Archive for the ‘functional medicine’ Category

I’m Sorry I Can’t Hear You

This has been a fascinating week in my crazy thyroid world and I just have to share it now that things seem to be on the upswing. I will try to be brief for those who are bored by mundane subjects regarding the butterfly shaped organ called thyroid, so you will have to refer to previous blogs to get all the facts.

On Wednesday I had my now regular three month phone appointment with my functional medicine man, Dr. Rob Bruley. As always he asked how I was feeling to which I replied “great”. Then we discussed my present opinion of my thyroid which included the question “how are the heart palpitations?” I responded “Knock on wood (and I did just that) they are really good at the moment. I haven’t had any for a week and ever since I started on the dessicated thyroid from Women’s Health America they have been much better.” I also foolishly told him I was sleeping like a rock with my newly updated amount of bio-identical progesterone. Next time just put duct tape on my mouth.

Why oh why do I say these things? Within an hour of my conversation with Dr. Bruley the palps started up with a vengeance and persisted for most of the rest of this past week. When the irregularity is bad during the daytime hours I feel the need to cough especially if the palpitation or irregularity is more than every 20 beats or so. If the irregularity occurs every 4th or 5th beat then I cough this dry cough that seems to nip it in the bud for the time being but it will return soon after that. Usually by the time I go to bed or shortly after supper the daytime palps are gone or not noticeable. Normally I then sleep perfectly with no palpitations or irregularity during the night.

However, when I have them at night it is different and this week I was rudely awakened three nights in a row with palpitations stimulated by really bad dreams that I am calling my night terrors. I have the night terror, wake up with a start and my heart is pounding. Within moments I can feel a small blip, twenty beats later another blip and so on. It lasts about an hour and then finally I can sleep again with a calm heart and no more night terrors. Being the health investigator that I fancy myself to be this causes quite a stir  because I simply have no answer, well no answer at first.  I have a theory now and that is what prompts me to share my experience in this week’s blog entry.

Yesterday,  frustrated by several nights of interrupted sleep I changed my regimen. First I reviewed whatever information I could glean from Stop The Thyroid Madness. In that information one point stuck with me because I have been suspicious that this was the case. Sometimes what you think are hyperthyroid symptoms are really symptoms of  a hypothyroid state and you need to increase your dose of dessicated thyroid. This is a scary thing for me to do because I HATE the racing pulse that comes with the increased dosage but a rapid heartbeat beats an irregular heartbeat every time. The other thing that a lot of thyroid advocates state over and over is divide your dosage throughout the day, something my doctor poo-poos (But then again I told him about the Armour shortage and the bad reaction people were having to the reformulated Armour and he said he had no knowledge of either. He does now.).

Being armed with the information I needed once again (amazing how one forgets what you read) I took half of my 90 mg tablet in the morning, the other half at noon and around supper with some trepidation I took less than a quarter of my 180 mg Armour tablet (I have about three months worth of what I now assume is the newly reformulated Armour that doesn’t work very well). That should be very roughly 135 mg of dessicated thyroid and nothing bad happened, all my fears were for nothing. The good news is I slept much better. I did have a night terror episode but it was accompanied by the startle and the racing heart but only one or two minor blips and I was soon sleeping soundly again. It is sad when a night like last night somehow seems fabulously restful but it is the truth I feel like a new person or perhaps better said, I feel like me again.

Here is the summary (for those who are now yawning) I am going to continue to take the 135 mg of dessicated thyroid until I start having the palpitations again at which time I will increase the dose to slightly more. I suspect that my normal dose will eventually be 180 mg but by then I will be using the dessicated thyroid from Women’s Health America and I will not return to Armour as Forest Labs has proven to be unreliable and uncaring about the people who take their products. My adrenals for all intents and purposes are fine. I pass all the tests with flying colors (blood pressure, pupil dilation), so I see no need to take cortisol despite STTM’s recommendation to do so. If my pulse starts to regularly be greater than 80 bpm I will cut back my dessicated thyroid as my normal resting pulse is close to 70 and my blood pressure is a comfortable 110/73.

Wish me luck because I suspect I need a smidgeon of that as well. I am keeping a diary of events, so that when I next talk to Dr. Bruley I can with certainty tell him all about what has happened in the last three months. I suspect when asked how I have been feeling I will cautiously say “fine” and as for the heart palpitations question I may just feign cell phone static or some cosmic interruption, tell the good doc I can’t hear him and carry on from there.

Iodine Loading Test Commences

This is the day of saving all voids which is a nice way of saying catching all of one’s urine in a cup and transferring it to a large container. I am doing as my functional medicine doctor recommended eons ago; checking my iodine levels. How and why I am doing this will fill the next few paragraphs.

If you have never done an Iodine Loading test the procedure is quite simple but I am happy to have the house to myself as it makes it even easier. If you are prescribed an Iodine Loading test you will be sent or given a box with the instructions, a medium size cup, a large plastic container, Iodoral or some form of iodine and a vial and packaging to send all this back via FedEx. Then it is left to you to pick a day that is convenient to collect all voided urine for 24 hours, starting after you take your mega dose of Iodoral. The only special instruction is to avoid all Iodine containing food for 48 hours prior to the test.

Why would a person do an Iodine Loading test? Simply put, most Americans are deficient in Iodine but there is much more to the story and I will try to summarize as best I can (actually not something I excel at). First of all, we live in a world full of toxins and one toxin that has become increasingly more prevalent is Bromide. Bromide is present in the food we eat (some breads and some soft drinks), computers, fabrics, dyes, mattresses and furniture, hot tub cleaners, some cosmetics, some hair products,  prescription drugs,cell phones,fabric softeners, car interiors, televisions, and the most toxic form is found in fire retardants. When I look at that list I realize that I am in contact with Bromide nearly every day although it would not be in the food I eat as I do not ingest industry tainted food or sodas. The real problem is that Bromide will displace Iodine if a person is consuming inadequate amounts of Iodine.

If a person has a normally functioning thyroid and healthy levels of Iodine, they will maintain a  good Bromide-Iodine ratio and Bromide might not present a problem. However, if your thyroid is under functioning and you are not getting enough Iodine in your diet this Bromide poisoning may contribute to dis-ease. Science has found a strong link between breast cancer and low levels of Iodine and Bromide may be a contributing factor to the low levels of Iodine.

Depleted soil may also be a contributing factor to hypothyroidism and low levels of Iodine. In the 1920’s it was found that people living in Michigan had consistently low levels of Iodine and high incidence of goiter and thyroid problems. It seems that the soil in that part of the country was very low in naturally occurring Iodine. The solution was to add Iodine to table salt in 1924 (iodized salt like Morton’s). However, it has been found recently that most Iodine added to salt evaporates quickly, so that may not be as useful a source of Iodine as once thought. I personally do not want to eat chemically treated salt like Morton’s and sea salts have very little to no Iodine despite being high in other necessary minerals. Add to that the fact that a lot of misguided doctors recommend low salt diets which means people use Lite Salt or no salt and you are down to very little Iodine being ingested.

Sea vegetables are high in Iodine but Americans eat very little vegetables from the sea. The country that eats the most sea vegetables is Japan and they have the lowest incidence of breast cancer in the world. All in all, we Americans ingest very low levels of Iodine, so supplementation may be necessary to maintain a healthy level.

That is where the Iodine Loading test is valuable. A person should excrete 90% of the Iodine you ingest, so the doctor will give you a product like Iodoral in a specific dose. During the subsequent 24 hours you should excrete 90% of the amount prescribed and if it is less a formula can help determine how much Iodine you need to get your levels to a more normal and thus healthy level. “Iodine supplementation alters the competitive bromide-iodine relationship causing bromide excretion. Thus, bromide dominance is diminished and proper iodine enzyme metabolism may be restored.” The Iodine Loading test also can be used to check levels of Bromide and Fluoride both of which if too high contribute to dis-ease. I have opted to just check my Iodine levels because the treatment if my levels are too low will be the same (Iodoral daily) whether we check my Bromide and Fluoride levels or not and the test is about $200 less.

There is too much information out there to share in one post on the subject of Iodine and dis-ease but that is a brief and hopefully an understandable summary of my day full of urine and containers, the whys and wherefores. If you think you would benefit by taking an Iodine Loading test contact your physician, tell them you will even pay for the test if insurance won’t cover it (mine was $120 including postage) and proceed from there. After all, you are in charge of your body and you can make the choice to have dis-ease or vibrant health. Yes you can!

How to Use a Functional Medicine Practitioner

I have visited this subject in previous blogs but I have just read a very interesting case study of two patients with horrible fibromyalgia issues and I think the subject must be broached again and again. If you or anyone you know suffers from the wracking pain of fibromyalgia and the resulting exhaustion of the accompanying chronic fatigue you, too, would feel my fervor regarding the subject of functional medicine/integrative medicine. However, everyone or better said anyone with medical issues such as autoimmune disorders, cardiac issues, infertility, cancer, etc. can benefit from seeing a functional medicine practitioner, a licensed MD who specializes in functional/integrative medicine and will from here on out be referred to as a FMP.

Typically when a person visits their general practitioner or even a nurse practitioner the medical person will look at a brief medical history of the patient they see before them. They will have been given no more than 15 minutes to visit with this person and provide a diagnosis and I am told sometimes the doctor never takes their hand off the door knob. How much thinking or caring goes in to a diagnosis given on the run? The easiest path is always the path of least resistance and hardly anyone will or can resist taking a miraculous little pill, so guess what? This medical person will reach in to their pocket and pull out a pad of paper, scratch some words on it, sign it, give it to you with instructions to take it to your pharmacy of choice and send you on your way.

Do you know (or have you experienced it personally) that some people end up taking pharmaceutical products that actually counteract each other? Or that they end up with a cupboard full of pharmacy products that are costing them (or us) a bomb but they haven’t even addressed the medical issue? The case study I just read was depressing as these two women had been put on psychiatric medicines, pain medicines, acid reflux medicines, etc. (and I am not exaggerating about the etc.) and still their symptoms did not abate and both cases got much worse. They both thought they were losing their minds and the medical people they saw corroborated their suspicions instead of doing the right thing.

This is the point where you as the patient have to have done your homework. You have to understand that this physician means well but medicine is a big business now and there are bills to be paid and equipment to be used to pay those bills, so they want to use them be it in a surgical setting or elsewhere. They don’t or won’t take time to thoroughly examine your situation and if and when you start asking questions (because you have done your homework) they will get irritated and downright rude. I have heard that people are told “you aren’t a doctor” or “do not mention that name again in this office” if they ask questions or mention people like Joe Mercola. If this ever happens to you, excuse yourself, grab your clothes and leave. Go home, turn on your computer, Google “Functional Medicine Practioners” and make an appointment with the one nearest to your location.

Why? You will instantly see the difference because the first thing you will do is fill out a health history like no other you have ever filled out. I seem to remember that Dr. Rob Bruley’s was 24 pages long and included questions like “Do you clear your throat often?” or “Have you experienced any major life changes recently?” right down to the number of daily bowel movements you experience. These questions will be carefully examined by your FMP before you are even seen in the office and a course of action will only take place after you have also had at least one hour and a half appointment in their office, face to face. Don’t be taken aback by the offer of a glass of water, or even a tissue to wipe away your tears of relief. Someone is finally listening to you and they don’t even have their fingers on the door knob.

Next the FMP will try to make things better as soon as possible but this may not be an overnight solution. They may prescribe pharmaceutical products to temporarily alleviate your anxiety or pain, after all they are MDs, so they do understand that once in awhile a pill really does help. What they will do that your GP doesn’t do is try to find the underlying problem not just apply a bandaid that will eventually fail and leave you with a gaping hole again filled with aches and pains that will require one more pill with all of its side effects and conditions. You will most likely have a full blood panel ordered, a 4 stage stool test, mucosal barrier tests and heavy metal tests. You may also need an Estronex test or Cortisal/DHEA test or even an Iodine loading test. The tests requested by the FMP will depend on how you filled out that lengthy questionaire and what tests they feel will peel off the layers and expose the underlying cause of your problem. Your insurance may or may not pay for all the tests but if you are seriously ill the cost of the tests is nothing when compared to giving in and losing this battle altogether. Don’t forget there are a plethora of case studies out there where people have sought treatment, been given treatment at great expense, the treatment fails and they go bankrupt trying to pay for failed allopahtic care. Bite the bullet and pay for the tests you need it will be cheaper in the long run.

Once the tests results are back your FMP will schedule up to 3 hours of time to thoroughly discuss a plan of action. You will walk out of the office feeling drained (admittedly of money as well as emotions) but positive. Someone has listened to you, taken action and hope reigns anew. In the case of these two women in the study I read they had both suffered for years with paralyzing pain, dizziness and anxiety. They both were on some of the strongest pain meds you can take and neither one got relief without increasing the strength or adding this pill or that pill and those just exacerbated other issues. When they finally found a FMP and followed through with recommended tests they found that they were both taking zero pharmaceutical products, their pain was gone and their future rosy. Just in case you are interested, one had undiagnosed autoimmune thyroiditis and the other had a bacteria that was harbored in the mucosal lining of her intestinal tract. Both patients were treated in very different ways despite having the same issue of fibromyalgia and both had successful outcomes.

When considering this recommendation remember I am a lay person just like you, I am not a doctor. I have health concerns much the same as you do and I see a FMP because he was the only one who understood that I understood and would listen to me and work with me. He was never threatening or condescending and I can honestly say I have never seen his fingers touch a door knob for anything except to keep  our discussion private and to allow me to leave when I feel all questions have been addressed.

Peri significance

This article may contain very few facts and figures but I feel I have something to share that women who find themselves peri-forty might find interesting. You may not want to hear this but your peri-menopause years are encroaching and no one talks about the effect the changing hormones will have on you, well at least very few medical people look there first when things start going a bit wacko in your forties. To be honest, after thirty things are already changing but more slowly and less obviously, so I have arbitrarily picked forty as a number that is peri your menopause years.

There are many words containing the prefix peri- and generally it means around, enclosing, surrounding but also “a lovely person”. Hmm, I like that last one so I am mostly going to adopt the Persian definition which has a lot to do with mythical fairies. When I became a “lovely person” in my mid-forties not one person medical or not mentioned that my “loveliness” might be my changing hormones. In fact, my very well meaning daughter mentioned discreetly that I might need anti-anxiety meds, so off I went to a female physician who willingly gave me a prescription for Paxil and never once mentioned that what I was experiencing might be a fluctuation in my hormones.

I took those seemingly harmless little pastilles for almost two years and then one day I realized I was still crying. Worse than the tears though I seemed to have developed weakness in the muscles of my thighs (not a listed side effect) and I quickly weaned myself off that Pharmaceutical magic bullet. I also started reading voraciously everything I could find on hormones and a sort of metamorphosis began. I think things have changed in 10 years as there are great sites that offer women explanations for their changing bodies like Women to Women and,  but at that time it was hard to find anything in the conventional media about those pesky hormones. In fact, it wasn’t that long ago that no one mentioned the unmentionable-menopause.

I think it is vital that when you find yourself sitting in the middle of your livingroom floor crying for no reason, when you can’t sleep because you are having panic attacks in the middle of the night, you look first at your thyroid numbers (all five of them do not settle for just TSH) and then balance your raging hormones or vice versa.  Compounded bio-identical hormones are the ticket to a successful trip through the next few years for you “lovely” women and Suzanne Somers has researched this subject very thoroughly and has a lot of good facts and figures. You don’t have to buy in to everything she has to say but her basic knowledge is well researched according to my functional medicine doctor. Personally, I believe that my out of balance hormones probably sent my thyroid down a very tortuous route and landed me in thyroid purgatory for many years but that is my theory alone. What I do know is now that my hormones are more balanced my thyroid is suddenly much easier to regulate.

If you are a woman feeling “lovely” in your forties or fifties and wondering why you feel so wacko and out of sorts find yourself a functional medicine doctor and do it yesterday. Functional medicine doctors always have you fill out detailed health histories that can be 25 pages or more in length and your answers are invaluable to them. They will run blood panels that will leave your phlebotomist gasping but again the minutiae of those blood tests will tell them volumes. Why have everyone pointing at you saying you are a little wacko when you are a Peri at heart. You can regain your confidence and feeling of self worth with just a little help.

Armour Update

For those who are interested I have done some research with the help of my functional medicine doctor, Rob Bruley in to the formula changes of Armour Thyroid. As there is quite the buzz about this at the site I think it is good for all of us who take Armour Thyroid to be informed.
Forest Pharmaceutical did willingly talk to Rob Bruley, M.D. and told him there was a formula change within the last year. They did not change any of the active or inactive ingredients. What they did change was the amounts of two inactive ingredients. They decreased the amount of anhydrous dextrose and increased the amount of cellulose. Rob said that the increased amount of cellulose may have the effect of increasing the thyroid effect from a given dosage as I have had to really decrease my dosage of Armour Thyroid.
I had asked Rob about taking it sublingually as recommended at STTM, so he posed the question to them. They responded that they are asked this question frequently but they have no data to prove or disprove relative absorption of the product sublingually vs. swallowing. Therefore, they cannot endorse this route of administration. They say it was never intended to be taken sublingually. Rob also asked about gluten and they said it is gluten free (hurrah!). They also said they use no dyes because they use titanium dioxide as a lightener.
Now I conclude from all of this that one can still take it sublingually if desired, and I do most of the time. However, I also think that it is entirely possible that they tweaked the amount of anhydrous dextrose just enough to make the taste less pallatible when taken sublingually because they know people are doing it and they don’t want to be sued for misuse of the product. We are, after all, a very litigious society and they do have to cover their butts (pardon the expression).
If anything the increased cellulose should cause it to be better absorbed as the tablet will get to the stomach more intact and I know from using cellulose caplets that the cellulose disappears after just a few seconds in water, so it clearly will not last long in stomach acid.
Another issue a person could have with sublingual adminstration is a burst of T3 when you take it and a sudden drop in energy a short time later. As there are days when I don’t want to bother with taking it several times I find swallowing it and getting a slower release easier.
I hope this information is helpful and fairly presented. Please leave any questions or statements by clicking on “comments” and I would love to share what you have to say with other readers.

Filler ‘er up

I am at times perplexed by the willingness of even the most skeptical of us to put things in our mouths and never ask a question about what is in it. I am a skeptic at heart but when my functional medicine doctor advised me to take supplements I dutifully did so and did not read the labels. Apparently I am not “skeptical” if I think I could live a longer, healthier life by doing what I was told.

Fast forward six months or so after my appointment with my doctor and I started to read a lot of articles about fillers in supplements and the harm they can do. In my defense I did discuss this with my doctor and he felt that fillers are not a problem. I might agree if I didn’t take a handful of supplements most days and if they didn’t make me feel bad. Also to my amazement there are reputable manufacturers who make supplements with no fillers but they do cost more.

What are these fillers? Check your label sometime and look to see the words maltodextrin, magnesium stearate, stearic acid, ascorbyl palmitate, titanium dioxide, gelatin, etc. These ingredients have a variety of purposes but most are used as lubricants (magnesium stearate, stearic acid, and ascorby palmitate), some are just fillers that have  excitotoxin properties that will make you feel you are better when you aren’t (gelatin and maltodextrin can both have msg).

Magnesium stearate, stearic acid and ascorbyl palmitate are the ingredients that are the most egregious offenders as they are strictly there to make machinery run at maximum efficiency because they make the ingredients slippery. They are made by hydrogenating cottonseed or palm oil and according to Udo Erasmus “cottonseed has the highest content of pesticide residue of all commercial oils. In the hydrogenation process, the oil is subjected to high heat and pressure in the presence of a metal catalyst for several hours. The resultant stearates contain altered molecules, derived from fatty acids, which may be toxic. The metal catalyst may also contaminate the stearates produced.”  Up to 5% of the average supplement capsule is magnesium stearate, that is 25 mg. According to Ron Schmid, N.D. “if you take 8 capsules a day that is 250 a month-or 6250 mg of this hydrogenated oil, or nearly one-quarter ounce which in a year averages 3 ounces” of pesticide laden artery clogging hydrogenated oil.

Crikey here I am watching every mouthful of food I eat. I buy expensive extra virgin olive oil and grapeseed oil that is organic. I religiously exercise three to four times a week. I try to get my 7-8 hours of sleep at night. I travel to a farm 50 miles from my house to buy raw milk and my eggs come from pastured chickens 30 miles from my home. I eat only grass fed beef and bison. The chicken we eat has had the run of the prairie at Farmer Darryles and the pigs nosh on organic leftover veggies and eggs. All this and I am unknowingly consuming 3 ounces of pure poison and no one bats an eyelash. I am here to tell you that it isn’t necessary and until the consumer speaks up nothing will be done about it. I can also personally attest to the fact that even if you speak up you will be told they are necessary (Byron Richards at Wellness Resources right here in Edina, MN).

I am now on a mission to rid my diet of these fillers yet take the supplements that  might help my body thrive. A friend of mine and I are researching every possible source of filler and additive free supplement and I can provide you with a few sites and supplements to assist you if you are interested. They are as follows:

Dr. Rons Ultra Pure

Professional Supplement Center

HBC Protocols


Baseline Nutritionals

Paradise Herbs

Premier Labs

Viable Herbal Solutions


Dr. Ron’s supplements are pure and unadulterated, all of them. Professional Supplement Center carries Thorne Research, Pure Encapsulations and Metabolic Maintenance. HBS Protocols has some products without fillers like Masquelliers OPC and Idebenone. Iherb has a full line of Dr. Christopher’s herbal supplements that are free of fillers and are all natural formulas for what ails you and they carry Paradise Herbs. If you use my code YAN884 you will get a discount for first time users at Iherb. Baseline Nutritionals are a line of products by Jon Barron and most of his products are free of fillers but you have to watch the tablets or capsules. Premier offers some additive and filler free supplements but not all of them are, so read the label. Vitabase offers some supplements that are free of fillers but again you need to read the label.

I am hoping to entice Chloe to continue her research as she is a fabulous investigator and I will continue to provide you with more supplements that are free of fillers and excitotoxins, so stay tuned and stay healthy.

Emotional Freedom Technique

Have you ever had a problem be it physical or emotional that you simply could not unload? Gary Craig has a unique technique that can provide a person with almost instant relief. I have uploaded a video that you can watch and learn the EFT technique. I think it is a wonderful technique to relieve pain, deal with post traumatic stress syndrome, use for positive affirmation and it is said to help you lose weight. Watch the video and let me know what you think.