Customized Medicines

Customized Medicines
Dr. Sonja O'Bryan, Pharm.D., ABAAHP Board Certified Health Practitioner Diplomate-American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine: "Creative Medicines" for Hormones-Weight-Pain-Fatigue-Skin Diseases-Pediatrics-Autoimmune Disorders-Veterinary Needs. Using Complimentary, Integrative, Regenerative, Bio-Identical, and Lifestyle Medicine For Health and Healing.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Are Hormone Imbalances Connected to Weight Gain?

 This blog looks at one family of hormones, the steroid hormones, that have been closely linked with how your body manages to control your weight, and when “out of balance” may result in weight gain. This family of steroid hormones can be grouped into the sex-hormones and adrenal hormones. The sex hormones include the estrogens (estradiol, estrone, and estriol), progesterone, and testosterone. The adrenal hormones include DHEA and cortisol.
Estrogen and testosterone
Estrogens are known as the female sex hormones and testosterone as the male sex hormone. While both estradiol and testosterone in fact have a wide variety of functions in both sexes, women in their youth have about ten times more estrogen than men, and men have about 10 times more testosterone than women. These stark differences in estrogen and testosterone levels in women and men define many of the characteristics that make men and women look and behave differently, including the way our body fat is distributed.
Women tend to have fat stores under the skin (subcutaneous fat), around the hips, and in the breasts. This results in the characteristic female curves that contribute to the characteristic hour-glass figure. When estrogen levels are high, excessive fat deposition occurs primarily around the hips and thighs leading to the typical pear-shaped body type, referred to as “gynoid obesity” or female type obesity.
Normally, healthy men have very little estrogen and subcutaneous fat. When they start gaining weight, it tends to be in the belly, in the intestinal space, and is known as “visceral fat” or “central weight gain”. This results in the characteristic apple-shaped body type, known as “android” (male type) obesity, when weight gain becomes excessive. However, this is also the type of fat that is the most metabolically active and therefore easiest to lose – men generally lose weight more easily than women for this reason. Visceral fat is very easily mobilized in response to adrenalin (the “fight or flight” hormone) and strenuous activity. Think of the hunter-gatherers from which we are descended – the males would store visceral fat preferentially when food was plentiful so that it could be easily used as fuel for the muscles when hunting for the next meal.
The picture is a little more complicated in postmenopausal women, when estrogen levels become very low while testosterone continues to be produced from the ovaries and adrenals. Normally estrogen rules over testosterone at the tissue/cellular level, but when estrogen levels drop at menopause and testosterone levels remain the same this estrogen/testosterone ratio shifts in favor of testosterone dominance. The presence of testosterone that is not counteracted by estrogen, a relative “androgen excess”, tends to promote the male type body fat distribution, and women who tend to gain weight during and after menopause often find that their waistline thickens and they become rather more apple-shaped than pear-shaped. The same effect is seen in women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), who over-produce androgens. Studies of estrogen replacement therapy in postmenopausal women consistently show that this can prevent central weight gain, by maintaining a relatively higher level of estrogens than testosterone.
Fat tissue itself is an endocrine (hormone-producing) organ. It contains the enzyme aromatase, which converts testosterone to estradiol and androstenedione to estrone. In obese postmenopausal women, estrone can become the predominant circulating estrogen, rather than estradiol. Estrone is about ten times less potent than estradiol and its presence in the absence of estradiol is a hallmark of menopause.
DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) is the precursor for the production of estrogens and testosterone in tissues where they are needed, and it therefore circulates in the body in significantly greater quantities than the other steroid hormones. Studies of DHEA supplementation have found no significant effect on body weight, but one of its natural metabolites, 7-keto DHEA, is known to increase the metabolic rate and has been found to help with weight loss.
Progesterone is well known for its ability to balance and optimize the effects of estrogens. With each monthly cycle, estradiol stimulates the proliferation of the breast epithelial cells and those of the reproductive tissues. Progesterone produced in the second half of the menstrual cycle then slows the estrogen-stimulated proliferation, allowing for tissue specialization and differentiation. For the same reason, progesterone is needed to balance estrogen replacement therapy to prevent excessive growth and proliferation of the uterine lining to reduce the risk of endometrial cancer. We know that synthetic progestins are also used for this purpose, but while they effectively suppress endometrial proliferation they have been found to have adverse effects in other areas, notably the cardiovascular system and the breast. Natural progesterone is without these adverse effects, and indeed has many beneficial effects in the body. But some women find that it can contribute to weight gain or bloating. Studies have found that women tend to have an increase in appetite and food intake in the latter half of the menstrual cycle, and during pregnancy, when progesterone levels are higher than usual. An encouragement to eat more in preparation for a pregnancy and during gestation would make sense physiologically, but we don’t need excessively elevated progesterone levels otherwise. Some forms of progesterone replacement therapy may lead to excessive progesterone levels that can increase the risk of insulin resistance, which will promote fat storage rather than utilization for energy. It is important to monitor progesterone levels, as with all hormones, during supplementation to ensure that levels are not out of physiological range and well balanced with estradiol and testosterone. Bloating or weight gain could mean you are using too much progesterone.
Cortisol is an adrenal hormone essential for blood glucose regulation, fat storage and utilization, and control of other body functions like the immune system.  Cortisol acts in synergy with many other hormones to help regulate their actions. Cortisol is released from the adrenal glands in response to stressors sensed by the brain. These stressors come in many different forms and include low glucose levels, emotional or physical stress, or invasion of the body by pathogens. Cortisol mobilizes glucose from the glycogen stores in the liver to be used as short-term energy for the muscle. While normal physiological levels of cortisol are essential to survival, excessive levels caused by chronic stressors shut down non-essential body functions, such as the immune system, and by suppressing the production of other hormones, such as sex hormones, growth hormone, and thyroid hormones. When stressors are present for extended periods the system goes awry and we develop a chronic stress condition and persistently elevated cortisol levels. When this happens, the effects of cortisol on blood sugar result in an increased appetite, particularly for carbohydrates (“stress eating”) and storage of more glucose as fat, especially in the visceral area, which has more cortisol receptors than other types of fat tissue. Stress-related weight gain can be treated by finding and reducing sources of stress, as well as relaxation techniques to reduce the harmful effects of stress on the body.
When you understand more about your body and how it is hormonally regulated, it is easier to see that hormones, when in balance, are friends rather than foes.  The entire endocrine system includes many more hormones than are mentioned above, which are involved in metabolic processes and other bodily functions that can affect our weight and our overall health. But even taking just the reproductive hormones and cortisol, and a little common sense, we can conclude that:
  1. We have changing reproductive hormone levels as we age. In our attempts to replenish hormone levels back to youthful levels, we sometimes upset the balance as we replace hormones to levels outside an ideal range, and we don’t recognize the effects this hormonal imbalance has on weight gain.
  2. Weight gain itself affects hormone balance.
  3. Our bodies have highly efficient stress responses, but the extreme, prolonged stresses of modern life have created an unhealthy hormonal imbalance (excessive cortisol) that has contributed to weight gain.
It is important not to ignore the elephant in the room, the highly palatable and refined foods that dominate the “Western” diet, which are clearly associated with the obesity epidemic. These are not the foods our ancestors ate.Our bodies have not adapted hormonally to the challenges of regulating fat stores when presented with these foods in excess.
Keeping our hormones in balance while maintaining a healthy diet, following an exercise program, and aiming for a stress-reduced lifestyle is key to optimal wellness and longevity.  (ZRT blog)

So what are you waiting for?  Give me a call and get your hormones tested?

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Experience Is What You Need- Dr. Sonja's BIO

Sonja O’Bryan, received her Bachelor’s degree from St. Louis College of Pharmacy and her Doctorate from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.  She is a Board Certified Healthcare Diplomate, with the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine and uses natural, complimentary, pharmaceutical, and integrative approaches in her expertise with patients and their personal needs.  Use natural when possible and pharmaceutical ONLY when necessary is a position statement that she follows in her approach to patient care. 

~(The American Board of Anti-Aging Health Practitioners was founded in 1999 to provide advanced education, representation, and specialty recognition of scientific and healthcare professionals. The A4M and ABAAHP represent over 26,000 physicians, scientific and healthcare practitioners from 120+ nations. The process involves a written examination, which demonstrates proficiency in several key areas of Anti-Aging medicine. Along with proved competency by examination, the candidate must also provide documentation of 150 hours over 8 years of applicable continuing education to the field of anti-aging medicine, medical licenses and obtained degrees, and curriculum vitae showing professional experiences in customized, integrative, complimentary, and regenerative clinical care. After passing the written exam and completion of certification criteria, a certificate is issued to the healthcare practitioner confirming their status as a Diplomate of Anti-Aging Medicine.)

Dr. Sonja O'Bryan has a broad range of experience including hospital administration, community pharmacy, long term care and geriatrics consulting, oncology care, and in academia as a University Professor and graduate student preceptor.  She has a tremendous passion to help people become healthy in all areas of their life and meshes the spiritual, physical, mental, and emotional sides of care in her approach to better living.  Dr. O'Bryan currently does a great deal of teaching to community, church, and medical groups across the U.S., and has collaborated with several major pharmaceutical companies as an Advisory Board member for medicines coming to the U.S. market.  She writes and publishes a blog that reaches across the world and has 100,00 hits on HOT topics that affect men and women as they go through the aging process. 

In her book, “Living Hormoniously: A Hormone Handbook for the Everyday Women”, Dr. O'Bryan exposes the real life issues of the day with stories of women going through the changes of “The Change.”  Every woman, no matter her stage of aging, can find useful information in her easy to read handbook.  She offers testing, evaluation, and treatment of hormonal, adrenal, and thyroid imbalance in helping women and men to look better, live better, and feel better.  For a private and personal consultation call 417-334-4032 (Lakeland Wellness inside Providence Medical Spa Branson MO) or email:

Dr. O’Bryan also consults with patients on customized therapies for a host of other conditions such as psoriasis and eczema, Alzheimer’s disease, wounds, fatigue, stress, pain, gastrointestinal issues (Crohn’s, IBS, diverticulitis), anxiety, depression, and conditions associated with cancer.  She works closely and directly with physicians, nurse practitioners, chiropractors, and naturopathic physicians using her knowledge and experiences of the past 27 years to formulate customized therapies for specific needs.  To her colleagues, she is known as a practical, ‘go-to’ resource with highly effective and customized options for health and healing.   ~Catch Dr. Sonja O’Bryan’s Facebook page to stay tuned to updates and information in the Anti-Aging and Hormonal Imbalance World under 'Sonja Pinnell O’Bryan'.

Personally, Dr. Sonja O’Bryan has been married to her husband Dean O’Bryan for 27 years and they have three incredible children, who help them in their numerous roles and responsibilities.  She will tell you that her family is the greatest joy in life.  Rev. Dean and Rev./Dr. Sonja are both licensed ministers with the Assemblies of God and can be found on weekends traveling and ministering in churches locally and across the United States in their position and role as Missionary Associates with  Convoy of Hope/Rural Compassion.  The O'Bryan's also own their own small businesses including the White River Coffee Co. in Rockaway Beach MO.  The coffee shop is a marketplace ministry site where locals, visitors, and mission team members can hang out and enjoy the wonderful gift of coffee and conversation. On any given day, the "O's" truly enjoy meeting the needs of others, whether at home, at the office, or on the field of ministry and missions.

To book Dr. Sonja for your next event, email   Here’s just a few of the great titles  and teaching programs that can be customized for the interest of your audience and event.

~Weight Loss: The Skinny on Losing Fat

~Fierce, Female, and Fabulous: Women’s Health and Healing

~Extreme Hormone Makeover:  Hormones, Stress, and All the Hot Topic "Issues" of Aging

~The Impact of Stress on Your Health and Longevity and What YOU Can Do!

~Help! I'm a HOT Mess!!