Hypothyroidism is serious and extremely under-diagnosed. It's been under-diagnosed because until recently, abnormal thyroid levels were defined by whether they were unusually high or low rather than by whether a patient had symptoms related to too much or too little hormone!
The Tragic and Invisible Epidemic of Thyroid Disease
by: Jacob Teitelbaum, FFC Medical Director
For over a decade, research has shown that hypothyroidism, like most other illnesses that predominantly affect women, has been dramatically under-diagnosed. The American Academy of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE), the nation’s largest organization of thyroid specialists, has now confirmed this. After a recent meeting, the normal range for thyroid tests was dramatically narrowed.
As noted in the AACE press release: “Until November 2002, doctors had relied on a normal TSH level ranging from 0.5 to 5.0 to diagnose and treat patients with a thyroid disorder who tested outside the boundaries of that range. Now AACE encourages doctors to consider treatment for patients who test outside the boundaries of a narrower margin based on a target TSH level of 0.3 to 3.0. AACE believes the new range will result in proper diagnosis for millions of Americans who suffer from a mild thyroid disorder, but have gone untreated until now.”
“The prevalence of undiagnosed thyroid disease in the United States is shockingly high – particularly since it is a condition that is easy to diagnose and treat,” said Hossein Gharib, MD, FACE, and president of AACE. “The new TSH range from the AACE guidelines gives physicians the information they need to diagnose mild thyroid disease before it can lead to more serious effects on a patient’s health – such as elevated cholesterol, heart disease, osteoporosis, infertility, and depression.”
Now, six months after the new directives have been given, doctors are still largely unaware of these new lab guidelines for diagnosis and treatment. Even the major labs doing thyroid testing have not bothered to change the now incorrect normal ranges for both diagnosis and treatment of thyroid disorders.
The normal range for thyroid hormone levels in the past have been based on statistical norms (called2 standard deviations). This means that out of every 100 people, those with the two highest and lowest scores are considered abnormal and everyone else is defined as normal. That means if a problem affects over 2% of the population (and as many as 24% of women over 60 are hypothyroid and 12% of the population have abnormal antibodies attacking their thyroid), then our testing system will still miss most of them. In addition, our testing system does not take biological individuality into account. To translate how poorly this “2%” system works, consider this scenario: If we applied it to getting a pair of shoes, any size between a 4 and 13 would be “medically normal.” If a man got a size 5 shoe or a woman a size12, the doctor would say the shoe size they were given is “normal” and there is nothing wrong with it!
The number of Americans with thyroid illness has increased from 13 million to approximately 27 million. Unfortunately, over 13 million Americans with thyroid disease remain undiagnosed, and the majority of those receiving treatment are not being given the correct dosage. Doctors do not know that they have not been adequately trained in the proper diagnosis or treatment of hypothyroidism, and the cost in human life and devastating illness is enormous. What makes this especially tragic is how easy treatment is if doctors were given the correct information. Even the major laboratories continue to give erroneous normal ranges for the tests, simply because they are not aware of the guidelines of the AACE or the information put out by their National Association of Clinical Biochemistry.
WHAT IS THE COST OF MISSING HYPOTHYROIDISM?
1. Over 30,000 of preventable deaths per year from heart attacks. Women with untreated hypothyroidism are more than twice as likely to have a heart attack. A study in the prestigious “Annals of Internal Medicine” noted that hypothyroidism “contributed to 60 percent of cases of myocardial infarction [heart attacks] among women affected by subclinical [even mild] hypothyroidism.” It contributed more to causing heart attacks in these patients than smoking, elevated cholesterol, high blood pressure, or diabetes!
2. Over 4600 miscarriages per year after 15 weeks of pregnancy – countless more before. Six percent of miscarriages are associated with hypothyroidism. Undiagnosed hypothyroidism is also associated with infertility. In moderate to severely hypothyroid mothers, the baby was also over six times as likely to die soon after being born.
3. Learning disabilities among children born to hypothyroid mothers have a lower IQ (average of seven points). They are almost four times as likely to have an IQ under 85 and over twice as likely to have learning difficulties resulting in their having to repeat a grade.
4. Hypothyroidism contributes to millions being unnecessarily disabled. Over six million Americans have Fibromyalgia and tens of millions more have chronic muscle pain. Undiagnosed or inadequately treated thyroid disorders contribute to these unnecessarily disabling conditions. Our initial understanding of this was elucidated by Dr. Janet Travell, who was the white house physician for President Kennedy, and who suffered from excruciating back pain. Recently published research shows that 91% of these patients can improve with proper treatment – especially by including thyroid hormone in their plan of care.
5. Hypothyroidism is a major cause of gaining and being unable to lose weight. It also causes fatigue, dry hair, coarse skin, depression, and “brain fog.”
American physicians are currently treating hypothyroidism, which is often misdiagnosed as depression, with Prozac! This is an even bigger problem in the elderly who are also being misdiagnosed with depression or Alzheimer’s/senility when what they have is hypothyroidism.
What makes this situation especially tragic is that, given the proper information, hypothyroidism is incredibly easy and inexpensive to diagnose and treat. Instead, because of lack of awareness on the part of physicians, Americans unnecessarily suffer with a major public health disaster.
The Lymphatic System: Ignored, Misunderstood and Neglected
by: Gloria Gilbère, N.D., D.A. Hom., PhD
Without the lymphatic system, life cannot be sustained – people rarely hear about it or understand its complex work. The lymph system is closely related to the cardiovascular system, although its major function is as a defense mechanism. It:
filters disease-causing organisms
manufactures white blood cells
distributes fluids and nutrients
drains excess fluids and proteins left behind by capillary circulation – preventing tissue swelling
is the inner excretory mechanism of the body, which is four times larger than the blood system
provides the means for each cell to eliminate waste
The fluid that circulates within the system is called lymph. It is derived from blood plasma, although clearer and more watery, and lymph seeps through capillary walls to fill tissue spaces. Besides lymph, the lymphatic system includes lymphatic capillaries, larger vessel lymph nodes, glands, spleen, tonsils, and thymus.
Lymph and lymphatic vessels come into much more intimate relationships with metabolic tissues than blood. However, unlike the blood system which utilizes the heart as a pump, the lymph system, like veins, relies on skeletal muscle contractions to pump its components. Stimulating lymphatics with massage allows toxic sticky mucoid substances to be dumped into the colon for elimination.
There are several effective lymphatic drainage and stimulation techniques. A patient experiencing Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or chronic inflammation should consider that a toxic, sluggish lymphatic system is the core of fluid retention, muscle soreness and generalized inflammation.
After counseling thousands of clients with Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and Multiple Allergic Response Syndromes (MARS ® ), I found three methods of lymphatic stimulation to be most effective.
Rebounding – Lymph Stimulation and Body Lift Functional foods, supplemental nutrients, and various detoxification and rejuvenation techniques cannot totally repair and maintain health when the lymphatic system is not stimulated to assist the body in eliminating toxic residue.
One of the most beneficial lymph stimulating exercises for overall benefits and reduction of symptoms from Fibromyalgia/inflammatory-type disorders is rebounding. Victims of these disorders do not have exercise tolerance. Rebounding works with gravity, not against it – protecting against strains and injuries to bones and joints while stimulating lymphatic flow like no other stimulation method accomplishes. At first, start with three minutes and do not lift feet off the mat, simply bounce gently. (Note: Be sure to purchase a rebounder with a stabilizer bar.) Unlike mini-trampolines, rebounders have extra heavy shock absorbers.
According to Dr. Morton Walker, “…with each gentle bounce, approximately 60 trillion body cells are pitted against the earth’s gravitational pull – strengthening every cell in the body while saving strain on its muscles and joints.” Rebounding supports reduction of body fat, firms and strengthens muscles, increases agility, improves balance, provides aerobic effects, rejuvenates a tired body, and creates a state of health and fitness.
Skin Brushing Benefits Skin brushing, done concurrently with rebounding and gastrointestinal cleansing, is highly effective for gently stimulating lymphatic flow and overall detoxification. The skin, the largest organ of elimination and absorption, eliminates over one pound of waste per day. Dry skin brushing stimulates sweat glands and increases blood circulation to underlying organs and tissues – a vital part of an intestinal cleansing program. (Note: Using a natural bristle brush, gently brush from the extremities to the center of the body.) For a detailed diagram of skin brushing, refer to the book entitled I Was Poisoned by My Body.
Manual Lymphatic Stimulation Massage This massage should be extremely gentle for Fibromyalgia patients. The therapist works from the colon to the periphery of the body – creating space for lymph fluid to drain. Undulating hand moves and specific light compression is applied to move fluid through the lymph and eliminate it via the colon – immediately reducing swelling. It is never acceptable to use aggressive massage for lymphatic drainage.
If you are a victim of the disorders described, consider a toxic, sluggish lymphatic system that needs gentle encouragement to dump accumulated toxins, naturally.
Gloria Gilbére, N.D., D.A.Hom., Ph.D., is internationally respected as an authoritative influence in the discovery of the causes, effects and drug-free solutions for Fibromyalgia, inflammatory and chemically induced immune system disorders, and renowned for her Wholistic Skin and Body Rejuvenation (WSBR ® ) programs. She is author of I Was Poisoned by My Body, Invisible Illnesses, Pain/Inflammation Matters, Colon Cleansing Matters, and the WSBR Program.
Foods That Fight Pain
by: Debra Bokur, Healing Lifestyles & Spas Magazine Recipes by: Deborah Madison
Surprise: Your kitchen shelves are actually a medicine cabinet, filled with natural remedies for pain relief.
Once upon a time, corner drugstores did not exist. Instead of bottles of mass-produced capsules and pills, people relied on plants and other natural ingredients that were close at hand for pain relief, trusting in the wisdom and traditions handed down by generations of elders and healers.
In folklore, medicinal herbs were often believed to be imbued with magical qualities and spiritual powers. Cultures in Asia and other parts of the world have compiled detailed pharmacopeias of plants and their various attributes, along with recipes for their preparation for the treatment of varying complaints.
By the 15th century, trade routes between Asia and Europe had expanded, introducing Europeans not only to such spices as ginger, cardamom, and turmeric, but also Ayurvedic medicine. Cardamom, a member of the ginger family, was favored by the ancient Egyptians as a perfume; and in Biblical times, turmeric was used as both a flavoring for foods and as a perfume. Turmeric, explored in several well-documented studies, has exhibited a greater ability to reduce inflammation than hydrocortisone.
Ginger’s ability to provide relief for chronic joint pain associated with rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis has been shown to rival that of the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) commonly used to reduce inflammation and block this type of pain. Cherries, red peppers, and sunflower seeds have also shown the ability to reduce the pain of headaches, gout, and muscular discomfort. The recent uproar over the side effects of some NSAIDs has alerted consumers to their potential risks. If foods and plants have been used successfully throughout history as antidotes and cures for pain, why has Western medicine been so slow to embrace their use? “Unfortunately,” explains Jacob Teitelbaum, M.D., Medical Director of Fibromyalgia and Fatigue Centers, Inc. and author of Pain Free 1-2-3: A Proven Program to Get YOU Pain Free! (McGraw Hill, 2006), “almost all the information that physicians receive is paid for by the drug companies. This includes the journals they read, the conferences they go to, and the drug reps that supply them with studies. Fortunately, more and more physicians are becoming holistically oriented and are learning about natural remedies.”
Pain comes in two main types: chronic and acute. Acute pain, such as a headache or the type you experience when you slip and twist your ankle, comes on quickly and usually subsides within a reasonable amount of time, or with the healing of the initial injury. Although it may start out as acute pain, chronic pain persists over a long period of time, and can give birth to side effects including depression, anger, stress, and despair – which only serve to make the original pain more unbearable. “Cherries, turmeric, and ginger can be helpful for both, but are likely to be most effective for chronic pain,” says Teitelbaum, adding that the use of botanical and food medicines is more effective if used in conjunction with other natural modalities. “Patients do best when they combine (the use of) natural remedies, nutritional support, diet, exercise, and psycho-spiritual modalities. In my thirty years of treating patients, I have found that a simple way to assist your psyche with the healing process is to choose to keep your attention on what feels good. Joseph Campbell summarized it brilliantly when he said, ‘Follow Your Bliss.’”
We chose to follow Deborah Madison, cookbook author and founding chef of Greens restaurant in San Francisco, into the kitchen, where she created recipes that include natural ingredients for the relief of common pain. Madison is also the author of eight award-winning cookbooks, including Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone (Broadway, 1997) and Vegetable Soups from Deborah Madison’s Kitchen (Broadway, 2006).
Add these foods to your diet for healthy and pain-relieving benefits:
GINGER Pain relief for a variety of conditions, including headaches, Fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, and osteoarthritis.
TURMERIC Powerful anti-inflammatory, particularly useful in the relief of pain from rheumatoid arthritis.
CHERRIES A popular remedy for gout. Can help relieve both chronic and acute types of pain.
RED PEPPERS A source of salicylates, naturally occurring pain compounds. Contain capsaicin, which stimulates the release of endorphins.
CARDAMOM The true, or green version, of this spice is useful in relieving stomach pain and digestive cramps. A member of the ginger family, it offers many of the same properties.
SUNFLOWER SEEDS A rich source of the chemical phenylalanine, which helps reduce and control pain.
RED LENTIL & VEGETABLE SOUP WITH TURMERIC & COCONUT MILK
(Serves 4–6)Historically, turmeric has been used to address pain associated with headache, gout, arthritis, swelling, and tendonitis. There is a generous amount of turmeric in this red lentil and vegetable soup. Any tendency it has to become acrid is corrected by the inclusion of plenty of lime juice and creamy coconut milk.
4 tsp. ghee butter or sunflower seed oil
1 cup finely diced onion
1 celery stalk, peeled and diced
1 cup diced carrots
1 cup finely diced winter squash or zucchini
1 small red bell pepper, finely diced
3 tbs. cilantro stems, minced
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. turmeric
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1 cup red lentils, rinsed well
1 can light coconut milk
juice of 1–2 limes, or to taste
2 scallions, including an inch of the greens, thinly sliced freshly ground pepper to taste
Over medium heat, melt the butter or heat the oil in a wide soup pot. Add the vegetables and cilantro stems and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 to 4 minutes. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, turmeric, and cumin, and cook another 3 or 4 minutes before adding the rinsed lentils and 4 cups water. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer, partially covered, until the lentils have broken down and are sufficiently tender, about 20 minutes. Puree about half of them in a blender and return them to the soup. Stir in the coconut milk and return the soup to a boil. Taste for salt and add several grindings of pepper and season to taste with lime juice.