What Does “Natural” or “Bioidentical” Mean?

By: | Tags: | Comments: 0 | August 3rd, 2011

I have been using the word “counterfeit” to refer to patented drug company hormonal preparations and “natural” or “bioidentical” to refer to the kinds of hormones that I and other wellness physicians recommend. I prefer the term “bioidentical” because it accurately conveys the most important aspect of these hormones. They are biologically identical to hormones produced in our bodies.
Natural, bioidentical hormones are derived from a plant molecule called diosgenin found in soybeans and wild yams. After diosgenin is extracted from these plants, it is converted into bioidentical progesterone in the laboratory. In turn, progesterone can be converted by a chemist into the three human estrogen hormones: estradiol, estrone, and estriol.
Because natural progesterone and the estrogens are biologically identical in structure to the hormones produced by the body, the cells of a woman’s body respond to them in exactly the same way that they respond to the hormones produced in her own body. This is good news for women, but the fact that these bioidentical hormones cannot be patented makes them unattractive to the pharmaceutical companies. Pharmaceutical drugs can only be patented if they are chemically unique, unlike any currently existing drug and unlike any substance that exists in nature.
This is the reason that you will rarely see major drug companies producing and promoting natural hormone preparations. Drug companies derive the bulk of their billion-dollar profits from the first seventeen or so years of a drug’s life, when its patent status protects it from competition and enables the company that holds the patent to charge whatever the market will bear. Without the possibility of patenting natural, bioidentical hormones, the drug companies have no incentive to produce and sell these hormones.
The profit margin is just too low. 

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