Category: Women’s Health and Hormones

Kale and Biotin Can Interfere with Thyroid Function and Lab Reports

By Joan Haynes, NMD

Kale and Other Cruciferous Veggies

Kale is a cruciferous vegetable related to other well-known healthy veggies such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage. Cruciferous vegetables are unique in that they are rich sources of healthy, sulfur-containing compounds known as glucosinolates.  Glucosinolates form a substance called goitrin that can suppress the function of the thyroid gland by interfering with iodine uptake, which can, as a result, cause poor function and enlargement of the thyroid gland.

Cooking Destroys Glucosinolates

Once cooked, cruciferous foods lose up to 80% of their goitrogenic (iodine interfering) chemicals, so they no longer block the uptake of iodine.  Studies show steaming for 3 minutes ensures the bioavailability of helpful nutrients we want from these vegetables but destroys the goitrogenic effect.  Blanching (cooking the vegetable quickly in boiling water) is extra effective because the glucoinolates float off into the water.  I strongly recommend cooked, daily cruciferous veggies with some occasional raw ones weekly too.

Green Smoothie Danger

Many people are under the mistaken impression that a daily raw kale smoothie is a healthy choice.  Certainly, the occasional one is fine, but its when people are having daily, massive amounts of kale that we see interference of thyroid function.  Especially juicing of kale in large amounts and on a very frequent bases is not recommended either, especially for people who may already be iodine deficient such as vegetarians and vegans.

Biotin – A Culprit in Thyroid Testing

Biotin is a B vitamin, and the Institute of Medicine recommends a daily intake of 30 mcg.  That’s micrograms.  But many patients take “hair, skin, and nails” supplements that contain milligram doses – that’s a thousand fold increase.  When patients take megadoses of biotin, it can cause falsely high and falsely low results in a variety of laboratory tests, including thyroid tests.  Inaccurate test results can cause misdiagnoses and even mistreatment.  Be sure to tell your health care providers about  all the nutrients you are taking when you are getting lab work.

 

Here’s some links if you want to read more:

https://www.endocrineweb.com/conditions/hypothyroidism/news-update-can-kale-cause-hypothyroidism

https://endocrinenews.endocrine.org/january-2016-thyroid-month-beware-of-biotin/

https://hormonesbalance.com/articles/truth-cruciferous-thyroid-not-think/

Caution with Iodine Supplements

by Joan Haynes, NMD

Many patients have come to the clinic taking large doses of iodine, in hope that it will improve their thyroid function and help with fatigue or weight gain. While iodine is critical to human health and proper thyroid function, too much of it can become toxic to the body.  How many micrograms or milligrams should you be taking a day?

In my opinion, the RDI (Recommended Daily Intake)is set too low at 150 mcg per day.  Iodine is probably safe at doses up to 1 mg per day, but a common supplement has 12.5 mg per capsule and people sometimes take 4 of them per day!!  Note the difference between micrograms (mcg) and milligrams (mg).  This is over 300 times the RDI and can lead to trouble.

What is Iodine

Iodine is a trace mineral “critical to human health. It forms the basis of thyroid hormones and plays many other roles in human biochemistry. While the thyroid gland contains the body’s highest concentration of iodine, the salivary glands, brain, cerebrospinal fluid, gastric mucosa, breasts, ovaries and a part of the eye also concentrate iodine. In the brain, iodine is found in the choroid plexus, the area on the ventricles of the brain where cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) is produced, and in the substantia nigra, an area associated with Parkinson’s disease.” 1

To understand the technical difference between iodine and iodide, read more here.

Symptoms of Low Iodine

Goiter (enlarged thyroid), hypothyroidism, intellectual disability, and cretinism (congenital hypothyroidism leading to stunted physical and mental development), fibrocystic breast disease, muscle pain.  There is also some concern that low iodine levels permit the over-accumulation of other similar minerals called halides – floride, bromide, chloride which are ubiquitous in our environment.

Iodine Toxicity

Different people have different needs for minerals.  If someone’s genetics come from an iodine-poor part of the world and suddenly they have a large increase in their intake, they may develop thyroid problems.  This may occur because their thyroid has become very efficient at utilizing small amounts of iodine.  In particular, they may develop iodine-induced hyperthyroidism.

Iodism (iodine poisoning) produces a brassy taste, runny nose, and acne-like skin lesions.  It can also cause a goiter, the enlargement of the thyroid gland, thirst, diarrhea, weakness, and convulsions.

There aren’t good statistics on how common these side effects are, but one researcher and clinician who routinely uses up to 50 mg doses of daily iodine reports that side effects occur in less around 5 percent of patients.  He reports hyperthyroidism, allergies, swelling of the salivary glands and thyroid.

There is a big debate going on in the alternative medicine community about iodine.  If you’d like to read more about that read this article The Great Iodine Debate by Westin Price Foundation.

How to Use Iodine Safely

The Reference Daily Intake is 100-150 mcg per day.  Many clinicians think this is too low. This will prevent goiters and other overt signs of deficiency but may not be adequate to prevent other conditions of iodine deficiency.

The average person, who is not using iodized salt, should take a multivitamin-mineral supplement with iodine in it.  We should all also eat plenty of iodine rich foods.

IODINE RICH FOODS 4

 

FOOD AMOUNT OF IODINE PORTION
Iodized salt 45 mcg 1/8 of a teaspoon
Seaweed/dried kelp 19 – 2,984 mcg 1 sheet dried
Cod (wild caught) 99 mcg 3 oz
Yogurt, whole, grassfed 75 mcg 1 cup
Egg 24 mcg 1 egg
Tuna 17 mcg 3 oz
Lima Beans 16 mcg 1 cup cooked
Corn 14 mcg ½ cup cooked
Green Peas 6 mcg 1 cup cooked
Bananas 3 mcg 1 medium

The Bottom Line

Iodine doesn’t work by itself for thyroid health.  Your thyroid also needs selenium, zinc, copper, magnesium, calcium and the amino acid tyrosine from protein.  Using these nutrients along with iodine might prevent problems in cases where high doses of iodine might lead to thyroid problems.

If you are treating a low thyroid, then you want to make sure that if you do use larger doses that you are monitoring your thyroid through lab testing.  Bottom line – I recommend sticking with microgram (mcg) dosages and including seaweed and dried kelp into your diet regularly.

References

  1. https://www.westonaprice.org/health-topics/modern-diseases/the-great-iodine-debate/
  2. https://www.thyroid.org/iodine-deficiency/
  3. http://orthomolecular.org/resources/omns/v13n14.shtml
  4. https://draxe.com/iodine-rich-foods/

Hair Thinning in Women – Identifying the Cause

by Joan Haynes, NMD

Hair loss in women is usually a symptom of an underlying health condition.  It can be emotionally devastating to women.  A thorough work up can reveal the contributing factors.  Knowing the cause of the hair loss leads to an individualized treatment plan.  Often women’s other nagging health problems improve with a whole body approach.   Over my years of practice, it has been so satisfying to see women return to health and regrow their hair.

Here are the most important considerations when evaluating a woman’s hair loss:

  1. Anemia is low iron in the blood and is easy to tests to for with blood work. A complete blood count (CBC) and most importantly a serum ferritin which is your storage form of iron. A ferritin level below 90 is associated with hair loss.  I routinely see values in the teens!
  2. Hormones play a big role in hair. Women may have deficiencies or excess of any hormone –  testosterone, estrogen, or progesterone, DHEA, cortisol, or prolactin.  Clues to a hormone cause are acne, hair growth on face, infertility, PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome), irregular menses, menopause, PMS, and hormone use.  Read more at Testing for Hormones Imbalances.
  3. Thyroid conditions often cause hair loss and many other symptoms. It is useful to be thorough when testing thyroid.  Blood tests to consider for a full thyroid work up: TSH, free T3, free T4, reverse T3 and thyroid antibodies.
  4. Autoimmune conditions can be tested for such as an ANA which will test for multiple autoimmune conditions including systemic lupus erythematous.
  5. Stress is one of the most common causes of thinning hair and sometimes the hair loss happens even after the stress has passed.
  6. Scalp and skin conditions might be the problem if there is any itching, redness, bumps, or broken hairs. Exposure to chemicals and fragrances can cause skin reactions.  A dermatologist can do a punch biopsy to test for things like psoriasis, seborrheic dermatitis, and look for infections.
  7. Family history could be a factor if female relatives with similar problems?
  8. Personal history is important to review. Any recent diet change, weight loss, surgeries, or illness?  Is the hair loss sudden or a gradual loss?  Losing more in certain spots or all over scalp?  Any hair loss or growth on the rest of the body?  Do you have any ongoing health issue and/or have other symptoms coincided with the hair loss?   Are you taking any medications or supplements?

To understand more, WebMD has a great article:  At Boise Natural Health Clinic, we can order the lab work that you need and many lab companies will bill your insurance.

Calcium . . . Friend or Foe?  A Fresh Look at Bone Health and Osteoporosis

by Joan Haynes, NMD

Still think 1200 mg of calcium daily will build good bone?  Think again.  That much calcium might only not help, but actually harm.  Excessive calcium might compromise cardiac and kidney health.  Here’s a fresh look at osteoporosis and the host of minerals, cofactors, diet and lifestyle recommendations that are necessary for good bone health.

Careful with Calcium

Health professionals are beginning to question the recommendations on calcium supplementation.  A study published in the British Medical Journal in 2008 showed a positive correlation between calcium supplementation and an increased risk of myocardial infarction (heart attack) in older women through calcification of coronary arteries.  Other studies showed too much calcium leads to deposits in the kidneys leading to kidney stones.

Not All Calcium is the Same

The type of calcium is always important to consider.  At BNH we recommend calcium citrate or calcium citrate-malate.  These are highly absorbable forms of calcium and we recommend that women stay under 500 mg a day.  The popular and inexpensive calcium carbonate form is what chalk and Tums are made from.  Calcium carbonate actually blocks its own absorption through buffering stomach acid.

Low Stomach Acid

You might be getting plenty of calcium and other minerals in your diet, but if you don’t have enough stomach acid to break them down, you can’t absorb them.  Symptoms of low stomach acid might be acid reflux, heartburn, burping, gas, bloating, and nausea.  Low stomach acid is associated with an inability to digest meat well and often people’s stomach feels heavy or overly full after meals, despite eating a normal amount.  Sometimes, even if there are no gastrointestinal symptoms, it is useful to screen patients for low HCL if they have poor mineralization health conditions, such as those with anemia, osteoporosis, thinning hair, thin nails, and nervous system problems like insomnia, anxiety, and restless leg syndrome. READ MORE about low stomach acid in an article on our web page.

Bones are MUCH More than Calcium

To build and maintain bone we must also have optimal amounts of vitamin D, vitamin K, magnesium, potassium and essential trace minerals such as boron.  Adequate protein is also needed as well as omega-3 oils.

High Calcium Foods are High Mineral Foods

We all know that dairy foods are high in calcium, but many of our patients avoid dairy.  The best food sources of calcium, other than dairy, include whole grains, beans, almonds and other nuts, dark green leafy vegetables like kale, bok choy and turnip greens, also salmon and sardines. It is interesting to note that individuals who avoid dairy due to lactose intolerance do not experience a corresponding increase in osteoporosis.

A Word about Strontium

In my patients that have demonstrated bone loss with a DEXA scan, I recommend the mineral strontium citrate.  This mineral has been shown to increase bone density.  Caution: calcium will inhibit the absorption of strontium if taken together so they must be ingested at different meals.

Alkaline Diet

A diet high in animal protein, grains, and sugar and low in vegetables and fruit can cause an increase in urinary excretion of calcium, leading to bone loss.  These foods acidify your system, causing a leaching of calcium from the bone to keep your body’s pH normal.  A whole-foods, plant-based diet create a more alkaline environment.

Exercise

Always at the top of the list to build and maintain healthy bones is exercise.  Both weight bearing and cardio together have been shown to be the most effective.

Don’t Wait to Take Bone Health Seriously

About one in two women over the age of 50 will develop osteoporosis but what is often overlooked is one in four men over the age of 50 will also develop the disease.  Be proactive with your bone health.

At Boise Natural Health, we can help you design an effective bone health program that includes individualized supplementation and overall health optimization.  Call today to make an appointment 208-338-0405. 

Not Coping Well With Stress? You Might Have a Progesterone Deficiency.

by Joan Haynes, NMD

Women with low progesterone often have symptoms of insomnia, PMS, anxiety, irritability, breast tenderness, food cravings, hot flashes, irregular menses, infertility, uterine fibroid, low thyroid, low adrenal function and a host of other symptoms.

Progesterone’s main job during child bearing years is to prepare and maintain the uterus for pregnancy. Progesterone also affects brain function. It produces a sense of calmness and helps promote rejuvenating sleep. But when progesterone levels are low, the body can feel it has too much estrogen, even though estrogen levels can be normal. This is known as “estrogen dominance”.

When woman are under stress, their progesterone gets robbed to feed the cortisol (stress) pathway. This can leave us less able to handle stress and we may find ourselves anxious, overwhelmed and extra grouchy with those we love. We may also end up with adrenal fatigue,which often goes hand-in-hand with low progesterone. These may be the first symptoms of perimenopause and can happen years before other symptoms start to occur.

Testing

Low progesterone levels can be easily determined with saliva or urinary hormone testing.
Read more in my article Testing for Hormones: The Big Five.

No Need to Suffer there is Help for You

If you aren’t feeling yourself, come in and we can see if low progesterone and/or low cortisol are making you feel out of sorts. We can talk about ways to restore your hormone balance naturally, perhaps using bioidentical progesterone, herbs, supplements and dietary changes.

Recommended Thyroid Book by Wentz

by Joan Haynes, NMD

Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis: Lifestyle Interventions for Finding and Treating the Root Cause

by Izabella Wentz, PharmD, FASCP

Hypothyroidism is one of the most common health conditions we see at Boise Natural Health.  In 20 years of treating this condition, I’ve attended my share of classes and read numerous books and professional articles about thyroid function.  This book was great reading which confirmed that I’ve been on the right track in my practice, and also provided me with a wealth of new insight that my patients are already benefiting from.

Pharmacist Izabella Wentz gives a great overview of current theories about thyroid function and autoimmune disease in general.  Whether you are a newly diagnosed thyroid patient or one who has been on medication for years, it will behoove you to keep up with the latest medical advancements and treatment options.

If you like scientific detail like me, this book goes into specifics about how the thyroid works and what happens when it stops working well.  Wentz describes how “the body becomes stuck in a vicious cycle of immune system overload, adrenal insufficiency, gut dysbiosis, impaired digestion, inflammation, and thyroid hormone release abnormalities.”  Wentz discusses how to remove triggers and repair the body.  You learn how to maximize your thyroid function as well as your overall health.

One chapter I particularly appreciated was “Iodine Controversy” in which Wentz discusses the cautious use of iodine, which she describes as a “Goldilocks” supplement.  If there is too little, thyroid levels will be low.  Take too much, however, and the thyroid can become overactive.  I’ve seen this a number of times with new patients coming in with a wildly overactive thyroid induced by toxic doses of self-administered iodine.

Because Wentz’s book adheres to the naturopathic principle of treating the whole person to restore balance, it is an easy book to recommend to those wanting to learn more about optimal thyroid health.

Testing for Hormone Imbalances: The Big Five

By Joan Haynes, NMD

Hormone imbalances is something we see a lot of at Boise Natural Health. Listed below are symptoms of deficiency and excess of different hormones. Because there is such an overlap between the symptoms of the hormone imbalances, testing takes the guess work out.

Estrogens

Deficiency

  • Hot flashes
  • Night sweats
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Foggy thinking
  • Memory Lapses
  • Incontinence
  • Tearful
  • Depressed
  • Insomnia
  • Heart palpitations
  • Bone loss
  • Aches/pains

Excess

  • Mood swings
  • Tender breasts
  • Water retention
  • Nervousness
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Fibrocystic breast
  • Uterine fibroids
  • Weight gain hips
  • Bleeding changes
  • Headaches
  • PMS

Progesterone

Deficiency

  • Hot flashes
  • Night sweats
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Foggy thinking
  • Memory lapses
  • Incontinence
  • Tearful/Anxiety
  • Depressed
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Heart palpitations
  • Bone loss
  • Irritability
  • PMS
  • Infertility

Excess

  • Sleepiness
  • Breast swelling
  • Breast tenderness
  • Decreased libido
  • Mild depression
  • Candida infections
  • Water retention

Androgens (DHEA and Testosterone)

Deficiency

  • Low libido
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Foggy thinking
  • Foggy thinking
  • Fatigue
  • Aches/pains
  • Memory lapses
  • Incontinence
  • Depressed
  • Insomnia
  • Bone loss
  • Decreased muscle mass
  • Thinning skin

Excess

  • Excess facial hair
  • Excess body hair
  • Loss of scalp hair
  • Increased acne
  • Oily Skin

Cortisol (Adrenal Gland)

Deficiency

  • Fatigue
  • Sugar cravings
  • Allergies
  • Chemical sensitivity
  • Stress
  • Cold body temperature
  • Heart palpitations
  • Aches/pains
  • Arthritis

Excess

  • Insomnia
  • Depression
  • Bone Loss
  • Tired and wired
  • Weight gain in waist
  • Loss of muscle mass
  • Thinning skin

Thyroid

Deficiency

  • Fatigue
  • Weight gain
  • Goiter
  • Constipation
  • Low body temperature
  • Dry hair
  • Hair loss
  • Dry skin
  • Achy joints
  • Infertility

Excess

  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Goiter
  • Increased hunger
  • Racing heart
  • Diarrhea
  • Excess energy
  • Bulging eyeballs
  • Mood swings

Sex Hormone and Adrenal Testing – Description and Costs

Sex hormones can be measured in saliva, blood, or urine. For menstruating women, collection is best near day 20 of their cycle. (Day 1 is the first day of bleeding). For non-menstruating women, or men, it can be run any day of the month. Salivary testing measures the “free-fraction” of the hormones, not “total” hormone levels. The free-fraction is what is available to be used by the body. The salivary panel is best used when a patient is not taking hormone replacement therapy. Typically, we test estrogen, progesterone, testosterone and DHEA and a morning cortisol. The cost for this test is $150. If a patient is experiencing adrenal symptoms, we can test adrenal function for an additional $120. This involves collecting saliva 4 times throughout the day since cortisol levels should be high in the morning and much lower at bedtime. This test is not usually covered by insurance.

Another option is 24-hour urine testing. This test is more expensive at $280 but already includes adrenal testing. We prefer this test if a patient already begun hormone replacement therapy or if they think they are likely to begin. It helps is check for optimal dosing for our patients on HRT. This test is not usually covered by insurance.

Thyroid Testing – Description and Costs

Thyroid hormones are measured through a blood test and are often covered by insurance. If a person is experiencing thyroid symptoms, we usually order at least 3 tests – TSH ($27.30), Free T3 ($19.55), Free T4 ($17.50). We may also want to know if our patient has an autoimmune condition called Hashimoto’s so we order two additional tests antithyroglobulin antibodies ($48.41) and antithyroid peroxidase antibodies ($25.75). Often our patients have had thyroid testing done with their regular provider and will bring in their recent labs for our opinion. There is controversy about the lab ranges that are used to determine if somebody has hypothyroidism. Some people are told they are “borderline” but with the current thinking, they are really low thyroid and often benefit greatly from treatment.

For More Information:

My article about a great thyroid book by Wentz Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis: Lifestyle Interventions for Finding and Treating the Root Cause Here is great website to get more thyroid information.
Visit the ZRT lab we use for salivary hormone testing.
To find out about the lab we use for 24-hour urine collection hormone testing visit the Meridian Valley lab’s.
Check out Dr. James Wilson, NMD, DC, PhD’s site for more information about adrenal function and adrenal fatigue.

What is Adrenal Fatigue?

Joan Haynes, NMD

The most common complaint I see in my practice is fatigue.  Fatigue can have many, many causes including a low thyroid, nutritional deficiencies, depression, poor sleep, etc.  However, generally unrecognized in conventional medicine, adrenal fatigue is something I see quite commonly.  The adrenal glands are your stress-defense team.  Extreme or prolonged stress (from any cause) will overtax them.

Common Symptoms of Adrenal Exhaustion

From Julia Ross, M.A. The Diet Cure

  • Sensitivity to exhaust fumes, smoke, smog, petrochemicals
  • Inability to tolerate much exercise, or you feel worse after exercising
  • Depression or rapid mood swings
  • Dark circles under the eyes
  • Dizziness upon standing
  • Lack of mental alertness
  • Tendency to catch colds easily when weather changes
  • Headaches, particularly migraines, along with insomnia
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Edema (water retention)
  • Salt cravings
  • Trouble falling asleep or staying asleep
  • Feeling of not being rested upon awakening
  • Feeling of tiredness all the time
  • Feeling of being mentally and emotionally overstressed
  • Low blood sugar symptoms
  • Need for caffeine to get you going in the morning
  • Low tolerance of loud noises and/or strong odors
  • Tendency to startle easily, panic
  • Food or respiratory allergies
  • Recurrent, chronic infections, such as yeast infections
  • Lightheadedness
  • Low tolerance for alcohol, caffeine, and other drugs
  • Fainting
  • Tendency to get upset or frustrated easily, quick to cry
  • Tendency to get a second wind (high energy) late at night
  • Low blood pressure
  • Haven’t felt your best in a long time
  • Eyes sensitive to bright light
  • Feeling of being weak and shaky
  • Constant fatigue and muscular weakness
  • Sweating or wetness of hands and feet caused by nervousness or mood swings
  • Relieve anxiety and depression by eating
  • Frequent heart palpitations
  • Chronic heartburn
  • Vague indigestion or abdominal pain
  • Alternating constipation and diarrhea
  • Infrequent urination
  • Cravings for sweets or alcohol
  • Lack of thirst
  • Clenching and/or grinding of teeth, especially at night
  • Chronic pain in the lower neck and upper back
  • Inability to concentrate and/or confusion, usually along with clumsiness, ADD, ADHD
  • An unusually small jawbone or chin; lower teeth crowded, unequal in length or misaligned
  • A chronic breathing disorder, particularly asthma
  • An excessively low cholesterol level (below 150mg/dl)
  • Bouts of severe infection

 

Testing for Adrenal Dysfunction

Sometimes the diagnosis can just be made based on symptoms and history.  Other times, we’ll test salivary cortisol levels four times during the day and measure DHEA too.  Often the adrenal tests are included as part of a larger hormone and general workup.

Treatment to Help the Adrenal System

Finding out the root cause(s) of the dysfunction is key.  Balancing blood sugar and ensuring proper sleep is essential.  Some people need to learn strategies to better cope with stress.  Most need to use herbs and other supplements to boost adrenal function.  Often treating other hormonal imbalances is important, especially in women with low progesterone and people with a low thyroid.

Recovery is possible.  It’s wonderful to hear people tell me how much better they feel with proper treatment.

Where Did My Sex Drive Go?

by Joan Haynes, NMD

Have you ever found yourself saying something like, “I love my partner very much, but I just don’t want him to touch me”?

Hormones Can Be the Culprit

The first thing to check in a woman or a man with low libido is hormone levels. Low levels of estrogen, progesterone, DHEA, and/or testosterone can all result in a lack of sexual desire.

Even though testosterone has received a lot of press as the “hormone of desire”, in fact, any hormone imbalance can be the culprit. Research shows that a decrease in estradiol levels can dampen nerve transmission during sex, making a woman less sensitive to touch. Low estradiol and progesterone can affect the flow of blood to sexually sensitive areas. Low progesterone levels often create pre-menstrual irritability and a hands-off attitude.

Before beginning hormone replacement therapy, it is wise to get your hormones tested either with a saliva test, or a 24-hour urine test. Follow up testing is also useful to ensure levels are appropriate. Read our article Testing for Hormone Imbalances: The Big Five.

Stressed and Tired Women are Not Easily Aroused

Besides hormone imbalances, one of the most common reasons women have low libido is simply fatigue and stress. In general, both men and women find that sex helps them relieve stress, however, women need to be much more relaxed first in order to be intimate. This important gender distinction can be very important prior to love-making.

Chronic stress can lead to a depletion of adrenal hormones and this adrenal “burnout” can be another factor in low libido. Adrenal function can be assessed by a cortisol measurement in the saliva or urine. Adrenal depletion can be addressed with herbs, nutrients and lifestyle changes. Often the source of the stress needs to be addressed as well – poor sleep, poor diet, too many daily demands, etc.

Low levels of thyroid hormones can be another reason women are not interested in intimacy. Besides fatigue, other low thyroid symptoms are depression, irritability, weight gain, hair loss, dry skin, sleep disturbances, and constipation. Thyroid function is determined by simple blood tests.

Other Factors in Waning Desire

Correcting hormone imbalances may be important for some women; however, others can have a low libido regardless of what her hormones are doing. Here are some other factors to consider:

1 – Relationship

The health of a woman’s relationship with her sexual partner is essential for intimacy. Very few women want to be physically close when they don’t feel safe and loved. I’m often amazed at how women will initially say their relationships are “fine” and want hormone testing for their lack of desire, but when I probe, tears of pain come pouring out. Also, a low sex drive by either partner can create tension in an otherwise happy relationship, further decreasing libido.

2 – Other Health Conditions

Chronic conditions influence our desire too: being overweight; gas and bloating; constipation; vaginal thinning; fear of urinary or fecal incontinence; anxiety and depression; chronic pain, etc. Also some medications can impair libido.

3 – Zest for Life

Overall emotional and spiritual love-for-life affects our attitudes about our sexuality. Many women are finding themselves needing to embrace the inevitability of aging and learn to feel sexy at any age or body shape. A happy, healthy woman who has come to terms with her sexual nature and who is in a fulfilling relationship finds passion and intimacy in many things, not just the act of sex. Don’t confuse quantity with quality.

Some great books on the topic:

The Wisdom of Menopause, by Christiane Northrup, MD
The Secret Pleasures of Menopause, by Christiane Northrup, MD
Mama Gena’s School of Womanly Arts, Regena Thomashauer
Hot Monogamy, Patricia Love, MD

Could it be my Thyroid?

by Joan Haynes, NMD

The thyroid gland makes hormones that control the basic activity (metabolism) of every cell in the body.

Hypothyroid (too little thyroid) symptoms:
Fatigue, weight gain, depression, coarse and dry hair; hair loss, dry and scaly skin, constipation, frequent infections, hoarse voice, inability to lose weight with diet/exercise, loss of outer edge of eyebrows, low or absent sex drive, sleep apnea, sluggishness, cold intolerance, heat intolerance, irregular menses, infertility, and more.

What are some symptoms of too much thyroid hormone (hyperthyroid)?
Anxiety, heart palpitations, weight loss, insomnia. This is a much more rare condition.

Can hypothyroidism be treated naturally?
Sometimes, but not always.  At Boise Natural Health Clinic, we look at the big picture.  We treat hypothyroid by thorough testing, improving diet and lifestyle, assessing and supporting other hormones such as adrenals and sex hormones.  We also encourage appropriate supplementation, and if needed, thyroid hormone replacement options.  If you have not already had your thyroid tested, we can order lab work for you as well.

What are some possible causes of hypothyroid?
Age, certain medications, environmental exposure, fluoride, genetic, neck trauma, over consumption of uncooked goitrogenic foods (brassicas, soy), over or under consumption of iodine, pregnancy, perimenopause, menopause, radiation treatment, radioactive iodine treatment, smoking, surgical treatment for goiters, nodules, or thyroid cancer.  Biotin can affect the lab results on thyroid tests.

How is hypothyroidism diagnosed?
With appropriate clinical assessment and blood testing.  Even if you’ve been told your thyroid is normal, ask for a copy of the test and let us help you interpret it.  Inform yourself about what the different tests mean and the new thinking about normal ranges for these tests.  www.thyroid.about.com is a good website to get some basic information.  At Boise Natural Health Clinic, we like to run a TSH, Free T3, Reverse T3, Free T4, Anti TPO Ab and Anti TG Ab tests for a full evaluation