In this contentious election season, there are going to be winners and there are going to be losers. Whenever you lose something, whether it’s a friend, loved one or your team or candidate is not victorious, then you can experience grief.
In Chinese medicine, traditionally, it is believed that emotions impact different parts of our bodies more than others and the metal element (which includes the lung and large intestine) is thought to be vulnerable to the impact of grief.
The Nei Jing, or The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Medicine, a classic text that dates back 2,200 years, describes the lungs as minister and chancellor. It helps the heart to regulate the body’s qi or energy.
The lungs govern the wei qi, which guards our outer most boundary, and prevents all that doesn’t match our true self from getting inside to our core.
Grief is the negative emotion of the lung, and grief can weaken them.
My father died when I was nine. The next year I got pneumonia. Maybe it was a coincidence or maybe there is some connection.
The lungs are very vulnerable to dryness, as well. If this boundary to self becomes too dry, then finding our true self can become more difficult.
If the lungs become too moist, then phlegm builds up and blocks our connection to the essence of life.
In health the lungs are thought to empower us to stay connected to the essence of life even after the material things disappear.
For example, after the loss of a loved one, a healthy lung can empower a connection to the spirit of that person.
But if the lung is weak, you could become fixated on the loss, become lost in that grief, and lose appreciation of the present moment.
This grief can become manifest as phlegm, a chronic cough, constant dripping sinus, like internal tears.
Phlegm is a very important thing in Chinese medicine. Like qi, it has a number of different definitions.
Good phlegm clears pathogens; it’s the first line of defense. Bad phlegm, (“Bad Phlegm!”), accumulates in the joints, the kidneys, the brain, and the thyroid in the form of nodules.
In the Chinese character of phlegm, we see the character that means inflammation. Phlegm can also represent the antibody response to pathogens that cross react to healthy tissues.
This kind of phlegm impairs cellular immune function leading to chronic disease.
Understanding the Large Intestine’s Role
The large intestine is the yang partner to the lung. According to the Nei Jing, the large intestine is responsible for transit. All waste products go through this organ.
This is true of waste moving through the large intestine, which returns to the earth. It’s also true metaphorically.
The large intestine constructs a barrier between self and non-self by sorting out the things we take in and then determining which acquired influences need to be kept and which need to be let go.
With autoimmune disease, so much of which begins and is perpetuated in the intestines, the barrier between self and non-self, is lost.
We lose self tolerance. And a lot of this happens in the intestines.
Failing to respond in a balanced way to loss in life (and not just loss of a loved one—any loss: a job, a relationship, a pet, an election), the large intestine reacts to the presence of grief and longing.
This grief can become distorted and it can be difficult to let go in that you keep holding on to things that no longer serve you. And what happens?
Diarrhea—where you loose important minerals, or constipation where you are literally holding onto things that no longer serve you.
This condition can make you pessimistic, cynical, and generally negative. It can make you judgmental of others.
Leaky gut or intestinal permeability is caused by a breakdown of the intestinal lining and cell walls.
Many researchers believe that it is one of the root causes of autoimmunity and the loss of self tolerance. (We will explore this in depth in the section on the Earth Element )
Leaky gut may also have an emotional root. It can make you feel not properly valued by others.
You see how this is all connected?
The ancient Chinese believed that emotions are not just things that we feel, they have real physical consequences and can profoundly impact our health and well being.
This is also why cultivating practices like meditation can be so valuable. You learn to not be ruled by your emotions and by observing them instead, you can also learn how to separate them from your physical body.
That can be a very valuable skill.
As always, we appreciate your comments, shares and insights.
Qi Gong Exercise for the Metal Element (The Immune System)
Reach for Happiness
This exercise focuses on bringing more energy and blood flow to the lungs. In Chinese medicine, the lungs are one of the most important organ systems for creating energy and sustaining health and well-being.
It has its origin in a famous statue of Buddha, in which he is portrayed with his hands above his head just like the photo above.
As we learned in the chapters on the Metal Element, the lungs and large intestines are united by the immune system. They both have an enormous number of lymph glands in and around them, as you can see in this illustration.
So focusing on healing these areas can have a very positive effect on the immune system for calming, regulating, and balancing the immune system. All things that a valuable for people with Hashimoto’s.
This exercise is also good for digestive problems; heart, lung, spine, or back problems; and a stiff neck and eye problems. It helps also bring more blood flow to the brain, increases lung volume, and increases blood flow back to the heart.
How to Do It:
Begin with the natural standing posture. Feet shoulder length apart, hands hanging relaxed at your side.
Inhale and gently sweep your hands out to your sides, to the front and bring your hands to meet at your abdomen, just below your navel.
Your palms should be facing up towards the sky, with your fingertips pointing up towards each other. As you sweep your hands up imagine that you are holding a ball of energy, keep your arms rounded and your armpits open.
Next raise your hands, lifting the energy ball slowly and steadily up to your chest. Keep your arms about six to eight inches from your body to keep the movement open. Gently hold the energy ball and imagine that you must balance it or it will fall.
Next turn, turn the palms down and rotate your thumbs underneath and push your hands out above your head. Keep your fingers interlocking and again imagine that you are balancing an energy ball and pushing it far into the sky.
At the end of this movement stand up on your tip toes as far as your balance allows. Push up for one or two seconds as you completely exhale. Then inhale as deeply as you can while staying relaxed.
Finally, exhale again, unlock your fingers and return your head and eyes to a forward position. Let your arms float outward as if gently pushing down a couple of big balloons.
Repeat the entire Qi Gong exercise three times, once or twice a day. When you are finished try to maintain the posture and height that got from doing the exercise.
From Liu, Master Hong. The Healing Art of Qi Gong Healing. New York: Warner, 1997.
Today’s Hashimoment: Loving Your Story
We all have an inner narrative.
And one thing I’ve observed in myself and in many of the people I’ve worked with is a tendency to go to that default story.
It takes various forms, but what I noticed is that when I’m struggling it’s all about what’s wrong rather than what’s right.
And if you’re like many of the people I’ve worked with, you’ve struggled with Hashimoto’s and maybe felt defeated at times.
You’d have to be a super hero to not feel that way once in while.
But the truth is always nuanced.
It contains elements of comedy, things to celebrate and things to be grateful for.
As well as a fair share of tragedy, hardship and suffering.
So, what it comes down to is your perception of it, really.
The way you narrate the story.
It can be all about the tragedy and hardship and defeat.
Or all about the things to celebrate and what you’re grateful for.
But in order to heal, we need to try and use everything to our advantage.
And I know it has served me to focus on the things I can celebrate and what I’m grateful for.
Even when things are hard and there seems to be a lot of disappointment and difficulty, there’s always a way to be your own spin doctor and tell the story differently.
And like anything, the more you do this, the easier it becomes and the better you become at it.
So I encourage you to work on this.
Craft a story you love and make it more about the things you can celebrate and be grateful for.
This will make it easier to love yourself and that’s something that can never hurt.
Shares, comments and insights welcome!
Earlier this week I shared a post I wrote that looks into some questions around the influenza vaccine.
We had quite a few reactions and they were distinctly different.
Some people reported getting the flu vaccine and it was no problem for them. Others reported terrible reactions and said they’d never get it again.
Well, as always, I’m curious about why this might be.
So I took a look at the research and I’ve come up with a plausible theory.
I’ll get to it in a moment, but, first, I think it’s important to understand something about the immune system.
The Immune System Is Incredibly Complex
The immune system is made of many different parts, and much of it is still a mystery to researchers.
One thing that we do know is that these different parts can behave differently in different situations and trying to over simplify and assign “good” or “bad” attributes to the different parts often results in frustration.
And the reason for this is that sometimes it does things that are “good” for the body (like defend it from pathogens like the flu virus) and sometimes it does things that are not so beneficial (like develop autoimmunity).
But even autoimmunity comes from a necessary and “good” process, the body needs to dispose of old dead cells or we’d become a toxic stew of cell fragments and mutations.
Sometimes these processes get thrown out of balance and “bad” things happen such as autoimmunity and one of the possible reasons for this has to do with the way the body tries to deal with and dispose of viruses.
And examining this process can give us insights into why some people with autoimmunity have such a bad reaction to the flu (and sometimes, other viruses, as well.)
In reality, everyone is a little different and we all have different immune profiles. Even among people with Hashimoto’s there is a good deal of variety in terms of how their immune system is functioning (or dysfunctioning).
Autoimmunity and Influenza Reactions Have One Thing In Common
The one common denominator in both bad reactions to the flu and the development of autoimmunity is that, in both cases, there is a deficiency in certain immune cells.
One thing that both autoimmunity and influenza infection have in common is that a deficiency of CD8+ cells can be found in autoimmune disease and it can also be a factor in having a more intense reaction to the influenza virus.
CD8+ cells are important for immune defense against bacteria and viruses and they also help the body monitor for tumors.
Some researchers have theorized that the Epstein Barr virus plays an important role in autoimmunity because it can ultimately leads to a decline in CD8+ cells.
This is a bit complicated and I have written about it in more depth here: https://www.hashimotoshealing.com/the-herpes-virus-and-has…/
How to Boost CD8+ Cells
For this post I thought it might be helpful to give you some suggestions for boosting CD8+ cells, which may help reduce your susceptibility and reaction to colds and flus.
Butyrate, which is important food for good bacteria and for cell lining in the intestines has been found to be helpful in restoring CB8+ cells that were depleted by viral infections.
These are short chained fatty acids and can be found in resistant starches. Butyrate can also be purchased as a supplement on it’s own.
The Chinese herb Chuan Xin Lian, or Andrographis can also boost CD8+ cells and is an excellent herb for sore throats and colds and flus. ( This is herb is contraindicated in pregnancy and must be used with caution. It is available in capsule and tablet form). More information can be found here: http://examine.com/supplements/Andrographis+paniculata/
Another Chinese herb called Jiao Gu Lan or Gynostemma has been shown to boost CD8+ cells and to have anticancer and cholesterol lowering properties: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24832985
Finally, Wu wei zi, or Schizandra is another herb that has been shown to boost CD8+ cells after radiation exposure: http://www.egh.net.cn/EN/abstract/abstract2207.shtml
(Note: Herbs are medicine too, so use caution when taking them and be sure to do your own research or consult an experienced physician on proper dosage and contraindications).
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC136883/ CD8+ def. and influenza
https://www.hindawi.com/journals/ad/2012/189096/#B47 CD8+ def. in autoimmunity
https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/12/1/pdfs/05-1237.pdf Cell mediated Protection in Influenza
http://bitesized.immunology.org/cells/cd8-t-cells/ Good explanation of CD8+ cells
https://www.hindawi.com/journals/jir/2015/979167/ Immune disorders and Hashimoto’s
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4196144/ Butyrate boosts CD8+ cells
Star Anise can be used to make a tea for cold & flu symptoms.
Today, I thought we’d start a new type of post that we’ll doing periodically and that is featuring herbs and other treatments that are used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).
In today’s tip, I wanted to highlight Star Anise, known as Da Hui Xiang in Chinese.
This is an herb that is traditionally combined with other herbs and used as a pain reliever, and digestive aid (it is especially effective for treating nausea and indigestion).
It has a lovely licorice like flavor and you can find it in dried form at many Hispanic and Asian markets.
Another interesting thing to note is that Star anise is the major source of the chemical compound shikimic acid.
This compound is used to make the anti-influenza drug oseltamivir(Tamiflu).
And for all you trivia fans …in 2005, a temporary shortage of star anise was caused by its use in the production of Tamiflu.
So, that means it also has anti-viral properties and can be a good tea for aiding in the prevention and treatment of the flu.
Since pain, digestive complaints and colds and flus can all be issues for people with Hashimoto’s, we recommend this as a tea that you can keep around the house and drink regularly.
How to prepare it:
Use 2 star anise per cup of filtered water.
Bring water to a boil. Add the star anise, turn down the heat.
Cover and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes for a strong cup of tea.
Doesn’t really need sweetening, and the flavor will be quite strong when you simmer it for this amount of time.
Simmering for this amount of time will release the medicinal properties and covering it will preserve the aromatic oils.
For a gentler cup of tea, simmer for 5 minutes.
Have a great day! Unless you have other plans. 🙂
Please share with anyone you think might enjoy this.
Today’s health tip concerns blood tests.
As I’m sure many of you have experienced, a lot of doctors rely heavily on test results.
The most commonly ordered are TSH and T4.
Some doctors won’t order anything other than TSH.
And many labs now do what is called a TSH cascade, which means they only test more than TSH if TSH is out of range.
Which it isn’t, a lot of the time. Regardless of how lousy you feel.
What this practice amounts to is simply managing TSH.
Managing TSH is not the same as managing Hashimoto’s.
Lately, several people have posted questions regarding their lab values.
In most cases, I can’t give a good answer.
I’m not trying to be a jerk, it’s because lab tests are flawed.
They are not the be all and end all.
They do not provide answers by themselves.
With Hashimoto’s, what you feel, the symptoms you have, are clinically significant and diagnostically important.
And here’s why this is especially true of TSH.
TSH is thyroid stimulating hormone.
It is released by the pituitary gland to signal the thyroid to release thyroid hormone.
And research has found that the pituitary does not absorb thyroid hormone
in the same way that the rest of the cells in the body do.
A study published in the British Medical Journal, Meir et al looked into the question of whether or not TSH and the amount of thyroid hormone in the cells of the body were directly correlated.
It was shown that the TSH level had no correlation with tissue thyroid levels and could not be used to determine a proper or optimal thyroid replacement dose.
The authors concluded that “TSH is a poor measure for estimating the clinical and metabolic severity of primary overt thyroid failure.”
“… We found no correlations between the different parameters of target tissues and serum TSH.”
“…no correlations…” means these 2 things aren’t connected.
Do want to know what your test results mean?
Look at them in the context of how you feel.
A thorough assessment of your signs and symptoms is, by far, the best way to understand how you feel.
Trust your body.
It will tell you whether or not what you are doing is working.
And if you feel like crap, what you are doing is not working.
It’s time to change course.
I conducted a poll on my Facebook page the other day (http://facebook.com/HashimotosHealing) asking whether anyone who had normal lab results were still experiencing symptoms. These graphs below illustrate the results from that poll:
Here’s a great story of a woman who put her Hashimoto’s into remission with a little help. It’s what is possible with persistence and faith. (Used with permission.)
In September 2015, I went see my doctor because I noticed my feet were swelling, I had unexplained dizziness, extreme fatigue, anxiety and depression. I knew something was wrong but had no clue what was causing me to feel unwell.
I also had body pains for years but didn’t think it was related to my other symptoms. I’m currently 54 and up until last year, my previous doctor (he retired so I had to find a new doctor) used to tell me I was healthier than most of his 30 year old patients so I was shocked when I was told I have an autoimmune disease called Hashimoto’s.
I had never heard of such disease! My doctor basically said to me “You have Hashimoto’s and you need to be gluten free for the rest of your life, eventually your thyroid will be damaged and you’ll have to take thyroid medicine for the rest of your life”. That was it!
Needless to say, I was frustrated and stressed out because I was clueless about everything Hashimoto’s related!
I went home immediately started doing research and your site came up, I initiated contact and right away I started the supplements you recommended, AIP and I also enrolled in your 5 Element course. The course helped me to understand what the disease is and how it affects my being.
I also learned that food sensitivities may be causing my body pain. I went back to my doctor and told her about the plan you prescribed…her response was “oh”! I also gave her the list of test I wanted performed and she graciously gave me the orders. I am so grateful to have found your site and the education I was so desperately seeking!
By December my TPO antibodies were at 1200 (they had gone up 60 points from the previous test) but I diligently followed the plan to the letter. I was concerned because the number went up but all my body pains and symptoms had disappeared, I felt so much better!
Early April I had another set of test done and I could not believe the results, I read them over and over! My TPO antibodies were down to 112 in 4 months!!!! Now I know I’m on the right path and God willing my TPO will be 0 by the next test. I don’t believe I would be where I’m at today if it were not for your gracious passion for helping others like us!
I have lots of work ahead of me but now I have more confidence that I will resume life as it once was. Marc, I thank you so much with all my heart and soul! Thank you for the time you put into your videos, your guidance, teaching and caring. The journey continues for a lifetime!
My vitality is more valuable than the instant gratification I got from a cookie!
God Bless You!””
A new study published in the Journal of Thyroid Research explores the difference between the theory of T4 (thyroxine) and TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) interactions and the actual data found in populations.
The conclusion of researchers is that “The population curve is consistent with the physiological studies of the TSH response to T4 and implies a greater interindividual variation in the positive thyroid T4 response to TSH than in the central inhibitory TSH response to T4.”
In other words, TSH responds to T4 therapy, but there is greater variation between individuals’ response to how TSH affects T4 levels than to how TSH is affected by T4 (More T4 is supposed to make TSH levels go down).
This is a really important finding and something I have written about on several occasions.
This matters because so many doctors determine everything they do on lab results and the most common lab tests, by far, that are ordered are TSH and T4.
And what this study tells us is that this is not always the best way to practice because everyone is not the same and everyone does not respond the same way to T4 only treatment.
Let me explain how this all works in your body.
TSH is thyroid stimulating hormone. This is released by the pituitary gland to stimulate the thyroid so that more thyroid peroxidase (an enzyme) is made.
This enzyme combines with iodine to make thyroid hormone, T4 and T3. About 97% is T4 and 3% is T3.
The body can’t really use T4, so it has to convert this into T3 which is the form that the cells of the body can use to do stuff. 60% of T4 is converted by cells in the liver, another 20% by cells in the gut and the remaining 20 or so % is converted by cells in the peripheral tissues of the body (muscles, fat, etc.)
And this is the basic premise of thyroid replacement hormones like Synthroid. It’s synthetic T4. The theory is that you just give it to the patient and tell them to call you in 6 months. An everything should be hunky dory.
(Only in real life, it sometimes isn’t. Here’s a detailed post I wrote on this.)
And the reason it doesn’t work is that thyroid hormone must be converted from T4 into T3 in order for the body to utilize it. This conversion happens differently in different parts of the body.
The problem with TSH only testing to determine thyroid hormone levels in the entire body is that the pituitary, which releases TSH, converts thyroid hormone differently than the rest of the body.
This is why you often see normal TSH with lots of hypothyroid symptoms.
Many doctors, somehow, are ignorant of this fact and instead of truly understanding what is happening physiologically, blame the patient for having symptoms when their lab tests say that they should be fine.
Another thing that this study points out is “The pituitary, though ultimately responsive to T3, is more responsive to T3 generated in the pituitary from circulating T4 by type 2 deiodinase than to circulating T3, and TSH levels are more consistently related to levels of T4 than T3. There are physiological advantages of this preference.”
Another very important observation. Here’s how this happens.
How Does T4 get Converted to T3?
There is an enzyme that is largely responsible for thyroid hormone conversion. It is called 5′ deodinase. And it actually comes in 3 forms: deodinase type I (D1), deodinase type II (D2)and deodinase type III (D3).
D1 and D2 Don’t Behave the Same Way
D1 converts inactive T4 to active T3 throughout the body. In the pituitary, D2 controls this conversion. These two forms behave very differently and are affected by different things.
D1 is suppressed and down-regulated (which means it decreases T4 to T3 conversion and increases reverse T3 levels) in response to stress (both physiologic and emotional), depression, dieting, weight gain and leptin resistance, insulin resistance, obesity and diabetes, inflammation from autoimmune disease or systemic illness, chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia, chronic pain, and exposure to toxins and plastics.
What did we just describe? Your average Hashimoto’s patient living in the modern world!
Most people with Hashimoto’s have the majority of conditions mentioned above.
In addition, D1 activity is also lower in females, making women more prone to tissue or functional hypothyroidism.
Sound familiar? Normal lab results but hypothyroidism at the cellular level.
And when you have these conditions, there are reduced tissue levels of active thyroid hormone in all tissues except the pituitary because D2 does not behave like this, at all.
D2 is 1,000 times more efficient at converting T4 to T3 than D1 in the rest of the body. And it isn’t suppressed and down regulated by any of the things we mentioned.
So TSH is within normal range because the pituitary is getting plenty of thyroid hormone, but the rest of the body is hurtin’ for certain.
T4 has a long half life, so pituitary responses to it must be slow or you’d have very little TSH signaling.
A large portion of thyroxine (T4) binds reversibly to plasma proteins. Only a small free fraction (0.02% to 0.03%) is available for conversion to T3 and transport to cytoplasm.
T3 is formed from T4 by 5′ deiodination at the outer ring by type 1 deiodinase predominantly in liver, kidney, and thyroid.
Type 2 deiodinase mediates intracellular deiodination in glial cells, pituitary, brown adipose tissue, skeletal muscle, and placenta.
These higher levels of Type 2 deiodinase in the pituitary help keep the body balance and help keep feedback loops working.
But real life is not theory and it is very common to have normal test results and still not feel normal, or even feel really lousy. The reason for this is that there is so much variability in how T4 behaves in the body.
There a few simple things that you can do.
#1. Understand that how you feel is diagnostically important and clinically relevant. If you have normal test results, but you feel like crap, something is not working.
Don’t just accept that this is how things are going to be. They don’t have to be, but you will have to look elsewhere for solutions.
#2. Get your doctor to order other tests: free T3, free T4 and reverse T3 all provide meaningful information on how well thyroid hormone is being utilized in your body.
#3. Do everything you can to improve thyroid hormone conversion. There’s a lot you can do. Begin by reading this post where I explain how to improve conversion in depth.
#4. Make reducing inflammation your top priority. Inflammation is the root of all evil. It is a primary reason why thyroid hormone doesn’t work in your body.
Take natural anti-inflammatories and understand that stress is very inflammatory. You need to take it very seriously.
#5. Keep circadian rhythms. TSH is released in a pulse with your body’s natural circadian rhythm. (I’ll be exploring how to do this in an upcoming post.)
#6 Consider treatments that involve adding T3. Natural desiccated hormone therapy like Naturethroid or Armour contains more T3 and there are synthetic T3 treatments like Cytomel. Check out this post for a detailed discussion on thyroid replacement hormone.
A new study published in the journal Neurology has found that high and high-normal thyroid levels are linked to greater risk of developing dementia, but not vascular brain disease.
This is a very interesting finding because (as this previous post illustrates) cognitive decline has been linked with hypothyroidism and high TSH.
This study shows that having too low TSH can also be risk factor (we’ll explore why this might be in a moment). What this also shows us is just how important balance is. There may be a “Goldilocks” zone of TSH and free T4 that’s “just right”.
In this study, researchers led by Layal Chaker, MD, MSc, of Erasmus University Rotterdam, the Netherlands investigated the role of thyroid function in dementia, cognitive decline, and vascular brain disease.
They examined a subgroup of 9446 people (mean age 65) enrolled into this Rotterdam Study. Researchers looked into the link between thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) and free thyroxine (free T4) and incidents of dementia.
Here’s what they found: Over the course of follow-up (mean 8 years), 601 patients developed dementia (Alzheimer’s dementia n=487). Higher levels of TSH were found to be associated with lower dementia risk for both the full and normal ranges of thyroid function, independent of cardiovascular risk factors (hazard ratio [HR] 0.90, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.83–0.98; and HR 0.76, 95% CI 0.64–0.91, respectively).
Participants with higher levels of free thyroxine were found to have greater dementia risk (HR 1.04, 95% CI 1.01–1.07).
Higher levels of TSH were associated with better cognitive scores (P =.021), and in older women, a 5% decrease in absolute 10-year dementia risk. Notably, thyroid function was not found to be associated with subclinical vascular brain disease.
The results, the authors concluded, suggest that thyroid hormone impacts dementia risk through nonvascular pathways.
The researchers offered a couple of other ideas about why this might be including the possibility that excess free thyroxine may affect the way that genes are expressed in important pathways in the brain or that destruction to nerves my be caused by oxidative stress which can cause destruction of brain tissue (which, frankly, makes a lot of sense to me – more on this in a moment).
Also, participants with early signs of dementia may have changes in behavior, like diet, which may alter thyroid function. (As we know diet and behavior are extremely important for maintaining a healthy brain).
“In other words, we may not be observing a true effect of thyroid hormone on dementia risk but rather the opposite,” the authors concluded.
This is one of those instances when looking at research can make you crazy. Too high TSH and hypothyroidism is clearly a potential problem and too low TSH may also be a potential problem.
Age is another factor to consider when trying to wind yourself through this maze. Thyroid hormone is absolutely essential for the developing brain, so if your are pregnant or if you are an infant or young child, it may be more important to have your TSH a little lower (In fact, the American Endocrine Society has recommendations for TSH in each trimester and they can be found in this post.)
As we age, the brain becomes becomes more vulnerable to certain processes and, I think, the chief concern here may be the role of oxidative stress on the mitochondria in the brain.
In thyrotoxicosis (excessively low TSH or a hyperthyroid state), glucose uptake and utilization by muscle is increased as is the breakdown of glycogen (glycogenolysis) and glycogen (a substance that stores carbohydrates) depletion is seen in muscle biopsy samples.
Also, mitochondrial oxidation is increased and lipid oxidation, protein and purine breakdown all occur and this results in lower ATP (our cells energy sources).
And being naturally a little hypothyroid might actually protect your brain from this (but, it can also cause it’s own problems – damned if you do and damned if you don’t!)
And mitochondria are smack dab in the middle of this whole process because they are involved in both energy production and cell death.
Mitochondria are unique in that they both produce energy and make free radicals. They do this in order to monitor cellular health and to make a rapid decision (if necessary) to initiate programmed cell death.
When this process goes haywire in the brain, it can have devastating impacts on nerve cells. And too much free T4 can be one of the factors that drives this.
Ironically, mitochondria in the brain are really of victims of their own amazing abilities.
If the amount of free radical species produced by them overwhelms the neurons in the brain’s ability to neutralize them, oxidative stress occurs, followed by mitochondrial dysfunction and neuronal damage.
Reactive species generated by mitochondria have several cellular targets including mitochondrial components themselves (lipids, proteins, and DNA). The lack of histones in mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and the diminished capacity for DNA repair render the mitochondria an easy target to oxidative stress events.
So, they are especially vulnerable to their own attacks. (There has to be a lesson there. 🙂 )
All of this can translate into destruction of brain tissue due to this oxidation which produces free radicals. (In fact, many symptoms of aging are due to these free radicals).
Basically, this all comes down to electrons. These reactive oxygen species are untethered electrons flying around breaking up cells, and wreaking havoc (think bullet in a tin can).
And really, at the end of the day, this mitochondrial dysfunction is a causal link between neurodegeneration caused by both hypo and hyperthyroidism.
So, obviously, this begs the question, How do we preserve and heal the mitochondria in our brains (and the rest of our bodies?)
Stay tuned. We’ll be exploring this in a future post in considerable depth.
Want to Banish Brain Fog and Heal Your Brain? Check out Dr. Datis Kharrazian’s Banish Brain Fog Program ($50 off if you purchase before 10/3/2016).
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4923401/ Endocrine Risk factors for Cognitive Impairment
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17353866 Hypothyroidism and reversible cognitive decline
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3496329/ Review of 23 studies on subclinical hyperthyroidism and cognitive decline
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3872098/ Role of Thyroid Hormone in Oxidative Stress and Neurodegeneration
http://joe.endocrinology-journals.org/content/176/3/321.full.pdf Hypothyroidism alters mitochondria
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0925443909002427 Mitochondria Dysfunction and Alzheimer’s
Today’s Hashimoment: Your Healing Might Be Right In Front of You
Today, I wanted to discuss how much of the process of healing is really anchored in the way you choose to experience it.
Hashimoto’s, like many chronic diseases, is not just a physical problem. It’s also an emotional, psychological, and (dare I say it) spiritual challenge.
And a good deal of our progress or lack of progress really depends on our perception of what is happening.
To badly paraphrase Henry Ford, whether you think you can get better or you don’t think you can get better, you’re right.
The other day I was experiencing something that was a bit challenging and I was feeling discouraged and I shared it with a friend and he said, “What if you are closer than you think?”
And I had to stop and pause. And admit he was right.
What if what I was, in that moment, perceiving as failure or disappointment or a set back was actually moving me closer to where I wanted to be?
What if it was actually within reach but I couldn’t see it because I was so focused on that fact that I hadn’t gotten it yet?
Or to put it another way, what if I was actually sitting in the middle of an answered prayer, but I was too preoccupied with everything I didn’t have to notice?
And of course this begs the question, what if I instead stopped to take inventory of all the progress and blessings that I did have and recognize and celebrate them?
All of a sudden my entire perception had changed and the glass became half full (more than half full).
So, I challenge you today to ask yourself, “What if I’m closer than I think…?”
To healing your Hashimoto’s, to having abundant energy, to feeling happy, healthy and loving life again?
“What if I am sitting in the middle of an answered prayer and I actually stopped to appreciate it?”
Just ask yourself those questions and you might find your perception changing too.
Thoughts, comments, shares, likes and more are always welcomed.
Have a great day! Unless you have other plans. 🙂