December 21, 2014

4 Root Causes of Asthma

by Dr. Scott Saunders, M.D.

Marilyn had asthma since she was a young adult. There seemed to be no pattern to her attacks – sometimes it would happen frequently, and other times she would go for years without an attack. Later, she noticed that before an asthma attack she would have an intense itch right in the middle of her back, where she couldn’t reach. If someone scratched it hard, the attack would not come. However, if nobody was around to scratch that itch, she would get severely short of breath. Interestingly, after divorcing her husband she stopped getting asthma attacks altogether.

Asthma is not a disease, but rather a syndrome where the airways in the lungs close down, not allowing air to get to the alveoli, or air sacs to give the body oxygen. As with most “diagnoses” in the medical world, asthma is not a single entity. It is a collection of symptoms of many different causes.

  • asthma caused by magnesium omega glutathione deficiencyAllergies
    • Pollen
    • Dust
    • Food
  • Deficiencies
    • Magnesium
    • Omega-3 oil
    • Glutathione
  • Chronic infections
    • Molds/fungi
    • Virus
    • Bacteria
  • Inflammation
    • Autoimmune disease
  • Neurological
    • Autonomic Nervous System instability
    • Anxiety
  • Hypocapnea (low carbon dioxide levels)

Supplements that may help with asthma are varied, depending on the type of asthma. Those with inflammation will need different supplements than those with allergies, for example. The following is a list to work from.

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History of Thyroid Treatments and Modern Alternatives

by Dr. Scott Saunders, M.D.

The history of thyroid disorders goes back as far as written records. 1

As early as 2700 BC, the Chinese used seaweed to treat goiter, an enlargement of the thyroid gland.

  • 1475 – Chinese physician treats goiter with minced thyroid glands
  • 1500 – Leonardo Da Vinci makes the first drawing of the thyroid gland
  • 1602 – Cretins (physical and mental retardation due to low thyroid) are first recognized in Switzerland
  • 1820 – Goiter and cretinism are treated with iodine
  • 1884 – The first surgical removal of thyroid gland for Graves’ disease
  • 1917 – Thyroid hormone, thyroxine, became available for sale at $350/gram (Gold at the time was $0.61/gram)
  • 1917 – X-rays used to treat Graves’ disease

From ancient times to the modern era, little has really changed in the diagnosis and treatment of thyroid disorders – that is, until the 21st Century.

Low Thyroid

Many people come into the office with symptoms of low thyroid.  These include:

  1. low thyroid symptoms_2Feeling slow and sluggish
  2. Tired all the time
  3. Lack of energy
  4. Feeling cold easily, especially in the hands and feet
  5. Hair falling out
  6. Weight gain
  7. Delayed reflexes
  8. Constipation

Many people who have a thyroid condition are already taking supplements to help manage their symptoms. These supplements are mostly dried and ground-up thyroid glands from pigs or cows.  These glandular supplement have been around for centuries, and have worked very well.  Today, we have the same hormone, T4, or thyroxine, which is made synthetically.

So, what causes low thyroid?

People can be hypothyroid when:

  • The thyroid gland can’t produce the hormones.
  • The body doesn’t convert the inactive T4 to the active T3.
  • Or, when anything interferes with the action of the thyroid hormone. The proper functioning of your thyroid can be inhibited by:
  1. Stress – High cortisol levels cause low thyroid by:
    • Higher Reverse T3, which blocks the normal T3 from working
    • Lower TSH so the thyroid gland makes less T3 and T4
  2. Low selenium3 has multiple effects on the thyroid, causing inflammation and the inability to convert the inactive T4 into the active T3
  3. thyroid functionLow tyrosine. This amino acid forms the backbone of the thyroid hormone.  When it is deficient, the gland is unable to function.
  4. Low iodine is common.
  5. Lack of vitamin D3 decreases the binding of the T3 hormone to the receptor.
  6. Toxins such as fluoride, bromide, lithium, mercury, and pesticides inhibit thyroid production or use.
  7. Immune dysfunction can cause antibodies to be made against the various components of the thyroid gland, proteins, or enzymes.

Many of these can lead to an enlarged thyroid gland called a “goiter.”

Goiter

A goiter is simply an enlarged thyroid gland at the base of the neck, and is often caused by low thyroid.  Some are barely noticeable, while others can get so large they impair breathing and swallowing.

Pei was a woman from China who went to her doctor with a bump on her neck.  The doctor thought it might be a goiter so he sent her to an endocrinologist.  The specialist did some tests that proved she had goiter, and sent her on to a thyroid surgeon.  The surgeon told her about only two options: surgically remove the gland, or take radioactive iodine to kill the gland.  She found that she would have to be on thyroid pills for the rest of her life with either treatment, so she opted not to treat. 

Over the course of ten years the gland got bigger and bigger.  She went to several other doctors to see if there was anything else she could do, but they only gave her the same two options.  The goiter became so large that she had difficulty swallowing and had the gland removed by a surgeon.

If the thyroid gland doesn’t get iodine, then it starts getting bigger.  Seaweed contains a concentrated amount of iodine, which was recognized by the Chinese thousands of years ago as a treatment for an enlarged thyroid gland.  Over the years, this information has been lost and re-gained several times.  Currently, even though we know the history, we continue to use drugs and surgery for goiter instead of iodine. 

In the case of Pei, the first doctor should have told her about iodine, which usually shrinks the gland by about 1/3, and she could have avoided surgery, and the mass in her neck.

What causes a goiter?

When there is not enough thyroid hormone in the body,

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Hidden Hypothyroidism

by Amanda Box, N.D.

You may have all the classic symptoms of hypothyroidism:

  • symptoms of hypothyroidismCold hands and feet
  • Weight gain
  • Hair loss
  • Brittle nails
  • Dry Skin
  • Low body temp

Yet, your doctor has told you your blood work is normal and your thyroid is fine.  End of story, right?  Of course not!  Your symptoms didn’t just disappear with the results!  You still feel miserable and now it’s even worse because you are left without any answers.

Millions in America suffer from some form of thyroid disease.  It’s a bit of an epidemic really.  Synthroid, the synthetic thyroid hormone, is amongst one of the top 10 prescribed drugs.  But, this drug isn’t fixing the problem.  It may mask some of the symptoms, but much of what causes hypothyroidism is never addressed in a doctor’s office.

If hypothyroidism doesn’t have just one cause, then why does it only have one treatment?  Shouldn’t the underlying root issue be corrected?  This approach is much like filling a car with oil to keep it running, yet never fixing the leak!  What a waste of time and money!

Interestingly enough, a defective thyroid isn’t always to blame with hypothyroidism.  You can actually have a completely normal functioning thyroid yet have all the symptoms of hypothyroidism.  This is why it is important that doctors not rely solely on blood but a combination of blood work, signs, and symptoms.  When blood work comes back normal yet you have all the signs and symptoms, it just means it is time to dig a little deeper to find out what the underlying issue truly is.

Before I go into some of the hidden causes of hypothyroidism, I believe it is important that you at least have a foundational understanding of the thyroid’s function in the body.  Understanding how things are supposed to work, give you a better understand of what happens when something goes wrong.

The Workings of the Thyroid

Though the thyroid may be small, its job is quite mighty.  Click to Tweet.

The thyroid is an essential part of your endocrine system. It creates hormones that influence nearly every cell in our body!  Thyroid hormones directly affect our:

  • Metabolism
  • Heat production
  • Balance of sex hormones
  • The use of fat, carbohydrate, vitamins, minerals, and water in the body

Thyroid hormones affect our weight, mood, heart rate, mental stamina, and energy levels.  Click to Tweet.

In a healthy person, the course of action for the thyroid and its hormones looks like this:

  1. The pituitary gland releases the hormone TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone).
  2. TSH tells the thyroid to produce thyroid hormones T3 and T4.
  3. T4 circulates the body waiting to be converted to T3 by the liver.
  4. T3 is used as fuel by our cells for metabolism, burning fat, converting protein, and increasing energy throughout the body.

Hypothyroidism results from an issue compromising any of the steps above.  It can originate in the pituitary gland, the thyroid itself, the conversion by the liver, or the cells and their hormone receptors.  Unfortunately, most doctors don’t look much beyond the thyroid itself. They nearly always prescribe the same course of action to everyone, no matter the cause.

Digging Deeper

types of hypothyroidism

Like I had mentioned earlier, hypothyroidism isn’t always caused by a problem with thyroid itself. Your thyroid can be producing all the necessary hormones, but it doesn’t mean that your body is utilizing those hormones, as it should.  Dr. Mark Starr wrote a book titled Hypothyroidism Type 2 in which he addresses a form of hypothyroidism that isn’t yet acknowledged by mainstream medicine.

  • Type 1 hypothyroidism is when the thyroid itself isn’t producing enough thyroid hormone.
  • Type 2 hypothyroidism manifests similar to type 2 diabetes.  In type 2 hypothyroidism, the thyroid is working normally and the hormones are in normal numbers.  However, the cells of the body don’t recognize or utilize the hormones.

Just as type 2 diabetes is often referred to as insulin resistance, type 2 hypothyroidism is thyroid hormone resistance. Dr. Starr believes that thousands of people suffer with Type 2 hypothyroidism and are not diagnosed because it doesn’t show up on the typical blood tests.

Like many other diseases, stress can also be a hidden trigger for hypothyroidism.  Stress can provoke autoimmune and inflammatory responses in the body that can lead to Hashimoto’s disease.  Hashimoto’s disease results from the body’s immune system attacking the thyroid gland.  This causes a drop in its hormone production and therefore hypothyroidism.

Stress can also have a dramatic effect on the conversion of inactive T4 to active T3 in the body.  Chronic stress leads to adrenal fatigue, which causes a prolonged increase in cortisol in the body.  When cortisol levels are high, it shuts down the enzyme in the liver that converts T4 to the active T3 hormone.  Without adequate T3, hypothyroid symptoms are the result.

When the adrenal glands are the underlying problem, not the thyroid, treating only the thyroid will do little to nothing.  Most natural health practitioners won’t recommend thyroid boosting supplements or natural thyroid medication for hypothyroidism until the adrenal glands are restored.  Many times, because the hypothyroidism is secondary, it disappears once stress levels decrease and the adrenal glands are balanced.

The symptoms of adrenal fatigue are:

  • Needing at least 10 hours of sleep to function, extreme fatigue in the mornings, exhaustion again around 2pm, and more awake after 6pm with difficulty going to sleep.
  • Sugar, caffeine and salt cravings
  • Brain fog
  • Depression
  • Lowered immunity
  • Blood sugar highs and lows

correct adrenal fatigueCorrecting adrenal fatigue starts with decreasing ALL forms of stress in your life.  This includes both psychological and physical.

  • Find a safe emotional outlet for your stress like journaling, counseling, yoga, prayer, etc.
  • Cut out all stimulants like sugar and caffeine.
  • Adopt a healthier diet by cutting out processed foods, sugar, and refined flours.
  • Take a stress-buffering supplement like Holy Basil, Ashwagandha, or Rhodiola.  (I recommend Gaia’s Adrenal Health as it contains all three herbs)
  • Get your daily dose of B vitamins in a quality multi-vitamin.  B vitamins help you manage your stress levels.

Latent Thyroid Problems

You may have what you believe to be a particular health issue, but the actual underlying cause may be related to the thyroid.  Thyroid problems can masquerade themselves often manifesting as other health issues. Over 20 million Americans today have some form of thyroid disease (1).  Over 60% of these people have absolutely no idea that they have a thyroid problem and instead blame their ailment on other health issues.

Health problems that can originate from thyroid issues include:

  • Depression
  • PMS
  • High cholesterol
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Infertility
  • Unexplained weight gain/loss

So, how do you know if thyroid problems are behind your health problem?  The first thing you’ll want to do is have a full blood workup done including TSH, T3, T4, and a thyroid antibody test.  But remember, even if your results come back in “normal range,” you can still have hypothyroidism.  Before 2003, the range for TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) was 0.5-5.0.  It was then changed to 0.3 to 3.04. Some doctors believe the normal range in thyroid tests should be revised again. They believe levels of TSH over 1.5 should be considered as possible hypothyroidism.

At-Home Tests

mirror lookHowever, as I keep pointing out, blood work and hormone levels aren’t the sole indicator. One of the easiest tests you can perform at home is the basal body temperature indicator.  Most people with hypothyroidism run a slightly lower temperature, typically below 97.8.

In order to check your basal temperature, you must do it first thing in the morning before getting out of bed.  Women who are still menstruating should ideally do this test the week of their period.  However men, post-menopausal women, and children can perform this test at any time.  Take your temperature upon waking 3 days in a row and write down your results.  Again, if your temperature falls below 97.8, it is likely you have a form of hypothyroidism.

There are other interesting ways to test potential hypothyroidism, as well.

  1. Check for a goiter.  Your doctor will check this as well.  A goiter is an enlargement of the thyroid gland, which is located about midway down your neck.
  2. Look in the mirror with your arms to your side.  If your thumbs face your outer thighs with your palms towards the back, you may have hypothyroidism.  Those with a healthy thyroid tend to have their palms facing their outer thighs.
  3. Take a good look in the mirror.  Look for puffiness, bags under your eyes, hair missing from your outer eyebrows, and a swollen tongue.  These are all signs of hypothyroidism.

And don’t forget the common signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism, some of which I mentioned in the very beginning.

  • hypothyroidism testWeight gain or inability to lose weight
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Constipation
  • Brittle nails
  • Very dry skin, especially the elbows
  • Coarse hair or hair loss
  • Low heart rate
  • Heavy periods
  • Infertility

Treating Hypothyroidism

Let’s say you now you know you have hypothyroidism.  Maybe blood tests confirmed it or you are sure based on your symptoms and at-home tests.  Although a doctor will likely prescribe Synthroid no matter the cause, different types of hypothyroidism often require different treatments.

However, all forms of hypothyroidism can benefit tremendously from a healthy diet.  Eating health-promoting foods increases nutrients needed by the thyroid and helps to decrease inflammation in the body, which can lead to both adrenal fatigue and Hashimoto’s induced hypothyroidism.  A nutrient dense and anti-inflammatory diet includes:

  • Eliminating sugar and refined flours
  • Increasing your colored vegetable intake
  • Cutting out all artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives
  • Avoiding fast foods and processed foods
  • Replacing vegetable oils and trans fats with healthy fats like coconut oil and olive oil

Hashimoto’s and Type 2 Hypothyroidism

If you have Hashimoto’s disease, then you must focus on resetting your body’s immune response.  In order to do this, it often takes a complete overall of your body and mind.  Lower your stress levels via stress reduction techniques, drastically change your diet to a healthier one, and begin taking anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant rich supplements like Turmeric and Astaxanthin.  Stay away from iodine and even natural desiccated thyroid as they can actually increase the attack on the thyroid.

Type 2 hypothyroidism can be remedied from this approach, as well.  Your body can only reset and work as it was designed to by changing your lifestyle and diet.

Type 1 Hypothyroidism

Your run-of-the-mill type 1 hypothyroidism is typically caused by a lack of iodine, other nutrients, and/or stress.  Using a thyroid supplement from you local health food store can be helpful.  They contain the most essential nutrients for thyroid health, including iodine.  My favorite is Europharma’s Thyroid Care.

Also, if your doctor wants to write a prescription, request the natural thyroid medication.  The two most common brands are Armour and Nature-throid.  These aren’t synthetic like the typical drugs prescribed.  They are instead made from desiccated porcine thyroid.

Remember, there isn’t just one face to hypothyroidism.  It’s causes can be hidden and much more elusive.  There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to treating hypothyroidism.  Don’t be discouraged any longer by your “symptoms without a cause.” There is always a cause; it’s just finding the right one.

Finding the root behind your hypothyroid symptoms is key to choosing the right approach. Take note of your symptoms, get the appropriate blood work done, and address any issues like adrenal fatigue.  Resolving hypothyroidism can be done both naturally and efficiently.  It ultimately lies in finding the root, not bandaging the symptoms.

 

Amanda BoxAmanda Box is a Traditional  Naturopath and a graduate of Clayton College of Natural Health. She’s been in the health and wellness industry for over 12 years and currently practices naturopathic consulting in the Kansas City, Missouri area.  Her passion is helping others achieve wellness of the whole person – mind, body, and spirit. If you don’t have a good local naturopathic practitioner to turn to for your personal needs, Amanda does phone consultations! She can help you with weight loss, detox/cleansing, acute and chronic illnesses, skin and body care, grocery shopping, pantry overhauls, and more! Visit her blog “My Life in a Healthnut Shell” at http://amandabox.blogspot.com/ for contact info.

 

1. http://www.thyroid.org/media-main/about-hypothyroidism/

 

Natural Relief for Joint Pain

Do you struggle to get out of bed in the morning because of stiffness?  Do your knees ache?  Maybe the simple task of writing a letter is just too painful.  These aches and pains are not normal and should never be overlooked.

Arthritis is often in the headlines and gets a lot of attention as the primary reason for most joint pain. However, there are many other possible causes of your muscle pain, joint stiffness, and joint popping. These other contributors may not get as much press, but they can be just as common in contributing to joint pain.

Our joints, unfortunately, can be quite susceptible to both damage and inflammation.  They can also be affected by something as ambiguous as hormonal imbalances in the body.  Because of the different possible causes, there is no one size fits all prescription for joint pain.  Simply put, not all joint pain is created equal. But, finding the root issue is truly the first step towards freedom and pain relief!

joint painSome of the common and less talked about reasons for joint pain include:

  • Hormonal changes (thyroid, adrenal, menopausal, etc.)
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Gout
  • Carpal tunnel (wrist joint pain specifically)

Getting a Diagnosis

When you are unsure of the cause of your joint pain, it is wise to make a trip to your doctor or practitioner’s office for blood work and a physical evaluation.  But before you go, it is wise ask yourself these questions to help diagnose the problem.

  1. When did the pain start?  Did anything specific happen in your life happen during this time period like an injury or change in job or family life?
  2. Does the pain change with the weather or seasons?
  3. Is there anything causing significant stress in your life?
  4. What is your family’s health history?

The answers to these questions can help point your doctor in the right direction in diagnosing the problem.  Many times we overlook or are unaware of possible causes that may be quite clear to our doctor or practitioner.

Knowing if you have underlying health issues that are affecting your joints is important to prevent unnecessary treatments and drugs.  True healing cannot occur by only medicating the symptoms.  Plus, you may see other health problems resolve when the true problem is corrected.

For example, if you have a thyroid issue, then you don’t want to address the joints, but rather the root thyroid problem. In this particular situation, isolating the joint pain with treatment isn’t a long-term solution. It would only inhibit healing where the body truly needs it: the thyroid.

Again, doctors and other health practitioners are trained at interpreting both your symptoms and lab work.  This is why it is important for you to be very clear about everything you’ve been feeling, both emotionally and physically. Stress alone is known to be a common culprit of joint pain. If lowering your stress is the answer, then why waste your money on expensive drugs?

It might even be helpful to keep a pain symptom chart for a few weeks.

  • Does pain occur after a particular activity?
  • When did the joint stiffness first occur?
  • Did the pain come suddenly or over time?
  • Has the pain intensified or moved to any other joints?

Once you know the true cause, it is time to weigh your options and minimize any joint damage.  In most instances, a doctor will offer you some sort of prescription medication to remedy your ailment.  However, most prescription drugs for modifying joint pain also hail a plethora of harmful side-effects, including:

  • joint pain drugs side effectsLow white blood cell count (increasing your risk of infection)
  • Serious birth defects
  • High blood pressure
  • Bone marrow toxicity

You can take other more natural, safe and effective treatment steps to remedy joint pain. Below, I will help you navigate through the possible contributors to joint pain and their natural remedies.

Hormonal Changes and Joint Pain

Hormonal shifts and fluctuations in the body can contribute to joint pain.  If the hormonal imbalance isn’t addressed, then the side-effect of joint pain can be quite common.  This is because as we age, hormone levels can drop. This is especially common in women.  Hormone induced joint pain can be caused by:

  • Low thyroid function (hypothyroidism)
  • Adrenal fatigue
  • Menopause

Hypothyroidism and Joint Pain

Hypothyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid is not producing an adequate amount of thyroid hormones for the body, which can cause:

  • Weight gain
  • Intense fatigue
  • Sensitivity to cold
  • And even intense joint pain

It can often be difficult to distinguish between pain associated with hypothyroidism and rheumatoid arthritis.  This is again is why getting a proper diagnosis is so important.

Joint pain from hypothyroidism can manifest in the neck, shoulders, knees, and smaller joints of the hands and feet. Click to tweet this.

However, pain relief can be relieved once the thyroid is in proper balance again.  There are naturally sourced prescription thyroid medications called Amour and Nature-throid.  You may have to specifically request these natural replacements since the synthetic versions are typically prescribed.

Others with a more mild thyroid condition find great relief from thyroid boosting supplements.  These supplements generally contain iodine and l-tyrosine, which are both important for thyroid function.  My favorite supplement is Europharma’s Thyroid Care.  However, there are several other wonderful formulas on the market.  Check your local health food store for their recommendations.

Adrenal Fatigue and Joint Pain

One of the most under-diagnosed yet common health issues today is adrenal fatigue.  Although it is becoming more accepted amongst medical professions, some doctors have stated that there is no such thing as adrenal fatigue. I strongly disagree. Adrenal fatigue is a result of an overstressed body.  Some have even deemed it The Stress Syndrome.

When your body is under prolonged or chronic stress, your adrenals will continuously produce cortisol and adrenaline.  Going long stretches without sleeping and using caffeine as a source of energy are also contributors to adrenal fatigue.  This constant release of stress combating hormones eventually leaves the adrenals depleted and fatigued.  This in turn causes a state of constant fatigue.

In persons with adrenal fatigue, weak muscles can also result.  Many of the muscles affected are in the legs.  The basic job of these muscles is to stabilize our joints.  When our joints aren’t held stable, pain results.

Tweet: Those with adrenal fatigue typically battle knee, ankle, and foot pain. Lower back pain is also quite common. Click to tweet this.

Resolving adrenal fatigue is not a quick fix.  You must be dedicated to both eating well and finding ways to safely combat the stress in your life.  The basic steps in overcoming adrenal fatigue are:

  • Lowering carbohydrate intake
  • Eliminating white sugar completely
  • Eliminating caffeine intake
  • Increasing protein intake
  • Getting adequate sleep (8 hours a night minimum)
  • Taking a quality multivitamin and adrenal supplement (I recommend Europharma Adrenaplex)
  • Finding a safe and effective stress outlet (prayer, meditation, yoga, etc.)
  • Exercising, as well, is essential!

I personally battle adrenal fatigue and suffered many of the symptoms, including joint pain.  I am now pain free and have far more energy.  It is worth taking the time towards recovery!

Menopause and Joint Pain

Studies have found that lower levels of estrogen in the body can aggravate joint pain.  This is especially common during menopause as estrogen levels begin to plummet.  Some women have pain relief once they’ve completed menopause and their hormones have settled.  However, many women have found substantial relief with natural hormone replacement therapy and estrogen mimicking supplements.

Since estrogen increases the risk of certain cancers, it is always best to follow your doctor’s guidelines closely and take the lowest dose needed to reduce your symptoms.  Bio-identical hormones are becoming quite popular and are much safer than the synthetic versions.  Bio-identical estrogen creams and patches are the most common forms of administration.

Many women have also found relief by taking estrogen-like supplements such as black cohosh and flax. These supplements do not actually contain estrogen, but have substances that act like estrogen in the body. These can be purchased at your local health food store and are far less expensive than bio-identical estrogen.

Gout and Joint Pain

Technically referred to as a form of arthritis, gout affects millions of people leaving them miserable and in severe pain.  The good news, however, is out of all the joint issues, gout seems to be the easiest to treat!

Gout is inflammation in the joints from an accumulation of uric acid crystals.  It can cause intense pain and inflammation and often affects the big toe.  Treating gout naturally involves:

  • Avoiding uric acid producing foods
  • Consuming foods that neutralize uric acid

Foods high in purines break down into uric acid in the body thereby increasing the occurrence of gout.  Common foods with high purine levels include:

  • Seafood
  • Red meat
  • Beer
  • Soda
  • Asparagus
  • Organ meats

If you’re battling gout, then try to avoid these foods are eat them very sparingly.

Instead, beginning consuming more water to flush out the uric acid to reverse gout.  Increase consumption of cherry juice, as well.  Cherries contain compounds that block the reabsorption of uric acid and instead increase uric acid excretion via the urine.  They also contain anthocyanins, which are anti-inflammatory.  I’ve seen amazing results when people eliminated uric acid producing foods and begin drinking cherry juice on a daily basis.  It is simple, inexpensive, and extremely effective at treating joint pain caused by gout!

Carpal Tunnel and Joint Pain

Carpal tunnel is a painful condition that primarily affects the wrist.  It is typically brought on by years of repetitive movement and affects women three times more often than men.  There is also a less common, yet similar syndrome in the ankle called tarsal tunnel.

Carpal tunnel joint pain is caused by inflammation or pressure on the medial nerve.  This nerve controls sensation to the thumb and first three fingers.  Over times it can progress to severe pain, numbness in the fingers and thumb, and an inability to grip objects.

Carpal tunnel can be properly diagnosed using several physical tests.  Once diagnosed, a wrist-brace or even surgery may be suggested.

However, many have found pain relief from natural supplements and vitamins in quelling the pain of carpal tunnel.  Acupuncture is also a great alternative that can bring significant relief.

Some of the most common supplements for carpal tunnel include:

  • B6 – Studies have found a possible correlation between B6 deficiency and carpal tunnel.  A typical dose for carpal tunnel is 50 mg 2-3 times a day. (1)
  • Arnica – A homeopathic used typically for trauma, swelling, and bruising.  Arnica has also shown to improve carpal tunnel swelling and pain.  Follow the dosing directions on the bottle.
  • Systemic Enzymes – These enzymes help tremendously with tissue swelling.  It may take a few weeks to see results so stick with it.  A great brand to purchase is Wobenzym.
  • Curamin – The base of this product is curcumin, which is the active component of the herb turmeric.  The makers of Curamin use a specialized extraction process making their curcumin 20X stronger than your typical curcumin product.  They also blend it with other anti-inflammatory ingredients like boswellia making it quite possibly the best natural anti-inflammatory on the market.  I have personally heard the testimonies from happy customers.  The formulator of the product personally told me that a double dose could be used in the beginning to put out the fire of inflammation.  After 3-7 days, you can begin weaning down to a maintenance dose that works for you.

Although joint pain is really quite common, it doesn’t have to be normal.  You aren’t doomed to suffer from joint pain!  Finding balance in your body with the use of natural supplements and a healthy diet can prevent and even quell that unnecessary joint pain.

Do you suffer from joint pain?  What do you think is the contributor to that pain?  What steps do you plan to implement in eliminating that pain?

 

Amanda BoxAmanda Box is a Traditional  Naturopath and a graduate of Clayton College of Natural Health. She’s been in the health and wellness industry for over 12 years and currently practices naturopathic consulting in the Kansas City, Missouri area.  Her passion is helping others achieve wellness of the whole person – mind, body, and spirit. If you don’t have a good local naturopathic practitioner to turn to for your personal needs, Amanda does phone consultations! She can help you with weight loss, detox/cleansing, acute and chronic illnesses, skin and body care, grocery shopping, pantry overhauls, and more! Visit her blog “My Life in a Healthnut Shell” at http://amandabox.blogspot.com/ for contact info.

 

(1) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1949298/

 

Healing Remedies for Crohn’s Disease

by Dr. Scott Saunders

Cynthia had come to the United States from Australia a few years prior to our meeting. She had been struggling for many years with digestive problems and was finally diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease. Over the next several years, she had several surgeries to remove portions of her bowel, leaving her with a colostomy bag and a shortened intestine. She came in to see me because in spite of the surgeries, she still was having diarrhea, cramps, bleeding, and lots of pain. The bags on her abdomen became a mess and she needed constant help just to maintain her digestive system.

Crohn’s disease is a digestive disorder that causes erosions anywhere in the digestive tract – from the mouth to the anus. The Mayo Clinic website correctly states: “While there’s no known [medical] cure for Crohn’s disease, therapies can greatly reduce the signs and symptoms of Crohn’s disease…” (1)

Crohn’s disease symptoms can be prevented or diminished with the following medical treatments:

None of these conventional medical treatments has been able to cure the digestive problem, although some can go into remission from Crohn’s disease for years. You can read about Barton Publishing’s very own Leslie Prins remission from Crohn’s disease with holistic treatment methods HERE.

Modern treatment can get to the cause of the problem.

Since we now have the ability to find the cause of illness, we can now repair the lining of the intestines with natural remedies, instead of just cutting it out, or trying to relieve the symptoms. This may require some testing by a health professional because symptom control must be tailored to the individual.

However, without knowing the exact cause, you can still treat Crohn’s without drugs. These healing remedies will include the following:

Diet

Food is the foundation of any healing treatment for Crohn’s disease. One of the mainstays of therapy in my office is to do an “elimination diet,” where all offending foods are eliminated for three weeks. The goal is to put as few demands on the digestive tract as possible.

This always excludes the following offensive foods from the diet:

  • Gluten
  • Dairy
  • Sugar
  • And anything that causes a reaction

If it is not clear which foods minimize cramps, then we may start with three weeks on a diet exclusive of all foods except beef or chicken broth and pure water. This works nine out of ten times.

nature's antibiotics

Remember:

  • No processed sugar at all
  • Very little fruit that contains sugar
  • Avoid grains, cereals, and starches
  • No alcohol
  • Drink water only. It’s best to hydrate well by drinking water with salt – add ¼ teaspoon of salt per quart of water, drink two of these per day.

Nature’s antibiotics should be used alternately, changing to a new one every week. If you find one that seems to work particularly well, it can be used for two weeks. Each should be used according to the package directions.

  • Oregano oil capsules
  • Grapefruit seed extract (GSE)
  • Pau d’Arco
  • Colloidal silver

Herbs for bowel and intestines

Herbs can be taken in teas or capsules. Each of these has been shown to relieve inflammation in the bowel. They also aid in repairing the lining of the intestines.

  • Boswellia
  • Turmeric
  • Licorice root
  • Ginseng
  • Marshmallow
  • Aloe Vera (Raw aloe vera juice works best, especially if you milk it straight from the plant)

Other Crohn’s treatments include:

Why Diabetes is Becoming Epidemic

By David Kekich

Some of the most damaging groups of substances we are exposed to on a daily basis are starches and refined sugars, such as:

  • Sucrose
  • Fructose
  • Glucose
  • Dextrose
  • And corn syrup

Our metabolism was just not designed to handle the tremendous amount of nutrient-free calories (i.e., sugar, starches, and to some degree fat) that the typical American diet has in it. The majority of those calories come from refined sugar (sweets, soft drinks, etc.) and starches (bread and pasta).

insulin to fat 2Excess sugar and starch cause multiple assaults to your system. First, as we discussed, high blood sugar causes excess insulin release. Of the two hormones that control the amount of sugar in your blood stream—insulin and glucagon, insulin causes sugar to be taken into the cells, while glucagon causes it to be released. By eating excess carbohydrates, you put your blood sugar control system onto a dangerous roller coaster ride. Up, down, up, down—after repeated bouts of this, your system will crash. The result is Type II diabetes, which is becoming more and more prevalent.

There’s more. People with diabetes are twice as likely to have arthritis. In fact, more than half of the U.S. adults diagnosed with diabetes also have arthritis. That puts them in a double bind, as the pain in their joints keeps them from getting the exercise they need to keep both diseases at bay.

Diabetics are unable to take up sugar efficiently, because their cells no longer respond to insulin. A nasty side effect of this process is that your body begins producing way too much insulin to try and overcome the unresponsiveness of your cells. So now you have high insulin and high blood sugar, which causes all kinds of damage to your arteries. This includes higher cholesterol in your blood, more useless molecules being made by sticking to the excess sugar (crosslinking) which clogs your arteries, the production of oxidized molecules, and the release of the hormone cortisol which causes tissue breakdown.

Insulin also causes excess sugar to be converted to fat. Want to lose weight? Stay away from white flour and sugar.

We also know sugar depresses the immune system. The root of all disease, common cold or cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis or cancer, is at the molecular and cellular level. And insulin is probably going to be involved in almost every aging disease, if not totally controlling it.

Insulin is that important.

Some of us are less susceptible to the perils of sugar and starch than others. Starch in general does not cause diabetes according to a new study by Dr. Richard Johnson, the chief of the division of kidney disease and hypertension at the University of Colorado, and author of The Sugar Fix. The new appreciation is that if you have your uric acid level checked and have a level of 4 for men, or 3.5 for women, you probably are at a low risk for fructose toxicity and can be more liberal with your intake.

The higher your uric acid though, the more you need to limit fructose to about 16 grams a day, or even avoid it until your uric acid level normalizes.

Even with a healthy uric acid level, I suggest avoiding all foods with added fructose like the plague. A growing lineup of scientific studies is demonstrating that consuming high-fructose corn syrup is the fastest way to trash your health. It is now known without a doubt that sugar in your food, in all its myriad of forms, is taking a devastating toll.

And fructose in any form, including high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and crystalline fructose, is the worst of the worst!

To replace those high-calorie, low-nutrient carbohydrates you were consuming before, eat lots of raw fruit and vegetables. Some fruits that have been discovered to be particularly good for their anti-aging properties are blueberries, pomegranates, bilberries, strawberries, purple grapes, and tomatoes (Yes, tomatoes are technically fruits, not vegetables). Since fruits contain natural fructose, I suggest you eat more veggies than fruit.

The deeper and richer the colors of your fruits and vegetables, the more nutritional value they have for you. If your meals look like rainbows, you’re on the right track. Why all the fuss about color? Because loads of scientific studies have shown the natural pigments that give fruits and veggies their vibrant colors offer remarkable health benefits. A major class of compounds in this category is the flavonoids.

Flavonoids are powerful antioxidants that are linked with health benefits including protection from cancer, heart disease, dementia, diabetes, stroke and more.

Fruits with rich colors, especially deep blue or purple, tend to have high concentrations of anthocyanins, one of nature’s most potent classes of flavonoids. And get this.

dark chocolate 6 gramsIn case you haven’t heard, dark chocolate and red wine are also rich sources of flavonoids. A study at University Hospital Zurich showed 6 grams of dark chocolate a day reduces risks of heart disease and stroke by 39%. Take it easy though. Too much dark chocolate will overdose you with sugar and saturated fat. Limit yourself to 7.5 grams of dark chocolate a day. More than two glasses of red wine a day works against you due to excess sugar and alcohol. Moderation is the word of the day if you must indulge.

Strawberries have high concentrations of ellagic acid, another antioxidant that has been shown to protect rats against many age-related defects. The molecule lycopene in tomatoes is yet another powerful antioxidant.

If you do eat simple carbohydrates, take some high-grade protein with it to reduce its damage by about half. Don’t beat yourself up and worry about eating a hamburger, ice cream or pizza once in a while if it gives you pleasure. But making it a habit will undermine your health and shorten your life.

On the flip side, when you plan to eat your meal or snack, visualize yourself as being healthier and slimmer. Then concentrate on your food while eating, and reward yourself mentally when you make your healthy choices.

What is your favorite dark chocolate?

 More Articles You Might Enjoy:

 

David KekichDavid Kekich (Living Healthy to 120: Anti-Aging Breakthroughs) is President/CEO of Maximum Life Foundation that focuses on aging research, a 501(c)(3) corporation dedicated to curing aging-related diseases. For more information, visit: www.MaxLife.org. David contributes to our column Living Healthy to 120: Anti-Aging Breakthroughs. MaxLife is helping to make the anti-aging dream a reality with cutting edge Bio-Engineering research and products.

Clear Up Tinnitus with Food

By Amanda Box

I have some great news for those who suffer with that annoying buzzing or ringing in the ears. Clearing up tinnitus really can be as simple as eliminating certain foods!

Millions of Americans are plagued by tinnitus, but most do not recognize a direct connection between their affliction and the foods they eat. Some of the most common food or additive culprits that trigger tinnitus are:

MSG

Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) is a flavor enhancer common in most processed foods and a staple in oriental foods. It is an excitotoxin, which causes neurons in the brain to “excite” until their death. Putting it plainly, MSG kills neurons in your brain.  MSG is also tied to migraine headaches and allergic reactions.

Artificial Sweeteners

The artificial sweetener aspartame (Nutrasweet or Equal) acts nearly identical to MSG in the brain.  Aspartame is also an excitotoxin, speeding neurons to their death.  Other chemical based sweeteners like saccharin (Sweet and Low) and sucralose (Splenda) can also cause allergic responses that can result in tinnitus, plus a whole host of other health issues.

Sugar

Refined sugar is an obvious contributor to high blood sugar levels in the body. According to a 1984 study (1), 82% of the study participants with inner ear problems also had elevated blood sugar levels. Other studies have shown that 84% to 92% of those who suffer with tinnitus also have a disorder called hyperinsulinemia (2) Hyperinsulinemia is also known as prediabetes or insulin resistance.  It is typically caused by a heavy daily intake of carbohydrates and sugar. Avoid sugar at all costs if you having ringing in the ear!

Hydrogenated oils

These unnaturally saturated fats increase cholesterol deposits in the arteries.  These deposits inhibit blood flow, which is crucial for tinnitus.  Adequate blood flow maintains healthy cells and removes toxins from the inner ear.

The Plague of Oriental Foods

I really enjoy oriental food.  Whether it be Chinese, Thai, Korean, or Vietnamese – I love it all.  Unfortunately, most oriental food contains at least one of the above listed “tinnitus causing” ingredients.

Years ago I spent 2 summer months in Thailand.  I can still recall the sites and the wonderful smells of the street foods, which I adored.  Many of the those that traveled with me would hit up the local McDonalds or KFC (Yes, they have McD’s and KFC in Thailand. Crazy!)   Not me!  I became addicted to trying all the different food offerings.  I noticed, however, that I was getting frequent dull headaches.  I would also hear  “noise” whenever I was in a silent room.  I attributed it to the stress of traveling and adjusting to a new time zone. But, there was another contributing factor I was unaware of.

My all time favorite dish I ate nearly every day was called Som Tom.  It was a green papaya salad that had a salty, sweet and sour dressing with a kick of Thai pepper.  They make the salad fresh each order in a mortar and pestle.  I wanted to be able to replicate it when I returned to the states so I began to observe how they made it.  I recognized all the ingredients except a white powder they sprinkled in at the end.  I knew it wasn’t salt, so I asked my Thai friend what it was.  She said it was a special spice that made all food taste better.  It was at that moment that I realized it was MSG. From then on, I had them leave the “special spice” out.  They believe it is harmless and always looked confused by my request, but I knew better.

It wasn’t long before the headaches and the tinnitus ringing stopped. I took note of the correlation and have never knowingly consumed MSG since.

Thankfully, my reaction to MSG was mild compared to most. But, I still go out of my way to avoid MSG.  I have found that preparing my own oriental dishes rather than eating out, is the best way to do that.

I am going to share with you my two favorite oriental recipes to prepare.

 

Home Cures That Work for Low Testosterone

By Dr. Scott Saunders

Last week, Mitchell and Tracy came in for their test results.  They are both in their early 50s and wanted to take a look at their hormone levels.

  • She was having some symptoms of menopause.
  • He was concerned about being angry all the time, and super aggressive.  He described getting angry over nothing. For example, he had just experienced “road rage” a few days before the appointment and purposely crashed into a car that cut in front of him!

The results of their tests were very surprising:

  • She had very high male hormones and no detectable female hormones.
  • He had no detectable testosterone (low testosterone), and very low DHEA.

She should have been growing a beard, and he should have been growing breasts!

Role of Testosterone

Testosterone is an essential hormone for male development. Long-term studies in American GIs indicate that the healthiest levels of testosterone range from 400-600 ng/dl, which is just above average.  Testosterone levels peak in the early 20s and decline by about 1% per year after 40.
But, signs of low testosterone can appear at any age. These signs of low testosterone include:

  • A decline in physical energy, strength, and stamina
  • More aches and pains in the bones and joints
  • Less initiative and mental aggressiveness, or even depression

Interestingly, erectile dysfunction doesn’t seem to correlate well with testosterone levels.  Testosterone has very little effect on erection and only about a 25% correlation with libido (sexual or desire).

Testosterone and Sexual Desire

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Balance Low Testosterone Naturally

By Amanda Box

Low testosterone is one of those subjects that is typically whispered under someone’s breath.  Its lack of recognition is comparable to “erectile dysfunction.”  It is as if higher testosterone has become synonymous with masculinity!

But, there is absolutely no reason for this subject to be so hush, hush!  A decline of testosterone as men age is as normal as its increase during puberty!  It happens to EVERYONE!!  So now that I’ve tried my best to relieve the stigma, let’s talk about low testosterone.  What causes it, what are its symptoms, and how do you remedy it naturally?

The Causes of Low Testosterone

Like I stated above, low testosterone does come with age.  Men as early as 40 can start feeling the effects of low testosterone.  Some have labeled it “Male Menopause” or “Andropause.” Whatever you want to call it, it is real and it definitely deserves more attention.

But, low-T is not entirely simple. Let me explain.

  • Age doesn’t just equal a lower production in free testosterone.
  • It is the shift in the hormone production cycle that ultimately reduces testosterone.

As a man ages, the enzyme that converts his free testosterone into DHT (di-hydroxy testosterone) becomes more prevalent.  You may recognize the hormone DHT, especially if you’re lacking in the hair department.  Excess DHT likes to bond to both hair follicles and the prostate to can cause baldness and prostate problems.  This conversion leaves less free testosterone in the body and more DHT, which is not a healthy balance.

Estrogen is another hormone that competes with free testosterone.  If a man has too much estrogen, it tells the brain to turn the production of testosterone down.  Everyone has seen a man with too much estrogen.  Many times they look “soft” and may have visible breasts and a protruding belly.

What causes the spike in estrogen? Well, the cause can also be the effect – and vice versa.   Stored fat from overeating can trigger the body to convert more of its testosterone to estrogen.  Once the balance of estrogen is too high, the overall production of testosterone decreases.

The opposite can also happen. Estrogenic compounds exposed to or ingested, can cause the body to grow breasts and store excess fat. Again, the rise in estrogen turns down the production of testosterone. This is why, many times, just supplementing with testosterone may not fix anything.  Balancing all the hormones is key, not just increasing testosterone.

Estrogenic compounds (xenoestrogens) are everywhere and are dangerous for anyone to be exposed to – man, woman, or child.  They can cause hormone disruptions which precludes many health problems.  Some examples of products containing xenoestrogens include:

  • Any food containing soy
  • Cosmetics
  • Sunscreens
  • Fabric Softeners
  • Plastic Containers

Low-T Symptoms

Before I list the obvious symptoms of low testosterone, I want to remind you again that every man will experience it in his lifetime.  Symptoms or no symptoms, you may have low testosterone. I believe it is important for every man to get his testosterone levels checked in his 50s.  There is more and more research coming out confirming the connection between low testosterone and the increased likelihood of many diseases and even death.

Dr. Elizabeth Barrett-Connor and her colleagues at the University of California San Diego tracked 800 men in California with ages ranging from 50-91.  They concluded from their study that men with low testosterone had a 33% greater risk of death over the next 18 years of their live, than men with higher testosterone.

Many other studies have been performed connecting low testosterone to a whole host of health problems.  Those include:

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Cause and Effects of Low Testosterone

By Dr. Richard A. DiCenso

What is Testosterone?

Testosterone is one of a family of hormones called androgens. Best known for their masculinizing effects, androgens first kick into action during the embryonic stages of life. An embryo is conceived when a female egg is fertilized with a male sperm. Androgens are a naturally occurring sex hormone that is produced by the ovaries, adrenal glands and other tissues. Androgen plays a key role in regulating certain bodily functions, including the growth spurt at puberty. It is believed to regulate the function of many organs, including the reproductive tract, kidneys, liver and muscles. The egg and sperm each donate a single sex chromosome to the embryo, an X chromosome from women, and an X or Y chromosome from men.

If the combination of these sex chromosomes is XX, then the embryo will be female. If it’s XY, the embryo will be male. Though in fact, it’s not until the sixth week of development that XX or XY embryos are anatomically defined. Before this the human fetus is essentially sexless, possessing a set of “indifferent” genitalia. One interpretation of this is that all embryos begin as female. Testosterone makes the difference, influencing the growth of male genitalia, while the female component of the indifferent genitalia degenerates.

Testosterone tends to be identified with masculine stereotype

According to some, the intimate association between testosterone and male identity starts early. This inference that testosterone equals male, while absence of testosterone equals female, is well-entrenched in the layers of our culture.  But, the reality is that testosterone is a girl’s hormone, too.

We have been conditioned to box our hormones into those that belong to men, and those that belong to women. Estrogen and progesterone are the so-called female sex hormones, and testosterone, the so-called primary male sex hormone. With that we assign our hormones impossible gender roles. But of course, gender is not that simple and nor are our hormones.

It turns out men and women produce exactly the same hormones, only in different amounts. Men’s bodies generate more than twenty times more testosterone than women, an average of 7 milligrams per day. Women, via mainly their ovaries and adrenal glands, make a tiny 3/10 of 1 milligram of testosterone per day.

But it may come as a surprise to know that women’s ovaries primarily produce testosterone, from which estrogen is then made. This ovarian production accounts for one-quarter of the total circulating testosterone in a woman’s body. At first glance, this might appear to suggest that women naturally have less estrogen than men.However, with the help of an aromatase enzyme, estrogen is also produced in your fat and muscle cells both before and after menopause. Aromatase is an enzyme found in the liver, responsible for the conversion of the androgens into the estrogens. Inhibiting aromatase can cause the body to produce less estrogen and maintain a higher testosterone state.

Your estrogen levels are not totally dependent on your ovaries, there are a lot of other factors that come into play, like your diet and body composition.

While these numbers may appear to be a bit confusing at first, they basically translate to the fact that women have about 1/10 the amount of testosterone found in men.

Conversely, men’s bodies produce their own estrogen, converted by their tissues from their testosterone. In reality, testosterone is as much a woman’s sex hormone as it is a man’s.

What Does Testosterone Actually Do?

Testosterone is considered to be the principal male hormone, playing an important role in the development and maintenance of typical masculine characteristics, such as facial hair, muscle mass and a deeper voice. In men, testosterone plays a key role in the development of male reproductive tissues such as the testis and prostate, as well as promoting secondary sexual characteristics such as increased muscle, bone mass and the growth of body hair.

So, why would women want testosterone? The fact is, women produce it too, and it has more positive influences than you might think. Testosterone is essential for health and well-being in women, as well. In women, studies show that it helps maintain muscle and bone and contributes to sex drive or libido and aids in the prevention of osteoporosis.

Is More Testosterone Better?

Not necessarily! In fact, over the past decade researchers have found elevated testosterone levels to influence a person’s tendency towards

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