Saturday, November 9, 2019

Adrenal Fatigue and Thyroid: Still Fiddling with my Medications

DIYing my adrenal fatigue and low thyroid has been a challenge. At least I'm over the brain fog and can read and think more clearly.

After my ears got dry and itchy again--which seems to be a symptom of low thyroid for me--I upped my thyroid dose again. I also lowered my adrenal cortex dose since I was gaining weight, even with the increased NDT (natural desiccated thyroid medicine) and decreased carb intake. The cortisol (an adrenal hormone) will make you gain weight if you take too much.

I hope this is the last time I need to up my NDT, since my current dose costs $80 per month. I can't even pay for it with my HSA (health savings account, a pre-tax deal in the US). At least the adrenal cortex is cheap, and hydrocortisone is $5 a tube.

The adrenal cortex, which I take in the morning at at noon, started turning me into a morning person. I was up at six doing dishes, vacuuming the house, and packing a lunch. I was tired around 10 PM. Since backing off a little, I'm back to being a night owl: writing late at night and looking at a sink full of dirty dishes.

I'm no longer wiped out on Saturdays. Today I added to the shade garden in my yard by busting up some sod by the maple tree, scattering some seeds, sprinkling the area with organic garden soil and vermiculite and covering it with a thick layer of leaves. It'll have to do. I already have plans to plant two hell strips in prairie plants next year, which will take more seed trays and lights than I now have. (The area between the sidewalk and street is called a tree garden here in Indianapolis, but I prefer hell strip, coined by fellow Coloradan Lauren Springer.) It's going to involve some 400 plants, mulch, and all the old bed sheets I can scrounge from my neighbors. Unlike landscape fabric, the sheets will keep out weeds and eventually decompose. (Hat tip to Bernadette Banner for the idea of reusing old fabric.)

I wouldn't say I'm bursting with energy, though. I still tire easily and don't feel ready to start an exercise program.

I'm no longer in la-la land. I've been downloading podcasts and listening to them in my new stereo on the way to work, something I hadn't done in months. I think my fine motor skills are better, too--I'm no longer mistyping passwords at work so often, and I can play songs on the recorder that gave me trouble before.

And I no longer have bronchitis. I am finally, completely, over it. 

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Podcast with Stop the Thyroid Madness Author Janie Bowthorpe

Elle Russ from Mark's Daily Apple chats with Janie Bowthorpe about thyroid treatment. Bowthorpe suffered for 20 years on Syncrap Synthroid (T4 only) with symptoms that nearly made her apply for disability, all while being told by numerous doctors that it wasn't her thyroid. Through her Yahoo group, she and other thyroid patients figured out better treatments for optimal health.

Bowthorpe discusses the difficulty in finding a non-obstructionist doctor, the need to educate yourself about the thyroid instead of relying on your doctor to solve your problems, and some of the issues with various thyroid treatments.

Podcast here.

Friday, October 25, 2019

Taking Adrenal Cortex Supplements: My Results. Yet Another Reason to Avoid Statins.

I've been taking various adrenal hormones for the past few weeks with mixed results. Overall, it's been positive: they seem to have helped me get over a three-month-long case of bronchitis and I have more energy. Using a dab of hydrocortisone at bedtime has prevented me from grinding my teeth at night. On the downside, the adrenal glandular (containing adrenaline) gives me palpitations if I take too much of it. I've been getting too hot and cold (mostly too hot). Too much hydrocortisone made me puffy and gave me a slight case of acne. Taking adrenal cortex after midday gives me acid reflux and keeps me up at night. (I'm writing this at 4:30 AM.)

Your adrenal hormones help with healing, controlling blood sugar, controlling inflammation, and dealing with stress. They make some of your sex hormones.

Why is adrenal fatigue apparently becoming more common? Your adrenal hormones are made of cholesterol--including LDL, the "bad" cholesterol. Salt is also important for proper adrenal function. What's the dietary advice been for fifty years? Avoid salt, red meat (full of cholesterol) and fat (which Mother Nature packages with cholesterol in animal foods). What's been one of the most popular drugs of our lifetime? Statins. A common side effect of cholesterol-lowering statin drugs is aches and pains. If lowering cholesterol or restricting your salt reduces your cortisol (a hormone that helps with healing and inflammation), it's a no-brainer that that would lead to inflammation and pain. It might also explain how statins lead to diabetes in some people: remember that your adrenal hormones help control blood sugar.

My cholesterol was up 80 points last spring--over 200. I think my body was doing its best to make adrenal hormones (and thyroid hormones). Or maybe it was up because cholesterol wasn't being converted to those hormones. In either case, I hadn't started a fatty meat fest. I'd been on one for years and my cholesterol stayed fairly low.

Speaking of thyroid hormones, low-fat diets and statin drugs could also account for the rise in thyroid problems: your thyroid hormones are also made of cholesterol. Along with heart disease, diabetes, overweight, acid reflux, and mental health problems, I think we can add thyroid and adrenal problems to the list of disasters that low-fat diets and/or statins have caused.

Stop the Thyroid Madness, Updated Revised Edition by Janie A. Bowthorpe, MED.
Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome by James L. Wilson, ND, DC, Ph.D.
Safe Uses of Cortisol by William McK. Jefferies, MD, FACP

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Perfect Muffins

Tonight I created the perfect muffin. This is not the gluten-free baked goods of the 90s that tasted like cardboard. From the top of the muffin to the bottom, it's moist and delicious. It's a variation on Mark Sisson's pumpkin muffin recipe, which is a variation of a Bruce Fife recipe.

The red kuri squash was a bit cheaper at the store than pie pumpkins. It has a mild flavor (despite being called "onion squash" in the UK, apparently after its shape). To cook it, stab it through to the center around the top a few times with a meat fork or sharp knife and bake it on a cookie sheet or pie dish at 350F (175C or gas mark 4) for an hour. Allow it to cool, then cut it in half, scoop out the seeds, scoop the flesh into a pan, and mash with a potato masher. (You could use a food processor if you don't mind the cleanup.)

Red kuri squash. Image by Marzena P. from Pixabay 
Perfect Muffins

12 servings.

1/2 cooked red kuri (hokkaido) squash, cooked and mashed
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/2 cup almond flour
2/3 cup sucralose
2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
6 eggs
4 tablespoons melted butter

Preheat oven to 400F (200C, or gas mark 6). Put 12 silicone baking cups in a muffin tin or on a cookie sheet. (Or grease and flour a muffin tin or use paper baking cups. Silicone just makes it easier.)

Sift coconut flour, almond flour, baking soda, salt and spices in a small bowl. Set aside.

Place squash in a mixing bowl. One by one, crack the eggs into the bowl, mixing well with the squash after adding each egg.

Add flour mixture to egg mixture and mix. Add melted butter and sucralose and mix thoroughly.

Spoon into baking cups. Bake for 20 minutes. Enjoy.

Approximately 8g net carbs per muffin. 

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.