Archive for the ‘accurate blood tests’ Category

ALCAT and All That

???????????????????????????????The dog days of August are upon us in Minnesota. Define “dog days” you say? To me they are days of heat and humidity when all you want to do is lay around panting like a dog. Dictionary.com defines it as “the sultry part of summer, supposed to occur during the period that Sirius, the dog star, rises at the same time as the sun; now often reckoned to be July 3-August 11. Also they say it is “a period marked by lethargy, inactivity or indolence”.

Food sensitivity?

As with many of us who have autoimmune issues I have looked at the possibility that I have food allergies or food sensitivities but I was never interested enough to try an elimination diet nor to spend the big bucks and have a blood test done. I did eliminate gluten entirely about three years ago and other than the accidental bits of gliadin protein that have managed to sneak in to my daily diet I have remained gluten free.

Sadly, as my SU is quick to point out, removing gluten from my diet has not been the magic bullet I was hoping it would be. I still have bloating. I still have bouts of diarrhea. I had a bout with eczema and I still have the occasional migraine headache. I have not “gotten over” my autoimmune issues and I still need thyroid medication (now taking 75 mcg of T3).

Causation?

I have never been able to put my finger on the cause of my issues. I can tell you that I have, at one time or another, blamed almost everything that goes in my mouth.

I did give up gluten because I realized that every time we went on holiday, where I ate with abandon, every gluten containing item I was offered, I came home and got sick. Twice I developed a nasty rash on my lower right back that at first burned then oozed and itched, then scabbed over and looked distinctly like dermatitis herpetiformis. Once I got shingles within a month of our holiday. That was the year I had a light bulb moment. Gluten and getting sick were related and I eliminated gluten and anything that might contain the gliadin protein. I can report I have never again had that rash on my back nor shingles, so if nothing else that is an improvement.

Okay, so gluten was eliminated but problems still existed and as I said I blamed many things. I, at one time or another, thought coffee was the culprit, then tea, then dairy. I did realize, correctly as it turns out, turmeric was an issue but I also blamed coconut, citric acid and other herbs. With all these suspicions, and really no proof, I did consider a food allergy test.

Along came ALCAT

My doctor, Kim Lane, had been telling me about a food sensitivity test (IgA not IgE testing) she had done and what a difference it made for her. It came with a hefty price tag (almost $1200) that made my jaw drop but then again can we put a price tag on our health? Not really, and $1200 wouldn’t even pay for one hour much less one day spent in a hospital because you are now in dire need of medical intervention. I mulled it over for months. I talked to my spouse about it and my friends. I still didn’t do it.

A year later the defining moment arrived. I got my 23andMe results back and with my 17 mutations out of 58 polymorphisms I decided that I really needed to know if there were foods, herbs, drugs that were negatively impacting my health. Unlike many people I do not believe that we have to settle for whatever our genes have elected for us, we can take control of our health (quoting Dr. Mercola). The ALCAT that Dr. Lane was recommending seemed like the best thing I could pursue.

What does ALCAT stand for?

ALCAT (antigen leukocyte cellular antibody test) does not test IgE immune responses to food and chemicals but according to their literature it is “a highly sensitive, objective test of assessing which foods, chemicals and herbs you may be intolerant or sensitive to.  Food sensitivity/intolerances affect over 80% of the population while less than 5% of us actually have an IgE or ‘true’ food allergy.

I will not go into every detail regarding the test as anyone can “Google” that and find out. I will explain the details I find interesting. They take 5-6 vials of blood and test a lengthy list of items including 200 foods, 50 functional foods and medicinal herbs, 20 food additives and colorings, and 10 molds and antibotics and medications. A phlebotomist is sent to your home to make the blood draw and that is included in your test price. My phlebotomist was a retired nurse and while she seemed a bit confused about what was expected of her she was very proficient at drawing what seemed like endless vials of blood and sending them off.

When your results are back you have a consultation with your provider, in my case, Dr. Kim Lane. She went over the results and discussed the best way to go about working with my new found knowledge. A really interesting comment she made was the nutritionist was amazed at my test results and generally speaking they discussed how clean my diet must be to have very little that I am sensitive to. Huh?

I had no severe reactions to anything in the food and herb category, nothing. I had a moderate reaction to three things, strawberries, rhubarb and tilapia. My list of mild intolerance was longer and included two things I was having every day, turmeric and apples. Other things were not daily items but I did use them frequently, cumin, pork, beef, asparagus and red/green lettuce (grew that this year in my garden).

I did have a severe reaction  in the “chemicals and molds category” to one drug, Ibuprofen. And there was a severe reaction to a mold, trichoderma. I am not sure of the implication of the severe reaction to trichoderma but I avoid ibuprofen like the plague. I recently took one because I had a terrible case of conjunctivitis but that was the first one I had taken in a year or more. Now I had proof that it was not good for me and I was correct to avoid it.

What is prescribed?

According to an ALCAT site everything falls in to various categories. There is a red column. Those items falling in to the red category are avoided altogether for 6 months and then possibly can be added back on a rotation basis. The orange column items are not eaten for 3-6 months and then rotated back into your diet. The yellow column contains things that should be avoided for 3 months but might be okay to eat once a week. Green means you can eat and enjoy but they firmly believe everything should be rotated even if in the green category.

Since I had no severe reactions (no food items in the red column) my prescription is to remove the items that I am moderately intolerant to for six months, so no rhubarb, no strawberries and no tilapia. (At first, I exclaimed “Who even eats tilapia anymore?” One should never get too smug. Dr. Mercola’s supplement of krill is in a fish gelatin casing. What is that fish gelatin made of? Tilapia. Why is that important to me? I needed to replace my fish oil because it is in a beef gelatin capsule. I went to Mercola.com ready to order the krill until I saw the label. TILAPIA!)

Under the “mild intolerance” the list is longer and included beef and pork (thus the bovine gelatin was out and so was my idea of returning to natural dessicated thyroid medication as it is porcine). Just to bore you with more detail than you want I will list all the items in the this category: apple (even apple cider vinegar included), asparagus, bay leaf, beef, brazil nut, canola oil, cayenne pepper, celery, cherry, chicken liver, cumin, fava bean, guava, mung bean, nutmeg, paprika, pork, red/green lettuce, sesame and turmeric. Those items can be consumed once a week but if I consume them I should note how they make me feel.

There are three blue boxes included in the test results. These list your blood’s reaction to candida, gluten/gliadin and casein/whey. Of those three I had a mild reaction to candida albicans, so no honey, cane sugar, fructose or maple sugar for three months. I had no response to casein or whey. I had no response to gluten/gliadin and I really don’t know what to make of that but I am going to assume that is because I haven’t had it in any quantity in a long time. I admit to being perplexed regarding my non-reacton to gluten/gliadin, so stay tuned for more information after I talk to the nutritionist.

That is the last, but not least, recommended thing I will do, talk to their nutritionist. Included in the price of the test is that 30 minutes with Dr. Lane and 30 minutes with one of their nutritionists. I am hopeful that the nutritionist can fill in some of the blanks especially why I had no adverse reaction to gluten/gliadin.

Krisinsight

I am still digesting all of the information I now have in my hands. I look over my results every day and learn something new (for instance just now I learned what trichoderma was). I was relieved that tea and coffee were not to be eliminated but still their nutritional recommendation is no food or herb or drink is ever repeated more than once every fourth day. I have tea every day, more than once, and coffee is one of those social things that I am not very willing to give up even though I do not drink it every day (normally). I can give up the offending items for the required amount of time and I can even rotate them back in to my diet but a rotation diet of all the other foods may be really painful, too painful. Time will tell and so will my gut.

Santé,

Kris

Back On The Tundra

IMG_1663Phew! At last I am back on target for my June post. I am overjoyed that June has arrived and with it warmer weather and the ability to be outside.

I am sorry for the delay in posting (you may or may not have noticed I didn’t post anything last month). Sometimes life just gets in the way but let’s get right to what’s been happening to fill my days.

Winter Blues take their toll

Life getting in the way, started as I shared with you last time, sometime late winter when we decided we were tired of Minnesota. Tired of Minnesota winter. Tired of the traffic in the Twin Cities. Tired of the big city, period.

When we left Idaho 8 and a half years ago we left more than a little bit of our hearts there, so we decided to check out Boise, Idaho as a possible place to live. Our hope was that Boise, being smaller might provide us with the big city advantages without the BIG city challenges.

Here are a few reasons for considering Boise, Idaho:

  • The climate. I actually like winter but not for 6 months. Winters exist in Boise but they are much shorter. Winters are cold but not as cold as Minnesota. Summers are hotter in Boise but it is a dry arid heat and is fairly short-lived. Spring, ah blessed spring, it is much longer in Boise as winter is mostly over by the end of February.
  • Proximity to our land and cabin. Boise is an easy two-hour drive from Fairfield, Idaho. Our isolated cabin is approximately 10 miles out of Fairfield, so we would have better access to our cabin without living in the mountains.
  • The people. The people in Boise seem really happy to be there. They are friendly and welcoming with the laid back attitude that is much more prevalent in the western United States.
  • Access to easy air travel. Boise airport is small and easy to use. There is a direct flight to Minneapolis at least twice a day.
  • Access to all of the western United States. There are a multitude of National parks within hours of Boise. The ocean is only 8-9 hours away and the ability to stay active and fit is amazing.

To be honest, we loved Boise. We were shown the town by a really nice realtor, Eric DeBord. Between Eric and a friend and co-worker of my husband’s we were introduced to every corner of the area and we fell in love with it all. We came within seconds of making an offer on a really nice house near Boise in a town called Emmett and then…….

What is really important in your life?

Suddenly yours truly had to evaluate what she really valued in her life. I think the SU already knew that winter was not the evil thing I had conjured up during one of the worst winters I have encountered in my 60 years. Family, friends and even where we live near Stillwater, Minnesota were all things we love. They were all things we valued, so at the last-minute, (and thanks to Eric being rather busy and not getting right on it) we did not make an offer on the house we liked.

I have to admit that the biggest reason I could not leave Minnesota was my bond with my grandsons. We had a two-week trip to Scotland in the midst of all this decision-making. Two weeks of thinking, considering and contemplating our lives.

When we got home, the first thing we did was see our boys and I have never, ever experienced the heart wrenching feeling of holding them in my arms after two weeks of thinking I was going to move away from them. My oldest grandson, who is now 3, had a meltdown when his mommy had to get home after being with us most of the day. That caused this Nonna to meltdown and in a flood of tears my decision was made.

So now what?

We could not tear up our roots in Minnesota and replant them in Boise no matter how much we loved the city and surrounds, not now anyway. I knew my friends would visit and I knew from asking them that we would stay in touch no matter where I lived. I knew leaving my house was not an issue. A house is just that, a box that houses a family.

The family is the soul that gives a house life and as long as I had my family with me I could live anywhere. My daughter and her family have no interest in leaving Minnesota, so I knew I needed my soul much more than a box.

It wasn’t as easy as it sounds but for the sake of keeping this post somewhat succinct let’s just say that over the course of two months other decisions were made that have now been undone. We are busily making our house more comfortable for us. I am getting my long-awaited spa (I will report on this later) which I am hopeful will allow more outdoor time during the long, cold winter months. We are going to make life here in Minnesota comfortable but whilst we are doing that we will enjoy the closeness of our family and friends.

Other news

As I also mentioned in my last post, in the midst of all this palaver of moving away I took my first level of Reiki healing. Now that I understand Reiki and its healing abilities it has changed things for me. My Reiki training was the best thing I could have done during this time of upheaval.

I find Reiki has helped me deal with life and its ups and downs. My sleep has improved more than I can tell you and one reason is if I wake early in the morning I say my Reiki mantra and perform Reiki on all my chakras. Before I know it I am back to sleep, and it is a deep restorative sleep.

I am also more meditative either through meditation or just Reiki self-treatment. I have found an inner calm that I have never possessed before. I am even doing yoga and signed up for Yoga classes at the nearby Pure Yoga studio.

I feel like a new person and I believe I owe much of this inner peace to the calm that Reiki instills. I look forward to my second level of Reiki training this summer. It seems that the more I know about Reiki, the more I want to know, so now I am even considering becoming a Reiki Master. Aside from an increased knowledge of Reiki, and its history, the master level would allow me to teach others this fabulous healing modality.

Krisinsight

I have already shared much of my insight with you in the words above. I mentioned last time that I am much healthier than I was which is still true. I think just as a reminder that I still have things to share there have been some ups and downs with my thyroid in the last month. I will be brief but hopefully enlighten those who share my dis-ease.

Since my last post I have increased my dose of T3 from 50 mcg. to 62.5 mcg. Now I cannot seem to stabilize my temperatures. One day they are close to 99, the  next day at the same time they are 97.8 (as they are right now at 2:30 in the afternoon and I just took a 12.5 dose of T3). I am concluding that it is possible that my dose of T3 is actually too high and my adrenals cannot support it but there are many things to be considered.

My reasons for increasing my T3 a few weeks ago were my basal temperatures were incredibly low (one morning my basal was 97.3). I increased by 6.25 mcg but my basals did not come up to a normal range of 97.8-98, so after a few weeks I increased my dose to 62.5 mcg. After about 10 days my basal temperatures are now closer to normal but my daytime temperatures are much too varied and, to me, that is indicative of too much stress on my adrenals.

For those of us who ride this roller coaster we know the ins and outs and ups and downs of thyroid dis-ease. There are many reasons that things can suddenly change, adrenal fatigue is only one possible cause, so I have to consider all things.

For instance, I know that it takes 6 weeks after making an overseas trip (one in which you cross several time zones) to get some semblance of normalcy. I have not been home from Scotland for 6 weeks yet, so perhaps that is causing some of my issues.

Another reason for possible variation is that the Cynomel could be from a bad batch or a new formulation. I did inquire about this possibility and was told the pharmacy was unaware that there were any other complaints and/or changes. By the way, for those on ERFA NDT, I did recently read that people are having hypo symptoms and the thought is the maker changed the formulation. Knowing that this happens all the time and no one is informed of the change, it is possible that something changed with Cynomel.

I also know that for me, and for many others, if we take too much T3 it can lower our temperatures, so the one way that most people can tell if they need more thyroid medication, our body temperature, becomes invalid. Paul Robinson’s book on Recovering With T3 deals with this subject very well and I know what I need to do is some testing and then consultation with Paul or the RT3 group to rule out any of those reasons.

First, with a blood test, I need to see where my FT3 is and if it is not in the upper range I know I actually do need more T3. If it is in the upper range and my temperatures continue to vacillate then I need to test my adrenal health with a diurnal cortisol test through Canary Club.

To this end, I recently took advantage of Life Extension’s blood panel sale getting a very complete blood panel including all my sex hormones, CMP, CBC, cortisol, insulin, A1C, FT3 and TSH for $97.50. Now I need to get to Labcorp in Edina, MN for my blood draw and I will have more information at my fingertips to help me and/or the group figure out what is happening on this exciting ride.

The good news, because there is always good news, is my energy is good. My sleep is great. My mood is happy and upbeat. Overall, most people with hypothyroidism would be happy to be where  I am at the moment but I know this body temperature issue is not right. I can tell when my temps are falling, as they are right now, because my toes and fingers start feeling very cold, so as always the quest continues. Where it takes me only next month will tell.

As for next month, I think I will stay on track for what Krisinsight currently entails, a pursuit of optimum health. I feel I have survived a crisis of small proportion. Perhaps turning 60 was more upsetting than I understood and having dealt with all the possibilities for change I learned that life as it is, is really quite good. So thank-you for bearing with me and I look forward to sharing more insight in the coming months.

SANTÉ,

Kris

 

Blood Testing and the Results

IMG_1917 (2)As I stand at my computer the sun is shining on my back. I cannot tell you how good it feels to just see the sunshine after three days of low hanging clouds and on and off rain. I guess you could say I am solar-powered because I know my SU loves those low hanging cloudy days. He says they relax him and often he gets more done.

Speaking of getting things done, I had a little nudge this week from my homeopathic doctor to get a blood test done to check the status of my thyroid, so I finally went in and had a blood draw at LabCorp in Edina, MN.

If you haven’t heard me say it before I will say it again, I am a huge fan of LabCorp in Minnesota for several reasons. I find the staff are all consummate professionals. The facility is always clean and orderly. I have never been hurt by a blood draw nor ever left with a bruise or even so much as a sore spot. This doesn’t mean that you might not run in to a LabCorp that is not as good but if you are in the area, the office in Edina, MN has got to be one of the best.

The results are in

This year, as in years past, I ordered my thyroid panel from Life Extension when they had their blood panel sale in the spring. You do have to pay to have a membership at Life Extension but the blood panel sale alone makes it worthwhile. They also offer free consults with their medical staff and I have made use of that as well and it was professional and very helpful. If you aren’t a member the panels are still some of the most comprehensive blood tests offered, they will just cost you more. Also I will add if you follow (Like) them on Facebook they do offer free 6 month memberships once in a while and I have taken advantage of at least two of those offers as well.

I had my blood draw on Monday morning at 8 a.m. my results were in my e-box within two days. I think this is fantastic given how long it takes a doctor’s office to get results and then to let you know. The thyroid panel I chose cost me $56 and included TSH, FT3, FT4 and Thyroxine ( T4). My results were as follows:

  1. TSH- 0.084 range .450-4.5
  2. FT3-3.8 range 2.0-4.4
  3. FT4-0.06 range .82-1.77
  4. Thyroxine-0.5 range 4.5-12.0

How do you read these results?

Given conventional wisdom and the information your health providers have handed you, what do you think of my results? With a suppressed TSH can I sleep at night? Can a body survive with basically no T4? Is my FT3 too low? Were any of my results flagged as out of the normal range?

The answer

The answer to all the above questions is “yes”. First, I am sleeping quite well although my nights have been interspersed with nightmares of a sort. The sort that wake me up with a rapidly beating heart because I was either doing something physical or something upsetting in my dream. They don’t keep me awake for long and I can settle my heartbeat immediately. I know from experience that this means I am on a slightly too high dose of T3 but by slightly I mean only a fraction of a 25 mcg tablet and I think my body will adjust over time.

Current CT3M dose

I am currently taking a 25 mcg dose of T3 around 2 in the morning according to the CT3M method as described by Paul Robinson. Many of my dreams occur before 2 a.m. and once I take that 25 mcg dose my sleep improves and I sleep long and hard until 5-5:30. I am not absolutely certain what that means but I intend to find out with further research. My general feeling is I really need to take more T3 but I don’t think my adrenals are up to it yet and I need to obtain a diurnal cortisol test the next time I feel like spending $109 on tests.

Second answer; same as the first

Second, if you are on T3 only your FT4 and Thyroxine should be almost null. Your thyroid needs T3 to run smoothly and any T4 is actually converted to T3 before your thyroid can use it. For someone like me, with thyroid resistance, the T4 was actually blocking my cell receptors and interfering with my thyroid’s ability to get enough T3. The fact that I have basically no T4 is a little scary (to me) because it means my thyroid is dependent on the T3 I take and there is no T4 to convert to T3 but it is a good thing to see when you take T3-only and have a RT3 issue. Also bear in mind I hadn’t had any T3 for 13 hours when this blood draw was done, so the T3 is circulating for a long time.

Third; FT3

Third, my FT3 is a bit low. Now according to my functional medicine guy he liked my FT3 in the middle of the range, so he would have said this was almost borderline too high. However, when a patient is on T3-only your FT3 should be in the upper end of the range or perhaps slightly over. I feel pretty good with my FT3 at 3.8, so I think I will leave things as they are for now but I do like knowing that there is room for improvement.

Flags and other warnings

As for any flagging that was done, my TSH was flagged as “Low”. My FT4 was flagged as “Low” and my Thyroxine was flagged with the dreaded “ALERT”. If you are going to consider the path I have taken for treating your thyroid disease you really must educate yourself and have good, scientifically proven information for your guide. I would never do this on my own (I had a group of patients who had gone through the same thing and researched the subject thoroughly as my guide) nor as an uninformed novice because results like these are, to say the least, disturbing if you don’t know what they mean.

Krisinsight

I don’t know about my readers but I like knowing that things are okay because I know they aren’t perfect. My skin is still scaly especially if I bathe too regularly but it is summer and it has been hot (but isn’t at the moment). My sleep has its ups and downs and my dreams have been graphic lately (someone suggested no fermented food at bedtime and I have been drinking kefir every night, so no more of that). I have many nights when I ache especially my bum hip aches when laid on too long and my head has felt a bit muzzy lately. I keep trying to decide if all these things are part of aging or part of my disease.

I keep thinking that perhaps if I can eventually take 75 mcg of T3 or find that right remedy with the help of my homeopathic doctor things will be perfect. However, I am a human being, we, by nature, are not perfect. Is it so bad that my energy lags some days? I tend to think not, especially when most days my energy is good. As long as I can keep up with my two-year-old grandson hopping and skipping over cracks in the sidewalk and carrying him when he asks “Carry me?” Well I just feel blessed.  If sleep alludes me now and then that won’t kill me. As for aches and pains, if you increase your activity with muscles, tendons and ligaments that aren’t used to such activity you are going to ache a bit, so what do I expect?

I ask my readers, in all seriousness, what should I expect? Should I expect to be Suzanne Somers and be out there tooting my horn about my fabulous sex life and my 20-year-old body? Or should I be running a business where I work 24/7? I do neither of those but it makes me wonder. What is your energy like? How many aches and pains do you have? And to what do you attribute these good or bad things in your life?

Don’t be put off by the “S” word in the previous paragraph I just always wonder if she is on drugs or has had surgery, so Suzanne Somers is the first person who comes to mind when I feel a bit on the 50-ish side of life and start wondering if that is normal. That little detail cleared up, before I close I wanted to share a quick recipe for a blueberry elixir because blueberries are plentiful right now and it is the perfect time to make some of this to enjoy in the autumn. This recipe is from a book called Wild Medicinal Plants and it can be found on page 76.

Father Kneipp’s Elixir

  • 2 cups of Brandy (500 ml) do not get brandy with flavors added as they contain gluten sometimes
  • 7 ounces (200 g) organic blueberries, crushed
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 5 whole cloves

Combine all the ingredients and macerate for 1 month away from any light. Stir from time to time. Strain after one month.

Drink one ounce (25 ml), pure or diluted, in the case of diabetes, gastritis, enteritis, colic, and intestinal gas, or poor night vision, or simply as a full-bodied and delicious digestive.

I made this a few years ago and it is so pleasant you will enjoy every drop but drink with reserve, it does contain alcohol and I can’t really think of any other way to make an elixir. If you can’t have alcohol then just enjoy some blueberries in whatever form you enjoy.

Santé,

Kris

 

How Time Flies

I don’t know about my readers but I can hardly believe an entire month has passed since I last shared some of my hard-earned insight. Summer has been hot and humid but fun and filled with laughter. My daughter, grandson and I just returned from what will be a much treasured weekend on Lake Superior and I am full up to my eyebrows with lovely memories of my time with both of them.

I have also found writing once a month to be just the ticket for me right now, so I will be posting a new blog article on the first Monday of every month (except this month when it is slightly early). In the meantime I am going to put my writing energy toward something I have wanted to do forever, write a book. I will self publish said book and I have no idea as of 30 July 2012 what it will be about but the time I have spent sharing health information on Facebook and KrisInsight will be used to create my “masterpiece”.

Now for my topic for August, blood tests, blood test results and what you can do with them.

On getting a blood test

When Life Extension Foundation offers their once a year blood test sale I cannot resist the urge to ante up the $224.25 and get a rather complete blood test called “Female Weight Loss Panel Blood Test”. I am always interested in losing weight but that is not my reason for this particular panel. I purchase this one because it offers a complete thyroid panel (minus the antibody test), female sex hormone panel plus important information like CRP, Uric Acid, etc.

I receive my requisition form online, print it off and take it to the nearest LabCorp office. Once there you sign in and sooner rather than later someone will call your name and back you go into a very clean professional room where a very talented and experienced phlebotomist takes your blood. I happen to think the techs at the Edina LabCorp are some of the best phlebotomists around and after several blood tests purchased online and trips to Edina, MN for my blood draw I ought to know. I have never been hurt, have not, for that matter, even come away with a bruise or sore spot.

If you can’t take the heat; don’t get the blood test

Yup, you read that right. If you like the ostrich approach to life. If you would rather not know what might be going wrong. If, in fact, you can’t afford or don’t want to afford the treatment, DO NOT GET A BLOOD TEST! I really can’t afford any extras on my one and a half day dental hygiene salary but I like to know what is happening in my body. I don’t always like the results (and I will tell you about that) but I feel better knowing how my body is doing that is more scientific than subjective.

Within a week after my blood draw my results popped up in my “inbox”. I think even that is rather spectacular after talking to folks who have their blood draws at their doctor’s office and wait weeks to hear about the results. I opened the attachment with alacrity and read down the results basically saying things like “good”, “better”, “Ooh, that’s great”.

My total cholesterol was the lowest it has been in decades at 190. My Triglycerides were great, uric acid was low, CRP was low and VLDL was low. I basically had no signs of inflammation or precursors for heart disease. My TSH was suppressed (it should be on T3 only). My FT3 and FT4 were out of range (again should be on T3-only). My sodium levels were good (although again I didn’t fast salt the day before).

My glucose was high (insulin was normal, so I am not insulin resistant) and that needs some investigation and, of course, stricter carb control. My potassium was a little low and may require some slow release potassium supplementation. My sex hormones were still low (except for Testosterone which was okay) and that despite taking 200 mg. of bio-identical progesterone every day for a month prior to the test and taking 4 mg of Estradiol 25 days a month. I take no testosterone and yet my levels are mid-range. So far, not perfect but I am okay.

Then I got a slap to the face, my iron was high, out of range high and my happy, effervescent inner voice suddenly changed to something more like a deep grumbling “WTF” (sorry but honesty prevails)! If I have no signs of inflammation how could I be rusting from the inside out? I quickly got on my discussion group, posted my blood test results for their perusal and asked for advice.

In the end, the best advice was a combination of answers and I had to deduce the best answer from accumulated knowledge. There were a few other things that bothered one of the experienced moderators that I am still mulling over.

What to do, when you did it wrong.

I was at once relieved and then embarrassed by the answers I got from the group. First of all I screwed up when I had the blood test primarily because I wasn’t concerned about my iron levels. This is important information for anyone considering getting a blood test, so listen up. If you are testing iron levels you need to fast iron and Vitamin C for 5 days. If you don’t your results will be skewed.

I would also recommend no B12 injections in that five day period even though no one seems to know how B12 injections will affect your iron results (I asked many people and no one seemed to know). It makes sense to me that B12 would alter your results because it is used to treat pernicious anemia. I foolishly had an injection the day before my blood draw. I also had Liposomal Vitamin C and I had red meat. In other words, my high iron result doesn’t mean a thing, my iron levels may be high but they may just be inaccurate. I couldn’t possibly have done anymore to negate the results than I did. My “WTF?” turned in to “What was I thinking?”

When one thing may mean something else

At that point in my search for what my blood test results meant I got involved in a discussion about high SHBG. I knew that T3-only could raise your SHBG, so last time when my result was out of range high I paid no heed and neither did my medical doctor. This time some new information came to light thanks to Valerie Taylor a researcher and very knowledgeable woman who moderates the Adrenal discussion group and the RT3 group not to mention several other sites. She was having a discussion with a male member of the group about T3 and SHBG.

She was saying that SHBG can be higher (in range) if a person is on T3 only. As your FT3 goes up so does your SHBG and she further added that T3 is bound by SHBG. As SHBG goes up FT3 goes down but Total T3 remains stable. Therefore she concluded that SHBG may actually bind T3. This discussion really caught my attention but by participating I found out something no one had suggested before.

Val suggested that I test my IGF-1. This is a test that would show a possible need for Human Growth Hormone (HGH) or a precursor that would raise my levels of IGF-1 and thus my HGH. Val suspects my levels of IGF-1 might be low due to the high SHBG. HGH affects how we age and if mine is low I want to get right on that and see if I can correct the trend.

Kris Insight

My insight this month is “do as I say not as I did” (only kidding). Before you do any blood testing make sure you know how to do it properly.  For accurate results you must fast red meat, iron supplements, B12 and Vitamin C for 5 days. The day prior to your blood draw fast sodium as well. The morning of your blood draw don’t take your thyroid meds (the only thing I did correctly) until after the blood draw and of course, 12 hour fasting  is necessary if the test calls for it.

As my iron is always and has always been in the upper range (this time it is out of a normal range) I am trying a supplement called IP-6 available at iHerb.com. I am only going to take it for one month as it can affect your liver enzymes. I am taking one capsule once a day even though the suggested amount is two capsules. IP-6 is said to bind the excess iron in the blood and many use it after a cancer diagnosis but also for high hemoglobin results. I hope to retest my iron in a month (following all the correct guidelines) and see how my levels look at that time.

There are several other ways to lower high iron levels, donate blood (they won’t take my blood because I lived in Great Britain in the 1980’s) or get your doctor to prescribe phlebotomy, 8 ounces at a time works better than a pint in one sitting according to Dr. Joe Mercola. Drinking something tannic like tea or wine with your meals will help bind any iron in your meal. Lactoferrin supplements bind to free circulating iron. Even calcium supplements can lower your iron levels if taken with your meal. I have never worried about my iron as the only time I have ever been anemic was when I was donating blood too often, so being concerned about fasting iron has never crossed my mind but it will next time believe me. One scare is enough for me.

As for my high SHBG I have the IGF-1 test in my shopping basket at LEF.org. In the next month or two I am going to test it and see what it has to say about my HGH levels. If my levels are low I am going to try a supplement called IGF Premium as it is sold by LEF.org and I don’t need a prescription. It is pricey at almost $60 but then aging properly really is priceless.

I hope I have helped anybody planning to have a blood test in the near future. I guess if someone learns from my mistakes it takes away the sting of being so wrong especially when I do know better (just put “blood testing” in my search box). I hope all my readers have a great month. Remember I do post my “tweets” on my blog, so check in now and then and see what’s new in health and choosing a healthy lifestyle. Otherwise see you on September 3rd!

Santé,

Kris

How to Improve Nutrient Levels

You may, if you have read my posts recently, remember my Specter of a Spectracell post. I thought I should update my readers on my recent conversation with Dr. Bruley and what we decided I should try to see if I could improve my antioxidant levels.

What came first the chicken or the egg?

The first question we dealt with was why were my anti-oxidant levels deficient? I had some ideas and Dr. Bruley had some ideas and in the end we both conceded that we didn’t know the why and the only thing to do was to move forward.

The facts are I already take all the antioxidants and my diet is quite good. My feeling is we cannot get all of our antioxidants and vitamins from our food anymore as the soil is so depleted everywhere, even in my own garden where I am madly trying to enrich the soil as naturally as possible. That leaves one the only option, take supplements to keep your antioxidant levels high. Also, with an autoimmune disease, a body may need higher levels of antioxidants and for sure B12, so the last thing I want is to have low cellular levels of Selenium, Zinc, CoQ10, B12 and Inositol.

Just tell me what to do

For once I kept my mouth closed (for the most part) and let the doctor do the talking. At $95/15 minutes I wisely decided to let Dr. Bruley talk and once we were off the phone I could digest everything he had said. (I used to balk at paying him that much per 15 minutes but then I found out that at a Minute Clinic you will pay$80 for one minute and all you will get is the same old allopathic crap). Here are the supplements he told me to take:

  • Selenium-Basically if I was doing 200 mg up it to 400 mg per day
  • Zinc-he recommended Orthomolecular Reactive Zinc which comes in 54 mg capsules
  • Inositol-750 mg  twice daily.
  • B12- injections of B12 may be necessary otherwise take 3000-5000 mcg of sublingual methylcobalamin B12 every day.
  • CoQ10-200 mg a day or if I am taking 200 mg then increase it to 400 mg a day.
  • Metagenics Dynamic Greens-1 scoop per day.

The difficult choices

I hate giving injections as a dental hygienist, so I really struggled with the idea of injecting a vitamin. After reading available literature and talking to Chloe, my research buddy, I have decided to try B12 injections. Chloe pointed me to a compounding pharmacy in LaCrosse, WI that her functional medicine doctor uses for B12 injections. There I found a very helpful pharmacist named Wayne who answered all my questions about the forms of B12 they compound to be injected, Methylcobalamin and hydroxocobalamin (which is considered the most easily absorbed form). After talking to him I called Dr. Bruley and he agreed to contact that pharmacy and I am going to do it, I shall try the injections of B12.

Also I am going to wait awhile before doing anything else about my digestion. Zinc is needed for  HCl  production (the acid your stomach needs to digest your food) along with B1, B6 and Histidine. Restoring my Zinc levels may actually kick my digestion in to gear and I will need no further assistance. It is altogether possible that if my Zinc levels were restored all the other nutrient levels would come up but that seems a bit risky.

As for the other suggestions I am increasing CoQ10 to 200 mg twice per day. I was taking  Selenium but have increased that to 400 mg per day. I was not taking Inositol, so have started that two to three times per day and I will most likely order the Metagenics greens BUT it has mint in it and my burning mouth and mint do not coexist well, so I am trying E3Live. As my regular readers may recall green drinks and I do not always do well together (check out my post on the subject) given the amount of brassicas they always contain and I can take E3Live every day without a problem.

What does this have to do with you?

Yes, I know you may be asking what this has to do with you and I understand. If you, dear reader, read my blog because you have an autoimmune disease (or even suspect you might have thyroid problems) someday you may take the big step and do a Spectracell blood test. When the results come back you, too, may find that you have similar nutrient deficiencies.

We thyroid people do share many commonalities because our autoimmune disease causes our bodies to be out of whack, our bodies are not like other human bodies but they are like each other’s and what works for me may work for you. If nothing else my results and treatment gives you a starting point and from there you will have to do what works for your body. As Bruce Lee said “Absorb what is useful, reject what is useless, add what is uniquely your own”.

Have a healthy and happy Valentine’s Day,

Kris

The Specter of a Spectracell

Several years ago when I first met Dr. Robert Bruley he told me about a Spectracell blood test, a test that would measure my  amino acids, metabolites, minerals, fatty acids, vitamins, antioxidants and carbohydrate metabolism at a cellular level. I found the idea of getting a cellular report fascinating but told him I had several other things to deal with and I would do it “later”.

What Time is Later?

Later finally rolled around last November. Dr. Bruley provided the essentials from the company that does the Spectracell. All I had to do was take it to my local hospital lab for the blood draw. That cost me about $25 and the lab took care of everything else because they can send it with FedEx when they pick up other blood tests for the day (so ask when this pick up occurs to make sure your test goes out the same day).

On Being the Queen of Supplements

I waited for what seemed like forever for the results and to be honest I still don’t have the entire dossier of results (always, always request a copy of your blood tests) but I do have in my clean little paws the list of my deficiencies. I have to say the results took me aback. Me, the Queen of Supplements finds herself deficient in the very things I have taken as a preventive measure.

The Deficient Ones

Vitamin B12, Selenium, Inositol, Zinc,  CoQ10 and my Spectrox (comprehensive antioxidants) were all listed as deficient. Why is this troublesome? B12 is often noted to be low in people who have dementia and a B12 deficiency actually mimics Alzheimer’s Disease. Selenium deficiencies are rare (the SU says he already knew I was weird) but can contribute to hypothyroidism. Inositol levels must be optimum to assure healthy brain function and even healthy hair growth. Zinc is a common deficiency and most often noted by white spots appearing in the nail bed but it also can lead to excess hair loss. CoQ10 is essential for healthy breasts and heart. As for antioxidants they are our life blood as necessary as the air we breathe.

What to Do? What to Do?

January 31st I talk to Dr. Bruley to see things from a medical doctor’s perspective. In the meantime, I have started taking the two supplements I wasn’t taking, zinc and selenium. I increased my CoQ10 (that is ubiquinol, not the less easily absorbed form of Ubiquinone) to 200 mg twice a day as I was taking 100 mg once or twice a day and had been for, well forever. Inositol (1 teaspoon twice a day) comes in a tasteless powder that I can easily add to water and drink. B12 has me stumped as I already take about 5000 mcg of B12 (Methylcobalamin) every day. I can only guess that I will need an injectable form in order to see improvement.

Let me Guide You

I read a great quote this week that went something like “All you can do is try. If you win, you can lead. If you lose, you can guide.” This week I get to guide you dear reader. The best guidance I can offer is that you call your doctor and order a Spectracell today. If your doctor doesn’t know about it use my link to Ann Louise Gittleman’s site where she sells it very reasonably. Do not look at it as some specter to be feared but as something that offers the very help you need to live life to its fullest.

Santé,

Kris

Media Garbage and Other Notes of Interest

I have just returned from a trip west to the Sun Valley, ID area and the subsequent  exposure to other newspapers (The Sun) and their media garbage caused me to want to discuss a rather appalling interview I read. It was based on the wisdom of  one of their local doctors and his very informed opinion regarding supplements. When I am done ranting, I mean discussing this interview, I have some interesting information about Tyrosol, a phenolic antioxidant. Next week I will move on to PQQ.

I was enjoying reading the regional news in The Sun when I came upon an interview with one of their local doctors, a Dan Fairman, M.D.,  titled “Supplements: what works?”. The subject of the interview was supplementation and which ones he recommended which, by the way,  amounted to none but the cheapest vitamin and then only if you can’t eat a healthy diet. Dr. Fairman categorically dismissed CoQ10 and Vitamin E and gave Glucosamine a C. He did think women needed calcium but stated that they can obtain most of what they need from food sources like milk, fortified juice and vegetable sources. He never mentioned supplementing with Vitamin D even though it has been found that nationally our levels are too low to sustain good health. His statements, he said, were based on the fact that there have been no “controlled studies” or in other words, nothing has been proven and/or published regarding the effects of supplements.

In my mind what he is really saying is no pharmaceutical company has done any million dollar research to prove that CoQ10 is effective or to prove that mixed tocopherols are good for your heart. He basically dismissed glucosamine but I know from personal experience that my aged standard poodle went from not being able to walk upstairs easily to bouncing up them after a week on glucosamine. It is true it doesn’t work that way for everyone but proof is in the experience and my experience was positive. I ask you the reader why in the world would any pharmaceutical company ever spend a penny on research of a supplement that they cannot put a patent on? They never have, they never will and that my dear reader you can count on.

Sorry about the rant but I find myself shaking my head with disbelief when a person is interviewed as “an expert”. Many will read his words and dismiss the possibility that taking a simple supplement like CoQ10 could help their cardiovascular health or reduce inflammation in their bodies which more than anything else is what causes dis-ease. Wouldn’t a more realistic way to test supplementation and its effects be to test your blood and see how your CRP is, your A1C, your uric acid levels? If you take supplements like CoQ10 test your blood and see if it is working and please, please, don’t listen to just one person, doctor or not, who may just be chattel of the pharmaceutical companies.

I shall move on dear reader but will generally stay on the subject of supplements and particularly antioxidants and the good they may do (note I said “may” as there are no controlled studies). I recently read an interesting email from Dr. Al  Sears on the subject of Tyrosol. He titled his article “She Had Only One Wrinkle”. He told the story of Jean Calment a woman who lived to at least 120 and laughingly told reporters on her 120th birthday “I have only one wrinkle… and I am sitting on it.”  I’m not sure I have ever referred to my bum as a wrinkle but whatever you want to call it no wrinkles at 120 is pretty remarkable and that got my attention.

It seems that Jean Calment regularly slathered her food with olive oil and even used it on her skin. What does olive oil contain? It seems the secret is Tyrosol, a powerhouse anti-aging ingredient. It can quite literally shut down the aging in your cells and turn on a group of longevity genes called “forkhead box” genes, or FOXOS. FOXO genes are capable of directly increasing amounts of the body’s “master antioxidant,” superdismutase (SOD).  Tyrosol is twice as effective as CoQ10 at getting rid of free radicals and ten times as effective as green tea.

Whether your bottom is your only wrinkle or not or perhaps you just have a desire to be able to say that at the ripe old age of 120 there are easy ways to increase your intake of Tyrosol. First, you can drink more white wine. Yes, you read that right, not red but white. Apparently, the size of the various antioxidant molecules in white wine are smaller and thus higher in Tyrosol.

Second, increase your intake of olive oil. I have also been using it on my skin and that seems to work well  as it soaks in nicely and leaves only a light sheen visible. I think the only warning I would have about olive oil is you have to be very careful to keep it cool and doubly sure not to expose it to too much light as it will oxidize rapidly. You should never fry food  at high temperatures in olive oil but save it for your salads or bruschetta (toast bread lightly, rub a clove of garlic over hot toasted bread and pour a generous amount of fresh olive oil over. Buon appetito!).

Thirdly, you can take tyrosol as a supplement. I found this one difficult to find as Dr. Sears recommends taking it on its own as a tincture or pill. If you like tinctures because of their digestibility he also recommended a tincture that is at least 10% tyrosol (1 part extract to 9 parts suspension fluid). I looked for some time before I left on vacation and could find no such thing. If taken in pill form make sure it has an enteric coating as that will keep it from being broken down too soon by stomach acid. He recommended 300mg each day but you can take as much as 1200 mg per day.

I will try again to find Tyrosol in supplement form but for my money white wine sounds a tasty way to keep wrinkles at bay and there is nothing better than olive oil that has been newly opened and poured on fresh baby greens. I have to agree with one part of what Dr. Fairman (of the above published interview) said, eating your nutrients just seems so much more natural. You can bet your bottom that Jean Calment didn’t take Tyrosol supplements, tinctures or pills. The problem for us in the modern world is food generally lacks the nutrients that Jean grew up ingesting. Our soil is depleted and most fruit and vegetables are heavily sprayed and artificially fertilized, so despite Jean’s experience and Dan’s words we may, in fact, need supplementation for a healthy body.

Here’s to sitting on your only wrinkle at age 120!

’til next week,

Kris

Looking down on the Camas Prairie near Sun Valley, Idaho