Natural Hormones

by Christiane Northrup, M.D.

Reviewed May 2015

Today’s topic is natural hormones versus synthetics. Now, this is an area of tremendous confusion, not only for the average person, but also for a lot of health care practitioners. People just don’t know the difference between a natural hormone and something that is not natural to the female human body. I’m going to give you the most common examples. Premarin is a natural hormone for a horse. It is the most common form of hormone replacement, and it is made from the urine of pregnant horses. So it’s a natural hormone, if your native food is hay.

Now, progesterone is found in the human female ovary. It’s also made by the brain. It’s even made by some nerve cells. Unfortunately, in most hormone replacement, the molecule that’s used is not natural bioidentical progesterone, but instead something known as medroxyprogesterone acetate, MPA.

This is what was used in the huge Women’s Health Initiative study that used a combination of Premarin and Provera, that’s medroxyprogesterone acetate, in the form of Prempro. Prempro is then the urine of pregnant horses combined with a synthetic progesterone known as MPA. And unfortunately, the way nature designed the female body, and the male body for that matter, is that the hormones need to match exactly what Mother Nature created over millennia.

The way a hormone works is it sits on a receptor site in your cells, and it begins a cascade of protein synthesis starting with the cell membrane, where the hormone sits on the cell membrane. If it doesn’t match the three-dimensional structure of a native hormone, the effects will be different than what nature intended. And this is one of the reasons why the Women’s Health Initiative study showed that hormones were dangerous. They are dangerous, if you’re not using the same hormones that your body would ordinarily make. I want to share with you some of the latest research on natural progesterone.

It’s just been found that natural progesterone works by relaxing the smooth muscles in the arteries of the body, particularly those in the coronary arteries, and can actually be used to relieve chest pain. Now that is a pretty exciting thing to know. So natural progesterone, very small doses, 20 milligrams, which comes in a transdermal cream, can actually be used to reduce angina, or chest pain in women, and this is a very common symptom in perimenopausal women. I had it myself.

Researchers pause at that when the body’s production of natural progesterone falls below a certain level, women who are under stress will actually require some progesterone to keep the coronary arteries working smoothly, and to keep them from going into spasm, because that’s what causes the chest pain. And this is a setup for heart disease, the number one killer of women. The Women’s Health Initiative, using Prempro, the synthetic stuff, showed that this hormone combination actually increased the risk of heart attack and stroke.

I don’t believe we’d find the same thing, if we were really using natural hormones. These are widely available by prescription, and there’s all different kinds of them. The patches are almost all natural estrogen. You can get progesterone as a vaginal cream, as a capsule, and it’s also available as a skin cream.

Watch for more and more research on this exciting area, and please, when you get your prescriptions filled, or if you’re thinking about using hormones, make sure you’re using those hormones that are exactly like the ones your own body would produce.

Christiane Northrup, M.D.

Christiane Northrup, M.D., is a visionary pioneer and a leading authority in the field of women’s health and wellness. Recognizing the unity of body, mind, and spirit, she empowers women to trust their inner wisdom, their connection with Source, and their ability to truly flourish.

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