Posts tagged ‘brain health’

Functional Hypothyroidism May Be Ruining Your Health!

Thanks to a concerned patient, I was introduced to a book that answered many of my concerns about thyroid function. It is a book that has the potential to be life changing for many of us. The book is available on Amazon.com and is called “Hypothyroidism Type 2, The Epidemic” and is written by Mark Starr, MD(H). He’s a medical doctor who specializes in homeopathy.

In this article, I want to explain the concepts and teach you how to self monitor your thyroid function. However, if you want all of the statistics, I recommend that you get Dr. Starr’s book on Amazon.com.

What we might call “functional” hypothyroidism, or Type 2, was first discussed and investigated by Dr. Broda Barnes in the early 1900s. He was a medical doctor and an endocrinologist who taught endocrinology at the University of Chicago. He devoted his life to researching thyroid function and published many professional articles and books. Perhaps his most famous book is “Hypothyroidism, The Unsuspected Illness,” which was published in 1976. Unfortunately, the medical profession has largely ignored his research results, despite the fact that he had evidence from 70,000 autopsy studies and many long-term patient outcomes.

Dr. Barnes believed that, as modern medicine wiped out infectious diseases of the past, more and more children with poor immune systems survived into adulthood and had children themselves—passing their genetic weaknesses on to subsequent generations. “Just one hundred years ago, half the population in all of ‘Western Civilization’ died from infection at an early age. Two hundred years ago, the figure was much higher.” (p. 45 of Dr. Starr’s book)

This concretion of genetic weakness has resulted in the modern-day epidemic of chronic, degenerative diseases.

A little physiology is appropriate at this point. Our thyroid hormones regulate our metabolic rate. Simple statement—huge implications. Here is a partial list of conditions Dr. Barnes showed to be affected by thyroid function:

  • Disruption of sex hormone function, resulting in decreased sex drive, infertility, endometriosis, PMS and polycystic breasts and/or ovaries
  • Heart disease, including high cholesterol, hardening of the arteries, heart palpitations, heart attacks and stroke
  • Fatigue (including chronic fatigue syndrome)
  • Premature aging, including mental impairment and Alzheimer’s disease
  • Hypertension OR hypotension
  • Depression or nervousness
  • Poor immune function resulting in repeated infections, including a susceptibility to yeast infections (think Candida)
  • Intolerance to heat or cold
  • Hyperinsulinemia and diabetes
  • Cancer
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Hair loss (this is important to me, obviously!)
  • Headaches
  • Muscle weakness and joint and/or muscle pain (including gout)
  • Osteoporosis
  • Weight gain
  • Headaches
  • Constipation
  • Brittle nails
  • Nutritional imbalances
  • Birth defects
  • Physical indications of the condition include dry skin, slow or hoarse speech, non-pitting edema and loss of the outer third of the eyebrows

Of particular interest to me is the connection between hypothyroidism and diabetes. Dr. Barnes found that all of his diabetic patients were hypothyroid. Remarkably, by treating their low thyroid, these patients almost all escaped the severe complications of diabetes, which include hardening of the arteries, kidney failure, blindness, heart attack and amputation. All of these problems are due to hardening of the arteries – a defining symptom of hypothyroidism.

So, do you think inadequate thyroid function might be important enough to be concerned about? And: Why would the medical profession essentially ignore Dr. Barnes’ research? The answer is relatively simple.

Big Pharma synthesized thyroxin (aka T4) and patented it. The generic name is levothyroxine and it is marketed under a variety of brand names, perhaps the most familiar of which is Synthroid, a patented and trademarked drug. Then, the lab test for thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) was developed and it was all over. Let me explain.

Currently, medical doctors only measure the TSH and, if it is within what the lab tells them is “normal” range, then you are fine. No attention is paid to your symptoms – after all, there’s another diagnosis for that, which requires a different drug, multiplying the drug companies’ profits. (Pardon my cynicism, but I have really seen too much.)

Problem is, TSH is completely invalid when it comes to evaluating whether your thyroid hormone is working in your body, at a cellular level. I want you to be aware of this issue because, if your M.D. checks your TSH while you are taking desiccated thyroid and finds it to be too low, he or she will take you off of your supplement. This recently happened to a patient/colleague of mine who has moved away and went to a new general practitioner. Please resist this advice, as she did. As we delve into the reasons more deeply, you will understand why.

One more word of warning: Dr. Starr has determined that levothyroxine is completely ineffective in reversing Type 2 hypothyroidism. It seems that the cells respond best to all of the thyroid hormone metabolites, not just T4. All of Dr. Broda Barnes’ work was done with desiccated thyroid.

Increasingly, thyroid hormone resistance is becoming a huge problem. There are multiple reasons for this, which Dr. Starr goes into in great detail. One of the primary offenders is the environmental toxins we are exposed to on a daily basis. These toxins include:

  • Halogens: chlorine, fluorine and bromine.
    • We no longer add iodine to our baked goods due to the misconception that we were getting too much iodine. This is incredibly unlikely, since nearly every person I have tested is iodine deficient. Now, bromine is used as a dough conditioner, which displaces the iodine in our thyroid.
    • Our water is both fluoridated and disinfected with various chlorine compounds. We actually absorb more chlorine in the shower than we ingest in our drinking water.
    • Swimming pools and spas are loaded with chlorine
    • If you use Splenda, also trademarked, you are ingesting a chlorinated hydrocarbon. It is basically sucrose with 3 chlorine atoms added to it.
    • Many of our anti-fungal and pesticide compounds contain halogens. We ingest them if we do not eat organic produce.
  • A huge variety of synthetic chemicals. There is a three-page, small print list in Dr. Starr’s book. Some of these include: organophosphate pesticides, a huge array of other pesticides, fungicides and insecticides, and the many industrial chemicals that are part of our every day life. The industrial chemicals include heavy metals, phenols and phthalates. If you are not familiar with phthalates, they are added to plastics to create pliability. If you use plastic wrap in the microwave, you are simply worsening the problem. All of these chemicals interfere with thyroid function.
  • For more details, I recommend you read Dr. Starr’s book.

Over the last several years, I have been to multiple seminars on assessing and treating thyroid function. I have only gotten more and more confused, because the instructors made the topic way, too complicated and tried to use blood tests to monitor therapy. There are a couple of reasons for this: the widespread dependence in our education on laboratory testing, rather than physical signs and symptoms; and a worry about depressing the TSH too far since the medical textbooks say it is dangerous to do so. The worries include osteoporosis and heart problems. However, Dr. Barnes and Dr. Hermann Zondek both demonstrated the exact opposite. Dr. Zondek was a giant in the early study of hypothyroidism and endocrine disease. He published in 1918 an account of the first successful treatment of congestive heart failure (CHF) patients with desiccated thyroid. He also wrote a famous textbook, in German, entitled “Disease of the Endocrine Glands.” Of course, levothyroxine does promote osteoporosis.

Dr. Barnes did a statistical analysis on his patient population paralleling the Framingham heart disease study that was on-going at the same time. He clearly showed that his patient population suffered almost no heart disease. He treated 1,569 patients, the equivalent of 8,824 patient years. The Framingham study predicted 72 deaths from coronary disease in a population this size; Dr. Barnes’ result was only 4. (page 34 of Dr. Starr’s book)

In Dr. Starr’s 14 years of practice, none of his patients have developed CHF and only 2 had a heart attack.

These are powerful results because heart disease is the #1 killer in the U.S., despite every drug prescribed for prevention. (An oxymoron, if I may say so, since all drugs are metabolic poisons. I know, my prejudice is showing.)

So, if blood work is inadequate (at best) and misleading (at worst), just what parameters are measured to determine thyroid status? There are two:

  • Iodine status is monitored by the iodine test.
    • I paint the abdomen with a half-dollar size patch of 3% iodine. Since homeland security has designated iodine a dangerous product with regard to homemade bombs, I recommend you call for a brief, 5 minute appointment to get the iodine applied.
    • The brown patch should last for 24 hours. In some cases, I find that the color is fading as I am applying it! With most clients the stain is gone within 12 hours or less.
    • The therapy for this is Iodizyme, a nutritional product which contains both iodine and iodide. Many companies promote organic iodine or kelp supplements for this use. After 30 years of practice, I can state unequivocally that these products are ineffective in promoting iodine sufficiency.
  • The second critical test is basal metabolic rate, which is expensive and not readily available. Instead, first morning body temperature – before you get out of bed – is an excellent approximation. Let me tell you how to perform the test:
    • Shake down a thermometer the night before and place it by your bedside.
    • When you first wake up, put the thermometer in your armpit for 10 minutes. Lie quietly; don’t worry; don’t wiggle around. If possible, snooze for 10 minutes. The temperature should be above 97.8º. That is the lower limit of normal cellular function.
    • A word about the proper thermometer to use. Digital thermometers are ineffective and inaccurate. You need to obtain a non-mercury oral thermometer. It is available on Amazon.com at this link.
    • If you contact me, I can send you a form to complete so that I can locate it in your file.
    • The therapy that I use is a nutritional supplement, which is desiccated, whole thyroid without the T4. It is much better tolerated than Synthroid. It comes in several different potencies and I will titrate your dose, based upon your body temperature. I have not published the name of this product to avoid causing problems with the FDA. If you call me, I will be happy to give you more information. I can also order it for you. This is a professional product, since you need to work with a doctor to establish the appropriate dose.

Although this may seem like a lot of work, the health benefits are more than worth it. I strongly recommend that you perform these two tests to see what support you need to optimize your health.

A personal story: I added a small amount of thyroid to my personal supplement program about 4 years ago, because I couldn’t think clearly. I instantly noticed a remarkable improvement in my cognition. However, when I ran a blood test, my TSH was low, so I was concerned about taking “too much” thyroid support. None of the various seminars I went to cleared up my confusion. After reading Dr. Starr’s book, I found that my first morning temperature was only 95ºF, even though I awaken drenched in sweat. Needless to say, I am titrating my dosage upwards to normalize my body temperature. Already, I am seeing new hair growth and greater stamina. I hope that eventually it will have a positive effect on my blood sugar issues, as well.

I strongly encourage you to perform these tests, so that you can age gracefully – without resorting to the pharmaceutical merry-go-round that never gets to the root of the problem. Let me know what you find out.

June 12, 2016 at 5:58 pm Leave a comment

Nutrition for Brain Health (3rd in a series)

This is the promised third article in my neuro-degeneration series. I will attempt to summarize what nutrients are most effective in preserving brain function.

One of the most important antioxidants for brain health is glutathione. It actually protects against brain cell death. The two primary nutrients from which the body makes glutathione are n-acetyl cysteine (NAC) or undenatured whey protein. If you are dairy sensitive, NAC is obviously the best choice. Another important point about glutathione is that Tylenol depletes it. So, it is important to avoid any product containing acetaminophen (generic Tylenol).

Further dietary and lifestyle changes include: no aspartame, no hydrogenated oils (or other sources of trans-fats, like canola oil), reduce your intake of warm weather oils (corn, sunflower, safflower, cottonseed, peanut and soy oils). You can also take pure sesame seed oil capsules to prevent the conversion of these oils into pro-inflammatory prostaglandins.

Take the following basic nutrients:

  • Magnesium
  • Zinc
  • Antioxidants

Minimize your intake of refined carbohydrates; think deserts, sugary drinks, bread, pasta, white potatoes and white rice. You can substitute brown rice and quinoa pasta for regular pasta; brown rice for white rice; and sweet potatoes for white potatoes. Another choice to lower your carbohydrate intake is riced cauliflower. It is quite bland and works well with sauces and gravies.

You also want to rebuild your brain nutrient reserves. The best way to do it is to:

  • Take omega-3 oils, as much as 10 gm/day for 4 months. Then, reduce the level to 2500 mg per day for maintenance. However, it isn’t wise to take this much without a doctor’s supervision. I would advise a red blood cell fatty acid ratio test to determine your need for omega-3 oils and to monitor your progress. As I mentioned in the prior article, I have access to a lab where the test is only $70.
  • Make sure to keep your antioxidant intake high to protect the fats in your body from going rancid. Remember: Your brain is almost exclusively fat.
  • Avoid cheap over-the-counter oils, as they may contain mercury and carcinogens. Also, many of them are processed with heat and are, therefore, hydrogenated, even if it doesn’t say so on the label.
  • Do NOT eat farmed (Atlantic) salmon, ever. Wild salmon is OK; as much as 6 nights per week.
  • Avoid tuna, swordfish, shark and other large, predatory fish. The toxins in the ocean are more concentrated the higher up the food chain you go.

The following section is specific nutrients that cover these areas (NOTE: all dosages are for adults. If you need children’s doses, please contact me):

  • N-acetyl Cysteine (NAC): 240 mg per day or
  • Un-denatured whey protein: 21 grams per day (usually 3 scoops)
  • To protect your mitochondria:
    1. CoQ10, a minimum of 10 mg per day, although I find 200 mg or more is a better choice. Personally, I take 600 mg daily and have done so for years.
    2. Pyrroloquinoline quinone (PQQ) has been shown to both protect mitochondria and to help them multiply. Damaged or decreased numbers of mitochondria are a key factor in aging.
    3. Acetyl-l-carnitine, 680 mg per day
    4. Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA), 240 mg per day. Food sources of ALA include organ meats and dark green leafy veggies, as well as high quality flax seed oil or freshly ground flax seed. Preground flax seed goes rancid too fast. ALA also increases insulin sensitivity in diabetics and inhibits tumor growth. Extra benefits!
  • Omega-3 fatty acids are important to brain health, as well as being anti-inflammatory. A red blood cell fatty acid test will tell us how much you need to take.
  • A good complete B-complex. I favor High Performance Stress Relief, which is an all-natural, low potency, highly absorbable B-complex. The dose for the average individual is 1 with each meal.
  • Vitamin D3. Nearly everyone I have tested is deficient in this critical vitamin, which acts more like a hormone. I generally prescribe 2,000 to 5,000 IUs per day. In some instances, I give 10,000; but, in that case we need to monitor the blood concentration with periodic blood tests.
  • Resveratrol is a powerful anti-oxidant that preserves the length of the telomeres in cellular reproduction, slowing the aging process. I have two products containing resveratrol: HerbaVital from Medi-Herb (3 per day) and Reseravert-HP from BIotics, (1 per day). I prefer the Medi-Herb product, because resveratrol has a maximum dose daily of 240 mg. Higher doses can be counterproductive.
  • Turmeric has strong anti-inflammatory effects. 1500 to 3000 mg per day are very helpful. I have an excellent product, or you can take 1 tablespoon in coconut milk for absorption. I tried it, but I don’t find it palatable. The capsules are much more doable.

Finally, with regard to lifestyle, the following recommendations are important:

  • Regular spinal adjustments. As I pointed out in the first article in this series, spinal adjusting has a very positive impact on brain function. {Ogura, T, et al, Division of Cyclotron Nuclear Medicine, Tohoku University (Graduate School of Medicine), Sendai Japan, published in Alternative Therapies Health Medicine Nov-Dec 2011; Vol 17; No. 6; pp.12-17}.
  • Low-level laser therapy to the brain. I have such a laser and have been using it on my head injury, with good results.
  • Walking (30 minutes per day)
  • Other exercise in moderation that you enjoy: yoga, swimming, biking, dancing, etc.
  • Puzzles (crossword or Sudoku) that engage the brain. I start each day with this to get my brain going.
  • Piano playing. One 30 minute lesson per week, with practice 30 minutes per day. This is much better for our brains than our addiction to electronic devices.
  • Minimize or avoid television watching.

If you want to add any of the items in this article to your brain health protocol, please let me know so that I may order what you need. I also highly recommend the fatty acid test (obviously, since I’ve mentioned it multiple times!). Knowing your ratios can tell us how seriously your brain function is at risk. If you already have early symptoms – memory loss, tremor, coordination problems – it becomes even more important that you get tested, so that we can reverse the process.

February 28, 2016 at 9:05 pm Leave a comment

Factors in Brain Degeneration (2nd of a series)

This is the second article in my series on traumatic brain injury (T.B.I.).

In this article I want to discuss what is needed to protect your brain from neural degeneration resulting in all sorts of things from mild memory issues to brain fog to Parkinson’s disease to severe Alzheimer’s disease.

It is first important to understand the role of essential fatty acids (EFAs) in brain development and structure. You are probably aware of the terminology “omega-3” and “omega-6.”

Omega-6 fats are what could best be described as warm weather oils. These include: corn, soy, sunflower, safflower and canola oils. Canola is particularly bad because it is an over processed, non-food oil. It has been processed to make it “food grade,” but in the processing it becomes loaded with trans-fats and toxic chemicals.

Omega-3 oils are found in very few of our modern foods. Sources include: liver, cold-water fish (think herring, cod and salmon), fish oil, organic meats, organic, range-free egg yolks and (in much lesser amounts) flax oils, whole grains, walnuts and dark green leafy vegetables. Many of these foods are no longer part of the Standard American Diet (SAD) due to the mistaken and harmful recommendations of the American Heart Association. How many of us have reduced our intake of eggs due to cholesterol concerns? A recommendation that has now been found to be totally unwarranted. And organ meat? Heaven forfend!

During pregnancy and infancy, brain development and architecture is dependent upon adequate amounts of omega-3 EFAs. I read a book some years ago, Smart Fats, that pointed out that with the ubiquity of fast foods like McDonald’s french fries, we are actually changing the architecture of our children’s brains. An omega-6 derivative is being substituted for DHA (the omega-3 component); this is a key difference between human and chimpanzee brains. Why do I mention brain development? Because our brain cells have the same needs throughout our lives to maintain both structural integrity and cognitive function.

A very important article regarding the development of our brains is found on PubMed. It’s title “Evolutionary Aspects of Diet: the Omega-6/Omega-3 Ratio and the Brain.” The author points out that during the Paleolithic period (40,000 years ago), human beings developed eating a diet that had a ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids of about 1:1. Today, with our overuse of warm weather oils our diets now have a ratio of between 10:1 to as much as 20 or 25:1.

However, even more importantly, our genes have not changed in that relatively short period of time. So we have altered our nutrition without regard for what our bodies are genetically equipped to handle. We still don’t know what all of the consequences will be, but some of them are now coming to the surface in the guise of chronic degenerative diseases like senile dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinsonism.

Another important function of EFAs in our diet is their function in the production of tissue hormones, called prostaglandins. This is why they are called “essential.” To clarify, we now need to make a short excursion into biochemistry. I promise to make it as painless as possible!

The two major groups of these hormones are PGe1 and PGe2. PGe1 is anti-inflammatory and is made from omega-3 precursors. PGe2 is pro-inflammatory and is made from omega-6 precursors. As previously stated, the problem we currently have is that due to our food production practices, we now have far too much omega-6 and almost no omega-3 in our diet.

PGe1 has the following positive actions:

  • Helps remove excess fluids and sodium from the body
  • Improves circulation
  • Decreases inflammation
  • Improves nerve function (including brain cells, resulting in improved cognitive function; reduce the risk of depression and other central nervous system disorders)
  • Boosts the immune system by causing the death of cancer cells
  • Regulates calcium metabolism (important in muscular contraction, including the heart)
  • Increases protein synthesis in muscle cells
  • Elevates levels of intramuscular glutamine
  • Increases growth hormone secretion
  • Makes insulin work more effectively

By contrast, PGe2 increases inflammation and interferes with the normal cell membrane structure. Trans-fats are also implicated in decreasing the elasticity of the cell membranes and increasing the incidence of arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). Trans-fats should be avoided at all costs. One easy switch is to remember organic butter is healthier than margarine, a non-food.

I have already enumerated the best food sources of omega-3 oils, particularly cold-water fish. One word of warning, however, because much of the fish we consume is now farm raised (particularly salmon), their flesh lacks high levels of omega-3 oil. In the fisheries, they are fed corn meal, resulting in a replacement of the anti-inflammatory omega-3 with omega-6 oils.

The same is true of much of the meat we consume. Feedlots use corn to fatten the steers for slaughter. In the wild, grazing animals have a ratio of 1:1 omega-3 to omega-6 in their flesh. I recommend that you only consume organic, grass-fed beef or buffalo. The advantage to buffalo is that they cannot be raised on feedlots, so you know that their EFA ratios are what they should be.

Let’s now tie all of this back to chronic neurodegenerative diseases. A short summary of the primary culprits follows:

  1. The proliferation in the brain of destructive chemicals called free radicals.
  • Therefore, you need to maximize your intake of anti-oxidants that protect the brain.
  • You also need to protect your brain from oxidative stress; a primary source of this damage is excessive exercise.
  • Free radicals also promote inflammation, which results in the death of brain cells. This is in addition to the inflammatory effect of PGe2.
  • The rapid increase in the American diet of chemicals that are actually neurotoxic. Examples include: aspartame, monosodium glutamate (MSG) and Splenda. Nearly all prepared foods contain some form of MSG as a flavor enhancer, even foods purchased at the health food store. Some common synonyms include: hydrolyzed protein, textured protein and yeast extract. (The article referenced above contains a more exhaustive list.)
  1. Many drugs also compromise brain function. They include: Tylenol (which depletes glutathione, an essential anti-oxidant in the brain that protects brain cells) and anti-cholesterol drugs (which have been shown to cause permanent memory loss.
  2. The decline in the ability of the brain cells to make energy (ATP).
  • Since diabetics have difficulty metabolizing glucose (the primary fuel for the brain), they lack the ability to create ATP from burning glucose.
  • The result: the brain cells suffer from this lack of energy, which is why Alzheimer’s is sometimes called Type 3 diabetes.

So, what should you do? I will answer that question in detail in my next article. For right now, let me recommend that you have a test to determine your personal ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids in your red blood cells. I have a lab test available for only $70.00 (which is much less than other labs) that can give you your personal ratio. Then, you will know how many and how drastic may be the changes you need to make to your diet and supplement program. This is particularly important if you are experiencing memory loss or the resting tremor commonly associated with Parkinson’s disease. Another indicator that you should seriously consider taking this test is if you are having balance or coordination problems. Just give me a call and I can arrange to have the test done for you.

December 31, 2015 at 6:45 pm Leave a comment


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