Hormones and Posture

Hormones and Posture

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


Research conducted at the Harvard Business School by Professor Amy Cuddy indicates that body language affects hormone levels. When participants in a study deliberately positioned themselves in a power stance like Wonder Woman, wide open with arms raised, they had significantly increased levels of testosterone and decreased levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. When participants positioned themselves in a more submissive stance by crossing their arms and legs, appearing more closed and smaller in size, it produced the opposite effects on testosterone and cortisol. These changes in hormone levels could be produced by holding the posture for as little as two minutes. Cuddy believes that posture not only influences outcomes; it can also lead to long-term changes in our personalities.

Hormones and Posture2018-04-04T14:55:37-05:00

Hormones in Your Fingernails

Hormones in Your Fingernails

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

A study published by Fay Marnock, et al., suggested using fingernails to measure hormone status. As a nail’s matrix builds up with keratin, hormones passively diffuse into the nail from capillaries in the blood. The authors suggested measuring DHEA and cortisol in the nail to gauge hormone status over a prolonged period. This could have advantages over tests using serum, saliva, and urine, which reflect only a point in time or only a single day’s hormone level.

Aside from the possibility of actually measuring hormones, the appearance of your fingernails reveals a lot of information about your overall health. For example, one of the symptoms of osteoporosis is brittle fingernails. A clinical trial is currently comparing nail structure with bone integrity over the course of chemotherapy treatment.  The investigators are also comparing the nails of individuals who have had a bone fracture with those who have not.

Just like hair, fingernails are mostly composed of a protein called keratin. However, not all fingernails are alike.  A study by Dittman, et al., showed that not only is there a gender difference–women have more sulfur and less nitrogen in their nails than men–but that carbon levels in fingernails increase with age in both sexes.

First and foremost, healthy nails require an adequate supply of nutrients. However, Dr. Jonathan Wright notes that adequate supplies of stomach acid are equally important to nail health because of its role in the absorption of amino acids (the building blocks of protein) and minerals. So, in addition to eating enough of the right nutrients, the state of your digestive health will determine whether or not the nutrients are actually absorbed and usable. Dr. Wright also checks for testosterone levels because it is also needed for protein (i.e., keratin) synthesis.

Dr. Thierry Hertoghe observes that vertical lines on fingernails are typical of a growth hormone deficiency. Some believe that this may also be a sign of nutrient deficiency.

A hallmark of menopause can be dry, brittle nails can. Healthy fingernails must be hydrated. Since estrogens are responsible for keeping water in body tissues, lowered estrogen levels contribute to less healthy fingernails. Dehydration is also a common problem with aging, which helps explain why the elderly often have fingernails that look dull and yellow.

Dry, brittle nails are also a sign of hypothyroidism. With low thyroid function, circulation to the extremities is impaired, which means that the nutrients in the blood may not get all the way to the fingernails. The nail bed can also become very pale because of poor circulation.

The parathyroid glands, located in the neck near the thyroid gland, regulate calcium and vitamin D. If the glands are not producing enough parathyroid hormone, brittle nails may result. Calcium and vitamin D must be supplemented to restore nail health.

Those little white spots that appear on your fingernails may originate from stress. The white spot indicates a drop in zinc caused by a stressful event. Since a fingernail takes about six months to grow, you can even estimate the time of the stressful incident. Dr. Carl Pfeiffer noted that about 30% of schizophrenia patients had these spots. He then treated them with zinc and B6 (because B6 will be ineffective without enough zinc) and had very favorable responses.

Hormones certainly play a role in maintaining healthy nails, and the tidbits mentioned here just scratch the surface of what can be gleaned from looking closely at your fingernails. The shape, colorings, pitting, lines, thickness and splitting can all be clues to the state of your body’s health. If you have concerns about your fingernails, be sure to discuss them with your healthcare practitioner. Fungal infections and psoriasis can be a direct cause of a diseased nail.

Additional Resources:
Hormones in Your Fingernails2018-04-09T14:47:30-05:00

Book Review – Why Do I Still Have Thyroid Symptoms? by Datis Kharrazian DHSc., DC, MS

Book Review – Why Do I Still Have Thyroid Symptoms? (When My Lab Tests are Normal)

by Datis Kharrazian DHSc, DC, MS

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

Citing the observations of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, Dr. Daris Kharrazian points out that the majority of people with low thyroid function suffer from autoimmune thyroiditis or Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. When thyroid is prescribed to lower the TSH lab values, it does nothing to check the destruction of the thyroid gland by the immune system.

In Why Do I Still Have Thyroid Symptoms, Dr. Kharrazian describes six distinct patterns of hypothyroidism.

  • Primary hypothyroidism exists with a true dysfunction of the thyroid gland. An elevated TSH can identify this pattern and supplementing thyroid will provide relief.
  • Secondary hypothyroidism will be caused by pituitary gland dysfunction. Watch for a TSH less than 1.8 and T4 less than 6. The causes include a very active stress response from the adrenals, post partum depression and inappropriate use of thyroid hormone. The tissue eventually becomes resistant to the thyroid hormone and the pituitary/thyroid loop permanently lost.
  • Thyroid under conversion can be identified by low T3 and free T3 with normal T4 and TSH. This can be caused by high cortisol levels and chronic infection and inflammation of the cell membranes.
  • Thyroid over conversion of T4 to T3 with a corresponding low thyroid hormone binding globulin causes too much cell stimulation by T3 with eventual cell resistance. This occurs with insulin resistance (PCOS) in women and symptoms resolve with improvement of the insulin resistance.
  • Thyroid binding globulin excess is stimulated by birth control pills or excess estrogen replacement and binds up too much thyroid to no longer be available to the cells.
  • Thyroid cell resistance with normal thyroid and pituitary function can occur with high cortisol and high homocysteine. Addressing the adrenal function can resolve the resistance.

When autoimmunity is the issue, the treatment should be directed toward the immune system. Hashimoto’s is identified with testing for thyroid peroxidase antibodies. Thyroid peroxidase is responsible for thyroid hormone production. Thyrogloblulin antibodies may also be elevated.  The thyroid gland also uses thyroglobulin in the production of thyroid hormones. In the case of Graves’ disease, there are antibodies to thyroid stimulating hormone.

Dr. Kharrazian suggests that testing be done for immune system markers. It is possible that a person be out of balance with either TH-1 (T-helper cells) or TH-2. For TH-1, cytokines such as interleukin 2, interleukin 12, tumor necrosis factor alpha and interferon are tested. The TH-2 indicators are interleukins 4,13,10. Based on these results, if a person is either TH-1 or TH-2 dominant, then the treatment is directed to supporting the less dominant area to bring the immune system back to balance. He recommends numerous nutritional interventions which can be done to restore balance.

This book is packed with information, research and a refreshing look at ways to unscramble the barriers to relieving people of their hypothyroid symptoms.

  • Kharrazian D. Why Do I Still Have Thyroid Symptoms? When My Lab Tests Are Normal: a Revolutionary Breakthrough in Understanding Hashimotos’s Disease and Hypothyroidism. Carlsbad, CA: Elephant Press; 2010.
  • Kharrazian D. The Thyroid Bookwww.thyroidbook.com.
Book Review – Why Do I Still Have Thyroid Symptoms? by Datis Kharrazian DHSc., DC, MS2017-12-12T12:40:55-05:00