their bodies. The amount of testosterone that men have usually does not allow estradiol to have any significant physiological effects on the body. If the amount of estradiol compared to testosterone increases, then men can notice certain symptoms such as weight gain especially in the midsection, development of enlarged breasts (gynecomastia), decreased sex drive, and many of the signs of low testosterone.

Certain medications and drugs, chronic alcoholism and other chronic health conditions can result in increased estradiol levels in men.

In women, estradiol is a steroid hormone produced primarily by the ovaries and adrenal glands. Estradiol has a direct affect on the function of the reproductive system, the nervous system, the cardiovascular system and the skeletal system.

Blood sugar levels, skin and other tissues and functions are also significantly influenced by estradiol.

Though proper estradiol levels are critical for the prevention of osteoporosis, the actions of this hormone extend far beyond bone health.

Therefore it is crucial that proper levels also be maintained in all women.

The Menstrual Cycle and the Endometrium

Progesterone prevents development of endometrial cancer 1. Low progesterone with unopposed estrogen may be one cause of dysfunctional uterine bleeding 2. Progesterone may help decrease uterine contractions, cramping and pain 3, 4.

The Vagina & Urinary Tract

Excessive progesterone may increase urinary incontinence and even counteract the beneficial effects of estrogen in maintaining urinary control 5, 6, 7, 8.

The Libido

Excessive progesterone may decrease libido due to antiestrogen and anti-androgen effect 9, 10. As well as decreasing libido, excessive levels may induce depression 11.

Blood Sugar & Insulin

While estrogens help the cells of the body utilize glucose more efficiently by making them more sensitive to insulin, progesterone can cause a decrease in insulin sensitivity, having an effect on blood sugar that is similar glucocorticosteroids 12. This interference with the action of insulin can interfere with normal glucose uptake and cause insulin resistance 13, 14, 15, 16, 17.

The ability of progesterone to interfere with proper function of insulin and glucose has since been associated with gestational diabetes 18, 19, 20 as well as hormone replacement therapies 21,15, 22, 12 and has been been observed in both synthetic & non-synthetic progesterone 20, 23, 24, 12. Even the high progesterone levels which occur naturally during the luteal phase can induce insulin resistance in some women 21, 16.

The Brain – Mood & Memory

Progesterone and its metabolites result in increased relaxation and reduced anxiety in a way that is similar to the effects of benzodiazepines 25, 26 by a direct effect on neurotransmitter receptors called Gamma-AminoButyric Acid type A (GABAA) receptors 27. When progesterone levels drop a woman can experience withdrawals similar to the withdrawal seen with benzodiazepine, barbiturate, and alcohol withdrawal 29.

Excessive levels may cause decreased coordination, slowed reflexes, depression and impaired memory and reasoning skills 30, 31, 32, 33, 34. The sedating effects of excessive progesterone can cause drowsiness and even induce sleep 35, 32, 36. The nerve calming effect of progesterone is so pronounced that both natural progesterone and medroxyprogesterone have both been shown to decrease seizures in women with epilepsy 37, 38.

Progesterone has a protective, stimulating effect on breathing patterns during sleep, resulting in decreased incidence of sleep apnea, a serious condition in which the body is deprived of oxygen 39, 40, 41, 42.

The action of progesterone on GABAA receptors have been associated with an increase appetite and food intake 43, 44, 45.

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Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Love My Hormones: Anterior Pituitary Hormones - Hormones control cells in the body

Love My Hormones: Anterior Pituitary Hormones - Hormones control cells in the body

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Anterior Pituitary Hormones - Hormones control cells in the body

The anterior pituitary secretes six hormones including adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), Growth Hormone (GH),Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), Luteinizing hormone (LH), and Prolactin. The secretions are controlled by chemical agents carried in the portal hypophysial vessels from the hypothalamus to the pituitary.

The hypophyseal portal system (or hypothalamo-hypophyseal portal system) is the system of blood vessels that link the hypothalamus and the anterior pituitary in the brain.

It allows endocrine communication between the two structures. It is part of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. The anterior pituitary receives releasing and inhibitory hormones in the blood. Using these, the anterior pituitary is able to fulfill its function of regulating the other endocrine glands.

It is one three portal systems of circulation in the human body; that is, it involves two capillary beds connected in series by venules. The others are the hepatic portal system and that in the kidneys.

There are six established hypothalamic releasing and inhibiting hormones including corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH), thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH), growth hormone releasing hormone (GRH), growth hormone inhibiting hormone (GIH), Luteinizing hormone releasing hormone (LHRH) (now known as gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH), and prolactin-inhibiting hormone (PIH).

Our hormones control cells in the body. In women, FSH and LH act in sequence on the ovary to produce growth of the ovarian follicle, ovulation, and formation and maintenance of the corpus luteum (which produces the progesterone). Prolactin stimulates lactation. In men, FSH and LH control the functions of the testes.

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