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GLP-1 and Estrogen: A Synergistic Path to Metabolic Health

Metabolic health is more than just what the scale says — it means you are healthy and balanced on the inside.  It is possible to reprogram and even reset your metabolic system and it doesn’t work to just restrict calories and exercise.  To improve metabolic health, an intricate network of hormones needs to work together in harmony — including hormones involved in metabolism and satiety such as insulin, leptin ghrelin and GLP-1.   


New FDA approved medications called GLP-1 receptor agonists have garnered significant attention due to their potential therapeutic role in regulating glucose metabolism, promoting weight loss, and improving metabolic health.  These medications include:


  • Semaglutide (Ozempic, Wegovy, etc)


  • Tirzepatide (Mounjaro)


  • Liraglutide (Saxenda)


  • Dulaglutide (Trulicity)


These medications are thought to narrow the gap, making it easier for people to achieve their weight loss goals. Recent research has shed light on a potential synergy between GLP-1 and estrogen, suggesting that estrogen enhances the effects of GLP-1. Let’s dive into the connection between the two and its implications for overall well-being and metabolic health.


What is GLP-1?

GLP-1, or glucagon-like-peptide-1, is a hormone secreted by the intestines whenever food is consumed. Among other things, it helps promote the feeling of fullness by activating satiety centers and delaying stomach emptying.  It also boosts insulin production and suppresses glucagon production — helping stabilize and regulate blood sugar levels. GLP-1 mimetics, such as the medications listed above, work by enhancing the effects of GLP-1 in the body. These medications help the body to fight the natural increases in appetite and hunger hormones that occur when trying to lose weight. In addition to appetite control, they improve insulin and glucose responses in the body— improving metabolic health and flexibility.   When metabolic health is improved, individuals can live a longer and healthier life because it reduces inflammation and cardiovascular disease risk. 


The Link Between GLP-1 and Estrogen 

Estrogen isn’ just a reproductive, or sex hormone — it has a far-reaching impact on various bodily functions. 


Recent studies have uncovered that estrogen interacts with GLP-1 signaling pathways, potentially amplifying its effects


The combined action of these hormones may offer additional benefits in suppressing appetite and promoting satiety, which can be beneficial for weight management and metabolic health.  Here's what the emerging research literature suggests:


  1. Stabilize blood sugar levels: Estrogen and GLP-1 appear to work synergistically to enhance glucose control, with each hormone amplifying the effects of the other.  Studies have demonstrated that estrogen can potentiate the insulin-stimulating effects of GLP-1.  This collaborative interaction may provide an additional layer of glucose regulation in women. Estrogen even acts alone — it has been found to have multiple effects on glucose metabolism including enhancing insulin sensitivity.  Insulin sensitivity refers to the body’s response to insulin, with higher sensitivity indicating improved glucose uptake and utilization - especially in skeletal muscle.  It also helps preserve pancreatic function, promoting optimal release of insulin. 


2. Appetite regulation: Estrogen has been shown to have intriguing effects on appetite — influencing it through various mechanisms.  It influences brain centers, leptin sensitivity, ghrelin activity, serotonin levels and emotional eating.  In other words, it can suppress appetite and control emotional eating.  Estrogen and GLP-1 are thought to behave synergistically.  Estrogen increases the expression of GLP-1 receptors in the gut and brain — this may amplify the response to GLP-1, thereby promoting greater appetite suppression.  It also improves how GLP-1 binds to its receptor which enhances downstream signals and greater appetite suppression.  Estrogen has also been shown to increase GLP-1 secretion from intestinal cells.  Both estrogen and GLP-1 can influence neuronal circuits in the brain. The combined effects on these circuits may synergistically enhance their effects.   


3Cardiovascular protection: Both estrogen and GLP-1 demonstrate clear cardiovascular benefits and likely protect women from development of cardiovascular disease. It is suggested that they would synergistically act to enhance protection of the heart.  For example, both estrogen and GLP-1 have been shown to reduce inflammation in blood vessels and prevent the formation of atherosclerotic plaques.  They have both been shown to promote the production of nitric oxide (NO), which helps blood vessels relax and improve blood flow and inhibit clotting. They both have also been shown to reduce blood pressure, which protects against the development and progression of cardiovascular conditions. 


4. Bone health: Estrogen is well known for its role in maintaining bone health. Some studies suggest that GLP-1 may have positive effects on bone metabolism as well. The interaction between estrogen and GLP-1 could potentially lead to further benefits in preserving bone density and reducing the risk of osteoporosis.



What does this mean?

As science continues to uncover the intricacies of hormone interactions, it is an exciting time to witness the potential synergy between GLP-1 and estrogen. Harnessing the power of these hormones may lead to innovative therapeutic approaches and individualized treatments, helping us achieve optimal metabolic harmony and overall well-being.


If you are considering a GLP-1 agonist as a therapy to lose weight, or you are already on a similar therapy — including estrogen therapy could potentially improve the function of the medicine and help you achieve your goals. Continuing estrogen therapy after discontinuing a GLP-1 agonist may also help you maintain weight more easily. Haven’t started a injection? Estrogen and therapy alone could potentially help you more easily meet your goals. 


As more research is done in this area, we remain curious and excited at Inner Balance as the intricate dance between hormones and their potential to unlock new paths to health and vitality is unveiled. 


Are you ready to find out if hormone replacement therapy is right for you? Start your free consultation to find out more information. 

“This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.”


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