Month: October 2015

Your Doctor Is Raising Your Blood Pressure

October 28, 2015 | 5,821 views

By Dr. Mercola

“White-coat hypertension” is a term used for when a high blood pressure reading is caused by the stress or fear associated with a doctor or hospital visit. This can be a transient yet serious concern.

It’s estimated that up to 20 percent of people diagnosed with hypertension actually only have white-coat hypertension, which means their blood pressure was only elevated because they were nervous.1

If your blood pressure is elevated due to white-coat hypertension, you may be prescribed drugs for high blood pressure that you don’t really need. The solution to this problem is simple – check your blood pressure at home or in another location where you’re relaxed to confirm the results from your doctor’s office.

Federal Advisory Board Recommends Confirming Your Blood Pressure Readings at Home

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), a federal advisory board, recommends screening for high blood pressure in adults aged 18 years or older.

However, they have updated their clinical guidelines to also recommend that blood pressure measurements be obtained outside of a clinical setting for diagnostic confirmation before starting treatment.2

Their first choice for monitoring is ambulatory blood pressure monitoring. This involves a small portable device (provided by your doctor), which measures your blood pressure automatically every 20 to 30 minutes for 12 to 48 hours.

Alternatively, you can measure your blood pressure at varying times throughout the day using home blood pressure monitoring. According to the report, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine:3

The USPSTF reviewed the research published since its 2007 recommendation about the accuracy of different methods for confirming hypertension after an initial positive screening result, and about the best frequency for screening.

… The authors found clear evidence that the benefits of screening for hypertension outweigh the risks.

Ambulatory blood pressure monitoring is the best method for diagnosing hypertension, and home blood pressure monitoring may be acceptable if ambulatory monitoring is not possible. Good information about the best frequency for screening is not available.

… The USPSTF recommends screening for high blood pressure in adults aged 18 years or older and taking measurements outside of medical settings to confirm high blood pressure before starting treatment.”

Blood Pressure Readings Higher When Taken by Doctors Versus Nurses

When researchers from the University of Exeter Medical School analyzed blood pressure readings from more than 1,000 patients, they noticed a significant discrepancy in readings taken by doctors and nurses.

Blood pressure readings taken by doctors were significantly higher (by 7/4 mmHg) than those taken by nurses, even though the readings were of the same person on the same day.4

The difference in readings was large enough to push some patients into the high-blood pressure category, which means they could be receiving unnecessary or inappropriate treatment. The researchers described the “white-coat effect” as a subconscious or reflex effect.

In short, when a doctor takes your blood pressure it may trigger your fight-or-flight response, which ramps up your blood pressure. Past research suggests older females are particularly vulnerable to white-coat hypertension, especially when the reading is taken by a male doctor.

The presence of a student or “doctor in training” has also been linked with higher blood pressure readings.5 It’s estimated that 75 percent of patients with high blood pressure may also be affected by the white-coat effect.6

If you find yourself feeling stressed before a blood-pressure screening, to decrease your risk of being falsely diagnosed with hypertension in this situation, take a moment to calm down.

Be sure to arrive for your appointment ahead of time so you can unwind, then breathe deeply and relax when you’re getting your blood pressure taken.

What Are the Risks of High Blood Pressure?

Your blood pressure readings can fluctuate from day to day and also due to factors such as stress, physical activity, caffeine, and nicotine.

Many people have high blood pressure without even knowing, but once your readings measure high – and are confirmed as such outside a clinical setting – it’s important to take steps to reduce it.

The number of deaths due to high blood pressure increased nearly 62 percent from 2000 to 2013, according to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).7

Currently, about 70 million US adults struggle with the condition, which amounts to 1 in every 3 adults. Only 52 percent of those who have been diagnosed have their blood pressure levels under control, and another 1 in 3 US adults has pre-hypertension, which means blood pressure is elevated and at risk of progressing to full-blown hypertension.8

If your blood pressure is elevated, it means the force of blood pushing against the walls of your arteries is too high, which can cause damage over time. Many are familiar with the related heart risks this can cause. For instance, high blood pressure increases your risk of heart disease, heart failure, and stroke.

Less well-known, but equally important, is the fact that high blood pressure can contribute to kidney failure (by weakening and narrowing blood vessels in your kidneys) and problems with memory and understanding. High blood pressure has even been linked to an increased risk of developing, and dying from, cancer,9 and is known to trigger and worsen complications of diabetes, including diabetic eye disease and kidney disease.

There Are Risks to Taking Blood Pressure Medications

High blood pressure can be deadly, but you need to think carefully before using drugs to treat it, especially if your levels are only mildly elevated. In the vast majority of cases, drugs are not needed to reverse hypertension, and in some cases the drugs may end up shortening your lifespan instead of extending it.

In one study, diabetic participants received one or more blood pressure medications (a combination of calcium antagonist, beta-blocker, ACE inhibitor, and diuretic) in whatever combination required to achieve a systolic blood pressure less than 130 mm Hg (the standard hypertension guidelines for diabetics).

Researchers discovered that tighter control of blood pressure in these patients was not associated with better outcomes. The uncontrolled group fared worst, which wasn’t surprising, but the group whose systolic blood pressure was held between 130 and 140 actually showed a slightly lower risk of death than the group whose systolic was maintained at the recommended level — under 130 mm Hg.10

Past research has also shown that aggressive blood pressure control may lead to too low of a blood pressure and increased risk of cardiovascular events.11 There is a major difference between achieving a healthy blood pressure number by eating well, exercising and managing stress versus “forcing” your body to produce that number with a drug.

My Top-Recommended Strategies to Prevent Hypertension

If you are diagnosed with high blood pressure, dietary strategies will be crucial to controlling your levels. Avoiding processed foods (due to their being high in sugar/fructose, grains, trans fats, and other damaged fats and processed salt) is my number one recommendation if you have high blood pressure.

Research shows that dietary sugars influence blood pressure and serum lipids independent of the effects of sugars on body weight.12 In a review in the journal Open Heart, the authors also argue that the high consumption of added sugars in the US diet may be more strongly and directly associated with high blood pressure than the consumption of sodium.13

Instead, make whole, ideally organic foods the focus of your diet. As you reduce processed foods, and other sources of non-vegetable carbs from your diet, you’ll want to replace them with healthy fat. Sources of healthy fats to add to your diet include:

Avocados Butter made from raw, grass-fed organic milk Raw dairy Organic pastured egg yolks
Coconuts and coconut oil (coconut oil actually shows promise as an effective Alzheimer’s treatment in and of itself) Unheated organic nut oils Raw nuts, such as pecans and macadamia, which are low in protein and high in healthy fats Grass-fed meats or pasture raised poultry

It’s not only your diet that matters for healthy blood pressure… a comprehensive fitness program is another strategy that can improve your blood pressure and heart health on multiple levels (such as improving your insulin sensitivity). For example, research shows that men who are fit can stave off increases in blood pressure that tend to occur with age. In men with strong heart fitness, blood pressure levels didn’t start increasing until their mid-50s. However, in sedentary men, signs of high blood pressure appeared in their mid-40s.14

To reap the greatest rewards, I strongly suggest including high-intensity interval exercises in your routine. You’ll also want to include weight training. When you work individual muscle groups you increase blood flow to those muscles, and good blood flow will increase your insulin sensitivity. I encourage you to read through my full list of strategies to prevent hypertension for more guidelines, however below you’ll find some additional highlights.

    1. Eat an early dinner: Research shows intermittent fasting helps fight obesity and type 2 diabetes, both of which are risk factors for high blood pressure. Your body is most sensitive to insulin and leptin after a period of fasting. While there are many types of fasting regimens, one of the easiest to comply with is an eating schedule where you limit your eating to a specific, narrow window of time each day. I typically recommend that you stop eating at least three hours, and ideally six hours, prior to bedtime to give your body a significant fasting period.
    2. Optimize your vitamin D levels: Arterial stiffness (atherosclerosis) is a driving factor for high blood pressure. As your blood travels from your heart, cells in the wall of your aorta, called baroreceptors, sense the pressure load, and signal your nervous system to either raise or lower the pressure.

However, the stiffer your arteries are, the more insensitive your baroreceptors become, and the less efficient they become at sending the appropriate signals. Vitamin D deficiency is, in turn, linked to stiff arteries, which is whyoptimizing your levels is so important.

    1. Address your stress: The link between stress and hypertension is well documented. Suppressed negative emotions such as fear, anger, and sadness can severely limit your ability to cope with the unavoidable every day stresses of life. It’s not the stressful events themselves that are harmful but rather is your lack of ability to cope. I recommend theEmotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) to transform your suppressed, negative emotions and relieve stress.
    2. Normalize your omega-6:3 ratio: Most Americans get too much omega-6 in their diet and far too little omega-3. Consuming omega-3 fats will help re-sensitize your insulin receptors if you suffer from insulin resistance. Omega-6 fats are found in corn, soy, canola, safflower, and sunflower oil. If you’re consuming a lot of these oils, you’ll want to avoid or limit them. For omega-3s, your best bet is to find a safe source of fish, or if this proves too difficult or expensive, supplement with a high-quality krill oil, which has been found to be 48 times more potent than fish oil.
    3. Optimize your gut flora: Compared to a placebo, people with high blood pressure who consumed probiotics lowered systolic blood pressure (the top number) by 3.56 mm Hg and diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number) by 2.38 mm Hg.15 The best way to optimize your gut flora is by including naturally fermented foods in your diet, which may contain about 100 times the amount of bacteria in a bottle of high-potency probiotics.
    4. Maintain an optimal sodium-potassium ratio: An imbalanced ratio may lead to hypertension. To ensure yours is optimal, ditch all processed foods, which are very high in processed salt and low in potassium and other essential nutrients. Instead, eat a diet of whole, unprocessed foods, ideally organically and locally-grown to ensure optimal nutrient content. This type of diet will naturally provide much larger amounts of potassium in relation to sodium.
    5. Eliminate caffeine: The connection between coffee consumption and high blood pressure is not well understood, but there is ample evidence to indicate that if you have hypertension, coffee and other caffeinated drinks and foods may ex­acerbate your condition.
    6. Vitamins C and E: Studies indicate that vitamins C and E may be helpful in lowering blood pressure. If you’re eating a whole food diet, you should be getting sufficient amounts of these nutrients through your diet alone. If you decide you need a supplement, make sure to take a natural (not synthetic) form of vitamin E. You can tell what you’re buying by care­fully reading the label. Natural vitamin E is always listed as the “d-” form (d-alpha-tocopherol, d-beta-tocopherol, etc.) Synthetic vitamin E is listed as “dl-” forms.
    7. Olive leaf extract: In one 2008 study, supplementing with 1,000 mg of olive leaf extract daily over eight weeks caused a significant dip in both blood pressure and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol in people with borderline hypertension. If you want to incorporate olive leaves as a natural adjunct to a nutrition­ally sound diet, look for fresh leaf liquid extracts for maximum synergistic potency.

You can also prepare your own olive leaf tea by placing a large teaspoon of dried olive leaves in a tea ball or herb sack. Place it in about two quarts of boiling water and let it steep for three to 10 minutes. The tea should be a medium amber color when done.

  1. Quick tricks: Increasing nitric oxide in your blood can open con­stricted blood vessels and lower your blood pressure. Methods for in­creasing the compound include taking a warm bath, breathing in and out through one nostril (close off the other nostril and your mouth), and eating bitter melon, rich in amino acids and vitamin C
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How to Diagnose and Treat Thyroid Disease

October 28, 2015
By Dr. Mercola
Thyroid disease has become very prevalent in today’s world, courtesy of a number of different lifestyle factors. An estimated 1 in 8 women aged 35 to 65 has some form of thyroid disease1 — underactive thyroid being the most common.

More than one-quarter of women in perimenopause are diagnosed withhypothyroidism, in which insufficient amounts of thyroid hormones are produced.

Thyroid hormones2 are used by every cell of your body, which is why the symptoms can vary so widely. For example, thyroid hormones regulate metabolism and body weight by controlling the burning of fat for energy and heat.

Thyroid hormones are also required for growth and development in children. They signal the production of virtually all growth factors in your body, including:

  • Somatomedins (skeletal tissue growth)
  • Erythropoietin (involved in the development of red blood cells)
  • Nerve growth factor
  • Epidermal growth factor

In pregnant women, thyroid hormone is also involved in the production of prolactin, a hormone responsible for milk production.

Poor thyroid function has been linked to a wide array of serious health conditions,3 from fibromyalgia and irritable bowel syndrome, to infertility, autoimmune diseases, and thyroid cancer.4

This is why it’s so important to understand how your thyroid works and what can cause it to dysfunction.

Understanding How Your Thyroid Gland Works

The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped gland found inside your neck, right under your larynx or voice box. A two-inch long, highly vascular gland, it has two lobes located on each side of the windpipe, connected by a tissue called the isthmus.

Your thyroid is responsible for producing the master metabolism hormones that affect virtually every function in your body. It produces three types of hormones:

  • Triiodothyronine (T3)
  • Thyroxine (T4)
  • Diiodothyronine (T2)

Hormones secreted by your thyroid interact with all your other hormones, including insulin, cortisol, and sex hormones like estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone.

The fact that these hormones are all tied together and are in constant communication explains why a less-than-optimal thyroid status is associated with so many widespread symptoms and diseases.

Almost 90 percent of the hormone produced by your thyroid is in the form of T4, the inactive form. Your liver then converts the T4 into T3, the active form, with the help of an enzyme.

T2 is currently the least-understood component of thyroid function and the subject of a number of ongoing studies.

If everything is working properly, you will make what you need and have the correct amounts of T3 and T4, which control the metabolism of every cell in your body.

If your T3 is inadequate, either by scarce production or not converting properly from T4, your entire body will experience the consequences.

Thyroid Disruptors Abound…

It’s important to realize that thyroid dysfunction is a complex issue with many variables and many potential underlying causes, including the following.

If your thyroid dysfunction is caused by factors such as these, detoxification and changing your lifestyle to avoid hormone disrupting chemicals may be key components of successful intervention.

Estrogen dominance Midlife hypothyroidism can be related to underlying estrogen dominance,5 in which case taking thyroid hormone fails to address the root of the problem.
Medications Certain medications, such as steroids, barbiturates, cholesterol–lowering drugs, and beta blockerscan disrupt your thyroid function, in which case the most appropriate remedy may not be to add thyroid hormone.
Endocrine-disrupting chemicals Endocrine-disrupting chemicals like mercury, lead, phthalates, and bisphenol-A (BPA) have been linked to both early menopause and thyroid problems.6
Bromine exposure Bromines found in pesticides, plastics, bakery goods, beverages containing brominated vegetable oils (BVOs), and flame retardants also have a disruptive effect on thyroid function.

Bromine, chlorine, and fluoride are all in the same family as iodine, and all three can therefore displace iodine in your thyroid gland.

Fluoride Fluoride, which is still routinely added to water supplies in many areas across the US, was used in Europe to reduce thyroid activity in hyperthyroid patients as late as the 1970s.

According to a 2006 report by the National Research Council of the National Academies,7 fluoride is “an endocrine disruptor in the broad sense of altering normal endocrine function.”

This altered function can involve your thyroid, parathyroid, and pineal glands, as well as your adrenals, pancreas, and pituitary.

Altered thyroid function is associated with fluoride intakes as low as 0.05 to 0.1 mg fluoride per kilogram body weight per day (mg/kg/day), or 0.03 mg/kg/day with iodine deficiency.8

Fluoride has the ability to:

  • Mimic thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH)
  • Damage the cells of your thyroid gland
  • Disrupt conversion from the inactive form of the thyroid hormone (T4) to the active form (T3)
Heavy metals Heavy metal toxicity is yet another factor that can be part of the problem.

Symptoms of Underactive Thyroid

Symptoms of hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) may include but are not limited to the following:

Fatigue, loss of energy, and general lethargy Cold intolerance
Muscle and/or joint pain Decreased sweating
Depression Puffiness
Weight gain Coarse or dry skin and hair
Hair loss Sleep apnea
Carpal tunnel syndrome Forgetfulness, impaired memory, and inability to concentrate
Decreased hearing Bradycardia (reduced heart rate)
Menstrual disturbances Decreased appetite
Impaired fertility Constipation
Fullness in the throat, hoarseness Increased risk of heart disease
Increased “bad” cholesterol (LDL) Weakness in extremities
Emotional instability Blurred vision
Mental Impairment

Standard Thyroid Test Misdiagnoses Many

The most common way to diagnose thyroid dysfunction is by measuring how much thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) your pituitary gland excretes. When your thyroid is not producing sufficient levels of thyroid hormone, your pituitary sends out TSH to encourage the thyroid to increase production.

Hence the higher your TSH level is, the more likely you are to have hypothyroidism. However, while the TSH test has become the gold standard for determining the activity level of your thyroid, this test may not be entirely adequate.

According to Dr. Raphael Kellman, an integrative medicine practitioner in New York City who specializes in thyroid disorders, many patients whose TSH level falls within the accepted “normal” range still exhibit classic symptoms of low thyroid. As noted in a recent Epoch Times article,9 the TSH test “frequently misrepresents what is happening in the thyroid and the pituitary.”

Part of the problem is that the TSH test fails to reveal the influence of endocrine disrupting chemicals, which can wreak absolute havoc on your hormone function.

As noted in the featured article:

“In order to detect a thyroid problem, a TSH test must assume that hormonal signaling in the rest of the system is functioning normally. Because endocrine disrupting chemicals may disrupt many points along the signaling system and not just the thyroid, it can be difficult to identify an imbalance with a TSH test alone. Kellman says this is a big reason why the conventional blood tests and reference ranges used to detect a thyroid abnormality can overlook real problems.

‘We have to realize that when it comes to endocrine disruptors the blood test can be elusive. It doesn’t show up as definitively as when you see the effects of the autoimmune process,’ he said. ‘It may not be as evident on blood testing. And blood tests can even look contradictory.'”

The Case for TRH and Reverse T3 Testing

In cases where TSH is within normal range yet symptoms of low thyroid are still present, a thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH) stimulation test may offer additional clues. It involves getting an injection of thyrotropin (which is produced by your hypothalamus gland), in response to which your pituitary gland dumps all of its stored TSH into your bloodstream.

The TRH test basically tells you how much TSH your pituitary contains, in total, opposed to how much TSH it is sending out in any given moment. Having plenty of TSH stored in your pituitary yet showing normal levels on the TSH test is suggestive of a dysfunction in your pituitary gland, and underlying toxicity may be part of the problem. As noted by Dr. Kellman:

“Toxins don’t have to reach high levels in order to affect a delicate system that’s very, very vulnerable to toxicity. Especially the thyroid which I think is the most vulnerable component of the endocrine system.”

Dr. Jonathan Wright, pioneer in natural medicine, has also noted that elevated reverse T310 (RT3) levels tend to signal the presence of toxic metals. In his experience, most people who have elevated RT3 levels will see their levels revert back to normal after undergoing chelation with EDTA and DMPS, which draw out cadmium, lead, mercury, and other toxic metals. In essence, heavy metal toxicity can cause a functional form of hypothyroidism. As previously explained by Dr. Wright:

“It’s very well-known that lead and cadmium interfere with testosterone production. What’s not so well-known is that reverse T3 is stimulated by toxic metals, so up it goes. In effect, we can have levels that are so high, they way outnumber the regular T3. You’re functionally hypothyroid even if your TSHs and free T3s happen to be normal.”

Lab Tests to Assess Thyroid Function

To get a fuller picture of your thyroid health, I recommend using the following laboratory tests:

TSH Test The higher your level of TSH, the higher the likelihood that you have hypothyroidism. The ideal level for TSH is between 1 and 1.5 milli-international units per liter.
Free T4 and Free T3 The normal level of free T4 is between 0.9 and 1.8 nanograms per deciliter. T3 should be between 240 and 450 picograms per deciliter.
Thyroid Antibody Testing This includes thyroid peroxidase antibodies and anti-thyroglobulin antibodies. These two measures help determine if your body is attacking your thyroid or overreacting to its own tissues (i.e., autoimmune reactions). Unfortunately, conventional physicians nearly always leave this test out. If your doctor refuses to include this test, you can get it done yourself through DirectLabs.com.
Basal Body Temperature Although there are a few different protocols, the most commonly used is the Broda Barnes system,11 which is a measure of your basal body temperature at rest.
TRH Stimulation Test For more difficult cases, TRH can be measured using the TRH stimulation test. TRH helps identify hypothyroidism that’s caused by inadequacy of the pituitary gland.
Reverse T3 While reverse T3 (RT3) is metabolically inactive, elevated levels may indicate that heavy metal toxicity is affecting your thyroid function.

Iodine Is Essential for Thyroid Health

Iodine is the key to a healthy thyroid and efficient metabolism. Even the names of the different forms of thyroid hormone reflect the number of iodine molecules attached – T4 has four attached iodine molecules, and T3 (the biologically active form of the hormone) has three – showing what an important part iodine plays in thyroid biochemistry. As your body cannot produce its own iodine, it must be obtained from your diet.

Unfortunately, iodine deficiency is extremely common these days:

  • More than 11 percent of all Americans — and more than 15 percent of American women of child-bearing age — have urine iodine levels less than 50 micrograms per liter (mcg/L),12 indicating moderate to severe iodine deficiency
  • 36 percent of reproductive-aged women in the US are considered mildly iodine deficient (<100 mcg/L urinary iodine). The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends taking an iodine supplement during pregnancy, as most pregnant women are deficient13

Besides dietary deficiencies, toxins can also affect your iodine levels by displacing iodine. Iodine is a member of a class of related elements called “halogens,” which includes bromine, fluorine, and chlorine. When they are chemically reduced, they become “halides” (iodide, bromide, fluoride, and chloride). Most people today are exposed to these halogens/halides via food, water, medications, and environments, and these elements selectively occupy your iodine receptors, further deepening your iodine deficit.

How Much Iodine Do You Need for Thyroid Health?

In Japan, the daily dose of iodine obtained from the diet averages around 2,000 to 3,000 micrograms (mcg) or 2 to 3 milligrams (mg), and there’s reason to believe this may be a far more adequate amount than the US recommended daily allowance (RDA) of 150 mcg. Some argue for even higher amounts than that, such as Dr. David Brownstein, a physician and author of the book “Iodine: Why You Need It. Why You Can’t Live Without It”, who recommends 12.5 milligrams (mg) on a regular basis.

I believe it would be prudent for most to avoid taking high doses unless you’re using it therapeutically, for a short period of time. There are potentially serious risks to taking too much iodine, which is why I generally do not advise taking large doses of iodine supplements like Lugol’s or Iodora long term.

I personally feel that getting iodine from natural sources is best, but if you do choose supplements, supplementation at a dose of a few mg, might be best for most. Iodine is particularly important for pregnant women, as it plays an important role in your baby’s brain and nervous system development. Research14 suggests having sufficient amounts of iodine during the first months of pregnancy can improve your child’s IQ by nearly 1.25 points.

Good natural sources of iodine include:

  • Sea vegetables such as kelp and algae
  • Seafood such as shrimp, sardines, Alaskan salmon
  • Seaweed called bladderwrack (Latin name: Fucus vesiculosus), which you can also buy in either powdered form or in capsules

Recommended Types of Thyroid Medications

When it comes to thyroid hormone replacement, you have two basic options:

  1. Bioidentical thyroid hormones — which is what I recommend using — include Nature-Throid and Westhroid. They’re made from desiccated pig thyroid glands and contain the full spectrum of thyroid hormones: T4, T3, T2, and T1.
  2. Synthetic hormones,15 such as Synthroid (generic brand: Levothyroxine), which contains only T4.

One of the trickiest parts of thyroid hormone replacement is finding the ideal dose. This typically requires fine-tuning over an extended period of time, with regular blood testing to see how the dose is affecting your thyroid hormone levels, and keeping track of your symptoms. Two key signals that you’re taking too much hormone are excessive sweating and rapid heartbeat or heart palpitations. If you get either of those symptoms, you’re getting too much thyroid, and you need to cut back on the dose.

It’s also worth noting that in some cases, if you’re borderline hypothyroid, you may only need an iodine supplement rather than an actual thyroid hormone replacement. Still, even with thyroid medication, some people still don’t see a major improvement in their symptoms, and there may be a number of reasons for this.

Why Is Your Thyroid Medication Not Working?

GreenMedInfo recently addressed this issue, listing several potential reasons why your thyroid medication isn’t providing the relief you expected.16 This includes:

Undiagnosed Hashimoto’s disease — an autoimmune disorder in which your body is attacking your thyroid. As a general rule, signs of Hashimoto’s include TSH above 4.25 and thyroid peroxidase antibody (TPO) above 30. Reduced thyroid receptor sensitivity, typically due to chronic inflammation. Once your thyroid receptor sensitivity is dulled, the amount of thyroid hormone required in order for your body to recognize and use it increases.
Poor thyroid hormone conversion. Your body converts inactive T4 to the active T3 form, and a number of factors can impair your body’s ability to perform this conversion (including certain nutrient deficiencies, listed below).

If your conversion rate is impaired, you’re dosage requirement goes up.

Elevated reversed T3 (RT3) levels. High RT3 is not a sign of thyroid deficiency. It is a sign of high stress and/or potential heavy metal toxicity though, indicating you may need to address these two issues in order to return your thyroid to good health.
Iodine, selenium, iron, and/or cortisol deficiency.17Without sufficient amounts of these nutrients, thyroid hormone metabolism and conversion cannot occur. (Selenium deficiency is particularly common in those with gastrointestinal disorders.) Gluten sensitivity. Gluten looks very similar to thyroid hormone, which is why those with Hashimoto’s disease are typically required to go on a gluten-free diet to quell the autoimmune response.

Some synthetic thyroid medications can contain gluten, so it’s important to make sure your medication is gluten-free, in addition to cutting gluten out of your diet.

Treating Overactive Thyroid (Hyperthyroidism)

When your body is producing too much thyroid hormone, you end up with a condition called hyperthyroidism. While overactive thyroid is far less common than underactive, it can be a very serious condition. Making matters worse, conventional treatment options usually involve using radioactive iodine, which is a disaster, or surgery. According to Dr. Jonathan Wright, there may be a much better and safer option: a combination of iodine and lithium.

This treatment originated at Walter Reed Army Medical Center (WRAMC), at their department of thyroid. More than two decades ago, The Mayo Clinic also published a paper in which lithium alone brought abnormally high T3 and T4 numbers down to normal within a week to 10 days. It didn’t work on everybody though. According to Dr. Wright, Walter Reed’s system is profoundly effective, having failed in only two out of about 40 cases that he’s treated. Normal T3 and T4 levels can often be achieved in less than two weeks. For more insight into this protocol, please see the video above. In summary, the treatment is as follows:

  • Patient starts out on five drops of Lugol’s iodine, three times per day
  • After four or five days, patient starts receiving 300 mg of lithium carbonate, one to three times per day

Putting It All Together…

Entire books can and indeed have been written on the ins and outs of thyroid health and dysfunction. At best, this article is a summary review of the most common factors to consider. For starters, I suggest getting a comprehensive thyroid panel done (TSH, T3, T4, and thyroid antibodies) to rule out an autoimmune problem (Hashimoto’s disease).

If you have Hashimoto’s, your treatment will need to include strategies that apply to most autoimmune diseases, including optimizing your vitamin D and gut health, and addressing sources of inflammation.

In more complex cases where symptoms are present despite “normal” TSH levels, looking at the TRH stimulation test and reverse T3 (RT3) may offer additional clues, including indications of underlying toxicity. If this is the case, then a detoxification protocol needs to be part of your treatment.

Next, assess any potential nutrient deficiencies, such as iodine, selenium, calcium, and iron. Also consider exposure to chemicals that displace iodine, such as bromide, fluoride, and chlorine. Unfiltered tap water and processed foods are prime culprits for these three chemicals.

This is important, because it may not be enough to simply add more iodine; you may also need to cut out these iodine-replacing chemicals. One 2005 Russian study18 found that even an increased intake of iodine was insufficient to counter the adverse effects of excessive fluoride exposure on the thyroid gland in children.

Last but not least, if your thyroid is in fact underactive, you would need to take thyroid hormone. I recommend using bioidentical thyroid hormones, but as noted in my interview with Dr. Jonathan Wright, in some cases of Hashimoto’s, using a synthetic T4 hormone may be advisable, at least in the beginning of your treatment. At that point, tracking your symptoms and testing your thyroid hormone levels at regular intervals is usually necessary to find the correct dosage. Overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) is far less common a problem, but if you are one of those unlucky few, I recommend reviewing Dr. Wright’s regimen with your doctor.

Raw Milk -wrongly demonized??

By Dr. Mercola

Is it safe to drink raw (unpasteurized) milk? The short answer is a resounding yes — provided it comes from healthy, organically raised, grass-fed, or pastured cows, that is.

Dr. William Winter, who is eminently qualified to speak on this topic, expounds on the health benefits — and safety — of raw milk in this interview. He’s not only a veterinarian; he’s also a livestock nutritionist, holistic herd health consultant, and a chapter leader for the Weston A. Price Foundation (WAPF).

He’s also written a book for veterinarians called The Holistic Veterinary Handbook, published in 1986 (currently out of print).

Originally trained as a horse veterinarian, Dr. Winter started his career working in a large animal practice in Missouri. There he honed his skills in emergency surgery before eventually switching gears to focus on holistic veterinary medicine.

“Being a horse vet, you’re not working on horses all the time,” he says. “There were plenty of broken down cattle, pigs, sheep, and goats that I worked on. So, I got a full range of experience.

One day, a book appeared to me, [written by] Juliette de Baϊracli Levy, the herbal grandmother…

She taught me through this book about natural rearing, which is a natural diet. It was no vaccines, no wormers, no antibiotics, and no drugs whatsoever. That was my epiphany…

A lot of this stuff we do now, they used to know how to do before the ‘40s. As soon as antibiotics came in, there was this mass amnesia… all the great wisdom was kind of forgotten because it was too hard…

But I read the book, and I became unemployable. No vet in their right mind would hire me because all day I talk people out of vaccines, wormers, and antibiotics, all the things that you actually make money on. So I found myself having to start my own vet hospital.”

He ended up selling his practice in 1999. At that time, it was the biggest holistic veterinary hospital in the United States.

He’s still involved with the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association (AHVMA) though, which he co-founded. The AHVMA primarily focuses on pets, so Dr. Winter founded another version of it for livestock, which is still in its infancy.

Raw Milk Has Been Wrongfully Demonized

According to Dr. Winter, raw milk is “the most beautiful substance in the food world.” The same cannot be said for pasteurized milk.

Unfortunately, raw milk has been wrongfully demonized as hazardous — primarily by the conventional dairy industry and those who do not understand the health benefits of ‘live’ foods.

Laws relating to raw milk sales vary by state. According to RealMilk.com,1states where raw milk is still illegal by sale, cowshare or herdshare, or as pet milk include Hawaii, Nevada, Montana, Iowa, Louisiana, West Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey, Delaware, and Rhode Island.

“I recommend everyone listening to the show to join the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund2 (FTCLDF) because these are pro-bono lawyers who are helping farmers to stay out of jail and helping their lives change,” Dr. Winter says.

It’s important to understand that in order for raw milk to be healthy and safe it must come from healthy organically raised cows that graze on pasture.

Drinking unpasteurized milk from cows raised in a confined animal feeding operation (CAFO) might well be lethal, and the reason for this is due to the differences in the way the cows are raised and fed. A cow’s natural diet is primarily grass. When a cow eats a lot of grain, three adverse events happen:

  1. The cow becomes acidotic (acidic)
  2. It becomes over-protonated, which harms the cow’s kidneys. As a result, the cow can only provide milk for 1.7 lactations, which is 44 months, after which they get slaughtered
  3. Grain can contain mold mycotoxins that can make the animal sick

Grass-fed organic milk tends to be yellowish, not pure white. The coloration comes from the natural antioxidant carotenoids found in the grass, which is a pre-cursor to vitamin A.

Raw grass-fed milk is also high in omega-3 fats while being low in inflammatory omega-6.It also contains conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which has a number of health-promoting benefits.

One Reason Why Food Poisoning from Raw Milk Is So Rare

Interestingly, high quality raw organic milk actually has its own built in “immune system.” The elevated white blood cell count in raw milk helps reduce your risk of contracting food poisoning. Pasteurized milk does not have this protective quality.

“Mark McAfee of the Organic Pastures in California… [has been] challenged with little test tubes full of raw milk with all the deadly pathogens, Escherichia coli (E. coli)15787, listeria, campylobacter, or salmonella.

They come back in 30 minutes, and they cannot find any of those nasty bugs, because the raw milk has taken that out of there…

When they put those deadly pathogens into cooked milk and pasteurized milk, it’s a zoo in there. It is a perfect media for bacteria or pathogens to reproduce and go to town on you.

That’s just one little aspect of why intrinsically raw milk is safer than cooked milk. If you look at the numbers, you’ll find that almost all the food poisonings from dairy products are from cooked milk. There’s post-pasteurization contamination.

That isn’t to say that we’re careless about raw milk. We’re excruciatingly careful. I have my own little microscopic certification program. I have a drop site where 1,800 families here in Minneapolis pick up their farm fresh food, including the raw dairy products.

They buy it directly from the farmer. I have been on every farm and almost every small herd. I’ve been working with them to ensure safety.”

Raw milk also contains large quantities of beneficial bacteria, which help “crowd out” pathogens. As noted by Dr. Winter, the only way a pathogen can get a foothold is if there aren’t enough beneficial bacteria.

“If you have a full lining of probiotics in your gut and you happen to swallow some E. coli, salmonella, or staph organisms, there’s no room at the inn. So you’re much, much less likely to have a problem,” he says.

That said, as a consumer, it’s also important to understand how to safely handle and store raw milk once it’s in your possession. A helpful book suggested by Dr. Winter is The Untold Story of Milk: Green Pastures, Contented Cows, and Raw Dairy Products by Ron Schmid.

Should Humans Drink Cow’s Milk?

Some people insist that while raw milk is fine for calves, it’s simply not meant to be consumed by humans. Dr. Winter’s reply to such a statement?

“How do you milk a soybean? I’ve always been curious about that… [Raw cow’s milk] is the only golden food. It’s the only food that you can live on for the rest of your life. But not everybody should have dairy.”

If you’re significantly insulin-resistant and overweight you may want to limit your consumption of raw milk as it contains significant amounts of lactose and galactose — simple sugars that may exacerbate insulin resistance and make it more difficult to lose weight. That said, you may be even worse off drinking reduced-fat or skim milk. According to Dr. Winter, full-fat raw milk actually tends to modulate the impact of the milk sugar, and people who stick to a low-fat diet tend to be more overweight.

“It’s mapped to be a complete food,” he says. “I call reduced-fat milk or skim milk junk food.”    

Butter is another option for those who are insulin-resistant. Butter and cheese are also how you can benefit from raw dairy during the winter, when the cows cannot forage on fresh grasses. Dr. Winter credits his own robust immune system during cold and flu season to eating plenty of summer grass-fed butter during winter months.

“That’s how I get through the winter without a cold. One of the biggest health things I do is I try to eat an equivalent of about a stick of butter a day. I know it’s helping me from losing my marbles. The brain is mostly fat. You need fat insulation for your nerve protein.”

The History of Pasteurization and Homogenization

Growing up in the early ‘60s, my parents had milk delivered to our house, and I have vivid memories of milk fat rising to the top of the milk bottle. The reason the milk you buy today doesn’t do that is because it’s been homogenized. This process has no real biological benefit; it’s done primarily for aesthetic reasons, to make the milk in each package look the same.  Dr. Oster believes the homogenization process changes an enzyme in milk, xanthine oxidase, to catalyze atherosclerosis.

Now, the very idea that something needed to be done to kill pathogens in cow’s milk came about after farmers started feeding ethanol swell to their cows. This dietary ‘cheat’ made the cows sick and their milk less safe. Ethanol swell is the spent grain left over after making whiskey. They figured it looked like grain, and the cows liked it, so they began using it as feed.

The problem is, this spent grain was neither whole nor natural, and didn’t provide the nourishment the cows needed. As a result, the cattle began developing Johne’s disease, and bovine tuberculosis. They also began contracting human tuberculosis from sick immigrants hired to do the milking, which was all done by hand.

“Along comes Louis Pasteur from France. [In the 1850s] he became famous for pasteurizing wine in France because they were having some contamination and bacterial problems with the wine. So they said, ‘Oh, will this work on milk?’ [He said] ‘Well, yes it does. It kills some of the pathogens.’ So they started cooking this bad milk from the ethanol swell. They then realized that it killed most of the TB, a lot of the Johne’s, and a lot of the pathogens,” Dr. Winter explains.

“It just started unraveling from there. I’d like to say, over the last hundred years, it has enabled the dairy industry to sell us dirtier and dirtier milk, with more germs in it, less of the good factors in it, and certainly less of the healthy white blood cells. It has a lot of the bad, dead, and excessive white blood cells because they have another infection, which is called mastitis… [Preventing] mastitis basically goes back to the soil. There were two things they didn’t teach us in vet school or medical school.

One is soil science and the other is plant science. Really, if you want to have a healthy child, you have to have healthy animals if you’re eating animal food. To have healthy animals, you have to have healthy plants, and you’re not going to get healthy plants without healthy soil. So, I’ve had to be a de facto soil scientist and a de facto plant scientist. That’s essential for healthy animals with no mastitis.”

The enzymes are a critical factor in raw milk. When you cook (pasteurize) the milk, you kill all the enzymes, including the lactoferrin and lactoperoxidase. The word “peroxidase” means hydrogen peroxide. White blood cells contain small amounts of hydrogen peroxide that it will spill out and kill bacteria. When those enzymes are destroyed, the milk loses its innate ability to prevent bacterial overgrowth. Lactoferrin has a similar effect. Lacto means milk and ferrin means iron. Slaughter houses actually use this kind of iron-bearing enzyme as a natural antibacterial agent.

Now we also have ultra-pasteurization, which employs exceptionally high heat for shorter amounts of time. This is even worse than regular pasteurization. You can tell a product has been ultra-pasteurized when it no longer requires refrigeration, and you can be certain such products will do you absolutely no good. Radiology (X-ray) technology is also used to essentially sterilize the milk. This is referred to as cold pasteurization.

“It’s a really incredible marketing scam for an irradiated food,” Dr. Winter says. “But they’re doing a great job of selling it. Some people are actually seeking out dairy products and meats that have been irradiated.” 

Other Types of Raw Milk

Cow’s milk isn’t the only type of raw milk you can drink. Other healthy options include goat, sheep, donkey, and camel. Milk from cows is the predominant type of milk in the US, but worldwide, more people drink goat milk than any other type of milk. Both sheep- and goat milk are closer to human milk than cow’s milk. Goat milk is almost identical, so babies who cannot tolerate cow’s milk may do quite well on goat milk.

“I had the pleasure of milking a camel this winter,” Dr. Winter says. “I was at Bird-in-Hand, Pennsylvania, at the Miller’s Organic Farm. They milk camels… I found it a little bit strong for my taste. The flavor is delicious, but it’s like drinking white paint. It’s the heaviest, thickest, and whitest stuff I’ve ever seen in my life. But camel milk is very, very good for you.

There are a lot of people with food allergies, especially dairy allergies, who do great on camel milk. At the Miller’s Organic Farm, they sell it in their farm store… We have a dairy and a creamery in Wisconsin called Carr Valley Cheese. They have one of the top 10 cheeses in the whole world. It’s a triple cheese: goat, sheep, and cow milk mixed together, and it is phenomenal.” 

Where to Buy Raw Milk, and What to Do if It’s Not Legal in Your State

Raw-Milk-Facts.com and RealMilk.com are two excellent websites to peruse if you’re looking for raw milk. They can tell you what the status is for legality in your state. On a positive note, in the last 12 months, 33 states have opened up the legal status for raw milk. So, it’s getting easier to obtain.  EatWild.com and WestonAPrice.org also provide lists of certified organic farmers known to produce safe, wholesome raw dairy products. You can contact your local Weston A Price chapter leaderdirectly if you have questions. (Dr. Winter is the chapter leader for the Twin Cities.)

“I’m a foodie so I don’t mind putting a little extra effort [to obtain it],” Dr. Winter says. “It’s fun for me to find good food…I’m a member of two food co-ops. The movement started in Minnesota, so we have a head start…You can’t buy raw milk there yet, but you can buy really good milk.

What Sally Fallon recommends is if you can’t find raw milk, by the way, is to culture it. Buy organic, un-homogenized milk and turn it into yogurt or kefir. That way you put in some life back into it, some biology, some enzymes and probiotics. So that’s one thing you can do right now [if you don’t have access to raw milk] — culture your organic local milk.”

[+] Sources and References

An inverse relation between dietary intake of ω-3 fatty acids and risk of ALS is the most recent observation.

An inverse relation between dietary intake of ω-3 fatty acids and risk of ALS is the most recent observation.

Fitzgerald KC, O’Reilly EJ, Falcone GJ, et al. Dietary omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid intake and risk for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. JAMA Neurol 2014;71:1102–10.

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