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Dr Mariano posts - Testosterone, general health

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by , 09-10-2012 at 04:08 PM (339 Views)

Every thought, behavior or symptom is a summation of all the activities within cells in the body (metabolism) and the effects of their molecules (signals such as neurotransmitters, hormones, etc. and nutrients).

Cells of the body form groups for specialized functions. Large groups of cells are called systems.

I focus on several large ares to examine for problems which can summate to a person's illness, which can give fairly straightforward targets for treatment that give a lot of bang for the buck. These areas include the nervous system, endocrine system, immune system, the gastrointestinal system, hepatic signaling function, metabolism and nutrition. These areas all interact with one another.

Fatigue or the lack of energy has many factors including:
1. suboptimal signals that promote energy and metabolism such as thyroid hormone and norepinephrine/adrenaline.
2. excessive signals that reduce energy and impair metabolism such as excessive pro-inflammatory signaling.
3. suboptimal nutrition - which includes a large number of vitamins and minerals that need optimization to improve. For example, optimizing iron is one area of importance to menstruating women who lose large amounts of iron with each period.
4. suboptimal production of adrenal hormones, including aldosterine, cortisol, etc.
5. suboptimal estrogen or testosterone - though many times this is a smaller issue that the ones above.

Brain fog is a very general term which usually includes difficulty in thinking, concentrating, memory.
1. Many of the factors contributing to fatigue also contribute to brain fog.
2. The brain's microglia and astrocytes can send pro-inflammatory signals as part of their immune system function.
3. Inflammatory illnesses (e.g. autoimmune illnesses, infections, allergies, etc.) can increase inflammatory signaling which is then transmitted to the brain to change behavior.

Anxiety is an emotion which is triggered by excessive norepinephrine signaling, uncontrolled by other signaling systems. Norepinephrine is the primary signal of the sympathetic nervous system that is involved in fight or flight behavior. Heart rate can be elevated as well as blood pressure by norepinephrine in excess. Note that norepinephrine signaling, itself, increase pro-inflammatory signaling throughout the entire body.

Progesterone is an anti-inflammatory signal in the brain. It's daughter signal allopregnanolone is another important anti-inflammatory signal. Progesterone also works through the GABA signal system to reduce norepinephrine signaling helping reduce anxiety, stress, and seizures.

The problem with progesterone is that it is a precursor (can be converted) to other hormones which can cause a cascade of events leading to the opposite effect.

For example, progesterone can be converted to the estrogens. It increases receptors for the estrogens, making one more sensitive to estrogen. The estrogens can promote aggression, anxiety, and inflammatory signaling if in excess. They can also reduce available thyroid hormone - leading to fatigue, increased anxiety. Both effects can lead to panic attacks.

Testosterone is a very calming signal. However, it can be converted to estradiol and other estrogens, causing problems if the estrogens are in excess, causing problems in other systems.

Free testosterone is such a small part of the total testosterone signal that I do not use it as a measure of testosterone's activity. Free testosterone is further determine by numerous other hormones. Thus, when free testosterone is low, the question is what is happening with those other hormones - e.g. estrogen, insulin (e.g. diabetes), progesterone, thyroid hormone, etc. I prefer monitoring total testosterone because it also gives me an idea of the dose of testosterone needed for replacement therapy.

There are a lot of areas that can have potential problems in the body and there are a lot of interactions.

One way of approaching it sequentially is to:
1. optimize nutrition
2. evaluate for and address immune system problems (including gastrointestinal problems, which are commonly immune system problems).
3. optimize thyroid hormone
4. optimize nervous system function - e.g. controlling norepinephrine, dopamine, serotonin signaling, improving sleep quality, etc.
5. then if needed, optimize adrenal hormone signaling.
6. then if needed, optimize reproductive hormone signaling.
7. then if needed, other optimizations including growth hormone.

Each stage self-corrects problems in later stages. Adrenal problems generally reflect problems within the nervous system, immune system, and other hormone systems. Addressing these reduces the need to directly add adrenal hormones - this is often an imbalanced and unstable treatment with many possible downsides.

Often times, practitioners overly focus on testosterone, progesterone, and estrogens. But for behavioral problems, there are other much more important problems to address first that give one much more bang for the buck when it comes to improvement. For women, addressing these areas often eliminates the need for using estrogen, testosterone, and progesterone except for more limited targets of treatment - e.g. hair growth, acne, heavy periods from excessive estragen, bone metabolism, memory, etc.

Dr. M

Once Testosterone is in a good range, then any problems that are left have other causes.

A lack of testosterone is often not sufficient to explain all symptoms a person with mental issues has. Generally, when a person develops mental problems, one is dealing with a multisystem problem.

Adding testosterone does not often improve a person's ability to function if there are more important problems going on.

Since psychosocial issues can influence gene expression, metabolism and nutrition, and nervous system neuroplastic changes, psychosocial interventions involving areas such as exercise, therapy, education, relationships, etc. need also to be considered.

General areas to examine and address physiologically are:
1. Nutrition - optimizing nutrition so that is has high nutrient density - more vitamins and other nutrients per calorie.
2. Immune system issues - including gut issues: big ticket, high reward area to examine and optimize, though finding tools to accomplish this effectively can be difficult.
3. Nervous system issues - what some call "adrenal fatigue" is generally a nervous system phenomenon, a response to excessive stress signaling. Psychiatric treatment consideration is important. Adjusting nutrition and doing hormone treatments alone generally are not enough to help most seriously ill people.
4. Thyroid hormone optimization.
5. Diabetes and prediabetes - complex conditions in and of themselves
6. After everything else is considered, optimizing Testosterone and Estradiol signaling.
7. Last, consider addressing growth hormone deficiency - which usually does not work well if the foundation for its treatment is not established.

Note that I prefer fasting insulin to be less than 69.45 pmol/L (10 uIU/mL). A value greater than this is a sensitive indicator for insulin resistance (prediabetes to diabetes). Insulin promotes fat storage and pro-inflammatory signaling, and may reduce testosterone production, among many effects.

Gut issues often mean immune system problems.

Updated 09-10-2012 at 04:12 PM by HRTstudent

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