Archive Monthly Archives: December 2013

Today’s Hashimoment: A Sense of Humor

pooh

Eeyore, the eternal pessimist

 

“Good morning, Pooh Bear,” said Eeyore gloomily.

“If it is a good morning,” he said.

“Which I doubt,” said he.

“Why, what’s the matter?”

“Nothing, Pooh Bear, nothing.

We can’t all, and some of us don’t.

That’s all there is to it.”

“Can’t all what?” said Pooh, rubbing his nose.

“Gaiety. Song-and-dance.

Here we go round the mulberry bush.”

Do you ever feel like Eyeore? Having Hashimoto’s can make you doubt that it is a good morning. Sometimes I feel that way.

But lately, I’ve been thinking how it’s important not to take things so seriously. You have to have a sense of humor about it all.

Last time I posted an affirmation, it was pointed out that studies have shown that affirmations only work on people with high enough self-esteem.

If you are like Eyeore and don’t think too highly of yourself then you are doomed. Affirmations will make you even more depressed.

I have to say that made me laugh, but at the same time I recognized the truth in it. You can’t just slap on an affirmation, you have to do the inner work too.

Whatever your take on this, remember to have a sense of humor.

When you can laugh at yourself or at the situation you are in it can take the sting out of it.

Here’s a funny example. I recently rescued a dog from the pound. He’s a beautiful 3 year old fox terrier. Boy have they got a lot of energy!

Well, I wanted to rescue him so I’d be motivated to get off my butt more. That worked. But, he had so much energy I was a bit overwhelmed.

So I watched about 10 episodes of the Dog Whisperer. And the techniques I learned actually started to work.

But, he wasn’t in the pound for no reason. He sometimes bites when he freaks out. He bit my hand, then a couple of days later he bit my foot.

Here I am thinking, “I’m the new Dog Whisperer” and meanwhile, every time I come out of the house I’ve got a new part of my body bandaged and I’m limping and grimacing.

It was a pretty hilarious thing to see.

I was able to see the humor in it and I and my family really had a good laugh over it. In fact, I called my mother to share the story with her and she was in hysterics for a good 5 minutes.

And actually, we stuck with him and he’s calmed down an incredible amount. He’s a wonderful dog!

Life is so much more enjoyable if you can find a way to laugh about what you are going through. Ultimately, you do have a choice.

As a good friend of mine says,

“Have a great day! Unless you have other plans.”

 

Hashimoto’s Health Tip: Half Measures

Spider web

Hashimoto’s is a web of complexities.

Today’s health tip concerns how to wrap your mind around the complexity of this disease and why half measures usually don’t work.

One of the things I often encounter in working with people with Hashimoto’s is that they have tried this or that and been prescribed this or that and they have arrived right back at zero.

There are many reasons for this, but if you look at the big picture, one of the main ones is that what they have tried has simply not been enough.

It has not been nearly enough.

In order to understand how this all works, you really need to view this globally. There is usually no single drug or single supplement that is going to just make everything perfect again.

This is a multi-system disorder and the only way to properly deal with it is to have a multi-system strategy.

The unfortunate thing is that we are all conditioned by our current medial model which says that this pill or even that natural supplement should be prescribed when you have this group of symptoms.

Well, often with Hashimoto’s you have a web of things overlapping causing a vicious cycle of symptoms that don’t only have one cause. They have multiple causes. And sometimes, things are moving in multiple directions at the same time.

The result is a downward spiral that can seem overwhelming and endless. Blood sugar issues and adrenal problems lead to thyroid problems which lead to intestinal problems which lead to brain problems which lead back to more thyroid and adrenal problems. And on and on…..

Yikes!

Well, the good news is that if you can wrap your mind around this big picture concept and you devote the time ,energy and effort to make enough changes and do enough, then you can turn these downward spirals on their head.

They become positive upward spirals of healing because all these connections can work in a positive direction as well.

Once you start healing these various pieces they start healing each other.

You just can’t do it in a half hearted way.

Half measures don’t give you half results, they often give you no results.

Today’s Hashimoment: What Is Your Healing Intention?

It occurred to me today that if we are going to heal, we need to have a vision. A healing intention of where we want to be.

So often, we are focused on not being healthy or this unpleasant symptom or that. Or everything we have lost. Or the science of blah, blah, blah.

Well, what would you like? Let’s brainstorm on what healing your Hashimoto’s looks like, feels like and is.

Answer these questions:

1. What would you like? (Try to answer in the affirmative: for example: abundant energy, beautiful full hair, mental clarity and focus, happiness, joy, days on end without pain, being my perfect weight, etc.)

2. How would it feel in your body? (Absolutely awesome! I would feel joy and peace, deep inner happiness, love for myself and everyone else, etc.)

3. What will feeling that way do for you? (Allow me to have my life back, let me spend more time with my kids and my family and friends, restore my lust for life, help me have fun again, etc.)

4. How will you know when you have it? (Be specific.)

5. What might stop you from getting there? (Is that your belief or someone else’s?)

Write down your answers and read them every morning. This can help to rewire your brain. This is your vision, your intention, the place you want to be. And be aware, number 5 may be something you need to work on…..

Hashimoto’s Health Tip: Digestive Health

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Digestive health is key to thyroid hormone conversion

We Are Ecosystems, Not Machines

Our bodies are not machines. They are groups of ecosystems all interacting with each other. And just like the health of ecosystems on our planet, problems in one ecosystem can cause a ripple effect and cause problems in other areas.

This is especially true with the ecosystem of the digestive tract and thyroid health. Our digestive system is teeming with life.

There are billions and billions of bacteria from many different species all living there. Many of them do important jobs for our bodies.

Gut Bacteria Convert Thyroid Hormone

One of the jobs that they do is to help convert thyroid hormone from its inactive form T4 into a form that the body’s cells can actually use, T3.

This is a really good thing.

Unfortunately, people often don’t pay enough attention to maintaining a healthy ecosystem in their digestive tract. This is true of doctors and patients.

Many things can lead to the death of good bacterial species and the overgrowth of ones that aren’t so helpful.

Avoid Things That Hurt Digestive Health

Antibiotics, processed foods, too much sugar, antacids, NSAIDS and environmental toxins are just a few things that can turn that digestive garden of eden into a post industrial waste land.

When this happens, thyroid hormone doesn’t get converted as well.

Bacterial gut infections can reduce thyroid hormone levels, dull thyroid hormone receptor sites, increase reverse T3, decrease TSH and promote autoimmune disease.

Be Careful Of These Bad Guys

With Hashimoto’s, a particularly nasty species of bacteria called Yersinia enteroclitica has been found to be 14 times higher in some people with the disease.

Bottom line: Having a healthy ecosystem in your gut is very important for helping your thyroid work properly. It is also important for helping thyroid replacement hormone work properly.

All of which matters because if your thyroid doesn’t work properly and thyroid hormone doesn’t work properly then you feel like crap.

And you have all the symptoms of hypothyroidism: fatigue, weight gain, depression, hair loss, pain, constipation, brain fog, mental sluggishness and the unending desire to read posts from Hashimoto’s Healing to figure out what is actually going on. 🙂

 

 

Today’s Hashimoment: When It Affects Someone You Love

Today’s Hashimoment concerns learning that someone close to you has the disease.

Genetic Component

There definitely is a genetic component to Hashimoto’s and sometimes its harder to hear that a family member has been diagnosed than learning about it yourself.

Recently, a close family member was diagnosed with this and I have to say it seems to have hit me harder than my own diagnosis.

Sometimes, it’s easier to get news like that for yourself than for someone you love. I don’t know why exactly, but maybe it comes from wanting to protect them and save them from suffering.

Don’t Mess With the People I Love

I feel like I can handle most anything, but when I see someone else is hurt by this disease I feel a little more powerless and a little more defensive.

It can really make me angry and want to lash out. But who do you lash out at?

I’ve been mad at God, mad at fate and mad at the universe. Wondered why, wondered if I had failed to do something I should have.

I don’t want them to go through it. I’d much rather it were just my burden. The good news is we have each other and we have all the accumulated wisdom and experience of dealing with this to bring to bear and to share.

But, I sure wish it was something I could have prevented instead.

Hindsight Is 20/20

Of course, hindsight is 20/20. If I knew several years ago what I know now, I would have done a number of things differently. But I wouldn’t know what I know now if I hadn’t gone through all of this.

We all have our journeys and we all have to go through what we go through. I’m grateful we have each other.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, people. Please comment below.

 

violets

 

Brain Fog Matters

3d rendered illustration - brain fog

Brain fog is a serious symptom

Several of the most common symptoms of Hashimoto’s are brain related.  Some of these are obvious such as brain fog and memory loss, others are less so, like depression and neurological disorders which can resemble or develop into Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

Regardless of how obvious they are, all these brain related symptoms are a sign of degeneration of the brain. This is not a good thing.

In this post we will look at how Hashimoto’s impacts the brain and why you really need to take it seriously before it’s too late.

In fact, it’s never too early to start working on this. Thyroid health and brain health are linked from our earliest development in the womb.

Brain and Thyroid Health Start in the Womb

One of the truths that, unfortunately, gets little attention is the impact of a healthy thyroid on the development of a healthy baby, especially a developing baby’s brain.

If you have Hashimoto’s and you want to get pregnant it is very important for you to test your thyroid early and often.

There is a very real risk of retardation or poor brain development and studies have shown that women who are hypothyroid during pregnancy are 4 times more likely to have a child with autism.

And it is important to realize that if you are taking thyroid replacement hormone that you may need to have your doctor adjust your dosage in order to ensure that your baby’s brain develops properly.

For more information on this check out my earlier post on Pregnancy and Hashimoto’s.

Hypothyroidism Can Cause Problems in a Child’s Brain, Too

These risks are not only present in the developing brain of a fetus. Once a child is born, if they have too little thyroid hormone, they can experience issues with learning language and have memory problems.

This may be caused by a number of factors. Some environmental toxins have been shown to negatively impact thyroid hormone production. In fact, studies have shown that polychlorinated biphenyls alter the expression of thyroid hormone-responsive genes in children’s brains.

Hypothyroidism in Adults Can Lead to All Kinds of Cognitive Disorders

In adults, thyroid hormone has been shown to have major influences over virtually every brain activity. T3 and T4 are involved in the neurogenesis, neuronal migration, axonal and dendritic growth, mylenation and more.

Hashimoto’s and hypothyroidism can lead to various disorders including lethargy, hyporeflexia and poor motor coordination. They are also linked to bipolar affective disorders, depression, or loss of cognitive functions, especially in the elderly.

And in the most extreme cases, Hashimoto’s can lead to a condition called Hashimoto’s Encephalopathy which can cause severe changes in the brain that look very much like the destruction caused by Alzheimer’s.

Clearly, thyroid hormone has a powerful effect on the brain. And hypothyroidism and brain inflammation can cause serious and lasting damage to the brain.

Brain Fog Is Brain Inflammation

One of the most common symptoms of Hashimoto’s is brain fog, that feeling like you are thinking through a haze, like you can’t quite focus or concentrate no matter how hard you try.

Brain fog is an indication of inflammation in your brain. Immune cells in the brain, called microglia are responsible for this.

The immune system in the brain is different than the immune system in the rest of the body. In the body it is much more complex, there are many different parts and they balance and regulate each other.

In your brain, the immune system is simpler. It’s like one of those people that has only 2 speeds, sleeping or balls to the wall.

Microglial cells have an extremely hair trigger. And they are capable of inflicting major damage. (Think chihuahua with an automatic rifle.) Frighten them or make them mad and there’s carnage, everywhere.

Brain Inflammation Leads to Brain Degeneration

These cells are responsible for causing Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, cardiovascular disease and more.

These cells also respond quickly to pathogens and injury, accumulate in regions of degeneration and produce a wide variety of pro-inflammatory molecules. That’s right, they cause inflammation.

Thyroid hormone has a major influence on them. It can help keep them calm and modulate them. This is why some people with Hashimoto’s notice that their brain fog really improves once they are given thyroid hormone.

For many others, this doesn’t help at all. If this is the case, there is something else driving the inflammation and the immune attack. (More on this in a moment.)

Fatigue Is Often Brain Based

Another common symptom for people with Hashimoto’s is fatigue and in many cases this is being caused by the same brain inflammation.

When these people perform activities that require mental activity, such as reading, studying or driving for long periods of time, they get tired.

Even after they start taking thyroid hormones, they may continue to have these symptoms.

Their brain has less endurance so they get tired when they use their brain for extended periods of time.

If you have fatigue when you read or study, drive or have long conversations, this is brain-based fatigue.  You cannot get brain endurance back unless you support your brain.  At this point it is not simply a thyroid hormone problem anymore.

Other Factors Lead to Brain Degeneration

The thing to realize is that this inflammation and subsequent fatigue may also be caused by an autoimmune response and that things that trigger your immune system may be triggering your brain inflammation and degeneration.

Let’s take a look at a couple of the usual suspects. One is gluten, the other is leaky gut. Together they add up to leaky brain and brain inflammation.

Leaky Gut Can Also Mean Leaky Brain

A protein found in connection with gluten consumption called zonulin is linked to leaky gut ( intestinal permeability) —the very thing that commonly leads to antibody reactions to foods which leads to sensitivities, allergies and even (eventually) things like Hashimoto’s.

There is a direct link between inflammation in the gut (commonly generated by irritating things such as gluten), microglial activation (as a result of these foreign compounds getting into the bloodstream) and brain degeneration.

If you have leaky gut, you may also have leaky brain. These same proteins are found in the blood brain barrier. When they break down in the gut, they can also sometimes break down in the brain.

This is often why people’s brain fog doesn’t improve with thyroid hormone. In order to improve brain fog, you must reduce brain inflammation and heal the barrier systems because when things enter the brain that shouldn’t the microglia respond and if that response is severe the tissue around it can be collateral damage.

A Leaky Brain Means More Brain Cells Get Chewed Up

The microglial cells also make up the blood-brain barrier, a thin barrier that lines the brain and only allows tiny, necessary substances to pass through.

The blood-brain barrier is important for keeping the bad guys (foreign invaders, such as viruses or bacteria) and environmental toxins out of the brain.

Unfortunately, according to Dr. Datis Kharrazian, (author of the new book, Why Isn’t My Brain Working?: A Revolutionary Understanding of Brain Decline and Effective Strategies to Recover Your Brain’s Health ) the blood-brain barrier can develop “leaks” for a variety of reasons.

These include poor blood-sugar stability (particularly insulin resistance), chronic stress, chronic inflammation, poor gut health, poor diet with unhealthy fats, and unchecked autoimmune activity, such as Hashimoto’s disease (alcohol and high homocysteine are also recognized factors).

Brain Degeneration Can Also Be Autoimmune

Autoimmune attack on parts of the brain have been noted with Hashimoto’s patients. One part of the brain that has been observed to be vulnerable in these patients is the cerebellum.

And as it turns out, research has also shown that gluten can lead to destruction of the cerebellum. Coincidence? We think not.

We have discussed the immune system in the brain above, well, another thing that’s important to understand is that it has no “off switch”.

If there is an immune response in the brain there is nothing to call off the attack, then the microglial cells create brain inflammation and chew up brain tissue in the process.

Hashimoto’s and Brain Degeneration Are Both Multi-System Problems

One of the things that I frequently discuss in my content and in my consultations is that Hashimoto’s is a multi-system disorder. It’s not just a thyroid problem or just an immune system problem.

It extends into all the major systems of the body including the liver, the adrenals, the pancreas, the stomach, the digestive tract and, yes, the brain.

And this is often why people don’t get better. Their doctors ignore all these other systems that are breaking down and just keep increasing the dosage of their thyroid hormone.

Well, a lot of times that just doesn’t work. You need to have a multi-system strategy.

That’s what I offer in my work with patients. A strategy for first determining where the problems are and then a program designed to fix them.

What Can You Do About Brain Degeneration?

You have to start by addressing the areas that helped cause a leaky blood-brain barrier if you want to restore brain integrity.

First make sure your diet is 100% gluten free. Then we get you on the Hashimoto’s diet, to determine whether other foods, such as dairy or eggs, are also provoking the immune system.

Then we work on the other systems that are involved. For example, balancing blood sugar, addressing gut health and gut infections, and supporting adrenal health so your adrenal hormones are neither too high or too low.

All of these will help put out the fires of inflammation, the killer of brain cells.

In addition, we use supplements created specifically for blood-brain barrier integrity, brain inflammation and increased blood flow to the brain.

And we may also work on other strategies like enhancing the liver’s detoxification pathways and supplementing with alpha-lipoic acid.

Would you like to know if a brain workup would make sense for you?

Click the link in the right column of the home page and schedule a free 30 minute Hashimoto’s Healing Discovery session and we will talk about how my program can help save your brain.

I look forward to speaking with you – unless you forget about it because of your brain fog…… 😉

Best,

Marc

References:

http://www.nature.com/mp/journal/v7/n1/full/4000988a.html – thyroid hormone in the CNS

http://www.jneurosci.org/content/21/6/2028.full.pdf – thyroid hormone and microglial development

http://sanjosefuncmed.com/thyroid-brain-crosstalk-part-1-microglia-neuron-thyroid-connection/ – Dr. Kharrazian Brain Thyroid crosstalk

http://www.ff.ul.pt/FCT/PTDC/NEU-NMC/0381/2012/29.pdf – microglia in the developing brain

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18591119 – thyroid autoimmunity and Parkinson’s disease

http://www.vivo.colostate.edu/hbooks/pathphys/endocrine/thyroid/thyroid_preg.html – thryoid, pregnancy and fetal development

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11837499 – thyroid hormone and fetal development

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21212091 – thryoid hormone and fetal neurological development

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130813111730.htm – autism and hypothyroidism

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1440-1789.2009.01042.x/abstract;jsessionid=3BA4CE033A73D859A26C3A238C8D2947.f02t02? – gluten and brain degeneration

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1241183/ – thyroid hormone deficiency and environmental toxins

http://hypothyroidmom.com/maternal-hypothyroidism-and-fetal-brain-development/ – self explanatory

http://www.thyroidmanager.org/chapter/thyroid-hormones-in-brain-development-and-function/ – very detailed look at thyroid hormone and the brain

Ganguli M, Burmeister LA, Seaberg EC, Belle S, DeKosky ST. Association between dementia and elevated TSH: a community-based study. Biol. Psychiatr. 1996; 40: 714-725.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18990131 – Hashimoto’s Encepholopathy

http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0055758 – Cognitive Impairments in Hashimoto’s Encephalopathy: A Case-Control Study

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1737486/ – ataxia and Hashimoto’s

http://thyroidbook.com/blog/hashimotos-hypothyroidism-and-how-to-protect-your-brain/ -Dr. K breaks it down

Hashimoto’s Health Tip: Thyroid Hormone Resistance

Aged wooden double door

Today’s health tip is about thyroid hormone resistance. This is a common cause of feeling like crap because when this happens in your body, the cells aren’t absorbing and utilizing thyroid hormone.

So you might be taking thyroid hormone and your lab work might all look great, but you still feel like they just scraped you off the tires of a Greyhound bus.

It’s as if thyroid hormone is knocking on the cell’s door and the cells are saying,

“I hear you knocking but you cain’t come in.”

“Please let me in? Please, please, please, please?” says thyroid hormone.

“I’d like to, really I would, but no.” answers the cells.

What is their problem?

Well, there are lots of possible reasons for this. Let’s focus on 1 today:

Inflammation: The Root of All Evil

Inflammation suppresses the hypothalamic-Pituitary-Thyroid axis, by reducing the body’s available stores of TSH , T4, and T3.

The pituitary/hypothalamus also regulates many other hormones, including sex hormones; therefore, taking thyroid hormone medication may help some symptoms of hypothyroidism, but will not help all symptoms (since the hormone supplementation does not do anything if the cause is the pituitary or hypothalamus).

Inflammation can also reduce the number and sensitivity of thyroid hormone receptors throughout the body. All thyroid hormone (in the form of T3) has to be able to get into the body’s cells in order to have an effect;

if there are not enough cells, or they are not sensitive enough, it doesn’t matter how many thyroid meds you take.

Inflammation also decreases conversion of T4 to T3. Ninety percent of the thyroid hormone produced by the body is in the form of T4, but much of that has to be converted into T3 to be used.

Which is why T4 thyroid medications are not a great idea–you may end up taking more and more, and you’ll definitely get _effects_ from them, but not necessarily the benefits that your body would receive if it were able to convert T4 into T3 and utilize it to begin with.

Basically: Hashimoto’s is an inflammatory condition, and you must address inflammation in order to heal.

This begs the question: How do we address inflammation?

By any means necessary, if you have Hashimoto’s this should be your job, hobby, passion and obsession 24/7, 365.

Here are some things you can do:

1. Optimize vitamin D levels in the blood via supplementation with D3. Inflammation inhibits the body’s ability to convert Vit. D from the sun, and of course in people with Hashimoto’s, inflammation is everywhere.

2. Get to know and love glutathione, since this helps prevent oxidative damage. Autoimmunity and stress depletes the body’s stores of glutathione. (This can be challenging and there’s more to this than simple supplementation…more on this to come.)

3. Fatty acid balance is also very important. Omega-six fats promote inflammation, and omega-3 fats are anti-inflammatory. The best way to get omega-3s is to eat a lb. of fatty fish (salmon, makerel, sardines, halibut, herring) per week.

Of course, you have to weight this with all the chemical toxins in fish. Smaller fish like sardines, generally have less.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, let me repeat. Reducing inflammation is key for overall healing. And STRESS AND LEAKY GUT are also the all stars of the Professional Inflammation League (The P.I.L.).

People who find the most success in healing their healing their Hashimoto’s are the ones who deal with both of these things.

Leaky gut is to inflammation what money is to politicians. It’s a license to ill, people.

And a lot of people don’t really take the impact that stress has on their health seriously. For people with autoimmune disease, research has shown that over 80% experienced a very stressful event prior to its onset.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18190880

 

 

 

Today’s Hashimoment: Create Room to Heal

Having Hashimoto’s is a lot like being an alcoholic. It never goes away and you have to make big changes in your life that may involve giving up people, places and things. You have to create room to heal.

pink flower

What’s your Hashimoment? Please leave a comment below.

 

 

Hashimoto’s Health Tip: Triggers

Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune disease.

Did you know that a specific antigen can stimulate the autoimmune attack? For example, a food, mold, bacteria, a chronic virus or a parasite are all examples.

These are Hashimoto’s triggers, they instigate the attack on your tissue by your immune system.

Your immune system attacks proteins and all proteins are made of a sequence of amino acids. There aren’t that many amino acids in nature, so there are certain sequences that are the same.

If antibodies have been created to specific amino acid sequences, then anything that has this same sequence may be attacked. Sometimes, our own tissue has the same amino acid sequences as foods or other things in our environment.

Gluten, is, of course, a perfect example of a trigger. Every time someone who is gluten sensitive eats gluten, it provokes an attack on their thyroid. Gluten has also been found to be very similar in structure to cerebellar tissue. So when you eat gluten, your brain also gets attacked.

Here’s a longer blog post I wrote on this topic.

People can also develop an immune response to environmental toxins and heavy metals. In this case, your body can develop antibodies to a combination of your own tissue and this toxin.

So when you are exposed to these triggers, your immune system responds and your tissue is collateral damage. This can be true of common objects in your house like foam in your pillows or formaldehyde in your furniture.

There is a variety of testing available to find out which of these triggers you may have. With my patients I order tests to test for gluten antibodies (over 24 different proteins), antibodies for environmental toxins and antibodies for other foods that may behave like gluten.

Another thing you can do is to keep a journal. You should note what you eat, what you have been doing, what you were exposed to and how you felt. Over time you may be able to identify some of the common triggers in your diet and your immediate environment.

Today’s Hashimoment: Forgiveness

I spent the weekend at a spiritual retreat and was reminded of the importance of forgiveness. We must forgive our immune systems for attacking our body, forgive those who don’t understand what we are going through, forgive ourselves for not being perfect. It is in forgiveness that we find healing.

 

mary