So, you’re thinking of taking testosterone supplements because of all of the good things you’ve heard. Why not take “bio-identical testosterone” instead of the usual, pharmaceutical grade stuff, otherwise known as “patentable pseudo-testosterone?” Gees, I dunno. I thought that testosterone was testosterone, a simple pile of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen molecules arranged in 4 rings of chicken wire. What’s the difference? What’s best?
The Testosterone Circus
Exactly what is bio-identical testosterone? According to Harvard (and I agree):
“The term bio-identical doesn’t have an exact medical definition. Health experts generally define bio-identical hormones as compounds that have the same chemical and molecular structure as those produced in the body. It is more broadly defined by advocates of bio-identical hormone replacement therapy…(to) include hormone testing via saliva tests and the use of individually compounded hormones to correct ‘deficiencies.’”
So, what is the difference between what we all know as a medical “drug” and a molecular copy of a natural hormone? You apply or ingest them either way. Not only that, “natural” usually means that the hormones in the product come from plant or animal sources and not synthesized in a lab. However, many bio-identical products must be commercially processed by pharmacies to be able to be applied or ingested. In the words of Dr. Oz’s blog: “The only thing that is natural is to drink the horse urine or eat the soy plant.” Not sure there’s any real difference here.
Ok, what does our government have to say? That would be the FDA, and they say: “Bio-identical hormone replacement therapy is a marketing term not recognized by FDA.” It further notes that it “has not approved compounded ‘BHRT’ drugs and cannot assure their safety or effectiveness.” With which the Mayo Clinic agrees: “…hormones marketed as ‘bio-identical’ and ‘natural’ aren’t safer than hormones used in traditional hormone therapy, and there’s no evidence they’re any more effective.” Great. Now what do we do?
Maybe Dr. Oz is right when he says: “It’s basically all the same stuff.” All the heavies have now weighed in and still not a whole lot of clarity on the matter.
In my view, the only truly “bio-identical” testosterone is the hormone made in your body for you and you alone. Think about it. No applied or ingested hormones are truly “bio-identical,” really. But how can we turn on our own testosterone? Here’s a short list of ways:
- Take great care of yourself. Stay healthy, reduce stress, and get sleep and exercise. A stressed, unhealthy body is a great testosterone depressant.
- Clomiphene citrate. Although not FDA approved for men (only women in the US), it increases pituitary gland “drive” to the testicle to make more testosterone. It’s a pill and works great for some men.
- Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). Sounds like a medieval potion, but it is simply a small signaling molecule that tells the testicle to make more testosterone. It’s an injection but can work magic in many men.
How do these therapies stack up against the “bio-identicals?” First, you can’t get any more “natural” than increasing your own testosterone. Second, we can easily “individualize” doses to make them just right for you. Third, this approach embraces the concept of holistic care by fully promoting lifestyle changes. Fourth, there may be comfort in knowing that what you’re taking has been shown to be safe in humans by rigorous FDA standards.
By George, I think we’ve found it! Truly bio-identical testosterone: locally made, in-house, by hand, and just for you.