Tuesday, September 6, 2022

Part 3: More Toolboxes

 Part 3: More Toolboxes 

Hormone (Endocrine System) Toolbox:

If you suffer from moodiness, PMS, irregular or painful periods, or a low sex drive, or you are heading toward menopause and having a lot of uncomfortable symptoms, you probably already suspect that you are having trouble with your hormone balance. These are some obvious hormonal issues, but there are many other ways your hormone system reveals it is out of balance, such as thyroid, adrenal, and testosterone issues. Whatever your specific hormonal imbalance, the tools in this toolbox can help get your system back in order by reducing inflammation to improve hormone receptor activity and brain-hormonal communication (in the hypothalamic pituitary-adrenal, thyroid, or gonadal axes). Even when you are in a period of hormonal upheaval such as perimenopause, you should notice major symptom improvement on this plan. This toolbox will help get you back on track fast. Sole water. This electrolyte-infused water supports the adrenal hormone aldosterone, which is partially responsible for electrolyte and fluid balance. It stabilizes sodium levels and is easy to make. Once you have made it, it won’t take more than a few seconds to add it to your daily routine. To make it, find a large mason jar (any large size—you can find these online if you don’t have any) with a plastic lid—a metal lid can oxidize and corrode when it comes into contact with salt water—and fill it a quarter of the way up with high-quality sea salt, Celtic salt, or Himalayan pink salt, or a mixture or combination of these three. Add filtered water but leave a little room at the top. Put on the lid, shake it up, and let it sit overnight. In the morning, check your sole water. If you can see some salt in the bottom of the jar, the water is saturated with the salt. If you don’t see any salt, add a teaspoon more. Shake, and give it an hour to dissolve. Keep going until some salt remains at the bottom. When the sole water is fully saturated, it is ready. Add 1 teaspoon to a glass of water every morning and drink it before eating anything. Dip only plastic or wood into the water to scoop it out—no metal utensils. Sea vegetables. Plant foods from the sea—for example, kelp, nori, dulse, kombu, wakame, and agar—are high in iodine, which you need to produce thyroid hormones. Every cell needs thyroid hormones to function properly. Wild-caught fish—specifically salmon, mackerel, and sardines. These are rich in vitamin D, which supports hundreds of different metabolic pathways, and contain healthy fats that support hormone balance. Chasteberry supplements. This berry naturally supports healthy progesterone levels to balance out your ratio of progesterone to estrogen. Rooibos tea. This bright red tea from the African red bush supports adrenal function by balancing cortisol, one of the stress hormones. Ashwagandha supplements. The ultimate cortisol balancer, this herb, popular in Ayurvedic medicine therapy, supports the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and the thyroid by boosting sluggish thyroid hormones, and helps you feel calm, especially when you have been suffering from mood swings and/or hormone-fueled anxiety. Evening primrose oil supplements. This oil contains the hormone-supporting omega-6 fatty acids GLA and LA, and helps relieve symptoms of menopause, PMS, PCOS, and hormonally fueled acne. Schisandra powder. This berry supports the adrenals and is good to add to smoothies or teas.

Musculoskeletal Toolbox:

Inflammation in the structures that hold your body together can have a wide range of painful effects—from tight, sore muscles and joints to osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, and autoimmune diseases that settle in the joints (such as rheumatoid arthritis, Sjögren’s syndrome, and lupus). It can also compromise joint, muscle, and connective tissue structure, making you too loose and more prone to injury or too tight with more pain and stiffness. If you don’t decrease inflammation in these areas, you could end up with a chronic pain problem, an inability to exercise, or even a disability due to joint damage and muscle weakness. This toolbox targets the areas that give your body structure and provides it with the ability to move and function better, to get you moving comfortably again. Here are your tools. MSM (methylsulfonylmethane) supplements. This sulfur-containing compound reduces joint and muscle pain through its natural anti-inflammatory action. Turmeric. This ancient medicinal spice is one of the most potent anti-inflammatory spices, due to the curcuminoids and other beneficial compounds it contains. Collagen powder. This powder, which you can add to smoothies or any hot or cold drink, is restorative for connective tissue. Glucosamine sulfate (with or without chondroitin sulfate). This supplement supports healthy cartilage and synovial fluid to restore joint health, reduce pain, and calm inflammation. Studies show it has legitimate pain-reducing and mobility-increasing effects. Infrared sauna. This type of sauna in particular reduces inflammation and can feel relaxing and stress-reducing (unless you are intolerant to heat). Cryotherapy. This therapy uses deep cold temperatures for short time periods to drive down inflammation levels. It is rejuvenating and can result in significant pain relief (unless you are intolerant to cold). Massage. Do you need another excuse to make massage a part of your regular routine? Various techniques, especially Swedish, trigger point, myofascial release, and deep-tissue techniques, target and relieve muscle pain and tension. CBD oil. This oil from the hemp or cannabis plant helps alleviate pain in the musculoskeletal system. Don’t worry (or maybe I should say, “Sorry, but . . .”), CBD is refined so it does not contain any (or contains very little) THC. You won’t get high, but you will get pain relief.

Autoimmunity Toolbox:

In America alone, it’s estimated that 50 million people have been diagnosed with an autoimmune disease. In most cases, the official diagnostic criterion is that the patient’s immune system has already destroyed a significant amount of their body—for instance, there has to be 90 percent destruction of the adrenal glands for autoimmune adrenal issues or Addison’s disease to be diagnosed. There also has to be major destruction of the neurological and digestive systems in a diagnosis of neurological autoimmunity like multiple sclerosis (MS), or gut autoimmunity, like celiac disease. This amount of autoimmune-inflammation attack does not happen overnight—it’s the end stage of the larger autoimmune inflammation spectrum. We want to address the causes of the inflammation before the patient reaches that end-stage level of destruction. There are three main stages of the autoimmune-inflammation spectrum: Silent Autoimmunity: There are positive antibody labs but no noticeable symptoms. Autoimmune Reactivity: There are positive antibody labs and the patient is experiencing symptoms. Autoimmune Disease: There’s enough body destruction to be diagnosed and loads of potential symptoms. Many people are in the second stage: not sick enough to have been slapped with a diagnosis code, but nonetheless feeling the effects of autoimmune reactivity. People living somewhere on the inflammation spectrum often get sent from doctor to doctor, with a pile of labs and medications, yet nothing to show for it. These patients are often essentially told, “Well, you will probably get lupus in a few years —come back then.” Inflammation is a major factor for most, if not all, autoimmune diseases. Autoimmunity is a condition in which the immune system attacks its own tissues, thinking they are foreign invaders (like viruses or bacteria are). What once used to be a rare condition is now common, with approximately a hundred different recognized autoimmune diseases and another forty conditions that have an autoimmune component. Some the more common ones seen are rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, inflammatory bowel disorders, celiac disease, psoriasis, scleroderma, vitiligo, pernicious anemia, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, Addison’s disease, Graves’ disease, Sjögren’s syndrome, type 1 diabetes, hidradenitis suppurativa, and multiple sclerosis (MS). Most often, the immune system attacks the digestive system, joints, muscles, skin, connective tissue, brain and spinal cord, endocrine glands (such as the thyroid and adrenals), and/or blood vessels. These diseases can be mild in some and debilitating, even fatal, in others. If you already have an autoimmune disease, this toolbox will help support your health. If you are not diagnosed but your immune-centered inflammation is advancing, cooling inflammation is crucial, start with this toolbox. Organ meats from grass-fed or pastured animals. Once a common part of the human diet, organ meats are much less common now, especially in the United States, but they contain some of the highest amounts of true vitamin A, bioavailable B vitamins, and minerals like iron of any food. Vitamin A deficiencies are linked to autoimmune conditions, and organ meats can replenish deficiencies quickly. Extra-virgin cod-liver oil. This ultra-healthy fat is rich in fat-soluble vitamins, which the immune system requires to stay healthy and function appropriately. Emu oil. This oil from the ostrich-like emu is rich in vitamin K2, which helps balance the important family of enzymes called iNOS (inducible nitric oxide synthases) to modulate inflammatory pathways. Broccoli sprouts. These sprouts have some of the highest levels of methylation-supporting sulforaphane, which can dramatically reduce inflammation and maintain proper T-cell function. Elderberry. This fruit helps balance the immune system. Elderberry is typically found in a liquid supplement form. Black cumin seed oil. This supplement increases T-regulatory cells to rebalance an out-of-control immune system and lower inflammation. Pterostilbene supplements. This compound, which is similar to resveratrol, decreases inflammatory NF-ĸB proteins and increases the anti-inflammatory Nrf2 pathway. Water or coconut kefir. These fermented drinks contain naturally occurring vitamin K2 as a by-product of the fermentation process. They also contain kefiran, a unique sugar produced by kefir grains that has the ability to decrease inflammation and calm the immune system.

Polyinflammation Toolbox:

Multiple areas of inflammation are a sign that your health is significantly compromised. Are you facing a future of imminent chronic disease if you don’t change course? Maybe. Or maybe you already have a diagnosis. In any case, this is no time to dabble in the next fun fad diet. You must do something dramatically different to see different results. If you have been waiting for the right time to make a drastic change for your health, it’s now. Let’s get serious because your health may be at stake, and the power to change that is in your hands. Fortunately, you have quite a few toolboxes at your disposal—in fact, all of them. Dip into all the toolboxes that are relevant to your particular areas of inflammation. You could focus on the toolboxes for the areas you are most concerned about, or you could try strategies from a different toolbox every day. If you are having a bad joint day, go to the musculoskeletal toolbox and pick some medicinal foods and therapies. If your digestion seems off, check out the digestive toolbox to try some digestive food medicines and therapies. If it’s a nasty brain fog day, head on over to the brain/nervous system toolbox and sample some of those therapies. Browse freely, use all the tools you can, and tackle that inflammation.