This image is widely viewed as a symbol of medicine. Many, particularly in America, owing to a bad mistake by the American Medical Association, would identify it as the Rod of Aesclepius, a healer in Ancient Greece.
But its not a symbol of medicine – as it used to be at least – its the Caduceus of Hermes / Mercury – a symbol of commerce. The Rod of Aesclepius is down below.
In Snakes in a Love Drug, the possibility of a set of relationship modifying drugs brought the tricky boundary between medicine and commerce, or fashion, into view. These brave new world potions are apparently just upon us.
In the light of this we are opening up a new category of posts on RxISK with the tag hormones on them. These are hormones used as drugs – among the most commented on posts we have ever had for instance was one on Thyroid hormone causing weight gain. This was previously filed under weight but will now be refiled with a hormone tag as well.
Even more important than posts like this and the comments after them are reports to RxISK (filing a RxISK Report) from anyone reading this of the actual effects of different hormonal preparations on them. Views, opinions, positions like the ones expressed here are one thing but lived experience is more important and this is one area where lived experience is critically important.
Naturally You or Me
One of the trickiest things to manage is that many of these new love potions look like they will trade on the fact that they are “natural” – organic or artisanal in other words. The subliminal message is they have to be much better for you than Prozac or Pariet or Penicillin. Almost medical rather than commercial.
The trouble is that, when it comes to drugs and medicine, nothing is natural. The only natural thing is to stay as we are – see The Cabbage Problem. Occasionally, for medical reasons, intervening becomes a good idea, and sometimes for relationship reasons as with oral contraceptives.
When intervening in an old-style medical situation no-one doing the intervening thinks about whether what they are about to do is natural – artificial looks just as good if not better than natural when putting a plate in a broken bone as it does, horrific as this might sound to many, in most other medical situations.
But for the most part when dealing with the body, unless there is a lot of pain involved, beauty has always been more important than health, leading us to embrace things that are not natural – which we do more readily of course if told they are natural.
Beauty here is used in a very broad sense that comes close to what most people in the United States and increasingly elsewhere might call Wellness. It encompasses identity and things we might do to attain the right identity. It is not meant to have a cosmetic implication. If anyone can think of a better word that distinguishes this domain from old-style medicine please let us know.
Waiting to Explode
Many men reading the list of things testosterone can do or women reading the list of estrogen effects might well think – Holy Shit, am I walking around with this stuff inside me ? Is there something I can do to make sure nothing goes wrong? As outlined last week, when they are our hormones, something different to industrially produced hormones and related drugs, our body has ways to manage without us having to worry about things that can be tricky.
But if motivated by beauty, many of us see things differently and will swallow industrially produced testosterone, estrogen, progesterone and variations of all these, along with finasteride, leuprorelin and leuprolide and all sort of other hormones like steroids in gyms, and thyroid hormones in weight loss or wellness clinics.
The general sense is if it comes from the body it can’t be a bad thing and it must be possible to put it to some good use – nature can do with some help. Isn’t that what we do with gardens?
It is what we do with gardens and for millenia gardens were seen as beautiful compared to the wilderness. Two hundred years ago, this began to switch as regards landscapes but we haven’t made the same switch when it comes to ourselves. The Love is the Drug book (more reviews below) points to some risks we might run when it comes to human gardening – not just our individual selves but communities or populations.
Given so many of us, probably half of us, are taking these natural products, the idea of a hormone slot on RxISK seemed a way to go.
This is for people to report on the effects of any bodily extract from insulin to thyroid hormones and in particular any of the sex hormones, taken for contraceptive, post-menopausal (male), aphrodisiac, gender modification, cosmetic or other purposes.
Whether you are a man taking testosterone or a trans-man taking it, we are interested in any reports you may have of its behavioural effects primarily.
We are interested in medical accidents like blood clots or haemorrhages but more interested in changes in the fabric of yourself – either your physical fabric or your behavioural fabric.
Changes in characteristics like hair distribution or voice or attitudes or thinking style can all shed light on what makes any of us human.
All the evidence is that guys taking androgens in gyms can become impulsive, suicidal, dependent and strange. This becomes very obvious because partly because of the doses being taken.
We are not seeking out dramatically strange effects like those that happen in gyms, partly because if you go that far out, reporting is not likely to be your strongpoint. Its more the subtle things that may for instance be better noticed by trans-men.
We want to hear from women who find they become dependent on and have withdrawal symptoms when taking contraceptives or HRT and can’t believe this is possible. Its hard to explain but it happens. Do trans-women have the same experiences.
There is a tendency to link hormones to youth and peak performance. One report to us suggested we take readings of our hormones and other bodily variables at the age of 25 so that we can bio-hack our way back to these levels later in life.
Ever since the first hormones were isolated a century ago, the temptation to illustrate their effects with images like the fountain of youth above – people go in old on the left and come out young on the right – seems to have been close to irresistible.
It rarely works out quite like this although we’d be interested to hear any reports from bio-hackers who have positive experiences.
There is at least one more fascinating possibility that might arise from hormones taken in combination with other meds.
Way back in the early 1960s, Hannah Steinberg, the first person ever to have psychopharmacology in her job title, showed that the combination of clenbuterol (a beta-agonist – used for asthma) and chlordiazepoxide (the first benzodiazepine tranquilizer) given to rats led to them walking backwards.
This was something that had never seen before. Rats do not do it naturally. It was something no expert could have predicted beforehand.
Its quite likely that someone out there is taking a combination of hormones and other drugs that produces effects, never seen, or rarely seen, on earth before. That sounds dramatic. Its not meant to be alarming. We just want to let you know you might be unique and if you think you are we’d be interested to hear about it.
Love is the Drug
Here are 3 reviews of this book