Allopregnanolone is an important mood-changing hormone in the brain that improves mood when present in the right amounts and ratios with other hormones including progesterone and estrogen. Conversely, it can worsen depression, anxiety, and premenstrual hormone symptoms when present in the wrong amounts. It is produced in the brain from progesterone and affects the GABA neurotransmitter system. GABA is a calming neurotransmitter; and this day and age, most of us need more calm! Insufficient calm is synonymous with stress and leads not only to chronic anxiety, but also to sleep problems and depression and sometimes aggression.
We all want our GABA system in the brain working correctly so that we feel focused, happy, and in control. Pharmaceutical companies have created a few classes of drugs that directly act on the GABA system: the benzodiazepines and other anxiolytics. Unfortunately (and predictably), the side effects of benzodiazepines are harsh and make the medications rarely worth taking, often causing more harm than good in the long run. Alcohol is another psychoactive substance that affects the GABA system in the brain. The calming effects of alcohol are what people like about alcohol, but obviously drinking is not the best solution to emotional problems; again, overuse makes things worse by damaging the brain and removing emotional stability.
That’s why having the right amounts of allopregnanolone and progesterone, among other hormones, is important. Optimal hormone ratios improve the GABA system but do not damage the brain. In fact, many of the body’s natural hormones actually BUILD and strengthen the brain while improving mood.
Science has shown that the right doses of natural (bioidentical) hormones (such as estrogen and progesterone) and hormone precursors (such as DHEA and pregnenolone) not only improve mood but also decrease the risk of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.
At Tao of Venus, we can help you administer the right amounts of hormone precursors for improved hormonal balance and mental health.
Too much insulin increases the conversion of progesterone to allopregnanolone. If conversion to allopregnanolone (via an enzyme called 5-alpha-R) is too fast, progesterone plummets even more during the premenstrual period, and horrible symptoms of PMS result. Too much allopregnanolone in relation to progesterone is associated with PMS, PCOS, atypical bipolar disorder, panic disorder, chronic fatigue, and even Tourette’s syndrome. It also likely increases chances of all forms of neurodegeneration (and dementia). Insulin levels are an important marker to assess in relation to hormonal health.
You’ll want to have your fasting insulin levels checked if there’s any concern your insulin sensitivity may be suboptimal.
Poor nutrition, and in particular processed sugar and grains, are a major cause of “endocrine disruption” (hormone imbalancing). This is largely because poor nutrition can lead to elevated insulin levels. High insulin leads to PMDD and PMS and also PCOS and other hormonal imbalances as well. Inadequate zinc, iron, and magnesium also correlate with low progesterone and therefore with PMS and postpartum depression. Getting your mineral levels checked is another extremely important aspect of hormonal function and balance.