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Posts Tagged ‘chronic fatigue syndrome’

Candida albicans is a yeast that is normally present in our gastrointestinal tract, skin, and vaginal tract in women. Under normal circumstances it remains in those places causing no harm whatsoever. However, it is quite common for candida to grow out of control and cause many debilitating symptoms. An overgrowth of candida is probably one of the most common conditions that I see in patients with digestive disturbances. But it doesn’t stop there. Candida can cause (directly or indirectly) any of the following symptoms or conditions: irritable bowel syndrome, leaky gut syndrome, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, GERD, sinusitis and chronic sinus problems, inability to lose weight, thyroid imbalances, headaches, vaginitis, chronic fatigue, “foggy-headedness” or inability to concentrate, food allergies or sensitivities, pre-menstrual syndrome or dysmenorrhea, skin rashes, depression, pain, yeast infections, and more. The question now is: why does it grow out of control?

There can be any number of reasons that someone has an overgrowth of yeast. The main thing to think of however, is a person’s diet. And the main culprit in the diet is definitely sugar. This obviously includes foods like pies, cakes, cookies, candy, ice cream, soda, donuts, brownies, and the like. However, even so-called natural sugars like honey, maple syrup, brown rice syrup, agave nectar, corn syrup, brown sugar, fruit and fruit juices are problematic as well. One more “food group” needs to be added to the list. I’m referring to refined grains and flour products. This would include bread (even whole grain), cereals (even sugar-free), muffins, croissants, pancakes, waffles, etc.. Although these foods are not sugar per se, they quickly get metabolized into sugar (or glucose). Additionally, any foods that actually contain yeast or fungus will certainly be a problem. And don’t forget alcohol, as that is certainly a very refined “sugar”.

The problem with these foods and sugar is that they actually “feed” the yeast or candida. It is synonymous with adding gasoline to a fire. So in order to quell a yeast or candida problem, one MUST avoid these foods temporarily. Other factors leading to an overgrowth of yeast or candida include a weakened immune system, nutrient deficiencies (particularly certain minerals), and use of antibiotics. All of the above can lead to an imbalance between the amount of “good” and “bad” bacteria in the intestines. This imbalance in intestinal or vaginal bacteria can be both a cause and effect depending on how the problem began. The length of time it takes for this condition (and it’s related symptoms) to resolve will depend on many factors including: the amount of candida in the system, the strength of the immune system, intestinal and digestive integrity, and nutrient status.

In addition to dietary changes, supplements are usually necessary to fully eradicate the problem. Think of dietary changes (i.e.: avoiding sugars and refined grains) as a way of starving the yeast. Specific supplements on the other hand can actually “kill-off” candida as some can act as natural anti-yeast or anti-fungals. Additionally, certain supplements that address mineral deficiencies and help strengthen the immune system can often be necessary. And lastly, probiotics (or “good” bacteria) as well as digestive enzymes and/or hydrochloric acid may be necessary.

In general, this can be an easy condition to eliminate, IF you avoid sugar and yeast-containing foods. Besides the obvious sugary foods and flour products, it’s often also necessary to avoid eating fermented, fungus/mold-containing, and aged foods such as: vinegar, mushrooms, aged cheeses, soy sauce, and also peanuts and corn (they often contain a fungus or mold known as aflatoxin). High starch vegetables like potatoes, carrots and beets can be an issue in very stubborn cases. The extent that these dietary changes need to be in place will certainly vary individually. Although, I would say a minimum of three weeks is necessary, and it would be wise to avoid pure sugar-containing foods afterward in order to prevent a recurrence.

If you don’t avoid eating the above mentioned foods, the situation usually becomes a vicious cycle. Eating sugar and refined carbohydrates feeds the yeast, and disrupts the balance between the “good” and “bad” bacteria in the intestinal and/or vaginal tract. This will result in a weakened immune system and altered gastrointestinal integrity which causes the yeast to continue to grow out of control. This will ultimately result in more immune compromise, allowing the yeast to continue to grow; and so on. As you can see, without changing your food intake, it can be very difficult to clear up this problem.

Please keep in mind that vaginal yeast infections almost always indicate a gastrointestinal overgrowth of yeast. And candida and yeast infections do not discriminate…men are just as susceptible as women to succumbing to the deleterious effects of candida in any part of the body. The worst two cases of yeast infections I’ve “seen” in my patients were among a male and a female.

Because this is such a rampant problem with potential “far-reaching” effects, it would be wise to rule this in or out in many different symptoms and conditions.

Dr. Robert D’Aquila – NYC Chiropractor – Applied Kinesiology

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You may have already read my article titled “General guidelines for a healthy diet“. Often I’ll listen to patients tell me what foods they eat, and they are all great choices. They don’t eat sugar or starches (or perhaps very few starches), they avoid the most common food allergens and sensitivities, etc.. Early on in practice, I’d scratch my head and think: “Why does he/she still suffer from symptoms of dysglycemia?” (an inability to regulate blood sugar properly). Well there are several possible answers to that question. However, the most common reason is that it relates to “how” they eat as opposed to “what” they eat.

The bottom line is that you can eat all the healthiest foods and still wind up feeling terrible and creating problems if you don’t know “how” to eat. In fact, it’s quite simple to eat properly, and there are only two rules.

1) DO NOT SKIP BREAKFAST!!! I know this is quite ambiguous because many patients tell me they wake up at 6, 7, or 8am and then eat “breakfast” at 9, 10, or 11am. As you may know, the word breakfast refers to breaking a fast. That fast occurred overnight while you were presumably asleep. Technically eating at 9, 10, or 11am may be breaking the fast…so to be more specific I’ll say: eat within 1 hour of waking up!

The main reason for this is because you’ll most likely have low blood sugar when you wake up, which is natural and normal. Therefore, you need to eat fairly soon, again, within an hour of waking. This will help to maintain healthy blood sugar and energy levels, amongst many other things. If you don’t do this, there is a very good chance that your body will have difficulty regulating blood sugar throughout the entire rest of the day…only to start over again the next day. Please, eat something! Even if you’re not terribly hungry, have two bites of something. And of course, you shouldn’t ever be eating sugar first thing in the morning, unless of course there is a good reason like a special occasion.

An interesting study cited in Scientific American Mind reports the following: “Sugar may act like a drug in a different way: by inducing dependency under some circumstances. Princeton University psychologist Bartley Hoebel and his colleagues made rats sugar-dependent by depriving them of food for 12 hours a day and offering them a sucrose solution and chow for the next 12 hours. They repeated this schedule every day for one to four weeks. The cycle of fasting and intermittent sugar availability triggered strong demand: the rats gradually tripled their sucrose intake and learned to binge on the sugar as soon as they received access to it each day.”
Doesn’t this sound similar to many Americans; especially children eating sugary breakfast cereals and the like. Please note the similarity between “depriving them of food for 12 hours a day” and breaking an overnight fast! If you’d like to read the whole article – click on the 3rd result from this search; then type in “depriving” in the application your computer uses.

2) Eat about every 2-3 hours during the day!!! Again, it does not have to be an entire meal. Some protein and perhaps complex carbohydrates would be a good idea. The reason for this is to avoid “ups and downs” in blood sugar. By eating frequently, you won’t rely on your adrenal glands to bail you out of a blood sugar crisis. If your blood sugar gets too low (by not eating frequently) you can be sure you will eventually develop a rather unpleasant case of adrenal stress syndrome. How long that takes will vary individually. If you are not “running” on fuel from food, you’re probably running on stress hormones, which are literally breaking your body down.

From a blood sugar perspective, that’s about it. Otherwise, don’t drink liquids with meals as this will dilute your digestive enzymes and make the process less efficient. If you consume plenty of water between meals, you will not be thirsty when you eat. Give it a try. And of course, do not overeat.

Hope this helps and see you soon.

Dr. Robert D’Aquila – NYC Chiropractor – Applied Kinesiology

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Recently I wrote two articles on the topic of (adrenal) stress. Please refer to those articles in order to gain a better understanding of how the adrenal glands and stress play a role in our health.

When I think of experts in the field of endocrinology (the study of the hormone-secreting endocrine glands), Janet Lang, DC comes to mind first. I wholeheartedly agree with her approach(es) to restoring proper endocrine/adrenal gland function in the body, and have applied them successfully with many patients. She has outlined 16 of some of the most important lifestyle factors that should be avoided and 16 “opposite” lifestyle behaviors to “do” in order to recover from adrenal fatigue.

AVOID
1 – Pushing yourself to exhaustion

2 – Sugar, caffeine, and junk food

3 – Being critical and harsh with yourself

4 – Skipping meals

5 – Eating carbohydrates by themselves

6 – Staying up late and catching your “second wind”

7 – Arising early if you don’t have to

8 – Food that you react to or are allergic to

9 – Drinking sodas, coffee, alcohol, juice

10 – Making someone else responsible for your health

11 – People who steal your energy

12 – Taking care of everyone and everything else

13 – Feeling guilty about caring for yourself

14 – Excessive seriousness

15 – “The grind”

16 – Aggressive exercise

DO
1 – Pace yourself

2 – Eat real, whole, fresh food

3 – Be compassionate and kind to yourself

4 – Eat every two hours

5 – Eat a combination of carbohydrate, fat, and protein

6 – Get to bed by 10:00-11:00pm

7 – Sleep until 7:00-8:00am when possible

8 – Eat balanced, nutritious food

9 – Drink water, herbal teas

10 – Become empowered and informed about your health

11 – Be with people concerned for your well-being and helpful in your recovery

12 – Take care of and nurture yourself

13 – Find an inner balance and sense of peace with taking care of yourself

14 – Find things that make you laugh

15 – Do things you enjoy

16 – Mild to moderate exercise

Dr. Lang’s approach has proven to be helpful (and often necessary) in allowing patients to overcome their health concerns and conditions time and time again. I thank her for her contributions, and you might too.

Dr. Robert D’Aquila – NYC Chiropractor – Applied Kinesiology

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Everyone experiences stress to some degree. The amount of stress and ability of your body to adapt to it will determine how it affects your health and well-being.

We have 2 adrenal glands that sit atop each of our kidneys and are sometimes referred to as the “stress glands”, because they secrete stress hormones (cortisol) and neurotransmitters (adrenaline and noradrenaline). They also produce sex hormones (estrogen testosterone, etc.), electrolyte-balancing (aldosterone) hormones, and the “anti-aging” hormone DHEA.

All of these biochemicals contribute significantly to blood sugar and pressure regulation, electrolyte and fluid levels, inflammation levels, immune system response, sleeping patterns, mood changes, bone turnover rate, and more.

There are 5 main categories of stressors that the adrenals (and the rest of the body) must respond to. These include:

1) structural: any injury, compromising musculoskeletal condition, etc.
2) chemical: nutrient deficiencies or excesses, exposure to exogenous (external) or endogenous (internally produced) toxins, etc.
3) mental/emotional: fear, worry, panic, anxiety, etc.
4) thermal: extreme temperatures
5) electromagnetic radiation: cell phones and towers, computers, our environment
environmental factors like noise, etc. may also be considered stressors.

Fortunately, we can put ionizing radiation (nuclear reactor and weapon-type) aside; as it is rarely confronted.

Hans Selye, a doctor who studied the stress response extensively, reported 3 phases in which the body reacts to stress. This is known as the General Adaptation Syndrome.

Phase 1 – The Alarm Phase: this refers to the  body responding via a “fight-or-flight” response.  This is generally considered a normal adaptation to stress and causes the major hormones (cortisol and DHEA) to increase at normal levels. Additionally, adrenaline and noradrenaline output is increased. These hormones and neurotransmitters are designed to help the body by increasing heart rate and blood pressure; increasing the respiration rate; shunting blood away from the digestive tract to the brain and muscles instead – thus allowing the individual to “flee” from the stressful event. Think of running away from a saber-toothed tiger. That is what this system is designed to respond to. Everyday “tigers” in the “developed” world equate to every day stress responses as described above. Typically, this is a short-lived stressor and normally functioning response.

Phase 2 – The Resistance Phase: this phase is incorporated during and after  prolonged bouts of stress. Cortisol tends to rise and DHEA tends to be suppressed. This stage may begin after one bout of stress that is never resolved or after the accumulation of many small day-to-day stressors. If, or when this stage begins depends on a number of individual factors.

Phase 3 – The Exhaustion Phase: this is characterized by low levels of the stress hormone cortisol and DHEA. Essentially, this occurs when a person is so drained and exhausted that they have lost most of their ability to adapt to stressors (of any kind).

Behaviors, signs, symptoms, and conditions resulting from (or being exacerbated by) stressed adrenal glands will vary individually but generally include: high or low blood pressure, blood sugar imbalances (esp. hypoglycemia), fatigue and chronic fatigue, depression, eating disorders, panic and/or anxiety attacks, infertility and male/female hormonal imbalances, sleep disorders, low back pain and neck pain, PMS and menopausal symptoms, weak/lax ligaments, irritability, osteopenia and osteoporosis, food cravings, dizziness (esp. when rising from a seated or lying position), swelling and fluid retention, dehydration, heart palpitations, fibromyalgia, thyroid disorders, fat deposition in the abdomen (or central obesity), depressed immune system, insulin resistance, sluggish digestion and/or digestive disorders, etc..  The list continues…

One major complication that results from adrenal stress syndrome of any degree is blood sugar imbalances – because of the problems that can cause. Adrenal stress can cause blood sugar imbalances through hormone fluctuations from stressors; or it can result from hormone fluctuations in response to blood sugar imbalances (caused by poor food choices and nutrient deficiencies).

So either way you look at it… You can’t “fix” the adrenals if you don’t “fix” the blood sugar, and you can’t “fix” the blood sugar if you don’t “fix” the diet (and lifestyle).

By the way, when encountered with “stressful” situations, please remember that it is not the situation that is the “problem” as much as it’s the individual’s response to the situation. I’ll have more on how to help adrenal stress syndrome in future articles.

Selye’s description of changes in body function is a good starting point to understanding adrenal stress syndrome, but many times there is a wide array of variations. And his description may be seen as rudimentary to some.

Fortunately, specific testing of these hormones and neurotransmitters is now possible through “functional medicine” laboratories. Standard laboratory evaluations usually only pick up “outright” adrenal gland diseases, such as Addison’s disease. More people most likely suffer from functional adrenal gland imbalances as opposed to pathological ones. Tests to identify adrenal hormone output should be as commonplace as a CBC (complete blood count) in my opinion.

Dr. Robert D’Aquila – NYC Chiropractor – Applied Kinesiologist

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I talk about blood sugar metabolism being so important to health and wellness that I figured I should start writing articles about it. It’s such an enormous topic and impacts health in so many ways…. Because of this, I thought we should start with the basic physiological mechanisms of blood sugar metabolism. Really basic, it’s not rocket science.

The body has built-in mechanisms designed to keep blood sugar levels in a normal range. And I’m not speaking of the ranges reported on your blood test. They are way too wide. I’m speaking generally, and that’s all that it’s important for now. Again, blood sugar needs to be in a certain stable range because it can be quite damaging otherwise, for a number of reasons.

Let’s now assume that your blood sugar level is normal (in the moment). BUT, you have an underlying problem with regulating sugar. Then you decide to eat sugars (pies, cakes, cookies, candies, ice cream, soda, doughnuts, brownies, etc.) and starches (bread, pasta, rice, and potatoes). Here is what happens. Your blood sugar “spikes” to a level deemed too high for what the body considers safe. Then, insulin, a hormone from the pancreas, gets released in order to pull the excess sugar out of the blood and into the cells. The problem is that your blood sugar was so high (from eating those foods), that your pancreas releases an excess amount of insulin. This results in the blood sugar going too low.

Next, as the body senses low blood sugar levels, it decides it needs to raise them. This is done through the release of stress hormones; namely cortisol and adrenaline. Now the blood sugar usually spikes again because the sugar levels went so low – and the body produced too many stress hormones to raise the blood sugar.

Do you see the peaks and valleys here? Blood sugar goes too high by eating sugars and starches. Next, insulin gets released in large amounts (because of the very high sugar levels), resulting in an excessive drop of blood sugar, and ultimately resulting in sugar levels being lower than normal. Then, the stress hormones “save the day” by surging, in order to raise the blood sugar levels. Then the blood sugar is too high (because of the unnatural surge) and excessive insulin release then comes along again and the sugar levels go too low; then excessive stress hormones get released; and sugar goes back up and too high; and so on with this vicious cycle of highs and lows in blood sugar.

At some point these mechanisms get “burned out” and result in insulin resistance. This means the cells don’t respond well to insulin’s message to take the sugar out of the blood. If this condition does not get under control, the result may eventually be type 2 diabetes.

The other main result is adrenal stress syndrome. When the stress glands that produce cortisol and adrenaline to raise the blood sugar, become “burned out”.

Signs and symptoms will certainly vary between individuals. Here are the most common I see: weight gain, insomnia (trouble falling and/or staying asleep), anxiety and panic attacks, irritability, yeast infections, frequent infections (bacterial, viral, etc.), fatigue (esp. late-afternoon), mood swings, depression, headaches, inability to heal from injuries, inflammation, high cholesterol and/or triglycerides, high or low blood pressure, etc., etc., etc….

So now you realize that eating sugars and starches can cause blood sugar instability. These foods can certainly be eaten IN MODERATION if you don’t have a blood sugar metabolism disorder. But please note that you do not need to be labeled “diabetic”, “hypoglycemic”, or “hyperglycemic” in order to actually have problems with blood sugar metabolism. The reason being – blood tests will show normal blood sugar levels until you are you are “far gone”. If a problem shows up on a blood test, there is a serious problem. However, many of your symptoms may be caused by faulty sugar metabolism and go unnoticed, because the tests look normal.

Remember that the body goes to great extents to keep blood sugar in normal range. So measuring blood sugar alone often misses the problem. A better way to check would be measuring fasting insulin levels as well. Usually, they’ll be high working to keep the sugar normal (or low). The problem is doctors don’t typically order fasting insulin tests. In my experience, patients need to have obvious, debilitating, blood sugar symptoms before this is ordered by their doctors.

Why isn’t this done? I truly don’t know. One thought is that some doctors look at the body as if: insomnia is a sleeping pill deficiency; anxiety is an anti-anxiety drug deficiency; yeast infections are an anti-fungal drug deficiency; high cholesterol and blood pressure is a deficiency in drugs to lower those; etc., etc., etc….

Shoot for a (12-hour) fasting blood sugar level of 80-90. The closer to 80 the better. And put the sugars and starches aside; except when celebrating birthdays, holidays, etc..

I’ll discuss the complications mentioned in detail, in other articles.

Dr. Robert D’Aquila – NYC Chiropractor – Applied Kinesiology

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Yesterday I was reading an article titled “Yawning? 6 surprising reasons why you are exhausted“, on the “Shine” section of Yahoo®. So now I’ll share my comments on it, and expand on some more ideas on why you may be exhausted. Before I get into the reasons mentioned in the article, I want to quickly share some of the biochemistry and physiology about energy production and fatigue in the body. I’ll keep it simple so don’t worry. By the way, I’ll use the words fatigue, tired(ness), and exhaustion interchangeably.

First, there are really only two basic reasons that a person will be exhausted or have low energy. These are a simply a deficiency in nutrients required to run the energy cycles, or a toxic reaction in the body. Both of these represent a “stress” to the system. And keep in mind that there can (and usually) will be a combination of both. Because a lack of sufficient nutrients will cause toxins to accumulate and toxins will cause a depletion of nutrients (required for detoxification). When I talk about toxins I am  referring to both chemicals internally produced and from environmental or food exposure. A “true”, so to speak exhaustion or fatigue can often be relived by rest, once the body gets the energy cycles up and running again. Of course you still need nutrients. However, you can be tired and feel exhausted because of temporarily burning through them (especially in reference to exercise). If you find that rest (or sleep) doesn’t relieve your fatigue, there is a good chance that you are toxic, especially after a sufficient amount of sleep. Generally, if you don’t feel rested after 9 hours of sleep, there is a good chance you are toxic to some degree.

When I think of biochemicals and the cycles run in the body that are necessary to produce energy I think of these four basic things: 1) ATP (adenosine triphosphate) – one main “energy” molecule; 2) the citric acid (or Kreb’s cycle); 3) the electron-transport chain; and 4) a process known as glycolysis. OK, that’s as technical as I’ll get, promise. The nutrients required to allow ATP to be produced and the three processes mentioned include: magnesium; manganese; phosphorus; lipoic acid; co-enzyme Q10; and vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, and B6. There may be some more, but that’s a great start. Do you now see why many people say B-complex supplements give you energy? OK, now that we have that out of the way we can talk about the 6 reasons for exhaustion from article. They do say “6 surprising reasons”, so I am acknowledging that they are not claiming them to be the only reasons.

1) “A hidden UTI” (urinary tract infection) – the article states: “In some cases, fatigue may be the only sign of a urinary tract infection, reports WebMD. If you suspect something’s up (and you have pain and burning when you pee) talk to your doc.”    This is surprising isn’t it. I simply want to add that any hidden (or overt) infection can cause exhaustion including fungal, yeast (candida), bacterial, viral, parasitic, and protozoal. The main reason for this is that chemicals (mainly known as cytokines) produced from stress to the immune system can cause the Kreb’s cycle to malfunction. These organisms may also produce fatigue-inducing chemicals independent of the immune system.

2) “Your diet” – The article says that not eating enough calories (calories are “more or less” energy, measured in Joules) could cause fatigue. Do you think that’s most of the “developed” world’s problem though? Come on now, I believe the obesity rate in America is around 2/3’s of people, and something tells me it’s not from eating too little calories. Obesity is often associated with fatigue. According to a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, obesity accounts for a significant portion of fatigue symptoms. Try getting double the recommended calories you truly need from pasta, bread, soda, and sugary desserts and let me know how that goes. The foods I just mentioned are empty calories from processed foods. The key is to eat enough calories through a variety (to ensure a wide range of nutrient consumption) of whole-foods.

3) “Food allergies you didn’t know you had” – This will cause the some of the same problems as #1, because of the stress on your immune system. Please see my article titled “Food Allergies and Sensitivities.”

4) “Caffeine overload” – They say: “You probably reach for more coffee when you’re tired, but experts say that too much caffeine can sometimes backfire, causing you to feel more fatigued. Maybe skip the triple-venti today.” I agree, although 1 cup (normal-sized mug), which is not “overload”, should be fine (but not in all cases). Generally this will cause adrenal gland burn-out as it can affect the release of stress hormones. These hormones (and the caffeine) will burn through detoxification nutrients in order to clear them from the bloodstream. This will also tax your blood-sugar handling mechanisms which will always result in energy imbalances (later if not sooner). Everyone in modern society has some degree of adrenal gland stress – it just depends if it is eustress (beneficial – glad to wake up out of bed type of stress) or distress. It’s a huge topic I’ll discuss in-depth another time.

5) “Undetected thyroid problems” – Here the article notes: “Fatigue is one symptom of a thyroid condition called hypothyroidism. Fortunately, this is such a treatable thing (I have it, and just pop a pill each day–no biggie). Most health experts concur that every woman should have her thyroid levels tested every few years (just a simple blood test) to rule out any such conditions (they’re common in women).” You can read my two articles titled “Hypothyroidism” and “Potential causes of hypothyroidism“. And in case you weren’t sure, I’m not so keen on the “just pop a pill each day – no biggie” idea. No, definitely not thrilled they wrote that. And I’m not saying medication is “bad” and no one needs it. And… moving forward. Please read my two articles on the topic.

6) The sixth was added at the end and is “your snoring man”. Obviously sleep is a no-brainer, and please recall what I said above about sleeping, and then waking up feeling un-rested…

Briefly, remember that it’s any toxin – which includes toxic (heavy) metals, pesticides, fragrances, artificial sweeteners, etc.; and let’s even throw in radiation which is hopefully not the problem.

One last thing, the article states this in the beginning: “Sure, getting enough sleep is the biggest way to beat the 4:00 yawning session (I swear, there is something about this time–weirdly, I could fall asleep at 4 p.m. everyday!), but did you know that several other surprising things could be making you sleepy? Here are some unlikely yawn-inducers…”. It’s never a good idea to say 100% of the time. So, I’ll say 90%+ of the time, if you are sleepy at 4:00pm, it is a blood-sugar imbalance. This is an extremely common complaint. And reaching for the coffee, soda, or chocolate bar will simply exacerbate the problem unknowingly. The other give or take 10% of the time…check what you ate for lunch. By the way, yawning excessively without fatigue is an acid-alkaline imbalance usually; as the body is naturally “blowing off” a highly acidic build-up of carbon dioxide. For this you look to the diet, nutrient deficiencies, and the diaphragm (for better breathing capacity).

Good luck, and see if you can identify your source(s) of fatigue. By the way, I could probably add a few things to the list, but let’s rule those out first.

Sources include: Yahoo®, material published by Walter H. Schmitt, DC, DIBAK, DABCN and Chris Astill-Smith, DC, DIBAK.

Dr. Robert D’Aquila – NYC Chiropractor – Applied Kinesiology

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The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped endocrine (hormone secreting) gland located in your neck beneath the cricoid cartilage, or “Adam’s apple” (as it’s referred to in  males). Essentially its job, or the hormones it secretes, is to control your body’s metabolism. That is, it determines the rate at which your body builds, maintains, and breakdowns biochemicals (and ultimately energy). It is controlled by hormones released from the pituitary gland, which in turn is controlled by the hypothalamus. It secretes three hormones – T4(thyroxine), T3(triiodothyronine), and calcitonin. This article will focus on a common disorder known as hypo-thyroidism (decreased output of thyroid hormone), which refers to the levels of T4 and T3, as they are the two associated with metabolism. The “T” refers to the amino acid tyrosine, and “3” or “4” refers to the number of iodine atoms atttached to it. Calcitonin as its name implies helps regulate calcium metabolism.

Some of the thyroid’s main functions are to convert food into energy, help control body temperature, and basically affect the speed and efficiency of all biochemical processes. Additionally, it can have a profound effect on emotions, mood, cravings, and addictions because T3 influences brain chemistry.

I won’t go into the exact mechanisms of how these hormones exert their effects on the body, but I will discuss the end results. This leads me to the main signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism. The main thing you want to think about is fatigue. Typically, the person with hypothyroidism will experience fatigue ALL day long. There is one major caveat regarding this however. These people may not completely notice how fatigued they really are. I say this because based on my experience in working with patients, they’ll tend to pack their day with things to do in order to keep going and going. Obviously they may be tired, but it won’t be as noticeable because they often stay so busy and can become preoccupied. Aside from fatigue, the next major symptom would be weight gain (or inability to lose weight); don’t be fooled by this though, as many normal or underweight individuals have (sub-clinical) hypothyroidism. Cold hands and feet is another common one; and I still have yet to see this symptom related to circulation, especially in people under 60 years-old. Dry skin, poor memory, constipation, goiter (swelling of the gland), muscles cramps (and musculoskeletal pain), high cholesterol, swelling of the extremities and face, carpal tunnel syndrome, depression and addictions, and chronic colds and flu can also be added to the list. Some cases will result in a loss of the outer-third of the eyebrows. This is not known why to my knowledge, however it’s interesting to note that the acupuncture meridian related to the thyroid ends at the outer edge of either eyebrow.

OK, so what causes hypothyroidism or a low output of thyroid hormones? According to the Mayo Clinic, the most common reported cause is Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. This is an inflammation of the thyroid due to an autoimmune reaction when the body attacks its own thyroid gland (no cause of this condition is mentioned). The next are medical treatments for hyperthyroidism (designed to slow the thyroid), radiation treatment for cancers of the head and neck, thyroid surgery (removal of some or all of the gland), or side effects of drugs for other conditions.

Great, so now what? I was expecting the medical community to at least mention iodine deficiency. But all the major medical information I found basically states the same as Mayo Clinic as the “cause” for hypothyroidism. No wonder the first thing patients are recommended is drugs that contain synthetic (or sometimes natural) thyroid hormone.

Unfortunately, sub-clinical hypothyroidism is very common. This is when the blood tests show normal levels of thyroid hormones but the patient (sometimes, not always) has “all” (or some) of the signs and symptoms of an under-functioning thyroid. The obvious problem here is if a patient accepts that there is nothing wrong with them because their thyroid hormone levels are normal (sometimes the pituitary hormone- TSH is elevated, but not always). So then what? The usual scenario is that they go back year after year (while slowly getting worse, assuming they haven’t changed anything in their lifestyle) until the tests finally pick it up – then it’s “official”; and there is something that can be done about it. Drugs of course – again, synthetic or natural thyroid hormone. OK, it’s time to stop whittling people down to numbers on a piece of paper!!! Let’s pay attention to our patient’s symptoms and concerns, and not just their blood test results. Let’s look for the causes and begin treating ASAP! Keep in mind that some doctors will immediately start the patient on drugs (usually only if the TSH is high).

Here is what I see as the major contributors to sub-clinical or clinical (shows up on blood tests) hypothyroidism; in no particular order.

1) Structural imbalances in the cranium or TMJ (possibly affecting the pituitary)
2)Weakened/stressed out adrenal glands
3) Heavy metal toxicity
4) Imbalances in estrogen and progesterone (commonly thought of as female hormones) – however, males also produce these hormones
5) Vitamin, mineral, and amino acid deficiencies
6) Imbalances in the output of pituitary and/or hypothalamic hormones
7) Liver toxicity or malfunction

In order to not make this article too lengthy, I’ll leave it there and get into those 6 specific things in the next article.

I first wanted to get you familiar with the functions of the thyroid; the signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism; and the medical approach. See you soon.

Dr. Robert D’Aquila – NYC Chiropractor – Applied Kinesiology

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