Thursday, August 7, 2008

Estrogen Helps Women Battle, Prevent Schizophrenia

Australian researchers have revealed that estrogen (estradiol) helps women fight schizophrenia, according to a recently published study in the Archives of General Psychiatry.

The Australian study included 102 women who were all of child-bearing age. All of the women also suffered from schizophrenia, known for delusions, hallucinations, etc.. Half the women were given an estrogen patch, while the other half received a placebo. After 28-days passed, the women who received the estrogen patch showed greater improvement in their symptoms. On top of that, it is believed that the estrogen patch can stop the development of the disease as well.

More about the study here...

What's interesting to me about this discovery is how one single hormone can have such a profound impact on such a serious illness. Whether it's estrogen alone -- or changes in other hormone levels brought about by an increase in circulating estrogen -- this study brings to the forefront how important hormonal health is to maintaining good mental health. Too often, depression and other mental illnesses are talked about in terms of "brain chemistry". This term seems to obfuscate the hormonal connection -- making people think that somehow their brains are being run by a different set of principles from the rest of the body. Not true! Balanced hormone levels provide the foundation for good health -- mind, body, and soul.

I'm also wondering about the broader implications for this study. What if instead of applying an estrogen patch, women in the study had their diets changed to include soy, yam, and other estrogen containing foods? Would this work as well?

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