What Are Bioidentical Hormones? Are They Really Better?
What are bioidentical hormones?
In simple terms, “bioidentical” refers to how closely a medication or other compound matches its biological counterpart.
We’re talking about molecules and biochemistry.
It sounds really impressive.
Modern pharmaceutical companies have tried to produce hormones that are identical to the hormones that naturally occur in your body for use in TRT (Testosterone Replacement Therapy).
But is there a difference or some important distinction that sets bioidentical testosterone apart from FDA-approved products used in traditional testosterone replacement therapies?
Bioidentical testosterone is a pretty gray area, to be sure. Let’s investigate.
(Read our earlier blog post to find out why it’s actually important for estrogen to be bioidentical.)
What Are Bioidentical Hormones? — the Marketing Tactics
“Bioidentical” testosterone has been marketed as somehow better, safer, more effective, better absorbed by the body, and so on.
More natural, non-chemical, pure — those phrases sound excellent, don’t they?
It can be really convincing when a clinic or service says something like this:
We only use bioidentical testosterone, which most closely resembles the natural hormones produced by your body for better absorption and less risk of side-effects.
Are those claims true? What are bioidentical hormones doing that FDA-approved testosterone isn’t?
Does it actually mean there are advantages? If so, what are bioidentical hormones synthesized from that makes them so superior?
Or, is it just hype?
Let’s take a look at the common marketing claims about bioidentical testosterone.
What Are Bioidentical Hormones? — True and False
They’re Identical to The Testosterone Found in Your Body — FALSE
The marketers mislead you right from the start.
They have hijacked the term bioidentical, when the correct term is biomimetic, which means these hormones mimic or imitate your natural hormones.
Biomimetic hormones are very similar on a molecular level, but they are not the same.
Your body will react to these biomimetic hormones in the same way it would to the hormones you naturally produce, but saying they are identical to your body’s natural hormones is plainly misleading.
They’re “Natural” — TRUE… Sort of
When the marketers say natural, what they mean is that the product is animal-based or plant-based, and the term may lead you to imagine it was not synthesized in a lab.
It’s true these “natural hormones” are usually plant-based compounds, but they still have to be commercially engineered and processed.
Common sense tells us it would be impossible to find human testosterone in a plant.
And, here’s the most misleading point: When marketers use the term “natural” to describe their products, they imply that the more traditional, FDA approved compounds are not natural (and thus possibly inferior).
But, it’s a fact that many traditional hormone mixtures include naturally derived compounds.
So, this claim of being “natural” isn’t totally false, but it is definitely misleading, as this article by Harvard Health Publications also says.
They’re More Effective Than Traditional Mixtures — Mostly FALSE
There are a lot of false claims of “superior absorption” or “improved effectiveness.”
These claims can be questionable.
This FDA report directly calls out a manufacturer for simply adding an ingredient to a traditional hormone mixture and implying it somehow became more “effective.”
Here’s what the report had to say:
“(The testosterone product) compounded by your firm is a copy or essentially a copy of an FDA-approved product.
“Your supervising pharmacist claims that your products differ from the FDA-approved products because lipoderm is used as a base to improve consistency and effectiveness…
“We do not view the use of this lipoderm base to be a meaningful distinction between your product and the FDA-approved product with which it competes.
“Nor are we aware of any legitimate medical need for a lipoderm-based product.”
Unfortunately, there are many similar examples of marketing manipulation when it comes to bioidentical testosterone.
Bioidentical Hormones Are Custom-Engineered and Mixed for You — TRUE, But…
There’s a giant flaw in this thinking, pointed out in this article by the Mayo Clinic:
The doses are often based on saliva tests.
There is a long argument about why this test is supposedly better, but the bottom line is that hormone levels in your saliva may not accurately reflect what is going on inside your body — the test which determines the ingredients is inferior and may be wrong from the start.
What Are Bioidentical Hormones? — Putting It All Together
Not all of this means that bioidentical hormones are bad.
But, the marketing of bioidentical testosterone products is definitely questionable.
There’s a lot of smoke-and-mirrors presentation surrounding their effectiveness and safety.
The marketing blurs the picture with questionable or outright misleading claims of superiority over more traditional testosterone therapies.
What Are Bioidentical Hormones? — Ask Us
So, what are bioidentical hormones’ benefits compared to FDA-approved testosterone therapy?
Its seems there’s really not much a difference.
Before considering questionably-marketed “bioidentical testosterone” that may not even work, get a free consult with Testosterone Centers of Texas today.
During your free consultation, we would be happy to discuss both the benefits and the risks of any potential treatments.