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thyroid

  • Mary works full time while raising three young children and has been suffering with insomnia and night sweats even though she is far from menopause; Joanne, a busy stockbroker, has such heavy periods that she is locked in her house for seven days every month; and Melinda, newly married with an exciting job, is losing her hair, gaining weight around the middle, and feeling exhausted. All three women are suffering from estrogen dominance, a common condition in women.

    Hormones Out of Balance
    We are bombarded by environmental estrogens, also called xenoestrogens or estrogen mimickers. These man-made chemicals act exactly like estrogen in the body. Estrogen-mimickers are found in everything from plastics, cosmetics and pesticides to dry cleaning chemicals, dairy products and more. Too much estrogen upsets the body’s delicate balance of hormones. Some of the most common female estrogen-dominant conditions are PMS, endometriosis, abnormal PAP tests, ovarian cysts, uterine fibroids, cystic breasts, heavy periods, low thyroid, hormonal acne, severe menopausal symptoms, breast cancer and the list goes on. Too much estrogen can block the uptake of thyroid hormone, promoting low thyroid. Over 23 percent of Canadians take thyroid medication for low thyroid and an estimated 30 percent have undiagnosed low thyroid with symptoms that include hair loss, weight gain, feeling cold, constipation, night sweats, recurring miscarriage, heavy periods, high cholesterol and so much more.

    Women need estrogen but not the toxic type found in the environment. Women are supplied with estrogen from their ovaries, adrenal glands and fat cells. When the ovaries take a much-needed rest at menopause, or if the ovaries are surgically removed during a hysterectomy, the adrenal glands become the main source of estrogen. The adrenal glands sit atop the kidneys and they also help us deal with stress and control water balance in the body. When our adrenal glands become exhausted from too much stress, hormone havoc ensues. Classic symptoms include insomnia where you fall asleep fine but wake up several hours later and can’t fall back to sleep, caffeine and salt cravings, no energy, difficulty handling stress, and weight gain around the middle. We must love our adrenals in order to have balanced hormones.

    The liver is the key organ for detoxifying excess hormones, breaks down and distributes estrogen and other hormones. Your liver decides if your estrogen is going to stay in the healthy form or be converted into cancer-causing estrogens. Our liver becomes sluggish due to a diet of too many bad fats (from lard, margarine and refined oils), sugars and artificial sweeteners, fried foods, and not enough vegetables and good protein. Regular alcohol consumption also negatively affects the liver’s ability to maintain hormone balance.

    Hormone Harmony
    The liver, thyroid and the adrenal glands must operate at peak performance to ensure hormone harmony. The basis of a healthy hormone program is a diet full of cruciferous vegetables and lean protein from wild, free-range sources. There are also key herbs and nutrients that been researched to support the adrenals, liver and thyroid.

    Adrenal Support
    Eight hours of deep restful sleep will reverse adrenal exhaustion quickly. At bedtime, take a natural sleep aid containing melatonin, chamomile, hops, valerian and passionflower to help with sleep. The following herbs should be taken in combination to nourish the adrenals and help reduce the effects of stress:

    Rhodiola increases the body’s resistance to all types of stress; enhances mental and physical performance; and regulates the heart by increasing oxygen utilization. Suma is called “para todo” which means “for everything.” It is considered a regenerative tonic for the nervous, reproductive and digestive systems and is used to treat hormonal disorders, sexual dysfunction, fatigue, and stress.

    Siberian ginseng, not a true ginseng, normalizes reactions to physical and mental stress, and increases the body’s ability to withstand adverse conditions such as heat, noise, increases in workload and physical endurance. It regulates blood sugar, protects the liver and supports optimal adrenal function.

    Schizandra berry is a general tonic that promotes liver health and counters the effects of stress and fatigue. It is also used for insomnia associated with changing hormones.

    Ashwagandha increases energy to improve overall health and longevity. Studies have proven powerful anti-stress effects as well as antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor and immune-modulating properties. Ashwagandha not only supports the adrenals but has also been found to improve thyroid function too.

    Support a Low Thyroid The adrenal glands and the thyroid are directly linked so once the adrenals become exhausted, the thyroid goes low. The following nutrients have been found to help support the thyroid. These nutrients can be safely taken along with thyroid medicines. Never stop your thyroid hormone drug without your doctor’s recommendation.

    Tyrosine is an amino acid necessary for the manufacture of thyroid hormones. Tyrosine assists a sluggish thyroid and can aid the loss of those unwanted pounds.

    Ashwagandha supports the thyroid gland. Studies show that it enhances thyroid function and produces a significant increase in T4 thyroid hormone.

    Guggal extract supports complete thyroid health while enhancing the conversion of T4 hormone to the more potent T3 hormone. Guggal extract and ashwagandha should be used together to support thyroid health.

    Potassium iodide is essential for the manufacture of thyroid hormones, and was initially added to salt to combat the epidemic of low thyroid in Canadians. Since many people now avoid salt for fear of high blood pressure, low thyroid and goitres are on the rise in Canada.

    Environmental Estrogen Protection
    We must avoid products containing environmental estrogens such as cosmetics containing parabens, plastics with BPA, synthetic hormones in dairy and meat, to name a few. Detoxification of these estrogens using saunas and dry brushing the skin will help to eliminate excess estrogens, as does eating organic broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage and kale. Supplementing with the following nutrients can help protect you from the dangerous effects of environmental estrogens and balance hormones. If you have any of the estrogen-dominant conditions mentioned earlier, you need the following food-based nutrients every day. They can be purchased separately or in combo.

    Indole-3-carbinol (I-3-C) is a powerful plant nutrient from cruciferous vegetables. I-3-C prevents the conversion of good estrogens to cancer-causing estrogens. I-3-C maintains a healthy cervix, protects against HPV cervical lesions and controls abnormal cell growth found in those with uterine fibroids, breast lumps and endometriosis. It is very effective for heavy periods caused by a thickened uterine lining.

    D-glucarate is a powerful detoxifier of excess estrogens via the liver. It helps to maintain healthy hormone balance.

    Green tea extract contains polyphenols, catechins and flavonoids shown to be protective against estrogen-related cancers and it stops abnormal cell growth. (Note: Although uterine fibroids, ovarian cysts, endometriosis and breast lumps may not develop into cancers, they are cells growing out of control.)

    Curcuminis the yellow pigment of turmeric. This powerful anti-inflammatory agent works to inhibit all steps of cancer formation: initiation, promotion and progression. Curcumin also supports the liver.

    Rosemary extract, a potent antioxidant, protects cells from cancer-causing agents, inhibits the growth of cancer cells and helps to detoxify toxic estrogens.

    Sulforaphane, from Broccophane™ broccoli sprout extract, has been shown to stimulate the body’s production of detoxification enzymes that eliminate environmental estrogens. Sulforaphane is a powerful antioxidant and anticancer agent.

    Happy Conclusions
    Mary found relief from her insomnia and night sweats within a few days by using the adrenal support nutrients and a natural sleep aid. Joanne is relieved that, after only two months of taking indole-3-carbinol along with the other estrogen-balancing nutrients, her periods are now four days in length with normal flow. Since Melinda started taking the recommended thyroid nutrients, her hair stopped falling out and the added weight is now coming off effortlessly.

  • Test your Nutrient I.Q.

    WHAT NUTRIENT…

    • was considered universal medicine for destroying bacteria and viruses before the onslaught of synthetic drugs?
    • has been used for centuries for wound healing; especially during war time?
    • was amply added to a substance we mostly use in our daily diet since the 1920s to reduce the rate of goiter disorder?
    • was considered helpful in ridding the body of toxic buildup?
    • was used to purify water before chlorine?
    If you answered iodine, you’re correct. Before the widespread use of synthetic drugs, iodine was practically a universal medicine for everything, even in assisting the body to fight off cancer. Today, we find ourselves with skyrocketing cancer rates, an epidemic of thyroid dysfunction and auto-immune disorders, and toxic build-up in our bodies—could an iodine deficiency be to blame? I believe it is!

    HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE…

    Iodine was discovered in 1811, isolated from the soda ash of seaweed, by the French scientist Courtors and used as a medical tincture in the Civil War. By 1874, it was found to be one of the most efficacious antiseptics, due in part to its low reactivity to proteins—allowing its I2 molecules to rapidly and thoroughly penetrate the cell wall of microorganisms.

    Credit of its discovery also goes to an East Indian, Sunker Bisey, who ushered iodine into the Medical Hall of Fame. Iodine is one of the four elements in the body that also include water, salt and soda—the basic elements and from these all the rest are made in one form or another.

    IODINE—ESSENTIAL FOR HEALTH…

    Iodine is a “trace element”— modern science and medicine consider it to be essential for healthy maintenance of life. The single most important use of iodine, in animal and human biology, is for the formation of two hormones in the thyroid gland (actually an endocrine gland). The hormones are thyroxine (called T4) and triiodothyronine (called T3). T4 and T3 contain four and three atoms of iodine per molecule of hormone respectively.

    The thyroid gland absorbs iodide from the blood to form these hormones from the amino acid tyrosine. They are then stored prior to being released into the bloodstream in an iodine-containing protein called thyroglobulin. The production and release of hormones T3 and T4 by the thyroid gland are regulated by another hormone called thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH)—produced by the pituitary gland located in your head.

    THYROID MATTERS…

    Both T4 and T3 hormones perform several important functions including the regulation of the body’s basal metabolic rate (BMR), which determines the amount of energy the body uses simply to function. Therefore, insufficient or excess quantities of these hormones can lead to weight-related as well as many other chronic health disorders.

    IODINE SABOTEURS…

    These days, most of the iodine we get in our diets is from table salt. Iodine was actually added to salt to reduce incidence of goiter (enlarged thyroid gland) in the 1920s. And that worked for a while. Currently people are cutting back on table salt for other health reasons so they aren’t getting much, if any, iodine. What little they do consume may not work effectively, either, even when it’s natural sea salt. Iodine depletion has occurred because other minerals like chlorine, fluoride, and bromide, which lower iodine levels in the body by blocking iodine receptors, are increasingly consumed through foods and environmental exposure. Chlorine is now used to purify water instead of iodine. Fluoride, almost universally found in toothpaste and drinking water, blocks the ability of the thyroid gland to concentrate iodine. Bromines, which began replacing iodine in commercial baked goods over 30 years ago, can cause depression, headaches, and even hallucinations.

    REBIRTH OF ANCIENT METHODOLOGIES…

    Luckily, not everyone has forgotten what this amazing mineral does for our health. Integrative medical practitioners are bringing iodine back in their clinical protocols. And researchers suggest that boosting iodine consumption improves thyroid health, lowers incidence of breast and fibrocystic disease, prostate dysfunction and promotes overall well-being. The current minimum daily requirement is 150 micrograms (mcg). Typically, we in the United States consume 240 mcg per day— just enough to prevent goiter, but not enough for other truly beneficial health effects. In my practice we do an easy patch test that’s been done for centuries to determine if the current amount of iodine is sufficient in the body…remember… what goes ON the skin goes IN the body so this test is extremely accurate as a guide for natural supplementation. I use approximately 12,000 to 10,000 mcgs daily in a homeopathic blend when hypothyroid is indicated. My book, “Your Thyroid” that explains the home testing method as well as suggested amounts for supplementation depending on your results.*

    SYMPTOMS OF HYPOTHYROID…

    Basically, when the thyroid gland doesn’t receive the “fuel” that it needs to function, a thyroid deficiency called hypothyroid develops. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates over 2 billion people are iodine deficient—with up to 50 million experiencing serious symptoms of imbalance that go undiagnosed and untreated.

    Iodine is especially vital for pregnant women, their unborn babies and young babies as a deficiency can lead to severe developmental issues. Recently, iodine deficiency has been linked to autism in children.

    When you consider that industrial farming methods, lack of minerals in the soil, and environmental pollutants have all robbed the soil of natural mineral resources, it translates into poor iodine-content in foods and equates to health disorders that have their roots in iodine deficiency.

    THE FOLLOWING ARE THE MOST COMMON DISORDERS/ DISEASES KNOWN TO INCLUDE IODINE DEFICIENCY:
    • Thyroid enlargement—often called "goiter"
    • Mental/emotional imbalances such as depression, anxiety, quick temper
    • Fetal hypothyroidism (improper thyroid function in unborn children—leading to brain damage)
    • Slow metabolism/weight gain or inability to lose weight
    • Autism
    • Immune system disorders (fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, Lupus, Scleroderma, etc.)
    • Hormone disorders (anxiety, lack of sexual interest, and insomnia/lack of restorative sleep)
    • Breast cysts, soreness, and heaviness
    • Inability to properly and completely detoxify
    • Swelling in the body
    • Sensitivity to cold
    • Hair loss or severe thinning
    • Brain fog, memory impairment
    • High cholesterol even resistant to dietary changes and/or prescribed medications
    • Gastric forms of cancer
    • Constipation
    • Stiff joints

    OUR JAPANESE NEIGHBORS...

    By comparison, people in Japan consume more than 12 mg (12,000 mcg) of iodine per day, 50 times more than the average American. Life expectancy in Japan is just over 82 years old—in the United States it's about 78 years and infant mortality there is half of that of the United States. And...American deaths from breast cancer are three times the number in Japan.

    One in seven American women today will develop breast cancer. Thirty years ago, when iodine consumption was much higher, only one in 20 women developed breast cancer. Women in Japan who consume high amounts of dietary iodine have much lower rates of breast cancer and thyroid problems. However, when women emigrate from Japan to the United States and begin eating a Western diet, with its fractional amount of iodine, their incidence of breast cancer and thyroid disease increases dramatically.

    SCIENTIFICALLY SPEAKING...

    Beyond thyroid support, iodine's anti-cancer functions may be among its most important benefits. Scientific tests exposing estrogen-sensitive breast cancer cells to iodine show the cells are less likely to grow and spread. Fibrocystic breast disease is a common condition involving swelling, tenderness, and discomfort of the breasts. In one study, 98 percent of women receiving iodine treatment were pain-free by the study's end, and 72 percent had improvements in breast tissue.

    IODINE, NATURALLY...

    Iodine is available in various forms, each of which affects specific tissues in the body. If thyroid issues are your concern, potassium iodide is best absorbed by the thyroid. Breast tissue uses iodine most efficiently in the form of molecular iodine. Consider a supplement that includes more than one form like that found in a homeopathic blend. The most effective formula I've used and recommended is a homeopathic proprietary blend called Wholistic Thyroid Balance.** If you're extra-sensitive to cold, put on weight easily, have dry skin, or feel "foggy", you may be deficient in iodine. Other easy-to-recognize signs include a thinning of the outer third of the eyebrows, stiff joints, and dull, lusterless hair. If these sound like common symptoms, it's no surprise—most people don't get the iodine they need! 

    * "Your Thyroid" available in eBook and paper version both $9.95 at www.gloriagilbere.com

    ** Wholistic Thyroid Balance available at http://www.gloriagilbere.com

    Resources:
    1. http://www.ivy-rose.co.uk/Chemistry/Elements/Iodine-Uses.php
    2. http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/symptoms-of-iodine-deficiency/
    3. http://www.who.int/nmh/iodine/en/
  • When it comes to women’s health, the knowledge of traditional Chinese medicine embodies may pearls of wisdom. One of the most well-known sayings is that a Chinese doctor would rather treat ten men rather than one woman! It is no surprise that women are the more complex gender. A woman’s unique physiology gives her extraordinary advantages, such as a longer life span. However, altering the very delicate and finely balanced female hormonal system can also predispose women to a long list of health problems that can compromise her physiological, emotional and mental well-being.

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