Category Archives: Conditions

Betrayal

One of the amazing people who works in our office received a cancer diagnosis yesterday, so this disease has now made its way directly into our path. We have already been on a mission to educate patients about what we put in our bodies and making better choices and this has just intensified our passion. While this is not a diagnosis we want for our work family member it is one that we will take on as an opportunity to learn more and be able to better treat our patients in the future.

Please send prayers and happy thoughts to Deb as she moves forward and begins her fight against cancer. The following is a Jenny’s (another work family member) thought process following the diagnosis. I would like to share with all of you because not only is this 100% true but it very well said.

Blog Post as written by Jenny Poor, CNHP

In the past 2 years three women I have known have been diagnosed with breast cancer. The first one is a lady I have known and grown close to for the last 12 years. Her cancer started in her breast and has since moved to her liver and lymph nodes. The second lady is someone I have known almost my whole life. She worked with my mom when we lived in California. She was always very sweet to both my mom and me. The third lady is a very special lady. She loves unconditionally and is more loyal than most four-legged friends. We received her diagnosis this week.

Later that evening, after we received lady #3’s diagnosis, I was still reeling from the shock and becoming angrier. I thought about how unfair it was that this disease picks anyone it wants. Why can’t it go to the people who “deserve” it? You know, the bad people who hurt other people. Not the people in my life!! As I was showering that night, I wondered what did these 3 women think when they were showering and felt their breasts and knew there was an “invader” in there? If it were me, I would feel like my body betrayed me. How could it do this to me? And then the light bulb shown its bright light…you could probably see it from space.

Our bodies don’t betray us when there is a cancer diagnosis. Don’t worry I’m not going to go into how one’s body is just doing what it needs to do to get rid of the bad stuff, that’s not where I’m going here. The cancer happens when there have been years and years of betrayal from US! Yes, I said it. We betray our bodies, not the other way around. “How can this crazy natural chick say that!?!?” you ask. It’s true when you think about it. Our body doesn’t choose the foods we put in it. It doesn’t decide to choose alcohol over water. It doesn’t choose staying up late instead of sleeping. It doesn’t choose to hold stress in instead of releasing it. We are the ones making the choices!!

This post isn’t me telling you to quit making bad lifestyle choices. The Lord knows I make bad choices where lifestyle is concerned too (hence the pizza and rum I had the night lady #3 was diagnosed). This also isn’t me pointing a finger at anyone with cancer. That’s the last thing they need right now. This is me sharing my “ah-ha” moment. I know after having that light bulb glare in my eyes, I will be making healthier lifestyle choices. I will think about how what I’m doing or eating will affect my body. Will I be perfect at it? Absolutely not! Who is perfect? But I am going to be more aware of what choices I am making. Will it be easy? Nope, but it is doable.

Lastly, I encourage you to take care of yourself and to love yourself enough to realize what choices you are making and how they are affecting your body. Your body deserves it.

Getting Back on the Wagon

Last year I had decided I was going to start a blog and use it to educate my patients and my community. Well…..I did not do as well as I had hoped. I didn’t realize how much thought and planning went into a blog let alone just getting one set up! I have a whole new respect for people who post on a daily basis! Anyway this time I have done a bit more planning. This past year was also a huge learning curve for me. Now I can better navigate my way through a blog and know how to work them a little better. I hope in the coming year (and many more after that) that I can utilize this media to educate people on their health. I want this to be an arena where people can feel like they can ask any question they want and get responses (whether it be by me or other followers) that are helpful to them and their situation. While I realize that health and fitness can bring up many topics of debate I don’t want this to be a platform in which people feel like they may ridiculed (we get enough of that on a regular basis). I hope the topics I discuss will empower people insert themselves as a part of their own healthcare team. I welcome any suggestions on topics that you are curious about. I want this to be a learning experience for everyone that follows this blog. So join me. Knowledge is power…..Be empowered!

A Day in the Life of a Child with Autism

First I will tell you my story…

My first contact with autism was when I was a teenager. I helped with a summer camp for children with special needs. I was in my first year of Occupational Therapy school when I had heard about the program and decided to jump on board. The program had a mixture of children with disabilities and was there to provide care during the summer when the children were not in school. I loved it! As I was closing in on finishing my OT program I had to clinicals and one of them included an eight week rotation with children from the ages of 3-5 years old. I was NOT excited about this. The children I had dealt with during the summer camp were 11-21 years of age. However, my instructor at the time was not going to change it so I dug in and did what I had to do to finish my program. Then one day……I met Noah. A brown haired, brown eyed, non-verbal three year old that had been diagnosed with autism at 18 months old. I completely fell in love with that kid. As luck would have it, the preschool was starting a classroom for autistic children the following year and they needed an OT. I would have done whatever I had to do to work with Noah. I began working with him in his home program doing Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) training. The following fall I started at the school and continued to do his program along with several others. I was dealing autistic children 7 days a week and loved every minute of it! I miss it to this day.

 

The following story is as written by Jeannie C. about her son Lito.

A Day in the Life of a Child with Autism

“Good morning Ma good morning Daa” he says as he lumbers down the hallway wearing his ‘always smile’ across his face. “Ice cold grape juice” he says without looking up, just like he does every morning.   “HUG” he demands as he crawls his 95 pound frame into his Dad’s lap spilling coffee as he goes. Dad knows who gives the best, the sweetest, the longest hugs ever, its this little kid! Spilled coffee doesn’t even make the list of things that matter.

For 11 year old Lito, one of autism’s most difficult challenges is being painfully shy, bashful to the point of immobility, unable to look at or even towards someone new to him. His flag is his most important object when we go out in public. Flip, flip, flip it’s in constant motion, a help in dealing with the ongoing anxiety of being away from home (meaning being around other people). The flag is also a soothing helper because anytime someone new is close by he can drape it gently and quickly over his head covering his eyes to avoid the pain of seeing and being seen. His flag is also a funny and useful tool in expression. “Lito”, I say “do not roll down the window, its raining out.” Glancing at me out of the corner of his eye he gives his flag a sharp snap in my direction. Isn’t that called back talking?

Without his flag in his hand forever flipping, there are times when Lito can get stuck in high gear, hands flapping, chortling, yodeling and grimacing. Well what do ya do with that? Fortunately it almost always happens only at home. No pills for us thank you, so our remedy is unique to our family. Sitting in the living room (a LARGE PART of the living room!) is a swing. A large, sturdy, outdoor type chair swing!   When the flapping and chortling start its time for a swing and Lito loves nothing better. Hands spinning, voice volume on loud, back and forth – back and forth- back and forth- ever so surely his hands relax and his smile returns. Never longer than 15 minutes and his hands are resting quietly in his lap, “Ma’s boy” he says with a quiet smile

Bedtime. It used to be so many long sleep-interrupted nights. Getting to sleep was easy enough, staying asleep for Lito was a very different story. Both Lito and I would wake up almost every day tired, very very tired. But knowing we have to always be learning and with help from friends who care and know us best, that changed. Now, we rub just a few drops of essential oil on Lito’s neck, tummy and toes at bedtime and now, almost always he is a great sleeper. We are both so thankful.

“Starfall Cat, Abby, Freya, Chloe, Snowbell” through the room goes Lito saying over and over the names of all the pets he has known. Then, “Belle’s stomach hurts” he repeats again and again through the day (his bout with the stomach flu this winter made a lasting impact on him and surely on one of his favorite movie characters!)

We would not change all these different ways of acting, different ways of thinking and different way of seeing for anything in the world because they all add up to a different way of loving that is our gift each day from a little boy name Lito.

While autism can sometimes be hard to dealwith, what you get in return when working with them is unmeasureable. Even on the really hard days when I got home my heart was full!

 

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Why You Should Favor a Fever

Conventional medicine often views a fever as an enemy to be vanquished–quickly–with drug intervention. Alternative healers take a decidedly different view. I don’t view most fevers as a problem. It is stimulating your immune system to defeat the virus. If you eliminate the fever, you can prolong the flu. Even though fever is good, however, you don’t want it to get too hot. If your temperature is higher than 104°F, you should see a doctor.

There are several ways to reduce a fever without the use of pharmaceuticals or over-the-counter drugs. A quick way to reduce fever is to drink a cup of yarrow tea every few hours. Your fever should be reduced after you’ve had two or three cups. Both feverfew and elderberry have long been used to help calm fevers as well. These can be taken in pill or capsule form, however, if you choose elderberry, drink some tea every few hours.

Recently I have been introduced to doTERRA essential oils and I love them! A few weeks ago my 15 month old daughter had a fever while cutting teeth. I put two drops of peppermint oil on a cotton ball and applied it to the bottom of her feet and within minutes her temperature dropped a couple of degrees.

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If you are interested in how you can implement using essential oils in your health regimen please feel free to ask me any questions. I am a big fan and have incorporated them into my life in many different ways. I had always used them as aromatherapy but now I have been using them as a treatment tool. It is important to note that these are 100% pure essential oils and many can be ingested. These are NOT the same as oils found in health food stores and those are typically NOT safe to be ingested.

Since when did the flu have a season?

‘Tis the season…..for the flu that is. Why is it that everyone says it is “flu season?” Last time I checked there were 4 seasons: Spring, Summer, Fall, and the dreaded (in my case) Winter. This winter has proven to take a toll on everyone. But really, is the flu season like deer season? Do people need to get a license? Because if that is the case people should boycott flu season. 😉

Flu usually goes away without complications, but sometimes the infection moves into the lungs, causing viral or bacterial pneumonia. That’s why it’s important to stop the flu as quickly as you can. If your symptoms last more than 5 days or if your flu is accompanied by an extremely high fever (104°F or higher), chest pain, blood in your nasal mucus, or phlegm that is brown, green, or bloody, go to a doctor right away. With that being said, I do not recommend trying to suppress a fever of 99° or 100°F because a low-grade fever causes your immune system to increase its activity and helps it fight the flu more effectively.

Our bodies have the ability to heal themselves…..it is called innate. All we have to do is remove the interference.

So how do we do this? I thought you would never ask!!!!

WATER: You’ll need a lot!                                                                                    Fighting the flu puts your metabolism into overdrive. Your body throws off water in huge amounts. You have to replace that water because your body needs it to expel toxins produced by your immune system as it’s destroying the virus. To make sure that you’re getting enough water, drink two-thirds of your body weight in ounces of water per day when you have the flu. You should be drinking half of your body weight in ounces per day as the bare minimum for maintenance when you aren’t sick.

FOOD: Wait for dairy until you are feeling better!                                           Dairy foods increase mucus production, which makes the nasal congestion caused by the flu even worse. Also, since many people are sensitive to dairy products, your body may be wasting immune cells on the food instead of fighting the virus. So avoid dairy products until you kick the flu.

GINGER: Good for what ails you! Ginger tea fights the flu on a number of fronts. It helps relieve nasal congestion. It can improve blood flow through the muscles and the rest of the body, helping to eliminate chills and muscle aches and allowing immune cells to circulate more effectively. It even helps reduce the pain of sore throat. Have a cup every 2-3 hours until your flu is better.

VITAMIN C: Keeps your body strong!                                                                  When you have the flu, your virus-fighting white blood cells need vitamin C to be most effective. The vitamin also revs up your adrenal glands, which help your body resist the stress of the infection. It’s best to use the buffered form because it is easier on the stomach. You can take this several months during “flu season”.

STEAM: Force out the virus!                                                                              Coughing is essential when you have the flu. Otherwise, virus-laden mucus that isn’t expelled may harden and travel to the lungs, possibly leading to pneumonia. Using a steamer or humidifier to keep mucus moist and moving out of your body will help prevent this. It’s best to keep a steamer or humidifier running in your bedroom until the flu is gone. Add six to eight drops of essential oil to the water. I recommend doTERRA’s On Guard, however, thyme, eucalyptus, or rose geranium may be used as well.

As you can see there are several things that we can do for ourselves before seeing a doctor. I am sure there are other remedies that people have been using for decades and I encourage all of you to share what has worked for you and your family.

 

 

 

 

Why Good Thyroid Health is so Important

Because the thyroid has its fingers in so many pots, when its function drags, so does that of many other systems (digestive, hormonal, etc.). It can seem like a vicious cycle. The conventional approach has long been to treat the thyroid so that the other systems it affects will normalize, too. That may work if thyroid hormones are truly needed, bu frequently they are inappropriately prescribed, possibly causing more harm than good in the long run. Here are some of the functions that come under the gland’s influence:

Bone Metabolism: Although the parathyroid gland (similar name, totally different gland) controls calcium levels in the blood, the thyroid can also affect one’s calcium status. That’s partly because the thyroid gland manufactures and stores calcitonin, a calcium-regulating hormone. Also, hypothyroidism prevents the ends of the long bones from forming fully or correctly. This won’t show up as a calcium deficiency on a blood test unless you are looking at the ranges from a “functional” perspective. By that I mean the level that indicates good health.

Gastrointestinal Function: Chronic constipation is a common complaint of people with an underactive thyroid gland. Poor thyroid function slows down the amount of time it takes for food to move through the intestines. This in turn increases the potential of gut infections from harmful yeast and bacteria, leading to inflammation, poor nutrient absorption, and an increased risk of developing food intolerances.

Male Reproduction: Hypothyroidism in men has been shown to diminish sex drive and cause impotence and a poor sperm count. Although hypothyroidism is rare in men, it must be ruled out when they have testosterone and estrogen imbalances.

Gallbladder and Liver: The liver has several channels through which it metabolizes hormones, filters toxins, and cleans the blood. By products from these processes are dumped into the gallbladder for final removal. Low thyroid function bogs down this whole process, making the liver and gallbladder sluggish and congested and contributing to gallstones. Gallbladder X-rays in hypothyroid individuals often show a distended gallbladder that contracts sluggishly. And since thyroid hormones are converted into a usable form in the liver, you can see how hypothyroidism creates a vicious cycle — hypothyroidism stymies liver function so that fewer thyroid hormones become active.

Growth Hormones: Just because you’re an adult doesn’t mean you don’t need growth hormone (GH) for regenerating cells and tissues. The pituitary gland releases these “anti-aging” hormones to be dispatched where cell creation and growth are needed. GH then stimulates the synthesis of insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) in the liver in order to complete the job. During this conversion process, an inadequate amount of thyroid hormones (hypothyroidism) can muck things up, since a healthy amount of thyroid hormones are needed to make IGF-1.

Fat burning: One of the most frustrating symptoms of hypothyroidism is the inability to lose weight, even when calories are low and hours are logged on the treadmill are high. Hypothyroidism simply slows down the body’s overall metabolism and fat burning. For instance, the adrenal hormones epinephrine and norepinephrine that enhance far burning lose power when the thyroid is underactive. What’s more, low thyroid function makes it harder for the body to burn far by shutting down the sites on the cells that respond to lipase, an enzyme that metabolizes far. So not only does stored fat refuse to budge, but also the inability to burn fat for energy contributes to fatigue and chronic cravings for sweet and starchy foods. Lastly, since hypothyroidism hinders human growth hormone, building muscle through exercise is difficult if not impossible and muscle loss can occur.

Insulin and Glucose Metabolism: Glucose (sugar) metabolism is the rate at which the body uses glucose to make energy. That fuzzy, foggy brain and poor memory so common with hypothyroidism? The brain is the most voracious consumer of glucose, so when glucose metabolism is poor, so is brain function. People with low thyroid function absorb glucose more slowly than normal and their cells don’t use its energy as readily. Furthermore, once glucose is absorbed, the body falls behind in eliminating it. Put it together, this creates hypoglycemia, or too little sugar available for energy, with symptoms of fatigue, irritability, and light-headedness. The problem is not too little glucose in the blood, but rather that the glucose can’t get into the cells. In fact, glucose blood tests may be normal while symptoms of hypoglycemia rage on. To compensate for low energy, the adrenal glands pump out stress hormones, which activate the liver to release stored glucose into the bloodstream for energy. Eventually this repeating scenario exhausts the adrenal glands, as well as the brain’s hypothalamus and pituitary gland, which are responsible for orchestrating so many body functions. Interestingly, hypothyroidism also makes it harder to break down insulin medication, so that diabetics need to take less than they normally might.

Thyroid hormones and cholesterol: When I see high triglycerides, high cholesterol, and high LDL (“bad”) cholesterol on a blood panel, I always want to rule out thyroid dysfunction before doing anything else. When a a person’s thyroid is functioning below normal, he or she makes fat much more quickly than it’s burned, which drives up triglycerides, cholesterol, and LDL cholesterol. As mentioned earlier, hypothyroidism makes the liver and gallbladder sluggish, so that fat is not easily metabolized and cleared from the body. Cells may be less receptive to taking up LDL, so that too much accumulates. When a person with healthy thyroid function becomes hungry and needs energy, the body is able to readily burn fat for fuel. Not so with low thyroid function. When one of my patients with abnormal lipid panels (cholesterol and triglycerides) has hypothyroidism, I address the thyroid disorder first, after which the lipids in circulation often reach normal levels.

Brain chemistry: The adrenal glands, located on top of the kidneys, are our stress-management glands. With hypothyroidism, they do not exert the same energizing effect on the brain as they normally would. This can lead to depression, mood disorders, lethargy, and weight gain.

Estrogen Metabolism and Breast Cancer: Estrogen must first be made water-soluble in the liver in order to be eliminated from the body. During this process some of the hormone forms a secondary type of estrogen, such as estradiol. Hypothyroidism appears to hinder pathways in the liver that make this possible. The result is the production of too much so-called proliferative estrogen, which may lead to breast cancer, uterine fibroids, and ovarian cysts.

Adrenal hormone metabolism: I don’t like to use urinary adrenal tests for this reason: In people with hypothyroidism, urinary excretion of several adrenal hormones decreases. Instead I prefer salivary adrenal tests. In other words, with the urine test, someone could appear to have an advanced case of adrenal fatigue when in fact they are simply doing a poor job of clearing the hormones through the kidneys.

Liver detoxification: Thyroid hormones affect the liver cells responsible for detoxification most of all. The liver has two phases of detoxification. In Phase I, fat-soluble hormones are made water-soluble so the body can eliminate them. This process is finalized in Phase II, and the end products are excreted via the feces, sweat, or urine. It is in Phase II where good thyroid health is most important. When thyroid function is low, the enzymes, or “spark plugs,” that carry out the detoxifying tasks, simply don’t mature, hindering detoxification. I often see people who do poorly at any attempts at detoxification until thyroid function is restored. Again, this is one of those vicious cycles, as healthy liver function is integral to converting thyroid hormones into a form the body can use.

Stomach acid production: Most people think of stomach acid as bad, the sort of thing that causes heartburn. In fact, sufficient stomach acid prevents heartburn by thoroughly digesting your food. (The burning sensation from heartburn is actually from the poorly digested food rotting in your gut and shooting up into your esophagus, not from excess stomach acid.) Sufficient stomach acid, or hydrochloric acid (HCl), prevents food poisoning, parasites, and other bad bugs from gaining a foothold in digestive tract. Lastly, plenty of HCL stimulates the gallbladder and pancreas to complete digestion and preserve the integrity of the whole gastrointestinal tract. The production of HCL depends on the hormone gastrin, which diminishes with hypothyroidism. This can cause such digestive complaints as heartburn, bloating, and gas; hinder the absorption of such vital nutrients as B12, iron, and calcium; and lead to inflammation, lesions, and infections of the intestines. Hypothyroidism and low HCL often go hand in hand.

Protein Metabolism: Another crucial job stomach acid performs is digesting proteins. In people with hypothyroidism and low stomach acid (hypochlorhydria), protein deficiency may occur. In most cases, simply restoring thyroid function resolves the problem.

Body Heat and Hot Flashes: Since the thyroid maintains body temperature, a person with hypothyroidism may develop abnormalities related to body temperature, such as hot flashes and night sweats. These symptoms may be confusing because they are usually associated with perimenopause. Therefore testing the female hormone levels ensures addressing the right disorder. Although the thyroid is most commonly associated with regulating body temperature, the ovaries and adrenals affect it, too. A female hormone panel helps determine whether hot flashes and night sweats are caused by estrogen fluctuations or not. If a thyroid disorder causes these symptoms, it’s likely other signs of thyroid malfunction are present as well, When the adrenal glands are to blame, the person does not suddenly feel hot, but the adrenal hormone shifts do prompt a sweating attack.

Progesterone Production: Progesterone and thyroid hormones are intimately connected. Remember that when the pituitary sends TSH to the thyroid, the gland makes T4 and T3 out of thyroglobulin and iodine? The catalyst for this is the enzyme, thyroid peroxidase (TPO), which resides in the follicles of the thyroid gland. (Thyroid follicles are small spheres of hormone-producing cells within the gland.) Progesterone appears to both improve the signaling mechanisms of thyroid receptors as well as stimulate TPO production. One reason why a woman’s body temperature rises when she ovulates is that the normal progesterone surge that occurs at this point in cycle ramps up TPO activity , which stimulates overall thyroid activity and metabolism. Progesterone’s effect on TPO — too little progesterone depresses TPO activity, lowering T4 production — also explains why a woman with a progesterone deficiency may have mostly normal thyroid levels but a low T4 level. Symptoms of progesterone deficiency include heavy menstrual bleeding, an inability to lose weight, depression, headaches, and other symptoms in the middle of her cycle.

The answer for these women, particularly menstruating women, is not to prescribe progesterone creams. This approach does not take into account the reason for the deficiency, which most often stems from a sluggish pituitary gland (remember, the pituitary is the air traffic control tower that orchestrates the hormones). And factors that lead to poor pituitary function include adrenal fatigue, taking oral contraceptives, or even postpartum hormonal changes. For menopausal women for whom pituitary function may never rebound, sublingual progesterone may be in order. (Progesterone creams almost always guarantee a buildup of excessive levels of progesterone in the fat tissue.) For both menstruating and menopausal women, however, supporting the adrenals is integral.

Severe hypothyroidism can lead to loss of ovulation and insufficient progesterone, the buildup of too much tissue lining of the uterus, and excessive and irregular bleeding. Ultimately hypothyroidism raises the risk of infertility and miscarriage.

Lastly, thyroid hormones sensitize the body’s cells to progesterone, so that they are able to readily take it up when needed. When the cell’s progesterone receptor sites are not exposed to enough thyroid hormones, they lose the ability to allow progesterone is circulating through the bloodstream, a woman will have symptoms of progesterone deficiency and on progesterone levels will show abnormal surges and dips.

Thyroid Hormones and Anemia: Hypothyroidism can lead to anemia in three different ways. For instance, anemia resulting from a B12 and folic acid deficiency usually stems from low stomach acid, one possible consequence of hypothyroidism. Secondly, about 12 percent of people with hypothyroidism have pernicious anemia, an autoimmune disorder in which the body’s immune system destroys a compound in the stomach lining necessary for the absorption of B12. Given that the vast majority of hypothyroid cases are also an autoimmune disorder in which the body destroys its own thyroid gland, it’s not surprising that a hyperactive and malfunctioning immune system can lead to both pernicious anemia and hypothyroidism. Lastly, since hypothyroidism leads to a deficiency in stomach acid, iron absorption (among other things) is poor. And remember how hypothyroidism makes it hard for progesterone to get into the cells? That effect causes excessive bleeding during menstruation, and poor iron absorption from low stomach acid coupled with excessive bleeding brings on anemia of iron deficiency.

Protein Binding: Earlier I mentioned that when the thyroid hormone is traveling to the liver or to various cells, it catches a ride with binding proteins that serve as taxicabs. The same is true for the reproductive hormones, whose taxis are called sex hormone-binding globulins (SHBG). When these “bound” hormones arrive at their destination, they are “free.” Research shows that an underactive thyroid reduces SHBG levels. In addition to contributing to hormonal imbalances, low SHBG levels can also skew hormone test results.

Heart: Too much homocysteine, an amino acid made in the body, seriously increases the risk of heart disease, as well as dementia and neurodegenerative diseases. Hypothyroidism appears to contribute to high homocysteine levels by compromising the liver’s ability to manage the amino acid.

 

***This information is credited to: Datis Kharrazian, DHSc, DC, MS

Why Only Testing TSH is a Model for Failure

Measuring TSH is the most common way to assess thyroid function, and many doctors will prescribe thyroid medications based on TSH alone. When they see that a person’s TSH level is high, most physicians assume that the pituitary is producing extra hormone because the thyroid gland isn’t doing its job. The solution? Giving medication to boost thyroid performance. But numerous other factors come into play. For instance, measuring TSH alone does not convey pituitary function, whether thyroid hormones are working normally throughout the body, or whether an autoimmune disorder is the culprit.

Thyroid Signs and Symptoms

Sorry I haven’t posted in a few days. It has been a busy week. I had the privilege to attend and help with a home birth. Let me just say that is absolutely amazing! I never thought I would be interested in that kind of work until I actually got to attend one. I had my daughter at home 15 months ago and she has completely changed my life. Now, having seen someone else go through labor (at home) I may be changing the way I practice.  Life truly is amazing and you never know where it is going to take you!

So, here we are back to the thyroid. Today I would like to cover signs and symptoms of a dysfunctional thyroid. The use of blood chemistry panels and other tests are important, however, a patient’s symptoms and health history are invaluable in accurately assessing a condition. The most common symptoms of low thyroid function are:

  • Fatigue
  • Weight gain even though the patient may be adhering to a low-calorie diet
  • morning headaches that wear off as the day progresses
  • Depression
  • Constipation
  • Hypersensitivity to cold weather
  • Poor circulation and numbness in hands and feet
  • muscle cramps while at rest
  • increased susceptibility to colds and other viral or bacterial infections and difficulty recovering from them.
  • slow wound healing
  • excessive amount of sleep required to function properly
  • chronic digestive problems
  • itchy, dry skin
  • dry or brittle hair
  • hair falls out easily
  • dry skin
  • low body heat temperature
  • swelling, especially of the face
  • loss of the outer 1/3 of eyebrows

I am sure that at this point you are probably thinking, oh my gosh, I have half of those symptoms. Don’t worry, just because you have several symptoms does not mean that you have a faulty thyroid but you should definitely monitor not only your symptoms but KNOW YOUR NUMBERS! What I mean by know your numbers is that everybody should have an idea as what their blood chemistry looks like even if you don’t necessarily know what it means. That is why there are doctors in this world to help you understand. Do not hesitate to ask your doctor questions!

Thyroid Metabolism

Let us go through a run down on thyroid metabolism. First, the hypothalamus sends Thyroid Releasing Hormone (TRH) to the pituitary gland. Second, the pituitary gland releases Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) to thyroid gland. Third, TSH stimulates Thyroid Peroxidase (TPO) activity to use iodine to create T4 and T3 hormones. From here it can get confusing so pay attention…93% is T4 and only 7% is T3. Although the thyroid gland secretes only a little T3 , it happens to be the predominant and most active form the body can use. This means the majority of T4 has to be converted to T3 which occurs mainly in the liver. Of all the T4 the thyroid secretes, the body uses only about 60% of it. Some T4 is converted in reverse T3 (rT3), which happens to be a form the body can not use. Twenty percent becomes active in the intestines in the presence of a sufficient amount of healthy gut flora. This could take us into a whole other discussion about the use of antibiotics and the lack of use of probiotics. We will have this discussion at a later time but hopefully you can see why antibiotic use can dampen thyroid function, based off the simple fact that 20% of healthy thyroid hormone function depends heavily on healthy gut flora. The remaining T4 is converted to T3 in peripheral tissues.

Our thyroid, Our shield

The thyroid gland got its name from the Greek word thyreos, which means shield, and it is a fitting description. The thyroid gland is located over the area of your Adam’s apple and not only is it shaped like a shield it also serves as one, by setting the body’s speed limit. If you are cold your thyroid will turn up the heat. If you have a virus it will boost your immune system. If you are overly stressed from working too hard and not eating good food to fuel your body then the thyroid will make sure that you slow down.

The thyroid is highly sensitive to the slightest alterations in the body because that is its job. When the thyroid malfunctions, as it eventually does for an estimated 27 million Americans, people always seem to ask “What is the quickest fix?” when people should be asking themselves “Why is my thyroid malfunctioning in the first place?”

The thyroid happens to be one of the most complex hormone-producing, or endocrine, glands in the body, which is probably why many people don’t fully understand how it functions. I hope to be able to help answer some of these questions.