February 20, 2014

Alternative Medicine and Herbs for Thyroid Health

Note: The following article is used by Janie Bowthorpe of Stop the Thyroid Madness as a pamphlet “gift” given to purchasers of the Stop the Thyroid Madness book ordered directly from the publisher.

As with any supplement, it is encouraged that you do your research and also discuss with your health care provider before using.  Seeking the guidance of a qualified herbalist may be particularly helpful.  Check your local natural foods store or vitamin store for information on trained herbalists in your area.  Some herbalists will work long-distance with clients.

Bugleweed can lower thyroid hormones and so can Motherwort, which is also anti-inflammatory.  Lemon Balm may help relieve anxiety and prevent Graves antibodies from attaching to the thyroid.  Citrus Peel's anti-thyroidal properties could be useful for hyperthyroid people, as well as its anti-cancer benefits.  Consuming calcium and goitrogenic foods, such as soy, cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower, will lower thyroid hormones.
Dragon bone
, kava kava, and St. John's Wort are sedating which can be useful for those who are hyperthyroid.

Chinese herb Scrophularia contains Verbascosaponin A, which is twice as potent as prescription indomethacin for relieving inflammation and pain.

Subhuti Dharmananda
, Ph.D., who is the director at the Institute for Traditional Medicine in Portland, Oregon, wrote an article Treatments for Thyroid Diseases with Chinese Herbal Medicine, outlining studies done on the subject, including some very successful studies of treatment for hyperthyroidism with herbs.  Read Dharmanada's article here: http://www.itmonline.org/arts/thyroid.htm

Maca Root can help relieve mild depression.  It is rich in iron, potassium, iodine, magnesium, and calcium.
Parsley, Irish Moss and Kelp are sources of electrolyte minerals, and the latter two include iodineBladderwrack, which is a seaweed, contains iodine and can stimulate thyroid hormone production. It also contains polysaccharides, which bind to heavy metals and can therefore aid in detoxing.  It is rich in calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, and sulfur, and contains moderate amounts of zinc, selenium, phosphorus, and manganese.

Marshmallow Root contains iodine, calcium, zinc, vitamin B-complex and iron.The adaptogen astragalus possesses immune-boosting properties and contains selenium, which would be beneficial for hypothyroidism.  However, it is suggested that it contains high levels of it and should be used with caution.  It is frequently used in Chinese Medicine. 

St. John's Wort
may increase thyroid hormone production, and can also be useful for depression, anxiety, sleep disorders and PMS.  Note: it cannot be used with some prescription medications.

, also called Bastard Ginseng and Bonnet Bellflower, is used in Chinese Medicine to stimulate the thyroid and boost the immune system.
Cinnamon Bark, Rehmannia, Ginger, and Aconite are used in traditional Chinese medicine for hypothyroidism.
Herbs that may help with Symptoms related to Thyroid Issues

can help lower high cholesterol.
Inflammation?  Ginger Root contains zinc, magnesium, and potassium, as well as anti-inflammatory properties.  Here is a list of more herbs (and foods) that can help with inflammationBromelain is anti-inflammatory as well.  Need calming?  Teas or essential oils such as camomile, lavender, and peppermint are excellent, especially at bedtime.  Dried lavender or lavender essential oil can be used in warm bathwater (some like to use Epsom Salts, too) for relaxation, as well. 

Have anxiety or stress? Kava kava helps reduce stress and anxiety "by binding to GABA receptors which is the main calming neurotransmitter in the brain. Kava also has opioid-like properties as well as balancing dopamine and serotonin." http://drhedberg.com/2012/06/29/thyroid-and-anxiety/  It is also anti-inflammatory.

In the past,
Passionflower has been listed as an anti-anxiety aid by the pharmaceutical industries in the US, France, Germany, Britain and more.

Commonly used as a tea, Raspberry Leaf, can be useful for reducing anxiety.  It is rich in rich in selenium, b-vitamins, vitamins E and C, which is anti-inflammatory.  However, it does contain tannins which can bind with thyroid medication, so it is best to avoiding consuming near doses.

  Gymnema has been studied and found to be useful for both type 1 and type 2 diabetics by delaying glucose absorption in the blood stream.  It can also help with sugar cravings due to candida yeast overgrowth. 

Struggling with your weight? In A Mother's Guide to Herbal Extracts: Saving Tristan, Kathy Garber writes that, "Ginger and Evodia increase thermogensis, the burning of calories to increase body temperature; Horsetail and Cornsilk is used by the Krebs cycle, the final and essential step in making energy from carbohydrates, fats and proteins available for use by the body." 

She also writes about
Evodia which suppresses the appetite; Brazilian Porangaba Leaf reduces the amount of food needed to feel full; Garcinia Fruit inhibits the conversion of dietary carbohydrates to fat, and is more effective when taken three times daily; and Pomegranate Leaf inhibits fat absorption in the intestinal tract.

Struggling to sleep? 
Valerian Root, an adaptogen, can aid in insomnia and is virtually non-addictive.  It can be useful for backache, headache, and high blood pressure.

Brain fog?  Trouble focusing?  The adaptogen Schisandra Berry may help with mental clarity and attention difficulties.    

Retaining water?  Need to detox?  Alfalfa is rich in Vitamins A, D, E, and K as well as biotin, calcium, folic acid, iron, magnesium, and potassium.  It can help detox the body of toxins and is therefore useful as a diuretic for those suffering from water retention and urinary tract infections. 

Hair loss?  Burdock root might help.  It is also rich in selenium.  However, it can present problems for those allergic to marigolds and ragweed.  

Gardenia, usually brewed in a tea, can be useful in treating irritability, restlessness, anxiety and insomnia. It has been known to help with depression, as well.

, an adaptogen, is rich in selenium.  However, it keeps some awake at night.

Allergies? Cough? Digestive Upset? Look into selenium-rich Yarrow Root.  It also possesses anti-bacterial qualities which can be useful for those with gallbladder issues. 

Nettle Leaf also possesses decongestant qualities and may help with a myriad of problems including hair loss, low iron, inflammation, and can be used as a topical pain reliever.  One source suggests that it has an adaptogenic effect on the adrenals. 

A Mother's Guide to Herbal Extracts: Saving Tristan by Kathy Garber http://www.livestrong.com/article/122652-herbs-thyroid/


September 13, 2013

High Copper, Low Zinc, Low iron

I'm starting to piece together more about my iron issues.  As soon as I treated my H.pylori, my iron percent saturation shot up to 46% from 19%!  But sadly it fell down just four weeks later to 20% when I stopped supplementing because 46% is too high (that's where a man's saturation should be and considered toxic for a woman). 

I was bummed.  What is the deal?  I've been trying to raise my iron for 14 months now! 

I started supplementing iron again and also started learning about the relationship between iron and my high copper levels.  Here is what I've learned:
"In many cases of iron deficiency anemia, as it is called, the cause is not really poor iron levels. It is copper toxicity, and or biounavailable iron. . . . This is a most confusing aspect of “iron deficient anemia”. In fact, many physicians prescribe iron to patients who do not need it, including most menstruating women who have copper toxicity and copper biounavailability causing their anemia. This wastes their time and leads to worsening iron overload problems in these young women." Dr. Lawrence Wilson
I also read on ARL's site that "Diminished adrenal activity is perhaps the single most important physiological reason for copper problems today. The reason is that adrenal activity is required to stimulate production of ceruloplasmin, the primary copper-binding protein." 

I also read that "When adrenal activity is insufficient, ceruloplasmin synthesis in the liver declines. Copper that is not bound cannot be used and unbound copper begins to accumulate in various tissues and organs." This makes sense because stress depletes zinc, which then raises copper.  
Also, estrogen dominance raises copper and high copper raises estrogen.  Oh, bad news. 

Magnesium, P-5-P and Molybdenum can help remove copper from the blood stream as it's being detoxed from the cells, the latter of which zinc picolinate and a high quality Vitamin C, such as liposomal, are good for. 

I've been taking 400-800 mg Magnesium Citrate and 50 mg P-5-P tablets daily, as well as 5.5 mcg zinc picolinate and 75 mcg molybdenum every 3-4 days.  When I started taking
liposomal Vitamin C each day (500 mg for 1 week, then 1,000 mg for the second week), the detox really picked up!  I got a host of symptoms, including:
  • Irritability
  • Fatigue
  • Weepiness
  • Feeling blah, slightly depressed, and an extreme lack of motivation
  • Cravings for foods high in sulfur, such as meat and eggs
  • Reproductive Cycle Irregularity
  • Increase in seasonal allergies
  • Increase in candida - vaginal yeast infections
I've stopped those supplements except for the magnesium and P5P, and I'll resume possibly in about a week.  Copper detox can be awful, so slow and steady is the key.     
Dr. L. Wilson writes on his site that coffee enemas, sauna therapy, foot reflexology, genital bath, limited juicing, and sulfur-containing amino acids can also be helpful.





July 5, 2013

Astounding Information about B12 Deficiency

I knew B12 was important, but I had no idea how many things low B12 can affect.  As they say in the video below, B12 is a horse, not a zebra.  In other words, B12 should be something our physicians routinely check.

Symptoms and Related Disorders
Memory Issues, mental confusion, "brain fog," short attention span
Nerve issues, Numbness, Tingling or "Pins and Needles" esp. in hands or feet, Gait problems, and urinary incontinence due to nerve damage
Muscle Issues: Weakness, Clumsiness
Pale or yellow skin

Mood Issues: Anger, Irritability, Depression, Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Thoughts of Suicide, Psychosis
Stomach and GI Disturbances, including food allergies
Eating Disorders: Anorexia, Bulimia
Sore mouth or tongue, including swollen tongue, possibly dark red
Visual Disturbances
Orthostatic Intolerances
Elevated Homocysteine
Elevated MMA
Shortness of Breath
Dysplagia, including epithelial dysplagia which can result in a false positive pap smear for women
Neurological lesions
In children, repetitive gestures, possible regression in developmental areas, small head circumference, slow growth, failure to thrive,

Risk Factors include:

A diet low in meat and animal protein, esp. vegetarian or vegan
Celiac Disease
Use of acid-blockers (see here, if you have stomach acid issues)
Use of Birth Control
Use of Nitrous Oxide anesthesia (which inactivates B12)
Stomach Surgery
Pregnant and post-partum women (increases B12 needs), especially those women taking supplements high in folic acid - particularly women with post-partum depression

Those with low stomach acid (esp. the elderly)
Age over 50
Pernicious Anemia
Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth
Peptic Ulcer
Transcobalamin Deficiency

Serum B12 labs are not always enough to rule out a deficiency because the lab is checking serum levels, not tissue levels of B12.  The video explains that the following labs might need to be done to rule out a B12 deficiency:
  • Serum B12
  • HoloTranscobalamin
  • Homocysteine
  • Methylmalonic Acid
  • Unsaturated B12 Binding Capacity


All rights reserved, copyright information Elissa Leonard 2011

May 30, 2013

Overview on my adrenal healing thus far

Between May 2012 and February 2013, my cortisol saliva results went from being:
At sample 1) just above the top of the bottom quarter of the range TO being just below the top quarter of the range.
At sample 2) in the top quarter of the range TO just barely under mid-range.
At sample 3) in the bottom quarter of the range TO the top of the bottom quarter of the range.
At sample 4) in the bottom quarter of the range TO perfectly at the very bottom of the range.
I did cortisol saliva tests in March, May and October 2012, then in February 2013. 

My first cortisol saliva test in March 2012 was before starting CT3M at the end of March.

AM 18.2 (2.4-33.7) This result was about mid-range, which is 18.05
Noon 6.9 (1.2 - 17.8) This result is in the 3rd quarter of the range.  The bottom quarter of the range is  1.2-5.35  And 9.6 is mid-range. 
PM 5.4 (.5 - 12.1)  This result is a bit below mid-range, which is 6.3.  The top quarter of the range is .5-3.4 
Night 2.3 (.3 - 11.0) This result is in the top quarter which is .3-3.0 

I believe that these March results were SKEWED HIGH because of the adrenal supplement I had been taking less than two weeks before. 

Although, it's possible that even if my levels weren't skewed terribly high, that they dropped further by May because Ct3M wasn't working using NDT.  I did feel a lot better when I started using T3 for it in June.

AM 11.4 (2.4 - 33.7)  This result is just above top quarter, which is 2.4-10.23.  Mid-range is 18.05 
Noon 2.7 (1.2 - 17) This result is in the top quarter, which is 1.2-5.15 
PM 1.5 (.5 - 12.1)  This result is in the bottom quarter, which is .5-3.4
MN .6 (.3 - 11.0) This result is in the bottom quarter which is .3-3.0

I switched CM dose to T3 (iron was low) and slid NDT into daytime doses.
Morning 0.88 (0.27 - 1.18) This result is in the 3rd quarter .725-.95 (that is mid-range to the bottom of the top quarter)  Noon 0.27 (0.10 - 0.41) This result is just over mid-range which is .26
Evening 0.10 (0.05 - 0.27) This result is at the top of the bottom quarter which is .05-.11  Mid-range is .16 
Bedtime <0.03 (0.03 - 0.14) Perfect.

Morning  .90 (0.27 - 1.18)  This result is in the 3rd quarter .725-.95 (that is mid-range to the bottom of the top quarter) - just below the top quarter of the range
Noon  .25 (0.10 - 0.41) This result is just under mid-range which is .26
Evening  .11 (0.05 - 0.27) This result is at the top of the bottom quarter which is .05-.11  Mid-range is .16 
Bedtime  .03 (0.03 - 0.14) Perfect.

May 27, 2013

My Updated Answer to "How did you do it?"

Eleven months ago, I wrote this post to share with others who asked how I was finding healing and treating my health issues.  Given that I've made a few discoveries since then and learned that healing is going to take longer than I thought, I figured I should write an update!   
  • I'm still taking Natural Dessicated Thyroid (NDT) hormones.  
  • I'm also still taking Cytomel brand T3 for the Circadian T3 Method which I have been using since the end of March 2012 to heal my adrenals.  (You can read here how CT3M and the other things I'm doing have changed my life, and you can read here to see how my adrenals have healed).
  • I'm continuing my gluten-free diet, as well as limiting grains and dairy, focusing on non-processed foods.  High fat, moderate protein, with plenty of veggies (admittedly, I struggle to eat enough!) and limited sugars (natural, no refined) is the diet I feel best consuming.    
  • All of the above, as well as good sleep, good vitamins and supplements, and stress-reducing practices, to help heal my whole body, including adrenals. 
Also, remember my symptoms list?  Last March, I was down to about six symptoms.  I was feeling really good and starting to work on my methylation issues.  Then I had some gluten mis-adventures, which really set me back.  I'm still amazed at how identical those symptoms were to my hypo/adrenal symptoms. 

If you're just beginning your journey to health: 

Then, remember:
  • If you're going to get well, you have to assume ownership of your health issues and control over your education about those health issues.
  • If you have brain fog, you have to read and re-read.
  • Find a support network in various areas of your life.  This might include family members, friends, health care providers, a health coach, or peers who share your health issues in real life or in support groups online, like these.  
  • There will be stumbling blocks.
  • Healing ebbs and flows.  There are good days and bad.
  • Step away.  Sometimes we can get bogged down in learning about our health issues.  Learn when to step away from it all and get centered on the other things that matter - like faith, family and friends.
If you're not familiar with Janie Bowthorpe's Stop the Thyroid Madness website, blog and books, I will enlighten you to the fact that this is the precise reason why she has had such huge, rapid success:

Patient-based experience and patient-based information sharing 
is the brilliant, short-cut way to learning 
about the reasons for your health issues and how to treat them. 

If you've been on this journey a while and you're road-weary:

Then, keep plugging away.  You are not alone.  Review the basics and make sure you're supported by peers who are on this journey, as well.

Supplements and More that I like to use

This post is an update to this one.

In addition to the supplements I'm using here, I take:

Liberally in/on food: Unrefined Celtic Sea Salt
Occasionally, before bed: Chamomile Tea with Lavendar or Nighty Night Tea
Raspberry Leaf Tea, Every Day Detox (Chickory Root Blend) Tea
For cooking, baking, on skin, in tooth "paste" recipe: Coconut Oil, Lotion bars: I buy my own ingredients in bulk and make my own lip balms and lotion bars in lovely flower molds.

Supplements I'm considering at some point:

May 26, 2013

Struggling with infertility, miscarriage? You are not alone!

Some time ago, on my page about My Story and in my posts "The Progesterone and Cortisol Relationship,"  "Progesterone and Other Reproductive Hormones," and "Progesterone: A New Post," I wrote about  my belief that my adrenals steal progesterone to make more cortisol - similar to what Dr. Rind writes about here

In fact, I'm convinced that was the cause of my miscarriage in September 2011, before I began truly digging deep into the causes behind my health issues. 

Through lab work, I have confirmed that at the end of my progesterone supplementation during my luteal phase, my cortisol levels are significantly higher than they are two weeks later once the progesterone was out of my system.  I realize that not all women experience this, but it is clear that I do based on my symptoms and my labs.   

I also believe that for women like me whose progesterone levels are low as a direct result of their adrenal dysfunction that it is crucial to make that connection.  And I suspect that it might be crucial to not only supplement progesterone with bio-identical progesterone, but also address the adrenal issues that are at root.

You can read here about how I have taken charge of my health issues and how I'm healing my body.

One underlying condition that can contribute largely to miscarriage is called MTHFR gene mutation.  There are five of them.  You can read about MTHFR here and here.

A word about Progesterone and Post Partum Depression:

In some of the above posts, especially "Progesterone: A New Post" and this one, I have written about the relationship between progesterone and Post-Partum Depression (PPD).  I am not a doctor or trained medical professional, but I have networked with a lot of women and read extensively on these health issues.  And I believe that in some cases, thyroid dysfunction is a large contributing factor for adrenal dysfunction and that, as I wrote before, adrenal dysfunction is the issue behind the progesterone deficiency in many women. 

In my Old Post on progesterone, I wrote about the dramatic difference that progesterone supplementation made for me in my struggled with PPD after my second (and full-term) pregnancy. 

But after my miscarriage about a year and a half later, progesterone supplementation didn't make as dramatic a difference.  I strongly suspect that was because I had moved from having slight adrenal fatigue to much worse adrenal fatigue, and therefore from slight issues with my adrenals stealing cortisol to much worse issues with my adrenals stealing cortisol.  There is no way to know for sure since I have no cortisol labs to look at from that time, but this is my belief.    

You are not alone

If you are a woman struggling with these health issues, you are not alone.  There are answers.  There are some wonderful resources out there - blogs, websites, health care professionals, and patient-to-patient forums including Stop the Thyroid Madness's groups.  Read; connect with other women who are struggling and learn what has worked for them; and try to get to the bottom of your health issues.   

May 25, 2013

Supplements for Helicobacter Pylori

After realizing the connection with my health issues and Helicobacter pylori, I was prompted to move forward more quickly with choosing a treatment plan.  Here are the supplements I've chosen:

Licorice Root Extract
Oregano Oil
Vitamin C (3,000-4,000 mg per day)
Bragg's Apple Cider Vinegar (which will help absorption of supplements, as well)
Triphala (as a tincture)

Mastic Gum

unrefined coconut oil

Also, possibly Bentonite Clay, plus Oregon Grape or Berberine 

May 12, 2013

Low Iron: H.pylori, Lactoferrin and Low Stomach Acid

In my sleuthing to try to discover why my iron levels have been rising so poorly in the past year, despite dosing by patient-proven methods, I have pieced together some valuable information.   
  1. H.pylori causes low stomach acid (also, this).
  2. H.pylori impairs iron absorption in infected individuals. 
  3. Low lactoferrin levels can contribute to low iron levels. 
  4. There is some evidence that bovine lactoferrin supplements can help eradicate H.pylori
Low stomach acid is frequently discussed on the Stop the Thyroid Madness patient to patient discussion groups, since many hypothyroid patients struggle with low stomach acid and therefore struggle to raise low iron levels.  Janie writes about low stomach acid here.

These pieces to my own low iron puzzle make sense, especially in light of the fact that my ferritin levels more than doubled after just 5 weeks of taking my iron supplements with not just Vitamin C but also ACV, prompted by Janie!  

Also, there is evidence that H.pylori can cause or at least contribute to intestinal permeability, increasing inflammation and food sensitivity/allergies. 

The previously linked article lists the following options for eradicating H.pylori:
  • Clove
  • Berberine
  • Licorice (note that this herb can lower potassium levels and can raise blood pressure)
  • Wild Indigo
  • Slippery Elm
  • Myrrh
  • Barberry
  • Oregon Grape
  • Bismuth Citrate
  • Bentonite Clay
Caroline Lunger's blog post on My Gutsy, which I highly recommend for information on H.pylori, also contains an extensive list of possible methods for eradicating H.pylori, some of which include:
  • Herbs, such as: triphala, cats claw, ginger, thyme, oregano oil, golden seal, turmeric,
  • Baking Soda
  • Mastic gum
  • Vitamin C
  • Coconut Oil, olive oil
  • Manuka honey
  • Garlic and cruciferous vegetables (although the latter should be used in moderation by those with hypothyroidism, and both avoided by those who have a sulfur detox pathway problem called CBS)

Testing for H.pylori

In Caroline Lunger's blog post, she lists this lab test as well as a link for why it is the most reliable one.  It runs $110.  Other than Maryland or New York state residents, US residents can order it without a doctor. 

There is also the MetaMetrix GI Effects Stool Test which tests for not only H.Pylori, but also opportunistic and pathogenic bacteria, yeast/fungi, parasites, inflammation, digestion, absorption, gluten-intolerance, short chain fatty acids, adiposity, and drug resistant genes (which is useful if you need to treat the above).  This test has to be ordered by a doctor.

The MetaMetrix test costs $99 upfront.  My understanding based on my experience is that IF you have insurance that covers in part, Genova (whom MetaMetrix is under) knocks off the $99 you sent in with the samples, then they bill your insurance with the information you submitted with your samples.  But, for insurance purposes they "have" to send you an additional bill for almost $500 more.  According to my doctor's office, they send this bill twice, then drop the additional fees, as long as you have insurance covering in part. 

Honestly, I think they are banking on the fact that some people are going to send in that extra $500 without asking.  I have friends on the patient-to-patient groups who have done this.