Thyroid Disease May Cause
Serious Health Risks
According to the American Association of Clinical
Endocrinologists (AACE), 27 million Americans have thyroid
disease, but Vicky Uhland, from Natural Solutions Magazine,
tells us that more than half remain undiagnosed. Why? That's because
physicians often confuse thyroid symptoms with other conditions that
have similar symptoms, and testing procedures can be antiquated and
inaccurate. She says that doctors also tend to overlook thyroid disease
because, unlike heart disease or diabetes, thyroid problems rarely kill
you, and symptoms are non-specific. Even thyroid cancer is one of the
most survivable cancers because it grows so slowly.
disease, which includes hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, goiters, and
nodules, can cause serious health risks. The tiny, butterfly-shaped
thyroid gland at the base of the throat produces hormones that control
every function in the body. "Thyroid
hormone improves mood, skin, hair, nails, sex drive, heart function,
cholesterol, infertility, and hormonal symptoms such as PMS and
menopause. It influences muscle aches, joint pain, body temperature, and
metabolism," says Mark Hyman, MD,
founder and director of The UltraWellness Center
in Lenox, Massachusetts, and author of The Ultra Thyroid Solution...Read more to learn
about the types of thyroid diseases and therapies.
McDonald reports in Natural Solutions
that hip and knee replacements used to be for "old
folks," but new data from the American
Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons reveals a troubling surge in
replacement surgeries for the under-65 set. Here are four easy changes
to make now so your joints will last a lifetime.
Try: Food-based antioxidants
Why they Work:
Antioxidants combat the oxidative stress associated with inflammation
and joint diseases like arthritis.
Make the change: Eat 1 cup per day of red or
purple fruits, such as berries, cherries, pomegranates, or red grapes,
or drink 1 cup juice without added sugar.
Try: Omega-3 fatty acids
Why they work:
These polyunsaturated fats are naturally anti-inflammatory.
Make the change: Sprinkle omega 3-rich ground
flaxseeds onto your morning cereal, or add a handful of walnuts to
yogurt or salads.
Try: Strengthening your quadriceps
Why it works:
Strong quads support your knees, reduce pain, and prevent cartilage
the change: Sign up for
spin classes, and add squats to your warm-ups every time you work out.
Try: Weight loss
Why it works: Each
pound of extra weight results
fourfold increase in the load exerted on the knee per step.
Make the change: Incorporate low-impact
activity three times a week: Walk, bike, or swim for 30 minutes.
The English physician who first described restless legs
syndrome (RLS) in 1683 wrote of "leapings
and contractions of the tendons"
so intense his patients were "no
more able to sleep than if they were in a place of greatest torture."
Yet throughout the 1800s, RLS
sufferers who complained of its hallmark "creepy
crawly" or "itchy, burning"
sensations were often called psychotic and committed to an institution.
Even as recently as the 1990s, many doctors were skeptical, if not
altogether ignorant, about the condition. "I've
talked to people who say they went from doctor to doctor for 20 years,
and no one knew what it was,"
says Norma Cuellar, RN, an RLS researcher with the University
of Pennsylvania School of Nursing. But today, thanks to a surge
research into restless legs, the once-obscure syndrome is a hot topic,
and the estimated 12 million Americans who suffer from it can get the
treatment they need.
Scientists believe that RLS, like
Parkinson's disease, results from poor dopamine metabolism, either
because of a genetic trait (roughly 40 percent of cases) or an
underlying health problem, such as iron deficiency. Those with restless
legs often have an almost irresistible urge to move their limbs,
particularly at night. The condition wreaks havoc on sleep and disrupts
people's work and social lives (just sitting through a movie can be
impossible). In fact, RLS sufferers more likely suffer from anxiety and
depression as well. "For a long
time, people have felt they were underbelieved and underserved," says Michael
Weissberg, MD, a sleep
specialist with the University of Colorado Health
Sciences Center. "It's
ridiculous. RLS is extremely real."
Fortunately, real remedies exist for it. Here are four to try:
- Iron: This
nutrient appears to play an
important role in dopamine metabolism and, thus, nerve health. More
than a fourth of RLS patients are deficient in ferritin (the form in
which your body stores iron). Before taking iron supplements, get your
ferritin levels checked. Standard blood tests don't measure it, however,
so you have to ask for the specific test. Doctors recommend
supplementation only if ferritin levels measure less than 50 ng/mL. For
those with a deficiency, studies show that taking 200 to 300 mg of oral
ferrous sulfate one to three times daily (depending on the degree of
deficiency) can improve RLS symptoms if taken over several months. For
optimal absorption, take the supplements on an empty stomach, an hour or
two after your last meal. Intravenous iron therapy can alleviate
symptoms faster and keep them at bay for up to six months. Since taking
too much iron can cause you serious harm, make sure to have your iron
levels monitored while supplementing.
Acid: For 30 years,
researchers have hypothesized that taking folic acid (a key component in
nerve health) may alleviate restless legs, particularly when the
condition runs in a family. "People
who respond best to high doses of folic acid are people who have a
family history of RLS," says
naturopathic doctor Dean Neary, chair of the physical medicine
department at Bastyr University in Seattle. "Perhaps
there is some deficiency that gets passed from gene to gene that causes
malabsorption on the folic acid end."
Start at 5 mg daily, and if symptoms persist, you can work your way up
to as much as 30 mg. Keep in mind that these dosages are very high (the
RDA for folate is 300 to 600 micrograms), so work under the supervision
of a healthcare provider.
Restless legs can sometimes
occur because of an underlying electrolyte imbalance, says Cuellar. For
instance, patients who have an eating disorder or who undergo
gastric-bypass surgery, both of which disrupt electrolyte levels, often
develop RLS. If an electrolyte imbalance is the culprit, taking extra
magnesium may help. This mineral promotes muscle and nerve health, and
anyone with RLS can safely supplement with it to see if their condition
improves. Try taking anywhere from 200 to 800 mg of elemental magnesium a
day at bedtime (start with a low dose, and move higher if necessary.)
have shown that
this amino acid, found in green tea, promotes the brain wave activity
associated with deep relaxation. It's also a critical precursor to the
relaxing neurotransmitter GABA (gamma amino butyric acid). Even though
there's little research specifically on the use of L-theanine for
restless legs, Jacob Teitelbaum, MD, medical director of the
Fibromyalgia and Fatigue Centers, says it has proven itself as "one of
the best natural remedies for
sleep." He recommends 200 mg of
Sun Theanine one hour before bedtime.
Did You Know???
your body's pH is
significant for good health.
The body's pH is measured on a
of 1 (the most acid) to 14 (the most alkaline); neutral is 7. The
optimal pH of blood is 7.2 to 7.4, or slightly alkaline. If that narrow
range drops by as little as 0.2, your body responds by trying to
neutralize excess acid, pulling minerals from the blood. If blood
doesn't contain enough calcium, magnesium, potassium, and other
acid-buffering minerals, the body then draws on reserves in the bones or
other tissues, such as the liver and heart, which can lead to serious
medical problems...Read more about
maintaining your body's acid-alkaline pH level.
cleanses can deplete your
Prolonged fasting can do more harm
than good by slowing your metabolism, depleting your body of essential
nutrients, and, ironically, recirculating toxins into your system, says Gaetano
Morello, ND, a detox specialist in West
Vancouver, British Columbia, and author of Whole Body Cleansing
(Active Interest Media, 2009). Plus, many popular detox regimens, such
as the Master Cleanse--a 10- to 20-day fast during which you subsist on a
mix of lemon juice, maple syrup, and water--are so extreme that weight
loss is nearly impossible to maintain once you go back to eating solid
safer ways to lose weight, gain energy, and flush out toxins.