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China Dispatch #2: Chinese Originated Bioidentical Hormones in 1025 AD

Posted on 14 December 2011

Did you know that the Chinese were the first to create, compound, document and prescribe bioidentical hormones to replace what's lost due to aging? Certainly not me, yet I am not surprised to learn of this--as my interviewee last week, fourth-generation Chinese Doctor 刘英山  Liu Ying Shan, tells me that the main tenet of Traditional Chinese Medicine is to mimic nature. That's an idea I rally behind. That's me pictured above, taking it all in, in Mainland China last week (above) at the Shenzhen Futian Hospital for Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).

Bioidentical Hormones to Replace What's Lost

Several texts document that the Chinese, from 1025 to 1833 AD, took human hormones to replace what was lost due to aging, and prepared complex combinations of thyroid hormones, cortisol, DHEA, estrogens, and human growth hormone,* along with many others. Yet this was many centuries before we isolated these hormones here in the West, late in the 19th Century. These preparations were given to the wealthy--turns out many of the Chinese empresses were keen to look like Suzanne Somers as they aged. Who can blame them? Here's the catch: The methods used by medieval chemists were somewhat disgusting. Yes, they used the placenta for estrogens. Yes, they collected urine of young people, always the gold standard when it comes to robust hormones, distilled the urine and served it up to Chinese emperors and empresses. Read more right here. Does that make you wiggy? Well, recall that Premarin, derived from PREgant MARe urINe (that is urine from pregnant horses) was the #1 prescription in the US from the 1960s until we realized it was a bad idea starting in 1999 with the HERS trial, and cemented that view with the Women's Health Initiative in 2002. Apparently, Chinese physicians would distill urine from young healthy men and women with spices and serve them as pills to those interested in longevity. News reports from the time state that those who took the pills looked far younger than their stated age. Who knew? I thought I was going to China to learn more about the TCM system of thought, five elements, three forms of chi and such. Instead, I'm knee deep in the hormonal optimization in the service of de-aging. Surprising! Delightful!

Update on TCM + My Sleep Score (ZQ)

Did Traditional Chinese Medicine double my sleep score? Yes. In one night. Thanks to my new favorite Dr. 刘英山.  I mentioned in my last post about how my sleep score, out a possible 100, went from the previous week's average of 49 to 98. Overnight. I started 12/8/11 in Shenzhen, China a boatload of herbs to help my sleep and it really worked. And my average score since I started the Chinese herbs has been 94, even with the requisite flight back from Asia. I find that compelling. But I am a woman of science. I don't want to overglorify TCM into some faith-based system devoid of proof. But a ZQ of 98/100? Overnight? My friends, that's more than placebo effect. tune in next time for Dispatch #3: Dr. Liu's Take on My Sleep Issues (+ Overstressed Working Women in General). Or, Traditional Chinese Medicine for the Modern Woman's Mantra (I'm depleted. I eat too much. I drink too much. I shop too much. I give too much...) *as documented by Nature and New Scientist writer, Robert Temple, in his book, The Genius of China.

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