Oprah Winfrey's show on Thursday with guest Suzanne Somers brought up more questions about bioidentical hormone therapy. In Boca Raton, we had Dr. Mitchell Matez watching. As our resident specialist on alternative medicine, he offers a full range of bioidentical hormone therapies, and here are his answers to some of the questions left unanswered during the program.
Is there any drawback to taking FDA-approved bioidentical hormones? What is the difference between them and what a compounding pharmacy provides?
The term “bioidentical” is used to describe a substance or hormone that is of the exact same molecular structure as those already present in the human body. This is in direct contrast to most drug company products that are either animal (horse) derived or chemically altered to be intentionally different from human hormone so that it can be patented. The word “bioidentical” may be a “marketing” term, but the concept is clear.
One drawback to taking the FDA approved versions of these hormones is the route of administration. Any Estrogen, even bioidentical, can potentially cause clotting abnormalities when given orally due to the effects of liver metabolism. Compounded formulas can be given transdermally (through the skin) or via implantable (under the skin) pellets which will enter the bloodstream directly before the liver and drastically reduce or eliminate this problem. Ovarian hormones enter the bloodstream directly!
Another drawback is the “one size fits all” mentality used when producing the commercially available products. Most come in only one or two dosing options whereas compounded hormones can be dosed very specifically to each individual patient.
What are bioidentical hormones made from?
Compounded hormones are initially derived from yams or soy. The hormones in these which are close to human but not exact are then brought to the lab and converted into exact molecular duplicates of human hormone and this is how they are administered.
Is there research saying they're safe?
There is a great deal of literature (in particularly Europe) supporting the benefit and safety of hormone therapy. The FDA does not acknowledge them.