Thyroid Hormones Part 3: Misunderstood and Mismanaged

It is widely known by endocrinologists, physicians and the medical community that low thyroid function is always secondary to something else; yet the issue of the autoimmune attack is almost never addressed. Instead, patients are considered to be managed and treated properly when the TSH normalizes. In a sense the patient is having his or her TSH managed, but the underlying mechanism for low thyroid function (the autoimmune attack) is not. In many instances a doctor will even refuse to run thyroid antibodies because it is not seen as an effective agent of change for the prevailing method of treatment.

In conventional medicine, what I call The Replacement Model, a drug, or in this case a hormone, is meant to replace actual physiology. Any symptoms that remain after the normalization of the TSH marker are attributed to some other cause. In other words, the prevailing medical thinking is that since the TSH reads as “normal” on your lab report, or within laboratory range for prescribing medicine, not only should the symptoms be resolved, but the drug you are taking has worked as a perfect replacement for actual thyroid hormone! We know otherwise.

For example, if your thyroid condition is causing depression, which it commonly does, then the medical doctor or psychiatrist will give you antidepressants instead of trying to identify and correct the root cause. Why? Because if the TSH, which is the standard measure of thyroid function, is now in the normal laboratory range, how could the depression symptoms be related? On the surface it seems logical unless you yourself are suffering from this condition.

If you haven’t had this experience yet, you probably will. You will go into your doctor’s office because you STILL suffer with the same symptoms, and in an attempt to move you out of the office in the allotted 10 minutes for your visit, the medical doctor is going to shove an anti-depressant prescription at you and tell you that it will help alleviate some of the symptoms. The implication is that it’s all in your head!

Do you suffer from depression? Maybe. Perhaps you suffer as a result of the thyroid problem that is not being managed properly. Or it might be that you’re depressed because you have a chronic problem that no one is taking seriously and the only alternative you’ve been given are more pills. Either way, an anti-depressant isn’t the cure.

In most cases, since the actual autoimmune response is ignored, over time you will continue to lose more thyroid activity, and the requirements for your thyroid replacement hormone prescription continue to rise. Even more importantly, despite the fact that TSH is considered “managed” with replacement thyroid hormones, Autoimmune Thyroid patients will continue to have all the symptoms of low thyroid function. Why run extra tests if you are not going to alter the treatment based on the test results? This is considered “waste” in the HMO insurance model that has become so prevalent in this country.

Find out what you need to know about your thyroid hormone or health disorder diagnosis today, and get health news updates via Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and The Wellness Essentials newsletter.

If you’d like to leave a question for me to answer in a future blog, you can do that via social media or email.

For more information about my clinic in Oradell, NJ, including Functional Medicine, Neurology & Nutrition, and The Grassroots Medicine Initiative, please call (201) 261-5430.

Thyroid Hormones Part 2: Misunderstood and Mismanaged

In Part 1 of this series, we discussed the thyroid as the primary driver of metabolic function. Metabolism is your body’s ability to produce energy efficiently using the wide array of nutrients and enzymes available, and it also eliminates wastes. People who suffer with thyroid disorders, particularly hypothyroid, suffer a great number of debilitating side effects. Some of these are visible (hair loss, thinning eyebrows), others affect physical and mental stamina (low energy, brain fog), and still others are more insidious as the body simply fails to perform essential tasks (eliminate wastes and toxic byproducts).

Because the standard of care for anyone with low thyroid is to take replacement hormones, discussions about thyroid routinely focus on how well the drug is affecting TSH. Or how well the T4s are converting to T3s, or whether the Reverse T3 is actually a better tool for measuring thyroid function, and so on. It’s as if the whole problem of low thyroid is a mathematical formula! What is lost in the process and is the reason why thyroid is completely misunderstood and mismanaged is this: Hypothyroid, including Hashimoto’s, are secondary “downstream” health problems; also, thyroid function cannot be resolved in isolation or apart from an environmental context.

The thyroid gland itself is primarily a fatty tissue that, like breast, heart, or pancreatic organs, becomes a good storage site for toxic waste. Whether it’s mercury toxicity or another type of toxic exposure (radiation, pesticide, heavy metals, pharmaceuticals, and so on) the thyroid is a particularly vulnerable gland for storing and removing toxins from the bloodstream. One theory about the alarming rise in autoimmune disease, Hashimoto’s in this case, is that the thyroid has become so toxic that the body turns against it and attacks the thyroid itself. A simple antibody test will rule this out.

Another upstream cause for poor thyroid function is oxidative stress. The terms oxidative stress and free radicals have become familiar in recent years. Think of oxidative stress as the total burden placed on the thyroid by the constant production of free radicals. To halt this process, the thyroid will slow down to preserve itself and thereby protect its own mitochondria and cell membranes. Remember, every single cell in your body is a self-contained living organism that wants to thrive. When you eat a diet loaded with antioxidants, you are preventing further oxidative stress by cleaning up free radicals.

Lastly, the effects of brain chemistry on thyroid function should not be overlooked. In fact, a doctor cannot properly evaluate thyroid function without considering the brain, which is saturated with thyroid hormone receptor sites. Is it any wonder that low thyroid function causes mental fogginess, low productivity, and forgetfulness? People are discovering the therapeutic power of amino acids, herbs, and nutrients that support the brain’s neurotransmitters. We’re increasingly understanding how the factors that lead to poor thyroid health—bad diet, unstable blood sugar control, adrenal stress, and gut infections—also lead to poor brain health, including brain tissue inflammation and degeneration as well as a deficiency in serotonin and dopamine.

Find out what you need to know about your thyroid hormone or health disorder diagnosis today, and get health news updates via Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and The Wellness Essentials newsletter.

If you’d like to leave a question for me to answer in a future blog, you can do that via social media or email.

For more information about my clinic in Oradell, NJ, including Functional Medicine, Neurology & Nutrition, and The Grassroots Medicine Initiative, please call (201) 261-5430.

Thyroid Hormones Part I: Misunderstood and Mismanaged

Statistics indicate that 27 million otherwise healthy people suffer with thyroid hormone disorders. Thyroid hormones are metabolic hormones, meaning that they are your energy producing hormones. This is significant because the 70+ trillion cells in your body require energy, and all are affected by thyroid function. The failure to meet this energy requirement affects every organ and system in your body, including the brain, which requires over 20 percent of the total energy demand.

That is why thyroid problems are not isolated problems. Think of the thyroid gland as the gas pedal – the feature that allows you to produce energy at the cellular level and function throughout the day. When the thyroid fails, you do too. When you suffer with anxiety or depression, you must look at the thyroid; high cholesterol, digestive problems, and diabetes – think thyroid. Obvious symptoms can include brain fog, constipation, insomnia, weight gain, fatigue, hair loss, dry skin, brittle nails, chronic pain, and more. Extreme cases can be debilitating.

The standard of care, medically speaking, for anyone with low thyroid is to prescribe replacement hormones forever and to monitor the results periodically, usually every six months, and adjust the dosage accordingly. For a minority of patients this is sufficient; for most, it is not. Unfortunately the replacement model might make your labs look normal, but it does not allow you to feel any better. The laboratory range for making a diagnosis is too narrow, and many people who need help are told they are “fine.”

An expanded blood test would perhaps indicate a T3, T4 conversion problem. Without a full thyroid panel, you’d never know. Nor would you know about a resistance to thyroid hormones problem, or a pituitary problem that does not show up on blood tests at all. Related to this is the fact that nine out of ten hypothyroid sufferers are actually autoimmune, which isn’t often tested for in the conventional medical model because it does not change the standard of care.

A second problem that is deeply misunderstood has to do with iodine supplementation. Nearly every single natural solution for thyroid includes a remedy based on iodine deficiency. Not only is this faulty science, but it is downright dangerous for the 90 percent of autoimmune thyroid patients to be supplementing this way. The unfortunate reality is that iodine is a cheap, commercially available ingredient used in almost every nutritional product targeted toward thyroid sufferers. The usage of iodine as a natural substitute for hormones is as altogether antiquated as the replacement model itself!

We live in a toxic world where the ability to maintain healthy thyroid function is crucial. Most doctors aren’t trained to think about the underlying causes of disease, such as toxic buildup, microbes, poor fuel delivery and nutrition, the ability to detoxify and eliminate wastes and manage blood sugar or restore health. From a functional medicine perspective, a good way to understand low thyroid function is to view it as a downstream problem, part of a whole health approach. Ruling out autoimmunity is step one, followed by a complete workup to assess hormone and nutrient status, gut barrier integrity, detoxification and waste elimination capabilities, liver function, infection, brain fitness, and so on.

Find out what you need to know about your thyroid hormone or health disorder diagnosis today, and get health news updates via Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and The Wellness Essentials newsletter.

If you’d like to leave a question for me to answer in a future blog, you can do that via social media or email.

For more information about my clinic in Oradell, NJ, including Functional Medicine, Neurology & Nutrition, and The Grassroots Medicine Initiative, please call (201) 261-5430.

How Inflammation Affects the Thyroid

Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, also called autoimmune or chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis, is the most common type of hypothyroidism. The term “thyroiditis” refers to an inflammation (not an infection) of the thyroid gland itself. It is named after the Japanese physician, Hakaru Hashimoto, who first described the condition in 1912.

Inflammation is a normal, natural sign that your immune system is working. It is the natural defense mechanism of the body to protect against foreign invaders or injury and can become chronic in certain cases. In a localized infection, for example, the sequence of events can be summarized as follows:

  1. Microbes (bacteria) enter the body.
  2. Small blood vessels become dilated to increase blood flow.
  3. There is an increase in vascular permeability to protein.
  4. Fluid moves into the tissue causing swelling.
  5. Neutrophils (a type of white blood cell) and later monocytes (another type of white blood cell) move from the blood vessels into the tissue.
  6. Microbes are engulfed and destroyed by white cells.
  7. Tissue repair is initiated.

The sequence of events that occur during an inflammatory response can vary, depending on the type or cause of injury (i.e., bacteria, trauma), the site of the injury, and the state of the body.

The ability to resist infection and disease is compromised by long-term deficiency in essential nutrients. One of those is iodine, which has many non-endocrine biologic effects, including the role it plays in the physiology of the inflammatory response. Iodides increase the movement of white blood cells called granulocytes into areas of inflammation and improve the destruction of bacteria. Because iodine is so useful in combating inflammation, it is fair to say that the immune system will deplete all available reserves, including those essential to thyroid function.

Iodine is required for thyroxin production and is concentrated in the thyroid gland. Worldwide research shows that iodine deficiency is a major cause of breast, ovarian, uterine, and prostate cysts and cancers. Iodine levels in US soils have fallen by more than 50% over the past 50 years. Several long-term studies have observed clinical findings such as reversal of fibrocystic disease, decreased insulin requirements in diabetics, significantly less need for medication for hypothyroidism, resolution of migraine headaches and fibromyalgia pain. Does this mean that we all should rush out and begin taking iodine?

One of the problems of our current thinking about nutrition and disease is that we often still try to “medicate our way” out of the condition. Just as the solution to migraines is not “more aspirin”, the solution to thyroiditis is not “more iodine.” First, there are good quality sources of iodine that are easily assimilated and absorbed, and then there are cheap bulk supplies. Foremost, however, is the reality that no amount of iodine (or other nutrient) is going to offset a chronic inflammatory response without also treating the root cause of that immune attack.

Find out what you need to know about your thyroid hormone or health disorder diagnosis today, and get health news updates via Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and The Wellness Essentials newsletter.

If you’d like to leave a question for me to answer in a future blog, you can do that via social media or email.

For more information about my clinic in Oradell, NJ, including Functional Medicine, Neurology & Nutrition, and The Grassroots Medicine Initiative, please call (201) 261-5430.

High Blood Pressure, Lipid Abnormalities and Thyroid Disease

In a 2010 clinical abstract posted to PubMed and originally published in the Expert Review of Cardiovascular Therapy, researchers concluded that hypothyroidism should be recognized as a cause of secondary hypertension. This acknowledgement was based on a prior 2007 study in which 100 individuals who were recently diagnosed for hypothyroidism and who had never been treated before with antihypertensive treatment or received drugs for hypothyroidism demonstrated elevated blood pressure values.

All participants underwent around-the-clock “ambulatory” blood pressure monitoring, meaning that blood pressure was monitored at all levels of activity throughout a 24-hour day. The control group consisted of 100 healthy volunteers matched to hypothyroid patients of the same gender and age. Clinical systolic and diastolic blood pressures were significantly higher in patients with hypothyroidism compared to the blood pressure of volunteers.

Based on the findings, the researchers were able to conclude that hypothyroidism may be an important predictor of cardiovascular target organ damage. Specifically, elevated blood pressure values include a higher mean 24-h systolic blood pressure, 24-h pulse pressure, and 24-h systolic blood pressure variability. Lastly, serum cholesterol tended to be marginally higher in patients with hypothyroidism compared with volunteers, while fasting serum triglycerides were significantly higher.

Lipid abnormalities, or dyslipidemia, are common findings in patients with thyroid disease. This is explained by the effects of thyroid hormones in nearly all steps of lipid metabolism.  For instance, total and LDL cholesterol (less often HDL cholesterol), triglycerides, lipoprotein (a), apolipoprotein A1, and apolipoprotein B can each be affected. Many of my patients have been asked by their doctors to do extensive testing for cardiovascular disease, and are often told to begin taking statins (and blood pressure medications) based on the results. But, as the research would indicate, thyroid is a critical component.

Thyroid hormones regulate the expression of enzymes involved in all steps of lipid metabolism. Lipoproteins themselves prevent infections, protect against toxins and inflammation. The most common underlying reasons for dyslipidemia are chronic inflammation, immune dysfunction, and oxidative stress of the vascular system. The underlying lesson is that lipid abnormalities coexist with other metabolic abnormalities, including, hypertension, insulin resistance, and oxidative stress, all of them being risk factors for cardiovascular disease. And, as is probably already evident to thyroid sufferers, the same root causes (chronic infections, accumulation of toxins such as heavy metals, POPs, etc, and chronic inflammatory reactions to foods) will cause negative vascular response.

Find out what you need to know about your thyroid hormone or health disorder diagnosis today, and get health news updates via Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and The Wellness Essentials newsletter.

If you’d like to leave a question for me to answer in a future blog, you can do that via social media or email.

For more information about my clinic in Oradell, NJ, including Functional Medicine, Neurology & Nutrition, and The Grassroots Medicine Initiative, please call (201) 261-5430.

Gut Problems and Low Thyroid

Functional gastrointestinal problems are common. In fact, about 1 in 4 people in the US are forced to limit their daily activities as a result of uncomfortable and embarrassing GI troubles. Chronic constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, delayed stomach emptying and gallbladder sludge can be symptoms of motility problems that are commonly seen in thyroid patients. The conditions account for almost half of the GI problems seen by doctors.

Functional problems can also involve the gut’s ability to secrete digestive enzymes that allow nutrient breakdown and absorption. Bloating, gas, smelly stools and bacterial overgrowth can be symptoms of these problems. Functional problems can also involve a condition called “leaky gut.” This is increased permeability of the intestinal lining, which can set off body-wide inflammation and increase the risk for autoimmune disorders, including Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Thyroid hormones help maintain tight junctures between the cells lining the intestines and have been shown to protect gut mucosal lining from stress-induced ulcers.

Another important function (and increasingly understood role) of the gut is to host 70% of the immune tissue in the body. This portion of the immune system is collectively referred to as GALT, or gut-associated lymphoid tissue. The GALT comprises several types of lymphoid tissues that store immune cells, such as T&B lymphocytes, that carry out attacks and produce antibodies against antigens, molecules recognized by the immune system as potential threats. It is also a warehouse to living microbiota and organisms that are crucial to immune health.

Problems occur when these protective functions of the gut are compromised. When the intestinal barrier becomes permeable (i.e. “leaky gut syndrome”), large protein molecules escape into the bloodstream. Since these proteins don’t belong outside of the gut, the body mounts an immune response and attacks them. We also know that thyroid hormones strongly influence the tight junctions in the stomach and small intestine. These tight junctions are closely associated areas of two cells whose membranes join together to form the impermeable barrier of the gut. T3 and T4 have been shown to protect gut mucosal lining from stress induced ulcer formation.

Inflammation in the gut also reduces T3 by raising cortisol. Cortisol is a steroidal hormone that is released by the adrenal gland in response to everyday events such as waking up in the morning and exercising, but also during acute and chronic stress situations. Excessive cortisol load informs blood sugar regulation, immune function, weight management, proper digestion and nutrient absorption.  Women who secrete high levels of cortisol when they are under stress tend to eat more at those times than women who secrete less cortisol.  Additionally, since T3 is the ‘available’ or active form of thyroid hormone, thyroid activity further decreases as a result of how the gut is functioning.

Each cell in your body requires thyroid hormones to function properly. Because of this it’s no surprise that low thyroid activity–and the resulting low metabolism–can cause gastrointestinal trouble.  A lot of that trouble is “functional.” That is, it has to do with the way the gut functions in real life and is not some structural abnormality that will show up on endoscopy, x-rays or blood tests. These functional problems are likely to involve GI tract motility–the coordinated movement of food from top to bottom, not to mention acid reflux and GERD.

Find out what you need to know about your thyroid hormone or health disorder diagnosis today, and get health news updates via Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and The Wellness Essentials newsletter.

If you’d like to leave a question for me to answer in a future blog, you can do that via social media or email.

For more information about my clinic in Oradell, NJ, including Functional Medicine, Neurology & Nutrition, and The Grassroots Medicine Initiative, please call (201) 261-5430.

Hormone Imbalances and Fatigue

Contrary to popular belief, fatigue is not just an inevitable product of age. Instead it is a telltale sign of hormonal imbalances for both men and women. Fatigue is not simply the feeling of being tired. It is much deeper and includes a state of lethargy over an extended period of time. Chronic fatigue fosters a range of additional symptoms often typified by hormonal imbalance such as mood swings, insomnia, depression, anxiety and even hinders adrenal function.

As an aside, many of the most important hormones are actually made from cholesterol. It is the mother of all fat molecules in the body: a cornerstone of normal cell function and mood regulation. It is needed to maintain neurotransmitter and brain function, build brain and nerve tissue, and nourish the immune system. It provides the crucial insulation around nerves that transmit electrical impulses and helps to digest fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E and K. Indeed, it’s no wonder that fatigue, lethargy, a waning capability for work and everyday activities, brain fog, and so on, go hand in hand with hormone imbalances.

Cholesterol is often a feared term, and in my opinion, unnecessarily so. We rarely hear about why it is so crucial to our wellness and how it can be instrumental to hormonal balance and the production of vitamin D. In its natural, unstressed state, the liver makes 75% of the cholesterol needed. (However, because of alcohol, pharmaceuticals, environmental and food toxins and unprocessed anger, the liver is among the most overstressed organs in the body.) By depriving the body of cholesterol (and eating carbs and sugar instead), metabolism goes into famine mode causing the liver to overproduce cholesterol in order to make up the difference.

For men, fatigue is indicative of the male counterpart to menopause, known as andropause, and usually occurring between the ages of 45 and 55. Andropausal males not only exhibit low levels of testosterone overall, they will often become estrogen dominant. And since testosterone plays an important role in energy production, diminished levels are a major cause behind insomnia or sleep apnea, both of which contribute to fatigue in men.

For women, fatigue is especially prevalent during perimenopause and menopause. Obviously this leads to the belief that fatigue is an inevitable by-product of age. Instead, low estrogen levels (relative to the production of progesterone), many times found in menopause, can result in insomnia and night sweats, which contribute to fatigue. Diminished estrogen also causes irritability and mood swings in women which furthers exhaustion. Too little progesterone is also a problem. Low progesterone not only decreases sex drive, but contributes to a proliferative, estrogen dominant status.

Balancing hormones does not have to be an elusive scientific procedure filled with bio-identical replacements. We always recommend starting with root causes, such as environmental toxins, liver congestion, neurotransmitters in the brain, and reduction of the stress hormone cortisol, which, because of its survival component, will trump the production of all other hormones. This is the most natural and effective, lasting approach. When hormones are balanced, many things fall into place. Symptoms begin to lessen and disappear, energy levels increase and mood improves, thereby effectively reducing or eliminating the fatigue you have been experiencing.

Find out what you need to know about your thyroid hormone or health disorder diagnosis today, and get health news updates via Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and The Wellness Essentials newsletter.

If you’d like to leave a question for me to answer in a future blog, you can do that via social media or email.

For more information about my clinic in Oradell, NJ, including Functional Medicine, Neurology & Nutrition, and The Grassroots Medicine Initiative, please call (201) 261-5430.

Thyroid and Low Metabolic Energy

Are you often tired and worn out? Do you have problems with your weight? Is your skin dry and hair falling out? Do you have difficulty sleeping? Do you feel cold all the time, like you can’t warm up? Is your memory not what it used to be?

If the answer to any of the above is “yes,” but you think it’s just something you have to live with–think again. While all of the above seem like nothing more than day-to-day annoyances, in reality they are all symptoms of low metabolic energy.

So what is “low metabolic energy, and what can you do about it? You are likely familiar with the term “metabolism” and you are also aware that people with an active metabolism (from working out, lifting weights, eating well) seem to have a lot of energy. This is because exercise circulates the blood, transporting oxygen to the brain, passing through the thyroid to deliver fuel and hormones to the cells, thereby enabling all your organs and body systems to function at peak capacity.

If, however, you are under stress, you eat a poor diet, you have an infection, or a host of other causes, all of those bodily functions will be compromised. You will have trouble manufacturing metabolic energy because your blood isn’t circulating through the thyroid, gathering the hormones that turn on the energy (ATP)-making mechanisms inside your cells.

Without that ATP, your body systems stop functioning the way they should. The result can be hormone imbalances, cellular degeneration, chronic inflammation, elimination problems, emotion and sleep disturbances, as well as stressed organs, which together result in a wide range of seemingly inexplicable and unpleasant symptoms such as those cited above.

Restoring metabolic energy helps the body help itself. Some of this is accomplished through dietary changes and nutritional supplementation. We layer in products to support recharging the mitochondria, which are the individual energy packs in each of your cells. And because the thyroid is a target site for toxins, we want to reduce further exposure and help to mobilize existing detoxification pathways. These include clearing out the liver and the gall bladder that become overloaded with excess hormones like estrogen and chemical residues from medications and pesticides. Foremost, we want to address underlying infections that trigger your thyroid to go awry.

Find out what you need to know about your thyroid hormone or health disorder diagnosis today, and get health news updates via Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and The Wellness Essentials newsletter.

If you’d like to leave a question for me to answer in a future blog, you can do that via social media or email.

For more information about my clinic in Oradell, NJ, including Functional Medicine, Neurology & Nutrition, and The Grassroots Medicine Initiative, please call (201) 261-5430.

Low Thyroid Hormones Cause Unwanted Suffering

Statistics indicate that 27 million otherwise healthy people suffer with thyroid hormone disorders. Thyroid hormones are metabolic hormones, meaning that they are your energy-producing hormones. The 70+ trillion cells in your body require energy, and all are affected by thyroid function. The failure to meet this energy requirement affects every organ and system in your body, including the brain, which requires over 20% of the total energy demand.

Low thyroid function is a big deal, and this is why thyroid problems are not isolated problems. Think of the thyroid gland as the gas pedal – the feature that allows you to produce energy at the cellular level and function throughout the day. When the thyroid fails, you do too. When you suffer with anxiety or depression, you must look at the thyroid. High cholesterol, digestive problems and diabetes? Think thyroid. Obvious symptoms can include brain fog, constipation, insomnia, weight gain, fatigue, hair loss, dry skin, brittle nails, chronic pain and more. Extreme cases can be debilitating.

The standard of care, medically speaking, for anyone with low thyroid is to prescribe replacement hormones forever and to monitor the results periodically, usually every six months, and adjust the dosage accordingly. For a minority of patients this is sufficient, but for most, it is not. This is because, while the hormone-replacement model might make your labs look normal, it does not allow you to feel any better. The labs simply don’t show everything we need to know, and so many people who need help are told they are “fine.”

There is more to thyroid health than what shows up on a lab. What’s causing the thyroid to fail in the first place? No amount of hormone replacement will fix that, and so the problems will continue.

We live in a toxic world where the ability to maintain healthy thyroid function is crucial. Most doctors aren’t trained to think about the underlying causes of disease, such as toxic build up, microbes, poor fuel delivery, nutrition, the ability to detoxify and eliminate waste, blood sugar management, etc. From a functional medicine perspective, a good way to understand low thyroid function is to view it as a downstream problem, part of a whole health approach. Ruling out autoimmunity is step one, followed by a complete workup to assess hormone and nutrient status, gut barrier integrity, detoxification and waste elimination capabilities, liver function, infection, brain fitness and so on. There’s a lot to do. Get started!

Find out what you need to know about your thyroid hormone or health disorder diagnosis today, and get health news updates via Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and The Wellness Essentials newsletter.

If you’d like to leave a question for me to answer in a future blog, you can do that via social media or email.

For more information about my clinic in Oradell, NJ, including Functional Medicine, Neurology & Nutrition, and The Grassroots Medicine Initiative, please call (201) 261-5430.

You Are Not Your Diagnosis: The Lyme Disease Label

Often, a patient receives a diagnosis and treatment for a particular condition, and afterward, the diagnosis sticks to them like a label. And then what happens, is the patient may attribute any continuing or future symptoms to the original diagnosis without getting to the root of the problem.

This was the case with Lori M., a patient of mine who went to her primary care physician with symptoms of dizziness, extreme fatigue, episodic pain occurring mainly in the neck and shoulders, and panic-inducing disturbances. Her doctor made a diagnosis of Lyme disease and put her through an aggressive 74-day course of antibiotics to kill the spirochetes.

Clinically, this course of treatment should have been sufficient. However, once she finished the course of treatment, she continued to experience frequent mood swings including depression, dark periods, lack of productivity and anxiety. These recurring symptoms reinforced the Lyme label and caused her to become increasingly isolated since nothing seemed to work.

Antibiotics weren’t helping her get better and she was still experiencing dizziness along with a sensation that bacterial spirochetes were replicating in her brain. In an attempt to help her mood swings, she had taken doctor-recommended anti-anxiety medications that had caused her to feel numb to life. This, of course, was an unacceptable way to live and she decided that she wanted her health issues treated in a more natural, holistic way.

The First Step to Healing and Recovery

When she came to me, she continued to wear the Lyme disease label and repeatedly requested that we work on that specifically. From experience I know that a catch-all diagnosis like Lyme is rarely the fully story on a person’s health. After she filled out my in-depth symptom survey and forensic workup, it was revealed that there were other conditions and problems that needed to be addressed.

While the extensive antibiotic treatment had actually killed the spirochetes, it had created other intestinal problems and a widespread fungal infection called Candida. A person’s medical history often plays into their current issues, and I discovered Epstein Barr and mononucleosis in her background. These contribute to chronic fatigue and widespread pain.

We also uncovered issues including a pronounced drop in morning blood sugar causing irritability, and an elevated total cortisol load with an evening spike that contribute to nighttime worries and wakefulness. We also detected heavy metals and chemicals bound to lymph ducts and thyroid tissue that presented as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. In addition, there were emotional issues; we discovered that the emotional aspect stemmed from a childhood trauma that continued to haunt her.

Delving deeper, beyond the superficial Lyme diagnosis, it became clear that these other root problems were major contributors of her health issues and needed to be addressed immediately. I started Lori M on a course of homeopathic remedies and nutrients coupled with in-office treatments that focused on her total wellbeing. By focusing on them and shedding the Lyme label, she was able to see improvements while continuing to concentrate on her emotional recovery.

Find out what you need to know about your thyroid hormone or health disorder diagnosis today, and get health news updates via Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and The Wellness Essentials newsletter.

If you’d like to leave a question for me to answer in a future blog, you can do that via social media or email.

For more information about my clinic in Oradell, NJ, including Functional Medicine, Neurology & Nutrition, and The Grassroots Medicine Initiative, please call (201) 261-5430.