Posted in women's health
Do You Have A Thyroid Problem? A Closer Look At A Small Gland With A Big Role To Play In Your Health
What Is The Thyroid?
The thyroid gland is a small, butterfly-shaped gland situated at the base of your neck, just under the skin. Your thyroid gland secretes a metabolic hormone (often simply called thyroid hormone) that plays a significant role in a wide range of systems in your body, right down to the cellular level. Though often overlooked when diagnosing health issues, thyroid problems can be a key driver, trigger or root cause for many other states of disease and dysfunction in the body.
What The Thyroid's Role In The Body?
Despite its small size, the thyroid gland is critically important to your overall physical and emotional health and wellness. Not only does the thyroid control your body's metabolism (in partnership with cortisol) thyroid hormones influence the speed of everything metabolic in the body - including how your cells utilize energy.
Your thyroid hormone and its relationship to other hormones in the body affect your:
- Body Temperature
- GI Function
- Immune Function
- Heart Function
- Menstruation (including PMS)
- Sex Drive
- Mood, and more
From your body temperature to your cerebral function, your thyroid has a hand in virtually every system in your body. So, as you can imagine, when you have a thyroid problem you can experience any number of symptoms and conditions.
Too Much Or Too Little: Common Symptoms Of A Thyroid Problem.
A healthy thyroid gland will produce a balanced amount of thyroid hormone. Too much or too little hormone can negatively affect your overall health and create more general hormone imbalances. In either case, too much thyroid hormone (hyperthyroidism) or too little (hypothyroidism), a variety of symptoms and conditions can manifest.
Some of the most common symptoms of a thyroid condition are as follows:
- Slowed (hypo) or high (hyper) metabolism
- Weight gain (hypo) or weight loss (hyper)
- Frequent (hypo) or scant (hyper) periods
- PCOS (hypo)
- Intolerance to cold (hypo) or heat sensitivity (hyper)
- Fatigue (hypo) or irritability/nervousness (hyper)
Hypothyroidism is a common, under-diagnosed and under-treated thyroid condition.
Unfortunately, an under-performing thyroid is all too commonly missed or ignored in traditional western medicine despite the fact that it affects many millions of people - especially women. Low thyroid function can be caused by a range of factors. These include poor diet, low iodine, and even environmental toxins.
Hypothyroidism can also be the result of an autoimmune dynamic. When this occurs it is called Hashimoto's disease or thyroiditis. In this case, the immune system itself is negatively affecting thyroid function, causing low hormone production and resulting in an ongoing imbalance in the body. Often food sensitivities, microbial imbalances in the gut, intestinal permeability and even nutrient deficiencies are at the root of this type of thyroid problem.
How Do You Know You Have A Thyroid Problem?
The short answer is thyroid problems are diagnosed by testing hormone levels. As we established above, the thyroid gland produces a hormone commonly referred to as thyroid hormones. But, let's take a closer look because, as you might have guessed, it is a little bit more complex than that.
The thyroid is responsible for using iodine and protein from our diet to create thyroid hormones (especially T4). Our tissues then convert that T4 into the powerful metabolic hormone T3. This is critical because every cell in your body relies on thyroid hormones for the regulation of its metabolism.
Often, physicians are only willing to test for TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone). This is a "ballpark" approach to assessing the health of your thyroid and, in my opinion, TSH testing alone is not enough.
To get a real understanding of thyroid function at a cellular level, it's critical to measure levels of T3 thyroid hormone. Unfortunately, it can be a challenge to persuade your physician to support you in ordering a complete thyroid panel that includes TSH, Free T4, Total T3, Free T3, Reverse T3, and both thyroid auto-antibodies TPO and Tg. But, pushing for this complete hormone assessment is worth it. By measuring all of these thyroid hormone components your health care provider can learn not only how much (or little) hormone is being produced, but how much is actually available for use on a cellular level.
Once testing has been done, and you know whether your symptoms are the result of a thyroid condition, you can begin to take steps to restore function and balance.
Bringing Your Thyroid Back Into Balance: Lifestyle, Nutrition and Treatment.
Whether you are working to resolve hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism, making changes to your lifestyle and diet is always a good place to start.
Reducing stress as much as possible helps to keep cortisol levels in check. This is important because high levels of glucocorticoids (such as cortisol) lower the levels of TSH in the blood and can suppress the immune system which has a direct effect on thyroid function. Some simple and effective ways to help reduce your stress levels include:
- Making time for physical activity, especially time outdoors in nature
- Getting more and better sleep
- Engaging in meditation or yoga
- Practicing mindfulness techniques
A fully balanced whole foods diet is key for a healthy thyroid. Many people struggling with thyroid problems, especially those who have an autoimmune thyroid condition, see real changes to their symptoms by making dietary changes. Paying attention to foods that cause inflammation, immune hyper-reactivity or that aggravate intestinal permeability are especially helpful. For many people that means reducing or eliminating gluten and dairy from your diet.
Try to incorporate the following types of foods in your diet regularly if you can:
- Sea vegetables (edible seaweed)
- Seafood (especially anything with a pink colour)
- Nuts and seeds
- Quality sources of protein and iron in diverse forms including fish, poultry, eggs and - if you do well with them - beef and organ meats
- Unfermented soy products in moderation
- Lightly cooked cruciferous vegetables (as opposed to raw)
- Lots of water
Biological Hormone Replacement Therapy (BHRT) is an effective treatment option for restoring balance to your hormone levels and helping improve your thyroid function. After assessing your specific hormone levels, a customized BHRT formula can be created to supplement a wide range of male and female sex hormones as well as adrenal, pituitary, and thyroid hormones. By taking a "big picture" approach and asking the questions to discover the root causes of your thyroid condition, BHRT can help you to heal.
Treating A Thyroid Problem Is Possible.
The thyroid is a small but important gland closely linked to your overall hormonal health. Its function - or disfunction - can affect you at every level. Traditional western medicine has too often overlooked the importance of thyroid health and hormones when diagnosing and treating other conditions and states of disease - especially in the case of women. Fortunately, through changes to your lifestyle and diet, significant improvement can be made to many of the symptoms caused by a thyroid problem. Likewise, hormone treatments like BHRT offer another avenue of healing for the thyroid.
If you would like to delve deeper into your symptoms and discover if they are connected to a thyroid condition, contact us today. Together we can bring you back into balance and set you on the path to optimal health and wellness.
|Posted in:women's healthBHRThormonesThyroid|
Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP): The Natural Skin Tightening Treatment You'll Love To Reduce Loose Skin And Dark Circles
Feeling Confident In Your Skin Is An Important Part Of Ageing Well
As you age your body changes. Systems slow down and your body's ability to restore and heal itself is affected on a cellular level. For many women, some of the first noticeable signs of ageing are changes to the skin - dark circles under the eyes and loose skin on the neck and jawline being two of the most commonly reported changes. If these physical signs of ageing are causing you to feel uncomfortable or self-conscious about your appearance then they are detracting from your overall health and wellness. How you feel matters. For optimal wellness, you need to consider the body, mind, and spirit. All three aspects are connected and affect each other.
Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) treatments offer a safe and natural way to reduce the physical signs of ageing while safeguarding your body from the hidden toxins found in so many off-the-shelf skincare products. PRP skin tightening treatments allow you to refresh your outer appearance and feel good about how you are doing it.
What is Autolagous Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) Therapy?
Autologous Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) is a natural, non-surgical personalized cell therapy treatment that uses your own blood platelets to stimulate collagen production, cell repair, tissue regeneration and cell growth.
In the comfort and safety of the clinic, 15 ml of your own blood is drawn from your vein into a sterile syringe. The syringe is placed in a centrifuge (a machine that spins at extremely high speeds) which separates and concentrates the platelets (and other beneficial growth factors) from the whole blood. That is then collected in a syringe and injected into the treatment site.
The whole process takes no more than 30 minutes, is virtually pain-free, and because the platelets are collected from your own blood (autologous means "of cells or tissues obtained from the same individual") it is exceptionally safe. To see optimal results for skin tightening or reduction of dark circles or puffy undereye skin (sometimes called "bags") most patients will receive 3 treatments done 30 days apart.
What Makes PRP A Safer Option For Skin Tightening And Dark Circle Treatment?
Unfortunately, skincare products are often laden with hidden toxins. They may help you achieve the results you want externally, but there can be a cost to your health. Women are exposed to as many as 128 chemicals each day through their personal care products. Because companies aren't required to list everything in a product, your favourite undereye creams or shampoo may contain ingredients you would never choose to put on your body like:
- triclosan and
While you are taking care of your body on the outside, these chemicals - specifically endocrine disrupting chemicals - can make their way into your system and cause all sorts of health issues.
Some of the most popular skincare products for women are "anti-ageing" skin tightening treatments and serums to elimintae those dark circles. If you are using these products daily, you may unknowingly be working against your health and wellness goals. This is why autologous PRP treatments are such a comparatively safe and natural option for treating loose skin and dark circles. With no synthetic additives used, autologous PRP relies on what nature gave you to heal you.
Why Do Women Experience Loose Skin And Dark Circles?
Leading up to and during menopause, women as young as 35 can experience lower collagen production, slower cell repair and a drop in estrogen levels. These things, in combination, can contribute to wrinkles, loose skin and dark circles under the eyes.
"As much as 30% of collagen can be lost in the first five years of menopause." - www.absolutecollagen.com
How Does PRP Address The Root Causes Of Loose Skin, Dark Circles And Undereye Bags?
PRP treatments can help refresh and even reverse the effects of ageing by increasing the skin's firmness (by boosting collagen) and elasticity (by boosting elastin). This leads to tighter more supple skin, less pronounced "bags" under the eye and can help to reduce those dark circles, too. Simply put, Platelet Plasma is loaded with multiple growth factors that work together to act as a "powerhouse" for cellular regeneration and tissue growth.
Optimal Health Is More Than Skin Deep.
If you are noticing signs of ageing like loose skin or dark circles under your eyes and it is causing you to feel self-conscious about your outward appearance, you have options. Choosing skincare products that are transparent about their ingredients, like MONAT, will help to maintain your skin in the long term. Meanwhile, a series of PRP skin tightening treatments can kickstart a powerful regeneration that gets you visible results in only a few months. Because PRP treatments are minimally invasive and free from the hidden toxins in many off-the-shelf products, they are a safer and truly natural skincare option. Click here to learn more about PRP skin tightening treatments in Peterborough and book a consultation with me, Agnes Lusier Dow, NP-PHC.
|Posted in:women's healthSkin CarePRP|
Managing Menopause With BHRT: Soothe Your Menopause Symptoms Safely And Effectively With Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy
You Have Options For Managing The Symptoms Of Menopause.
Menopause, or the end of menstruation, is a natural occurrence for women. The transition towards menopause can begin to affect you anytime between the ages of 35 and 55 years of age and the symptoms of menopause can start to present themselves as early as 10 years before menopause actually occurs. Therefore, finding a way of managing menopause is important for your optimal health and wellness.
The symptoms of menopause go beyond night sweats, hot flashes and mood swings. Reaching menopause is a gradual process, not an isolated event. The symptoms of menopause can affect you differently at different stages of the process and may be very different from the symptoms experienced by a friend or peer. Less commonly considered symptoms of menopause that you might be experiencing include:
- Vaginal dryness
- Anxiety, depression and/or panic attacks
- Loss of sexual interest
- Hair growth on the face
- Weird dreams
- Vaginal itching
- Lower back pain
- Bone loss and joint pain
- Weight gain
- Migraines and more
Because menopause is not discussed more broadly - in society and by our own healthcare providers - you may live for years in discomfort and distress with these less acknowledged symptoms not knowing that they are connected to menopause. What's more worrying is that, even if your healthcare provider does acknowledge these symptoms to be a part of menopause, you may not be offered much in the way of relief. Too often women have come to my practice having been told they will just have to "live with it". Fortunately, this is simply not the case. There are safe and effective ways for you to manage the symptoms of menopause.
Hormones And Menopause
The symptoms of menopause are triggered by changing hormone levels - specifically a decline in the natural production of estrogen and progesterone. That being said, it's about more than "just" a decline in estrogens. (Yes, estrogens - plural! You have more than one kind and each affects the body differently.) Hormones including your thyroid hormones, cortisol, DHEA, testosterone and insulin (among others) also play a role in how you may experience the symptoms of menopause. When one hormone level changes it affects the others and can throw your system out of balance.
"The menopausal response is as unique to an individual as his or her own fingerprints." - Dr. Pamela Smith, MD, MPH in "A Comprehensive Look at Hormones and the Effects of Hormones Replacement"
As you age, the decline of certain hormone levels is considered normal. However, that doesn't mean you can't help to bring your levels back into balance and restore yourself to a more optimal state of health and wellness.
Managing Menopause With Hormone Replacement Therapy
Menopause, as we have seen, is brought on by changing hormone levels. Likewise, many of the uncomfortable symptoms you may be experiencing can be linked to your hormones being out of balance. Therefore, Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) is an obvious treatment option to help restore balance, soothe your menopause symptoms and help you manage your menopause more comfortably. However, it is important to note that not all hormone therapies are created equal.
Synthetic Hormones and The Risk of Cancer
In the 1990s, HRT became very popular for treating the symptoms of menopause and was touted as a way to reduce the risk of postmenopausal health issues. However, in 2002, a report known as the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) was published which showed that the synthetic hormones used in the most commonly prescribed hormone therapies of the day could be linked to an increased risk of breast cancer, heart disease, and stroke among menopausal and postmenopausal women. While there have since been reviews of the trials and studies included in this report, HRT fell out of favour as an option for managing menopause symptoms.
Bioidentical Hormones: A Safer Alternative
Not all hormone therapies are created equal. There is a significant difference between the synthetic hormone medications of the 1990s and the individually tailored hormone blends created with bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT). Dr. Neal Rouzier, MD, a pioneer in the bioidentical hormone replacement field, "has dedicated his life's work to uncovering the medical literature that supports safe and effective protocols for unique and personalized patient care." Rouzier asserts that while synthetic hormones have been proven to increase the risks of certain cancers (notably breast cancer), heart disease and stroke, bioidentical hormones have not and remain a safe alternative therapy. Dr. Rouzier cautions his peers in the medical community not to "extrapolate the harm of synthetic hormones to bioidentical HRT." My years of experience as an NP-PHC specializing in women's health and hormones echo this finding. I have even experienced the benefits of managing menopause with BHRT myself.
Managing Menopause With BHRT
In addition to the fact that BHRT medications are identical to your own naturally occurring hormones, the combination of bioidentical hormones used in your therapy will be specially curated to address your individual needs and medical history. BHRT formulas can supplement a wide range of male and female sex hormones as well as adrenal, pituitary, and thyroid hormones. There is no "one-size-fits-all" cocktail when you are managing menopause with BHRT. As we have seen above, soothing your symptoms and decreasing your risk of postmenopausal health conditions is all about achieving the right hormonal balance.
Your initial assessment with NP Optimal Health and Wellness routinely includes full blood panels to evaluate your hormone levels. The holistic approach of functional medicine provides an opportunity for us to look at a more complete medical and life history. Details overlooked in previous medical assessments may lead us closer to the root cause of your symptoms. Together we will determine the best course of treatment for managing your menopause with BHRT supported by adjustments to your lifestyle and nutrition.
Yes, menopause and its symptoms are natural. But that doesn't mean you have to live with them indefinitely. Contact us today to learn more about how you can manage menopause and continue on your path towards optimal health and wellness.
|Posted in:women's healthBHRThormones|
PCOS: A Commonly Misdiagnosed Condition.
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal condition (specifically, an endocrine disorder) that affects thousands of women across North America. Typically, in western medical practice, PCOS is treated as a gynecological problem because of its connection to fertility issues. Infertility is, however, only one of many symptoms that are experienced by women living with PCOS.
The Trouble With Treating PCOS As A Gynecological Problem.
While PCOS is the most common cause of infertility among women, it should not be treated solely as a gynecological problem. In fact, because the focus in traditional western medicine is too heavily placed on treating symptoms - in this case, fertility (or infertility) - the root cause (PCOS) frequently goes undiagnosed and, therefore, untreated.
PCOS is a complex condition involving sugar metabolism, progesterone, thyroid, and androgen sensitivity. As a rule, women with PCOS produce an above-average amount of male hormones. This is, of course, what can result in irregular menstruation and issues with fertility. When PCOS goes undiagnosed and is treated under the umbrella of gynecology, as opposed to endocrinology, common treatments prescribed to regulate menstrual cycles (the birth control pill, for example) can actually make the condition worse by throwing the hormones further out of balance.
Unfortunately, even when PCOS is recognized and diagnosed, women are not offered much in terms of treatment. Told to resign themselves to the possibility of managing the symptoms for life, many women are left feeling hopeless and disempowered.
Recognizing And Diagnosing PCOS As Early As Possible Is Crucial For Women's Health.
Because the western medical model used fertility issues as the benchmark against which PCOS is measured, early signs are often overlooked. The tell-tale symptoms of PCOS can start to present themselves long before a woman is considering pregnancy. In fact, they can begin to manifest as early as the teenage years. Typically, however, it is women between the ages of 20-25 years who are diagnosed with PCOS. Symptoms include, but are not limited to:
- Irregular menstruation including infrequent, too frequent, or very heavy menstruation.
- Thinning or loss of hair or, conversely, an excess amount of hair in typically male pattern on the face, arms and chest
- Acne or other skin blemishes
- Weight gain and difficulty managing weight
- Depression and anxiety
Many of these symptoms can be interdependent. Likewise, many can be aggravated by other, unrelated, health conditions. Without considering the whole patient and treating the symptoms independently, it is no small wonder that PCOS is misdiagnosed or ignored completely.
Diagnosing PCOS: The Benefits Of Functional Medicine.The reality is that testing hormone levels is not something routinely considered when diagnosing health conditions. It is something women need to advocate for under the traditional western medical model. This is unfortunate because hormones play such a crucial role in our physical and mental health.
The fact is that PCOS is being missed. Not only is this causing women to live with symptoms they could otherwise address, left untreated PCOS can have serious health consequences. While infertility is among the most well-known effects of PCOS, less widely known is the connection between untreated PCOS and Type 2 diabetes and breast cancer.
PCOS impacts all aspects of a woman's life; body, mind, and spirit. It is a real condition, despite how many of our patients have been made to feel. If you are living with PCOS, you deserve support, compassion and the active approach and hope that functional medicine offers. It is unacceptable that women living with PCOS are being misdiagnosed or ignored. There are, however, options for diagnosis and treatment.
Treating PCOS With Hormone Therapy.Working within the framework of functional medicine, diagnosis and treatment of PCOS is possible. For example, an initial assessment with NP Optimal Health and Wellness routinely includes full blood panels to test for hormone levels and insulin resistance, among other things. The holistic approach of functional medicine provides an opportunity for us to look at a more complete medical and life history. Details overlooked in previous medical assessments may lead us closer to the root cause of your symptoms and a diagnosis of PCOS. Once diagnosed, Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy (BHRT) treatments can be tailored to your needs. In time, it is possible to restore optimal hormone levels and to reduce or even eliminate some of the effects of PCOS.
|Posted in:women's healthhormonesfunctional medicinePCOS|
Completing A Detox and Cleanse Can Set You On The Right Path Towards Achieving Healthy Weight For Life
Achieving A Healthy Weight Takes A Commitment To Finding Balance.
From the perspective of functional medicine, weight loss is about bringing your body back into balance. Achieving a healthy weight is a journey to finding that "middle way" between too little and too much; finding a place where the body and all its systems have what they need to operate without excess weight that could put strain on the body. Moreover, achieving a healthy weight gives you the opportunity to redefine your relationship with food and your body. Therefore, while weight loss is a physical process, it is also a process that affects (and is affected by) the emotional and spiritual self as well. A healthy approach to weight loss is one that takes into account all three aspects of self and gets you back in touch with your body, its needs and leaves you feeling confident and clear about your path forward.
Detox And Cleanse Programs As A Tool To Achieve A Healthy Weight.
"Pay attention to your toxic load, be it food, products, or people." - Dr. Nathalie Beauchamp
A detox and cleanse is an opportunity for you to hit the reset button on your health and wellness. Detoxifying your body is one step towards healthy weight loss. By removing toxins that cause imbalance and dysfunction from your system, you are priming yourself to achieve your optimal health and weight. Let's break it down to see how this type of program can help you achieve your healthiest weight.
What Is A Detox And Cleanse Program?"Detox" is a word you may know because of how often it is thrown around by the diet industry. When you hear the words "detox" or "cleanse" you may think of programs, pills, and fasts focused on losing weight quickly. While weight loss may be one effect of a detox and cleanse program, from the perspective of functional medicine, that is not the primary goal.
When we talk about a detox and cleanse, we are referring to a program that is going to help you identify and eliminate toxins from your body and (ideally) your environment as part of an effort to restore balance and optimal health. It is important to remove toxins from your body because when there is a build-up you can experience symptoms including:
- Fatigue or Brain Fog
- Muscle/Joint Aches & Pains
- Inability to Lose Weight
- Chronic Inflammation
- Hormonal Fluctuations
- Signs of Premature Aging
- Acne or Skin Irritation
- Depression or Mood Swings
- Gastrointestinal Tract Irregularities
While your body's natural detoxification system is quite spectacular, the rate at which we are exposed to toxins through food, personal care products, contaminants in our air and water, and medications can often be overwhelming for the body to handle. A good program like the Pure Centre Detox & Cleanse offered through our clinic provides resources, recommendations and protocols that will safely and effectively help you to identify and remove toxins from your body and life.
How Is A Detox And Cleanse Going To Help You Achieve A Healthy Weight?As we mentioned above, achieving a long-lasting healthy weight is about more than weight loss. It is about reconnecting with your body and redefining your relationship with the foods and products you put in it. This is why completing a detox and cleanse is a wonderful first step in the process. Not only will you spend time intentionally decreasing your toxic load, but you will also gain a new awareness of your body and lifestyle that is integral to achieving and maintaining a healthy weight for life.
Whatsmore, there are physiological advantages to completing a detox and cleanse before starting a weight loss effort. Toxins are stored in fat cells which means as you lose weight they are released into your system and need to be processed by your liver, kidneys, and lymphatic system (aka. your natural detox system). Depending on your toxic load and how quickly you lose weight, the release of toxins can cause symptoms to flare up until your system catches up. So, flushing your system of toxins ahead of time and priming your natural detox system sets you up for success.
Completing a Detox and Cleanse Gives You A Leg-Up On Weight Loss.
Achieving a weight that is healthy and long-lasting requires a reevaluation of your relationship to food and weight loss. This can be a significant lifestyle adjustment for many people. Completing a detox and cleanse prior to beginning a weight loss program gives you a headstart on the process. By eliminating toxins from your body you will reduce symptoms of a system overburdened by toxins like inflammation that make it harder to lose weight. Whatsmore, you will feel a stronger connection to your body and more in control of your choices. It is a perfect first step towards creating the changes you need to achieve a healthy weight for life.If you are ready to take the first steps towards finding balance and a state of optimal health and wellness, contact us today for your initial assessment. Together we will decide if our Pure Centre Detox & Cleanse is the right fit for you.
|Posted in:women's healthWeight LossDetox and CleanseNutrition|