Brain Research and Progesterone

progesteronebrainHORMONES and RESEARCH: Progesterone and the Brain

Now even brain scientists agree that hormone imbalances are all in your head!

Brinton RD, Thompson RF et al, Progesterone receptors: form and function in brain, Front Neuroendocrinol 2008 May;29(2):313-39. Epub 2008 Feb 23.

Comments: Progesterone is the new darling of those who study brain chemistry. Research is coming out almost weekly showing how important progesterone is to brain function. Dr. Lee and I started reporting on progesterone and the brain a decade ago. Dr. Lee famously said that if anyone in his family had a brain injury, he would slather them with progesterone cream. You can imagine the derisive letters and phone calls he received from his colleagues for that statement! A few years later a smart ER doctor who saw a lot of head injuries started wondering why brain injuries were worse in men than in women, and was eventually approved to do a study in which brain injury patients were given injections of progesterone when they arrived in the ER. His research showed that those who received the progesterone did significantly better than those who didn’t. Similar studies have shown the same result.

Around the same time, researchers discovered that progesterone was a key component of the myelin sheath that protects or insulates the nerves—so important in fact that progesterone is made in the myelin sheath. Other research showed that progesterone stimulates the brain’s GABA receptors, those feel-good, calming neurotransmitters.

Now we know, according to this review paper, that “…progesterone has multiple non-reproductive functions in the central nervous system to regulate cognition, mood, inflammation, mitochondrial function, neurogenesis and regeneration, myelination and recovery from traumatic brain injury.” Furthermore, progesterone is everywhere in the brain: “Remarkably, PRs [progesterone receptors] are broadly expressed throughout the brain and can be detected in every neural cell type.”

Those who have experienced the mental fog of hormone imbalances can now point to their brain and say, “It’s all up here.” While it’s not all in your head, it is in your brain!

Get Smart About Your Brain by John R. Lee, M.D.

The Brain that Changes itself by Norman Doidge, M.D.

Hormone Balance Made Simple by John R. Lee, M.D. and Virginia Hopkins