Natural Medicine Q&A
Ask Dr. P
by Kasra Pournadeali, ND
Natural Medicine Specialist
Has your energy been waning? Are you finding it difficult to keep up with work & home responsibilities? Has your motivation declining? Perhaps you’ve just chalked it up to “getting older.” Stop making excuses! You deserve to have great energy! This month’s Ask Dr. P is to help with just that, since more energy is what we all want. Enjoy!
Q: Dr. P., I’ve heard that low thyroid occurs in many people, and that it is often overlooked. How do I know if this is the cause of my low energy? Thanks, Joslin
Dear Joslin, low thyroid, or hypothyroidism, by some estimates, occurs in as many as 10% of adults. Symptoms include: low energy (fatigue), cold intolerance, cold hands & feet, hair loss, dry skin, feeling blue, loss of motivation and/or memory, constipation, joint & muscle pain, and weight gain, or difficulty losing weight. Standard diagnosis is with a blood test, but many with hypothyroidism have completely normal results. To determine if hypothyroidism is your problem, it’s important to consider your symptoms, a physical exam, the blood test, and your basal body temperature, (your underarm temperature first thing in the morning). For treatment, most docs simply prescribe thyroid hormone, without trying to identify & address the cause. Is your immune system attacking your thyroid gland? Have you been exposed to solvents or heavy metals that suppress the thyroid gland? Are you missing nutrients important for your thyroid to work? These issues must be addressed if our goal is to treat the problem instead of the symptoms. Doing so helps you have the energy nature intended.
Q: Dr. P., I was told (by the vitamin salesman) that I have adrenal failure, and should take ginseng. Is it the right thing to do? Thanks, Kathy
Dear Kathy, your adrenal glands or your “bumpers to stress” produce substances that, among other things, help you maintain energy. If you are suffering from adrenal hypo (low) function, then you might have low energy, salt cravings, cold & stress intolerance, muscle & joint pain, worsened allergy symptoms, weight loss, depression, dizziness when standing, and possibly diarrhea. Standard diagnosis is a physical & blood test, the later of which usually catches only the most severe cases. More-sensitive, saliva tests are now available, and represent a better option if you need testing. If your history, physical exam, and tests indicate adrenal hypofunction is what’s preventing you from having great energy, then several options can be employed. Simple food changes, taking of nutrients, plant medicines, hormones, and yes maybe ginseng are all examples. Talk to your naturopathic doctor (ND) to find out which are safe & appropriate for you.
Dr. P., I heard that a positive mental attitude can impact a person’s energy? Is it true? And, how can I keep a positive attitude when life has been so hard? Thanks, John
Dear John, you are correct. Attitude is paramount when wanting to be your best in all aspects of health-- including energy Several studies document how a person’s imagination & outlook can alter hormone levels, improve activity of the immune system, reduce blood pressure, and have a dramatic impact in many disease. Taking advantage of this mind-body connection is not as hard as it seems. First, with your favorite color marker, write on two large pieces of paper: “What will be great about today?” and “What were three good things about today?” Second post these papers where you will see them first thing in the morning, and at the end of the day. Third, answer these questions daily, and formulate different answers as you go. In just a few days, you’ll notice how this simple task can change your energy, outlook, and improve your overall quality of life. With the right guidance it really is simple to be your best. Have a great month!
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