Legal Blah-blah

Healing approaches mentioned in this blog are for educational purposes only. Suggested supplements, etc. should not be used as replacements for conventional medical treatment without guidance from a licensed and trained medical professional.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Common Sense Health: Introduction

So many people ask me questions about new age type ‘cures’ such as crystals or energy work such as reiki or detoxification regimens for particular problems.  After a while, it gets old because most people have not worked on common sense type things to fix their problems before trying some things that can be kind of ‘out there’.  It’s probably that most people want to just take a pill to take care of their health problem, to have a magic bullet.

Common sense is not a science.  It is more about what ‘everyone’ feels to be true.  There is an interesting article at Wikipedia on common sense:

I’ve been wanting to write about this lack of common sense, that people are not working on the building blocks of health before they use subtler types of cures.  I feel that the building blocks of your health can be determined by the following questions:
    1.    How much sleep are you getting?
    2.    How often do you have a bowel movement?
    3.    How much water are you drinking?
    4.    What types of food are you eating, how often and how much?
    5.    What types of body movement do you do on a regular basis?  
    6.    How is stress affecting your life?
    7.    Do you have good friends you can talk with,  be yourself with?
    8.    Is your spiritual life supporting you the way that you need?

These questions are separated out for focus, but they all interact with each other.  Stress and anxiety may make it difficult to sleep.  If you are not drinking enough water, it can cause constipation.  If you’re not getting enough sleep, you may not want to go exercise.
This being said, I am not saying that things like energy work or homeopathy or crystal healing don’t work, because they often do.  I just think that it is better for your health overall to address the questions above before diving into the fine tuning.

In the interest of not having a Borg cube of text, my next post I’ll write about sleep and sleep optimization and separate the topics out into eight posts.
Questions? Comments?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Treatment options for nuclear radiation exposure

Last Friday was a scary day here on the North Oregon coast.  First we heard about the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, then we had tsunami warnings of our own and evacuation to higher ground.  The evacuation went smoothly and our coast didn’t take much damage.  Stretch and Didi did not like leaving in the car, but it would have been worse if they had been put in back packs and walked to higher ground!
The magnitude 9 earthquake has caused damage to five of Japan’s nuclear reactors.
Reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant began leaking radiation over the weekend, and thousands of people had to be evacuated from their homes. Some 23 people are currently being treated for radiation exposure, which can lead to acute radiation syndrome – or radiation poisoning. The amount of radiation they were exposed to should not be lethal.
Radiation poisoning can occur either when the body is suddenly exposed to high levels of toxic radiation or when it is exposed to lower levels for prolonged periods of time.
Early symptoms of radiation poisoning include nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, which can start within minutes to days of exposure and last for days.  More serious symptoms  of loss of appetite, fatigue, fever, seizures and coma may last for hours or months.
The condition is treated with potassium iodide, the standard treatment for nuclear radiation. If the right dose is taken at the right time it can prevent the radioactive iodine from being absorbed by the thyroid.  
The FDA has approved two different forms of KI—tablets and liquid—that people can take by mouth after a nuclear radiation emergency. Tablets come in two strengths, 130 milligram (mg) and 65 mg. The tablets are scored so they may be cut into smaller pieces for lower doses. Each milliliter (mL) of the oral liquid solution contains 65 mg of KI.

According to the FDA, the following doses are appropriate to take after internal contamination with (or likely internal contamination with) radioactive iodine:

  • Adults should take 130 mg (one 130 mg tablet OR two 65 mg tablets OR two mL of solution).
  • Women who are breastfeeding should take the adult dose of 130 mg.
  • Children between 3 and 18 years of age should take 65 mg (one 65 mg tablet OR 1 mL of solution). Children who are adult size (greater than or equal to 150 pounds) should take the full adult dose, regardless of their age.
  • Infants and children between 1 month and 3 years of age should take 32 mg (½ of a 65 mg tablet OR ½ mL of solution). This dose is for both nursing and non-nursing infants and children.
  • Newborns from birth to 1 month of age should be given 16 mg (¼ of a 65 mg tablet or ¼ mL of solution). This dose is for both nursing and non-nursing newborn infants

Most of this information comes from CDC’s fact sheet on potassium iodide.  See their website for more information.

It is worth noting that potassium iodide only protects the thyroid from exposure and not other parts of the body that radiation can affect, such as the cells lining the intestines and stomach, and in the bone marrow. Moreover, potassium iodide cannot undo damage that has already been done to the thyroid. This is why it is vital to receive treatment as quickly as possible following exposure.  The 130 mg adult dose lasts for 24 hours and should only be taken once unless health officials in your area tell you to continue.
Other natural treatments:  Milk thistle to help protect the liver and  reishi and shitake mushrooms to help protect your immune system may help your body cope with radiation exposure. I don’t really know the mushroom dosage, but milk thistle, 200 mg twice or three times per day will help protect your liver.

The worst case scenario, according to Yahoo News, is that nuclear fallout from damaged Japanese nuclear plants will be limited to Japan.  We should not have to worry about taking potassium iodide on the Oregon coast at this time.  If a larger release of radioactive materials happens, we should have plenty of time to take the protective iodine.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Supporting Your Thyroid

I hate to tell you this, but, by the time thyroid issues show up on blood tests, it may be too late to treat it only nutritionally or with lifestyle changes.  You may be on a thyroid hormone prescription for the rest of your life.
That being said, I am a naturopathic physician and I like to treat the whole person.  There are many varieties of thyroid hormone issues.  According to the book by Datis Kharrazian, “Why Do I Still Have Thyroid Symptoms”, there are six types of hypothyroidism with only one needing just the prescription thyroid hormone.
It is usually a woman that enters my office with thyroid problems.  If possible, besides testing TSH, Free T4, Free T3 and antibodies, I also test estradiol, progesterone, DHEA, testosterone and cortisol throughout the day.  We usually have a talk about stress levels, and anti-inflammatory and hypo allergenic foods, which usually means gluten, dairy and citrus free diets.  Depending on the results of testing, history taking and ability of patient to afford supplements, the patient and I come up with a treatment plan that is individually theirs.
I may prescribe bio-identical hormones, things that help increase or decrease cortisol, mid-day naps, funny movies, body work, liver detoxification and supplements.
Here’s where I give you the legal talk:  Healing approaches mentioned in this blog are for educational purposes only.  They should not be used as replacements for conventional medical treatment without guidance from a trained medical professional.
The supplement I recommend to most patients, besides a good multi vitamin/mineral, is fish oil.  It is a great anti-inflammatory, is good for brain function and mental health, and is good for heart health.
The second most recommended supplement to patients that live in the Pacific Northwest is Vitamin D3.  We don’t get enough of it, even in the summer.  It helps with thyroid, depression, the immune system and myriad other conditions.  It’s important to get a blood level check so that you don’t over do it.
Although Kharrazian doesn’t recommend it, I often will give iodine and tyrosine to my thyroid patients if an iodine patch is absorbed quickly (less than 12 hours) through the skin.  Kharrazian believes that iodine can start auto-immune problems.  I personally haven’t seen this in my patients, but I probably will tell my Hashimoto’s patients to not take these type of supplements.  This would include kelp and other sea vegetables.
If you have elevated cortisol, I usually recommend deep breathing and phosphatidyl serine.  If you have low cortisol I recommend Isocort, B vitamins, zinc and selenium.
If you have heart burn, abdominal bloating,  or bowel issues, we will talk about your diet, try digestive enzymes, probiotics and sometimes liver support.
Datis Kharrazian’s book,  “Why Do I Still Have Thyroid Symptoms”, has some new ideas for me.  He tests for immunological markers such as interferon, interleukin, TNF and so on to determine if one part of your immune system is more active than the other and then supplementing to restore balance to the immune system based on the results.  I will probably order some of these tests for patients that are not doing well on what we have been doing so far.
What I’m trying to get at is that there is no “ONE WAY” of treating thyroid issues.  The treatment is wrapped up in what else is going on with the WHOLE person.  Is the person stressed out, having digestive issues?  That will be one treatment.  Is the person diabetic or anemic?  Those are other treatments.  Is the person menopausal?  A combination of everything above?  The treatment plan will take into account what is going on with the individual.
Don’t be disappointed.  In future posts I plan to talk about diabetes, digestive issues and more.  You’ll get to hear about all sorts of supplements for specific issues along with lifestyle changes.  Do you have anything specific you would like to hear about?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

I don't weigh myself

I don't weigh myself because it doesn't give me information I don't already know.  When my thyroid was out of wack, I was gaining ten or twenty pounds per month on a 1200 calorie per day diet.  I worked out at least 2 hours per day.  I still gained weight.  When I weighed myself I would get very depressed and wondered if I were 'sleep eating'.  However my blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol and liver enzymes were all low normal.
Once I got married and had better health insurance, I found out that I had a weird thyroid issue.  Somehow I wasn't making an active form of thyroid that has to do with your metabolism.  Now I take a natural thyroid (Nature-throid), eat around 1800 calories per day and keep my workouts to an hour three times per week. (Less in the winter.)  I don't know how much weight I have lost, but my clothing size is 2 to 4 sizes less than it was 8 years ago.
A friend of mine asked me to research weight loss surgery for her about 2 years ago.  I read so many things about it and learned alot about weight loss research, etc.  But the most important thing I ran into was the concept of Health at Every Size or HAES. 
HAES means to respect and love your body for itself.  Your body is just your body, there is no moral judgement about it.  Eat good food, eat what you want and eat enough to be satisfied. Stop when you are full.  Move because it feels good and do movement that is fun for you.
I'll have more to say about this in the future.

Some interesting links at Kate Harding's Shapely Prose:  and 

Read and look.  What do you think?