Stroke victims could benefit from hormone therapy

May 18, 2011

By Jennifer Landa, M.D., Chief Medical Officer of BodyLogicMD

Higher IGF-1 level associated with improved long term recovery after stroke.

A new Swedish study accepted for publication by the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolis — a publication of The Endocrine Society — reported on 407 patients that had experienced a stroke in their lifetime.  These patients have been followed for a period of two years after the stroke. Levels of a hormone called IGF-1 have been shown to be elevated in the patients who had the best recovery after stroke. This has been shown to be the case in the past initially after the stroke but now scientists are saying that the results persist even 2 years after the stroke occurred. The comment from the author is that these results pave the way to looking at drugs that raise IGF-1. This includes treating with IGF-1 itself or growth hormone which also raises IGF-1 levels.

It is important to note though that interventions other than drugs will help patients to boost levels of IGF-1. The most critical are lifestyle interventions. In my practice I have followed IGF-1 levels in countless patients and have been able to boost their levels of growth hormone and thus IGF-1 significantly in various ways. IGF-1 is a metabolite of growth hormone and its levels are more stable in the bloodstream than levels of growth hormone so it is much easier to assess levels of IGF-1 than growth hormone levels.

Growth hormone is made while we sleep, so making sure patients are getting a good night’s sleep is extremely important. This is one of the most common complaints my patients have when they come in to see me. Through nutritional, hormonal and lifestyle interventions, I am able to help my patients sleep better which raises their IGF-1 levels naturally. IGF-1 levels also improve with a high protein diet. Growth hormone is a hormone that is made up of multiple amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein and eating more protein has been shown to raise growth hormone levels. Protein deficiency is a common problem for many Americans. Many people don’t eat enough protein and need to increase their protein intake. Additionally, exercise, as mentioned in the Endocrine Society article, raises growth hormone/IGF-1 levels. Also various secretegogues (formulations developed to increase the body’s natural secretion of growth hormone) have been shown varied success in different people. Lastly and perhaps most importantly, bioidentical hormones. Specifically bioidentical estrogen and testosterone therapy have been shown to increase the levels of growth hormone/IGF-1

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