Optimal thyroid hormone production is one of the most important factors to whole body health. In response to TSH signals from the pituitary gland, the thyroid gland produces the vital T4 and T3 hormones that set the basic metabolic rate for every cell in the body. This includes brain, heart, lung, bone, muscles, your immune system, digestion, liver and kidney function and everything else.
Sub-optimal thyroid function can cause a wide range of chronic or debilitating symptoms including: fatigue, depression, weight gain, brain fog, cold intolerance, hair loss, constipation, low bone density, and poor immune function.
With a system this important, you might think that conventional medicine would be completely up to date on how to keep track of this vital hormone. However, if you thought that conventional medicine had this well in hand, you’d be completely wrong.
As a Naturopathic Doctor, I am always encountering people who want better health. The most common themes include: more consistent energy, improved mental focus, more stable moods, a stronger immune system, better athletic performance, faster healing and recovery times, and a more ideal body composition while also avoiding and reversing disease.
One of my favorites ways to get patients to reduce and mediate their stress levels is to use a free “breath trainer” on their smart phone or computer. There are a lot of free apps to do this, and my favorite for the iPhones is Breathe+ and my pick for Android is MyCalmBeat. It’s as simple as a metronome with a breathing visual. Continue reading “Reduce and Manage Your Stress”
We are often told in medicine that cancer cells are a single cell that “went bad” and started making copies of itself without all the normal mechanisms that limit reproduction and promote adhesion. We know now that this is not entirely right. Cancer cells are primarily ones that have lost the ability to repair breaks and mutations in their DNA. In this way, they begin a kind of accelerated evolution and become a diverse set of rapidly changing (i.e. evolving) cells with different properties, and adapted to environments that promote cancer growth and inhibit the immune cells that would normally kill cancer cells. The conditions under which cancer cells generally thrive in can be called “The Onco-Metabolic State”. Continue reading “The Onco-Metabolic State: How to Make Your Body Less Hospitable to Cancer”
For starters, I take issue with the word “disorder” in attention deficit disorder (ADD). It’s not a stretch to suggest that ADD is actually a normal physiological response to the many insults of the modern world. The hyper-vigilance, distractibility, and impulsivity of ADD could all be predictable evolutionary adaptations intended to help us be safer and more successful in stressful environments.
Stress is not just mental, it quickly jumps to a physiologic effect. When the brain perceives stress, it sends both chemical and nerve signals to the adrenal glands ordering them to make two short-term stress hormones [epinephrine and norepinephrine] and the long-term stress master hormone cortisol. Not eating regularly enough and getting low blood sugar also spike cortisol levels. Cortisol is now known for promoting the dreaded stress-gut that gives chronically stressed people that apple shape.
Epinephrine and norepinephrine both promote the “fight or flight” response to the world by stimulating increased tone in the sympathetic nervous system. Other attributes of the “sympathetic state” are the tendency to freeze up, tense muscles, shallow breathing, and divert blood flow away from the extremities and digestive tract toward the large muscles. The sympathetic nervous system also interrupts digestion and makes it harder to concentrate and integrate and make new memories. If you have ever had trouble getting someone else (or yourself) to see a new point of view in a heated argument, you can probably thank the sympathetic nervous system for that gem of human psychology.
It all makes perfect sense if you think about it; if your body senses a threat (stress) it gets everything ready for a fight or flight from danger. Cortisol helps us prepare for stress by mobilizing resources to raise blood glucose and cholesterol. This sugar boost is good if you’re about to sprint away from an angry rhinocerous, but not so good (AKA promoting diabetes and heard disease) if the stress is an email or a phone call.
Randolph Nesse, a professor of psychiatry and psychology at the University of Michigan, could be called the father of “evolutionary medicine.” He co-authored an influential paper in 1991 called “The Dawn of Darwinian Medicine,” which made the case for researching how an understanding of human evolution by natural selection can explain what’s making modern humans so sick today. Enter the paleolithic diet movement. It’s basically on solid ground, because the diet directs people to swear off anything that was not readily available before agriculture: sugar, dairy, grains, beans, and artificial chemicals. Not a bad start. Continue reading “Paleolithic Diets & Evolutionary Medicine”
One in ten Americans are now taking antidepressants. Is this at all shocking? Hardly. I think increasing levels of depression and anxiety are a natural response to the increasingly bizarre and unhealthy environment modern humanity is living in.
Check it out. We have: a global population bursting at the seams, increasingly stressful & sedentary jobs, personal debt at an all time high, piles of nutrient-poor processed food, skyrocketing synthetic chemical exposures, relentless electronic stimulation, rampant corruption in political and religious leadership, and we are all basically being born into a society of psychological and economic slavery that is difficult to perceive, let alone escape. In this environment, feeling anxious and/or depressed may be the sign of a normal and healthy reaction to the situation at hand.
Like all animals, human behavior is largely based on responding to immediate needs to reduce perceived discomfort. So it is not at all surprising that people suffering from anxiety and depression are turning to drugs (prescribed and otherwise), and indulging in foods, alcohol, and other distractions that provide easy distraction and relief. Continue reading “A Sane Response to Anxiety & Depression”