Choosing the right Anti-Aging Doctor can be a challenge
After all what exactly is
Ponce de Leon's "Fountain of Youth" is an image which comes to
mind, but what about?
Not to mention the multitude of well meaning, but misguided and misinformed professionals, who in all sincerity, really believe they are "on to something revolutionary."
You may ask yourself these questions as you set about selecting the principles you live by and choosing the source to give you guidance in the never ending struggle against time.
The accepted definition of aging is the inevitable physical and mental decline which occurs after reaching sexual maturity. This biological deterioration progressively evolves into a weakened immune system susceptible to disease, frailty, reduced mental function and death.
If aging is inevitable what can we do?
1) Understand the aging process
Slowing the aging process is a complex issue involving biochemistry, neuroscience, cellular and molecular biology, neuro-hormonal and neuro-immune interactions, sports nutrition, and high performance exercise physiology. The rate of aging also includes influences from life-long personality adaptations, issues of sexuality, behavior modification, stress management, lessons gained in self-mastery and last but not least, the spiritual conduct of the mind as well as the body.
Consider how many specialists that requires: Futurist, Internist, Cardiologist, Endocrinologist, Neurologist, Immunologist, Nutrition and Exercise Scientist, Psychiatrist, Spiritual Guidance Counselor, and Urologist or Sexologist? However you look at it, someone who wears this many hats is unique. The ultimate Anti-Aging doctor is a well-rounded, broadly based specialist in Neuroendocrinology having expertise in all the above areas. He is also someone who is dedicated to incorporating the latest leading-edge scientific advances into an ever-evolving state-of-the-art preventive medicine program for you.
A few basic definitions below may help guide the reader. A hormone is a substance that is released from one organ into the bloodstream. It travels in the blood and then induces a physiological reaction in another organ. An endocrine gland is the organ that secrets the hormone. Feedback refers to a sequence of events that begins with the secretion of the hormone and results in the inhibition (or stimulation) of further secretion of the same hormone.
The hypothalamus is the part of the brain most intimately involved in the regulation of hormone secretion. It is located at the base of the brain on the midline, ventral (below) to the thalamus and dorsal (above) to the pituitary gland. The pituitary gland, in turn controls the function of several endocrine glands, such as the adrenal glands, thyroid gland, testes and ovaries. The pituitary gland is divided into three lobes: the anterior, posterior and intermediate lobes. The hypothalamus controls the secretion of hormones from the distinct lobes of the pituitary gland through different mechanisms as detailed below.
The anterior lobe of the pituitary gland secretes the following hormones: luteinizing hormone (LH), follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), adrenal corticotropic hormone (ACTH), thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), growth hormone (GH), and prolactin. Hypothalamic releasing factors that are released from the hypothalamus into the pituitary portal blood vessel supply system reach the anterior lobe of the pituitary gland and stimulate the secretion of ACTH, FSH, GH, LH, TSH and prolactin. In addition, the secretion of some hormones notably prolactin and GH is kept under tonic inhibition by hypothalamic feedback (inhibiting factors that reach the pituitary via the pituitary portal vessels). Hormones secreted by the anterior lobe of the pituitary gland can also act as trophic (growth) hormones that regulate the growth and overall function of the target glands.
The posterior lobe of the pituitary gland is also known as the neural lobe because it is an extension of neurons originating in the hypothalamus. Hypothalamic cells containing vasopressin and oxytocin send their axons (nerve trunks) into the posterior pituitary where they release these hormones from their nerve terminals into the circulation. The intermediate lobe of the pituitary gland contains high concentrations of various peptides (complex amino acid chains), including endorphin, melanocyte stimulating hormone (MSH) and ACTH but their function in humans (if any) is not yet known.
Many brain regions that are involved in regulatory emotions (i.e, the limbic system) and homeostasis have afferent and efferent connections with the hypothalamus. These regions include the amygdala, hippocampus, bed nucleus of the stria terminalis, dorsal raphe nucleus, locus coeruleus, parabrachial nucleus and nucleus of the solitary tract. Neurons located in these brain regions can convey information relevant to the neuroendocrine control to hypothalamic neurons and receive information from hypothalamic neurons. The processing and integration of neuronal information flow relevant to the secretion of hormones is a primary focus of neuroendocrine research in Anti-Aging.
A major function of the neuroendocrine system is to ensure the survival of the individual and the species. Situations that endanger individual survival can be external in origin, for example, pursuit by a predator or the sudden appearance of the boss in the office, or conditions due to endogenous (within the body) changes, for example, the chest pain associated with sudden coronary vascular constriction. Other occurrences, such as famine, might not present an immediate danger to the individual but may endanger the survival of the species.
Survival of the individual is regulated by different neuroendocrine response mechanisms than survival of the species. Hormones responsible for the survival of the individual are often referred to as "stress hormones". Examples are the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis hormones (ACTH, corticosterone/cortisol), the renin-angiotensin system and epinephrine. Survival of the species is more dependent on hormones that regulate reproduction, such as LH and FSH.
A complex network of afferent inputs from sensory organs, the viscera and from other regions in the body convey messages to the brain regarding changes in the external and/or internal environment. The brain integrates these inputs and organizes the appropriate endocrine, behavioral and autonomic responses to these environmental or internal challenges.
Consider a hypothetical situation in which a 53-year-old woman visits a multi-specialty medical clinic for a routine evaluation. Although all of the physicians are very knowledgeable in their own specialties, they are not well versed in other specialties. An endocrinologist diagnoses her as having diabetes mellitus. A general internist diagnoses hypertension and obesity. A cardiologist suspects ischemic heart disease because of her high total cholesterol, low HDL and elevated B-lipoproteins levels. A gynecologist finds that she has had an early menarche, a late menopause, and premenopausal uterine bleeding due to endometrial adenomatous hyperplasia. A psychiatrist finds impaired sensitivity to the long dexamethasone suppression test and diagnoses her as having age-related depression. An immunologist diagnoses two disorders: (1) metabolic immuno-depression; (2) autoimmune thyroiditis. The pediatrician is intrigued by the fact that she had a large baby 13 years ago. He is interested in both the patient and the daughter, because of the correlation between belated childbirth and large babies. The gerontologist detects signs of early aging, due to a calculated biological age that is higher than her chronological age, corroborated by the fact that most of her laboratory tests are outside the upper normal range for her age. Finally, an oncologist diagnoses her as having endometrial adenocarcinoma-her tenth disease diagnosed by the ninth specialist.
How did all these diseases develop in one person? Why these specific illnesses out of all possible diseases? And why does the incidence of certain diseases increase regularly with advancing age? That is what the science of anti-aging is all about.
All of the above-diagnosed diseases are neuro-hormonally related. Change in endocrine patterns, feedback mechanisms and endocrine decline is the science of endocrinology. Less than ten years ago, most patients had no idea of what an endocrinologist was. Now, not only medicine, but also the public is being awakened to the value and the role of the clinical endocrinologist. Recognition of best care practices for the patient requiring hormone replacement and the proper use of growth hormone brings to the public the concept of the clinical neuroendocrinologist as the premier caretaker for the patient with a neuroendocrine disorder. In fact, growth hormone should be used only in consultation with a neuroendocrinologist.