Archive for the ‘Bio-identical hormones’ Category

Good News for Bone Health

I have just returned from a relaxing and rejuvenating holiday along the coast of Oregon. It always feels good to get back home but I find the sea feeds my emotionally needy soul and leaving the vast water behind is akin to leaving a small part of me behind. Fear not, I shall recover that small but important entity on my next visit to the ocean.

Inbox: BioBalance Report

While I was away my trusty computer was along and I easily kept track of emails and the latest news when our internet connection would allow such vacation interruptions. One piece of mail that arrived was most welcome- my December NTx results.

That piece of mail had the potential to be most unwelcome but upon opening the email I found, to my great relief, that my NTx results showed remarkable improvement from the results I had in November 2010. The improvement in my results made me think that perhaps many of my female readers and especially my fellow thyroid people might not know about the NTx test and now I could provide some valuable insight.

Online Links to Articles About NTx Testing

If you want to know more details about the NTx test I have listed two sites that explain the test and why you might want to have it done:

http://www.betterbones.com/bonehealth/bonebreakdowntests.aspx

http://www.womentowomen.com/understandyourbody/tests/ntxforbones.aspx

Very unscientifically put the NTx test measures the N-Telopeptides in your urine which shows your bone loss on a daily basis. I now have had four NTx tests and have some insight of my own, so we can compare the results and I can share my insight with you my readers.

Past NTx Test Results

My first NTx test was in October 2008. At that time my bone loss was elevated as was shown by a result of  53nM BCE (bone collagen equivalent). Six months before the test I had begun taking bio-identical hormones (E1, E2 compounded cream and Progesterone) as suggested by Dr. Robert Bruley to halt bone loss. I was also taking compounded T4 with some additional T3 for my thyroid.

Then in November 2009, approximately a year later I performed another NTx test and my results were still elevated at 51.53 nM BCE. At that time I was taking Armour (60 mg dose) plus E1 and E2 cream and oral Progesterone.

In November 2010 I took the NTx test again and my results were  shockingly high at 219.37 / 187.97 nM BCE (urine collected at 5:30 and 6 am). Normal readings should be <38. Elevated readings are considered to be in the range of 38-60 and anything over 60 is considered to be a high rate of bone loss on a daily basis. My T3 dose at that time was 87.5 mcg, I was using E1 and E2 and Testosterone creams, plus oral progesterone and I was headed for trouble.

2011 NTx Test Results

You might now understand the trepidation with which I looked at my recent December 2011 results. In 2010, I had the feeling that the extremely high rate of bone loss was due to my thyroid treatment at the time but I didn’t know for sure. Now with the results of my most recent test in hand I knew I had been correct.

With great relief I read my results: 32.93nM BCE (remember anything less than 38 is considered normal for a pre-menopausal female). Hurrah! A normal test result, perhaps I am more in balance than even I thought I was. This time I was on a dose of 50 mcg of T3 and taking Estradiol 2-4 mg per day and the oral Progesterone 200 mg every day.

What Happened in 2010?

What was happening in November 2010? I was in the throes of adjusting to T3- only (7 months after switching to T3) and was on a dose that was too high for my body to handle. I was actually in a hyperthyroid state (due to T3 pooling instead of being used) and it is known that people with hyperthyroidism have a high rate of bone loss and a subsequent risk of fracture.

My T3 journey has been the topic of so many of my blog postings I will not go in to detail here (you can search for my blogs on hypothyroidism by typing “hypothyroid” in to the search box and at the end of each page of listings you will find “older entries” for even more). Suffice it to say that at the time I was trying to dose according to basal temperatures. Despite being on a dose of T3 that was causing rapid bone loss my temperatures never did show a normal reading or if they did they would spike and then the next day be low again (a sure sign of too much T3 causing adrenal stress).

Kris Insight

NTx testing can show you your daily bone loss and help you tweak your diet and exercise to maximize bone formation. The following is my to-do list to get you started:

  • Normalize your thyroid and sex hormones as quickly and naturally as possible.
  •  Limit sugary foods including most fruit. Eat foods high in Magnesium and K2 (dark green vegetables). If you tolerate dairy, you can add raw milk and raw milk products like kefir, yogurt, butter and cheese for your calcium.
  •  Optimize your Vitamin D levels preferably by exposing your skin to midday sun for 20 minutes or using a safe tanning option. If you live above the equator, especially at 45 degrees as I do, sun exposure is only useful from May-September. Mercola.com sells a safe tanning system and I use the Sunsplash Renew.
  • Adding supplements like magnesium, (Mark Sircus would say magnesium chloride transdermally as well as orally) K2, and Strontium will also help.
  •  Weight bearing exercise is known to cause the formation of bone and thus is of vital importance. Biking and swimming while useful exercise do not help build bone as there is no weight bearing on your limbs. You need to lift weights (the ligaments pull on the bone), run and/or walk. Sadly being overweight actually helps build bone but the risks of being obese are too great to justify it for load bearing reasons.
  • Order an NTx test here if your doctor doesn’t know about it.

To your good bone health,

Kris

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December Thyroid News:The Hypothyroid Heartbeat

It is trite I know but I will say it anyway, I simply cannot believe how time passes us by. One day you are 10 without a care in the world and the next you are 57 with all the cares of the world on your shoulders. Being  a person with autoimmune dis-ease does not make it simpler but there are few if any dull moments and you constantly learn something new and unusual. With that in mind I thought an update on my thyroid health would be timely.

On Sleeping on Your Left Side

Many of my readers and fellow hypo’s will know that my hallmark of thyroid health is being able to lie on my left side and without further ado let me say, I am sleeping on my left side. Not all the time but when my right side is sore from use I can turn to my left side and even if I hear my heart beat it is not irregular and it is not pounding. Just for the sake of feeding my thyroid health superstitions I will add that it is not consistent, there are times when my heartbeat blips or pounds (read below for other reasons) but for the most part I can turn to my left side and fall back in to a relaxing, rejuvenating sleep without any particular upset.

A Brief on the Hypo’s Heartbeat

The above statement may be hard to comprehend if you have never experienced the hypothyroid heartbeat, so let me briefly tell you. When your thyroid is not producing enough thyroid hormone to adequately feed the needs of your body your body produces unnatural amounts of adrenaline to compensate. This over compensation by your adrenal glands, in my opinion, not only causes adrenal fatigue it affects your heartbeat causing palpitations. This often ends with  you sitting in a cardiologist’s office, then being put through a myriad of tests only to be prescribed this and that medication and still suffering the palpitations.

Bear in mind, we “hypos” aren’t used to a normal heartbeat because our hearts often beat too slowly and too softly to be heard, so as we start medicating our thyroids adequately, either with a doctor’s assistance or on our own,  we suddenly hear a pounding heartbeat if we lay on our left side in particular. Add to this “pounding” (but probably normal) heartbeat any kind of irregularity and you have a person who never sleeps on their left side. Never, that is, when they are under-treated or incorrectly treated for thyroid resistance.

Life Changes

I hate to go so far as to say I live in fear of the irregular heartbeat but I have blogged on this subject ad nauseum, so I must dread it. A few weeks ago I found myself at my computer at midnight with a heartbeat in excess of 100 bpm. This always leads to researching online, first to my groups and then to other online comments or studies. This particular knowledge gleaning moment led me to a conclusion that was the end of my world as I knew it, after reading  a hundred entries or so on many different forums I realized what the problem was. I needed to cease my evening tipple.

Yes, you read that right and it pains me to say because I love my traditions (not addictions because I can give them up without bad side effects) many of which I learned while living in Europe, a time that is full of pleasant memories and custom. I love my English “tea ceremony” every morning and I thoroughly enjoyed two glasses of wine in the evening. What I didn’t realize is that my adrenal fatigue had reared its ugly head and adrenal fatigue and alcohol do not mix.

If you have adrenal fatigue alcohol acts as a stimulant akin to having caffeinated coffee or perhaps even Ephedra or other like stimulants (I have never taken Ephedra but I have read about its effects). I knew those were stimulants to avoid just like the nerve racking television which I avoid after 8 p.m. because the lights and noise stimulate me like a cup of coffee or worse.

What I didn’t seem to associate with my sleeplessness and racing heartbeat was the wine before supper that “relaxed” me. Seriously, how could it be a stimulant? It is specifically supposed to help me relax. I felt betrayed (not really) but clearly I needed to stop that long standing custom, so I did. If someone would have told me that putting that particularly bad nightmare scenario to bed was this simple I would have been all over it ages ago.

I know, I know, I can hear all the health conscious folks reading my soliloquy asking with wonder “Doesn’t she know alcohol is bad for her?” Mercola and many others preach and preach on the evils of alcohol but honestly I still don’t think a glass of wine is going to kill you but there is a time and place and I am not in either at the moment.

In Conclusion

With that admission behind me I feel like my shoulders are less rounded as if a weight has been lifted from them. I have to say that other than a few niggling issues I have been exceptionally well. I am still taking 50 mcg of T3 which results in normal energy and slightly below normal basal temperatures. I have recently started taking Ashwaghanda again and I added 5-HTP to my repertoire of supplements to elevate my moods slightly and help me sleep even better.

There are things that still need attention and the one that plagues me at the moment is my dry eyes and mouth. It could be Sjogren’s as that often accompanies Hashimoto’s Disease but I have never had that diagnosis, so my quest for an answer to that problem continues. If you have successfully treated this issue please share your experience by leaving a comment.

I conclude that with almost everything in my life I have come to expect the unexpected and I glean from all I experience what I can. I am fascinated by the stories of the world and the challenges we all face. If you come across this blog while on your own midnight quest for knowledge I hope you find it comforting that you are not alone. We are truly in this together and we share the weight of the world’s health issues on collective shoulders.

To your good health,

Kris

Paradoxical Progesterone

Human as defined in one paragraph by Dictionary.com is “of, pertaining to, or having the nature of people: human frailty”. I can relate to that definition especially “human frailty” more days than I care to even acknowledge but when you take on “Heal Thyself” as your badge of identity you face those days with a sense of purpose.

There have been many of those frail human moments in the past few years since I took on my foe, Hashimoto’s Dis-ease. Why? You ask. Because to “heal thyself” is often a daunting task and you need lots of support from the medical community, friends and even strangers who become friends through one commonality: human frailty. Mine just happens to be a thyroid that resists normal treatment and time and again I find myself faced with something new and unusual to find an answer to.

If your thyroid doesn’t run on all pistons at all times it seems like one hormone or another is always in need of tweaking. This past weekend it seemed to be my sex hormones that were slightly wacky but that was not clear from the onset. It was only after some introspective time that the light finally dawned that what I have and did experience might be what Uzzi Reiss describes as a “paradoxical” response to taking bio-identical Progesterone.

The paradox, you see, is that Progesterone is supposed to be a calming hormone, one I often rightly or wrongly liken to Melatonin, but in some human females it can react in quite the opposite way leaving you feeling quite stimulated. If Uzzi Reiss is correct, and I have no reason to doubt him, in some women who take Progesterone with bio-identical Estrogens the Progesterone actually affects the way your body absorbs and utilizes the Estrogen.

Youthful Aging Center has this to say about progesterone it “is the balancing act for all of the estrogens within the body. It is also very important for normal reproduction and for menstrual function. Bioequivalent progesterone influences the health of your bones, blood vessels, heart, brain, skin, and many other tissues and organs.

As a precursor, progesterone is used by the body to make all of the other steroid hormones, including DHEA, cortisol, estrogen, and testosterone. In addition, progesterone plays an important role in mood, blood sugar balance, libido and thyroid function, as well as in the health of your adrenal glands.”

Yes, progesterone is vital to the female body and our bodies need it to run efficiently and to avoid the pitfalls of the aging process BUT if you experience the paradoxically stimulating effects of progesterone it is most disturbing and perplexing. It is possible, no it is probable that balancing all your hormones may be necessary before you can successfully add progesterone, yet progesterone is often the first thing doctors prescribe even before testing your progesterone levels.

I think, based on personal experience and clinical studies, there truly are three paradoxical reactions to progesterone and three different reasons. Paradox #1 may be due to progesterone’s affect on your cortisol levels. Apparently the progesterone can convert to cortisol and if you already have high cortisol it is going to make things worse. Or you might  experience hot flashes and some depression, we will call this Paradox #2. It is due to the down regulation or overloading of estrogen receptor sites. Another negative reaction to progesterone when you aren’t used to it might be an increase in your appetite and subsequent weight gain, there you have it, Paradox #3.

If you suffer from the second paradoxical response this could be due to low estrogen levels. If you are menopausal and your doctor has foolishly put you on a low dose of  BHRT (aka E1 and E2) taking progesterone will clog the estrogen receptor sites and now with your low dose of estrogen you will have hot flashes like you haven’t had in years.

Take it from me it has happened. If your levels of E1(Estrone), E2 (Estradiol), and E3 (Estrone) are not correct optimizing your estrogen levels especially E1 and E2  may take care of the paradox and allow your body to react correctly to Progesterone.

I also believe I have experienced Paradox #1. I have challenged adrenals according to my ZRT saliva cortisol tests I have taken twice in the past year. I am not in full blown adrenal fatigue (not yet anyway) but I can see that my cortisol levels are affected negatively by any progesterone intake. So dramatic is this effect that I see a rise in my temperatures, both basal and daytime, within a day of progesterone intake or using it on my skin.

The temperatures are a remarkable indication of its power but the paradoxical effect is worse. I will awaken around midnight (but sometimes 3 or 4) with a racing heart. This is usually precipitated by a vivid and disturbing dream and when I awaken I am hot and sweaty and have a distinct need to get up.

At that point I have no choice but to lumber out to my cold (we turn the heat down to 55 at night) and dark kitchen and prepare my special elixir, filtered water and a full teaspoon of sea salt. It is the only thing that will calm my racing heart and thankfully it works every time. (I have this love/hate relationship with salted water. I need it but I hate it and I am tired of my unquenchable need for it but  that is off the topic.) The elixir cures what ails me but, more to the point, the entire episode is likely caused by an adrenaline surge because the progesterone is converting to cortisol and my nighttime cortisol is already high.

Dr. Reiss suggests a way to possibly cope with the paradox until you get everything in equilibrium. Apparently we absorb far less progesterone through the skin, so he suggests applying progesterone to the breasts, so that they get the benefit of progesterone. His dosing schedule is a bit difficult to decipher, so it might be better if you either worked with a knowledgeable physician (good luck with that one) or experimented on your own.

The answer to all three reactions is to either reduce or discontinue your intake of progesterone until things are in balance. If you need to lower your progesterone dosage trying an over the counter (OTC) cream might be just the trick.I have tried the Emerita brand because it has no parabens and other ingredients that I abhor. Also NOW brand has a fairly natural list of ingredients and they are both USP progesterone creams which are the only effective progesterone creams sold over the counter.

There are interesting discussions about the paradoxical effects of progesterone on several websites and I find the sharing of knowledge encouraging. You see it is only with the discussion that we learn, if we close ourselves off to the experiences of others we lose a very important resource. Some find the sharing of knowledge threatening, I find it invigorating and edifying.

I cannot tell you many times something has happened to me that seems totally out of the parameters of the “norm”. My reaction is to start researching and with that I find there are many souls like me out there. I hope if you glean nothing else from your time on KrisInsight you will find one morsel of tantalizing information that you never considered before. You don’t have to agree but if it sparks a thought that will make my day.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and see you next Monday,

Kris

8 Steps To Healthier Breasts

Wearing the Black

At my house I have declared November Breast Cancer Prevention month. I will wear black for two reasons. One I like the color and it makes me feel good. Two, I will wear black in memory of those who have died of breast cancer and/or been affected by breast cancer. I would say in memory of those who “took the Komen cure” and died but that just adds more controversy to an already debatable subject.

I will wear black in honor of  those brave people who have fought the good fight, followed their doctor’s advice and died, not of breast cancer mind you, but bone and brain cancers. People like my sister-in-law, Janet Ewald Carver, who died at age 40 in the 1980’s  leaving behind a grieving husband and three young children.

Can you tell I have had it with the Komen foundation and all their pink sponsors? Well in case you didn’t catch that drift, I am. All these good people, dressed in a Pepto-Bismol pink outfits walking their very sincere and well meaning hearts out, but for what? To raise money for an organization that is known to spend most of the money on anything but research. In the name of “curing” breast cancer the American Cancer Society and organizations like the Susan G. Komen Foundation have teamed up and successfully convinced the public that it is all for the victims of this horrific disease.

Recently my spousal unit  found himself trapped on a Delta flight from Albuquerque, NM. I say trapped because there was an overzealous flight attendant who said she was going to keep going up and down the aisles soliciting for donations until she had raised $300 for the Susan G. Komen Foundation. Apparently she was doing this on every one of her flights and had met her goal every time. Are you kidding me?

I am repelled by the very idea that some person, be they man or woman, could hold a plane load of innocent folks hostage and it brings out the rebel in me. I am done with the Pink, so here is my idea for those who fear breast cancer and want to help. First take charge of our own health and then spread the word, and the word is prevention. Cure implies that you have to get it first and then “they” will supply you with the cure. In the name of prevention you really must wear anything but pink, wear black, purple, orange just not Pepto-Bismol Pink (she says knowing she just bought a pink top, oh well, I’m not wearing it this month).

I contend that the proliferation of cells in the breast may be happening all the time and most of them can be healed in their early stages and the chemo and radiation that “treat” breast cancers  prevented all together. With an healthy immune system we can prevent further proliferation of cells.

To that end,  I have developed an 8 step program. The way and means to prevention are not only plentiful but so simple that no one will have to walk or hold plane loads of people hostage to raise money. There will be no reason to raise millions of dollars just  to pay for high powered executives who ride around in limousines, live in New York City in penthouse apartments with views of Central Park and frequent various soirees and celebrations in the name of raising monies for “the cure”.

My autumn trail

Step One, Smile

First find something to smile about every single day, maybe something that actually makes you laugh. Walking around my property makes me happy and while I don’ t laugh I smile a lot. My dogs make me smile (they also make me frown but for the moment I am smiling). My grandson makes me smile so much my face hurts. My spousal unit make me smile. You get the idea.

Step Two, Take Off That Bra

Second, go braless whenever you can. Allowing the girls to bounce and move helps the lymph move and stagnant lymph is a recipe for disease. Honestly, I know you can’t let them hang to your waist but let them bounce and move, don’t capture them in cloth, bind them with metal and basically stop all the natural “all systems go” kind of thing that they were designed to do. Another good lymph mover activity is to brush your skin as taught by Teresa Tapp. Last but not least, what could be more fun than jumping on a rebounder? Do it every day to move the lymph and just for the joy of it.

Step Three: Strong Immune System

Keep your immune system fighting fit. This means getting restorative sleep every night. Sleep in a dark room free of televisions, cell phones, etc. Avoid poisons in your food like milk and other dairy products from hormone fed cows. Take probiotics and/or include fermented foods like kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi in your diet every day. A healthy gut equals a strong immune system.

Step Four: Take Vital Supplements

Supplements. Yup that’s right take supplements which flies in the face of the totally irresponsibly reported news story that was splashed across the telly screen one recent evening. It was based on a bad research project where 40,000 women were sent a questionnaire but there was no background information required, so we don’t know how ill these women were when they filled out the form much less their lifestyle.

Supplements can help you fight cancerous growth of cells in your breast tissue. Ann Louise Gittleman recommended that women take 300 mg of Ubiquinol (the fast absorbing form of CoQ10 for women over 40) per day. At my recent appointment Dr. Bruley recommended that I take Triple Action Cruciferous Vegetable Extract by Life Extension (DIM is much the same).  It has all the benefits of cruciferous veggies without harming our thyroid health as goitrogens can do. Omega 3 fish oil and/or krill oil is showing remarkable benefit for women and one of them is as part of a program to prevent breast cancer. 2000 mg a day is best for inflammation and inflammation is one reason why cancer cells get a foothold.

Last but not least  take Vitamin D3, 2000-5000 mg per day and get your levels tested. You need to make sure your Vitamin D levels are at least 60 ngs/ml (higher if you have an autoimmune disease). Personally, I use the Sunsplash Renew sold at Mercola.com. It is more expensive than taking a supplement but very effective.

Step Five: Exercise

Take your bra off and walk, run, use your rebounder. Teresa Tapp has some great exercises using your arms that clean the lymph in your neck and underarms. Check her Lady Bug workout, it is specifically designed for menopause and those going through hormone changes but it is great exercise for anyone.

Step Six: Control Your Weight

There is no concrete proof that obesity causes cancer but obesity puts your body at risk for all sorts of illnesses and no one would say it is healthy. If you are overweight try to lose the extra pounds.

Step Seven: Don’t Eat or Wear Chemicals

Check your cosmetics, if they have chemicals in them you can hardly pronounce throw them out. Your skin is your largest organ and clogging it with chemicals is a recipe for illness and cancer. Stop using anti-perspirants that stop natural perspiration. We perspire for a good reason and disrupting natural ways for the body to get rid of waste is like asking for problems. The odor of perspiration is from bacteria that forms under your arms. You can counteract some of it by using a light dusting of aluminum-free baking soda, or taking chlorophyll tablets or interestingly making sure your magnesium levels are optimum.

Step Eight: Balance Your Hormones

Last and most controversial is the balancing of hormones. Hormones include thyroid hormones as well as sex hormones and as all my readers know if your thyroid is not working properly your body is not working properly and that makes it vulnerable to dis-ease.

Taking bio-identical hormones is probably one of the most controversial subjects around and I find most people don’t want to talk about it. The more I read the more I believe females and males alike should balance their sex hormones and breast cancer prevention is only one of many good reasons to take BHRT. The more you know the better the choices you can make. In the past I have recommended books by Suzanne Somers and Breakthrough is a great source of up to date information on bio-identical hormone replacement (BHRT). Having read all that Suzanne has to say I am currently reading a book by Dr. Jonathon Wright Stay Young and Sexy, so there are a number of well written books to help you educate yourself.

In Conclusion

There you have it my 8 Step Program to Breast Health. You will agree with a step or two, disagree with a few more but what I know is there will be almost as much success following these 8 steps to Breast Health as anything the American Cancer Society and the Susan G. Komen Foundation can come up with to cure the proliferation of wildly growing cells in places you never wanted them.

See you next week for an update on this week’s ultrasound,

Kris

When a Little of This Leads to More of That

In researching last week’s blog on progesterone I happened across a headline that read something like “Estrogen Dominance Leads to Increase of Gallstone Formation”. It would normally go totally unnoticed if not for the fact that for several years now I have experienced a feeling of fullness in my upper right quadrant at times and occasionally a sharp pain under my right shoulder blade in my back.

The aforementioned symptoms are all signs of gall bladder issues and I am always looking for a non-surgical solution to the problem. Personally I have no desire to lose another organ after losing my appendix in 1987. But what amazed me the most was the fact that this pain associated with what ostensibly has to be gall bladder attacks has increased in the last few years since I started using bio-identical hormones, specifically E1 and E2 and it was only with reading the headline that it dawned on me that my increased levels of estrogen may be part and parcel of the problem.

After digesting that particular bit of news, I started to aggregate more information from various sites to see if, in fact, with higher estrogen levels your chances of gall bladder attack increased. There may very well have been a “Duh” moment when, after hours of research, I remembered what our esteemed medical professionals always sited as the the 3F’s of gall bladder disease, fat, fertile and forty all things that also occur at a time of your life when your estrogen levels are what? At their highest.

I am not going to report all the facts and figures of every study I found nor can I verify the facts and figures of the studies I read. I also have drawn no conclusions, so this is a work in progress. I can report that whether you look at holistic sites or conventional medical sites like The Mayo Clinic estrogen dominance is always mentioned as a possible exacerbating factor in what amounts to decreased function of the gall bladder and liver.

The why of this is simple, increased estrogen can increase cholesterol in the bile and lessen gallbladder movement, increasing the risk of gallstones. If you, like me, already have a low functioning gall bladder due to hypothyroidism even a slight increase in estrogen may increase your chances of gallstones and gall bladder attack.

Okay I said I hadn’t gone in any one direction but perhaps I have come to one minor fork in the road. I am seriously considering the cessation of my bio-identical hormones. This is not an easy decision and it is not a decision that is in concrete. I firmly believe that women’s bodies are healthier with hormones than without (after reading countless books on the subject). That said, if you are a woman with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, you need to know that increasing your estrogen levels may also increase your chances of developing gallstones? Especially if you can answer nearly all the questions on this  Do you have gall bladder dysfunction? questionnaire with a “yes” or “maybe”.

The good news is some symptoms can be controlled with diet and exercise and following many of the suggestions on Deb Graefer’s site  has made a difference for this perplexed menopausal woman. I decided, if I do nothing else, to make an appointment with a homeopath/MD and my appointment is at the end of August. She feels she can balance my hormones with homeopathy and I hope she can assist me in what, at the moment,  seems like somewhat vain efforts to save my gall bladder.

If you have any wisdom or a personal experience to share on this subject, please feel free to comment. I know, and you know, if I reach any conclusion on this little matter of cholesterol/bilirubin stones congregating where they don’t belong, I will let you know, as they say, yesterday.

Until next week,

Kris

Progesterone Pimples

Zee Zit

Not long ago I blogged on the subject of “Zapping Zits” which initiated a fair amount of conversation both on Facebook and between Chloe (my research friend) and me. In talking about our shared affliction and our cures we discovered that we both take quite high doses of bio-identical progesterone (not progestin) for about 16 days per month. Chloe had noticed that her outbreaks of spots were occurring pretty regularly on the days she took progesterone. That made me think about the timing of my issues and I realized that I was getting “zee zits” at that time as well. At the risk of reader boredom I decided to do a little research in regard to bio-identical progesterone and your skin to see if we were on to something.

First some basic information. What does progesterone do in a woman’s body? Progesterone (essentially translating to “pro” gestational state) is essential for preparing and maintaining the uterine lining for a successful pregnancy. If fertilization does not occur and the egg does not implant, progesterone levels begin to fall, assuming a “regular” cycle, menstrual flow begins at day 28. Progesterone is made in the adrenal glands and has qualities of both androgens and estrogen. In the best scenario, natural progesterone competes with androgens, particularly when estrogen levels drop at ovulation, helping prevent androgens from exerting their effects upon the skin.

Why should a female worry about taking progesterone at all, especially if it is going to mar your face and cause you irritation every month? There are a variety of very good reasons. Progesterone in the body has multiple functions:

  • Prepare the endometrium for implantation of the fertilized ovum
  • Insure survival of the fetus in the uterus
  • Prevent water retention
  • Help use fat for energy at the cellular level
  • Serve as a natural anti-depressant
  • Create a calming effect on the body
  • Help eliminate sleep disorders
  • Help keep insulin release in check and maintain even blood sugar levels
  • Prevent overgrowth of the endometrium
  • Prevent breast tissue overgrowth
  • Maintain sex drive
  • Maintain normal blood clotting parameters
  • Protect against fibrocystic breasts

Now that the basics of progesterone have been covered we can set about to answer the question: Why do some women who take progesterone have trouble with spots and some don’t?  There appear to be several possibilities.

Some researchers pointed out that weak eliminative organs – such as the liver, kidneys and the intestines can cause skin problems like acne. The skin being an eliminative organ, if the liver is not performing at its peak, and if the kidneys and intestines aren’t either, then a lot of the elimination will have to take place through the skin …and when that happens, acne, rashes, and other skin conditions appear. So if your liver isn’t at its best you will eliminate toxins through your skin.

If you think your low functioning liver is exacerbating your hormonal skin issues cleansing your eliminative organs is recommended. Jon Barron provides an entire pharmacopia for challenged livers in his kit of organ cleanses (I like Jon Barron’s approach and the quality of his products although I have never tried this particular kit). You could also take herbs like milk thistle and dandelion root on a daily basis to support your liver. If you have actual acne, supporting and cleansing your liver may be called for especially if you regularly take products like Advil and Tylenol or drink soda and alcohol daily.

If a clogged liver plus progesterone has the possible effect of causing acne and rashes, what if what you are experiencing is just one or two spots that recur monthly? That is not acne, it is more likely a simple pimple, zit, spot, whatever name you choose. As I stated previously, some experts say that bio-identical progesterone can have an androgenic effect on a woman’s body and cause an over-secretion of oil. Researchers also point out that progesterone naturally causes some fluid retention which may cause the pores to swell and close up and voila! You have zee zit.

I also found several articles from a more holistic approach stating that bio-identical progesterone causes a kind of cleansing within the body as it is closely associated with a woman’s menses. This cleansing causes toxins to escape via the body’s largest organ, the skin. While for some women progesterone causes a zit or two some women report that spots will clear up when they apply natural progesterone cream to the inflamed area.

In the end I conclude that it is entirely possible that when a person  is suffering from the occasional spot on their mug   it could very well be due to their fluctuating progesterone levels. I suggest taking a holistic approach to the problem. Clean up your diet. Keep your skin free of petroleum products and unnecessary chemicals. Try some of the natural remedies suggested in “Zapping Zits“.

This is a certainty: maintaining optimal progesterone levels is essential. When next the dreaded spot erupts you can rest easy knowing that when the new moon appears and progesterone levels decrease your zits may be zapped naturally.

Until next week,

Kris

Almost Nirvana and Other Madness

This week’s blog is for my fellow thyroid sufferers and other “spoonies”. A thyroid friend contacted me the other day and asked how I was doing (Hi Olivia) that got me to thinking that I hadn’t reported recently on the status of my health. There isn’t really anything earth shattering to report, nothing fabulous or horrific but I feel after a year on T3 only, and hitting more than a few bumps in the road, things are nearly there, almost nirvana (but superstition keeps me from saying anything more).

I will do a quick rundown of the past year for those who might be unfamiliar. I have had hypothyroidism for 15 years give or take a year. In those years my dose of Syn-crap was constantly inadequate and being increased every time I had my blood drawn. I found a good doctor who would let me try Armour in 2010 but after about a year on Armour I was still having problems with an irregular heartbeat that began three years prior to trying Armour (things started out quite well on Armour but then Forest Pharmaceuticals changed the formulation and the irregularity came back with a vengeance).

I decided to go the “T3 only” route in April 2010 after reading Stop the Thyroid Madness by Janie Bowthorpe and investigating various health forums that she introduced to my world. I had been battling this irregularity for more than three years now and despite what my doctor was telling me (you need to see a cardiologist) I knew  my heart was reacting to something akin to an improper release of adrenaline and that had to be caused by one thing, my improperly treated thyroid. I fit the description of a person with a Reverse T3 issue, basically an inability to get enough T3 to the thyroid receptors because they are blocked by T4. If the receptors are blocked by T4 the T4 is not converted to T3 as it needs to be for the thyroid to use it, so you are always under treated and have a resistance to any thyroid medication that has T4 in it.

Around this time last year, that is July Fourth and approximately 3 months on T3 only, I suddenly started having panic attacks, inability to sleep through the night, a feeling of not being able to swallow, diarrhea and a basal temperature of 98.2 -98.4. My daytime average wasn’t that high and other factors led many with whom I consulted to feel I was suffering intolerance. Adrenal fatigue can lead to intolerance issues, so I tested my adrenal health. The tests showed challenged adrenals, not full blown adrenal fatigue but low normal results especially midday, so I did try Isocort and then hydrocortisone but by and large those made me feel worse. [In retrospect, thanks to many talks with Nanci, I have concluded that my adrenals were weak but should never have been treated with anything containing hydrocortisone but hindsight is 20/20 as they say].

I “cleared” in July and had to drop my dose from 125 mcg to 68.75 mcg. I stayed on the Isocort (taking it like this 3-3-2-1) and gradually increased my dose of Cynomel according to my temperatures. Increasing according to my temperatures meant that I actually increased too much and too fast and eventually developed a bothersome tremor in my hands. It was so pronounced that it made my job (dental hygienist) difficult but the good news is I never had to quit working despite what I would call the rigors of clearing T4 from my receptors.

Last autumn was actually pretty miserable as I diligently climbed my way back to taking  125 mcg of T3. I was constantly taking my temperature three times a day and finding it sub normal over all, sometimes even my basal temperature was below 97.6, so I would up the dose despite the tremor and sleepless nights. Things weren’t great, I didn’t feel “normal”, my temperatures weren’t “normal” and I was getting discouraged.

Christmas was the nadir of my T3 only treatment. I had increased and decreased and now I was taking 118.75 mcg. It was Christmas Day and we were in Bayfield, Wisconsin with family an activity that usually brings me joy. That weekend I hardly slept, my heart was racing constantly. Basically, I was miserable, so I decreased again despite my temperatures  (which still weren’t normal) to 112.50 mcg. Nothing improved, nothing.

To make this now long introduction a little  shorter, after talking online for months with several helpful “thyroid friends” (to whom I am most grateful) this last winter, in February, I decreased dramatically to 50 mcg of T3. Miracles of miracles, almost overnight all of my objectionable symptoms disappeared, my temps didn’t come up but I finally felt human again after months of, gosh I hate to be dramatic, torture. I honestly couldn’t believe what a difference it made. I could go upstairs without feeling breathless, I was sleeping the sleep of normal people, my thinking was clear, my tremor completely disappeared and miracle of miracles my irregular heartbeat was better than it had been in years.

Enter Kris today. I am enjoying summer in Minnesota (yes, it finally has arrived), my new grandson and relatives visiting for the Fourth of July. I am still taking 50 mcg of T3 spread out in four equal doses the last one being as I turn the light out at bedtime. My daily average temperature is sub-par but my basal is within normal limits (97.8) and as long as I feel “human” I am sticking to 50 mcg of T3.

I know my current regimen flies in the face of everything my gurus on the RT3 site recommend but my heart is as regular as it has been in years and the other night I actually found myself sleeping on my left side. That is a significant event only for those of us who have experienced the sound of a pounding irregular heartbeat. When you lay on your left side the sounds of your heartbeat are magnified and, needless to say, unbearable when those beats are irregular. When I awoke sleeping on my left side I knew I had passed a milestone in my treatment.

I have my daily supportive routines like taking at least 1/2 teaspoon of Celtic Sea Salt every day, twice a day. I take one Thorne B #12, Thorne folocal if I take additional B12, Krill oil, antioxidants with 2000 mg of Vitamin C, and Bio-Astaxanthin every day. Other days I might add Vitamin D3, Vitamin A, Zinc Picolinate Plus, Super K, Chlorella and Spirulina.

Three times a week I put a scoop of  Boku Superfood in my morning smoothie which consists of some form of protein powder (SunWarrior or Mercola’s Whey). I am currently not following a gluten free diet but my carb intake is very low during the week and only on the weekend do I eat more carbs. I guess you could call it carb loading for a day or two which is sometimes recommended by exercise coaches.

All in all, I feel my health this summer is far better than last summer. My blood test panel showed improvements but certainly not perfection. My hormones are all low but my SHBG was very high, so that is the explanation for the low levels of my sex hormones. I know I need to compensate with higher doses of Estradiol and Progesterone but have yet to find a doctor who is knowledgeable in treating with the Wiley Protocol. My gall bladder still troubles me but that has been ongoing for years and I now understand that a sluggish thyroid lends itself to a sluggish gall bladder, so I take the necessary steps to keep it as healthy as I can. I have a very dry burning mouth at times and my eyes feel dry, so I suspect Sjogren’s but there is no diagnosis of such a thing and with a diagnosis I am not sure anything would change. I use natural lubricant for my eyes and I have very good oral hygiene.

Does my heartbeat still trouble me? Sometimes I can feel it “skip a beat” but instead of panicking I take it in stride and soon things are normal again. It is never precipitated by exercise, so I am not fearful. My blood pressure is nearly perfect if on the low side. My energy is good but I am careful not to overdo as I feel my adrenal health is still compromised (indicated by my low temperatures of 98 degrees most afternoons that I check). My sleep is the best it has been in years and I often don’t wake at all or if I do it is only once and I go right back to sleep.

My wish for all the “thyroid friends” and “Spoonies” who read this is that you, too, can find your peace. Just know that some day you will turn the corner and find your self again. Even if it is fleeting, for that singular moment just enjoy the experience of  being you again.

Happy Fourth of July,

Kris