Suppression

Progesterone

Category: Natural chemicals

Type

Voluntary

Introduction and description

 
 

Progesterone is a Progestogen - a class of steroid hormones that bind to and activate the progesterone receptor (PR).  Many tissues producing steroids, including the adrenal glands, testes, and ovaries, produce progestogens.  The progestogens, androgens, and estrogens are the three major classes of steroid hormones related to sexual function.  Synthetic progestogens are generally referred to as Progestins.

The most important progestogen in the body is Progesterone (P4). Progesterone’s functional role in women is in the control of the menstrual cycle.  In a normal menstrual cycle, declining levels of progesterone triggers menstruation. It also has a key role in maintaining pregnancy.  More functions are described below.

But, is not just a ‘woman’s hormone’.  It has a very important role as the precursor hormone to estrogen and all the androgens – including testosterone.

Thus progesterone  exists in both men and women, but in men it generally exists only as an important precursor to other hormones, whereas in women it serves a distinct function.

Progesterone synthesis

 

Progesterone is made from cholesterol.

The process is quite complex.  Cholesterol is converted into pregnenolone (P5).  This then gets converted to the progestogens progesterone and 17-hydroxyprogesterone. There are four places where progesterone is produced:

  • Corpus luteum - In women, Progesterone is the major progestogen produced by the corpus luteum of the ovary. Luteal cells possess the necessary enzymes to convert cholesterol to pregnenolone, which is subsequently converted into progesterone. Progesterone is produced in high amounts in the ovaries from the onset of puberty to menopause.
  • Adrenal glands – progesterone is produced by the adrenal glands after the onset of adrenarche in both males and females.
  • Brain and fat - To a lesser extent, progesterone is produced in nervous tissue, especially in the brain, and in adipose (fat) tissue, as well.  This is important because as people age, being a bit chubby is not necessarily a bad thing. Again men and women
  • Placenta - During human pregnancy, progesterone is produced in increasingly high amounts by the ovaries and placenta. At first, the source is the corpus luteum that has been "rescued" by the presence of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) from the conceptus. However, after the 8th week, production of progesterone shifts to the placenta. The placenta uses maternal cholesterol as the initial substrate, and most of the produced progesterone enters the maternal circulation, but some is picked up by the fetal circulation and used as substrate for fetal corticosteroids. At term the placenta produces about 250 mg progesterone per day.

Other hormone synthesis

andrej-pejic

The progestogens, along with another steroid, 17-hydroxypregnenolone, are then the precursors of all other endogenous steroids, - the androgens, estrogens, and other steroids such as the glucocorticoids, mineralocorticoids, and neurosteroids, another complex process. 

  • Mineralocorticoids  - Progesterone is the precursor of the mineralocorticoid aldosterone.  Aldosterone plays a central role in the regulation of blood pressure. When dysregulated, aldosterone is pathogenic and contributes to the development and progression of cardiovascular and renal [kidney] disease.
  • Glucocorticoids  - After conversion to 17α-hydroxyprogesterone (another natural progestogen) it is then turned into cortisol.  Cortisol functions to regulate the immune system, and to aid in the metabolism of fat, protein, and carbohydrate.
  • Neurosteroids – Allopregnanolone, an endogenous inhibitory pregnane neurosteroid is synthesized from progesterone, and is a “potent positive allosteric modulator of the GABAA receptor” – in effect it is a natural anti-anxiety chemical with sedative and anticonvulsant activity.
  •  Androgens and estrogens – Progesterone is also converted to Androstenedione - an androgen and itself an intermediate in the biosynthesis of testosterone, estrone and estradiol.

Thus progesterone is the precursor to all other male and female hormones as well.  Androgens (from andro Greek prefix meaning masculine), control the development and maintenance of male characteristics in vertebrates by binding to androgen receptors. This includes the activity of the accessory male sex organs and development of male secondary sex characteristics.

In effect, men need progesterone as much as women.

Functions in more detail - man

 

Although men do not use Progesterone directly in the way a woman does, progesterone does have a  key effect on human sperm as they migrate through the female tract before fertilization occurs. 

Progesterone, somehow, in a manner  still to be discovered, governs the motility of the sperm – its ability to swim. 

Wikipedia
Detailed characterisation of the events occurring in sperm in response to progesterone has elucidated certain events including intracellular calcium transients and maintained changes, slow calcium oscillations, now thought to possibly regulate motility.

Functions in more detail – woman

Sex drive - Progesterone appears to be involved in the sex drive in females

Breast development - Progesterone plays an important role in mammary gland development in females. In conjunction with prolactin, it “mediates lobuloalveolar maturation of the breasts” during pregnancy to allow for milk production, and thus lactation and breastfeeding after childbirth. Estrogen is required for progesterone to mediate lobuloalveolar maturation, as it induces expression of the PR in breast tissue.

 

Pregnancy - Progesterone is sometimes called the "hormone of pregnancy", and it has many roles relating to the triggering of various functions in the pregnancy cycle:

  • Progesterone first signals the endometrium to prepare the uterus for implantation. If pregnancy does not occur, progesterone levels decrease, leading to menstruation. Normal menstrual bleeding is progesterone-withdrawal bleeding.
  • During implantation and gestation, progesterone signals to the maternal immune system that it must not consider the baby a foreign body.
  • Progesterone triggers a decrease in the  contractility of the uterine smooth muscle.
  • Progesterone inhibits lactation during pregnancy. The fall in progesterone levels following delivery is one of the triggers for milk production.
  • A drop in progesterone levels is possibly one step that facilitates the onset of labour.

The functions in more detail – the fetus

The fetus metabolizes placental progesterone in the production of adrenal steroids.

Sources

Plants

 

Progestrogenic Activity  - According to Dr Duke’s phytochemical database, there is one Chemical with Progestrogenic Activity:  EMBELIN – and the Plant parts with Progestrogenic Activity from the chemical EMBELIN  promoting progesterone activity are

  • Ardisia japonica L. -- Marlberry; found in Rhizome

Progesteronigenic Activity  - Again according to Dr Duke’s phytochemical database, there is one Chemical with Progesteronigenic Activity: PYRIDOXINE 40 mg/day and the Plants and parts of plants with Progesteronigenic Activity from the chemical PYRIDOXINE are as follows.  Pyridoxine is one form of vitamin B6.

  • Alisma plantago-aquatica L. -- Mud Plantain, Tse-Hsieh, Water Plantain, Ze-Xie; found in Plant
  • Avena sativa L. -- Oats; found in Plant, Seed
  • Glycine max (L.) MERR. -- Soybean; found in Seed
  • Gossypium sp -- Cotton; found in Seed
  • Hordeum vulgare L. -- Barley, Barleygrass; found in Seed
  • Ilex paraguariensis ST. HIL. -- Mate, Paraguay Tea, South American Holly; found in Leaf
  • Lens culinaris MEDIK. -- Lentil; found in Seed
  • Medicago sativa subsp. sativa -- Alfalfa, Lucerne; found in Plant
  • Oryza sativa L. -- Rice; found in Seed
  • Persea americana MILLER -- Avocado; found in Fruit
  • Pisum sativum L. -- Pea; found in Seed
  • Sesamum indicum L. -- Ajonjoli (Sp.), Beni, Benneseed, Sesame, Sesamo (Sp.); found in Seed
  • Tamarindus indica L. -- Indian Tamarind, Kilytree, Tamarind; found in Fruit
  • Theobroma cacao L. -- Cacao; found in Seed
  • Trigonella foenum-graecum L. -- Alholva (Sp.), Bockshornklee (Ger.), Fenugreek, Greek Clover, Greek Hay; found in Plant
  • Triticum aestivum L. -- Wheat; found in Seed
  • Vigna radiata (L.) WILCZEK -- Green Gram, Mungbean; found in Seed
  • Zea mays L. -- Corn; found in Cob
 

Antiprogesterone Activity  - According to Dr Duke’s phytochemical database, there is one Chemical with Antiprogesterone Activity:  GOSSYPOL  The Plants and parts of plants with Antiprogesterone Activity  from the chemical GOSSYPOL are

  • Abelmoschus esculentus (L.) MOENCH -- Okra; found in Seed
  • Ceiba pentandra (L.) GAERTN. -- Kapok, Silk-Cotton Tree; found in Seed
  • Glycine max (L.) MERR. -- Soybean; found in Seed
  • Gossypium sp -- Cotton; found in Oil, Seed
  • Helianthus annuus L. -- Girasol, Sunflower; found in Seed
  • Thespesia populnea (L.) SOLAND. -- Indian tulip tree; found in Flower, Leaf , Root , Seed , Stem

Progesterone - According to Dr Duke’s phytochemical database there is only one plant that has progesterone itself and that is

  • Vitex agnus-castus L. -- Chaste-Tree     Leaf                    

One additional plant may have the hormone

Definitive proof for the presence of progesterone (3) in a vascular plant, Juglans regia, is provided. PMID:  20108949

Cholesterol containing foods

Progesterone is made from cholesterol, so any food that contains cholesterol or from which the body can make cholesterol is a good source.  First a special note on milk

 

Milk - All dairy products contain cholesterol, as such they are a natural source of the raw materials from which progesterone is made but an interesting hypothesis has also been by put forward by William H. Goodson III, MD, Senior Clinical Research Scientist at the California Pacific Medical Research Institute, San Francisco, California and it concerns intensively reared cows.

Dr. Goodson has postulated that since most intensively farmed dairy cows have been maintained in nearly constant pregnancy since the mid-20th century to maximize calf production, this results in increased progesterone levels in milk.  He continues that because progesterone dissolves readily in fat, it should be absorbed more efficiently in high-fat products. Dr. Goodson has said that plain milk - skimmed, semi-skimmed or whole, - is probably a less important source of dietary progesterone due to low concentration of fat (4% for whole milk).  But the high fat dairy products from intensively reared animals – such as hard cheese, cream and ice cream made from cream could be very high in progesterone – perhaps too high in some cases, equivalent to an overdose.

Source: DGNews  report on the presentation ‘Progesterone in Dairy Products’ : Presented at SABCS by Dr William H. Goodson III
Dr Goodson’s group measured progesterone levels in high-fat dairy products. Foods that were 70% to 80% dairy fat contained 175 to 300 ng/mL of progesterone, "The amount of progesterone in 200 mL of ice cream would be approximately one-one-hundredth of a pharmacological adult dose of 2 mg"…………. Another study found that women who ate ice cream -- but not low-fat frozen yogurt -- were significantly more likely to become pregnant. Dr. Goodson said dietary progesterone in ice cream could have been responsible by serving as progesterone replacement in women who may have luteal insufficiency, a form of infertility marked by low progesterone availability.

Other foods - The other foods that have cholesterol are as follows.  The table was derived from the USDA Nutrients database, a database that produced 360 pages of products that contain cholesterol!  In order to help, therefore, this list has been summarised with only the foods over 100 mgs per serving and with the repetition inevitable from listing each product as opposed to types of product removed.  The quantities should be taken as guidelines only, where a figure is shown it is a maximum.

Description

Cholesterol (mg)
Value Per 100gms

OFFAL

 

Beef offal – numerous types of offal such as the brain, kidney, liver, spleen , thymus, lungs, pancreas, sweetbreads etc

3,100.00 and lower

Veal offal  - numerous types of offal such as the brain, kidney, liver, spleen, thymus, lungs, etc

3,100.00 and lower

Lamb offal -  numerous types of offal such as the brain, kidney, liver, testes, sweetbreads, pancreas, spleen, lungs, chitterlings, heart etc

2,559.00 and lower

Pork offal - numerous types of offal such as the brain, spleen, kidneys, lungs, liver, stomach, pancreas etc

2,552.00 and lower

Turkey offal - liver, giblets, gizzard, heart

648.00 and lower

Chicken offal  - liver, giblets, heart, gizzard

564.00 and lower

EGGS

 

Egg yolk, raw, fresh – chicken, turkey, duck, goose, quail eggs

1,085.00 and lower

FISH OIL AND EGGS

 

Fish oil -  herring, sardine, cod liver, sardine, menhaden, salmon

766.00 and lower

Fish eggs -  caviar, black and red, granular;  roe, mixed species

588.00

LIVER AND LIVER PRODUCTS

 

Duck -  liver, raw

515.00

Goose - liver, raw

515.00

Pate - chicken liver

391.00

Pate de foie gras, canned (goose liver pate), smoked

150.00

Pate -  liver

255.00

Liver Sausage (sliced)

178.00

MOLLUSKS AND CRUSTACEANS

 

Mollusks - squid, cuttlefish, mixed species, whelks

260.00 and lower

Crustaceans -  shrimp, mixed species, crab, lobster, crayfish

252.00 and lower

TONGUE

 

Veal  - tongue, cooked,

238.00

Lamb - tongue, cooked

189.00

Beef - tongue, cooked

105.00

BREAKFASTS

 

English muffin, with egg, cheese, and canadian bacon

168.00

Croissant, with egg, cheese, and bacon

167.00

English muffin, with egg, cheese, and sausage

163.00

Croissant, with egg, cheese, and ham

140.00

Bagel, with breakfast steak, egg, cheese, and condiments

130.00

Danish pastry, fruit, enriched (includes apple, cinnamon, raisin, lemon, raspberry, strawberry)

114.00

DAIRY PRODUCTS

 

Butter

219.00

Cream, fluid, heavy whipping

137.00

Cream, fluid, light whipping

111.00

Cheese -  port de salut, gouda, cream, gruyere, goat, Mexican, Romano, Cheshire, Cheddar etc

123.00 and lower

MEAT

 

Lamb – various cuts, variety meats and by-products eg shoulder, whole (arm and blade)

213.00 and lower

Beef – various cuts, variety meats and by-products

209.00 and lower

Veal -  shoulder, leg, rib, whole (arm and blade), etc etc

158.00  and lower

Chicken - broilers or fryers, drumstick, wings, thigh and other meat with skin

160.00 and lower

Duck 

143.00

Turkey, dark meat from whole, meat and skin; whole, meat and skin

134.00 and lower

Pork – spareribs, loin etc

121.00 and lower

Pork -  cured, bacon

111.00

Mutton, cooked, roasted (Navajo)

109.00

DRIPPING

 

Fat, beef tallow

109.00

Fat, mutton tallow

102.00

Fat, turkey

102.00

Meat drippings (lard, beef tallow, mutton tallow)

101.00

SAUSAGES AND SALAMI

 

Blood sausage

120.00

Sausages -  chicken, beef, pork

120.00

Salami, dry or hard, pork, beef

108.00

Pepperoni, pork, beef

105.00

FISH

 

Fish -  eel, mixed species,

161.00

Salmon, red (sockeye), filets with skin, smoked (Alaska Native)

155.00

Fish, sardine, Atlantic, canned in oil, drained solids with bone

142.00

Fish -  pike

110.00

Fish, seatrout, mixed species, cooked

106.00

Fish, bass, striped, cooked

103.00

GAME

 

Emu -  full rump, cooked

129.00

Game meat - opossum, antelope, rabbit, muskrat, squirrel, deer, bison, caribou

129.00 and lower

MISC

 

Whale, beluga, meat, dried (Alaska Native)

122.00

Cake, sponge, commercially prepared

102.00

 Progesterone imbalance

 

 As with all endogenous hormones, the key to health is ensuring the hormone is in balance, as such one can have progesterone deficiency and one can have progesterone overload.  These two illnesses are explored in the Progesterone imbalance section, but it is worth mentioning that many of the pharmaceutical drugs on the market – contraceptives, HRT, anabolic steroids and so on have a profound effect on this balance.

It should also be clear that overdosing on cholesterol, milk from intensively reared animals and the plants that promote [or inhibit] the production of progesterone will also have an effect.

 

 

References and further reading

 

 

 

 

The photos on this page are of actual people, a number of whom are models, and were chosen for their beauty. 

The photos have not been touched up in any way, the people are as beautiful as they look in the photos.

 

 

 

 

Related observations