If you ask yourself a simple question, how many people do I know who are taking thyroid medications and/or are complaining about lack of energy? When you count the number of people that come to mind, you will be surprised to see how many of us are either taking medication for underactive thyroid or are complaining about lack of energy. Infact, in my practice, most patients complain that they have less energy than they used to, some of them are actually complaining that it interferes with their workday, their social encounters and they also add that they’ve seen few doctors, mainly endocrinologists who attempted to take care of this problem without success, it is true that under-active thyroid is the “new epidemic”, to the point that even Time magazine a few years back, dedicated the front page of its magazine to the so-called epidemic of hypothyroidism.
The thyroid gland is a butterfly shaped gland that is found in the neck, just under the voice box, this gland secretes mainly 2 hormones and one of them is T-4 and the other one id T-3, these hormones dictate to every cell in the body how much energy to make, we need to understand that the composition of these two hormones are 80% T-4 and 20% T-3, we also need to understand that T-4, and its name is T-4 because of the 4 iodine molecules that accompany every molecule of thyroid hormone, T-4 is not an active hormone, it has to be converted to T-3 by an enzyme that is going to take away one of the iodine molecules from the T-4 and therefore converting it to T-3, the thyroid gland works in conjunction with another important gland called the adrenal glands, the adrenal glands are small glands weighing about 10 grams each, that are anatomically found on top of our kidneys. These glands are in charge of emergency response of our body, to any kind of stressful event. The analogy to the energy that is “moving our body forward” is likened to 2 horses that are pulling our body forward, one of them is the adrenal and one of them is the thyroid, it is important to note that if we don’t support both glands, we will not achieve the right level of energy that we desire, one of the issues with conventional medicine regarding this issue is the fact that, conventional doctors do not understand the intimate connection between the two glands and when they support one gland with medication and not the other, the results are going to be less than optimal and if you ask yourself a simple question, why does conventional medicine not acknowledge or treat Adrenal-Fatigue which is present most, if not all the times that we have complaints about insufficiency of the thyroid, the singular reason is there are no prescription drugs other than obviously Hydrocortisone, that is meant to help the gland function better, yet in holistic medicine there are many ways to support the gland and help it reach its optimum and therefore complete the circle and give the patient the amount of energy that they want and need.
Another common problem that I find interviewing my patients is that, they were diagnosed with underactive thyroid, utilizing blood testing, they were put on medication, usually Synthroid, which is a synthetic T-4 medication, they got some improvement regarding their energy level, but shortly thereafter, they found themselves back in the same situation of lack of energy as before they started the treatment. The main problem that is causing this issue is linked to the fact that conventional medicine decides about how much thyroid support needs to be given to a patient by one parameter that is found in blood testing, that is TSH; Thyroid Stimulating Hormone, when you give thyroid hormone to a patient, the TSH which is a hormone being secreted by the Pituitary gland which controls the thyroid gland activity will decrease because it will sense that you have enough thyroid hormone on board.
Conventional medicine has decided “what are the normal levels of the TSH hormone”. In my experience, over the last 20 years, dealing with this issue from the holistic point of view, I found that patients who are clinically balanced, as far as the thyroid hormone is concerned will have lower than normal TSH. So the usual scenario that I see with my patients are the following; patients go to their endocrinologist, they have been diagnosed with under-active thyroid/hypothyroidism and they are being put on medication, they usually feel better and they are very happy about it, when they go back in 3 months for repeat blood test, the doctor is alarmed because the TSH is “too low”, the metered assumption is the patient is taking too much thyroid medication and most of the times, the doctor will decrease the amount of medication prescribed to that patient. As a result, the symptoms that the patients complained about to begin with which is mainly fatigue, depression, hair loss, weight gain, etcetera will definitely be an issue again.
Another problem that we find again in clinical medicine is that, not all patients are able to convert the inactive T-4 into active T-3 and therefore will not have the optimal results that they are expecting by taking T-4. So, the question is, what can we do in other to make sure that, number one, we diagnosed the patients correctly and number two, we treat them correctly, the answer is not complicated. First and foremost, “we miss a lot of patients who are actually presently with under-active thyroid” because their blood tests are not showing it, their TSH is normal, T-3 is within the normal range and so is T-4, that kind of lab testing results automatically excludes them from the possibility of having an issue with underactive thyroid.
The problem is that, in many cases, the doctor totally ignores multiple complaints that are directly related to under-active thyroid, for instance, weight gain, lack of energy, depression, hair loss, constipation, dry skin, irregular periods, infertility, feeling cold most of the time, cold extremities, lower body temperature, puffiness of the skin especially the upper arms and face, losing the outer of the brow and other symptoms that are at the hallmark of underactive thyroid.
Regardless of all these possible symptoms that patients present themselves with, if their blood test do not support the diagnosis of underactive thyroid, they will not be diagnosed as such and they will not be treated, they will be given other medications like antidepressants and variety of other medications that are supposed to address the symptoms, but none of them would be helping the main issue which is under-active thyroid. In my practice, when I diagnose any patient with under-active thyroid, the treatment plan is rather simple, obviously stated before, I support the adrenal gland, these are supplements that are supposed to help the gland produce more of the hormones that are needed but also in case of over-activity of the glands, there are supplementations designed to decrease the gland’s activity. In other words, these are called adaptogens which are certain herbs that help the gland function at its best, some patients would actually need adrenal glandular extract to help them with their energy needs and to function together with the thyroid in other to achieve optimal health. As for thyroid itself, I like to use natural desiccated thyroids, one of the commercial names are Armour thyroid or Nature-Throid or West-Throid. All these medications are made from animal’s thyroid gland and they contain 80% T-4 and 20% T-3. Many patients will do very well on these two combinations.
However, there are other patients that need more adjustments to their daily regimen because they are not achieving the right amount of energy they deserve. In that case, I usually add to the daily regiment, a T-3 supplementation since as we mentioned before, T-3 is a ready-made energy.
I assess every patient as being their own individual, with their individual needs, their metabolism, their dietary habits, etcetera and together we find out the exact amount of thyroid energy or supplementation they need and what kind of combination of these prescriptions, hence natural supplement each patient needs. The positive change in these patients lives is remarkable, the change occurs very rapidly within 2 weeks and they feel like “somebody put on the light for me”. Also, we need to be aware that the amount of medication or supplementations that each patient needs may change overtime and also we need to be upgrading the amount that they take periodically until we hit the sweet spot.
I also educate my patients as to their condition and offer them variety of books to read and articles to read, in other for them to understand exactly what is happening in their system and to empower them to understand that they actually know how much thyroid support that they need and if they pay attention to these needs, they will have the right amount of supplementation and prescription drugs as needed, in other to get them healthy, energetic and happy life
LEAKY GUT SYNDROME
If you ask a conventional doctor to explain to you what Leaky-Gut syndrome is, you most likely would get a “strange look”, meaning I really don’t know what you are talking about. However, if you do research about Leaky-Gut Syndrome, you will find an abundant amount of information regarding this syndrome.
So, the next question you may ask yourself is how come there is so much information about this syndrome, mainly in holistic literature and yet conventional doctors “refuse to either accept this reality or are not interested in understanding this reality” because there is really no prescription drug that can repair or correct the issues that cause this syndrome to begin with.
The easiest way to describe this syndrome is by understanding that the lining of the gut is the barrier between the outside world and the inside of our body, allowing foreign materials like food to be processed via gastric acid and digestive enzymes and the bile basically into the micronutrients which are the amino acids, fatty acids and sugars. Once the food is being digested into these basic molecules, then they are assimilated and absorbed into the circulation and therefore can be used for energy production and repair.
The absorption and assimilation process in the small intestine can be described as a very active process, in other words, when amino acids, fatty acids or sugars are flowing within the gut lumen, there is an active process by which the cells in the gut lining actually capture those molecules and bring them into the circulation.
In other to avoid any accidental entrance or access to molecules and/or bacteria that can cause inflammation and/or disease, the cells of the intestines are joined together in a very tight fashion and the junction in between those cells is a good effective barrier to prevent any unwanted molecules and/or bacteria from penetrating into the organism and therefore create disease. However, when incomplete digestions occur, due to lack of hydrochloric acids or insufficient amount of digestive enzymes or environment of bacteria which is not symbiotic to the human body, inflammation starts to develop within the cells of the lining of the gut. This inflammation, if allowed to last long enough, creates enlargement of this junction between the cells, creating very small gaps in between the cells, but large enough to allow molecules and/or bacteria to penetrate into the human body.
Obviously, the immune system recognizes these molecules and bacteria as foreign bodies and mount a defense mechanism or counter-defensive methods in other to protect the body. However, this defense mechanism is usually represented by local inflammation that is designed to kill any invader, the problem is that this local acute inflammation if not resolved becomes chronic inflammation, this chronic inflammation actually increases the gaps between the cells and therefore it is a catch 22 that continues to evolve and create more and more gaps and therefore increases the chance and the possibility for all these compounds that are not supposed to go inside the body to actually enter the circulation and therefore the body.
When we are talking about gaps between the various cells in the lumen; the intestinal lumen, we are talking about gaps that can be measured and seen only under an electron microscope, in other words, if a biopsy is being conducted of a small bowel just to see if there is any inflammation or any chronic disease, the regular light microscope is not going to be able to show that, because you need a much higher magnification to see those gaps being enlarged from a regular or healthy bio-cells.
So, the question that one may ask is, do I have Leaky-Gut Syndrome? The simple answer is that, all humans have Leaky-Gut Syndrome to one degree or another, any kind of symptoms that are associated with this syndrome are obviously related to the severity and the amount of gaps in between the cells. In other words, the larger the gaps, the more gaps we have, the more symptoms usually we are exhibiting.
The symptoms may range from minor, like inheritable bio-syndrome which can manifest itself with low indigestion, sometimes constipation, sometimes loose bowels, discomfort, up to very dilapidating diseases like Crohn’s disease and all sorts of Colitis.
So, how do we prevent and/or treat Leaky-Gut Syndrome? In other to prevent Leaky-Gut Syndrome or keep it at very low level, we need to start by eating the right foods or rather, eliminating foods that are inflammatory, for instance, all wheat, all gluten, diary, sugar, these are inflammatory foods that are actually contributing to causing the Leaky-Gut Syndrome to become more pronounced.
I usually offer my patients substitution to these three “forbidden foods”. Instead of having the multi-grained bread, I suggest to recourse to sprouted bread, even though sprouted bread may contain wheat, it is usually organic wheat and it looks like organic sprouted wheat, does not have the same inflammatory characteristics that regular non-organic wheat, which are usually close to chemicals like Round-Up.
Instead of regular pasta, I suggest my patients consume brown rice pasta or quinoa pasta, bean pasta etcetera. Instead of consuming regular diary, I suggest to move to goat milk products, more goat cheese, goat milk, which are apparently much more tolerable than the regular milk which is produced by corn-eating cows. Instead of consuming sugar, I recommended we used stevia, can use honey, organic agave.
Once we eliminate the foods that are inflammatory in their presentation, we need to also improve the digestions to an optimal condition. Usually it means, helping the digestion by taking hydrochloric acids, digestive enzymes and bile that actually help digest all the food that we consume into the micronutrients of amino acids, fatty acids and sugars.
The third component and maybe the most important one is the makeup of the bacterial environment within the gut. There are mainly 2 types of bacteria that reside in our guts; one belongs to the Saprophytic or Symbiotic bacteria that actually help us digest the food, make B Vitamins, Vitamin K and actually help us eliminate toxicity and we have the Pathogenic bacteria that actually consumes our food and create toxicity. Also, it is important to mention good yeast versus bad yeast, one of the members of the “good yeast” family is called sacromyeces [inaudible 14:40] and supporting the gut with the supplement actually help us keep the candida and other molds into a very small contingency that would not increase the Leaky-Gut Syndrome and endanger our health by exposing us to their toxicity and bye-products.
In addition to these items, I also recommend a variety of supplementations that are specifically designed to heal the gut, like DGL, Deglycyrrhized Licorice, another product is called IGG 2000 which stands for Immune Globulin G 2000. These globulins are designed to protect the gut barrier and by taking it as a supplement, they promote healing of the Leaky-Gut, in other words, closing of those spaces in between the cells and therefore sealing it again and preventing entrance of unwanted particles, molecules, bacteria, etcetera into the system.
I jokingly mentioned to my patients that fighting or repairing or preventing Leaky-Gut Syndrome is equivalent to a “lifetime achievement award” because the battle within our gut is continuous, 24/7 throughout our life, so it’s not enough to follow the guidelines that are just elucidated temporarily but rather do it continuously, on daily basis in other to avoid Leaky-Gut and/or repair the Leaky-Gut.
It’s important to note that “healthy gut” means healthy organism. We need to understand that Leaky-Gut and chronic inflammation is the leading cause for all chronic diseases, whether it be arthritis, whether it be heart disease, Alzheimer’s and cancer.
Over the last 18 years in holistic medicine, I have seen hundreds of patients improve their life significantly, from the brinks of severe and chronic dilapidation to a lifestyle that is no more and healthy. I also realized that changing lifestyle is probably the hardest thing that we need to do, but when I explain to my patients the importance of this lifestyle change, those who follow my advice will get better and they have gotten better.