On the search to feel more energetic, more upbeat and regulate weight with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and Graves’ disease? Have you heard about the mineral selenium?It is one of the most extensively researched, science based, natural treatments for reducing the autoimmune attack on the thyroid!
Do you have Hashimoto’s and have not been able to lose weight even though you are medicated?
This week I read a new study that might just signal some help for those suffering with the all too common symptom of weight gain and the difficulty of losing weight with hypothyroidism caused by Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.
Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (Hashimoto’s) is the most common autoimmune disorder in the world affecting more than 10% of females and 2% of males causing hypothyroidism with fatigue, weight gain / difficulty losing weight, infertility, constipation, depression, anxiety and panic attacks, dry skin, dry hair, hair loss, swelling and more.
A study was completed on women in their 30‘s whose lab tests were showing a slowing of thyroid function because of Hashimoto’s but they were not yet bad enough to need medication – medically these patients are said to be ‘sub-clinically hypothyroid’ (Nordio & Pajalich, 2013). It’s important to acknowledge that whilst lab results may not have not declined enough to support medication the person could be experiencing the unpleasant symptoms of a slow thyroid (Davis & Tremont, 2007). Continue reading “Hypothyroid, not yet medicated, but need to feel better?”→
So you’ve been told your thyroid is normal but you are still exhausted, forgetful & gaining weight? Did you know your immune system could be causing these symptoms 7 years before they show up on your ‘thyroid test’ (TSH test)?
It’s the Easter Sunday tally of chocolate and hot cross buns and it’s time to get science to help me prevent pimples popping-up like bunny rabbits! In 7 days I will be standing in front of a group of gals talking evidence based health solutions and a visage resembling a pizza is not a confidence booster – it’s emergency strategy time.
Don’t believe me that chocolate and hot cross buns can cause acne? Studies on twins have proven that whilst the tendency to spots can run in families diet has a very large impact on whether or not your face has an outcrop of zits (6).
In fact the conservative Journal of Dermato-endocrinology said “nutrition is one of the most important parameters that is involved in modulating skin health and condition” (3).
The scientific research on the causes of acne:
Cows milk including skim milk. Proven by studies on girls before menarche (onset of their period) and in adult women (6).
Heart cells can only use a biologically active thyroid hormone (T3) that is not commonly tested nor prescribed in Australia. If you do not have the correct amount of T3 getting into your heart an alarming array of signs and symptoms can develop with fatal outcomes.
Drs’ Klein and Danzi in the American Heart Association publication, Circulation* claim:
“low T3 is a strong predictor of all cause and cardiovascular mortality” and that T3 is a stronger predictor than age, poorly regulated fats or malfunctioning heart muscle.
Too much T3 in hyperthyroidism and Graves can be just as fatal as too little in hypothyroidism and Hashimotos.
My mum died of a sudden and fatal heart attack after years of being regarded as the “healthy one” having dodged the family narrative of autoimmune diseases, arthritis and dementia.
When my mum died I started researching what would have caused an otherwise healthy woman to have such a massive heart attack. I was shocked to learn heart disease is the #1 cause of death for Australian women. 4 x as many women die of coronary heart disease than from breast cancer in Australia!
And even more frightening it is very common for a woman having a heart attack to discount and ignore her symptoms as the tremendous chest pain that men report is not likely for a woman.
In one study, 58% of women reported the comparatively gentle symptom of breathlessness. Others reported vague symptoms of weakness, unusual fatigue, cold sweats and dizziness yet no chest pain.
The morning of my mother’s heart attack she chatted on the phone with a girlfriend sharing how she felt really tired but she couldn’t work out why. She told her friend she thought she just needed pep up with a strong cup of tea so she was heading to the shops to get some milk for her cuppa. Less than 1 hour after this phone call to her friend my mum had a massive heart attack at her local grocery store and did not survive.
If you suffer any combination of these more subtle symptoms for more than a few minutes, particularly if you are a woman, please seek medical help quickly:
Ache or pain in the upper back, jaw or neck
Sudden difficulty breathing
Sudden overwhelming fatigue or weakness
Flu-like symptoms: nausea, vomiting, cold sweats
Sudden anxiety, malaise and loss of appetite.
February is Heart Research Month a great time to think about our heart health, and for me, to honour my mum Roslyn. Let’s have a closer look at the top 3 risk factors you can do something about that have a huge impact of your heart:
High blood pressure: shockingly 2 – 3 x more common in women than in men.
Smoking: even more harmful in women than in men.
Diabetes: again even more scary for women than men diabetes increases the risk of heart attack by 3 – 7 x in women compared with 2 – 3 x in men.
Frighteningly Heart Research Australia claim “women are much less likely than men to change risky behaviours” relating to their heart health. High blood pressure, smoking cessation and diabetes are all health issues that can be managed, controlled and reduced.
Always make sure you speak with your GP to get an accurate picture of your current heart health and as a naturopath I believe it is my role to increase your chance of sticking to and committing to decisions that make for a long and healthy life through:
Education based on valid scientific research
Mood-lifting herbs and supplements that help reduce the cravings and anxiety that can accompany withdrawal from sugar, salt and cigarettes
Ongoing coaching and motivation to address your risk factors and goals.
Do you know your risk factors? What is stopping you from loving your heart?
What can you do when that lovin’ feeling is gone, gone, gone?* And where does it go? Are there any facts supporting the claims that aphrodisiacs can bring your sexy back**?
Lost libido can be an early warning sign or further proof that something is not quite right with your health, your diet or your lifestyle. Not feeling the urge should not be ignored. It might in fact be an important clue in detecting what is happening and hidden in your body.
Feeling fatigued is a wide-spread problems for about 20% of our population who possess so little energy their exhaustion interferes with their ability to enjoy a normal life (9).
Are there evidence-based solutions that boost your energy that don’t leave you crashing and worse-off?
The simplest, natural treatment for fatigue is rest and sleep. Sadly this solution is often not possible or effective in cases when the lack of energy is caused by an underlying health problem, medication, or chronic long term stress (9).
Thankfully there are a wide range of solutions that are effective, affordable and easy to implement.
Feeling tired, teary & sluggish? Can’t lose fat or gain muscle?
You might have one of the most common chronic disorders – hypothyroidism.
A whopping 5% of the total population have hypothyroidism and as you age your risk increases. Inyour 50’s and 60’s 10% of the population have hypothyroidism. Plus it’smore common in women than men (2, 3). Continue reading “Tired, teary & sluggish?”→
I’ve put loads more information on Rhodiola below or if you’d like to talk about if Rhodiola could help you with fatigue, low mood or feeling overwhelmed please contact me on (02) 4968 2157.
Rhodiola rosea in more detail
Who was Rhodiola trialled on?
146 people with diagnosed major depressive disorder in 2 randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials.
714 people with diagnosed stress induced mild depression (diagnosed as asthenic syndrome or psychoneurosis) from 7 open-label studies.
How does Rhodiola work?
Rhodiola has been found to produce a variety of mediator interactions with several molecular networks of neuroendocrine-immune and neurotransmitter receptor systems likely to be involved in the pathophysiology of depression.
Is Rhodiola safe?
The scientists also found Rhodiola was well-tolerated with a favorable safety profile.
As a trained herbalist I do however caution if you are trying to fall pregnant, are currently pregnant or lactating unless you are under the care of a trained herbalist you are best not to use Rhodiola. I also caution my caffeine loving clients that Rhodiola in combination with caffeine may cause unpleasant side effects.
I’ve not heard of Rhodiola before – tell me more about it!
Rhodiola rosea is commonly referred to as Golden Root or Roseroot and grows in dry sandy ground at high altitudes in the arctic regions of Europe and Asia. The freshly cut root has a rose-like odour that has led to its botanical name and one of its common names. The root has been used for centuries in the traditional medicines of Russia and Scandinavia.
Give me the bottom line, what did the scientists conclude about Rhodiola?
Rodiola demonstrated multi-target effects on various levels of the regulation of cell response to stress, affecting various components of the neuroendocrine, neurotransmitter receptor and molecular networks associated with possible beneficial effects on mood.
Reduced sex drive in women can have a profound negative impact on their quality of life. When sexual desire decreases there really isn’t a pill you can pop or food you can eat that will miraculously create the urge to merge (Arcos, 2004).
There is no one solution because we women are complex! It could be due to altered hormone levels, decreased vaginal lubrication, and/or pain – especially common with thyroid disorders and throughout menopause. Or flagging libido could be a hint at a more serious underlying health concern needing investigation (Arcos, 2004).
So what can you do when you want to get it on?
As an evidence based practitioner I abhor the massive ads on billboards and social media claiming miracle responses in pills and potions for this very complex issue. It is not a well researched topic in the scientific literature so I can’t support strong claims on the effectiveness of any product unless I see the research… in short …show me the data (Just warning you now if you follow that link you’ll get 2 glorious minutes of early-Tom Cruise & a half naked Cuba Gooding under the guise of it being related to evidence based solutions …surely permissible on a post about female libido )
So do we give up? No not at all! There are many strategies that have been shown time and again to work to restore desire it’s just that if they don’t work for you it’s time to do some investigative work with a trained professional to get to the bottom of why your libido is lost.
I often find myself using these strategies with my clients with some degree of usefulness.
L-arginine, an amino acid, is the precursor to nitric oxide involved in the relaxation of (vascular and nonvascular smooth muscle of) the clitoris and vagina (Kellogg-Spadt & Albaugh, 2003).
Arginine is a widely used and typically helpful therapy for assisting men to achieve erection and it seems in the early research on women it could also be useful to enhance female orgasm and female desire (Youngworth, Chek, & Zaslau, 2001).
If you have a history of the herpes simplex virus you need to know that high doses of L-arginine can potentiate oral and/or genital herpes outbreaks.
Damiana is a plant used traditionally in herbalism as an aphrodisiac for women. It is thought it works to enhance dopamine levels in the brain (Kellogg-Spadt & Albaugh, 2003).
Although there are no quality studies on Damiana used alone anecdotal reports tout the effectiveness of a daily cup of Damiana tea for increasing female sexual desire (Ratsch, 1997; Watson, 1993). A cup of organic, herbal tea which tastes quite nice is a pretty cheap, low risk strategy to try and you never know it might just work for you!
L-arginine & Damiana used together
Preliminary double-blind, placebo-controlled studies of oral supplements containing L-arginine and Damiana have demonstrated that up to 70% of pre and postmenopausal women experience significant improvement in desire and sexual responsiveness after 4 to 6 weeks of daily use (Trant & Polan, 2000).
Relaxation & Marvin Gaye
The cycle of sexual response begins in the brain, where a memory, an image, a scent, music, or a fantasy can act as a trigger to prompt sexual arousal. Thus, the brain may be the key and good starting place for treatment of sexual dysfunction (Arcos, 2004).
My prescription is for at least 15 uninterrupted minutes in a relaxing bath with
The amazing peeps at Harvard are trying to help the average shopper interested in their health with an article on why information on nutrients and supplements (and I think herbs too) is so confusing and overwhelming.
Simply put it comes back to the science: what formulation of the nutrient was used in the scientific trials, what dosage, what gender were the participants, what age were they, how long did they take the nutrient for and importantly were the participants healthy or sick? Even more confused? Well that’s not surprising!
In short has the person giving you the advice read the original research or are they aware of the original research specific to differing formulations, dosage, duration of treatment and suitability for population groups? I’m often reading blogs my clients ask me to check out for them on thyroid issues, menopause & PMS and I am pretty frequently amazed/horrified by the misinformation being peddled by clearly caring and well meaning human beings who just unfortunately haven’t read the original research. ‘Cause only when you know this level of detail can you draw a conclusion on whether or not you will get the sorts of results you are after.
I call this ‘bang for your buck’! A simple strategy of only using nutritional supplements and herbs that have been tested on people that are similar to you.
Personally I think it is just not ethical to lump all the results of all the trials on a specific nutrient/herb together, mash them up, and spit out a universal one liner.
Let me give you an example I hear almost every day: a client will ask me if magnesium is good for their thyroid disease/ weight problem/ muscle soreness/ constipation/ skin issues/ period pain/ mood disorder/ sleep issues etc etc because they are beginning to suspect their very expensive bottle of magnesium is not working for them.
Well if we dive into the detail here for a moment different formulations of magnesium at differing dosages have been shown to help with most of these concerns, however, the type of magnesium may mean you are taking a pill you hope will help with your period pain when all it has been tested to do is relieve constipation! Or you are taking too small a dosage to have any impact at all and wondering why you are the only person not on the magnesium bandwagon.
This is one of the reasons why I became an evidence based natural therapist – yes it is more work but it is also more rewarding seeing my patients’ health improve!
You can read the article that started this conversation, some might say rant, here.
Have you ever been given advice on a nutrient or herb that you later found just simply did not work for you?
For more information or to contact me for a consultation (02) 4968 2157
Ahhh the irony ‘smudging’ my new room in the integrative medical practice where I proudly use scientific, research methodology to help people get better.
Have you heard of smudging? It’s an ancient practice of native Americans where they burn herbs, mainly white sage, to waft smoke through the air of a space to cleanse the location and sometimes people of any unwanted energies that may be lingering.
Sometimes balancing my passionate belief and practice of evidence-based, natural medicine with the kookier cross-cultural traditions of herbalism makes me dive straight into a peer review journal article to see if I can find some kernel of fact in these practices.
Guess what I found?! A study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology proved medicinal smoke produced from burning wood and a mixture of smelly medicinal herbs caused a 94% reduction of bacterial counts in 60 minutes! Link to study here if you want to check it out.
It seems as if there may be some basis in fact to why native Americans used to burn herbs to clear their air. Whether or not my efforts create a fresh space remains to be seen …at least there will be less chance of catching a bug in my rooms 😉
If you are keen to ‘smudge’ your space please make sure you keep the smoke well away from your smoke detectors and sprinkler systems unless you want to add a water element to your ritual.
Blitz together in food processor / Thermomix 3 secs (speed 5 for Thermie lovers).
Dump into large bowl & take 1 serving for lunch. Cover tightly and enjoy the rest with dinner. I don’t find I need a dressing with this salad as the beetroot, carrot, apple and onion all get very moist when you process them together.
This salad is paleo, AIP (autoimmune paleo/protocol), thyroid friendly, Mediterranean diet friendly, low calorie, low fat… let’s face it this salad should join the UN it crosses so many different diet boundaries!
I add a tin of Wild Alaskan Pink Salmon to this meal to boost the protein, calcium, essential fatty acid content and most importantly for me personally balance my blood sugar levels so I stay energised and calm all afternoon!
I drain the tin into a sink and with a fork mush the bones into the salmon flesh so they become one with the salmon.
Making the salad and adding the salmon takes only a few moments so really most of my 5 minutes is spent cleaning up! I rinse the food processor bowl and drain it on the sink and pop my leftovers in the fridge. I also had time to spare to take a quick pic & upload to Facebook 😉