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MORE REASON FOR PROBIOTICS
A probiotic is an organism that helps to balance the intestinal tract. Probiotics are also frequently referred to as "friendly" or "good" bacteria.
Many people are familiar with acidophilus, one of the most well-known probiotics, and the "good bacteria" or "live bacteria" found in most yogurts.
These probiotic bacteria are those that when present in sufficient quantities in your intestines, will kill off and prevent overgrowth of harmful bacteria -- pathogenic bacteria -- that can lead to digestive problems and disease.
When you eat foods containing probiotics, or take probiotic supplements, the probiotics help to maintain a healthy intestinal tract, and can actually help prevent some illness, or fight off other illness and disease.
There are two more reasons for probiotic supplements that are being reported in the research. Early results of research presented in April 2002 at a conference in Italy reported that as many as 18 percent of chronic migraine sufferers were infected with the bacteria helicobacter pylori - which has been found to be the cause of many ulcers.
Among those who tested positive for helicobacter pylori, use of antibiotics was an effective treatment for the headaches, and even better results were obtained when sufferers added the "friendly" bacteria probiotic supplement lactobacillus. The majority of those who added the supplement were free of migraines for a year, and the others had fewer and less intense headaches.
At the end of the year, only 20 percent of those who got antibiotics and probiotics to start, and then continued on probiotics for the year were still getting headaches. Headaches in the probiotic group occurred less often, were milder and went away more quickly than they did in the antibiotics group.
Preliminary research findings have also indicated that the risk of eczema can be reduced in infants who are given probiotics while they are being weaned from breastmilk. In the past, researchers have been able to determine that children with food allergies have a higher likelihood of overgrowth of harmful bacteria in the large intestine. A healthy, balanced ratio of good/bad bacteria is thought to help create a properly functioning immune system.
The researchers looked at 21 breast-fed infants who had already been diagnosed as having eczema, and were therefore at an increased risk of developing allergies. The infants were weaned to whey formula with and without probiotic supplementation. Stool samples were taken to test for levels and presence of good and bad bacteria. What the research found was that those who did not get the probiotic formula were more likely to have higher levels of bad bacteria. More studies will be needed to confirm these findings.
NOTE: In my new book, "Living Well With Autoimmune Disease," the importance of probiotic supplements for autoimmune disease sufferers is discussed. In addition to taking probiotics, there are a number of other immune-healthy changes you can make to your diet, and supplements to consider. Find out more about probiotics and other things you can do in the detailed diet and nutrition section of "Living Well With Autoimmune Disease." (http://www.autoimmunebook.com)
If You Want to Take Probiotics
The biggest problem with probiotics is that few products actually deliver sufficient quantities of live bacteria to make an impact on your health. They can also be ridiculously expensive to get what is identified as a decent quality product. Many of the better products also require refrigeration, which means that you may be erratic at taking the product, and they don't travel well. Even then, consistency and delivery of most probiotic products is iffy at best.
You can get Enzymatic Therapy's Probiotic Pearls at most good health food and vitamin stores.
If you want to buy online, the online store I use, Iherb.com, has a good buy on this product, for $11.00, for a 30-pearl pack (that's a one month supply.) Great bargain for a really helpful product. Get Probiotic Pearls from Iherb.com now.
Source: Gut 2002;51:51-55, July 2002
CHRONIC FATIGUE, FIBROMYALGIA AND THYROID SOLUTIONS, DEC. 7-8 2002, BOULDER, CO
Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum, best-selling author of "From Fatigued to Fantastic," and an expert in chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and fibromyalgia (FMS), will be giving his CFS/FMS workshop in Boulder, Colorado December 7 and 8th, joined by Drs John & Gina Lowe, experts in thyroid problems in fibromyalgia.
I just attended Dr. Teitelbaum's solo conference in Annapolis in early November, and it was a fascinating two days, filled with information about hormone balancing, nutrition, and support for thyroid, adrenal and energy function. The conference offers a great deal of information and while geared for practitioners, it is accessible for patients who want to be particularly informed about these conditions, how they are diagnosed, and comprehensive ways to treat them.
For more information about the conference, visit Dr. Teitelbaum's site at www.endfatigue.com.
ABDOMINAL SWELLING AND HYPOTHYROIDISM
According to research reported on in the British Medical Journal, thyroid function should be checked in all patients with a condition called ascites (pronounced ah-sih-tez) -- an abnormal accumulation of fluid in the abdomen. Ascites are considered a symptom of severe (and often undetected) hypothyroidism. It's considered to be a fairly known but not common feature of hypothyroidism, occurring in as many as 4% of patients.
Symptoms of ascites are:
IODINE DEFICIENCY AND THYROID DISEASE RISK
Even in an area where mild iodine deficiency is common, there is a definite relationship between iodine intake and the size of the thyroid. Danish researchers found that there may be a link between reduced iodine in the diet and a greater likelihood that the thyroid will be enlarged (a sign of possible thyroid disease).
Source: "Relations between various measures of iodine intake and thyroid volume, thyroid nodularity, and serum thyroglobulin," American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 76, No. 5, 1069-1076, November 2002
RADIATION ALONE DOES NOT APPEAR TO IMPROVE FUNCTION IN THYROID EYE DISEASE
British researchers have found that radiation to the eye areas, a procedure known as "orbital radiotherapy," is not effective as a solo treatment to deal with thyroid eye disease, and in particular, reducing or eliminating double vision.
Source: "Radiotherapy in thyroid eye disease: The effect on the field of binocular single vision," Journal of the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus, April 2002, Vol. 6, Number 2.
TRYING TO LOSE WEIGHT? YOU NEED "A WEIGHT OFF MY MIND: THE THYROID/AUTOIMMUNE DIET NEWS!"
If you're not receiving the free email newsletter, "A Weight Off My Mind" -- the thyroid and autoimmune diet newsletter, you are missing newsletters jam-packed with information about weight loss, metabolism, thyroid disease's impact on weight, and much more!
Here are some stories covered in the October issue: http://www.thyroid-info.com/dietnews/10oct.htm
Be sure not to miss one valuable weight loss tip! If you haven't subscribed, sign up now, so you don't miss any more valuable diet and weight loss information relevant to thyroid patients. Sign up by sending an email to email@example.com or sign up here.
SELENIUM SUPPLEMENTATION IN PATIENTS WITH AUTOIMMUNE THYROIDITIS DECREASES THYROID PEROXIDASE ANTIBODIES CONCENTRATIONS
German researchers have found that in areas with severe selenium deficiency, there is a higher incidence of thyroiditis. The researchers concluded that selenium supplementation may reduce inflammation in patients with autoimmune thyroiditis.
Source: The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, Vol. 87, No. 4 1490-1498
GENE BREAKTHROUGH IN GRAVE'S DISEASE
Researchers in the United Kingdom have discovered how the immune system attacks the thyroid in Graves' disease. Patients with Graves' disease have certain genes that have been mistakenly activated. Certain cells, programmed to die to prevent the thyroid from becoming too big, become the target of the immune system when they proliferate and don't die as programmed. Researchers suggest that these findings mean that in the future, it may be possible to control the abnormal genes, and slow down the development of the disease.
Source: Society for Endocrinology's annual meeting in London, 2002
THYROID STIMULATING HORMONE UNAFFECTED BY WEIGHT LOSS IN OBESE CHILDREN
Researchers have found that obese children who lose weight have a reduction in peripheral thyroid hormones such as triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4), but thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) appears not to be affected. The researchers found that TSH, T3 and T4 levels were significantly higher in obese children, compared with children of normal weight. The degree of overweight correlated with T3, T4 and TSH. Weight reduction resulted in a significant decrease in T3 and T4, but not in TSH.
Source: Archives of Disease in Childhood, 2002; 87: 320-323. "Thyroid hormones before and after weight loss in obesity."
CLINICAL CHEMISTS ISSUE REVISED THYROID TESTING GUIDELINES
The National Academy of Clinical Biochemistry, part of the Academy of the American Association for Clinical Chemistry (AACC), has issued new Laboratory Medicine Practice Guidelines for thyroid testing.
These practice guidelines are a fairly noticeable departure, and should have far-reaching effects on thyroid diagnosis and treatment.
Of specific interest are the following findings from the guidelines:
"It is likely that the current upper limit of the population reference range is skewed by the inclusion of persons with occult thyroid dysfunction."The complete text of the guidelines are available online at: http://www.nacb.org/lmpg/thyroid_LMPG_PDF.stm
Note from Mary: It might be a good idea to print these out and provide a copy to your endocrinologists and physicians providing your thyroid care.
AUTOIMMUNE THYROIDITIS AND TYPE 2 DIABETES
While the link between autoimmune thyroid disease and Type 1 diabetes (also autoimmune) is established, Czech researchers looked at the connection between autoimmune thyroid disease and Type 2 diabetes in people who were not overweight. In looking at patients' thyroid peroxidase antibodies, TG-antibodies, TSH levels, and ultrasound test results, the researchers found that 19% of Type 2 diabetics had autoimmune thyroid disease.
Note from Mary: Findings like these argue that everyone with Type 2 diabetes should be thoroughly evaluated for thyroid function.
Source: J Endocrinol Invest 2002 Oct;25(9):779-84
ORBITAL RADIOTHERAPY FOR GRAVES' OPHTHALMOPATHY
Researchers looked at whether there is long-term improvement after orbital radiotherapy for Graves' disease, as well as other treatment issues related to thyroid eye disease. Reporting in the journal Ophthalmology, the researchers found that orbital radiotherapy was not neither effective, and did not seem to be indicated for treatment of mild to moderate ophthalmopathy.
Source: Ophthalmology 2002 Nov;109(11):2100-7
ULTRASOUND-GUIDED FINE-NEEDLE ASPIRATION THYROID NODULES
Researchers in the US determined that ultrasound improves the quality of the speciments obtained, and therefore enables diagnoses in more cases, for patients who have nondiagnostic standard fine needle aspiration biopsy (FNAB.)
Source: "The results of ultrasound-guided fine-needle aspiration biopsy for evaluation of nodular thyroid disease." Surgery 2002 Oct;132(4):648-54
THYROID HORMONES AND MITOCHONDRIA
It's been assumed that thyroid hormones target the mitochondria as part of their role in energy metabolism, but the relationship between thyroid and metabolism has not been completely clear. In this research, scientists exploring this issue reported that two iodothyronines have been identified as having an effect on the actions of thyroid hormones on energy metabolism: triiodothyronine (T3) and diiodothyronine (T2). Both of these components have significant effects on basal metabolic rate. T3 acts on the nucleus, and T2 directly influences mitochondrial energy.
Note from Mary: The effects of T3 and T2 - both of which are components of natural desiccated thyroid, but not of synthetic T4-only levothyroxine preparations like Synthroid or Levoxyl - may explain why the natural drugs work better for some patients.
Source: Biosci Rep 2002 Feb;22(1):17-32
THE DEEP-DOWN BENEFITS OF MASSAGE THERAPY
Over the past few years, massage therapy has gained a healthy following of patients and doctors. The treatment-which many once considered only to be for the wealthy-is being used more frequently for treating muscular and arthritic conditions, sports injuries and chronic pain.
The National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork (NCBTMB) estimates 20 million Americans spend between $2 and $4 billion annually on visits to massage and bodywork practitioners, totaling approximately 75 million visits each year. Treatment benefits include physical relaxation, reduced anxiety, increased circulation and pain relief.
Many people use massage therapy to treat ailments such as arthritis and muscle aches, that are associated with growing older. The therapy has also been shown to be beneficial to pregnant women. Pregnant massage:
For instance, more people today are aware of the health risks associated with stress than in the past and massage therapy has been shown to relieve stress and many of the negative aspects associated with it.
Other treatment methods such as acupuncture and herbal medicine have grown in popularity as well. In fact, the National Institutes of Health reports one-third of U.S. consumers polled said they visit an alternative medicine specialist once a year.
As alternative medicines grow in popularity, more and more health plans are covering massage therapy and bodywork services. A recent survey showed 15 percent of HMOs offer massage in their coverage.
Health plans that do cover massage, often look to work with therapists who have been certified by groups such as the NCBTMB.
The NCBTMB is an independent group founded to foster high standards for therapeutic massage and bodywork. The group's actions (and those of groups like it) have helped many alternative medicines gain legitimacy in the eyes of healthcare professionals and insurance companies.
It's also recommended consumers look for massage therapists or bodywork practitioners who have been certified by such programs-that way people can be more confident that their chosen therapist is competent, well-trained and has the appropriate knowledge and skills to treat conditions.
Consumers can find certified massage therapists in their area or learn more about NCBTMB at the Web site http://www.ncbtmb.com.
Note From Mary: I'm a huge fan of massage, and regularly had massage during my pregnancy, and periodically have various forms of massage now, including Swedish, Shiatsu, and myofascial release massage, and trigger point therapy.
If you're in the Washington, DC area, I also highly recommend my favorite place for massage and physical therapy, Alexandria Myotherapy. You can find out more about them at their website, http://www.alexmyo.com
VALERIAN: ANCIENT HERB HELPS SLEEP DISORDERS
It's an eye-opening concept: Many people who often have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep may soon rest easier, thanks to a simple herb that's been used successfully since the days of ancient Greece, scientists say.
Surprisingly, a plant called "phu" by first century Greek physicians-because of its strong and not so pleasant "fragrance" -- may help individuals suffering from sleep disorders, new scientific evidence has shown. Called valerian (Valeriana officinalis) root, it has been used as a sedative for at least 2,000 years. First documented by the "Father of Medicine," Hippocrates, as well as the noted Greek physician Galen, who prescribed the medicine for insomnia, the herb is now used in some 60 sedative remedies in Germany alone.
Valerian's benefits are so well documented that the root of this odorous plant can be used as a sleep aid, as a mild sedative, and as a possible alternative to taking stronger synthetic sedatives, reports the World Health Organization. Here are some more interesting facts about valerian, from the experts at the American Botanical Council (ABC), a non-profit research and educational organization:
Enzymatic Therapies' Fatigued to Fantastic! Revitalizing Sleep Formula is available at health food and vitamin stores.
If you want to order online, Iherb.com has it at a decent price, $9.00 for 30 capsules. Order Revitalizing Sleep Formula now from Iherb.com.
PATIENTS SEEK INTERNET RX
A survey performed by the American Academy of Dermatology reported that people looking for information about medical procedures are more than twice as likely to get it from the Internet as they are from their doctors. Ultimately, however, a doctor's recommendation carries the most weight in a patient's decision regarding procedures and treatments. Among 800 people surveyed, 67 percent said that Internet was their preferred source of information about medical procedures, and only 33 percent said they consult their doctor for such information.
DO YOU HAVE AUTOIMMUNE DISEASE SUPER-SYMPTOMS?
The thyroid conditions Hashimoto's disease and Graves' disease are two of the most common autoimmune diseases, and are the most common causes of most thyroid conditions. You may actually have Hashimoto's or Graves', and not even know it! But did you know that having one autoimmune disease also may put you at risk of developing others? Or that many autoimmune disease patients have low-level symptoms of other autoimmune diseases, without being formally diagnosed with those other conditions?
There are literally hundreds of risk factors and symptoms for autoimmune disease, and a closer look at them can help pinpoint and close in on more specific conditions. But across the board for the as many as 80 different autoimmune diseases, there are very specific symptoms found in particular conditions, but certain symptoms have been identified as what are called "super-symptoms," which you tend to see in almost all autoimmune conditions.
What are some of these "super-symptoms?" Check off and see how many of these symptoms of an autoimmune disease that you have...
___ JOINT/MUSCLE PAIN
___ GENERAL MUSCLE WEAKNESS
___ INFECTIONS: Greater susceptibility and more frequent infections -- such as urinary tract, bladder, gum, skin or vaginal infections, as well as viruses -- and slower recovery from those infections
___ LOW-GRADE FEVER
___ NUMBNESS/TINGLING IN HANDS/FEET
___ DRY EYES / DRY MOUTH
___ WEIGHT LOSS: 10-15 pound range
___ HAIR LOSS
___ SHORTNESS OF BREATH: both general, and on exertion, feeling the need to yawn to get a full breath, or heaviness in the chest that makes breathing more difficult.
___ PALPITATIONS: feeling missed heartbeats, changes in rhythm, skipped beats, irregular heart rhythms, and other types of palpitations
___ RECURRENT MISCARRIAGE
___ CONCENTRATION/MEMORY PROBLEMS: difficulty thinking and concentrating - "brain fog"
Here's what Alternative Medicine, the nation's top magazine on holistic and complementary medicine, had to say about Living Well With Autoimmune Disease.
"'Living Well With Autoimmune Disease' should not only prove inspirational for those afflicted with these mysterious conditions, but also offers solid, practical advice for getting your health back on track." (Alternative Medicine magazine, November, 2002)Publisher's Weekly had this to say:
"...those with autoimmune illnesses are being shortchanged by the medical establishment. Since those who suffer from one are more vulnerable to other autoimmune disorders (not to mention that they may have a genetic predisposition toward a disorder), this informative self-help manual is badly needed. Drawing on extensive research, as well as doctor- patient anecdotes, Shomon's guide is designed to empower patients to participate in their own care..." (Publisher's Weekly, July 2002)And Amazon.com recommends the book as well:
"...Living Well with Autoimmune Disease helps readers pinpoint symptoms, find the right practitioner, and learn cutting-edge approaches to reduce symptoms and reverse their disease. Shomon, a patient advocate and Web guide for people with thyroid disease...includes a 30-page checklist of risk factors and symptoms (helpful when you have no idea what condition you might have), a guide to finding and working with the right practitioner, and an extensive resources section that includes patient support organizations, Web sites, and books..." (Amazon.com)To read a chapter, see the table of contents, read reviews, and find out how to order the book - online or by phone, go to http://www.autoimmunebook.com.
Order Living Well With Autoimmune Disease now from Iherb.com at the reduced price of $10.00, plus shipping
Or order now from Amazon.com at the Amazon price of $10.47, plus shipping
THE THYROID DIET SUCCESS GUIDE
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LIVING WELL WITH HYPOTHYROIDISM GOES TO 16TH PRINTING IN OCTOBER!
Title: Living Well With Hypothyroidism: What Your Doctor Doesn't Tell You. . . That You Need to Know
Author: Mary J. Shomon
ISBN number: 0380808986
List price: $13.50 (US dollars)
Published by: HarperCollins
TO GET A COPY:
Living Well With Hypothyroidism is available at your local bookstore everywhere in the U.S. and if they don't have a copy, ask them to order you one!
You can get the book at everywhere online, including from Iherb.com for a special rate of $10 plus shipping or order it from Amazon.com for $11.20 plus shipping.
For Phone Orders: call Iherb.com tollfree at 1-888-792-0028.
NOTES FROM MARY
I'll admit, I'm writing this from my desk on a Saturday afternoon. I regularly spend FAR too much time – weekends included -- in front of a computer screen, so the recent report from Japanese researchers that higher amounts of computer time may be related to various ailments got my attention. Dr. Tetsuya Nakazawa of Chiba University surveyed more than 25,000 office three times between 1995 and 1997, asking about time in front of a computer terminal (VDT), sleep habits, and various ailments, including headache, back pain, eyestrain, depression and anxiety. They found, according to Dr. Nakazawa, "a significant relationship between duration of daily VDT use and physical symptoms, most often headache, eyestrain, joint pain and stiff shoulders. The researchers also reported that among those who spent more than 5 hours a day at the computer screen, symptoms such as fatigue, anxiety, "reluctance to go to work," and insomnia were more common. The researchers concluded that to prevent mental and sleep disorders, people should spend less than 5 hours a day on the computer. (Note from Mary: I know I can't keep to this limit...can you?)
Now, in the department of things we can actually do something about, researchers at the University of California/Irvine College of Medicine found that even expecting to laugh has positive effects on the body. Looking forward to a happy, funny event increases endorphins and other relaxation-inducing hormones as well as decreases other detrimental stress hormones. In previous studies, the scientists found that anticipating a funny video reduced feelings of stress. This study found that those feelings have biological underpinnings and may help researchers combat the harmful effects of stress. So go plan to read or watch something funny - it will do your body good!
(Source / Japanese VDT study: American Journal of Industrial Medicine 2002;42:421-426.)
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