Most of us think of progesterone only as a sex hormone. However, like its parent hormone pregnenolone, progesterone has been well studied for its neuroprotective effects.

Progesterone and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

Most of the studies with respect to TBI involve administration of progesterone within 6 hours of the original injury. Within this window, studies show that progesterone reduces cerebral edema (fluid leakage in the brain), can assist in restoring the blood brain barrier (BBB), decreases inflammation (by altering expression of almost 500 genes!), and reduces excitotoxicity.

According to this study, this effect is enhanced when combined with Vitamin D, as Vitamin D acts as a synergistic steroid hormone.

Progesterone and Neuroplasticity

The term neuroplasticity refers to the fact that your brain changes the way it’s wired throughout your life. Functional plasticity can allow the brain to adapt after an injury—and indeed, progesterone can assist with this process, also.

Progesterone and Cognition

Like its parent hormone pregnenolone, it appears that bioidentical progesterone (not is synthetic counterparts) can be effective as a treatment for age-related cognitive decline.

The Upshot

Like pregnenolone, it appears that progesterone should be considered for treatment for age-related cognitive decline. Additionally, while the studies on progesterone for brain injury are mostly limited to administration shortly after injury, given all of progesterone’s neuroprotective effects in general and its safety profile, it seems like a reasonable consideration even for old injuries–including cognitive impairment after a concussion, for instance.