Habitat:Saw palmetto is native to the Atlantic Coast from South Carolina to Florida, and southern California.It is endemic to the southeastern United States, most commonly along the Atlantic and Gulf Coastal plains, but also as far inland as southern Arkansas. it grows in clumps or dense thickets in sandy coastal lands or as undergrowth in pine woods or hardwood hammocks.
Saw palmetto is a fan palm, with the leaves that have a bare petiole terminating in a rounded fan of about 20 leaflets. It is a hardy plant; extremely slow growing, and long lived, with some plants, especially in Florida where it is known as simply the palmetto, possibly being as old as 500–700 years. The petiole is armed with fine, sharp teeth or spines that give the species its common name. The teeth or spines are easily capable of breaking the skin, and protection should be worn when working around a Saw Palmetto. The leaves are light green inland, and silvery-white in coastal regions. The leaves are 1–2 m in length, the leaflets 50–100 cm long. They are similar to the leaves of the palmettos of genus Sabal. The flowers are yellowish-white, about 5 mm across, produced in dense compound panicles up to 60 cm long. The fruit is a large reddish-black drupe and is an important food source for wildlife and historically for humans. The plant is used as a food plant by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species such as Batrachedra decoctor, which feeds exclusively on the plant.
Edible Uses: This plant is also edible to human beings, but the more green it is the more bitter tasting it would be.
Medicinal Uses: Part Used: Partially-dried ripe fruit……..CLICK & SEE
Constituents: Volatile oil, fixed oil, glucose, about 63 per cent of free acids, and 37 per cent of ethyl esters of these acids. The oil obtained exclusively from the nut is a glyceride of fatty acids, thick and of a greenish colour, without fruity odour. From the whole fruit can be obtained by pressure about 1 1/2 per cent of a brownishyellow to dark red oil, soluble in alcohol, ether, chloroform and benzene, and partly soluble in dilute solution of potassium hydroxide. The fixed oil is soluble in alcohol, ether, and petroleum benzin. The presence of an alkaloid is uncertain.
Diuretic, sedative, tonic. It is milder and less stimulant than cubeb or copaiba, or even oil of sandalwood. Like these, it has the power of affecting the respiratory mucous membrane, and is used for many complaints which are accompanied by chronic catarrh. It has been claimed that sabal is capable of increasing the nutrition of the testicles and mammae in functional atony of these organs. It probably acts by reducing catarrhal irritation and a relaxed condition of bladder and urethra. It is a tissue builder.
Saw palmetto is another wonderful instance of scientific research validating traditional herbal medicine. Saw palmetto frequently equals and sometimes exceeds pharmaceuticals for treating benign prostate hypertrophy( BPH). More than a dozen clinical studies involving almost 3,000 men have verified saw palmetto’s ability to markedly alleviate BPH symptoms- without the libido reducing side effects of the pharmaceutical drug. The herb helps more men than synthetic drugs, and it gets the job done faster. As an added benefit, saw palmetto inhibites enzymes that are suspected to cause male pattern baldness, and there is plenty of anecdotal evidence indicates that saw palmetto stems hair loss and triggers growth. Although it has lost the favor of mainstream medicine in the U.S., it is still widely used in Europe.
saw palmetto extract has been promoted as useful for people with prostate cancer. However, according to the American Cancer Society, “available scientific studies do not support claims that saw palmetto can prevent or treat prostate cancer in humans”
The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.
We call Gigantism which is a condition that leads to excessive growth — occurs when the pituitary or thyroid gland release excess hormones. But a study published recently in the Journal of Biological Chemistry implies that there may be a remedy — over time — for such hormone disorders. CLICK & SEE
Scientists have known for a while that many critical life processes controlled by the hormones are affected even when their production by glands is normal. This usually happens because the hormones are not released when they are needed.
Hormones regulate processes that are crucial for healthy functioning. Many of these hormones — including insulin, glucagon and the growth hormone — are protein or peptide molecules that are synthesised by the body and stored in cells known as secretory granules in clumps called amyloids. These amyloids are released into the blood stream as and when required by the body. For example, insulin, which plays an important role in sugar metabolism, is released from the pancreatic cells in response to glucose levels in the blood stream. CLICK & SEE
Scientists have now discovered that the problem lies in the structural changes that take place in these amyloids. “The structure or shape of a protein could be crucial for its efficient storage and secretion. Therefore, in most cases, structure governs the function of a protein,”
The group studied the role played by the structure of a peptide hormone called somatostatin-14 (SST14), which is involved in several functions of the human body, the most well known of which is countering a excessive growth hormone secretion, thus regulating human growth. Other important functions include controlling gastric acid secretion and insulin and glucagon secretion in the pancreas. A deficiency of this hormone can lead to gigantism and pituitary adenoma or non-cancerous tumours in the pituitary gland.
The researchers who carried out studies on a lab rat found that the structure of SST-14, which is stored in an amyloid form, could change in abnormal cases. And this happened when a particular chemical bond (disulphide bond) which kept it stable was disturbed. This caused the protein to take on a different structure, resulting in faster amyloid formations. These amyloids, however, do not release the somatostatin hormone readily.
The scientists, who hope to study this in bigger animals in the future, are now figuring out whether these results are applicable to other hormones too.
It shows that the difference between people who have abnormal growth hormone releases and those who don’t may lie in their somatostatin structure. This may help pharmaceutical companies hone their strategy for attacking this disorder,
Now, if experts can create long-acting somatostatin outside the human body, it can be used to treat dwarfism and pituitary deficient newborns too. Besides, this type of somatostatin can also be used to repair body tissue.”
Women are often maligned and labelled as “unreasonable, unrealistic, illogical and hysterical”, even when their statements are reasonable and logical. “Blame it on the hormones” is the usual explanation from a male-dominated society. Physicians (mostly male) in the 19th century, unaware of hormone levels, concluded that somehow all this behaviour was connected to the presence of a uterus (from the Greek word hystera which means womb). They sometimes recommended hysterectomy to remove the root cause of these problems and render these women “normal”.
CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES
Unfortunately, some surgeons today, too, subscribe to this view. Women in the reproductive age are advised a hysterectomy to remove the uterus, once it has finished its reproductive function, to relieve them of all their physical and psychological symptoms.
Yet 15 per cent of women suffer from unreasonable anger, excessive sensitivity, paranoid thoughts, anxiety, depression, uncontrollable crying spells, and bizarre food cravings during the pre-menstrual period. In 0.4 per cent, the symptoms may be severe enough to be labelled psychotic. These symptoms are called pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS). They are not because of the presence of the uterus, but are attributed to the body’s response to normal changes in the hormonal (oestrogen and progesterone) ratios during the course of a menstrual cycle.
In PMS sufferers, there’s a lack of perfect synchronisation in the hormone levels, both at the pituitary-hypothalamic level in the brain and at the level of the ovaries (not uterus). Surges and dips cause changes in the biochemical neurotransmitters (serotonin) and precipitate the depressed “low feeling”. Attempts to alleviate the depression and push up neurotransmitter levels lead to food cravings and binge eating.
The mental changes can be disruptive to the family and in the workplace. By the time the distraught family persuades the woman to seek medical help, the onset of menstruation has restored the woman’s Jekyll-and-Hyde personality to normal. Unfortunately, the menstrual cycle and mood swings repeat themselves month after month.
PMS is commoner between the ages of 30 and 45. This led to the erroneous belief that it was in some way connected with approaching menopause. This isn’t true. However, this is the time when women experience the maximum stress in both their family life and career. They often fail to cope with the combination of stress and hormonal imbalances.
Some physical changes can be produced as a result of the hormones. Fluid retention can result in a measurable weight gain (1-2kg). This can make clothes tighter. There may be backache, joint pain, breast tenderness and palpitations.
Treatment becomes imperative when the mood swings make women depressed and suicidal, or psychotic and murderous. (Most murderesses committed their crime during their pre-menstrual phase). Also, job efficiency and interpersonal relationships may be affected because of tiredness, fatigue, sensitivity and ill temper...click & see.
It is difficult to convince women with PMS that they need help, especially since they are normal for around 20 days in a month. Also, the sensitivity varies from woman to woman. Some with mild forms may be acutely conscious of their problem, while others with severe degrees of PMS may rationalise their behaviour. To avoid PMS,
Try to maintain a body mass index (weight divided by height in metre squared) as close to 23 as possible
Instead of three large meals, eat six small meals at regular three-hour intervals. Add at least six helpings of fresh fruits and vegetables, one with each meal. These are high in fibre and beneficial antioxidants. Fibres delay digestion and absorption, helping to maintain a steady blood glucose level with no depression-inducing dips
Reduce the salt intake in cooked food to one teaspoon a day
Avoid fried, salted snacks and chocolate
Reduce the use of caffeine by cutting down on carbonated colas, tea and coffee
Do regular aerobic exercise such as an hour of walking, jogging, cycling, climbing stairs or swimming to reduce stress. Exercise improves blood circulation and reduces bloating and fatigue. It produces a sense of well being. It boosts the body’s natural production of endorphins, which acts as a mood elevator
Daily supplements of vitamins and minerals may be administered to relieve some PMS symptoms. A multivitamin capsule with B6 (100 mcg), B complex, vitamin E (400 IU) and vitamin C (100mg) and calcium (1,000mg) supplementation is beneficial
Capsules of evening primrose oil, oral contraceptive pills, low dose diuretic therapy, mild antidepressants and tranquilisers have been tried and have anecdotally helped some sufferers.
PMS tends to run in families. This may be because the hormone ratios are inherited, leading to similar behaviour. This becomes more likely because of a comparable lifestyle, with improper diet and inadequate physical activity.
Acromegaly is a chronic metabolic disorder in which there is too much growth hormone and the body tissues gradually enlarge. CLICK TO SEE THE PICTURES
It is a syndrome that results when the pituitary gland produces excess growth hormone (hGH) after epiphyseal plate closure at puberty. A number of disorders may increase the pituitary’s GH output, although most commonly it involves a GH producing tumor called pituitary adenoma, derived from a distinct type of cell (somatotrophs).
Acromegaly most commonly affects adults in middle age, and can result in severe disfigurement, serious complicating conditions, and premature death if unchecked. Because of its insidious pathogenesis and slow progression, the disease is hard to diagnose in the early stages and is frequently missed for many years, until changes in external features, especially of the face, become noticeable.
Acromegaly is often also associated with gigantism.
*Soft tissue swelling visibly resulting in enlargement of the hands, feet, nose, lips and ears, and a general thickening of the skin. In particular the appearance of the hands can indicate to a knowledgeable person that a stranger may be developing acromegaly; there are documented instances of physicians warning strangers that they had acromegaly.
*Soft tissue swelling of internal organs, notably the heart with attendant weakening of its muscularity, and the kidneys, also the vocal cords resulting in a characteristic thick, deep voice and slowing of speech
*Generalized expansion of the skull at the fontanelle
*Pronounced brow protrusion, often with ocular distension
*Pronounced lower jaw protrusion with attendant macroglossia (enlargement of the tongue) and teeth gapping
*Hypertrichosis, hyperpigmentation, and hyperhidrosis may occur in these patients Observations:
•Carpal tunnel syndrome
•Decreased muscle strength (weakness)
•Enlarged bones of the face
•Enlarged glands in the skin (sebaceous glands)
•Enlarged jaw (prognathism) and tongue
•Excessive height (when excess growth hormone production begins in childhood)
•Limited joint movement
•Swelling of the bony areas around a joint
•Thickening of the skin, skin tags
•Widely spaced teeth
•Widened fingers or toes due to skin overgrowth with swelling, redness, and pain
Other symptoms that may occur with this disease:
•Excess hair growth in females...click & see
•Weight gain (unintentional)……click & see
Causes:- Pituitary adenoma
In over 90 percent of acromegaly patients, the overproduction of growth hormones is caused by a benign tumor of the pituitary gland, called an adenoma. The pituitary gland, which is located just below the brain, controls the production and release of several different hormones, including growth hormone.
These tumors produce excess growth hormones and, as they expand, compress surrounding brain tissues, such as the optic nerves. This expansion causes the headaches and visual disturbances that often accompany acromegaly. In addition, compression of the surrounding normal pituitary tissue can alter production of other hormones, leading to changes in menstruation and breast discharge in women and impotence in men because of reduced testosterone production.
There is a marked variation in rates of GH production and the aggressiveness of the tumor. Some adenomas grow slowly and symptoms of growth hormone excess are often not noticed for many years. Other adenomas grow rapidly and invade surrounding brain areas or the sinuses, which are located near the pituitary. In general, younger patients tend to have more aggressive tumors.
Most pituitary tumors arise spontaneously and are not genetically inherited. Many pituitary tumors arise from a genetic alteration in a single pituitary cell which leads to increased cell division and tumor formation. This genetic change, or mutation, is not present at birth, but is acquired during life. The mutation occurs in a gene that regulates the transmission of chemical signals within pituitary cells; it permanently switches on the signal that tells the cell to divide and secrete growth hormones. The events within the cell that cause disordered pituitary cell growth and growth hormone oversecretion currently are the subject of intensive research.
In a few patients, acromegaly is caused not by pituitary tumors but by tumors of the pancreas, lungs, and adrenal glands. These tumors also lead to an excess of GH, either because they produce GH themselves or, more frequently, because they produce GHRH (Growth Hormone Releasing Hormone), the hormone that stimulates the pituitary to make GH. In these patients, the excess GHRH can be measured in the blood and establishes that the cause of the acromegaly is not due to a pituitary defect. When these non-pituitary tumors are surgically removed, GH levels fall and the symptoms of acromegaly improve.
In patients with GHRH-producing, non-pituitary tumors, the pituitary still may be enlarged and may be mistaken for a tumor. Therefore, it is important that physicians carefully analyze all “pituitary tumors” removed from patients with acromegaly in order not to overlook the possibility that a tumor elsewhere in the body is causing the disorder.
This condition of growth hormone excess is rare in children and is referred to as pituitary gigantism, because the excessive growth hormone produces excessive growth of bones and the child can achieve excessive height; from 2.1 to 2.7 m (6’11” to 8’11”) in stature by adulthood if left untreated. As an affected child becomes an adult, many of the adult problems can gradually develop. The distinction between gigantism (occurring in children) and acromegaly (occurring in adults) can be made by the occurrence of the adenoma in relation to the closure of the epiphyses. If elevated growth hormone levels occur before the closure of the epiphyses (i.e. in prepubertal children), then gigantism ensues. If it occurs after the closure of the epiphyses (i.e., in adults) then acromegaly ensues.
If acromegaly is suspected, medical imaging and medical laboratory investigations are generally used together to confirm or rule out the presence of this condition.
*IGF1 provides the most sensitive and useful lab test for the diagnosis of acromegaly. A single value of the Growth hormone (GH) is not useful in view of its pulsatality (levels in the blood vary greatly even in healthy individuals). GH levels taken 2 hours after a 75 or 100 gram glucose tolerance test are helpful in the diagnosis: GH levels are suppressed below 1 ?g/L in normal people, and levels higher than this cutoff are confirmatory of acromegaly.
*Other pituitary hormones have to be assessed to address the secretory effects of the tumor as well as the mass effect of the tumor on the normal pituitary gland. They include TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone), gonadotropic hormones (FSH,LH), ACTH (adrenocorticotropic hormone), prolactin.
Exams and Tests
*High growth hormone level
*High insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) level
*Spine x-ray shows abnormal bone growth
*Echocardiogram may show an enlarged heart, leaky mitral valve, or leaky aortic valve
*An MRI of the brain focusing on the sella turcica after gadolinium administration allows for clear delineation of the pituitary and the hypothalamus and the location of the tumor.
This disease may also change the results of the following tests:
*Fasting plasma glucose
*Glucose tolerance test
The goals of treatment are to reduce GH production to normal levels, to relieve the pressure that the growing pituitary tumor exerts on the surrounding brain areas, to preserve normal pituitary function, and to reverse or ameliorate the symptoms of acromegaly. Currently, treatment options include surgical removal of the tumor, drug therapy, and radiation therapy of the pituitary.
Once the diagnosis has been confirmed by blood tests and scans, treatment can be provided. This may include a combination of surgery to remove the tumour, radiotherapy to destroy any tumour cells and drugs to suppress the production of GH.
Surgery is a rapid and effective treatment, of which there are two alternative methods. The first method, a procedure known as Endonasal Transphenoidal surgery, involves the surgeon reaching the pituitary through an incision in the nasal cavity wall. The wall is reached by passing through the nostrils with microsurgical instruments. The second method is Transsphenoidal surgery during which an incision is made into the gum beneath the upper lip. Further incisions are made to cut through the septum to reach the nasal cavity, where the pituitary is located. Endonasal Transphenoidal surgery is a less invasive procedure with a shorter recovery time than the older method of Transphenoidal surgery, and the likelihood of removing the entire tumor is greater with reduced side-effects. Consequently, Endonasal Transphenoidal surgery is often used as a first option, with Transphenoidal and other treatments, such as, medicinal therapy or radiostatic neurosurgery being used to reduce the remaining adverse effects of the remaining tumor.
These procedures normally relieve the pressure on the surrounding brain regions and lead to a lowering of GH levels. If the surgery is successful, facial appearance and soft tissue swelling improve within a few days. Surgery is most successful in patients with blood GH levels below 40 ng/ml before the operation and with pituitary tumors no larger than 10 mm in diameter. Success depends on the skill and experience of the surgeon. The success rate also depends on what level of GH is defined as a cure. The best measure of surgical success is normalization of GH and IGF-1 levels. Ideally, GH should be less than 2 ng/ml after an oral glucose load. A review of GH levels in 1,360 patients worldwide immediately after surgery revealed that 60 percent had random GH levels below 5 ng/ml. Complications of surgery may include cerebrospinal fluid leaks, meningitis, or damage to the surrounding normal pituitary tissue, requiring lifelong pituitary hormone replacement.
Even when surgery is successful and hormone levels return to normal, patients must be carefully monitored for years for possible recurrence. More commonly, hormone levels may improve, but not return completely to normal. These patients may then require additional treatment, usually with medications.
The primary current medical treatment of acromegaly is to use somatostatin analogues — octreotide (Sandostatin) or lanreotide (Somatuline). These somatostatin analogues are synthetic forms of a brain hormone, somatostatin, which stops GH production. The long-acting forms of these drugs must be injected every 2 to 4 weeks for effective treatment. Most patients with acromegaly respond to this medication. In many patients, GH levels fall within one hour and headaches improve within minutes after the injection. Several studies have shown that octreotide and lanreotide are effective for long-term treatment. Octreotide and lanreotide have also been used successfully to treat patients with acromegaly caused by non-pituitary tumors.
Somatostatin analogues are also sometimes used to shrink large tumors before surgery.
Because octreotide inhibits gastrointestinal and pancreatic function, long-term use causes digestive problems such as loose stools, nausea, and gas in one third of patients. In addition, approximately 25 percent of patients develop gallstones, which are usually asymptomatic. In rare cases, octreotide treatment can cause diabetes. On the other hand, scientists have found that in some acromegaly patients who already have diabetes, octreotide can reduce the need for insulin and improve blood sugar control.
For those who are unresponsive to somatostatin analogues, or for whom they are otherwise contraindicated, it is possible to treat using one of the dopamine agonists, Bromocriptine (Parlodel) or Cabergoline. These have the advantage of being tablets rather than injections, and cost considerably less. These drugs can also be used as an adjunct to somatostatin analogue therapy. They are most effective in those whose pituitary tumours cosecrete prolactin. Side effects of these dopamine agonists include gastrointestinal upset, nausea, vomiting, light-headedness when standing, and nasal congestion. These side effects can be reduced or eliminated if medication is started at a very low dose at bedtime, taken with food, and gradually increased to the full therapeutic dose. However, bromocriptine lowers GH and IGF-1 levels and reduces tumor size in fewer than half of patients with acromegaly. Some patients report improvement in their symptoms although their GH and IGF-1 levels still are elevated.
The latest development in the medical treatment of acromegaly is the use of growth hormone receptor antagonists. The only available member of this family is pegvisomant (Somavert). By blocking the action of the endogenous growth hormone molecules, this compound is able to control disease activity of acromegaly in virtually all patients. Pegvisomant has to be administered subcutaneously by daily injections. Combinations of long-acting somatostatin analogues and weekly injections of pegvisomant seem to be equally effective as daily injections of pegvisomant.
Radiation therapy has been used both as a primary treatment and combined with surgery or drugs. It is usually reserved for patients who have tumor remaining after surgery. These patients often also receive medication to lower GH levels. Radiation therapy is given in divided doses over four to six weeks. This treatment lowers GH levels by about 50 percent over 2 to 5 years. Patients monitored for more than 5 years show significant further improvement. Radiation therapy causes a gradual loss of production of other pituitary hormones with time. Loss of vision and brain injury, which have been reported, are very rare complications of radiation treatments.
No single treatment is effective for all patients. Treatment should be individualized depending on patient characteristics, such as age and tumor size. If the tumor has not yet invaded surrounding brain tissues, removal of the pituitary adenoma by an experienced neurosurgeon is usually the first choice. After surgery, a patient must be monitored for a long time for increasing GH levels. If surgery does not normalize hormone levels or a relapse occurs, a doctor will usually begin additional drug therapy. The current first choice is generally octreotide or lanreotide. However, bromocriptine or cabergoline are much cheaper and easier to administer. With both types of medication, long-term therapy is necessary because their withdrawal can lead to rising GH levels and tumor re-expansion. Radiation therapy is generally used for patients whose tumors are not completely removed by surgery; for patients who are not good candidates for surgery because of other health problems; and for patients who do not respond adequately to surgery and medication.
The following medications may be used to treat acromegaly:
*Octreotide (Sandostatin) or bromocriptine (Parlodel) may control growth hormone release in some people.
*Pegvisomant (Somavert) directly blocks the effects of growth hormone, and has been shown to improve symptoms of acromegaly.
These medications may be used before surgery, or when surgery is not possible.
After treatment, periodic evaluation is necessary to ensure that the pituitary gland is working normally. Yearly evaluations are recommended.
*Carpal tunnel syndrome
*Glucose intolerance or diabetes
*High blood pressure
*Spinal cord compression
*Compression of the optic chiasm leading to loss of vision in the outer visual fields (typically bitemporal hemianopia)
*Increased palmar sweating and sebum production over the face (seborrhea) are clinical indicators of active growth hormone (GH) producing pituitary tumors. These symptoms can also be used to monitor the activity of the tumor after surgery although biochemical monitoring is confirmatory.
Pituitary surgery is successful in most patients, depending on the size of the tumor and the experience of the surgeon.
Without treatment the symptoms will get worse, and the risk of cardiovascular disease increases.
There are no methods to prevent the condition, but early treatment may prevent complications of the disease from getting worse.
Disclaimer: This information is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advise or help. It is always best to consult with a Physician about serious health concerns. This information is in no way intended to diagnose or prescribe remedies.This is purely for educational purpose.
The classic signs of a sluggish thyroid gland include weight gain, lethargy, poor quality hair and nails, hair loss, dry skin, fatigue, cold hands and feet, and constipation — and these symptoms are relatively well known.
However, some of the conditions you might not associate with your thyroid include:
•Skin conditions such as acne and exzema
And there are, in fact, many more conditions that can be associated with poor thyroid function. Your thyroid plays a part in nearly every physiological process. When it is out of balance, so are you. This is why it is so important to understand how your thyroid gland works and what can cause it to run amok.
The sad fact is, half of all people with hypothyroidism are never diagnosed. And of those who are diagnosed, many are inadequately treated, resulting in partial recovery at best.
Hypothyroidism simply means you have a sluggish or underactive thyroid, which is producing less than adequate amounts of thyroid hormone.
“Subclinical” hypothyroidism means you have no obvious symptoms and only slightly abnormal lab tests. I will be discussing these tests much more as we go on since they are a source of great confusion for patients, as well as for many health practitioners. Thyroid problems have unfortunately become quite common.
The same lifestyle factors contributing to high rates of obesity, cancer and diabetes are wreaking havoc on your thyroid… sugar, processed foods, stress, environmental toxins, and lack of exercise are heavy contributors.
More than 10 percent of the general population in the United States, and 20 percent of women over the age of 60, have subclinical hypothyroidism. But only a small percentage of these people are being treated.
Why is that?
Much of it has to do with misinterpretation and misunderstanding of lab tests, particularly TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone). Most physicians believe that if your TSH value is within the range of “normal,” your thyroid is fine. But more and more physicians are discovering that the TSH value is grossly unreliable for diagnosing hypothyroidism.
And the TSH range for “normal” keeps changing!
In an effort to improve diagnosis of thyroid disease, in 2003 the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE) revised the “normal” TSH range as 0.3 to 3.04. The previous range was defined as 0.5 and 5.0, which red-flagged only the most glaring hypothyroidism cases.
However, the new range is still not wholly reliable as the sole indicator of a sulky thyroid gland. You simply cannot identify one TSH value that is “normal” for every person, regardless of age, health, or other factors.
Having said that though most physicians who carefully follow this condition recognize that any TSH value greater than 1.5 could be a strong indication that an underactive thyroid is present.
Your TSH value is only part of the story, and your symptoms, physical findings, genetics, lifestyle and health history are also important considerations. Only when physicians learn to treat the patient and not the lab test will they begin to make headway against thyroid disease.
Understanding How Your Thyroid Works is Step One:-
The thyroid gland is in the front of your neck and is part of your endocrine, or hormonal, system. It produces the master metabolism hormones that control every function in your body. Thyroid hormones interact with all your other hormones including insulin, cortisol, and sex hormones like estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone.
The fact that these hormones are all tied together and in constant communication explains why an unhappy thyroid is associated with so many widespread symptoms and diseases.
This small gland produces two major thyroid hormones: T4 and T3. About 90 percent of the hormone produced by the gland is in the form of T4, the inactive form. Your liver converts this T4 into T3, the active form, with the help of an enzyme.
Your thyroid also produces T2, yet another hormone, which currently is the least understood component of thyroid function and the subject of much ongoing study.
Thyroid hormones work in a feedback loop with your brain — particularly your pituitary and hypothalamus — in regulating the release of thyroid hormone. Your pituitary makes TRH (thyroid releasing hormone), and your hypothalamus makes TSH. If everything is working properly, you will make what you need and you’ll have the proper amounts of T3 and T4.
Those two hormones — T3 and T4 — are what control the metabolism of every cell in your body. But their delicate balance can be disrupted by nutritional imbalances, toxins, allergens, infections and stress.
If your T3 is inadequate, either by insufficient production or not converting properly from T4, your whole system suffers.
You see, T3 is critically important because it tells the nucleus of your cells to send messages to your DNA to crank up your metabolism by burning fat. That is why T3 lowers cholesterol levels, regrows hair, and helps keep you lean.
Identifying hypothyroidism and its cause is tricky business. Many of the symptoms overlap with other disorders, and many are vague. Physicians often miss a thyroid problem since they rely on just a few traditional tests, so other clues to the problem go undetected.
But you can provide the missing clues!
The more vigilant you can be in assessing your own symptoms and risk factors and presenting the complete picture to your physician in an organized way, the easier it will be for your physician to help you.
Sometimes people with hypothyroidism have significant fatigue or sluggishness, especially in the morning. You may have hoarseness for no apparent reason. Often hypothyroid people are slow to warm up, even in a sauna, and don’t sweat with mild exercise. Low mood and depression are common.
Sluggish bowels and constipation are major clues, especially if you already get adequate water and fiber.
Are the upper outer third of your eyebrows thin or missing? This is sometimes an indication of low thyroid. Chronic recurrent infections are also seen because thyroid function is important for your immune system.
Another telltale sign of hypothyroidism is a low basal body temperature (BBT), less than 97.6 degrees F averaged over a minimum of 3 days. It is best to obtain a BBT thermometer to assess this.
How about your family history? Do you have close relatives with thyroid issues?
Some of the family history that suggests you could have a higher risk for hypothyroidism includes:
•High or low thyroid function
•Prematurely gray hair
•Autoimmune diseases (rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, sarcoidosis, Sjogren’s, etc.)
•Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis
•Multiple sclerosis (MS)
•Elevated cholesterol levels
It might be useful to take an online thyroid assessment quiz, as a way to get started. Mary Shomon has a good one. Some of the classic symptoms are mentioned above, but there are many more — too many to list here.
If you suspect you might be hypothyroid, you should see a healthcare provider who can evaluate this, including ordering the basic lab tests for thyroid function.
Even though lab tests are not the end-all, be-all for diagnosing a thyroid problem, they are a valuable part of the overall diagnostic process. The key is to look at the whole picture.
New studies suggest a very high incidence of borderline hypothyroidism in Westerners. Many cases are subclinical, and even “sublaboratory,” not showing up at all in standard laboratory measurements.
Coexistent subclinical hypothyroidism often triggers or worsens other chronic diseases, such as the autoimmune diseases, so the thyroid should be addressed with any chronic disease.
Many physicians will order only one test — a TSH level. This is a grossly inadequate and relatively meaningless test by itself, as well as a waste of your money. It would be like saying you know your water is pure because it tastes fine.
Dr. Mercola recommends the following panel of laboratory tests if you want to get the best picture of what your thyroid is doing:–
•TSH — the high-sensitivity version. This is the BEST test. But beware most all of the “normal” ranges are simply dead wrong. The ideal level for TSH is between 1 and 1.5 mIU/L (milli-international units per liter) •Free T4 and Free T3. The normal level of free T4 is between 0.9 and 1.8 ng/dl (nanograms per deciliter). T3 should be between 240 and 450 pg/dl (picograms per deciliter). •Thyroid antibodies, including thyroid peroxidase antibodies and anti-thyroglobulin antibodies. This measure helps determine if your body is attacking your thyroid, overreacting to its own tissues (ie, autoimmune reactions). Physicians nearly always leave this test out. •For more difficult cases TRH can be measured (thyroid releasing hormone) using the TRH stimulation test. TRH helps identify hypothyroidism that’s caused by inadequacy of the pituitary gland.
Other tests that might be indicated for more complex cases are a thyroid scan, fine-needle aspiration, and thyroid ultrasound. But these are specialized tests that your physician will use only in a small number of cases, in special situations.
Even if all your lab tests are “normal,” if you have multiple thyroid symptoms, you still could have subclinical hypothyroidism.
Keeping Your Thyroid Healthy in a Toxic World:-
Now that you have some understanding of the importance of your thyroid and how it works, let’s take a look at the factors that can readily cause problems with your thyroid gland.
Your lifestyle choices dictate, to a great degree, how well your thyroid will function.
If you follow my plan to eat for your nutritional type, and my nutritional plan your metabolism will be more efficient, and your thyroid will have an easier time keeping everything in check. Eating for your type will normalize your blood sugar and lipid levels and enhance your immune system, so that your thyroid will have fewer obstacles to overcome.
Eliminate junk food, processed food, artificial sweeteners, trans fats, and anything with chemical ingredients. Eat whole, unprocessed foods, and choose as many organics as possible.
Gluten and Other Food Sensitivities:-
Gluten and food sensitivities are among the most common causes of thyroid dysfunction because they cause inflammation.
Gluten causes autoimmune responses in many people and can be responsible for Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, a common autoimmune thyroid condition. Approximately 30 percent of the people with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis have an autoimmune reaction to gluten, and it usually goes unrecognized.
How this works is, gluten can cause your gastrointestinal system to malfunction, so foods you eat aren’t completely digested (aka Leaky Gut Syndrome ). These food particles can then be absorbed into your bloodstream where your body misidentifies them as antigens — substances that shouldn’t be there — our body then produces antibodies against them.
These antigens are similar to molecules in your thyroid gland. So your body accidentally attacks your thyroid. This is known as an autoimmune reaction or one in which your body actually attacks itself.
Testing can be done for gluten and other food sensitivities, which involves measuring your IgG and IgA antibodies.
Another food that is bad for your thyroid is soy. Soy is NOT the health food the agricultural and food companies would have you believe.
Soy is high in isoflavones (or goitrogens), which are damaging to your thyroid gland. Thousands of studies now link soy foods to malnutrition, digestive stress, immune system weakness, cognitive decline, reproductive disorders, infertility and a host of other problems — in addition to damaging your thyroid.
Properly fermented organic soy products such as natto, miso, and tempeh are fine — it’s the unfermented soy products that you should stay away from.
Coconut oil is one of the best foods you can eat for your thyroid. Coconut oil is a saturated fat comprised of medium chain triglycerides (MCTs), which are known to increase metabolism and promote weight loss.
Coconut oil is very stable (shelf life of 3 to 5 years at room temperature), so your body is much less burdened with oxidative stress than it is from many other vegetable oils. And coconut oil does not interfere with T4 to T3 conversion the way other oils can.
Iodine is a key component of thyroid hormone. In fact, the names of the different forms of thyroid hormone reflect the number of iodine molecules attached — T4 has four attached iodine molecules, and T3 has three — showing what an important part iodine plays in thyroid biochemistry.
If you aren’t getting enough iodine in your diet (and most Americans don’t), no matter how healthy your thyroid gland is, it won’t have the raw materials to make enough thyroid hormone.
Chlorine, fluorine and bromine are also culprits in thyroid function, and since they are halides like iodine, they compete for your iodine receptors.
If you are exposed to a lot of bromine, you will not hold on to the iodine you need. Bromine is present in many places in your everyday world — plastics, pesticides, hot tub treatments, fire retardants, some flours and bakery goods, and even some soft drinks. I have written a special article about bromine and its influence on your thyroid gland and I encourage you to read it.
Also make sure the water you drink is filtered. Fluoride is particularly damaging to your thyroid gland. Not all water filters remove fluoride, so make sure the one you have does.
Stress and Adrenal Function:-
Stress is one of the worst thyroid offenders. Your thyroid function is intimately tied to your adrenal function, which is intimately affected by how you handle stress.
Many of us are under chronic stress, which results in increased adrenalin and cortisol levels, and elevated cortisol has a negative impact on thyroid function. Thyroid hormone levels drop during stress, while you actually need more thyroid hormones during stressful times.
When stress becomes chronic, the flood of stress chemicals (adrenalin and cortisol) produced by your adrenal glands interferes with thyroid hormones and can contribute to obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, unstable blood sugar, and more.
A prolonged stress response can lead to adrenal exhaustion (also known as adrenal fatigue), which is often found alongside thyroid disease.
Environmental toxins place additional stress on your body. Pollutants such as petrochemicals, organochlorines, pesticides and chemical food additives negatively affect thyroid function.
One of the best destressors is exercise, which is why it is so beneficial for your thyroid.
Exercise directly stimulates your thyroid gland to secrete more thyroid hormone. Exercise also increases the sensitivity of all your tissues to thyroid hormone. It is even thought that many of the health benefits of exercise stem directly from improved thyroid function.
Even something as simple as a 30-minute walk is a great form of exercise, and all you need is a good pair of walking shoes. Don’t forget to add strength training to your exercise routine, because increasing your muscle mass helps raise your metabolic rate.
Also make sure you are getting enough sleep. Inadequate sleep contributes to stress and prevents your body from regenerating fully.
Finally, one excellent way to reduce stress is with an energy psychology tool such as the Meridian Tapping Technique (MTT). More and more people are practicing MTT and experiencing amazing results.
Treatment Options for a Sluggish Thyroid:-
Here are some suggestions that can be used for general support of your thyroid, as well as treating an underperforming one:
•Eat plenty of sea vegetables such as seaweed, which are rich in minerals and iodine (hijiki, wakame, arame, dulse, nori, and kombu). This is probably the most ideal form of iodine supplementation as it is also loaded with many other beneficial nutrients.
•Eat Brazil nuts, which are rich in selenium.
•Get plenty of sunlight to optimize your vitamin D levels; if you live where sunlight is limited, use vitamin D3 supplementation.
•Eat foods rich in vitamin A, such as dandelion greens, carrots, spinach, kale, Swiss chard, collard greens, and sweet potatoes.
•Make sure you are eating enough omega-3 fatty acids.
•Use pure, organic coconut oil in your cooking — it’s great for stir fries and sautéing many different meats and vegetables.
•Filter your drinking water and your bathing water.
•Filter your air, since it is one of the ways you take in environmental pollutants.
•Use an infrared sauna to help your body combat infections and detoxify from petrochemicals, metals, PCBs, pesticides and mercury.
•Taking chlorella is another excellent detoxification aid.
•Take active steps to minimize your stress … relaxation, meditation, hot soaks, EFT, whatever works for you.
•Exercise, exercise, exercise! Thyroid Hormone Replacement
If you know your thyroid function is poor, despite making the supportive lifestyle changes already discussed, then it might be time to look at thyroid supplementation.
Taking thyroid hormone should be done only after you have ruled out other conditions that could be causing the thyroid dysfunction such as adrenal fatigue, gluten or other food allergies, hormonal imbalance, etc. It is always best to get your thyroid working again by treating the underlying cause, as opposed to taking an external source of thyroid hormone.
But sometimes supplementation is necessary.
Conventional pharmaceutical treatment usually consists of replacing only T4 in the form of Synthroid, Levoxyl, Levothyroid, Unithroid, and levothyroxine, leaving your body to convert this to T3.
However, research has shown that a combination of T4 and T3 is often more effective than T4 alone. The conversion to T3 can be hampered by nutritional deficiencies such as low selenium, inadequate omega-3 fatty acids, low zinc, chemicals from the environment, or by stress.
Oftentimes, taking T4 alone will result in only partial improvement.
Taking T3 alone is usually too stimulating. The drug Cytomel is a very short-acting form of T3 that can cause palpitations, anxiety, irritability and insomnia. I never recommend this drug.
By far, the better approach is combined T4 and T3 therapy.
Natural thyroid products, like ArmourThyroid are a combination of T4, T3 and T2 made from desiccated, or dried, porcine thyroid. Armour Thyroid has gotten a bad rap over the years, perceived by physicians to be unstable and unreliable in terms of dosage. However, many improvements have been made in the product, making it a safe and effective option for treating hypothyroidism today.
In fact, a study done ten years ago clearly demonstrated that patients with hypothyroidsim showed greater improvements in mood and brain function if they received treatment with Armour Thyroid than if they received Synthroid.
The optimal dose for Armour Thyroid ranges from 15 to 180 milligrams, depending on the individual. You will need a prescription.
Once on thyroid replacement, you will not necessarily need to take it for the rest of your life, which is a common misconception. Once all the factors that have led to your thyroid dysfunction have been corrected, you may be able to reduce or discontinue the thyroid hormone replacement.
Once on thyroid hormone replacement, I recommend you monitor your progress by paying attention to how you feel, in addition to regular lab studies.
You can also routinely check your basal body temperature. If you are on the correct dose, your BBT should be about 98.6 degrees F.
If you begin to feel symptoms such as anxiety, palpitations, diarrhea, high blood pressure, or a resting pulse of more than 80 beats per minute, your dose is likely too high as these are symptoms of hyperthyroidism, and you should let your physician know immediately.
A thyroid problem is no different than any other chronic illness — you must address the underlying issues if you hope to correct the problem. The path to wellness may involve a variety of twists and turns before you find what works for you.
But hang in there.
If you approach it from a comprehensive, wholistic perspective, you will find in time that all of the little steps you take will ultimately result in your feeling much better than you could have ever imagined.