An Integrative Perspective on Bio-Identical Hormones

The following questions are common:

  1. Are bio-identical hormones “natural”?

Bio-identical hormones are defined as having the exact chemical and molecular structure as hormones that are produced in the body. These are often synthesized from “natural” ingredients such as soy or yam. Yet it should be mentioned that the products prescribed for hormone therapy are synthesized in a lab and would not be found in nature as such. On the other hand, natural supplements such as soy products, black cohosh, dong quai, red clover, Mexican yam cream, etc., are used by women for hormonal influence and are not considered bio-identical.

Women's Primary Care, OBGYN, Gynecology

  1. Are compounding pharmacies the only place to get bio-identical hormones?

No, many FDA approved formulas are available in commercial pharmacies. See the following list for examples.


FDA-approved hormones for menopausal symptoms
Type/source Brand name(s) Preparations Bioidentical?
17 beta-estradiol/plants
Estrace, others Pill Yes**
Alora, Climara, Esclim, Estraderm, Vivelle, others Patch Yes
Estrogel Transdermal gel Yes
Estrasorb Topical cream Yes
Estrace Vaginal cream+ Yes
Estring Vaginal ring+ Yes
Estradiol acetate Femring Vaginal ring Yes
Estradiol hemihydrate Vagifem Vaginal tablet+ Yes
Progestins, micronized progesterone
Micronized* progesterone USP Prometrium Pill Yes
Prochieve 4% Vaginal gel Yes
*Particles are made smaller for better absorption.
**Bioidentical estradiol until ingested and converted in the liver to estrone.
+For vaginal symptoms only.
++The estradiol is bioidentical but not the progestin.

Harvard Health Publishing, 2006


  1. What’s the deal with compounding pharmacies? The benefit of using the a compounding pharmacy is that your health care provider can tailor a prescription specifically to the individual patient based on lab testing as opposed to solely on the symptom picture. The allopathic community tends to be unsupportive of the compounding pharmacies because inconsistencies have been found with some pharmacies. At Nature Cures Clinic, we utilize a local pharmacy with incredibly high standards. In fact, their potency variation is only up to 2%; the FDA allows up to 10% in commercial pharmacies.


Harvard Health Publishing, What are Bioidentical hormones? Retrieved on 4-30-18 from