Saturday, September 10, 2011

Neuroendocrine Theory of Aging


The Neuroendocrine Theory of Aging was first proposed by Russian Professor Vladimir Dilman and strongly supported by Ward Dean MD about 30 years ago. This theory elaborates on wear and tear of the human organism by focusing on its neuroendocrine system.

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The neuroendocrine system represents a complicated network of biochemicals, managing the release of hormones which are altered by the hypothalamus – a walnut sized gland located in the brain. The hypothalamus controls various chain-reactions to instruct other organs and glands to release their hormones etc. The hypothalamus also responds to the body hormone levels as a guide to the overall hormonal activity. These hormones influence growth, sexual functions and other vital body functions.

The Hypothalamus

The hypothalamus is a region of the brain that controls most of our metabolisms and bodily functions. It is located in the middle of the base of the brain. The main function of the hypothalamus is homeostasis, or maintaining the body's status quo. Factors such as energy, blood pressure, body temperature, fluid and electrolyte balance, and body weight are held to a precise value called the set-point.


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Ultimately the hypothalamus along with its two principal allies the pituitary and the pineal glands, is responsible for regulation of all physiological metabolisms. These metabolisms include the endocrine system, the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system, the central nervous system, the lymphatic system, the cardiovascular system and the digestive system with its assimilation, absorption and elimination functions.         

The hypothalamus and its allies “the glands” are so important that they have gained the reputation of being “the guardian of health”.

Thus, the hypothalamus operates by a chain reaction that releases the hormones that regulate other hormones. For instance, the hypothalamus releases Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) and Luteinizing Hormones (LH) which influence the secretion of estrogen and progesterone from the ovaries. These hormones regulate the female reproductive system. The level of these reproductive hormones decline with age as the woman experiences menopause. Menopause is a major age related change that occurs in females and is under the influence of neuroendocrine hormones. The hypothalamus responds to the body’s hormone levels and uses it as a guide to regulate hormonal activity. Hormone levels are high during younger years which accounts for menstruation in women and high sex drive in both sexes.

Aging

But as we grow older the hypothalamus loses it precision regulatory ability and the receptors which uptake individual hormones become less sensitive to them. Accordingly, as we age the secretion of many hormones declines and their effectiveness (compared unit to unit) is also reduced due to the receptors down-grading. One theory for the hypothalamus loss of regulation is that it is damaged by the hormone cortisol. Cortisol is produced from the adrenal glands (located on the kidneys) and cortisol is considered to be a dark-hormone responsible for stress. It is known to be one of the few hormones that increase with age.

If cortisol damages the hypothalamus, then over time it becomes a vicious cycle of continued hypothalamic damage, leading to an ever increasing degree of cortisol production and thus more hypothalamic damage. This damage could then lead to hormonal imbalance as the hypothalamus loses its ability to control the system. Such an argument demands the use of cortisol adjusters to help slow down the cortisol accumulation.

Human Growth Hormone

Another hormone that confirms the accuracy of the neuroendocrine phenomenon is the human growth hormone (HGH). This hormone level is high during infancy and starts to decline by mid 30’s. HGH controls physiological growth and is responsible for our growth from birth to old age. It stimulates sex drive and metabolic processes as well as associated with youthfulness, maintenance of the skin, increased muscle mass and vitality. With advance age there is a decreased production of HGH which results in reduced sex drive, decreased metabolism and changes in the appearances of the skin. Other hormone secretion also declines with advanced age which affects how the body functions. For example, decreased testosterone affects the sex drive and male vitality while decreased estrogen production is associated with menopause in women. Decline in thyroid hormone will affect the body’s metabolic rate.

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Solution to Aging

A decrease in hormone levels stimulates the body to adjust by slowing down its functions. The body literally starts to slow down and other organs also start to release low levels of hormones in response to support the change. Some people do not deal with this change very well. They feel a sense of loss of youthfulness. This is why hormone replacement therapy is recommended which can reignite the interest in life and increase human vitality. HGH is frequently used as an anti-aging therapy because it stimulates sex drive and rejuvenates youthful appearance. It promotes lean body mass and completely reverse the effects of aging. Hormone replacement therapy is a frequent component of anti-aging treatment and it helps to reset the body’s hormonal clock. This allows the signs of aging to be reversed or even delay the effects of aging.

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Benefits of the Human Growth Hormone replacement therapy:
        Increase bone density
        Increase muscle mass
        Decrease body fat
        Increase exercise capacity
        Human growth hormone is also approved to treat AIDS- or HIV-related muscle wasting.

However, there are possible negative side effects you should be aware of:

        Swelling in arms and legs
        Joint pain
        Muscle pain
        For men, enlargement of breast tissue

Dr. Dean also believes that the next-generation of hormone replacement therapy is the hypothalamus hormones (expected to be commercially available soon). These types of natural supplements could present a whole new approach and concept to endocrine balance, control and improvement.



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