Millions of people in America suffer from hypothyroidism and don’t even know it, because their doctor has missed the diagnosis as a result of not ordering the correct lab work. The majority of physicians opt to follow a subminimal protocol when ordering labs, and in the case of the thyroid, this only includes looking at thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), which is a hormone produced in the pituitary.
Unfortunately, this is not enough to make a diagnosis of hypothyroid, because a patient’s TSH can be in the normal range in hypothyroid cases that involve under conversion of T4 (thyroxine) into the bioactive thyroid hormone T3 (triiodothyronine); the majority of which is metabolized in periphery.
What exactly is conversion?
The thyroid gland itself produces very little T4 and T3, in fact, 90% of what the thyroid releases is in the form of T4, which is converted into T3 (10xs more potent than T4) in peripheral tissues like the liver, kidneys, heart, brain, etc. This means that about 80% of the active thyroid hormone (T3) is produced outside the thyroid gland itself, with most of this taking place in the liver. When certain enzymes (iodine, tyrosine, glutathione, selenium, zinc, etc.) act on T4 it’s converted into bioactive T3, which is then pushed onto the receptor by vitamin D; of which many Americans are deficient.
What does thyroid hormone do?
What are some of the main causes of under conversion?
In my experience, under conversion in the American population is caused by a combination of factors that stem from the American lifestyle and the Standard American Diet (SAD diet). Contributing factors include:
Why Free T4 and Free T3 have to be tested?
Total T4 and Total T3 are not accurate indicators of how much of the hormone is availablefor the body to use, because they are bound to protein in the blood.
In contrast, Free T4 and Free T3 are not bound to any proteins, and therefore can be utilized by the body.
What should be tested and what are the optimal health ranges?
The only way to make an accurate assessment is to order a complete thyroid panel, which includes not only TSH, but also Free T4 and Free T3; all of which must be tested together, NOT SEPARATELY, since they are all relative to one another and can fluctuate due to certain variables.
For patients who have a history of autoimmune symptoms it is strongly recommended to also test for antibodies:
Take your health into your own hands! Go to DirectLabs.com and order THE CORRECT tests for thyroid, as part of a general check-up, or to monitor existing thyroid disorders.
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If you need test results interpreted, please set up an appointment to evaluate this particular test ($25). This can be done by email or video conference.
Posted by: Scott Stewart, MSAc., Dipl.Ac., LAc.
Tongue diagnosis is an important diagnostic feature in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), because it gives the practitioner vital information about what’s going on inside the patient’s body, or in other words the functional activity as related to the organs. When morphological changes are present on the tongue they represent physiological and pathological changes within the body in terms of fluid pathology, thermal variations between hot & cold, energy levels, Qi & blood, and the severity of illness or disease. These manifest as changes in tongue vitality, shape, size, color, coating, papillae, and movement. Below I will describe the significance of one of the most common tongue features seen in Western patients - glossitis or swollen tongue (with teeth marks).
Swollen with teeth marks (scalloped)
In TCM, a swollen tongue is usually accompanied with teeth marks on the sides of the tongue, also referred to as a scalloped tongue. This pathological manifestation is associated with Spleen deficiency, Spleen Qi deficiency, and Spleen Yang deficiency with an accumulation of dampness.
It’s very common in Western patients to see Spleen deficiency, which can be caused by an improper diet, eating fast foods, fried and greasy foods, cold foods and drinks, and worrying / overthinking; all of which tax the Spleen and cause a reduction in its functional capacity of transformation & transportation.
The importance of this functional role can be seen in the Spleen’s ability to work with the Stomach to transform nutrients from food into energy, transport those nutrients to other organs and tissues of the body in the form of nourishment, and finally, to transport waste downward to be eliminated. When this metabolic mechanism is disrupted, dampness (fluid) that should have been eliminated begins to accumulate, and is reflected in a swollen image of the tongue.
In terms of biomedicine, glossitis can be a sign of nutritional deficiencies such as; iron, folate and B12 depending on the color of the tongue, although, nutritional deficiencies are not diagnosed by tongue analysis; further testing is needed, like a blood test.
Read more about the Spleen in TCM
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Dr. Davis from the Moline Chiropractic Clinic and Scott Stewart, LAc., Dipl. will be giving a seminar on non-prescriptive treatment options for chronic headaches. Some of the highlights of this seminar will include a short discussion on the differentiation of headache types (tension, migraine, cervicogenic, etc.), diagnosis, and the selection of treatments available from both an Eastern & Western perspective.
Seating is limited, so please call to reserve your place.
Where: Moline Chiropractic Clinic
When: Wednesday March 27th, 2013
Time: 6pm – 7:30pm
For more information you can contact:
Scott Stewart, LAc, Dipl.
Posted by: Scott Stewart, LAc., Dipl.
It’s quite ironic how it’s illegal to sell drugs on the street corner, but yet completely legal to do so via the mass media. Nowadays, it’s almost impossible to escape these annoying pharmaceutical adverts on the tele which invade your home, what seems like every 5 minutes. Ten seconds is devoted to the name of the drug and what it’s designed for, while the remaining 20 seconds is focused on the never ending list of side-effects; which are often worse than the condition the drug is supposed to treat. Not only are these commercials for drugs annoying and unethical, but they prey on the ignorance and fear of people who can easily identify with the set of extremely generalized signs and symptoms that they describe.
Yes, I get very irritated with these mass campaigns that mislead the public into thinking they have some condition, when in fact they don’t. Unfortunately, the pharmaceutical companies are now in the business of creating diseases and conditions, so they can sell billions of dollars more of unsafe and unnecessary drugs. This Low Testosterone or Low – T as they have so poignantly coined it, is exactly this - a fictional condition which pharmaceutical companies have created and marketed to a large targeted segment of the population.
What exactly is Low Testosterone?
Low testosterone is NOT a disease / syndrome or condition of any sort. In fact, from both a Western and Eastern medicine perspective adults, after they pass the 40 year mark, loose up to 40% of their Yin (which translates into sexual hormones). This is a biological fact of life for both men and women that occurs just as naturally as the sun rising in the morning and setting at dusk. In women, there is a drastic decrease in estrogen, which is a natural part of the cyclic transformation between menstruation -- to -- menopause -- to -- post-menopause. The same is true in men, who are also tied into a reproductive cycle involving hormones. For men, their levels of testosterone decrease significantly. What we’re seeing with this Low – T campaign is just some ad executive’s idea to make billions of dollars on an untapped market. We’ve already experienced this same targeted marketing on the women’s side with the mass marketing of estrogen products for the fictional disease of hormone deficiency; now they’re targeting the men.
Unlike Western medicine that likes to generalize symptoms across the board, an Eastern practitioner will tell you that this natural declination in hormones (Yin) will occur to varying degrees in both males and females, and the effects will also be diverse, because the health of each individual is different. How much this decrease of hormones really affects an individual depends more on how balanced or imbalanced other systems are within the patient’s body. It's these imbalances which can create such generalized symptoms that can be contorted into a new disease, which of course the pharmaceutical companies have a drug.
Like most drugs on the market, there are no long – term studies. You are the guinea pig!
I can only hope that patients be diligent about their health, and realize that the “magic pill” scenario is not a healthy or wise choice. You have to take control of your health, which in the majority of cases means making healthy lifestyle changes that will bring a balanced wellness back into your life. These lifestyle changes should include reducing stress, maintaining a healthy diet, both physical and mental exercise, and doing things that make you happy. If you do have any health concerns, especially male or female reproductive issues, or endocrine concerns, don’t hesitate to make an appointment with a licensed Eastern physician.
Posted by: Scott Stewart, LAc., Dipl.
When you visit an acupuncturist you will notice two distinctive diagnostic features that differ from a Western consultation. An acupuncturist will feel your pulse for a few minutes or sometimes up to 30 minutes, and examine your tongue for about 10 – 15 seconds. You may say, “Wait a minute! Sometimes my doctor will feel my pulse.” This is true, but in Western medicine they’re only checking your heart rate; that is, is it beating too fast (tachycardia), too slow (brachycardia), or is it a normal pulse. In Eastern Medicine, we gather important information from both the tongue and the pulse that helps us with the diagnosis. First, let’s consider the pulse.
What can we tell from a pulse?
In general, the pulse informs us of the state of Qi, blood and fluid physiology/pathology, and gives us an image of the functional state of the internal organs both individually and as a system. In more advanced systems a skilled practitioner can detect childhood illnesses, mitral valve dysfunctions and other cardiovascular events, ulcers, and other various pathologies.
The pulse can also be used as a preventive measure to detect serious disease and illness before it manifests to a greater extent in the body.
Other arbitrary influences on the pulse include, but are not limited to: stress (including emotional disturbances), lack of sleep, medications, negative dietary habits, caffeine, nicotine, and other stimulants, and sickness; especially the cold or flu.
How is the pulse felt?
The practitioner palpates the radial artery in 3 different positions on each wrist. Traditionally, on the left wrist, the bottom position represents the heart / small intestine. The middle position is for the liver / gallbladder. The upper position is for the kidney (yang) / bladder. On the right wrist, the bottom position represents the lung / large intestine. The middle position is the spleen / stomach. The upper position represents the kidney (yin), San jiao.
You might notice that the practitioner will press down on these positions, this is because there are 3 different levels to a pulse: superficial (qi level), middle (blood level), and deep (organ level). First, the practitioner will feel all three positions at once to get an overall image, then they will palpate each individual position for a more specific image of each corresponding organ.
Why do you have to look at my tongue?
Tongue examination is another important diagnostic tool in the acupuncturist's arsenal. The reason for this is because the tongue has a direct correlation to the visceral organs. As you can see in the image to the left, different areas of the tongue are representative of those specific organs. When we examine the tongue we're looking at the following attributes: texture, coating, color, shape, and mobility. By looking at these different aspects of the tongue we can determine the state of the Qi, blood, and body fluids. We can also determine the state of an illness and where that illness is located. Both tongue and pulse diagnosis are not meant to be used alone, but rather together along with patient observation, and other diagnostic information that is gathered from the patient interview.