Archive for the ‘thyroid’ Category


His and hers low thyroid

February 27, 2010

With all that’s going on with my thyroid, I thought I’d relate this quick story about my wonderful husband. Back in December he complained to his doc of being tired, at my behest. I think he would hate for me to list out his symptoms but he has most every symptom of low thyroid except for weight gain. And his mom is hypothyroid and has been on Synthroid forever. The doctor (we have the same doctor, you may remember – she doesn’t know what a Free T3 is…) put him in for all the regular tests, including a TSH for his thyroid. January was just absolutely tragic for us and involved traveling back home for a death in our family. Between that and his job, and his migraines, he didn’t actually get the blood drawn until late January. He had a follow up with the doc recently and got the results. My husband’s TSH is! And surprise, surprise, the doctor says he’s just fine.

Are you SERIOUS? Even if you want to worship TSH, and I know first hand that his doctor does! what about the reference range? You know, the one we’re all supposed to be using that was recommended by the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists way back in 2003? According to that reference range, 3.3 is the cut off! Well, reference range is after all, just a suggestion, and all labs use their own. Turns out our labs cut off at 4.2 – over that you’re hypo. So we are both out of luck for a diagnosis. How lucky we are. And by the way, what a coincidence that my husband and I are both just whiney, lazy, sad tired people with cold hands!

I know I complain a lot about my healthcare arrangement. I honestly don’t think there is anything especially bad about my specific healthcare facility/coverage or the specific doctors’ attitudes towards and care of myself…I never have, and this proves it because my husband is now facing the same thing. I’m mostly concerned about the state of conventional medicine overall.  And the state of our finances! We are already paying out of pocket for my holistic MD, a hormone specialist who is treating all of my hormone imbalances (update coming early next week) and it looks as if we now have to send my husband in to see the holistic as well. That’s two of us paying full price to see him, but at least we will both feel better in the end.


SIBO is not Candida

February 25, 2010

I am seriously always butting in where I am not invited. At least I have learned to give disclaimers, and I don’t shove Atkins down everyone’s throats anymore (although its pretty obvious from your symptoms if you are most people!) and now I’m also not such a candida-denialist. (Thanks to my group and thanks to having been on Nystatin and Diflucan for more than a month now RX’ed by holistic doctor.)

In summary, a woman from California (I mention this only because the entire board is for residents of the Central Coast, not girls in Queens!) asks how to get rid of SIBO “naturally.” Of course the first answer is from someone telling her that she has an “idea” that her SIBO is not actually SIBO but really it is Candida.

It’s really hard for me to sit by and watch people deny that SIBO exists. Sometimes, like in this case,  they are well-meaning people, with a background (either as a patient or a practitioner) in natural medicine.  But often they are just selling something, like Dr. Jeff with his McCombs Plan.

Anyway, I jumped in and here is my response:

The only natural treatment for SIBO with any research to back up claims is enteric coated peppermint oil

I moderate a support group for SIBO with 80 members and therefore speak based on the experience of myself and these folks – I am NOT a medical professional. With that said, I have found that you must take peppermint oil for a long time, (6 months or more) alongside other treatments (antibiotic/probiotic) and you must rotate it with other natural anti-microbials (garlic oil, etc.) if you want it to work.

Candida is very real and can co-exist with SIBO. However, the two are not the same. Just because most people have never heard of SIBO or don’t know a lot about it; they dismiss it and call it candida. Yes the diets are similar but they are not the same thing. SIBO is colonic bacteria inhabiting the small intestine. It is not a yeast, friendly or pathogenic. Even the Environmental Illness Resource differentiates the two.

With a SIBO you have to avoid fructose, and fiber. You need something with anti-microbial properties in order to kill the bacteria that exists in the wrong location. Probiotics can assist in ameliorating symptoms, but if the housekeeping wave isn’t working correctly to move things out of the small intestine and into the large, you might be compounding the problem in the long run by loading up on more bacteria.

I have been researching SIBO for years now and I have not run across a natural treatment. Yet it is an important part of the entire treatment regime because Holistic or natural medicine can work to correct imbalances in the body that create an environment that is SIBO-friendly. For example, SIBO can be caused by an underactive thyroid. A holistic MD who treats thyroid based on symptoms and body temperature may detect low thyroid in an individual who would be told by a conventional endocrynologist that they are “normal.” He or she can then treat the patient’s thyroid, adrenal, testicular and ovarian hormones and bring the patient to hormonal equillibrium, helping to create an environment less friendly to developing SIBO. However, if you take a look at the study linked above, you will see that even after treating for hypothyroidism, SIBO patients still needed antibiotics to kill the bacteria.

Other natural things you can do: Eat whole foods, (you are probably already doing this!) Avoid things that you know bother you, whether they are “healthy” or not. It is also very important to take HcL with meals because stomach acid kills off most infections that try to get into the gut, contributing to most bacteria being in the later part of the intestines (colon or large intestine) where they belong.


My Thyroid Tests (Take I)

January 8, 2010

Wednesday I got back the results of all the tests that the regular doc put in for me based on my holistic doc’s request. I am still waiting on my saliva test results for adrenal function, done at a different lab (and on my dime) and I will have to take the hormonal tests on the 21st. There are a few tests I may have to purchase from a lab on my own, depending on the events of the next few weeks. First of all a “comprehensive thyroid panel,”  at least at my health center, is far from comprehensive, and I think this is very important to know, in addition to knowing how dangerous it can be to depend soley on the TSH for diagnosis. My holistic doctor clearly asked for a free T3 and Reverse T3 test; my regular doctor took a look at his request and said ok.  What I got was:

Thyroxine (T4)
T3 Uptake
Thyroxine, Free (FT4)
Free T4 Index
T3 (Thyronine) Total

And everything was in range by the way; the Total T3 was at the bottom of the range, just as it was a year or so ago for my last thyroid panel. I asked where the Free T3 was and the doctor pointed to the T3 Uptake. I told her that wasn’t it and she pointed to the T3 Total. So I gave up and figured I would have to find and pay for the test on my own. It is confusing but here is what Dr. Kenneth Woliner says about the difference between Total T3 and Free T3:

Triiodothyronine (T3) is a thyroid hormone that circulates in blood almost completely bound (]99.5%) to carrier proteins. The main transport protein is thyroxine-binding globulin (TBG). However, only the free (unbound) portion of triiodothyronine (free T3) is believed to be responsible for the biological action. Furthermore, the concentrations of the carrier proteins are altered in many clinical conditions, such as pregnancy.

In normal thyroid function, as the concentrations of the carrier proteins changes, the total triiodothyronine level also changes, so that the free triiodothyronine concentration remains constant. (In an abnormally functioning thyroid, this is not necessarily so). Measurements of free triiodothyronine (Free T3) concentrations, therefore, correlate more reliably with your clinical status than total triiodothyronine (T3) levels.

Alien Robot Girl of Plant Poisons and Rotten Stuff sums it up beautifully in her latest post; I would refer you there if you are by any chance going through the same thing and in need of information about which tests are relevant.

I’m being referred to an endocrynologist, although I’m a bit surprised considering my normal test results. Its possibly due to the fasting glucose test, the results of which I will discuss in a separate post. This will be my first foray into endocrynology, considering I’ve always been denied my requests to see one in the past. There is a chance that she will take the Free and Reverse T3 for me but I am going to have to purchase them from an outside lab if she will not. And I am not expecting that she will. I would be experiencing high stress and anxiety now over the thought of the experience ahead of me, but I do not need to do so, considering that I have my holistic doctor working in earnest to actually figure out what is wrong with me, rather than trying to get me out of the office quickly and with the full weight of blame on my shoulders for all my physical ailments.


A new doctor

December 29, 2009

I mentioned a few posts back that I was going to see a new doctor, but I didn’t elaborate on the events that led up to that decision. If you’ve been reading since the summer you’ll know that I’ve not just been dealing with what are typical SIBO symtpoms for me lately, bloating, diarrhea and body aches; in fact, although I have been dealing with these symptoms, I would say that they have not been at their worst lately. Rather what I have been experiencing is crushing fatigue, crazy nightmare monthly periods, a heightened frequency of syncope, muscle weakness, and between August and October I packed on 20 lbs (14 of those by the end of September) and this weight isn’t going anywhere.

In October I had gone to see my regular doc at the health center, to see if she had any suggestions on the fatigue. It is important to note that I recently requested my entire medical record from the center and one of the many things I was surprised to see is that there is no mention of SIBO in there at all, outside of doctors writing things like “Patient says she has “S.I.B.O”” or “She says she has bacterial infections in her digestive tract…” This is because the health center never has offered the breath test for SIBO, so I had to go outside the facilities to find a doctor in NYC who did. Even my gastro who offers me Xifaxan mentions the SIBO by proxy in his files on me, since he isn’t the one who diagnosed me with it. So really I was starting kind of fresh with this doctor’s visit, and that was fine by me. Turns out I had an even fresher start than I imagined, as my own doc was out sick that day and I saw someone entirely new. I told her I was fatigued and that I had gained weight. She put in a few tests for me – a Comprehensive Blood Panel (CBC) and a TSH test (one of the thyroid? hormones.) I also had a standing order for a B12 test from my gastroenterologist.

Of course everything came back within range. Some noteworthy figures – my cholesterol has gone down again and now sits at 169. My HDL has increased from 75 to 85. My blood pressure that day was 98/64. And I had a TSH of 1.9.

I am no thyroid expert, so I’ve been doing quite a lot of research lately and from what I can tell this is a great number. In fact, even in the world of lower ranges, healthy people, and thyroid patients doing well on the right medication, 1.9 seems to be a number where many people feel great, although some need to be as low as 1 to feel good. Historically, however, it is somewhat high for me. Back in July of 2007, at a weight of 177, before I started eating meat and exercising and dieting, my TSH was 2.06. A year later I was 20 lbs lighter and it was down to 1.72. This June, at my lightest (and most energetic) it was down to 1.32. Now 6 months later its at 1.9. Its funny having to get into a brand new field of research; I really don’t know if this type of fluctuation is considered negligible or if it is actually important. All I do know is that I felt very differently at each of these times.

And of course I am completely aware of the TSH is worthless theory, and I don’t say I knock it, but I always try and give conventional medicine the benefit of the doubt to start with anyway. More on this later.

So all the test results were good, everything was within range and only one indicator – the G-GTP, or Gamma-Glutamyltranserase, was at the bottom of the normal range (normal being 7 – 51, my result was 8.) I believe that G-GTP is a bilary enzyme. My B12 blood levels were actually high: 996, where my lab’s top number is 948. So the doctor gave me a clean bill of health and then stared at me blankly. Of course I was upset. Why in the world am I feeling so fatigued? She told me I was probably getting too much sleep and to get out of bed earlier. I asked her about the weight gain and she said nothing at all and kept writing in her book. I asked what I should do about the painful periods and she scheduled me for a transvaginal ultrasound and a chest x-ray.  

So much for a fresh start. We called the new doc, scheduled an appointment and started saving up for his consultation fee. And I’ll discuss his initial findings and the tests he ordered for me in the next post.