Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) uses hormones identical to those in the body. Safety and effectiveness are still being studied.
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is a treatment that doctors may prescribe to women who experience symptoms of hormonal imbalance or depletion, especially during menopause.
HRT can help relieve symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, vaginal dryness, and osteoporosis.
However, some women may have concerns about the potential side effects and health risks of conventional HRT, such as the increased risk of breast cancer, blood clots, stroke, and heart disease.
As a result, some women may look for natural alternatives to female hormone replacement therapy (HRT) that can offer similar benefits without the same risks.
What Is Natural Hormone Replacement Therapy?
Natural hormone replacement therapy (HRT) uses hormones derived from plants to treat hormonal conditions.
There are two main types of natural HRT:
Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy (BHRT)
This type of HRT uses synthetic hormones that are chemically identical to the ones that the human body produces naturally.
They are derived from plant estrogens and can include hormones such as estriol, progesterone, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), and melatonin.
Some bioidentical hormones are approved by the FDA, while others are custom compounded by a pharmacist according to a doctor’s prescription.
Traditional Natural Hormone Replacement Therapy
This type of HRT involves consuming plants or supplements that contain compounds that may alleviate hormonal symptoms.
Some examples of plants and supplements that may have hormonal effects are phytoestrogens, folate, St. John’s wort, black cohosh, licorice root, valerian root, red clover, evening primrose oil, and omega-3 fatty acids.
How Does Natural Hormone Replacement Therapy Work?
Natural hormone replacement therapy works by providing the body with hormones or hormone-like substances that can help balance or replace the hormones that are declining or imbalanced due to menopause or other conditions.
Depending on the type and dosage of natural HRT, it may have different effects on the body.
For example, bioidentical hormones may act similarly to the natural hormones that they mimic and bind to the same receptors in the body. This may help restore normal hormonal function and relieve symptoms.
However, bioidentical hormones may also have some side effects and risks like conventional HRT, such as breast tenderness, bleeding, weight gain, and increased risk of certain cancers.
On the other hand, traditional natural hormone replacement therapy may work by modulating or influencing the body’s own hormone production or metabolism.
For instance, phytoestrogens may have weak estrogenic or anti-estrogenic effects depending on the body’s estrogen levels. This may help reduce hot flashes and protect against bone loss.
Phytoestrogens may also interfere with thyroid function or interact with other medications.
Natural hormone replacement therapy can be an option for women who want to treat their hormonal symptoms naturally without using conventional HRT.
However, natural female hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is not a one-size-fits-all solution and may not work for everyone.
It is important to consult with your doctor before starting any type of natural HRT and to follow their advice on how to use it safely and effectively.