Sunday, March 1, 2009

More about insulin resistence—natural remedies

Just a quick note to add to or reiterate what's already been said about insulin resistance. Recently, I've stumbled upon two natural helps for this problem—spearmint and carob. Both, if ingested regularly, can help the cells to take in insulin instead of resisting it. I've heard that about two cups of spearmint tea per day will start making a difference in three months, so it doesn't happen quickly. Regularly ingesting carob teas or using carob in baking instead of cocoa powder can also help over a couple of months time.

Low energy? Natural energy remedies

So, I've had some requests lately for natural energy remedies. There's a lot you can do to increase your energy naturally, and let me state this right off the bat, none of them have to do with caffeine. Let me tell you why. Caffeine is a quick fix and it loses its effectiveness if used daily. The way it works is to stimulate your adrenal glands to produce cortisol and adrenaline and other hormones that make you feel awake and alert. A one-time use of caffeine will force your adrenals to use up the reserves of adrenaline they have kept for a time of crisis, and once these reserves are used up, caffeine stops working as effectively because although it continues to stimulate the adrenal glands, the glands cannot respond. This means that you will have less energy in general no matter how much coffee you drink and, worse, you will not be able to respond to crises in your life as effectively because you've already used up your crisis reserve of adrenaline to make it through a bad day at work. Cutting down on regular intake of caffeine alone can give you more energy in the long run.
Another remedy for low energy, especially the extremes of chronic fatigue, is to take a combination of supplements designed to help your adrenals and the electron transport chain in your cells (which makes ATP) function more efficiently. This combination is magnesium, Fish oil (or anther omega-3), vitamin B complex (primarily vitamin B 6 though), iron, and coenzyme Q.
Coenzyme Q is a vitamin-like substance present in all mitochondria and plays an integral role in the production of ATP in the cells.
Iron has been linked to energy for decades, probably because it also plays a role in the cellular production of energy. Everytime you bleed (women), you should replace the lost iron either by eating red meat, spinich, or other iron-rich foods, or by taking an iron supplement. Men should be careful taking iron although some need it because they don't lose blood on a regular basis, which means iron can build up in their systems if they take too much. With iron, I'd recommend taking it for a week after menstration for women or one week out of the month for men. Another good way to take it for men is every couple of days until your energy starts going up and then stop. Probably ought to talk to your doctor about this one though.
Vitamin B-6 is a natural energy booster (it's in the Emergen-C Energy drinks if you're familiar with those). It works in conjunction with coenzyme Q and iron to raise your energy and make you feel more alert. B-complexes are even better though because the other B vitamins each have their own benefits related to energy and alertness. For example, vitamin B-12 increases neuroconnections in the brain, helping your ability to remember things and pay attention.
Fish oil is a natural anti-inflammatory, which means it works directly on the adrenal glands, helping them to produce the anti-inflamation steriod, cortisol. In working on the adrenal glands, fish oil helps to raise energy because the adrenals provide "energy" chemicals for the body.
Magnesium is a mineral that works directly on the cells also. It works in conjunction with calcium to control muscle-tightness and influence mental alertness. Calcium, which most Americans get a lot of in their diets, helps muscles and cells to fire while magnesium helps muscles to relax. You wouldn't think that magnesium would be the one to help up your energy, but it works by helping your adrenals to produce the right combination of adrenaline and cortisol. Most people rely on the adrenaline their adrenal glands are producing to get them through their day, which causes many of problems—muscle tension, hyperalertness leading to exhaustion and the constant need to recover. Magnesium brings everything into balance so that cortisol is the chemical giving you energy throughout the day and adrenaline is reserved only for crisis-situations. Make sure when you take magnesium that you are taking the right form for you. I've found that a lot of people with Chronic fatigue respond best to magnesium glycinate because it is so easily digestible. The most commonly ingested form is magnesium citrate, which also works very well for most.
I hope this post was helpful to people looking for energy remedies. This combination of supplements has helped me a lot.

Friday, February 6, 2009

The Goiter Belt

Several people recently have asked me about the goiter belt—what it is and what causes it. A picture that shows the area the goiter belt covers can be found at The medical world has known about this belt for over 50 years, and they're attributed it to low iodine content in the soil. A lack of iodine in the diet causes low thyroid and goiter, which is simply swelling the thyroid gland.
The problem with this old hypothesis about the connection between iodine and goiter is that the US has required for years that all salt in the Great Lakes Region contain supplemental iodine, yet the incidences of low thyroid across the US have not dropped as significantly as expected. Hypothyroidism is still a prevalent problem across the entire US and not only in the goiter belt.
There must be some or many other factors contributing to this problem.
Researchers most recently blame two things for the hypothyroidism epidemic: chemicals/toxins in the water and soil and low content of other essential minerals like selenium in our soil.
Over the years, we've either released (through mining and other practices harmful to the earth) or disposed of harmful chemicals into our soil and water. Coal-mining produces dihydroxybenoic acids that lower thyroid function. Any water and soil in areas of the US near coal mines probably contains these toxins (Stephen E. Langer, Solved the Riddle of Illness).
The CDC has done studies showing that perchlorate, a toxin from (of all things) rocket fuel is showing up in the soil of California primarily in higher than safe concentrations. This toxin actually damages the thyroid. Fire-repellant/retardant causes thyroid problems in cats, and probably in humans as well although I haven't found a study to support it. In the end, it's really hard to diagnose what is causing the thyroid problems because it could be any number of chemicals from any number of sources. Sometimes, it's simply necessary to take medication to counteract the effects of these and other unknown toxins.
The second blaming factor for hypothyroidism in the US is the lack of other essential minerals and vitamins in our soil and our diets that make it impossible for our bodies to convert T4 into T3 and other usable forms of thyroid hormone. Dr. David Brownstein gives a short list of these in his book Overcoming Thyroid Disorders: some of the lacking minerals and vitamins are iodine, iron, selenium, zinc, vitamin A, vitamin B2, vitamin B6, vitamin B12. As much as the FDA doesn't like the idea of people using vitamin supplements, in some regions of the country, it may be necessary to make up for soil depletion.
I wish there was an easy way to find out which vitamins and minerals your soil is lacking, but I don't think there is. It might be best just to supplement, but look up the problems associated with taking too much of any one of these vitamins/minerals and notice if you start having any of those symptoms. Remember, taking too much of any vitamin or mineral is as bad as not having enough. Too much iodine can actually cause thyroiditis.