Natural Progesterone - A History
Natural progesterone is a term used to describe the hormone progesterone that is naturally produced by the ovaries of humans and animals. This hormone is not produced anywhere in the plant kingdom.
Progesterone was discovered and isolated in the early 1930's. Initially it was obtained from the ovaries of pigs and later from human placentas. Both these methods were expensive and only yielded small quantities of progesterone.
In 1938 an American biochemist named Russell E Marker manufactured progesterone in a laboratory by converting another substance, diosgenin, found in the Mexican Wild Yam into progesterone through a series of chemical changes. In soya the steroid substrate sigmasterol is converted into progesterone. Soon after this breakthrough pharmaceutical companies then took progesterone and changed it again to give progestins, also called progestagens. These are compounds with actions similar in some respects to progesterone, but not naturally occurring and therefore patentable.
Since the 1940's they have been using soya beans, wild yams and other plants from the tuber family to make progesterone. It is very important to understand that soya beans and wild yams DO NOT contain progesterone. Today progesterone is produced for pharmaceutical purposes in the laboratory with the aid of an enzyme. The vast majority of progesterone is sourced from soya.
In the early 1990's US medical practitioner, Dr John Lee M.D. pioneered and published books on the benefits of natural progesterone to manage menopausal symptoms, premenstrual syndrome and breast cancer. Dr Lee coined the phrase "natural progesterone" to distinguish real progesterone from progestins, because natural progesterone has such a significantly more important action on the body whereas progestins have an extremely limited action. Unfortunately mainstream medicine does not make the important differentiation between natural progesterone and the synthetic progestins. The lack of understanding by mainstream medicine of this basic premise has been the source of great controversy for many years in medical circles.
Research has shown that progesterone is most effectively absorbed and utilized by the human body when applied as a cream. It is not as effective when taken by mouth because the liver breaks it down before it can exert an effect in the body. Over-the counter remedies for hormonal imbalances may contain wild yam extracts or homeopathic progesterone, but neither of these are pure natural progesterone. In the USA some over-the-counter products do contain progesterone, but often the amount progesterone contained within these products is insufficient to have any meaningful effect to address progesterone deficiency states, and hence have little or no effect on managing symptoms of natural progesterone deficiency. Only progesterone creams made to pharmaceutical standards with high quality pharmaceutical grade natural progesterone are guaranteed to provide meaningful amounts of natural progesterone. ProFeme® natural progesterone cream meets these manufacturing and quality standards. Most 'compounding pharmacies' do not maintain the exceptionally high and rigorous standards of manufacture that is required to produce pharmaceutical grade products and therefore compounded products integrity and stability are not the same as pharmaceutically manufactured progesterone products.
Homeopathic progesterone products and wild yam creams contain NO progesterone.