Thyroid Health: Keed to know info! and the 6 thyroid tests you need to ask for from your Doctor

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(adapted from Dr.Aviva Romm, MD, 2014)

I see a lot of patients that complain of weight gain, fatigue, constipation, dry skin, PMS, and complaining of always being cold. All these symptoms point to the possibility of hypothyroidism, or under active thyroid function. Sometimes, their TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone), the most common test for thyroid function, has been tested and may still fall into the “normal range”. However, TSH is only one of the markers for abnormal thyroid function, and many patients are unaware that there are other tests that can give a much better picture of thyroid health and function.

Statistically, hypothyroid is an under diagnosed condition. In fact, in the US only ½ of Americans that have hypothyroidism know it.

What is the Thyroid?

The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland that sits at front of your neck and controls your metabolism. It therefore controls your weight, energy levels and also plays a role in cholesterol and hormone production.

When the thyroid is out of balance and not functioning optimally you can gain weight, have sluggish bowels, experience dry skin, have fertility problems, brain fog and feel tired…even if you have a great diet and activity level!

The Key Thyroid Tests

Thyroid tests should be easy to obtain from your primary doctor, naturopathic doctor or functional medicine doc. However thyroid tests do take some skill to interpret and some docs may be reluctant to order more than a TSH test. If this is the case, consider getting a second option by a doctor that is familiar with thyroid health and testing.

Thyroid Test #1: TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone)

TSH is the commonly order thyroid test. This hormone is produced by the pituitary gland (a small gland in your brain). TSH communicates with the thyroid to tell it to produce more thyroid hormones T3 and T4. When all is going well in the body, TSH is in a normal healthy range and so is T3 and T4. When T3 and T4 (those important thyroid hormones produced by the thyroid gland) are LOW, TSH starts to INCREASE, telling the thyroid gland to produce more T4 and T4.

The “healthy TSH range” has become a somewhat controversial topic in medicine. Most Canadian labs consider the upper range of TSH to be 4-5mU/L. However, many experts, including many conventional endocrinologists, consider the upper limit of TSH should be no higher than 2.5-3mU/L. This is based on the data collected on Americans without any hypothyroid symptoms. When they have a TSH test done, this is the common upper range.

Thyroid Tests #2 and #3: T3 (Triiodothyronine) and T4 (thyroxine)

As mentioned above, T3 and T3 are hormones produced by your thyroid gland. T4 is produced in much higher amounts by your thyroid gland, and then is converted into T3 in the periphery. This is important because T3 is the more active form of thyroid hormones and is necessary for proper metabolic function.

Thyroid Tests #4 and #5: TPO and TGAb (Thyroid Antibodies)

As mentioned previously, autoimmune hypothyroidism is the most common cause of hypothyroid. As with any other health condidition, to achieve optimal health we must look at the underlying cause of the problem. If a patient has hypothyroidism, but does not address the autoimmunity (if present), the problem will not be addressed at the root cause. Thyroid antibodies can also be measured every 6-12 months to gauge how thyroid treatment is progressing.

Thyroid Test #6: Reverse T3 (RT3)

Although there is some controversy over the usefulness of this test, I have personally found it of benefit in my practice, especially if hypothyroid symptoms are persisting despite treatment. Sometimes, when the T4 is being converted to T3, it can be converted into RT3, a less active form of T3 that the body cannot use as well as T3. This can happen is one is under a large amount of stress or is sick. If the patient it producing a large amount of RT3, certain medication or supplements can help replenish the body with T3 and encourage the body to produce T3 over RT3.

If you have an inkling that your thyroid health is sub-optimal and your doc is not open or familiar with thyroid testing, consider switching docs or having a second opinion.

Yours in Health,

Dr. Emily

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Linoleic acids and Gamma Linolenic Acids (GLAs)

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Studies have found that consumption of linoleic acids (an essential fatty acid) and vitamin C decrease drying and wrinkling of the skin.  Linoleic acid plays a key role here because once ingested, linoleic acid turns into gamma linolenic acid also known as GLA. Through a series of steps, GLA is eventually converted to prostaglandin 1, which has an anti-inflammatory effect on the skin and is also effective in regulating water loss and protecting the skin from damage. You can also supplement with evening primrose oil or borage oil, both contain high amounts of GLA.  Watch my video with the wonderful Kristen Ma to learn more about evening primrose oil here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O-ClA89C-K0.

Walnuts contain both linoleic acid and omega 3 fatty acids.  This is excellent because in our western diets we tend to have a higher amount of omega 6 fatty acids compared to omega 3 and this can cause an imbalance.  Additionally, some of the major sources of omega 6 fatty acids in the western diet come from corn, wheat and soy bean oil.  These have been heavily modified and now cause digestive and health problems for many individuals.

A handful of walnuts make a great snack, or can be added on top of a salad or are great additions when baking healthy treats.

Why green tea (camellia sinensis) is Great

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I’m sure most people have heard that green tea is good for you.  It’s well known that green tea MAY encourage weight loss (there is conflicting evidence on this) and that it is high in antioxidants. However you may not be aware of how GREAT green tea is for health. Camellia sinensis contains a group of flavonoids called “catechins”.  One particular catechin called epigallocatechin 3 gallate (EGCG) is thought to play a critical role in many of green teas benefits.  Here are 3 more reasons why this tea is so great:

  1. CANCER PREVENTION: drinking green tea is associated with a reduced risk of pancreatic, esophageal bladder cancer and ovarian cancer.  In fact, one study showed that woman who drink 2 or more cups of green tea a day have a 46% lower risk of developing ovarian cancer compared to those who do not regularly drink green tea.  Research continues on various other anti-cancer properties and applications of green tea.
  2. CERVICAL DYSPLASIA: Green tea applied topically or taken orally appears to reduce cervical dysplasia caused by the HPV virus
  3. Protection against harmful UV RAYS: oral and topical applications of EGCG from green tea may help protect photo-aging from the suns harmful uv rays

It is best to use water no higher than 80 degrees Celsius to brew your green tea, as higher temperatures can make the tea taste bitterer and also may decrease some of its healthy properties.

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Works Cited:

Ohno Y, Aoki K, Obata K, et al. Case-control study of urinary bladder cancer in metropolitan Nagoya. Natl Cancer Inst Monogr 1985;69:229-34.

Wakai K, Ohno Y, Obata K. Prognostic significance of selected lifestyle factors in urinary bladder cancer. Jpn J Cancer Res 1993;84:1223-9.

Bushman JL. Green tea and cancer in humans: a review of the literature. Nutr Cancer 1998;31:151-9.

Nemecz G. Green tea. US Pharm 2000;May:67-70.

Mitscher LA, Mitscher LA, Jung M, Shankel D, et al. Chemoprotection: a review of the potential therapeutic antioxidant properties of green tea (Camellia sinensis) and certain of its constituents. Med Res Rev 1997;17:327-65.

Larsson SC, Wolk A. Tea consumption and ovarian cancer risk in a population-based cohort. Arch Intern Med 2005;165:2683-6.

Ahn WS, Yoo J, Huh SW, et al. Protective effects of green tea extracts (polyphenon E and EGCG) on human cervical lesions. Eur J Cancer Prev 2003;12:383-90.

Elmets C, Singh D., Tubesing K. et al, Photoprotection from ultraviolet injury by green tea polyphenols. J Am Acad. Dermatol 2001;44:425-432

SPRING DETOX

Happy First week of Spring!!

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Despite the snowfall in Toronto at the moment, it is in fact SPRING!  And, spring time means cleansing time 🙂  I am excited to be giving a talk on the ins and outs of detoxing on APRIL 10th at 7:30 at ECOEXISTENCE, located at 766 ST. CLAIR WEST TORONTO.  It is free to attend so just show up if you would like to learn more about why we need to detox, how our bodies detox and the best medicines, supplements and lifestyle tips for detoxing !

I recently wrote a guest blog for the wonderful Kristen Ma of Pure + Simple on detox.  If you would like to read what I will be talking about April 10th find it here:

http://www.holisticvanity.ca/detoxification-debunked/

 

Product Review : SINFULLY WHOLESOME

Today I would like to tell you all about a wonderful new company, Sinfully Wholesome.  They make 100% wild crafted, organic soaps and oils that are truely AMAZING. Additionally, they distribute “soap nuts” which are used in place of laundry detergent and surprisingly do an excellent job cleaning clothes!! All Sinfully Wholesome products are ECO CERT and USDA Organic approved and the company strives to be environmentally and socially responsible.

As many of you that read my blog may know, typical soaps and detergents contain lots of harmful chemicals that are carcinogenic, endocrine disrupting, and harsh on the entire body.  Therefore, I always choose soaps, detergents and skin care products that are 100% natural without any of the nasty chemicals. I am truely impressed by the Sinfully Wholesome product line as everything they make is 100% pure but also so effective and nourishing.  Additionally, they take pride in sourcing the best available ingredients in an ethical and thoughtful manner.

Firstly, all the products come in gorgeous packaging made from Lokta Paper.  Even better, the making of this paper is helping to generate an income for the woman of Nepal.  Here is a short video explaining: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NOFq-7xg-4g.

Luxurious Sinfully Wholesome Argan Soap

Luxurious Sinfully Wholesome Argan Soap.

All Sinfully Wholesome soaps come in a very large bar and have a soft beautiful natural smell of the essential oil or plant they are made from.  The Argan Soap is one of my favorites, traditionally used for dry skin, acne, psoriasis among other many things it left my skin feeling nourished and radiant!  That being said the Soliiphilia Soap is SO LUXURIOUS and heavenly.  Soliphilia also has anti-aging properties and produces a wonderful, rich lather. Laurel oils are in both the Soliphilia Soap and the Aleppo soap. Laurel has a high level of antioxidants (great for keeping your skin looking young) but also has antimicrobial and anti-fungal properties which is excellent for helping to treat acne, dermatitis or possibly tinea infections (common fungal skin infections). Additionally, Sinfully Wholesome makes a castile soap which is also lovely:)

SAM_2589The Nepelese Soap Nuts are something that are new to me, and I LOVE them.  So simple, you put 4-5 nuts (about the size of a walnut) in a small bag provided with the product.  Toss this in your wash and Volia! Clean clothes without any chemicals or harmful fragrances.  Even better. after you use the soap nuts for a few washes, you can put them in a spray bottle with water and use for household cleaning.  As the nuts are good for a few washes I have yet to try this but I am excited to experiment with this!SAM_2590

Here is a 10 minute video on soap nuts, and how they make their way to the kind people at Sinfully Wholesome: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10150780741121650&set=vb.174784579204496&type=3&theater

The Sinfully Wholesome team also distributes wonderful, organic, pure Moroccan argan oil.  SAM_2593

Available in small glass bottles or this easy to roll on glass tube- that I LOVE.  I have been keeping it in my purse and using it around my eyes. However, you can use it in your hail and on your nails.  Argan oil is naturally rich in antioxidants, essential fatty acids, carotenoids, ferulic acid, sterols, polyphenols, vitamin E and squalene. These elements help to reduce inflammation, promote healing and regenerate damaged and aging skin.  Additionally, the ferulic acid is known to an anti microbial which is an added bonus!

Overall I am SO impressed by Sinfully Wholesome and am very happy to tell you all about them!  For further information and ordering here is their website: http://sinfullywholesome.com/wildcrafted_skin_care_products.html.