US Army Finds Traumatic Brain Injuries May Be Helped by Progesterone

January 16, 2010


It’s a common misconception that it is only women who produce progesterone, though certainly men have far less of it, it is needed for many processes in the body. This naturally occurring hormone can protect damaged cells in the central and peripheral nervous systems and new research done at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, is recommending that progesterone is a viable treatment option for traumatic brain injuries.

This research has emerged because of the increase seen in traumatic brain injury among combat casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is estimated that as many as 30 percent of wounded soldiers have suffered such injury and it has stimulated government interest in developing a safe and effective treatment for this complex disorder.

It seems there is growing evidence to indicate that administering progesterone after such injuries can have beneficial effects, including substantial and sustained improvements in brain function. This applies equally to men and women, as progesterone can cross the blood-brain barrier and reduce the level of swelling after a brain injury, it also significantly reduces the area of necrotic cell death and improves behavioural outcomes.

Natural progesterone was recently tested in two clinical trials for traumatic brain injury and will begin a phase 3 trial soon. The researchers concluded that given its relatively high safety profile, ease of administration, low cost and ready availability, then progesterone should be considered a viable treatment option, particularly as there is little other treatment available to brain injury patients.


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