“Can This Natural Hormone Actually Heal Brain Injuries & Strokes?”
Posted by: Dr. Mercola <http://articles.mercola.com/members/Dr.-Mercola/default.aspx>
December 26 2009 | 3,242 views
Why do some females recover from brain injury much faster and more completely
The answer may have far-reaching implications
for the treatment of traumatic brain injury, stroke, and other neurological
Neuroscientist Dr. Donald G. Stein and
his colleagues have been investigating this question and have discovered
something remarkable -- that the hormone progesterone confers profound
neuroprotective effects that improve outcomes and reduce mortality following
Progesterone provides powerful neuroprotection
to the fetus, particularly in late pregnancy, when it helps suppress
neuronal excitation that can damage delicate new brain tissue. Dr. Stein
and his colleagues have found that in addition to protecting the fetal
brain, progesterone also protects and heals injured brain tissue.
Life Extension Magazine November 2009
Dr. Mercola's Comments:
This is exciting news that could make a major difference in the lives
of those who might otherwise be chronically disabled from traumatic
brain injury, including stroke. As a natural therapy, it could prove
to be both effective and safe.
After 25 years of investigation, neuroscientist Donald G. Stein, PhD
and his colleagues have discovered that the female hormone progesterone
offers profound neuroprotective effects that improve outcomes and reduce
mortality following brain injuries. It may also help those suffering
from central nervous system damage, strokes, spinal cord injuries, and
The Remarkable Neuroprotective Effects
During pregnancy, a woman’s progesterone levels rise, which offers
powerful neuroprotection to the fetus by suppressing neuronal excitation
that might otherwise damage the baby’s developing brain tissue.
However, it appears progesterone can have a similar effect on injured
brain tissue, and better yet, can help it heal.
The most obvious benefit is its ability to reduce cerebral edema (brain
swelling). But progesterone also appears to help brain injuries by affecting
a number of different injury mechanisms:
* In response to injury, glial cells, which are critical to normal brain
function, release protein-like compounds known as inflammatory cytokines.
This triggers inflammation, which leads to edema, which in turn causes
the entire brain to swell and function abnormally. Progesterone dramatically
reduces the expression of the genes that trigger cells to release these
* Progesterone also relieves edema through its effects on water channel
proteins called aquaporins. Progesterone decreases aquaporin activity
in the injured brain tissue, while enhancing aquaporin activity in the
walls of the cerebral ventricles. This may help drain excess fluid from
the region of the injury
* It also upregulates the expression of genes that inhibit programmed
cell death (apoptosis), which prevents the death of injured brain cells
* Progesterone may also have protective and regenerative effects on
myelin, the protective coating along your nerve fibers, which may help
treat diseases like multiple sclerosis
* It controls excitotoxicity in your brain, which can lessen the seizures
that may accompany a brain injury
Another exciting benefit is that the progesterone injections appear
effective in reducing brain swelling and functional impairment even
if the treatment is delayed up to 24 hours after injury.
This is good news, considering the fact that many brain injuries may
not receive treatment until several hours after it occurred, depending
on the circumstances.
Dr. Stein says,
“There are now about 100 papers showing evidence of the efficacy
of progesterone that I think even all those doubtful people are beginning
to think that maybe we ought to give this treatment a try.”
Results from Human Trials
In a clinical trial known as ProTECT II, one hundred patients with moderate
to severe traumatic brain injury were randomly assigned to receive standard
treatment for head injury, or identical standard treatment plus three
days of intravenous progesterone.
The levels of progesterone administered equated to about triple the
natural levels seen at the end of pregnancy.
Normally, the average mortality rate for the types of severe brain injury
seen in participants of this study is about 30-33 percent, with conventional
However, the group treated with progesterone had a mortality rate of
only 13 percent – a more than 50 percent reduction in mortality
rate compared to those receiving standard treatment!
A Note on Progesterone Delivery Methods
As for administering progesterone, you need to know that some delivery
are clearly superior to others.
Oral supplementation is perhaps your worst option, as your liver processes
everything in your digestive tract first, before it enters your blood
Any method that bypasses the liver will therefore be more effective.
Progesterone cream is one common alternative that achieves this. However,
since progesterone is fat soluble, it can build up in your fatty tissues
and lead to having too much progesterone in your body. This in turn
can disrupt other hormones such as DHEA, cortisol, and testosterone.
It’s also near impossible to accurately determine the dose when
using a cream.
What I have noticed is that many women do really well when they initially
go on the progesterone cream but after a few months that start to deteriorate
again. This is most likely related to the deposition in fat stores.
Sublingual drops offer the best of both worlds, as it enters your blood
stream directly and will not build up in your tissues like the cream
can. It’s also much easier to determine the dose you’re
taking, as each drop is about one milligram.
So you know exactly how much you’re taking. The direct delivery
system also means you can oftentimes take a lower dose than you would
need if you were taking it in pill form.
Most any compounding pharmacist can readily make this for you.
Severe brain injuries will of course need professional medical treatment,
but the potential for using progesterone as a natural treatment for
other health issues aside from menopausal problems is there. For example,
progesterone has also been found to be beneficial for prostate cancer
I certainly cannot make any recommendations for these uses, however
it is something you could discuss further with your physician.
Posted by: Dr. Mercola