Unfortunately, the levels of some of these key hormones have been becoming less-than-ideal (due to our lifestyle and the toxins around us). It is essential to optimize them if you want to unlock your full potential and thrive as a human being.
So, how can we optimize our hormones?
First things first. We need to understand our starting line. Step one is always to collect data. There is no point in hypothesizing a game plan if we have no idea of what our current biochemistry looks like.
When discussing hormone optimization, the first hormone that usually comes to mind is testosterone. It’s impossible not to think about testosterone since it has such an impactful effect on our physiology. And, as you learned from before, its levels are getting lower from generation to generation.
Let’s say that we check our total testosterone, and it’s low (even if still within range). First thought is that we have to bump it up. Should we do bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (aka: giving our body more testosterone)?
Sure. That can be one approach. However, hormonal optimization is not linear. It’s crucial to complete a holistic assessment; and review the different options. Depending on age, lifestyle and goals, this route may not be the most important one.
For example, when we first started discussing this example, it was mentioned that the total testosterone levels were low. Yet, there can be cases where total testosterone is high but the person still feels like it has low testosterone.
The truth is that we can have high total testosterone but low free testosterone. Free testosterone is a much better marker since we can have different molecules binding to our testosterone and making it inactive.
One of those molecules is a protein produced in our body called Sex Hormone Binding Globulin (aka: SHBG). SHBG is important to regulate and transport hormones. But if its levels are too high, it can excessively bind to testosterone and affect its activity in the body.
When working with a functional medicine practitioner, we can enhance our SHBG levels. This can be done through the use of medication like Danazol. There are also other “more natural” approaches, such as peptides or supplementing with Boron and Tongkat Ali, for example.
Beyond the SHBG concern, we also cannot neglect our aromatase activity. Aromatase is an enzyme responsible for converting testosterone into estrogen.
Why is this important?
Well, if we decide to dump a bunch of testosterone into our system, this enzyme can become hyperactivated and turn all of that testosterone into estrogen. Instead of a man growing muscles, he will end up growing “man boobs”.
Once again, it’s essential to work with a hormone specialist so things can be done in a way that our body won’t sabotage our efforts. Not only is it important to know how to perform Hormone Replacement Therapy (aka: HRT) safely, but also how to strategically implement aromatase inhibitors.
Once again, there are several drugs that can be used for this purpose. And, there are also natural supplements like Di-Indolyl Methane (aka: DIM). This broccoli extract is a strong aromatase inhibitor; but research also suggests that it may have weight loss and anticarcinogenic effects.    
Direct vs Indirect Testosterone Optimization
Even after revising the points mentioned before, HRT is still a complex process. Certainly, we can increase testosterone levels “externally” through creams, pellets and injections. While this goes straight to the point and is the fastest way to solve the issue short-term; it also can have negative consequences. Introducing excessive levels of testosterone in the body can trigger the Hypothalamus-Pituitary-Testes-Axis (aka: HPTA) to shut down. In other words, our body feels that there is no need to naturally produce more testosterone; and blocks the production of testosterone in the testicles.
An alternative is to stimulate testosterone’s natural production through the elevation of the hormone Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (aka: hCG).
Wait. Isn’t hCG the pregnancy hormone?
Yes, hCG levels in the urine or blood determine if a woman is pregnant or not. However, it’s more than just a pregnancy marker. In men, hCG acts like luteinizing hormone (aka: LH) stimulating the Leydig cells in the testicles, which results in the production of testosterone. It stimulates the production of sperm and increases fertility.
This indirect method may be preferable for a younger male, especially if he is looking into becoming a father.
One natural supplement that is getting plenty of attention as of late is Fadogia Agrestis. This flowering plant extract seems to have a similar action to cGH in optimizing testosterone levels. Nonetheless, more research is still needed to fully understand this compound.
As all physiological matters, these processes are not black or white. An experienced functional medicine practitioner is essential to guide us on how to combine these two approaches in a safe manner. This way, we can help you achieve your health and performance goals without negative consequences.
To learn more about how to optimize your hormones, please check this week’s video lecture. Click the button below to watch it.
And, If you want additional help in optimizing your hormones, we are here to help. When contacting us, one of our staff members will answer your questions and guide you through our process to get you to your goals.
We would love to boost your biology and help take your health and performance to the next level.
Marcos de Andrade MD, MBA
Chief Executive Officer