Estrogen Deficiency: The Real Chemical Imbalance
You know that "chemical imbalance" your doctor talks about when you go in for depression and they mention neurons and synapsis?
That chemical imbalance is really an estrogen deficiency.
"Scientists are now trying to sort out precisely how estrogen works on neurons. Reporting in the February 1994 issue of The Journal of Neuroscience, Dr. Toran-Allerand and her colleagues have found that the hormone could exert its influence by making neurons more sensitive to the stimulus of nerve growth factor, a protein thought to play a role in the growth and sustenance of dendrites and axons. These filamentous processes, which extend from the body of a nerve cell like arms extending from an octopus, convey signals from the nerve cell to its neighbors; they are the wiring that allows neurons to communicate.
Studying adult rat brains, the scientists discovered that an application of estrogen strongly influenced neurons located in the cerebral cortex, the hippocampus and the basal forebrain, all areas known to be affected in Alzheimer's disease. Upon exposure to estrogen, the neurons began filling up with the chemical messages needed to manufacture so-called receptors for nerve growth factor, the proteins studding the surface of neurons that allow the cells to embrace and respond to the growth factor.
By keeping neurons amenable to the factor's stimulating influence, Dr. Toran-Allerand proposes, estrogen could assure that dendrites and axons remain fully extended and in touch with one another. Beyond assuring an intellectual status quo, the hormone also appears to encourage the birth of new synapses between one neuron and another, connections that are necessary for the mastery of new facts and tasks.
In support of this hypothesis, biologists have previously demonstrated that removal of a female rodent's ovaries directly affects the brain, causing dendrites and axons to retract and the synaptic interconnections to simplify, as though an overzealous gardener had got into the orchard and pruned away a few too many branches."
Estrogen impacts women's brains so significantly that a woman's susceptibility to depression, mental illness, and Alzheimer's disease increases the longer estrogen remains suboptimal. The best way to protect your mind and your brain is to establish and maintain estrogen in optimal levels.