Maintaining the proper hormone balance is critical to every aspect of the health as we age. There are more than 100 types of hormones that act as brain chemicals. When the stress hormone cortisol increases, feelings of anxiety and unclear thinking may be surge. Cognitive capacity begins to wane associated with normal aging process that can be attributed to the decreased production of hormones. Many of the same hormones that increase brain speed are also associated with neurogenesis. Hormone deficiency can lead to increased tiredness, anxiety and cognitive impairments. It is not so difficult to bring back optimal levels of hormones via natural bioidentical hormone therapy, though. Bioidentical hormones, as opposed to the traditional synthetic hormones, are most often derived from plant sources that are “bioidentical” to the natural hormone the body makes. Their molecular structures are same as the natural hormone produced in the body.
Bioidentical hormone supplementation is one of the most effective preventative treatment against the development of dementia as well as a successful intervention to reverse mild cognitive impairments. Bioidentical hormone supplements work as nutrients – supplying the body and brain with the same hormones it makes – to enhance brain speed and cognitive functions. The production of brain chemicals (dopamine, acetylcholine, GABA, and serotonin) can be enhanced. (see post “brain chemical systems and memory“).
Human growth hormone (HGH), DHEA, testosterone are the hormones that can increase dopamine levels, leading to increased attention. The most effective hormone for increasing acetylcholine for faster processing speed and enhanced memory is estrogen. The hormone that balances GABA to lessen anxiety is progesterone. Melatonin is the hormone that increases serotonin to reduce depression and insomnia. Hormone therapy is suggested as the preferred treatment when diet, exercise and life style changes can not achieve the result of reversing mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and when hormone deficiency is present. Listed here are the hormone supplements that the brain needs to reverse or treat MCI.
- Aldosterone regulates sodium and potassium levels and maintains appropriate blood volumes. It may have a protective effect on hearing and verbal memory. Researcher discovered that people with age-related hearing loss may have only half the aldosterone needed.
- DHEA and DHEA-S; Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is produced by adrenal glands, testicles and brain, DHEA is the precursor of all sex hormones. Its level begins to decrease in 50s. Decreased DHEA level is associated with memory loss and decreased cognitive function, because lower DHEA level increases stress hormone cortisol levels, which can lead to MCI. DHEA supplementation can enhance neurogenesis and increase dopamine production. It is also used to treat chronic fatigue, depression, menopause, osteoporosis and protect brain from Alzheimer’s disease. DHEA-S have been shown to be associated with better cognitive function, primarily related to better working memory, concentration.
- Erythropoietin (EPO) is produced by kidney that regulates blood cell production in the marrow. Studies have shown that EPO improves hippocampus-related memory transfer by controlling neuron plasticity, synaptic connectivity. This memory enhancing effect is not related to its blood production function but are due to the direct effect on neurons in the brain.
- Estrogen, Estradiol, Estriol, Estrone; Estrogen is produced by ovary, brain and in smaller amounts by some other tissues. Estrogen prevent brain aging by stimulating acetylcholine production. Bioidentical estrogen therapies lead to significant improvements in information processing in menopausal female and better score on attention test in younger female. Estradiol, estriol, estrone are bioidentical estrogen extracted from yams or soybean. Estradiol is not used to treat MCI, instead it is used for preventing neurodegenerative disease. Estriol is a topical cream that may reduce symptoms of menopause.
- Human growth hormone (HGH) is produced by the pituitary gland. HGH stimulates the production of insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1). IGF-1 can help in forming new brain and muscle cells, new blood components, and better metabolism. HGH decreases with aging significantly. HGH deficiency is associated with memory impairments. Slight supplementation promotes an improvement in total body functioning including many areas of cognitive functions, mood and energy level. HGH therapy has been shown to decrease the symptoms of MCI and increase brain speed after just 6 months of use. HGH therapy enhances the neurogenesis throughout the brain.
- Increlex, or insulin like growth factor (IGF) can increase muscle mass and increase blood flow throughout the body including brain. Increased blood flow may enhance neurogenesis.
- Melatonin is the hormone that regulates serotonin. Melatonin supplementation may improve some cognitive impairments.
- Parathyroid hormone (PTH) naturally increases with age. Excess PTH is linked to cognitive decline. Hyperparathyroidism that occur with osteoporosis can lead to calcifications throughout the body and also in the brain, reducing processing speed. Surgical removal of one or more parathyroid glands may be an treatment for protecting the brain against MCI.
- Pregnenolone is produced from cholesterol which is the precursor of many other hormones including testosterone, cortisone, progesterone, estrogen, DHEA and others. Pregnenolone appears to block stress hormone cortisol. Pregnenolone also works as anti-inflammatory agent that protects the brain from shrinkage.
- Progesterone is produced by corpus luteum after ovulation and in smaller quantity by the adrenal gland. Progesterone is the precursor of corticosteroids and testosterone. It has multiple roles in the body, affecting every tissue. Progesterone level can decrease to nearly zero with aging. Progesterone supplementation has been shown to help with anxiety, sleep which indirectly affect cognition.
- Testosterone deficiency has been linked to amyloid accumulation, chronic fatigue, depression, MCI. Maintaining testosterone levels correlates with brain speed and has been shown to enhance neurogenesis and specifically visual memory, IQ as well as prevent MCI.
- Thyroid T3 and T4 deficiency (hypothyroidism) decreases brain metabolism and are associated with reduced concentration, memory disturbances, depression, decreased cognitive function.
- Vasopressin also known as antidiuretic hormone is secreted by the posterior pituitary gland. It also regulate stress hormone cortisol secretion and acts as a chemical messenger in the brain, regulating multiple processes including memory, sleep, behavior and thought
- Vitamin D is a hormone produced by the skin with sunlight exposure. It has anti-inflammatory property and stimulates brain chemical production. Vitamin D strengthens overall health and combats aging.
Reference: book by Eric R. Braverman, MD.