Progesterone: Essential To Your Well-Being


Nov 3, 2012
San Antonio, Texas USA - for now
Progesterone: Essential to Your Well-Being
By Raymond F. Peat, Ph. D.

The hormone progesterone participates in practically every physiological process, in both men and women. Its tremendous increase during pregnancy serves to stabilize the organisms, both mother and child, during that crucial time. At levels reached just before delivery, progesterone produces anesthesia and contributes to tissue elasticity. The fetus requires large amounts of glucose, and progesterone makes it possible to be provided in abundance for ideal brain growth, by promoting the mother's ability to use fat for her own energy. It is this efficient use of fat which gives women greater long-range endurance than men. When progesterone is deficient, there tends to be hypoglycemia, often combined with obesity.

The stabilizing action of progesterone is especially visible in muscle tissue, such as the uterus, blood vessel walls, the heart, the intestines and the bladder. Less visibly, progesterone stabilizes and normalizes nervous, secretory and growth processes. Biochemically, it provides the material out of which all the other steroid hormones (such as cortisone, testosterone, estrogen and salt-regulating aldosterone) can be made as needed. Progesterone's simple molecular structure allows it to balance either an excess or deficiency of those other hormones, even when there is a defect in their synthesis.

Many factors, including poor nutrition, climate, emotional or physical stress (even excessive running) and toxins, can cause a progesterone deficiency. Use of estrogens, birth control pills and even IUDs can also bring about a deficiency. Animal studies and clinical experience suggests that the prenatal hormonal environment (a mother's excess of estrogen during pregnancy) can incline a person toward a deficiency of progesterone relative to estrogen.

Recent studies show that progesterone prevents stress-induced coronary blood vessel spasms in aged hearts-probably explaining women's relative freedom from heart attacks, so long as they retain functioning ovaries. Other studies suggest that progesterone has a role in regeneration of damaged brain cells and prolonged growth of the brain. Delayed aging and longer life span have been very clearly related to extra progesterone. Many types of tumors have been prevented and helped with progesterone. Excessive blood cloning caused by excess estrogen alleviated by progesterone. Pregnancy toxemia and tendency to miscarry or to deliver prematurely are often corrected by progesterone. When epilepsy occurs premenstrually, or first appears around puberty, it is often stopped by progesterone therapy. The hormone has been used successfully in suicidal depression, Reynaud phenomenon, Meniere's disease, agoraphobia (especially when associated with porphyria, an abnormality of liver metabolism), Bright's disease (a kidney disorder) and, used as a lotion, in a variety of genital skin problems in children, adults and postmenopausal women. Hot flashes and other menopause problems respond to progesterone therapy.

Since progesterone normalizes the immune system (it causes thymus regeneration, for example) it is very effective in autoimmune diseases (which result from adverse reactions to one 5 own tissues) and in those degenerative disease which have an autoimmune component.

In several ways both progesterone and thyroid hormone can be considered primary regulatory hormones. Both of them regulate metabolism directly at the energetic and synthetic levels: both have a normalizing, anti-stress action on the pituitary gland; and each has a promoting action on the other. Both are blocked (and consumed) by stress and promoted by light and good nutrition. Both are nutrients in cultures that eat the whole animal, including ovaries and thyroid, butter, cream and milk contain small amounts of progesterone and shellfish seems to be a good source.

Disregarding most of the information promoted by pharmaceutical companies and the medical texts and journals which for 30 years have reflected the opinion of those companies (especially regarding the patented synthetic estrogens and glucocorticoids), we can trace a line of research and ideas on the sex hormones, from pioneers such as Loeb, Korenchevsky, and Selye, through a generation that continued to demonstrate the toxicity of estrogen, and the value of progesterone including people like Lipschutz, Dalton and Goderwall.

In my dissertation research under Goderwall, I had the opportunity to collect and assimilate data indicating an increased estrogen effect in aging animals and recently, with newer techniques, I have seen similar changes in many menopause women. My research showed that the probable mechanism by which estrogen excess causes infertility is through limiting the availability of oxygen. I showed that anti-estrogenic substances, such as progesterone or vitamin B, increased the oxygen content of the uterus. This anti-oxygen effect of estrogen suggests a convergence of reproductive aging research with Warburg's theory that damaged respiration is the primary defect in cancer and also with Selye's observation that estrogen's effect resembles the first shock phase of stress reaction.

Early research had also shown that estrogen diminishes liver glycogen storage while progesterone increases both blood sugar and liver glycogen. It is well known that hypoxia (oxygen deficiency) damages the fetal brain, but probably less well known that hypoglycemia -either chronic or acute- can cause brain damage and retardation. Oxygen deficiency, by lower metabolic efficiency, will cause hypoglycemia. Estrogen causes hypoxia at every imaginable site, from lung, through vascular fibrin (clot material lining blood vessels and red cells) and extracellular collagen (a glue-like part of connective tissue) and edema, to intracellular metabolism. Estrogen is also a promoter of insulin release and action, lowering blood sugar and promoting fat synthesis. Estrogen and another common anti-oxygen material, excessive unsaturated fats (vegetable or fish oils) have both been demonstrated to cause the birth of small-brained, retarded animals. Recent studies imply that about half the children identified as hyperactive have experienced prenatal stress. The most urgent need for progesterone therapy, I think, is preventing a continuing epidemic of brain damage. Beyond that, many studies have found that the use of natural progesterone increases a child's IQ, typically by around 35 points and produces personalities that are more "independent, individualistic, self-assured, self-sufficient and sensitive" (J.M. Reinish, The Female Patient, April, 1978, p.87).

Protection against hypoglycemia is probably the main mechanism. Diabetic mothers often have precocious children, if they aren't damaged by drugs and irrational diets. Ten to 15 grams per pregnancy, at increasing dosage, seems to be the optimal amount, when there is some sign of excessive estrogen or unexpected toxemia. The American Medical Association Department of Drugs, which warns against certain sex hormones being used during pregnancy, has specifically excluded progesterone from those others which are "now contraindicated in early pregnancy" (Journal of the American Medical Association, 239 (3), p.236).

Hypoglycemia (which can result from any respiratory defect) can produce malfunction of any tissue, but brain dysfunction and immune dysfunction are very common effects. Adamkiewics has shown that allergic reactions to a given substance will decrease from 100 percent to zero, when the blood glucose increases from, for example, 50 mg. to 150 mg. or more. Soviet research shows a similar involvement of blood sugar level in various "psychosomatic" ailments. Progesterone (and thyroid) will help in most allergic diseases, including the autoimmune and "collagen diseases," because it helps to maintain blood sugar (promoting respiration and improving use of fat-sparing glucose) and also because it stabilizes lysosomes (enzyme packets in cells, which are involved in inflammation processes).

The group of enzymes known as superoxide dismutase (SOD) are probably involved in the protective effects of progesterone, since one of my assays to determine the action of estrogen turns out to be an inverse indicator of SOD-that is, progesterone would seem to turn on this protective enzyme.

Although progesterone and cortisone both raise blood sugar and stabilize lysosomes, their effect on the brain is very different. In large doses, progesterone is sedative and anesthetic, while cortisone is stimulating and causes changes in the brain, which resemble aging. An excess of cortisone also tends to elevate estrogen, which was found (in animal experiments) to interfere with memory. High estrogen traits can be acquired by environmental stress and can be passed on to offspring, as discovered by L.C. Strong in his mice, and as confirmed recently in rats that were stressed during pregnancy.

It has been observed that the ratio of brain weight to body weight corresponds directly to longevity. The brain has a nourishing, trophic influence on other tissues. A stable, efficient brain is an anti-stress agent. The hormones of stress age various tissues, including connective tissue. Good nutrition, including the anti-stress substances found in certain foods, will simultaneously optimize intelligence and increase the healthy life span. Congenital defects are increased by stress and poor nutrition during pregnancy and, conversely, reduced by good nutrition hormone supplementation and stress reduction.

An excessive estrogen/progesterone ratio is more generally involved than either a simple excess of estrogen or a deficiency of progesterone, but even this ratio is conditioned by other factors, including age, diet, other steroids, thyroid and other hormones. The relative estrogen excess seems to act by producing tissue hypoxia. Symptoms in cycling women are most common around ovulation and in the premenstrual week, when the estrogen/progesterone ratio is normally highest. The early 20's, late 30's and menopause are the periods when the ratio is most often disturbed. These are also the ages when thyroid disorders are commonest in women.

I have observed the use of progesterone transdermally (applied to the skin in about 400 women suffering from the full range of peri-menstrual symptoms, including migraine, acne, depression, mastalgia (breast pain), edema (water retention and swelling), and lethargy. I found that nearly all the women who apply the lotion themselves, are able to find the appropriate dosage for controlling their symptoms. Occasionally, thyroid therapy, weight reduction: or change in some aspect of lifestyle is necessary for complete relief from symptoms. When some women said the progesterone had no effect, it turned out that they were applying it as sparingly as they would a rare perfume-just touching it to their wrists.

Anesthesia (or drunkenness) from a very large overdose is the only negative side effective reported in the literature. Experimenting with very large doses of natural progesterone on myself, for migraine, I found that there is a temporary antagonism to testosterone, causing small symptoms, including a slight sense of gregariousness, an urge to socialize. However, synthetic progestins do have harmful side effects including breast tumors. Unfortunately, most physicians do not yet know the difference between natural progesterone and synthetic progestins.

At our health resort/clinic, we're finding that most women respond dramatically to progesterone support, but don't remain chronically dependent on it. During their stay, clients are provided specialized, indulgent care, along with progesterone and other therapies. We consider it essential, as well, to teach them the principles of maintaining optimum health through good nutrition. Results are impressive and usually permanent.
Taken from 'Let's Live'; April 1982.


Jul 13, 2014
The group of enzymes known as superoxide dismutase (SOD) are probably involved in the protective effects of progesterone, since one of my assays to determine the action of estrogen turns out to be an inverse indicator of SOD-that is, progesterone would seem to turn on this protective enzyme.
is it worth supplementing SOD?
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