You’re NOT Crazy…

“So I’m not crazy?!”

Was the words of one of my patients.

We had just gotten her blood work results back. It revealed a thyroid gland struggling to keep up, elevated thyroid antibodies, and extremely low nutrient levels.

She had been to see her doctor numerous times because she hadn’t been feeling herself. She used to feel great on her current thyroid medication but recently it had become harder and harder to make it through the day. She was crashing on the couch as soon as she came home from work and feeling completely rundown. She was too tired to do any of her favourite hobbies, watch the kids soccer games, or spend time with her husband. She was told repeatedly that all her lab work and testing was completely normal, she was the picture of health! Then she had been told: “you’re just getting older”, “you’re probably perimenopausal”, and “maybe you’re depressed”.*

Not willing to settle for those explanations or feeling like a zombie for the rest of her life, she decided to look deeper. (FYI: If this sounds like you as well, it’s no coincidence. I hear similar versions of this same story almost daily in my practice!) 

I like to tell my patients that YOU are your own expert. You live in your body 24 hours a day. You know how your body feels when you’re tired, or hungry, coming down with a cold, nervous, stressed, (you get the idea). You know what ‘normal’ feels like. You also know when you feel anything BUT normal.

I have watched countless patients with very similar stories look at their labs and say with triumph “I knew it!”

So,

If you’re feeling like no one is taking you seriously, and you’re starting to wonder if it really is all in your head, this is me saying to you:

You’re NOT crazy! 

You can’t find the solution if you’re looking in all the wrong places. Ensure that you’re getting a proper thyroid and nutrient assessment and find a practitioner you trust (and who will take you seriously when you say “I just know something is off”)

Want to know more? Check out what I recommend as a starting point here and here

In honour of your body’s innate wisdom,

Dr. Katie Rothwell, ND

 

*Details have been changed to protect patient confidentiality. Shared with patient permission.

 

What’s in your lube?

Choosing a lubricant is tough. Most women just grab the first one they see and high-tail it out of the store. Because of course, loitering in the lube and condom aisle comparing labels and ingredients for ages doesn’t seem to be anyone’s idea of fun.

Whether you’re using a vaginal lubricant occasionally during intercourse or more daily for vaginal dryness, it’s important to choose the right one with the right ingredients. Not only is the vagina comprised of very sensitive tissue, it also maintains it’s own pH and bacterial balance. Chemicals or harmful ingredients that disrupt this delicate balance can mean more itchiness, dryness, and even an increased risk of potential infections (like yeast infections, UTIs, and bacterial vaginosis). The vaginal canal also contains a vast network of blood vessels, which means anything you put in there can end up anywhere in your body.

Many common lubricants that are available at your local pharmacies and groceries stores are littered with ingredients such as: 

Mineral Oil: A petroleum byproduct (think: vaseline) that can clog pores and may contain impurities.

Glycerin: Has been associated with yeast infections and irritation in some women.

Parabens: Mimics estrogen and can act as an endocrine disruptor. Parabens can contribute to hormone imbalances making your symptoms worse, and have been linked to hormone-dependent cancers.

Propylene Glycol: May cause burning and irritation in some women.

Fragrances and Flavours: Can be a variety of undisclosed ingredients that can be irritating to many women. They have also been associated with allergies and negative effects on the reproductive system.

So what’s a women to do? Here are some options… 

Coconut oil: All natural and so safe you can use it in the kitchen too! Coconut oil can be used as needed for dryness or irritation, as well as during intercourse. Not to be used with condoms.

Natural and/or organic lubricant products: Look for products that avoid the above ingredients and instead use natural ingredients such as: aloe, vitamin E, cocoa butter, coconut oil, or almond oil

Hyaluronic Acid: Is natural to our own skin and connective tissue. It promotes the natural lubrication of the vagina and can improve burning, dryness, and itchiness. This is my go-to option for menopausal women who would prefer a non-hormonal treatment for vaginal dryness.

Vaginal Estriol: Estriol is a hormonal option to be used only under the supervision of a health professional. It’s indicated for menopausal women experiencing vaginal dryness, pain with intercourse, irritation or burning. Estriol is a weak estrogen which means it has a better safety profile and only needs to be used 1-2x per week to maintain symptom relief.

If you’re struggling with itchiness, burning, pain or feeling like the Sahara desert, let’s talk! A Naturopathic Doctor can assess what might be contributing to your symptoms and the best ways to get you relief. Your lady bits deserve it!

Dr. Katie

Resources:

The Environmental Working Group: www.ewg.org

 

Rooted’s Favourite Things – Holiday Gift Guide

Do you still have some Christmas shopping to do? Our team has put together some of our most loved items of 2017, so if you’re still searching for that perfect gift or a great stocking stuffer, you may just find it below in our top picks!

Instant Pot
Maddie and Dr. Whitney have been loving their new instant pots! It’s a single pot that does the job of seven different kitchen appliances and most importantly, can cook full meals in record time (kind of like a slow cooker on steroids). Use for staples like rice and beans, family favourite soups and stews, and even bone broth!

Essential Oil Diffuser
Dr. Katie has been eyeing up a new essential oil diffuser from Saje for home (and the office!). You can use these anywhere in the home for toxin-free scent and all the benefits of essential oils. Try lavender in the bedroom for sleep or eucalyptus for coughs and colds.

Oh She Glows Everyday Cookbook
Laurie is an all-star baker and we always take her food recommendations seriously! This is a vegan cookbook with recipes that never sacrifice flavour. Best of all, they’re easy and simple to put together quick for meatless Mondays or any night of the week!

Intuitive Eating Workbook
Speaking of food, Dr. Kerri highly recommends this amazing workbook for anyone looking to foster a peaceful and positive relationship with food. A wonderful item to gift to yourself or a loved one.

Muse Meditation Device
Dr. Katie has recommitted to her meditation practice and is in love with her Muse! Do you need some extra motivation for your meditation practice and love the techy stuff? Muse is a device that reports brain wave activity while you meditate so you can see the effects of meditation in real-time and track your progress.

Rooted Herbal Teas (stocking stuffer alert!)
Try gifting our grounding herbal tea or “kick-your-cough” blend to your favourite herb tea lover.

Option B – Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, Finding Joy
As Dr. Whitney well knows, life doesn’t always go as planned. This book combines research, stories, and practical advice to make the most of “Option B”.

EcoParent Magazine Subscription
Canadian made Eco-parent Magazine is a great gift for a member of your mom tribe or favourite crunchy couple. Their articles are always fun and inspirational, and never judgemental! From bump, to baby, to parenting tips, this magazine has it all on how to keep your family healthy and happy.

 

That’s the round-up! Hope it inspires some seriously healthy gift giving. As anyone who has seen our snack drawer here at Rooted, some good quality dark chocolate is always a crowd pleaser!

From all of us at Rooted, Have a wonderful Holiday Season!

What Are Thyroid Antibodies?

thyroid antibodies

What Are Thyroid Antibodies?

Unless you’ve been in a biology or immunology class recently, you may not be familiar with antibodies. Antibodies are a normal part of our immune system. Your body makes them in order to “tag” or “mark” foreign bacteria or viruses that are harmful. Once tagged, your immune system can recognize these foreign invaders and fight them off.

The antibodies that occur in Hashimoto’s Disease (or any other autoimmune disease) are different. They are AUTO-antibodies. Which means that they are ‘marking’ your own thyroid tissue. This isn’t good – we don’t want your immune system attacking your own body!

Essentially, elevated thyroid antibodies indicate that your immune system has targeted the thyroid gland for destruction. Over time, this can damage your thyroid tissue and make it impossible for your body to produce its own hormones.

What do Thyroid Antibodies Mean? 

Thyroid antibodies are the most important tests to diagnose Hashimoto’s disease. If you test positive for one or both of these antibodies, you have Hashimoto’s disease.

  1. Thyroid Peroxidase Antibodies (TPOAb) – present in approximately 90% of those with Hashimoto’s disease
  2. Thyroglobulin Antibodies (TgAb) – present in approximately 80% of those with Hashimoto’s disease.

If you haven’t already done so, I recommend testing your antibodies if you already have or suspect hypothyroidism. Hashimoto’s disease isn’t just hypothyroidism – it’s an autoimmune disease, and needs to be treated as an autoimmune disease!

The First Thing You Should Do When You Find Out You Have Thyroid Antibodies…

It’s important to know that Hashimoto’s disease does have a genetic link. So, it’s very common to see Hashimoto’s present in multiple family members (typically females). For that reason, when I have a patient with positive antibodies one of the first things I tell them is to talk to their family. Tell your mother, sisters, daughters, and aunts to have their thyroid antibodies tested as well, especially if they already know they have low thyroid function. The sooner we can identify antibodies and regulate the immune response, the more likely it is that we will be able to prevent damage to the thyroid gland. BUT, just because a relative has Hashimoto’s doesn’t mean you’re destined for it too. Genes only play a part of the picture!

Have more questions about thyroid antibodies? Let me know!

Dr. Katie Rothwell, ND

 

How To Exercise For Your Thyroid

how to exercise thyroid

Is your current exercise routine sabotaging your thyroid health?

If you have a thyroid condition, you may be experiencing one or more of the following when it comes to exercise:

  • You’re exhausted and can’t imagine attempting exercise or even making it to the gym
  • You’re making exercise a regular habit but you find that it takes you forever to recover and you experience lots of muscle or joint pain afterward
  • You’re working out like crazy and are beyond frustrated that your best efforts at the gym aren’t getting you any closer to your goals

If any of the above sounds familiar, read on!

Hypothyroidism or Hashimoto’s Disease can make exercise a challenge. Why? A low thyroid also means a low metabolism. Even if you’re taking medication and your thyroid labs are “normal” your metabolism could still be suffering.

First and foremost is to make sure your thyroid labs (especially your free T3) are optimal so you have the stamina and energy to make it through your day AND get some exercise in. With optimal labs you will also recover faster from exercise and experience less muscle and joint pain.

Secondly, (and this is the important part!) the type and length of exercise can make a big difference for hypothyroid folks.

Did you know that high intensity or extended periods of exercise can actually lower your Free T3 (your most active thyroid hormone) and increases your Reverse T3?

This combination is like a big brake pedal for your thyroid gland telling it so slooow down. For people with low thyroid function, this is the opposite of what we want!

Here are some questions to ask yourself to help decide if your current exercise plan is right for you:

  1. How do you feel during exercise?
    If at any time you feel dizzy, lightheaded or fatigued during exercise it may be too strenuous.
  2. How do you feel after?
    After exercise, you should feel energized and upbeat due to the positive endorphins that are released with physical activity. If you’re feeling sore, exhausted, or like you need a nap, you may need to dial back the intensity of your workouts.
  3. Could you do the same exercise again?
    If the answer is yes, you’re exercising at the sweet spot of intensity (not too low and not too high)
  4. Do you enjoy it?
    Please, pick something you actually enjoy! Exercise doesn’t have to mean slugging it out at the gym day after day. Walking, hiking, yoga, biking, karate, swimming or mowing the lawn are all wonderful ways to move your body.

Here are my general recommendations on how to exercise for your thyroid:

  • Keep your exercise at a low to moderate intensity (less than 75% of your maximum heart rate) for approximately 30-40 minutes.
  • Avoid high-intensity cardio or extended periods of exercise. Don’t over do it – your body will interpret this as stress and will slow down your metabolism even more to conserve energy. Exercises to think twice about would include marathons, high-intensity spinning, or aggressive HIIT training.
  • Build muscle! Cardio is not king in the thyroid world. More muscle = better metabolism.
  • Listen to your body. If you feel good both during and after exercise, it’s likely a good choice for you.

Have questions? Book your Free Thyroid Assessment to learn more!

Dr. Katie Rothwell, ND

References:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16175498

Three reasons you still have symptoms on Synthroid

sick on synthroid

Synthroid (also know as levothyroxine) is a synthetic form of T4 and the most common medication prescribed for hypothyroidism. Unfortunately, many people continue to experience chronic and debilitating symptoms of hypothyroidism on Synthroid, including:
– fatigue
– weight gain
– brain fog
– hair loss
– low mood
– and more…

There are three BIG reasons why you still might have symptoms on Synthroid.

1. Your body isn’t using the medication efficiently.

While T4 is the most abundant hormone the thyroid produces, T3 is the most active form. T3 is the hormone that acts on all the cells in your body to create positive changes in energy and metabolism. In healthy persons, T4 is converted to T3 in the body naturally. However, for many people (especially with hypothyroidism or Hashimoto’s disease) this doesn’t happen properly.

Want to know if you’re producing T3 in proper amounts? Have your FT4 and FT3 tested, and then do this simple calculation: FT4 divided by FT3

An optimal result should be around 3, which means your body is efficiently producing T3.

Results over 3 indicate what thyroid experts call a “conversion issue”. This is a very common roadblock to feeling better on Synthroid but don’t worry, it can easily be improved.

Bottom line: You can have all the T4 in the world, but if your body isn’t converting it to T3, you may still feel hypothyroid.

2. You’re not addressing the root cause

The most common cause of hypothyroidism in North America is an autoimmune condition called Hashimoto’s Disease. This occurs when the body begins to attack the thyroid and slowly destroys the thyroid tissue, making it impossible to produce adequate hormone amounts naturally.

While medication can be an important part of feeling better with Hashimoto’s, it’s not enough. You need to address the inflammation and autoimmune process that created your thyroid problem in the first place.

If you have symptoms like joint pain, hives, chronic digestive concerns, or already have an autoimmune disease, you need to be properly assessed for Hashimoto’s. Read about The Seven Signs This Common Condition is Causing Your Thyroid Disorder for more information about Hashimoto’s Disease.

3. You have nutrient deficiencies

Low nutrient levels are very common with low thyroid function and can leave you with lingering symptoms of fatigue, hair loss, brain fog and more. I talk about the most common nutrients deficiencies and how to test for them in another blog post entitled The 3 Nutrients I Check in Every Single Thyroid Patient

What can you do?

  • Talk to your Naturopathic Doctor about how to support optimal T3 levels with nutrient therapy that helps the body use Synthroid more effectively. You can also consider a thyroid medication that already contains T3. While Synthroid works well for some, others finally find symptom relief once switching to a different form medication.
  • Assess for Hashimoto’s Disease by asking for your thyroid antibodies (AntiTPO and TgAb) to be tested at your next lab work. If positive, get to work addressing your root cause to decrease inflammation and the autoimmune process.
  • Check your nutrient levels and supplement accordingly under the advice and care of your healthcare professional.

Have questions? We’re here to help!

Dr. Katie Rothwell, ND