Holly Lucille, ND, RN

Modern Day Thyroid: Thinking Things Through

Modern Day Thyroid: Thinking Things Through

Thursday, 30 January 2014 10:13

Have you been feeling a little "off" lately? Lack of energy, always feeling cold, trouble concentrating, or unexplained weight gain could be a sign of an underactive thyroid. According to the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, upwards of 27 million Americans suffer from some type of thyroid disorder. Of those, it's estimated that half remain undiagnosed.

Misdiagnosed and Misunderstood

Hailed as "the master" of our endocrine system, second only to the pituitary, the thyroid is a small gland shaped like the outspread wings of a butterfly that sits at the base of the throat. It excretes two hormones - thyroxine (also known as T4) and triiodothyronine (or T3) - that regulate metabolism within every cell in the body.

Low levels of these hormones slow everything down, and it's why symptoms of hypothyroidism often include weight gain and fatigue, as well as constipation, depression, irritability, low body temperature, sleep disturbances, forgetfulness, edema (fluid retention), hair loss, decreased libido, joint pain, and a hoarse voice.

Yet, because these symptoms can resemble a host of other diseases, the thyroid is often overlooked by physicians.
Leaky Gut & A Possible Connection to Hot Flashes

Leaky Gut & A Possible Connection to Hot Flashes

Friday, 13 December 2013 11:53
We had a saying in Naturopathic Medical School that stated, "if you want to heal a person, heal the gut." It's fitting that I have written about digestive issues like intestinal permeability or "leaky gut syndrome" and all of its complications various times in the past decade and the time has come again.

Intestinal permeability describes a cascade of symptoms and disorders that stem from small intestine's semi-permeable membrane becoming excessively permeable for a variety of reasons, allowing infiltration of microbial and metabolic toxins (as well as undigested food) into the bloodstream. These symptoms include fatigue, immune deficiency, food allergies, asthma and eczema.

Intestinal permeability may also be a contributor to other modern illnesses such as insulin resistance, obesity, neurotransmitter disorders, autoimmune disorders and cancer. In fact, it may account for 50 percent of chronic illness.

One symptom that I have not linked to intestinal permeability in the past, which has been getting my attention lately, is the vasomotor symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats, an overlooked aspect of inflammation.
About Those Statins

About Those Statins

Thursday, 05 December 2013 13:11
I have a radio show that airs every Wednesday at noon Pacific Time on RadioMD.com called "Mindful Medicine". It is simply another format for me to hopefully "knock 'em alive" with empowering information that can help people be their own PCPs "primary care providers" and have their homes be their own HMOs "Health Maintenance Organization" Get it?

I am fortunate to have a fascinating and amazing regular contributor, Dr. Jacob Tietlbaum MD, join me every week to talk about easy, effective, natural ways to help people take back control and manage their health. Jacob and I were talking very passionately about the newest recommendations, handed down from a government agency, which suggested (based on a faulty calculation) that many more people would be candidates for taking statin medications.

We both were fairly incensed about this notion, knowing that statin medications come with serious risks and side effects and research has shown that there are many common lifestyle choices that are far more likely to be associated with a lower risk of heart attack and heart attack death than taking statins medications. Some of these include eating chocolate, participating in regular exercise, getting adequate nutrition and having cats. YES, having cats.
Effective Non-Hormonal Therapies for Menopausal Symptoms

Effective Non-Hormonal Therapies for Menopausal Symptoms

Wednesday, 27 November 2013 04:39
While the fluctuation and decline of reproductive hormones is a normal and expected event in mid-life women, the associated symptoms are nonetheless disruptive. Until very recently, millions of women alleviated their hot flashes and night sweats with conjugated equine estrogens and medroxyprogesterone acetate (synthetic hormone replacement therapy or HRT).

However, mounting evidence from several clinical trials has shown that women using synthetic HRT are at significant increased risk of developing breast cancer, coronary heart disease, pulmonary embolism, and stroke.

With little room for HRT in current practice and little else in the traditional medicine chest to consider, physicians are increasingly turning to natural non-hormonal therapies for women who need relief from menopausal symptoms.

As a naturopathic physician, I have used botanical medicines and other natural alternatives for many years with great success to help women create and maintain hormonal health. I've found the most effective approach combines stress management, diet, exercise and nutritional supplements to support and work with a woman's body, not against it. While each patient's treatment plan is unique, it has been my experience that most symptoms caused by menopause and/or hormone fluctuations and imbalances will respond to natural therapies.
How to Keep Your Cool When You Feel Like a Stress-Ball

How to Keep Your Cool When You Feel Like a Stress-Ball

Sunday, 10 November 2013 00:00

With today's stressors being multiple, constant and prolonged it is quite easy to loose one's cool, which unfortunately, just makes any situation worse.

I call it having a "short fuse syndrome".

So how can you keep your cool and "lengthen your fuse" during times of strife such as your commute in terrible traffic, with angry clients or terrible customer service agents, with aggressive co-workers or with fussy family member? Believe it or not, the answer is in your brain. Yes, your brain!

Our brain is equipped with two sides of a nervous system. The sympathetic nervous system is that which control our response to these multiple, constant and prolonged stressors, our fight or flight is carried out here. On the other side, the parasympathetic rules our ability to rest, relax and repair.
Estrogen Dominance: Too Much of a Good Thing Can Be BAD

Estrogen Dominance: Too Much of a Good Thing Can Be BAD

Friday, 01 November 2013 00:00
When there is an excess of any hormone in relation to the whole intricate system we call the"endocrine system", an overall imbalance develops, and health problems can arise. When there is too much estrogen and not enough progesterone to counteract its effects, the situation is called estrogen dominance.

Estrogen dominance is a multi-factorial situation and is caused by such things as exposure to excess environmental xenoestrogens, use of synthetic estrogens such as the birth control pill and hormone replacement therapy (HRT), anovulation (lack of ovulation during menstrual cycle, which is not uncommon among women older than 35), digestion issues (which tax the estrogen-detoxification process in the liver), unrelenting stress (which strains the adrenals and the thyroid), unresolved emotional issues, poor diet and negative lifestyle factors such as smoking and alcohol use.

How does estrogen dominance specifically alter women's health?
No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service: 4 Tips for Unplugging

No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service: 4 Tips for Unplugging

Friday, 11 October 2013 02:59
Do you remember the old sign: NO SHIRT, NO SHOES, NO SERVICE? It was hung on gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants to convey a threat that you would not have access to that establishment's service if you hadn't shoes on, nor a shirt.

What I wouldn't give to have that sign hanging almost everywhere these days!

Well, ok...the shirt thing is questionable.

But having no shoes on, feeling the great earth and warm grass underneath my feet and having no service by not having access to the electronic blizzard and bings and dings and rings of our modern day?!

I would heed to that sign each time I saw it! 

Without me going on a vandalizing spree and hanging new signs everywhere, I have come up with some helpful tips to help me unplug from and enjoy having "no service".
Don’t Get Stuck Using a Nonstick Pan!

Don’t Get Stuck Using a Nonstick Pan!

Monday, 22 April 2013 23:08

I think I was born to be a Naturopathic Doctor. 

Even at a young age, I was putting on my thinking cap and truly trying to “think things through”. You see, for a period of my childhood I was totally “into” having a parakeet as a pet. I would name them all names starting with “B” like, Bert the bird or Ben the Bird.  

The reason I had more than one (bird’s tend to live a long time) is because they kept dying. Every few months, I was dealing with a dead bird. I was devastated when I would come home from school and my bird was lying lifeless at the bottom of its cage. 

The devastation inspired my curiosity as to what the heck was happening. I started thinking about where the birds lived, what was the environment like? The bird cage (I would never cage an animal again, by the way) hung near the kitchen so I started to wonder what they might have been breathing that contributed to their demise. My inquisitive mind popped out the answer one day when my Mom was making dinner and smoke was filling the kitchen.  I asked her what kind of pans she was using to cook in. She stated proudly, “Non-stick Teflon. Easy clean up, they are the best!”

Well, they weren’t the best for my birds and they are NOT the best for us either. STOP USING THEM!! (Please.)
Getting to the HEART of the Matter

Getting to the HEART of the Matter

Tuesday, 12 February 2013 01:08

Life. Seriously, what would we do without it?

From the moment it begins to the moment it stops, life itself is supported by one of the most fascinating structures in the human body, the heart.

Based on an average lifespan of 75 years and an average heartbeat of 72 beats per minute, the average heart, that big muscle in the middle of the chest, beats around 2,838,240,000 without ever taking a rest. Tirelessly pumping the energy we need to sustain life.

What an amazing organ!

That is why the fact that heart disease is the number one killer of both men and women in the United States shakes me to the core as a practitioner. Why is this the case?

After all, we are one of the most scientifically advanced, educated and economically savvy countries in the world. We have Rhodes scholars and Noble Prize winning scientists and researchers conducting studies and drafting pieces of literature about health, disease, medicine, you name it.

But we continue to have a staggering number of individuals affected by a diseased heart. According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control & Prevention) in 2008, 631,636 people died of heart disease - that is 26% of all deaths; more than one in every four. Every year about 785,000 Americans have a first heart attack. Another 470,000 who have already had one or more heart attacks, have another.

This isn't just a tragedy of life and loss, this burden we bear as a nation also carries an extremely steep financial price. It is predicted that for 2010, heart disease will have cost the United States $316.4 billion. This total includes the cost of health care services, medications and lost productivity.

Being a Naturopathic Doctor, I am fueled to think about troubling situations like this in a very comprehensive manner.
The Real Way to Win and be “Whealthy”

The Real Way to Win and be “Whealthy”

Monday, 07 January 2013 04:28
As a naturopathic doctor and author, I lecture quite frequently all across the country. Last week I was on the blue-line train from O'Hare to downtown Chicago to address a group of doctors on subclinical hypothyroidism. As I approached the city, I thought, What the heck?, and decided to connect with my friend Maddy, who lives downtown. To my surprise, Maddy was on the green-line train coming home from work and free to meet after my lecture. I was thrilled! We had a wonderful time catching up on all aspects of our lives. She was upbeat as she shared that her career and finances were better than ever been and that she was beginning to date someone she really liked. But there was one area of her life that she was quite frustrated with—her overall health.

She looked at me and said simply, "Hol, my body is doing funny things, and I don't like it." It was obvious that she had gained some weight, but I asked her to be more specific and look beyond the weight gain. She told me that her annual blood work showed elevated cholesterol levels and the doctor had diagnosed her as prediabetic, with her blood sugar regularly running high and blood pressure measuring slightly high. I then asked her a myriad of questions regarding her lifestyle, diet, and habits—similar questions I would ask patients in my practice.
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