What is progesterone? Progesterone is a hormone. Its name comes from “pro” — meaning to support, and “gest” — meaning gestation. It triggers pregnancy and keeps it going.
How It Works
Progesterone initiates birth by helping sperm get attracted to, swim towards, and penetrate into the deeper layer of eggs produced by the female. Once pregnant, the soon-to-be mom’s body secretes increasingly high levels of progesterone (up to 400 mg/day) to help “hold” the pregnancy to full term. Thus, progesterone is mostly thought of as a female pregnancy hormone.
But it’s so much more.
What Is It?
Progesterone is a natural anti-inflammatory agent, a brain protector in both sexes of all ages, a natural Ambien, and new science suggests it is so breast protective that some breast cancer survivors should be taking it!
Brain and nervous system. Progesterone protects your brain. Progesterone is part of a critical group of endogenous (naturally made) steroids (hormones) called neurosteroids. Neurosteroids protect brain and nervous system tissues. Progesterone is produced locally right inside the brain and throughout the mass of nerves inside the spinal cord to do just this. Progesterone production inside our brain and entire nervous system, including the one in our gut, happens in boys, girls, men, and women.
Neuroprotective. In the brain, gut and throughout the spinal cord, progesterone is neuroprotective. This means progesterone protects these tissues from damage from excess inflammation, regulates synaptic conversations, lubes neurotransmitters, and even protects outer nerve sheaths called myelin (one reason why progesterone therapy is helpful in some demyelinating diseases).
Progesterone protects brain volume. A healthy brain has an optimal size or volume. Aging shrinks brain volume, especially in the area where we keep memories and our sense of who we are (the hippocampus). Anything that protects brain volume promotes better thinking and loss of it (cognitive decline).
Progesterone therapy is even used to hasten brain recovery after brain injury or stroke. Progesterone does this by reducing cerebral edema, reducing excessive inflammation, and making the flux of minerals in and out of the brain more Zen-like. Both you body and brain adore ZEN.
Not many practitioners yet appreciate that progesterone wears so many protective nervous system “hats.” At New Leaf Wellness, progesterone is one of 3 main hormones that Providers watch, monitor and adjust for Patients.