Sunday, October 13, 2019

Three Cheers for Adrenal Supplements

I know I've been saying this for three months...but I think I am finally over my bronchitis. Three cheers for adrenal supplements!

I kept using 35mg per day of hydrocortisone cream, until one day last week when I became puffy and gained a couple of pounds. That's a sign you're overdoing the hydrocortisone. I backed off, then started taking adrenal cortex extract that finally arrived. I waited until Saturday to take it because I wanted to be home in case I didn't feel well on it. Saturday morning I woke up with a persistent headache, but today, I felt 42 again. I installed a new car stereo, planted some ferns, cleaned up the yard, fixed the fences--and I'm a little sore because it's been awhile since I worked so hard.

Much credit to the book Stop the Thyroid Madness, Updated Revised Edition, for its chapters on treating your adrenals.

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Adrenal Fatigue

I think I finally understand why I've had bronchitis off and on for months, why I had scary heart palpitations for years up until a few days ago, and why I couldn't fast or do well on keto/Atkins induction. The reason is adrenal fatigue. Some call it a made-up illness (there's no insurance code for it), but here are the results of my lab test for adrenal hormones:

Green is optimal; my cortisol levels are mostly suboptimal. DHEA is in the tank.
My adrenals are clearly at the low end. As Dr. William Jefferies put it, "Patients with mild adrenal deficiency describe wanting to do things but feeling too exhausted to undertake them..." The latter is exactly how I've felt for quite a while. 

Cortisol, one of the adrenal hormones, helps you deal with inflammation and stress; it also helps regulate blood sugar, metabolism and immune responses. When my dog Molly died in 2017 and I started breaking out in hives at night, it was probably a lack of cortisol. When I got ravenous after a fast in 2010, I probably wasn't making enough cortisol. When it took me three months after moving to Indiana to feel like going back to work full time, it was probably a lack of cortisol and other adrenal hormones, depleted after two of the most stressful years I ever lived through. 

I've started taking DHEA. Dr. William Davis recommended a starting dose of 10 mg; he writes in Wheat Belly Total Health that high doses can induce facial hair in women. My office mate says that if I ever show up looking like I need to shave, she'll know what happened. I've also been using 35mg of hydrocortisone cream every day (about the level recommended in Stop the Thyroid Madness) for going through an illness like bronchitis). I'm feeling better, but still have a ways to go.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Kamala Joins the Dietary Dictocrats

Kamala Harris discusses her stance on red meat and the US Dietary Guidelines. While she says she "love[s] cheeseburgers from time to time," she says she would change the Dietary Guidelines to reduce red meat specifically and introduce "incentives" to educate Americans about the environmental effects of what they eat.

Kamala should have said she needed to study the issue more. In reality, the perennial grasses that cattle eat prevent runoff and help keep carbon in the ground. Some farmers like Allan Savory say that properly done grazing restores desert and reduces or eliminates the need for fertilizer. Cattle and other livestock can grow on land that's unsuitable for growing crops. And land lush with plants is cooler than desert--even my little suburban lot in Colorado, where the front yard was planted with flowers and bushes instead of lawn, felt a degree or two cooler than surrounding yards planted with water-sucking grass. 

If you're not eating meat, you have to eat something else. The "something else" in the eating guidelines is mostly grain, which requires fertilizer, pesticide and (in some places) irrigation.

Finally, the guidelines have been a disaster for public health. The carb heavy diet they promote has led to diabetes, obesity, and a variety of other diseases. 

Here's my choice:

Fifty pounds of meat, plus ice cube trays, plus an ice cream bowl, fit in the freezer of my regular sized refrigerator.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

It's Like they Want us to Stay Sick

Popping the Umcka Cold Care pills has made me feel a lot better. I'm still coughing, but no longer wondering if I should see someone.

And what if I did see a doctor? According to official websites like the Mayo Clinic, WebMD, and, you should "wash your hands," "use a humidifier," "wear a face mask," and "stop smoking" if you have bronchitis--which it says is "rarely" caused by infection. Are they writing this for people in Somalia? I already wash my hands and I've never smoked in my life. Use a humidifier? I live in Indiana, where it's so wet that we need dehumidifiers. "Wear a face mask"? Why not put some leaches on, too? I work in an office in the US, not a construction site or the middle of a forest fire.

Of course, the ubiquitous advice is "see your doctor." Which you'll need to do if you try to cure your bronchitis with hand washing and a face mask. "Stop smoking" is good advice, but everybody already knows that. Your doctor can prescribe a bronchodilator, which doesn't sound like cure but a treatment you'll have to go back for. The sites have sections on "living with bronchitis." Cynics might call it "becoming a revenue stream for your doctor."

None of these sites mentions Pelargonium sidoides in their bronchitis sections. One that mentions it elsewhere on their site doesn't exactly give it a ringing endorsement. This, despite clinical trials showing it's effective in treating bronchitis, and that it works because it's antibacterial, antiviral, and cranks up your immune system. In other words, it might cure you.


Monday, September 2, 2019

I Feel Like a Wind-Up Doll

I've always been a night owl. Look at my posts and you can see a pattern of them being written late at night. Yet lately it's been more pronounced. Saturday mornings, I can barely function. Today is Labor Day, and it's kind of like a Saturday. After sitting around watching Overboard and Fluffy, playing with the dog and wondering if I should seek medical help, it was like someone wound me up at 8 PM. I mowed the lawn, finished the ironing and made low-carb cookies. I feel like I could go "diggin' ditches through an isthmus, and rough ridin' down to Cuba like 'What's up bitches!'"  I'd love to feel like this during the day so I could get more done and then sleep at night. That, and not feel like I need medical help for the first 12 hours of the day. I'm going to take an adrenal function test next weekend and hope that sheds some light on my problems.

Maybe part of my problem is that I still have bronchitis I caught July 4. However, the NDT pills I've been taking for low thyroid have been bringing me back from the feeling of being in la-la land. So today, I finally searched the Protein Power blog by Dr. Mike Eades, in my opinion, the most useful health blog out there. An entry from 2008 recommended an African herb called pelargonium sidoides, better known at my house as Umcka Cold Care. D'oh. I had an effective medication in the medicine cabinet all along. It's been working better than Mucinex--although it may just be that it's nighttime and I'm feeling better.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Hypothyroid, Hyper-Bloating, and the Cold that Wouldn't Die

Ah, the Fourth of July. The summer weather, the fat, juicy burgers, the fireworks, the last day I didn't have a cold for over a month. I woke up feeling good, got a lot done, but by evening I didn't even feel like standing on the corner to see fireworks. I called in sick the following Monday and Tuesday. On August 4--one month later, I took a turn for the worse and saw a doctor, who wrote a prescription for antibiotics and cough syrup. I called in sick for the next three days. Then I went to work--still coughing, coworkers telling me it would be OK to go home--and picked up my natural desiccated thyroid (NDT). I started taking it that Saturday--and soon my cold started getting better. As the week went on and I needed to up my dose of NDT, the cough started coming back to the point that I thought about going back to the doctor. But I upped the dose--and again, the cough mostly went away. I was thinking I'd need Sheriff Grimes on the case to kill the cold that wouldn't die.

Another thing that mostly disappeared when I started NDT: digestive bloating. Bloating happens when your food doesn't digest. I'm now taking half the digestive enzymes I was before without the bloating. Maybe that's been the reason I've needed so many supplements: poor digestion from hypothyroid. In any case, there are supplements I know I need to take: iodine, iron, magnesium, and vitamin D. It'll be interesting to see if it becomes necessary to back off the doses of any of those supplements. 

Monday, August 19, 2019

Thyroid: Hormonal Dunning-Kruger Syndrome

It's been quite an adventure riding this sparking and sputtering thyroid. It started back in the highly stressful year of 2014 when I had mountains of work on my desk, an hour-long commute, and aging parents who themselves were sputtering along and constantly needed me to come over to help them. Then my coworker quit and I had all the work to do. I asked if I could go live with her in Mexico, only half joking.

My father died. My mother nearly died of kidney failure. Then stayed with me for two weeks during and leading up to the estate sale. We surrendered her dog when she couldn't take care of him. In thanks for my hard work, I was accused of elder abuse. (The county found no grounds for the accusations.)

I had a root canal and three courses of antibiotics. Then I moved across the country: I bought one house before selling the other (albeit in Denver's hot real estate market) and had no permanent job lined up in Indiana. Then finding my best friend had changed quite a bit, we went our separate ways. It was near the end of 2015 by this time, and I spent Christmas day in bed when I wasn't throwing up.

Through this time, I had scary heart palpitations, trouble sleeping, and after the antibiotics, cystic acne. I lost weight. My stomach felt off. I looked a little bit like a meth user--not helpful as a Colorado native looking for a job in Indiana. After I got here, I was finally able to rest. It was three months before I felt like going back to work full-time again. I spent most of the day playing video games--it was all I had the energy for.

I knew something was physically wrong with me--like I'd caught a strange virus. I know now that it was probably adrenal and/or thyroid problems, likely brought on by stress.

So my roller coaster ride, physically and situationally, was over once I got to Indiana. Well, not exactly. Indiana is in the goiter belt--there's not much iodine in the soil here. That's not good for your thyroid! Plus, I was eating some bad foods because I was still stressed out, mentally and physically.

Late last year (2018), I decided to have another go at low-carb, clean eating. I was even good on Christmas--no dessert. I started making a low-carb latte for breakfast and started feeling better. I found out that just about everything in it was antimicrobial--and that Dr. Davis was advocating botanical oils--and so I joined his Inner Circle. It sounds like something with funny handshakes and interesting costumes, but it's basically a web site you can join for a fee. I posted that I was tired and keto REALLY wasn't working for me, and someone suggested a thyroid test (along with doing the Undoctored program of diet and supplements). I didn't think it was my thyroid, since I wasn't overweight, wasn't depressed, usually didn't need to run the heater in the car in the winter, and had enough hair for two people. But the test showed hypothyroid. Later I learned that probably did account for my ears itching--I'd been poking and scraping them until they bled since 2014--and the puffy eyes and creeping weight gain and bloating and the feeling that there was no point to my life. I'd been thinking I'd accomplished what I'd set out to do, that the living was easy in Indiana, la la la...I had the hormonal equivalent of Dunning-Kruger Syndrome: I was too sick to realize I was sick.

I started taking kelp pills as an iodine supplement and began to feel better, but a follow-up test still showed free T3 and free T4 (important thyroid hormones) at the low end of normal. Normal doesn't mean optimal. So I started taking natural desiccated thyroid (NDT), which is available over-the-counter. Wow--I felt great...for the better part of a week. By the end of the week, I was back to video games, and looked like I hadn't slept in a week. I upped the dose, and feel back to my old self. I hope it continues.

I chose NDT supplements because it was just easier than trying to find an endocrinologist who was hip to proper thyroid treatment. Everything I've read says that the standard of care is terrible--that they generally only test TSH (free T3, free T4, reverse T3 and the antibodies are important, too) and that they tend to put people on insufficient doses of synthetic T4. Why go through the hassle when you can order some natural, old-school hormones online?

Recommended reading:
Stop the Thyroid Madness (book and website)
Wheat Belly Total Health chapter on Thyroid
Undoctored by William Davis (book and website)