The Symphony Orchestra Of Hormones In Our Bodies

Posted On February 16, 2021 at 6:40 am by / No Comments

The Symphony Orchestra Of Hormones In Our Bodies

It is important to realize that the different hormones in the human body affect each other, almost as though they are all part of a symphony orchestra with each player (hormone) playing its part.

The thyroid is one of these players. Thyroid hormones are necessary in infants for the normal development of the central nervous system, in children for normal skeletal growth, and in adults for normal functioning or all organs and systems.

Thyroid hormones affect tissue growth and maturation, help regulate fat digestion, and increase carbohydrate absorption from the diet.

An imbalance in your thyroid function can affect every metabolic function in your body. For example, if your thyroid is not functioning properly, you do not build muscle. Low thyroid levels also directly cause low pregnenolone levels, which can result in low levels of dhea and sex hormone, which are the other hormones that pregnenolone is a precursor of.

Even mild thyroid dysfunction is associated with heart disease. Low T3 results in less cholesterol being removed from your blood which cause bad cholesterol (LDL) to rise. Many people with fibromyalgia have thyroid disease.

Many other hormones also play in this finely-tuned orchestra, and the ratio between all your hormones is important for optimal health.

If your thyroid is balanced with the correct medication and your symptoms still do not improve, you must definiely check other hormones. I would suggest a decent hormone profiling by an endocrinologist or anti-aging physician with necessary treatments/supplements depending on your unique profile.

You do not have to learn to live with it!

Correcting hormones

Because the hormones in the body are so inter-related, one can’t just treat a dysfunctioning thyroid on its own. The American academy of antiaging medicine suggests this order to follow to correct hormones:

Correct the adrenals first. 80% of adrenal fatigue sufferers also have a number of symptoms of an underactive thyroid. In these people the strengthening of both the adrenal and thyroid function is required. And often people who are unresponsive to thyroid therapy are suffering from adrenal fatigue

Then determine the need for progesterone and the dose — progesterone is deficienct before even estrogen during the premenopausel/menopause.

Blood testing of progesterone levels should be done before using a natural progesterone replacement. Follow up testing of levels is important.

Then determine the need for estradiol (estrogen) and the correct dose. Then test and correct the thyroid function and the testosterone levels.

Thyroid hormones

TSH: the thyroid stimulating hormone, made in your pituitary gland in your brain.
T4: called thyroxine, made by the thyroid gland.
T3: made in your tissues by conversion of T4 to T3. T3 is 5 times more active than T4.
T4: 80% of the thyroid’s production, can also be converted to inactive for reverse T3.
T2: increases the metabolic rate of muscle and fat tissue.
T1: thyronamine (two tyrosine molecules coupled)

Thyroid Problems

Underactive Thyroid

Research shows that the incidence of hypothyroidism is on the increase. According to researchers possible reasons for this are that with better medical care hypothyroid children now survive and pass on their genes, that hypothyroidism sufferers are addicted to hypothyroidism mates because they have the same low activity lifestyle, due to environmental toxicity with heavy metals and other toxins, and because these people are underdiagnosed.

Many of the symptoms of an underactive thyroid are “head”, rather than “body”, such as:

  • Anxiety
  • depression
  • confusion
  • difficulty concentrating
  • insomnia
  • irritability
  • lethargy
  • memory loss

 

Other Symptoms

Your basal body temperature, taken before getting up in the morning is low (eg <36.7 (oral), <36.2 (underarm).

Your stamina or capacity does not improve with increased exercise (typically your stamina and capacity increase with repeated exercise, even if you have adrenal fatigue).

At 9:30pm you hit a wall and are ready for bed but there is no second wind at 11pm (as is seen in typical adrenal fatigue).

Your reaction time is slower than you know it should be.

You gain weight easily, especially around your thighs and hips, even when eating the right foods in normal sized portions.

The outside of your eyebrows are much thinner than normal.

You are feeling sluggish and not fully awake much of the day. People with pure adrenal fatigue usually feel awake by 10am or if not by 10am, at least after the lunch time meal.

Cold intolerance, diminished food intake.

Your energy does not noticeably improve after your evening meal or after 6pm.

You should also check your thyroid functions if you have been diagnosed with adrenal fatigue, chronic fatigue or the menopause.

 

Medical Problems of Hypothyroid Sufferers

Constipation, dry skin, brittle nails, pericardial fluid accumulation (fluid on the heart), goiter (enlarged thyroid gland in the neck), elevation of blood pressure, joint and muscle aches, puffiness of the face and eyelids, thickening of the tongue, thinning eyebrows, weight change, heavy menstrual periods, cold intolerance.

 

Symptoms of an overactive thyroid

Angina, chest pain, fatigue, frequent bowel movement, irregular menstrual cyclye, muscle atrophy or cramps or weakness, nervousness, palpitations, rapid heart  beat, sensitivity to heat, weight loss, sweating, weak nails, swelling of the fingers.

At The Doctor

If you suspect a thyroid problem and your doctor sends you for thyroid studies, you should ask that your entire thyroid panel be measured. This includes your free T3, free T4, reverse T3 (if available), TSH and thyroid antibodies (thyroglobulin and throperoxidaes antibodies).

If your antibodies are high they can stop your thyroid hormone from attaching to your thyroid receptors. Consequently you can get symptoms of decreased thyroid function even when your blood levels are adequate.

Furthermore there are factors such as iron deficiency and physical inactivity that can impair your body’s response to T3, which will cause you to have symptoms of low thyroid even with a normal blood level.

Hypothyroidism is often misdiagnosed because doctors often concentrate on TSH and T4 rather than a full thyroid hormone profile. There are numerous reasons for this, including cost and unawareness of the importance of T3, and of the presence of antibodies.

If your doctor only checks TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) and T4, a lot of missed diagnoses will be made. You cannot assess thyroid function by doing a T4 and TSH only. T3 is the most important hormone metabolically and should be checked. Unfortunately many doctors only test for T4.

Replacing T4 and T3 is often much more effective than merely replacing T4.

I think us as doctors should remember to treat our patients rather than the lab result. It isn’t always good medical practice to chase lab numbers, ignoring the patients’ symptoms. We should treat patients rather than blood levels!

A thyroid flickergram, a nuclear medicine test, can also be done to distinguish between Graves’ disease and thyroiditis in people with an overactive thyroid.

Typically there is an increased uptake of radioactive iodine if you have Graves disease (a disease where you have positive antibodies called long-acting thyroid stimulators – LATS) or a decreased uptake of the radioactive isotope if you have thyroiditis.

How you respond to thyroid hormone is determined by your own genetic makeup.    If you are sensitive to thyroid hormone replacement, you may have a problem with detoxifying, e.g. with the build up of toxins, neurotoxins, immune toxicity and liver dysfunction.

 

Thyroid Antibodies

If your antibodies are too high this can stop even a normal of thyroid hormone binding to the receptors and lead to symptomatic hypothyrodism.

 

Causes of Raised Thyroid Antibodies

Trauma, poor function of your gut, inflammation, thyroid degeneration, auto-immune diseases.

Thyroid Treatment

Apart from taking thyroid hormones, the following thyroid supplements can be taken

  • Thyroid type formulas containing gugulipid, tyrosine, potassium iodate and guggulipid (extract). These nutrients stimulate the thyroid gland to increase the production of thyroid hormones.
  • Tyrosine:  amino acid, an essential component of thyroid hormones.
  • Potassium iodate: a daily intake of 1ug/kg body weight has been shown to prevent goiter.
  • Guggulipid: enhances the uptake of iodine into the thyroid and enhances the production of T3 and T4.

Diet

Avoid goitrogens. If you have symptoms of thyropause, you need to stay away from foods known as goitrogens.  These foods interfere with the functioning of the thyroid gland. They are cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, kale, and also mustard greens, turnips.

Other goitrogen foods include soybeans, peaches, strawberries, peanuts, radishes, spinach and millet grain.

Eat Iodine-rich food
Such as fish, seafood and sea vegetables. If your blood pressure isn’t a problem iodine rich salt is an option.
Food which will also boost your serotonin levels
Cheese; chicken; egg yolks; lean meat; lentils; milk; molasses; sea salt, seaweed, turkey

Thyropause-reversing meals
Omelet with low fat cheddar cheese; black bean soup; lentil soup; organic turkey; lean steak with green bean salad.

Healthy thyroid, healthy body

When you take care of someone’s thyroid function many aspects of one’s health might improve.  When the thyroid malfunctions, the pauses in the human body will be affected in the following way:

 

Cardiopause

Changes in your thyroid can affect your cholesterol levels, your heart rhythm, and your risk for coronary artery disease. Women with untreated underactive thyroid are twice as likely to have a heart attack.

Osteopause

Elevating thyroid function improves joint pain and arthritis.

Dermatopause

Increases in thyroid hormone can improve dry skin.

Menopause

Your ovaries have thyroid hormone receptors and your thyroid gland has ovarial receptors, thus often at the time of menopause there is a thyropause as well. A decrease in thyroid hormone levels results in decreased sexual libido; enhancing it will improve your days and nights.

Actual menopause (the decline of progesterone and estrogen production) typically occurs between 45 and 55. However, once you are symptomatic the menopause is already in the middle of its course!

Menopause actually starts around 35 and can take ten to 15 years before it is completed. Hormonal imbalances can begin even earlier when brain stress is high.

Perimenopause

The beginning of menopausal symptoms, which can occur from two to eight years before full blown menopause begins. Postmenopause is past the point of menopause, where symptoms are no longer noticeable.

 

Hormonal pauses

The human body goes through a number of hormonal pauses and as a result of these hormonal declines,we age.

We already know about thyropause, in which the thyroid system weakens, and menopause, when sex hormone loss (progesterone, estrogen and testosterone) in women occurs.

Here are some of the other pauses we go through:

  • Biopause: the brain’s neurotransmitters decline
  • Electropause:  the brain loses processing speed
  • Cardiopause: the heart rate increases when pumping efficiency decreases
  • Vasculopause: blood vessel diameter increases
  • Immunopause: immune system weakens
  • Andropause: hormone loss in men
  • Osteopause: bone loses density and becomes more brittle
  • Somatopause: muscles lose strength and tone
  • Dermatopause: the skin loses collagen and elasticity

 

Other symptoms

Menopause

Hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, vaginal odor, mood swings, irritability, insomnia, depression, loss of sexual interest, hair growth on the face, painful intercourse, failure to ovulate; panic attacks, weird dreams, urinary tract infections, vaginal itching, lower back pain, bloating, flatulence, osteoporosis, aching ankles or other joints, hair loss, frequent urination, snoring, sore breasts, palpitations, dizzy spells, panic attacks, attention deficiencies; memory lapses, migraine headaches, varicose veins, urinary leakage; abdominal weight gain.

Decreased estrogen

Thinner skin, more wrinkles, aging skin, decrease in breast size, stress incontinence, oily skin, acne, decreased sex drive, decreased dexterity, increase in insulin resistance and possible diabetes, vaginal dryness, decreased memory, osteoporosis, urinary tract infections, increased cholesterol.

 

Interesting facts about estrogen

Smokers have lower levels of estrogen; stress suppresses estrogen function; hot flashes can be due to fluctuating levels rather than decreased levels of estrogen; high fat foods increase the recirculation of estrogen through your liver and may predispose you to breast cancer; a high fat diet increases estradiol; omega 3 fatty acids can decrease the effects of estrogen.

Falling estrogen levels are usually due to the menopause, ovarial failure, sometimes premature ovarial failure, a hysterectomy and/or oophorectomy.

Too much estrogen

Cervical dysplasia, decreased sexual interest, depression with anxiety or agitation, increased risk of uterine cancer, weight gain (especially abdomen, hips, thighs), water retention, headaches, poor sleep, panic attacks, swollen breasts, heavy periods, increased risk of breast cancer and of auto-immune diseases.

Decreased progesterone

Anxiety, depression, irritability, mood swings, insomnia, pain and inflammation, osteoporosis, decreased hdl, excessive menstruation. The symptoms are similar to estrogen excess!

Too much progesterone

Increased fat storage, decreased glucose tolerance, increased cortisol, increased insulin resistance, increased appetite, increased carbohydrate craving, relaxed smooth muscle of gut (bloatedness, fullness, constipation), suppressed immune system, incontinence (leaky bladder), decreased growth hormone, increased insulin, achy hips and backache.

The ages when hormone decline occurs

30 : human growth hormone
40+: progesterone, estrogen, testosterone.
50+: dhea, thyroid . Thyropause occurs typically between the age of 30 to 40, but  more frequently at 50 and above
60+: insulin, parathyroid
70+: calcitonin, erythropoietin

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Keeping your body young on the inside

Today’s innovative research has helped us realize that to achieve total health and extend life we have to attempt internal aging from occurring.   Supplementation can reverse this falling down a descending hormonal flight of stairs. Here are some of the hormone supplements:

Thyroid hormone

It is common for thyroid hormone problems to occur around the menopause.. Your ovaries have thyroid hormone receptors and your thyroid gland has ovarial receptors. Therefore the loss of estrogen and testosterone that occurs at menopause can change your thyroid status.

Estrogen

I prescribe only bio-identical hormones, that are natural to your body and produce the same physiological effects as the body’s natural hormones. Synthetic hormones have been shown to increase blood clotting, cancer, heart attacks, stroke and side effects. Your body makes three main types of estrogen: E1, which is called estrone, E2 or estradiol and E3 or estriol.

Estrone
The main hormone made by your body postmenopausally. Many researchers believe it may be related to an increase in breast and uterine cancer at this time.

Estradiol
The strongest estrogen. It is twelve times stronger that estrone and 80 times stronger than E3.

Estriol
It has been shown not to promote breast cancer and considerable evidence exists to show that it protects against it.

Androgens
The androgens are testosterone, dhea (dehydroeiandrosterone) and androstenedione. As you age your ovaries produce less testosterone as well. Typically ovarial failure (menopause) results in a decrease of progesterone and then estrogen and testosterone as well.

DHEA
Dehydroepiandrosterone is a hormone made by your adrenal glands.  A small amount is also made in your skin and brain. Typically your dhea production starts to decline in your late 20’s; by 70 you are only producing 25% of what you  made previously.

This hormone decline is  largely responsible for why we age. Remember also that dhea makes your other sex hormones too (estrogen, progesterone and testosterone). So if you are dhea deficient you may have sex hormone deficiencies too.

Lowish dhea may be caused by menopause, decreased producton, stress, aging and smoking.

More and more doctors are making use of dhea due to the following benefits:

It retards the damaging effects of stress; decreases triglycerides; increases sensitivity of insulin; decreases joint soreness; increases feeling of wellness; improves sleep; activates immune system function; increases muscle strength and lean body mass.

 

Cortisol

This adrenal gland hormone typically increases with age, unlike your other hormones that decline. Cortisol and dhea are made by your adrenal glands which also make your sex hormones after menopause.

Pregnenolone

A precursor to dhea, progesterone, estrogen, testosterone, and cortisol. Your body makes this hormone from cholesterol.

It decreases with age.  At 75 most people have a 65% decline compared to age 35.

Pregnenolone regulates the excitation/inhibition balance in the nervous system; increases resistance to stress; improves mental and physical energy; enhances nerve transmission and memory; reduces pain and inflammation; blocks the production of acid-forming compounds.

Pregnenolone is mostly used in the treatment of arthritis, depression, memory loss, fatigue, and moodiness. Side effects of overuse can be acne and drowsiness.

 

Progesterone

A sex hormone made in your ovaries before the menopause.  After menopause, some progesterone is made in your adrenal glands.

 

Conversion of T4 to T3

The conversion of T4 to T3 requires an enzyme 5’iodinase. Elements that affect 5’iodinase production are: selenium deficiency; stress; cadmium, mercury or lead toxicity; starvation; inadequate protein intake; high carbohydrate diet; elevated cortisol; chronic illness; decreased kidney or liver function.

Other factors that cause an inability to convert T4 to T3

Nutrient deficiencies: iodine, zinc, iron, selenium, vitamins A, B2, B6, B12.
Medications: beta blockers, birth control pills, estrogen, lithium, phenytoin, theophylline, chemotherapy.
Diet: too many cruciferous vegetables, low protein diet, low fat diet, low carbohydrate diet, excessive alcohol, soy, walnuts.

Estrogen and thyroid hormone

You can take estrogen together with thyroid hormone, but remember that estrogen levels do affect the thyroid levels. Your thyroid requirements change depending on your estrogen levels.
Remember:

* Too much estrogen can cause hypothyroidism.

* Too little estrogen can also cause thyropause or hypothyroidism.

Estrogen Loss

Because the hormones communicate with each other, a loss of estrogen has far-reaching consequences. Once the menopause begins, the other pauses quickly follow as the imbalances feed on one another. It is like a house of cards tumbling down.

The following result from loss of estrogen:
Thyropause (binding of thyroid hormone); changes in bone density (osteopause); skin and hair drying (dermatopause); heart pump failure (cardiopause); vasculopause (increased blood clotting); increased body fat and weight (dopamine biopause — brain neurotransmitter); immunopause (increased risk of breast cancer); interference with thyroid function (thyropause) loss of memory and cognitive decline (electropause); attention failure.

Important facts about the estrogen/progesterone ratio

Progesterone and estradiol (estrogen) work together in your body.
Progesterone increases the body fat storage by increasing lipoprotein lipase, estrogen lowers body fat by decreasing lipoprotein lipase (an enzyme in your fat cells).
Estrogen and progesterone work together to control your body’s release of insulin; progesterone decreases insulin sensitivity and increases insulin resistance.
Women with diabetes need to use the least amount of progesterone. Estradiol increases insulin sensitivity and improves glucose tolerance.
A progesterone to estrogen ratio that is too high will break down protein and muscle tissue. This will make diseases like fibromyalgia worse

 

Progesterone

Its good effects

Progesterone is a good natural mood balancer, stress reliever and brain calmer.    It also suppresses cortisol (a hormone that really isn’t good for you). It is a natural diuretic, antidepressant, antioxidant, and a precursor of cortisone and necessary for survival.

How does progesterone affect your pauses?

It relieves cardiopause by suppressing dysrhythmias and lowering blood pressure.
Halts immunopause and suppresses breast and endometrical cancers and possibly others.
Addresses low GABA (calming neurotransmitter), decreasing appetite.
Combats low serotonin depression by better mood and sleep patterns.
Relieves menopausal symptoms by the restoration of libido and orgasm.
Slows thyropause through better thyroid functioning.
Relieves vasculopause by peripheral vessel relaxation and better circulation.
Slows electropause through increased GABA which reverses anxiety.

 

Depression

People with an underactive thyroid are often depressed. Depression has so many different causes that it is not always very easy to rectify. However, if you do establish an exact cause, then of course it is much easier to treat and the outcomes are much better.
I do believe depression is curable if you address the correct cause. Most illnesses and discomfort are reversible and treatable if you find the underlying cause.  Treat the primary cause (dicussed earlier) and your symptoms will improve.
There aren’t medical conditions that you “should learn to live with”.

Depression and hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism (the insufficient endogenous production of T3) on its own or in combination with other hormone deficiencies, can cause depression. Supplemental T3 20ug/day where needed can alleviate depression.

 

Other causes

  • Many hormone deficiencies,  e.g. melatonin, pregnenolone, progesterone, testosterone and estrogen.
  • Neurotransmitter abnormalities in your brain e.g.noradrenaline, serotonin, dopamine, gaba.
  • Aminoacid deficiencies e.g. 5htp, acetyl-L-carnitine, glutamine, phenylalanine
  • SAMe.
  • Mineral deficiencies: calcium, chromium, manganese
  • Vitamin deficiencies: biotin, folic acid, inositol, PABA, Vit B3, B6, Vit C.
  • Personality disorders.

 

Alleviation

S-adenosylmethionine alleviates many forms of depression. Other amino-acids that may alleviate depression include taurine, tryptophan, tyrosine.

 

Serotonin, our happy hormone

Happiness is about being in sync and about having serenity. Serotonin is our “serenity tone” or the feel good hormone of the brain, and is fundamental to us being happy. Without this neurotransmitter in the brain you cannot have calmness and stability.

A lack of serotonin often causes depression and the onset of other pauses. It may for instance damage your thyroid gland, leading to thyropause.

Thyropause may affect the other pauses in your body and in so doing affect the normal functioning of your brain – and result in low serotonin levels, which of course makes matters worse.

TESTS

The best way to test neurotransmitter levels (e.g. noradrenalin, dopamine, serotonin, gaba, glutamate) is by urine metabolites. They are not yet available in South Africa, but I make use of them by sending urine samples overseas with patients I suspect of having neurotransmitter troubles.

I do not suggest blood level testing of serotonin or other neurotransmitters, as these do not correlate well with brain neurotransmitter levels.

 

The following can be expected with serotonin deficiency:

  • Osteopause/accelerated calcification.
  • Lower sex drive, triggering menopause and andropause.
  • Lower testosterone, leading to andropause.
  • Lower estrogen and progesterone, leading to menopause.
  • Weakened immune system, leading to immunopause.
  • Accelerated skin aging, leading to dermatopause.
  • Obesity and low metabolism (dopamine biopause).
  • Hardened arteries and blockages in blood vessels (vasculopause).

 

Natural treatments to elevate serotonin levels and treat depression

Melatonin 0.3 -10mg /d
Tryptophan 500-2000mg /d
Vitamin B6 10-50mg /d
Fish oils EPA/DHA 500-3000mg /d
Mg 300-1000mg/d
Vit B3 500 – 1000mg /d
Tryptophan-containing foods (wild game, pork, turkey, chicken, cottage cheese, avocado, eggs).
St. Johns Wort
Zinc
Magnesium

Other natural ways to elevate neurotransmitters and improve depression

5htp elevates serotonin, improving mood and sense of well-being.
l-tyrosine elevates dopamine for enhanced will power, drive, self-worth and mood.
copper assists with the conversion of dopamine to noradrenaline.
l-phenyelalinine is a precurose of noradrenaline which increases energy, concentration and focus.
Phenylethylamine (cocoa bean extract) fascilitates feelings of love and contentment in the limbic system of the brain.
Passionflower has a natural anti-anxiety effect.
Vitamins B3, B6, B5, B12 enhance mood and energy.
Panax enhances mood, energy, sexual performance and stress coping ability.
Ginkgo biloba supplies oxygen to the brain for energy and helps prevent the breakdown of neurotransmitters.

Lifestyle and exercise

Lifestyle, exercise and diet affect your wellbeing and neurotransmitter levels.
Stay away from fast foods, junk foods, bakeries, fried foods and high glycemic foods.
Don’t fall for “fat free” foods. Usually these foods have something put into them to make people eat them, such as sugar, preservatives and chemicals, making them higher in calories.
Stay aware when eating out.
Plan ahead when travelling or eating on the road, as quick fix meals are generally bad for you.
Sleep is essential for healthy neurotransmitter levels, do not deprive yourself of it.
Alcohol and carbohydrates are often used as a typical night-time fix for depression or anxiety. You should rather use exercise, meditation, yoga and prayer than alcohol to relax.  Alcohol suppresses deep sleep and causes sleep fragmentation.

 

Exercises that improve your serotonin levels

Repetitive exercises using axial muscles such as jogging, walking, aerobics, Tai chi, yoga.

Weight loss

An imbalance of your thyroid hormone can affect every metabolic function in your body, including carbohydrate, protein and fat metabolism. This is why weight gain and fluid retention are some of the symptoms of hypothyroidism, and why people who have an overactive thyroid usually loose weight.

If you have problems with fluid control, correction of the thyroid will usually result in better fluid control. If problems persist your doctor will most likely check you for adrenal fatigue or renal dysfunction or for other common causes of fluid retention.

Remember that 60% -80% of your body is water and we need to drink water regularly throughout the day.

Lower levels of the sex hormones estrogen, progesterone and testosterone also contribute to weight gain, so boosting them reverses weight gain.

Chronic stress elevates cortisol, the body’s primary stress hormone. This leads to major weight gain and treating this imbalance is fundamental to weight loss. For example dhea, pregnenolone and growth hormone will help to combat the abdominal fat accumulation and insulin resistance that occurs with aging.

Natural treatments that help win the fat battle

Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) helps with weight loss and reduces fat cell deposition in existing body fat.
HCA (hydoxycitricacid) suppresses conversion of carbohydrates to fats and suppresses appetite and induces weight loss.
5htp reduces appetite and induces weight loss.
Phenylalanine stimulates the body’s brown adipose tissue to burn up regular fat tissue.
7keto is a bioidentical hormone that accelerates fat loss.
Essential fatty acids facilitate weight loss.
Fish oils facilitate fat loss, raise serotonin and decrease appetite.
Vitamin D and calcium improve metabolism and speed up weight loss.

High cholesterol

High cholesterol can be an indication of hypothyroidism. An underactive thyroid is one of the causes of secondary hypercholesterolaemia. In other words, a low thyroid function leads to elevated cholesterol.

It is important to evaluate your cholesterol levels with your thyroid functions. You shouldn’t  make a conclusion about your cholesterol level without at least a TSH confirming that it is primary rather than secondary hypercholesterolaemia.

Other causes of secondary hypercholesterolaemia include cholestasis (sluggish bile flow) and liver disease.

 

Homocysteine and hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism is one of the causes of raised homocysteine.

Homocysteine is a toxic aminoacid found in the blood stream. It is a result of the metabolism of an aminoacid named methionine.

Homocysteine accelerates aging and has been linked to Altzheimer’s disease and heart disease. There is also evidence of elevated homocysteine linkage to chronic fatigue, rheumatoid arthritis, memory impairment, age related hearing loss, depression, fibromyalgia and osteoporosis, and even cancer.

Other causes of raised homosysteine are the aging process; alcohol, tobacco, coffee; diabetes mellitus type 2; stress. It is also often associated with high cholesterol levels.

Treatment of high homocysteine levels

A combination of folic acid, Vit B6, Vit B12 and choline and zinc.

TMG can be used for very high levels or resistant cases.

 

Adrenal hormones

We know already that people who suffer from adrenal fatigue also have a number of symptoms of an underactive thyroid and that people who are unresponsive to thyroid therapy are often suffering from adrenal fatigue. In these people the function of both the hormones must be strengthened.

Before we discuss adrenal fatigue, one must look at hypoadrenia, which occurs when one has a lower than normal adrenal gland function. Normally your adrenal glands secrete small amounts of steroid hormones in response to physical, emotional, environmental and or psychological stress factors.

With too much stress your adrenals can be depleted, causing  a depletion in your stress/steroid hormone production, particularly cortisol.

Hypoadrenia can range in severity from zero to almost normal adrenal function. The worst form of hypoadrenia, Addison’s disease, was named after Sir Thomas Addison, who first described it in 1855.

If left untreated this can result in a life threatening situation. People suffering from Addison’s disease need to take corticosteroids for the rest of  their lives.

Adrenal fatigue, or non-addison’s hypoadrenia, is not always recognized by modern medicine. However, it is an important condition, and varies in severity between almost Addsions to almost normal adrenal function.

 

Causes of adrenal fatigue

Auto-immune disorders, such as thyroid problems, are some of the many conditions caused by adrenal fatigue.

 

Others are:

Changes in your carbohydrate, protein and fat metabolism, fluid and electrolyte balance, heart and cardiovascular system, and even sex drive.
A tendency toward increased fears, anxiety and depression, intervals of confusion, increased difficulties in concentrating and less acute memory recall. Insomnia; respiratory infections; allergies; fibromyalgia; chronic fatigue syndrome; hypoglycaemia; adult onset diabetes; auto-immune disorders; alcoholism.
These people appear to be unmotivated or lazy, or lack ambition. In reality the opposite is true.

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Primary components of lifestyle leading to adrenal fatigue

  • Poor food choices, such as eating too much sugar and carbohydrates
  • Lack of sleep
  • Using food and drinks as stimulants when tired
  • Staying up late even when tired
  • Being in a powerless situation
  • Constantly driving yourself
  • Perfectionism
  • Lack of enjoyable and rejuvenating activities

 

Testing for adrenal fatigue

I personally use an adrenal fatigue questionnaire, since this correlates best with adrenal fatigue symptoms. You can also do a fasting morning dhea and cortisol level which anti-aging specialists can interpret as indicative of adrenal fatigue or not.

Remember adrenal fatigue is the entire spectrum between normal adrenal function and Addisons disease.

 

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates can simply be divided into three categories:

  1. Sweet/sugary, e.g. fruits
  2. Starchy, e.g. grains
  3. Non-starchy, e.g. vegetables

 

Type 1 provide a quick source of energy, but are detrimental early in the day. They drive the blood sugar up straight away, but within an hour levels drop quickly and it takes a long time to recover from this. If you do have any of these foods, combine them with protein or fats.

Starchy carbs are found in grains and root vegetables. Unrefined grains (whole grains) are minimally processed and you get sustained energy and nutrients from them as well as vitamins and minerals. Examples of these are brown rice, wholewheat, buckwheat, barley, whole oats.

In contrast, refined grains (carbs) have been refined down to the starchy portion of the grain. These are the favourite menu items like pasta, white rice, bread, pastry, bakery foods.  They are not good for you. Rather choose whole foods over refined foods. Try also as a rule to stick to a low glycemic index diet and high vegetable and fruit intake.

 

What to do about carbohydrate cravings

A craving for chocolate can sometimes be a craving for magnesium, since chocolate contains large amounts of magnesium. This is especially true for women who crave chocolate during premenstrual tension.

Chocolate contains caffeine and theobromine which can overstimulate adrenals, leading to further fatigue.

Dark 70% cocoa plus may on the other hand lower blood pressure and be good for you.

If you have a lot of carbohydrate cravings, consider using chromium or glutamate supplements.

 

Hypothyroidism and chronic fatigue

Hypothyroidism may be a cause of chronic fatigue. Chronic fatigue syndrome involves chronic disabling fatigue which is not relieved by bed rest. There are numerous causes thought to be associated with chronic fatigue, however there is no agreement within medical or naturopathic disciplines as to the cause of chronic fatigue syndrome.

Some of the other possible causes include high homocysteine levels; chronic medical conditions, e.g. organ dysfunction; free radical damage; immune system suppression with chronic infections such as coxsackie, EBV and CMV infections.!

If your thyroid is found to be normal, suggest a full medical examination as well as an adrenal function assessment.

 

Some things to consider trying

Adrenal fatigue type formulas containing rhodiola, ashwaganda, ginseng, other herbal adaptogens; B vitamins.
Consider neurotransmitter testing.
Consider consulting with an anti-aging physician (entire books have been written on this topic. Dr. James Wilson’s book Adrenal Fatigue, the 21st century stress syndrome, is a good read.

 

Sex

A low sex drive is often the result of a malfunctioning thyroid. I find it necessary to ask my patients about this. In a relaxed atmosphere, one on one, most people will discuss this with you if they have trust and confidence in you.

There is much that can be done about this problem. For starters you need a good vascular risk and hormone profile assessment, as well as a prostate assessment.

With natural hormone therapies, plus supplements like the stimulant yohimbine , muira puama and other natural therapies much improvement can be attained.

 

Hormonal changes after child birth

Postpartum blues are experienced by up to 70% of new mothers in the first few days after delivery. This is often experienced on day 3 to 4 after birth, often when milk starts to flow. The mothers appear anxious, irritable, moody and weepy for no apparent reason.

Postnatal depression is more severe and lasts a lot longer. The main causes seem to be linked to hormonal changes, the women’s experience of giving birth, emotional and physical exhaustion after birth and the adjustments that parenthood brings.

The hormone link is best understood by understanding that the emotional centres of the brain (the limbic system) have estrogen and testosterone receptors so fluctuating levels of these hormones may result in emotional features.

Typical signs of postnatal depression include feeling worried and confused, weepy, drained and exhausted, helpless, inadequate and unable to cope, panicky and scared, feeling scared or guilty about telling anyone how she feels, feelings of not knowing who you are anymore; having difficulty sleeping; not having any feelings for the baby; sometimes thinking of hurting the self or the baby. Contact a healthworker if you are experiencing these.

The most severe form of postnatal depression is postnatal psychosis (2/1000 women). In this state they can actually harm or kill the baby. This should be treated as a medical emergency.

 

The contraceptive pill

From an antiaging point of view taking the pill is a great way in fact to accelerate aging. The pill is composed of synthetic drugs which are not natural or bioequivalent to your body.

The birth control pill tricks your body into thinking it is pregnant but the results are quite the opposite.

In truth your blood clotting factors are increased by the birth control pill, increasing your risk for heart attack, particularly after the age of 40. These pills also increase your risk for cancer (breast and uterine).

 

Insulin resistance

An underactive thyroid can result in weight gain and accelerate insulin resistance or diabetes. Diabetes is closely linked to obesity, in particular to abdominal or visceral (around your abdominal organs) obesity.

Adult onset diabetes develops when insulin (secreted by your pancreas) can no longer correctly process the sugars taken in from carbohydrates in your diet.

Insulin is the hormone required to transport the glucose to the cells. When insulin is deficient or insulin is no longer working at the receptor site (insulin resistance), the blood sugar increases, setting up a cascade of events leading to vasculopause (inflammation and plaque development in your blood vessels).

Type 1 diabetes is when you are born with a pancreas that does not secrete insulin; type 2 diabetes is usually adult acquired as a result of insulin resistance. Excessive carbohydrate-rich food intake and sedentary lifestyles result in this insulin resistance syndrome and type 2 diabetes (adult onset diabetes).

As stated before, hormonal influences do interact. For example: High progesterone and estrogen deficiency can result in insulin resistance and low dhea and low growth hormone levels can result in weight gain and insulin resistance.

Insulin resistance and hyperinsulinaemia (uncontrolled blood sugar) influence the synthesis of testosterone and the metabolism of dhea. Consequently, insulin resistance increases testosterone production and depletes dhea in the body.

This occurs because the increase in insulin elevates the activity of an enzyme which converts more dhea to cortisol and testosterone.

A study done in Toronto revealed that there was a 238% increase in breast cancer if insulin levels were elevated. There are insulin receptors on both breast cells and cancer cells which can result in increased growth of cancer cells if your blood sugar or insulin are too high.

Other hormones produced in the pancreas other than insulin are glucagons and somatomedin. These hormones all play a part in digestion and support our metabolism.

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