Are you seeing the light? I am concerned that we all are getting exposed to too much ‘bad’ light, such LED, fluorescent and blue light.
We all need light. Light comes in many forms and is important for our health and wellbeing. Every function of the body is light dependent. But….many people now spend much time indoors with artificial light. This light is so different from our natural sunlight and when we are overexposed our health begins to suffer.
LED light is the light most devices use, such as TV’s, computers and smartphones, and this LED emits a ‘blue violet ‘ light. Blue light is similar to UV light and can be harmful to our eyes. It penetrates deep into the retina of our eyes. We are also exposed to this blue light from low wattage LED lights and compact fluorescent lamps many people use indoors.
Studies have shown too much of this blue light can lead to insulin problems, obesity and mood disturbances. (1)
Blue light also suppresses melatonin production and can affect our quality of sleep or even cause insomnia.
The ‘Review of Optometry’ (2), states that;
“ Over time, our eyes are exposed to various sources that emit this blue-violet light (e.g., the sun, LED lighting, CFLs). Combine that with the use of tablets, TVs, computer screens and smart phones, and there’s no doubt our exposure to blue-violet light is on the increase. This cumulative and constant exposure to the blue-violet light is going to accumulate over time and has the potential to cause damage to the retinal cells, which is going to slowly lead to retinal cell death and can in turn lead to AMD ‘’ (age related macular degeneration)
The healthiest lights to use indoors are incandescent and halogen lights, says Dr. Jacob Liberman, a light pioneer.
And the good news is you can get blue light filters for your devices such as computers and smarphones. I have recently downloaded f.lux on my laptop and I don’t even notice it. It’s also free! Iris is another company that offersblue light filters (free and paid) with a good reputation. I chose f.lux as it was easier to understand and download!
Protective eye glasses are also available. Please read this article for more information about blue light and eye protectionhttp://www.allaboutvision.com/cvs/blue-light.htm
I hope you get a good nights sleep and look after your eyes!
” Parasites, the hidden epidemic”
Parasites. The mere word can make you cringe or shudder! But many people are infected with them. Could parasites be the underlying cause of your fatigue and other health issues such as leaky gut, food intolerances, Irritable bowel syndrome, skin condition or allergies?
Parasites can contribute to many health ailments such as chronic allergies including hives, food allergies, chronic candidiasis (candida), asthma, chronic fatigue syndrome, migraines, irritable bowel syndrome and Inflammatory bowel diseases .
Over my 17 years seeing patients in clinic I have found parasites becoming a lot more common. A lot more people are affected now days and there are a wide range of symptoms they can cause, and also many diseases they can contribute to. Fatigue, teeth grinding, nausea and flatulence are some of the ‘vague’ symptoms that parasites can cause.
Most people think of tapeworms when worms are mentioned, the type you can see and can cause an itchy anus! But there are many other microscopic worms which also live on our blood and other parts of the human body.
Two of the most common parasites Blastocystis hominis (BH) and Dientamoeba fragilis (D fragilis) can be the cause of irritable bowel syndrome. Dysbiosis, or an imbalance of the intestinal microbiome, and low grade inflammation are common in parasitic infections. D. fragilis can be a common cause of travellers diarrhoea.
Giardia intestinalis is another common parasite that is found in contaminated food or water and can be asymptomatic, or cause watery diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting and abdominal cramping. Giardia can cause gluten intolerance.
” Over 130 different “hidden invaders” can account for over 385 diseases. Chronic fatigue and candida can be a case of chronic giardia. Food and environmental allergies disappear when worms are eliminated. ” (1)
Dr. Jay Davison says that parasites can house other bacteria, viruses and also Lymes disease! Parasites also absorb heavy metals, they absorb toxins like a sponge! (2)
We can be infected by parasites from food, water and can they also be airborne, which is a bit scary. Animals, especially dogs, cats and rabbits have parasites and can transmit them to humans. Tapeworms are a common one that dogs carry and can be transmitted to us. It’s a good idea to not let your dog lick your face!
As mentioned earlier on of the most common invaders are Blastocystis hominis and they usually coincide in the human body with candida and bacteria. It can cause intermittent symptoms such as allergies, bowel problems and skin problems and will show up when your body is under stress and the immune system is weakened. People with grain intolerances or allergies commonly are infected with BH.
There are many herbs and formulation that are effective for eliminating parasites. It is important to take them for long enough though, as they can be hard to eliminate. Probiotics, digestive enzymes with betaine HCL, and boosting your immune system will help.
And very importantly, you need to change the terrain by improving your health and body through a healthy diet. This must be more alkaline and include as much fresh foods as possible. You can include pumpkins seeds, carrots, onion and garlic to help eliminate them. Its suggested to avoid all sugars, this includes in dairy (lactose), alcohol, fruit (fructose), breads and other processed foods as they will make you more acidic, which will help assure the parasites continue to exist. Parasites love sugar!
If you suspect you have parasites or have a health condition that is unresolved and you think it possibly could be linked to worms, please come and see me! I can detect parasites in the live blood analysis in my clinic.
HAS WINTER GOT YOU SAD?
Do you get sad and down in winter? In Australia, about 1 in 300 people are effected by seasonal affective disorder affects (1). Especially in the southern states of Australia where there is less winter sun and cooler temperatures in winter.
SAD is also known as ‘winter blues’ and is a mood disorder that affects people in the winter months when there is less sunlight. These people get down and depressed in the winter months, have less energy and sleep for longer than usual. They may also experience weight gain, mood swings irritability, have appetite changes and be hypersensitive. Withdrawing from social situations is also common
BUT…. Did you know that you can also get the opposite in summer? When there is more sun and longer daylight hours some people experience more anxiety and energy and less sleep. Melatonin is our sleep hormone produced by the pineal gland in the brain.
In the colder winter months, the reduction in sunlight means our melatonin is produced earlier in the day and sometimes its production is also prolonged in the mornings. This upsets our ‘ circadian rhythm’ which is our internal 24 hour sleep/ wake cycle. Research suggests that SADs is to do with the delay in our circadian rhythm. These changes in melatonin also influence our serotonin levels which is our ‘happy ‘ hormone and in turn influences our mood.
More on Melatonin ….. for more than just sleeping……..
Melatonin also regulates core body temperature, is immune enhancing and has antioxidant properties. Most people are familiar with it helping lessen jet lag whilst traveling.
It treats age related insomnia and improves sleep efficiency in Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Hungtinton’s diseases.
It also reduces blood pressure in people that are hypertensive (already have high blood pressure. )
C’MON….GET HAPPY AGAIN! Natural Treatment options…..
US research showed that walking 3 times a week for 30 minutes if you are depressed can make you feel less depressed. I would recommend if you suffer from SADS you exercise every day and outdoors so then you get natural sunlight and vitamin D as well. Sunlight stimulates the pineal gland in the brain to produce melatonin at night time to induce sleep and regulates our circadian rhythm.
2. LIGHT THERAPY
A dose of sunlight first thing in the morning can help with our serotonin and melatonin production and set our body clock or circadian Rhythm.
The more we are exposed to sunlight the more serotonin we produce which can stave off day time melatonin and depression. Melatonin makes us feel sleepy and is produced as the sun goes down.
Research has shown that 15 minutes of blue light therapy is equivalent to 2 hours of natural sunlight. Blue light is used as research has found that this specific colour light stimulates the part of our retina which differentiates night time from day time. You can read more about this HERE.
Jeff Collings, clinical director of sleep and snoring solutions company MCS Australia, recommends busy office workers getting little to no natural light keep a blue light box on their desk.
“A ten minute burst when you are feeling a little low can really perk you up. The light works instantly and is completely natural.”
Bright white “full spectrum” light at 10,000 lux, blue light at a wavelength of 480 nm at 2,500 lux or green (actually cyan or blue-green) light at a wavelength of 500 nm at 350 lux are used, with the first-mentioned historically preferred. (3)
For comparisons on the different types of light therapies available, check outhttp://light-therapy-lamps-review.toptenreviews.com/.
Pub med have many research papers on Light therapy and depression.
Have a look at this one “The efficacy of light therapy in the treatment of mood disorders: a review and meta-analysis of the evidence”
Professor Trevor Norman is a psychiatrist in Melbourne and he says research into bright light therapy has offered the most hope. “In one study at the Austin Hospital in Melbourne, they found sitting in front of a bright fluorescent light effectively reduced symptoms.” (4)
3. TO SUPPLEMENT OR NOT TO SUPPLEMENT?
A study showed that St. Johns wort improve the condition in those who regularly experienced winter depression. Is has been shown to be more effective in conjunction with light therapy. Other adrenal and adpatogen hebs can lift mood and help us feel more alive in the winter months. These include the ginsengs, Siberian and panax, and other herbs to keep in mind are Rhodiola and Withania. Withania is one of my favourite herbs. It helps us with moods, sleeping, reduces anxiety and has mild antidepressant qualities.
VITAMIN D and ESSENTIAL FATTY ACIDS
If you are getting less sunlight then you may be vitamin D deficient. Vitamin D is important for all round brain health as vitamin D receptors in increase nerve growth in the brain. Optimal levels are at least 100 mol/l. As vitamin D is fat soluble taking it with fats will increase its absorption. Omega 3 fatty acids are also important for brain health. These fats found in fish oil help stabilise moods and emotions.
5HTP or 5 – hydroxytryptophan, an activated form of the amino acid tryptophan, is the precursor to serotonin, along with co factors vitamin B6, magnesium and folate. This is a practitioner only product and is best discussed with your naturopath.
Researchers at Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU) have found that melatonin, a naturally occurring brain substance, can relieve the doldrums of winter depression, known as seasonal affective disorder, or SAD. I would not recommend this in all cases.
4. GET YOU GUT HEALTH RIGHT!!
The majority of serotonin is produced in our gut. So it’s imperative to have a good balance of the gut flora. Eating a healthy diet of fresh foods with plenty of vegetables will help our gut produce more of the good bacteria. You may crave carbohydrates and processed foods but they will only encourage growth of the bad bacteria and result in less serotonin production. A good quality probiotic will be valuable here.
A combination of different therapies is suggested to counteract SADS and I would recommend that if you suffer from this, that you exercise and get sunlight daily at the very least.
2 Sleep, health and consciousness, a physicians guide. Reza Samvat and Henry Oseki.
Co enzyme Q 10. Heard of it? Many people have . Or have you recently heard of the active form, Ubiqiunol ? This active form is more easily used by the body.
But what is it I hear you ask and what does it do ??? It’s an enzyme that is naturally produced in each of our cells in our body to PRODUCE ENERGY. This is important! Otherwise our cells won’t function and we end up with disease.
Co-Q10 is produced in the ‘mitochondria’ of each cell of your body, which is like the ‘engine ‘of our cells. This is where 80% of our cells energy is produced. Co Q 10 is needed for our muscles to function normally and is most concentrated in the heart muscle. Also in the liver and kidneys. It is also an anti oxidant, which means it can protect our cells from damage and protects us from free- radicals. This potential ‘damage’ could be from chemicals, viruses, hormones, medications poor diet and ageing.
Studies have shown Co Q 10 to be low in people with Chronic fatigue syndrome. (CFS) and fibromyalgia. (1)
The levels in your body can be reduced due to pharmaceutical drug use, ageing, disease or genetic failure. The medications which affect its production are the oral contraceptive pill, statins (for lowering cholesterol) and therefore reduce the serum levels of Co enzyme Q10. It is highly recommended if you are on a statin to take Co Q10 concurrently.
This wonderful enzyme can increase stamina and endurance and protects our cardiovascular system and our HDL, or good cholesterol. It has also been found to neuroprotective activity, which means it protects our nerve cells from damage.
“ Co Q0 10 has also been used to treat neuromuscular diseases, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease. Huntington’s Disease and more” (2)
And I think I mentioned before in one of my videos, it can slow down wrinkle formation as it slows down ageing! Yay for that!
Co1 10 can be used in high cholesterol, hypertension, chronic fatigue syndrome, to reduce the risk of dementia and other diseases. Even if your energy is a bit lower than it used to be, you may find it very helpful. I personally would suggest that everyone over the age of 40 takes it!
Food sources of Co Q10 include beef, chicken, peanuts, almonds and oily fish such as ocean salmon and sardines. Cooking destroys some of it and beef being the richest food source, contains roughly 2.6 mg in a serve that is about the size of a card deck. (3) To get the therapeutic benefits you need to be taking much more than that in a supplemental form, from 100 mg upwards.
And please, if you are on any medications or have any serious medical conditions and you are considering taking Co Q10, you will need to check with me, or your health practitioner for any contraindications.
Here is to more stamina and a longer life!
- Myamae T, Seiki M, Naga T, et al. Increased oxidative stress …..amelioration of hypercholesterolemia and fatigue ….. Redox Rep. 2013 (12-19).
- 2- Salama , N, Yuan TF, Machado s, et al. Co-eznyme Q 10 to treat neurological disorders 2013 August 641-664
Did you know your thyroid gland can cause fatigue if it’s under active, and fatigue and anxiety if it over active? Regularly I see patients more often with sub clinical hypothyroidism, where the thyroid is functioning sub optimally. If the TSH, or ‘thyroid stimulating hormone’ in your blood, tests between 2 and 5, (this number starts at 0 and can reach over 100), Doctors will tell you it’s okay. Your TSH levels should ideally be between 1 and 2. Commonly TSH is tested in isolation, but always should be tested alongside Free T3 and Free T4 (more about these hormones later). Your thyroid can be under active for years before it shows in blood tests and eventually becomes a full blown thyroid disease.
Your thyroid can be slightly underactive and still produce concerning symptoms for you. Have you been suspecting it’s your thyroid when all you get from your Doctor is – ‘its fine’ ? TSH is a hormone produced by the pituitary gland (in the brain) as a response to thyroid hormones. If your thyroid hormones are too low, then the pituitary will respond by producing more TSH which will stimulate the thyroid to try and produce more thyroid hormones.
What does your thyroid gland actually do?
The thyroid glands hormones regulate oxygen use and basal metabolic rate (BMR), cellular metabolism, growth and development. The thyroid regulates the metabolism by stimulating protein synthesis and the use of glucose for energy. Its hormones play an important role in the maintenance of normal body temperature and accelerate body growth especially the growth of nervous tissue. They also increase triglyceride (a type of fat) breakdown and excretion of cholesterol. (1). Commonly, people with high cholesterol have thyroid issues.
If hormone levels drops below normal, metabolism inside your cells slows down and energy levels drop. If the hormones become too high, the metabolism and all the body processes speed up. The thyroid also affects the body’s sensitivity to adrenal hormones.
“both the glands produce hormones that regulate our energy levels. In a simplified sense, the thyroid gland sets our “idle” level or our baseline energy level, and the adrenal glands acts as the accelerator for our energy level when demand is higher”
Dr. Banks, Endocrine specialist, USA
For more information on the adrenal glands please see my blog ‘3 stages of adrenal dysfunction and what to do about it’.
The main Thyroid hormones
TSH is thyroid stimulating hormone, which is produced by the Pituitary gland in the brain. TSH acts on the thyroid gland which produces the thyroid hormones T3 and T4, using the nutrients tyrosine and iodine.
TBG is thyroid binding globulin which carries T4 and T3 to the tissues to exert their metabolic effect.
T4 is thyroxine (contains 4 molecules of iodine), the ‘inactive’ thyroid hormone which is the precursor to T3 or reverse T3
T3 is Triiodothyronine (contains 3 molecules of iodine), the ‘active’ hormone is produced when the body needs energy, by removing an iodine atom From T4, it then becomes T3. T3 is 5 to 7 times more biologically active than T4.
RT3 is reverse T3, an inactive form of T3, which is made by the body to tone down energy. If reverse T3 is too high it binds up your ‘active’ Free T3, which can cause symptoms of hypothyroidism despite a normal thyroid function test.
TRH is thyrotropin releasing hormone which is released by the hypothalamus gland in the brain. It monitors the levels of thyroid hormones in the body and acts on the pituitary gland to produce TSH.
Brain… thyroid …action !
The hypothalamus (part of the brain that regulates the autonomic nervous system and endocrine glands) monitors the thyroid hormones and produces TRH, which then acts on the pituitary gland (also in the brain) to produce TSH. TSH acts on the thyroid gland to produce T3 and T4. Nutrients used during this process are iodine and tyrosine. T4 is then converted to T3 by deiodinase enzymes, which depend on adequate selenium in the body. This happens mainly in the liver but also in the gut, muscles, brain and the thyroid gland. TBG carries T4 and T3 into the tissues where they become free T3 and Free T4, then binding to thyroid hormones receptors (THR’s ) and exert their metabolic effect.
Common symptoms of an underactive thyroid
The symptoms are very important, the most common being fatigue, poor concentration, feeling mentally groggy, weight gain, dry skin, cold hands and feet, constipation, depression, high cholesterol, high estrogens, heavy periods, hair loss, high blood pressure, fibromyalgia and insomnia. Some people experience a tight feeling around the throat or have frequent throat or lost voice issues. Their reflexes can be slow and they can feel cold all the time or have an intolerance to cold. Some people also get pain or joint stiffness and numbness / tingling in hands and feet including Carpel tunnel syndrome.
Children with hypothyroidism have symptoms that are not as specific as adults, but mainly are fatigue, brain fog and hair loss.
When testing for hypothyroidism it is best to use the basal body temperature test and also look at the blood test results.
How to do ‘The basal body temperature test.’
Take your temperature on waking each morning for at least 5 days. Lying very still in bed for around 10 minutes with a thermometer under your arm. If its digital don’t turn it on until the 10 minutes is up. If its mercury then shake it down the night before. The reading shouldn’t be below 36.4 degrees Celsius. If it is consistently then your thyroid is underactive.
If the temperature is consistently low I usually suggest my patients have a blood test to check TSH, Free T3, Free T4 and reverse T3. A more comprehensive test may involve the thyroid auto antibodies, urinary iodine, homocysteine (an amino acid produced in the body from methionine, another amino acid), serum selenium and plasma zinc.
The overactive thyroid or underactive thyroid…. or both??
I have had an under active and over active thyroid gland at the same time, during a period of high stress in my life. I went from having a racing heart and anxiety to feeling depressed and flat as a tack. Fortunately naturopathy offers effective support for thyroid disorders. It was resolved very quickly with all the right lifestyle changes and the right remedies.
If the thyroid is inflamed or if the immune system decides to attack it, it becomes a form of thyroiditis. A common form is Hashimoto’ disease, where the body produces antibodies against the thyroid tissue. A common trigger is stress and leaky gut, or an existing auto immune disease such as celiac disease. The thyroid becomes inflamed and over produces hormones then eventually becomes under active. Grave’s disease is another auto immune thyroid disease which causes the thyroid to produce too many thyroid hormones.
According to research, 95% of hypothyroid cases are due to Hashimoto’s Disease, an autoimmune thyroid condition. The immune system attacks the thyroid gland and eventually the thyroid loses the ability to produce hormones and hypothyroidism develops. This can take years and in some cases the thyroid can be overactive for a short period of time, but doesn’t last long as it soon becomes underactive. Hashimoto’s is diagnosed by a high level of TSH, low T3 and T4 and the presence of antibodies. The two main anti bodies are TPO (thyroid peroxidase antibodies) and TGAb (Thyroglobulin antibodies). Hashimoto’s is often associated with gluten intolerance and/or celiac disease, so a gluten anti body blood test is also warranted. Vitamin D levels may also be low.
This is the most common form of overactive thyroid and accounts for 85% of all hyperthyroidism cases. (4)
Grave’s disease is an autoimmune disease. The immune system produces an antibody that attacks or stimulates the thyroid gland to produce high levels of thyroid hormones. This toxic level of thyroid hormones is called thyrotoxicosis. These people can have symptoms which include extreme anxiety, protruding eyes and cardiac issues. Blood tests involved in diagnosing this disease are Low TSH, High levels of Free T3 and free T4 and thyroid stimulating auto antibodies (TSI). TPO antibodies may also be present.
Overactive thyroid symptoms.
If the thyroid hormone levels are too high, some of the following symptoms may be present.
Nervousness, shortness of breath
Bulging eyes (in Grave’s disease)
Rapid heart beat
Diarrhoea/ loose stools
Being over sensitive to heat.
Sometimes a goitre is present (see below),
Increased appetite and increased sweating.
Light or absent menstruation/periods
Goitre and Thyroid nodules
A goitre is an enlarged thyroid gland and is a symptom of many thyroid disorders. Commonly it is because of inadequate iodine intake which causes low levels of thyroid hormones and the stimulation of TSH can cause enlargement of the gland. Nodules can be part of a multi nodular goitre.
There are many types of thyroid nodules and they are more common in women and in people with iodine and selenium deficiencies. They can also be caused by inflammation of the thyroid gland (as in Hashimotos), radiation or chemical exposure. The four types of single nodules are fluid filled cysts, benign adenoma, slow growing adenoma and rarely a cancerous adenoma. Most nodules are symptomless, but some such as the ‘hot nodules’ which produce thyroid hormones cause the symptoms of hyperthyroidism. Some cysts can also cause neck symptoms such as trouble swallowing and change in your voice.
What affects the thyroid gland?
- BPA; Bisphenol A, the main source is from plastics but also receipts
- Chemicals such as organo chlorides (in herbicides and pesticides), PCB’s and PBDE’s , (polychlorinated bisphehyl and polybrominated diphenyl ethers in plastics, adhesives, insulating materials, flame retardants, carpets and upholstery)
- Chlorine and fluoride in drinking water and fluoride also in toothpaste
- Goitrogen foods such as unfermented soy products and uncooked cruciferous vegetables
- HRT or the contraceptive pill, estrogen being the main offender here
- Heavy metals such as mercury from dental fillings, lead from car fumes and water pipes, and cadmium from car fumes, pesticides and in white flour products.
- Stress and extreme emotions.
- The thyroid can be effected if there are problems with expressing oneself
Thyroid function is easily impaired by chronic stress and adrenal fatigue as well as iodine deficiency (which is common in Australia), a high intake of goitrogenic foods, radiation, exposure to toxins and autoimmune thyroid disease. (2)
The thyroid and cardiovascular system.
People with Low T4 / thyroxine levels have slower methylation ability as it slows down MTHFR. MTHFR is an enzyme which breaks down folate into its biologically active form. This leads to an increase in homocysteine, a part of the methylation cycle which if high long term, can cause cardiovascular problems.
Methylation is a metabolic process which happens in every cell of our body and more than a billion times per second. It affects our body’s ability to produce and regulate chemicals, hormones and to switch genes on and off. It is involved in production of neurotransmitters and DNA repair and detoxification.
Your symptoms and type of thyroid disorder, whether full blown or subclinical, are treated individually. Having the guidance of a naturopath is very important whether you are already being treated by a medical doctor or not.
Part of the support is not just for symptoms but for the reasons behind the type of thyroid disorder. Treating and improving gut function is very important for all thyroid disorders. Leaky gut is commonly associated with Grave’s disease and Hashimoto’s, so this needs to be quickly addressed. Nutrient deficiencies also need to be addressed.
Food sensitivities and allergies need to be tested and eliminated. A Gluten free diet is very important to follow in autoimmune disease. Dairy free is also recommended as the casein (milk protein) can produce inflammation and/or immune system problems for many people.
Stress needs to be reduced or avoided, and this includes toxins/ chemical exposure, avoidance of known allergens, overwork and lack of sleep. It is very important to always support the adrenal gland function, at some stage the liver support and even a detox may be needed. .
There are many herbs and nutrients which can help normalise the thyroid and can stand alone or support any medical treatment.
If you suspect thyroid dysfunction, start with your basal body temperature test and then have blood tests. It is important to catch it early to avoid harmful bodily effects it can exert.
I have helped many patients with thyroid disorders over the last 17 years. If you would like my guidance, please book for a consultation. for those of you not in South Australia, I also offer phone or Skype consultations!
- Principles of anatomy and physiology. Tortora and Grabowski. Thyroid gland, p 520-525
- Biopractica Thyroid webinar notes
- The importance of Adrenal and Thyroid health – Eagle Professional natural medicine
- Your thyroid problems solved – Dr. Sandra Cabot.