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Eugene Hertoghe and Thyroid Dysfunction

Eugene Hertoghe and Thyroid Dysfunction

Written by Carol Petersen, RPh, CNP – Women’s International Pharmacy

woman standing on mountainDr. Eugene Hertoghe was a Belgian physician who practiced in the early 20th century. He became a renowned thyroid expert in his time, and was so noted for his keen observations that one of the signs of hypothyroidism is named after him. To this day, the “Sign of Hertoghe” is used to describe the disappearance of the outer third of the eyebrows. In April of 1914, Dr. Hertoghe was invited to address the International Surgical Congress at what is now Columbia/NY Presbyterian Hospital.

Dr. Hertoghe’s presentation notes read like a story. The narrative reveals his observations, the conclusions he drew, and the serendipity of finding a research report describing the symptoms of a patient who had had their thyroid removed just as he encountered an unfortunate patient struggling with these same symptoms. He applied all of these findings in treating this individual and found success “feeding” the patient’s thyroid with a thyroid supplement.

Low Thyroid Function in Women

Dr. Hertoghe stated that nine of ten people who suffer with hypothyroidism are women. Thyroid sufficiency is needed for menstruation, pregnancy, lactation, and even the return of the uterus to its usual size after pregnancy.

Menstruation

Let’s start with menstruation. Very heavy menstrual bleeding, or menorrhagia, is a hallmark of thyroid imbalance. Dr. Hertoghe cites two possible mechanisms:

  • The mucous membrane of the uterus is infiltrated by defective uterine muscle cells causing instability.
  • Hypothyroidism creates a sort of hemophilia condition in the blood leading to a higher propensity for bleeding. One can also observe this effect when small scratches on the skin lead to extensive oozing.

Dr. Hertoghe believed women need a more abundant supply of thyroid during menstruation. He even recommended adding thyroid supplementation only during this time for some women. Symptoms often associated with menstruation are also symptoms of low thyroid function:

  • Headaches
  • Muffled tone quality in the voice
  • Physical or mental weariness
  • Back pain
  • Constipation
Pregnancy

During pregnancy, the thyroid gland becomes enlarged and produces increased amounts of thyroid hormone. Dr. Hertoghe claimed this additional thyroid hormone is responsible for the arrest of menstruation in pregnancy which protects the fertilized egg. Recurrent miscarriage may be tied into an insufficient amount of thyroid hormone available to stop menses.

The increased levels of thyroid hormone produced during pregnancy may be stored to be called upon later to aid in producing the tremendous energy needed for labor and delivery. Thyroid hormone is also needed to help the heavy walls of the uterus degenerate and oxidize to return to usual, pre-pregnancy size.

Lactation

Thyroid function plays a vital role in mammary function. Thyroid hormone must be in abundant supply for lactation to occur. In general, women who have had a quick return to pre-pregnancy uterus size also tend to have a good milk supply. Dr. Hertoghe suggested using thyroid supplementation if a woman’s milk supply is scanty and menstruation returns too early.

Conclusion

This article encapsulates just a small amount of the information Dr. Hertoghe presented over 100 years ago. Dr. Hertoghe applied his skills as a medical detective successfully during his career, becoming widely respected for his expertise in thyroid dysfunction. Today, practitioners are encouraged to depend upon blood tests and procedures, rather than relying on their own skills of observation and experience. A young woman of the 21st Century, who has heavy menstrual bleeding or complaints during menses, is likely to be prescribed birth control pills to regulate her cycle rather than being examined for possible low thyroid function. The question that springs to mind is: Are we better off 100 years later?

  • Hertoghe E. Thyroid Deficiency: A lecture presented to the New York Polyclinic School and Hospital. New York, NY: April 1914.
Eugene Hertoghe and Thyroid Dysfunction2019-01-22T14:40:16-05:00

Hot Flashes and Heart Disease

Hot Flashes and Heart Disease

Written by Kathy Lynch, PharmD – Women’s International Pharmacy

Two recent studies have focused attention on cardiovascular disease (CVD) in menopausal women. The first study is a systematic review of 11 studies with a total of 
19,667 subjects. The researchers assessed the relationship between vasomotor symptoms (VMS), which included hot flashes and night sweats, and CVD risk factors, i.e., blood pressure, cholesterol, body mass index (BMI), and carotid artery measurements. They found that women with VMS had significantly higher blood pressure, BMI, and total cholesterol than women without VMS. The authors concluded that women with hot flashes and night sweats, as compared to women without these symptoms, may have unfavorable risks for heart and blood vessel disease.

The second study evaluated the likelihood of cardiac or stroke death among 332,202 Finnish women who stopped hormone therapy between 1994 and 2009. Within the first year following HT discontinuation, the risk of death from any cause was significantly elevated. The risk of dying specifically from heart problems or stroke during this first year ranged from 26%-66%. This increased risk was decidedly higher in women who began and then discontinued hormone therapy before the age of 60. Contrary to current medical belief, women who started hormone after the age of 60 did not seem to be at an increased risk for cardiac death within one year after stopping HT. Current medical guidelines recommend that practitioners encourage discontinuation of hormone therapy at annual office visits. The study authors believe the safety of this practice should be reevaluated in light of their results. Further studies are needed.

What conclusions might we draw from these two studies? Hot flashes and night sweats are the primary reason women seek menopause-related health care. If women with VMS tend to have more risk factors for CVD, and women who start and then stop hormone therapy before the age of 60 are at a significantly increased risk for cardiac and stroke death within the first year, continuing hormone therapy might be beneficial for a subset of women with hot flashes, night sweats and CVD risk factors. As always, a thorough medical examination and health history, along with an open-minded discussion with one’s trusted health care professional, can help women decide whether continuing the use of hormone therapy might be beneficial for them.

  • Franco OH, et al. Vasomotor symptoms in women and cardiovascular risk markers: Systematic review and meta-analysis. Maturitas. 2015; 81: 353-361.
  • Mikkola TS, et al. Increased cardiovascular mortality risk in women discontinuing postmenopausal hormone therapy. J Clin Endocrinol Metab; press.endocrine.org/journal/jcem.
Hot Flashes and Heart Disease2019-02-08T17:16:32-05:00

Lyme Disease Research Update

Lyme Disease Research Update

Written by Carol Petersen, RPh, CNP– Women’s International Pharmacy

What is Lyme Disease?
Lyme disease is a bacterial infection transmitted to humans by infected deer ticks. The bacterium that causes the infection is a spirochete named Borrelia. Initial symptoms include a rash that may look like a bullseye, fever, headache, and fatigue. As the disease progresses, one may experience arthritis, heart problems, and nerve problems. A diagnosis is most often made based on symptoms and history of a deer tick bite. Lyme disease is difficult to diagnose because its symptoms mimic other diseases and lab testing is not definitive. Current treatment most often involves a two to four week course of antibiotics. However, a single round of antibiotics may not eradicate the infection and co-infections with other organisms may arise. Individuals with Lyme disease may find themselves in a situation where the condition becomes chronic and they are in a continuous struggle to restore their health.

International Lyme and Associated Disease Society
The International Lyme and Associated Disease Society (ILADS) is a nonprofit, international, multidisciplinary medical society dedicated to the appropriate diagnosis and treatment of Lyme and associated diseases. They are advocates for helping people with chronic Lyme disease and other associated diseases restore their health. Over 600 people attended the annual ILADS meeting in Fort Lauderdale this year. There were many presentations and among them, there were several linking the symptoms of chronic Lyme infection with hormones and hormone treatment.

Pituitary Gland and Endocrine Dysfunctions in Chronic Lyme/Co-infections, presented by Eugene R. Shippen, MD 
Dr. Eugene Shippen is a family practitioner in Shillington, Pennsylvania. He is also the author of The Testosterone Syndrome and a sought after lecturer on hormone replenishment. Dr. Shippen began his presentation by stating comprehensive hormone testing should be done for all patients with chronic illness. He recommended testing thyroid, adrenal, and sex hormones, as well as pituitary hormones which normally stimulate the production of thyroid, adrenal, and sex hormones. Pituitary hormones including luteinizing hormone, follicle stimulating hormone, growth hormone, and prolactin may be used to evaluate pituitary function. If abnormalities are revealed, the function of the hypothalamus should also be examined.

Prolactin, a pituitary hormone known for stimulating breast milk production, tends to be elevated in chronic illness. Prolactin participates in a multitude of bodily functions and chronically high levels of prolactin can have far reaching effects. Symptoms may include decreased libido and mood, insulin resistance, and weight gain. Low thyroid function may also contribute to high prolactin levels, but a pituitary growth called an adenoma should be ruled out if prolactin levels are especially high. Proper treatment of hypothyroidism may restore prolactin to normal levels.

Impaired cognitive function can be a persistent symptom of Lyme disease and other associated diseases. Dr. Shippen described using a topical gel of selegiline, DHEA, and pregnenolone for cognitive dysfunction arising during chronic illness. Selegiline is a drug that inhibits the breakdown of dopamine in the brain. It is commonly used in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease and has favorable action on neuro-repair. The adrenal hormones, DHEA and pregnenolone, may also have neurosteroid or neuro-enhancing properties. Dr. Shippen presented case studies to illustrate the effectiveness of addressing some of these hormone deficits.

Changes of Thyroid and Adrenal Function in Chronic Infections/Lyme Disease, presented by Usha Honeyman, DC, ND
Dr. Usha Honeyman is a chiropractor and a naturopathic physician who practices in Corvallis, Oregon, and specializes in finding hidden causes to chronic disease and inflammation. She, too, focused on the presence of hormone dysfunction in patients with chronic Lyme disease and other associated diseases.

Patients with chronic Lyme disease and associated diseases tend to have low body temperatures. Normal body temperature is important in patients with chronic infection because white blood cell activity may be impaired under low temperature conditions. Healthy, active white blood cells are vital in helping the body fight infection. Low body temperature is also a symptom often associated with low thyroid function. Lyme disease and associated diseases may affect thyroid function in a number of ways:

  • Cytokines and inflammatory agents, which are often elevated in chronic infection, may affect thyroid function.
  • Corticotropin releasing hormone (CRH) is produced by the hypothalamus and activates cortisol in the body. CRH tends to be elevated in chronic infection. Excess CRH activity may interfere with thyroid function by inhibiting the conversion of the inactive thyroid hormone, T4, to the active form, T3.
  • Infection is a stress activator of the hypothalamus, pituitary, and adrenal glands.
  • The interaction between these three glands regulates many functions in the body, including thyroid.

Final Thoughts
The incidence of Lyme disease is on the rise in the United States. Some practitioners have recommended that anyone who is struggling with any type of chronic health issue be examined for Lyme disease. Hormone disruption is not usually the first thing considered by practitioners when a patient presents with a chronic disease; however, some of the ILADS practitioners are now urging all practitioners to examine the effects of high or low hormone levels and treat accordingly in patients with chronic Lyme disease and other associated diseases. Chronic Lyme disease may contribute to hormone imbalance, or, alternatively, hormone imbalance may be a source of the symptoms exhibited in chronic Lyme disease.

  • International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society. https://www.ilads.org/.
  • Shippen ER. Pituitary Gland and Endocrine Dysfunctions in Chronic Lyme/Co-infections. Lecture presented at: Annual ILADS meeting; October 2015; Fort Lauderdale, FL.
  • Honeyman U. Changes of Thyroid and Adrenal Function in Chronic Infections/Lyme Disease. Lecture presented at: Annual ILADS meeting; October 2015; Fort Lauderdale, FL.
Lyme Disease Research Update2018-04-02T16:25:10-05:00

Nicotine’s Effects on Thyroid Function

Nicotine’s Effects on Thyroid Function

Written by Kathy Lynch, PharmD – Women’s International Pharmacy

A growing body of data suggests that nicotine can have a detrimental effect on thyroid function. Animal research has established a cellular link between nicotine and thyroid activity. Human research also points to a possible connection between nicotine-induced altered thyroid function and cognitive impairment.

Nicotine may cause underactive or overactive thyroid symptoms in certain individuals. Reproductive-aged women, heavy smokers, and people attempting to quit smoking may be more susceptible to hypothyroidism. People already diagnosed with hyperthyroidism and the general population may more likely develop an increase in overactive thyroid symptoms.

Thyroid hormone levels should be closely monitored in smokers as well as in those attempting to quit so that abnormalities can be addressed. It may be that weight gain and other negative effects associated with smoking cessation can be minimized with thyroid hormone supplementation.

Nicotine’s Effects on Thyroid Function2018-04-04T16:23:50-05:00

Catching Up with Dr. David Brownstein

Catching Up with Dr. David Brownstein

Written by Carol Petersen, RPh, CNP – Women’s International Pharmacy

 

Dr. David Brownstein is a family practice physician practicing in the Detroit area. He is the author of 13 books and a highly sought-after speaker. This month, I had the pleasure of hearing him speak at the Association for the Advancement of Restorative Medicine conference in Blaine, Washington.

Desiccated Thyroid and Iodine in Autoimmune Disease

During Dr. Brownstein’s presentation, he focused on the use of desiccated thyroid and iodine in patients with autoimmune thyroid disease. Desiccated thyroid is a porcine-derived thyroid hormone replacement medication containing a full complement of thyroid hormones. He shared that when he was in medical school, he was taught desiccated thyroid and iodine were not to be used in patients with autoimmune thyroid disease. Iodine was even blamed as a cause of the disease! However, when he investigated further on his own, he found practitioners had used desiccated thyroid and iodine with great success over 100 years ago. He now thinks that thyroid autoimmuneity actually arises from a scarcity of iodine in the body.

Two of Dr. Brownstein’s books focus specifically on iodine and thyroid health: Iodine: Why You Need It, Why You Can’t Live Without It and Overcoming Thyroid Disorders. In his books, Dr. Brownstein describes two of the major autoimmune thyroid diseases which involve inflammation of the thyroid gland: Grave’s Disease and Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. Grave’s Disease is associated with hyperthyroidism (too much thyroid activity) and Hashimoto’s Disease is associated with both hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism (too little thyroid activity). Dr. Brownstein believes that autoimmune thyroid disease is becoming epidemic, and routinely tests each new patient for thyroid antibodies associated with these diseases. He estimates that as many as 15-20% of the population are now positive for autoimmune thyroid disease.

Are We Getting Enough Iodine?

In the first part of the 20th century, it was discovered that some parts of the country are naturally low in iodine. Iodine was added to salt in an effort to prevent widespread iodine deficiency in the U.S. However, the amount of iodine in iodized salt may fall short in meeting our body’s iodine needs. Dr. Brownstein states the amount of iodine needed by the body is much higher than the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA). In addition, over the last several decades, our exposure to bromine, chlorine, and fluoride has skyrocketed. Bromine is used as a disinfectant, in fire retardants and as an anti-caking agent in flour. Chlorine is added to our drinking water as a disinfectant. Fluoride has also been added to drinking water to decrease the incidence of tooth decay. Dr. Brownstein describes how these substances compete with iodine in the body and make it difficult for iodine to perform its necessary functions.

What Does Iodine Do in the Body?

Iodine is necessary to form distinct thyroid hormones. It is also needed to create a substance called iodolactone. Iodolactone is a key regulator of cell growth and programmed cell death. This regulator is needed to prevent excessive cell growth (including cancer) in the thyroid gland. Dr. Brownstein proposes thyroid antibodies (substances in the body that can attack the thyroid gland) form when there is damage to the thyroid gland. Iodolactone works with fish oils in a way that can protect the thyroid gland from damage. Iodine also has a number of other important functions in the body unrelated to thyroid.

Thyroid Support and Monitoring

Some patients may need desiccated thyroid in addition to iodine to support their thyroid function. However, the test most practitioners rely on to determine if thyroid hormone supplementation is needed may appear abnormal during the first few months of iodine use and then drop back down to normal levels. This test is called the thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) test. Dr. Brownstein recommends also testing T3 and T4 levels and thyroid antibodies in addition to taking a patient’s basal body temperature and symptoms into account. Dr. Brownstein further suggests supplementing cofactors like selenium and magnesium, and antioxidants such as vitamin C.

This brief summary of Dr. Brownstein’s presentation and his books just touches the surface of how important iodine and thyroid are to our health. Dr. Brownstein shares a great deal more of his knowledge in his books and I would recommend reading them. The more we can understand about how our bodies work, the better we can direct our efforts to regaining or keeping our health.

Catching Up with Dr. David Brownstein2017-12-14T16:09:35-05:00

Book Review – The Statin Disaster by Dr. David Brownstein

Book Review – The Statin Disaster by David Brownstein, MD

Written by Carol Petersen, RPh, CNP – Women’s International Pharmacy

In this latest of Dr. David Brownstein’s books, he clearly states that statin medications fail to prevent or treat heart disease for nearly everyone who takes them. He also points out the shortcomings of the “cholesterol equals heart disease” theory. Dr. Brownstein is concerned because most busy practitioners do not take the time to fully understand the statistics used in drug studies well enough to critically examine the findings. This leaves practitioners to rely solely on the conclusions presented by the study investigators, who are often funded by pharmaceutical companies interested in bringing new drugs to market. Because of this, we are exposed to exaggerated claims of effectiveness when the actual facts may show otherwise.

What Are Statins?
Statins make up a class of drugs that lower the level of cholesterol in the blood by reducing the production of cholesterol by the liver. Statins reduce production of cholesterol in the liver by blocking an enzyme responsible for cholesterol production.

Statistics
Dr. Brownstein introduces us to a statistical concept known as the “number needed to treat.” This number can be calculated from data provided in studies, telling us how many people need to be treated with a medication for one person to benefit. The ideal number is one. When the number needed to treat is one, every person treated benefits from the treatment. Examples of therapies with a very low number needed to treat include patients with type 1 diabetes using insulin and patients with low thyroid function taking thyroid.

However, many of the drugs currently in use have a high number needed to treat. Numbers of 200 or more are seen regularly in studies using statins. In other words, 200 people need to be treated before one person will benefit. This might be acceptable if statins had no adverse effects and were completely without risk. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Adverse effects associated with statin use include muscle pain and damage, digestive problems, memory loss and confusion, increased blood sugar levels and Type 2 diabetes, and liver damage. These adverse effects may not happen to everyone, but if the number needed to treat for statins is 200, 199 people out of 200 using statins are taking the risk of experiencing an adverse effect while experiencing no benefit at all from the statin drug.

Based on Dr. Brownstein’s evaluation of the studies that have been done using statins, he states statins are effective for approximately 1% who take them. In other words, statins fail 99% who take them.

Is Cholesterol Good Or Bad?
The current perception about cholesterol is that there is “good” cholesterol and “bad” cholesterol. Cholesterol is neither good nor bad. We forget how important cholesterol is to our body’s daily functions. Cholesterol is an essential substance needed by every cell in the body. The human body uses cholesterol to make hormones, vitamins, and substances that help digest foods. If cholesterol levels are too high, our body is telling us something is not right. It would make sense to pay attention to our body’s signals and try to find the underlying cause of the elevated cholesterol levels rather than using medications to artificially lower levels. In addition, driving our cholesterol levels too low may create a whole new host of problems including problems with our immune systems and our resilience to infection.

How Do Hormones Play a Role?
Let’s zero in on hormones. Cholesterol is the source material for all sex hormones including estrogens, progesterone, testosterone, and adrenal hormones such as DHEA, and hydrocortisone. Our brains depend upon the hormones made from cholesterol as much as the rest of our body does. Progesterone and pregnenolone protect the nervous tissue throughout our body. Elevated cholesterol may simply be a signal the body is working hard to replenish these hormones in the event hormone levels are low. Cholesterol levels may also increase when thyroid hormone production is inadequate. Correcting sex hormone deficiencies and hypothyroidism for patients may bring their cholesterol levels down. Dr. Brownstein says he often sees patients in his practice where supplementing with sex or thyroid hormones brings cholesterol levels back into the normal range.

Dr. Brownstein says evidence-based medicine should be used and embraced. He feels the information is out there to expose statins as “one of the greatest failures in modern medicine.” According to Dr. Brownstein, our acceptance of such poor standards is mediocre medicine. We can and should determine what really makes a difference in our health. Reading his book will get us started.

  • Brownstein D. The Statin Disaster. West Bloomfield, MI: Medical Alternatives Press; 2015 www.drbrownstein.com
Book Review – The Statin Disaster by Dr. David Brownstein2019-02-08T16:51:54-05:00

Is There a Connection Between Thyroid Dysfunction and Mental Illness?

Is There a Connection Between Thyroid Dysfunction and Mental Illness?

Written by Kathy Lynch, PharmD – Women’s International Pharmacy

 

Endocrine glands, and the hormones they secrete, significantly affect the central nervous system (CNS). Thyroid hormones in particular are crucial to the formation and function of the CNS. The inactive thyroid hormone T4 is secreted by the thyroid gland and transported across the blood-brain barrier, where it is converted into T3, the active thyroid hormone. Adequate thyroid hormone levels are necessary to support both the neurons, which are the structural and functional units of the nervous system, and the glia cells, which connect and support the brain and spinal cord.

Suboptimal thyroid function can lead to mental disorders like anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. Hypothyroidism may contribute to apathy, low energy, impaired memory, and problems with attention span. Hyperthyroidism may also result in mood swings, impatience, irritability, and mental decline in the elderly.

To make matters worse, medications used to treat mental disorders can adversely affect thyroid function. A comprehensive review of the medical literature concluded that some medications used to treat bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and depression are associated with thyroid function abnormalities. These include lithium, phenothiazines, and tricyclic antidepressants. Patients using these classes of medications should be monitored for thyroid dysfunction. Patients receiving other types of mental illness drug therapies may also need to be monitored.

Additional Resources:

For more resources from Women’s International Pharmacy, see our Mental Health Resources page.

  • Noda M. Possible role of glial cells in the relationship between thyroid dysfunction and mental disorder. Front Cellular Neurosci. 2015 June; 9(194).
  • Bou KR, Richa S. Thyroid adverse effects of psychotropic drugs: a review. Clin Neuropharmacol. 2011 Nov-Dec; 34(6): 248-55.
Is There a Connection Between Thyroid Dysfunction and Mental Illness?2018-04-04T15:16:07-05:00

Book Review – Female Brain Gone Insane

Book Review – Female Brain Gone Insane by Mia Lundin, NP, RN

Written by Carol Petersen, RPh, CNP – Women’s International Pharmacy

How many women have felt like her world was falling apart at some stage in her life? Assailed by symptoms such as anxiety, depression, sleep disturbances, irritability, weeping, brain fog, and loss of focus and concentration, she seeks help from her trusted medical practitioner. Traditional medicine offers her symptomatic relief with pharmaceutical chemicals such as anti-depressants, anti-anxiety agents, and sleep aids. Side effects from these medications sometimes lead to the addition of more medications. When this option fails, the medical practitioner, at a loss, may tell her, “It’s all in your head.” This roller coaster of symptoms can make any woman think she is going insane.

This happened to Mia Lundin, NP, author of Female Brain Gone Insane, after she gave birth to her second child. Although resistant, she did turn to antidepressants for a time. Prior to using antidepressants, she noticed an injection of progesterone dramatically relieved her symptoms for a few days. Ultimately, her curiosity about hormones, sparked by the benefit she experienced with progesterone, led her to a 20-year clinical practice using bioidentical sex, adrenal, and thyroid hormones along with amino acids to help with neurotransmitter production in the brain.

Neurotransmitters are made in the body from amino acids obtained by digesting proteins in the diet. Neurotransmitter balance is a key component of brain function. There are over 50 known neurotransmitters, but those we understand the best are serotonin, GABA, norepinephrine (or noradrenaline), and dopamine. The first two have calming effects and the second two are excitatory. Neurotransmitters do not operate alone, but are greatly influenced by sex, thyroid, and adrenal hormones.

A woman’s hormone levels may be especially affected at certain times during her life. Hormone fluctuations may occur cyclically before a woman’s period, after childbirth, and during perimenopause. Low hormone levels are common during perimenopause, menopause, and surgical menopause. These hormone level changes may produce changes to the hormone-brain chemistry balance.

Estrogen affects serotonin activity in a number of ways. Estrogen makes tryptophan, an amino acid precursor to serotonin, more available in the brain to make serotonin. Estrogen also supports serotonin levels by enhancing the removal of the enzyme, monoamine oxidase (MAO), that breaks down serotonin in the brain. Additionally, estrogen sensitizes serotonin receptors and fluctuating estrogen levels may impair the production of serotonin. Loss of the calming effect of serotonin may trigger symptoms of agitation, sensitivity, and uneasiness.

Adrenal cortisol may become depleted when the body is under continuous stress. When this happens, estrogen and progesterone can become unbalanced. GABA levels may be affected because progesterone stimulates GABA production. Serotonin stores may also become depleted.

On the other hand, if adrenaline and cortisol are high, as during a response to acute stress, and estrogen is out of balance with progesterone, thyroid activity may be inhibited. Low thyroid function can contribute to low serotonin levels and low serotonin levels can contribute to low thyroid function.

In Female Brain Gone Insane, Lundin does much more than describe how the disruption of hormones affects brain chemistry. She supplies lists of symptoms to help identify hormone deficiencies and excesses, provides suggestions on hormone testing and how to have it done, and she suggests ways to approach medical practitioners to find assistance with hormone use. She provides questionnaires and charts for those who want to help themselves. In short, she provides the framework for an entire lifestyle makeover. Women who feel that their world has fallen apart can find guidance back to themselves in this book.

This book is an excellent primer for those who want to learn more about bioidentical hormone therapies. Further, it is so well-referenced that practitioners who want to start learning about identifying and helping their patients with hormone-brain chemistry imbalances will find what they need here.

Book Review – Female Brain Gone Insane2018-06-14T10:49:33-05:00

Can Vitamin D Keep the Doctor Away?

Can Vitamin D Keep the Doctor Away?

Written by Kathy Lynch, PharmD – Women’s International Pharmacy

 

Vitamin DVitamin D is well-known for its role in the regulation of calcium balance and bone health. Within the last ten years, an enormous amount of research has focused on additional benefits. Observational studies report that low vitamin D levels may increase the risk of TB, HIV, Hepatitis C, respiratory tract, and other infections.

The vast majority of human cells have vitamin D receptors. It is particularly essential for optimal immune system function. Vitamin D stimulates cells that fight against bacterial, fungal, and viral infections while creating an inhospitable environment for microbial growth.

Not only does vitamin D support a healthy immune system, it helps control an overactive immune response by suppressing cells that cause excessive inflammation. If you suffer from multiple infections or inflammatory symptoms, checking your vitamin D level might be just what the doctor ordered.

Can Vitamin D Keep the Doctor Away?2018-04-03T17:26:22-05:00

Vitamin K2 – A Missing Link in the Western Diet?

Vitamin K2 – A Missing Link in the Western Diet?

Written by Carol Petersen, RPh, CNP – Women’s International Pharmacy

In 1925 an enterprising dentist, Dr. Weston Price, and his wife began traveling the world and documenting their observations of healthy, remote populations. They observed significant changes in tooth arrangement and mouth and facial structure when people of various cultures strayed from their traditional diet and adopted the Western diet. Traditional diets varied greatly, but all consisted of animal protein and fat in the form of fish, fowl, land animals, eggs, milk and milk products, reptiles, and/or insects. The Western diet introduced processed foods, sugar, and grains. Narrowed mouths, crowded teeth, thin faces, and smaller arches appeared in children whose parents adopted the Western diet. Dr. Price suspected that something specific was missing from the Western diet. He called this mysterious factor Activator X. He demonstrated that Activator X was prevalent in the meat and milk products of animals that grazed on green grasses. He even showed that these facial and dental abnormalities could be reversed in the next generation if Activator X was replaced in the diet. Finally, in 2006, Dr. Price’s Activator X was identified to be vitamin K2.

Confusion With the K’s
There are a number of types of vitamin K, but only two natural forms: vitamin K1 and vitamin K2. Vitamin K1 is present in leafy, green vegetables and is most identified with blood clotting. The drug, Coumadin, works to prevent blood from clotting by inhibiting the action of vitamin K1. The effects of excessive Coumadin may be reversed by administering vitamin K1.

Vitamin K2 exists in a number of distinct active forms. The two most commonly seen are designated as MK-4 and MK-7. MK-4 is present in the organs, milk, eggs and cheese of grass-fed animals. MK-7 is most abundant in a bacterial ferment of soy beans called natto. It is also present in lesser amounts in other fermented foods. Vitamin K2 does not appear to share Vitamin K1’s association with blood clotting.

A Calcium Paradox
Nutritional biochemistry is complicated. In order to learn how various vitamins and minerals work in the body, we often look at the function of one single nutrient at a time. However, when we do this, we fail to understand how nutrients work together. For example, we know that bones need calcium, but supplementing with calcium alone is unlikely to strengthen one’s bones. We need to consider how a number of nutrients work together to contribute to bone health. Each of the fat soluble vitamins, A, D, E, and K, works together synergistically. Vitamin D facilitates calcium absorption into the blood stream. Vitamin K2 converts vitamin D into its active form and also activates the hormone osteocalcin to direct the calcium to the bone. A deficiency of any one of these vitamins may cause malfunctions in the body. Specifically, a deficiency of vitamin K2 may cause calcium to be stored in other tissues rather than being directed to the bone. If calcium settles in the arteries, it can lead to atherosclerosis. Calcium may also cause problems by settling in the joints and in soft tissues like the breasts.

The French Paradox Solved?
Many find it surprising that the French eat a lot of cholesterol and saturated fat and have low rates of death from coronary heart disease (CHD). Some think it’s an ingredient in red wine that keeps them healthy. Perhaps these saturated fats laden with vitamin K2 are the protective factor.

Vitamin K2 in All Parts of the Body

  • Heart Disease: One of the most powerful tools against calcification of the blood vessels is a vitamin K2 activated protein.
  • Osteoporosis: Vitamin K2 activated osteocalcin directs calcium to the bones.
  • Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome: Vitamin K2 improves insulin sensitivity thus potentially stalling progression to metabolic syndrome and diabetes.
  • Wrinkles and Tissue Laxity: May be due to a vitamin K2 deficiency causing misplaced calcium in the skin and tissues.
  • Varicose Veins: May be due to a vitamin K2 deficiency causing calcium to deposit in the veins.
  • Arthritis: Joint damage may reflect a vitamin K2 deficiency.
  • Dental Health: Vitamin K2 may be useful in treating and preventing dental cavities.
  • Pregnancy: Adequate vitamin K2 promotes the healthy development of fetal teeth and facial structure. Also, labor may be easier when vitamin K2 levels are adequate.
  • Cancer: Vitamin K2 promotes cell differentiation and may protect against metastasis.
  • Nervous System: Vitamin K2 plays a role in nervous system protection, myelin development, and signal transduction.

Vitamin K2 and Hormones
Vitamin K2 has an important relationship with estrogen and bone health. Estrogen and bone density both decline during menopause and postmenopausal women are often markedly deficient in vitamin K2. Bone health may be improved in postmenopausal women by restoring adequate vitamin K2 levels as vitamin K2 acts in the bone loss pathway in a number of areas specific to the loss caused by low estrogen levels. Vitamin K2 also plays a role in estrogen metabolism itself. Additionally, testosterone levels and sperm production may be improved by osteocalcin, the hormone activated by vitamin K2.

Conclusion
It is remarkable that it took decades from Dr. Weston Price’s careful observations and characterization of Activator X to finally identify vitamin K2 and a number of its myriad functions. We are still not sure of the appropriate supplement dose to use or the amount of vitamin K2 rich foods to eat. Tests are being devised to help evaluate our vitamin K2 status. In the near future, we will be able to measure vitamin K2 levels as readily as we test for vitamin D now. Research has only scratched the surface of the potential of this fascinating vitamin!

Vitamin K2 – A Missing Link in the Western Diet?2018-04-05T11:10:21-05:00