Naturopathy, The Way of Life
what is Thyroid and its cause, increasing patient in India particularly in Kashmir, and how to treat through Naturopathy
The thyroid, situated at the front of the neck below the voice box, is one of our most important glands. It secretes hormones, which govern the rate of most vital functions of the body. Disturbances of the thyroid can have quite serious effects on your health so you should always seek advice from your doctor if you think you have a problem, but naturopathic medicine can play an important supportive role in dealing with any imbalances in the function of the gland.
What happens when the thyroid goes wrong?
The thyroid gland can become underactive or overactive. The causes are complicated and not fully understood. When the gland is underactive (hypothyroidism) it does not produce enough of the hormones triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4), which help sustain healthy body function. Here are some of the symptoms of inadequate thyroid function:
lethargy and poor concentration
muscular aches and pains
dry skin, brittle nails
thinning of hair
feelings of chilliness even in warm weather
Because there may be other causes of these symptoms thyroid problems can often be overlooked. Nevertheless, if you have two or more of the above symptoms you should consult your doctor to see if the thyroid needs testing.
An overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) is less common. Excess thyroid hormone may cause symptoms such as palpitations, sweating, anxiety attacks, and a staring appearance of the eyes. There may be swelling of the gland in the front of the throat.
How is thyroid trouble diagnosed and treated?
A history of symptoms such as those listed above are highly predictive of thyroid insufficiency. If you have several of them, an axillary temperature test (see below) would be the next step. If this shows your temperature to be consistently subnormal then blood or urine tests need to be done.
Axillary Temperature Test for thyroid function (Barnes’ Test)
Before retiring to bed, shake down an oral thermometer and place it within easy reach of the bed.
Immediately on waking, place it under the armpit for 10 minutes. It is important that you remain still and quiet to get an accurate reading.
Record the temperature each day for a minimum of 5 days.
The basal temperature should be between 97.8 and 98.2 degrees F (>36.5 degC). If it is consistently below this level you should seek professional advice.
Your doctor can arrange blood tests to check the levels of the thyroid hormones and the thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) which is produced by the pituitary, the ‘master gland’ at the base of the brain. (It is important that the levels of free T3 and T4 are determined and not just TSH which is sometimes regarded as sufficient)
If the hormones are deficient you may need replacement therapy with thyroxine tablets prescribed by your GP. It may take several months to determine the right amount of thyroxine to suit your needs. (Although this is, strictly speaking, a hormone replacement therapy, do not confuse it with the more common use of the term HRT for the prescribing of female hormones in the menopause.)
Often the tests may be in the normal range when there are still symptoms suggestive of thyroid problems. In fact, TSH and T4 levels may not change significantly even when the patient has quite noticeable symptoms of hypothyroidism due to lack of active T3. Some practitioners believe these are, nevertheless, due to a condition of subclinical thyroid deficiency where the hormone needs of the individual are not being met.
There is, however, a better correlation between the amount of T3 and T4 that is secreted in the urine over 24 hours. (This test is currently available through a laboratory in the Netherlands but is more costly than the blood test)
Conventional medical treatment for an overactive thyroid is usually with drugs which suppress the excess thyroxine or, in severe cases, surgical removal of part or all of the gland. When this is done thyroxine may need to be taken for life to make up for any deficiency which is created.
Can naturopathic medicine help with thyroid problems?
Naturopathic medicine focuses on treating the whole person, using only non-toxic approaches, such as dietary regulation, nutritional supplements, herbal medicine, and physical therapy. It is essential to continue with the normal medical monitoring and treatment of your thyroid condition, but there may be a great deal you can do to support the function of the gland and help achieve a better level of health and energy. If you still experience symptoms even though you take thyroxine or if you think you may be a subclinical hypothyroid case, it may be worth consulting a registered naturopath.
Since naturopathic medicine places emphasis on the function of the body, lower levels of thyroxine, but within the ‘normal’ range on the blood test, may actually be insufficient for your particular needs.
What does a naturopath do for thyroid problems?
A naturopath will look at thyroid problems in the context of your general health. The practitioner will investigate other possible causes for your symptoms as well as considering anything that might have an effect on the function of the thyroid itself. These can include:
Imbalances of blood-sugar levels affecting energy metabolism.
Digestive disturbances, e.g., deficiency of enzymes, causing abdominal bloating and undigested food molecules leaking through the gut wall to trigger an inappropriate immune system response.
Imbalance of the detoxification functions of the liver resulting in an increase of toxic compounds which may irritate the thyroid tissues.
Deficiencies of vitamins, minerals, and trace elements needed for healthy thyroid function.
Prolonged stress, anxiety states, or sudden shock.
Muscle and joint problems in the neck and upper back which may interfere with circulation and nerve supply to the gland.
Most of these can be detected by careful questioning and examination and, if necessary, we can arrange for special laboratory tests to give more accurate information on digestive enzymes, trace elements, blood-sugar levels, or whether you have an overgrowth of yeast (candidiasis) in the gut.
What does treatment entail ?
The objective of treatment is to reduce the demands placed on the gland by stress or an unhealthy diet whilst supporting its functions and those of the general metabolism. Advice or treatment given by a naturopath may include:
Dietary adjustments and nutritional support for the thyroid.
Supplements of vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, or natural enzyme preparations.
Herbal or homoeopathic support for liver and other metabolic functions.
Home hydrotherapy such as compresses and bathing to improve circulation and ease painful joints.
Gentle osteopathic and soft-tissue neuromuscular techniques to release neck, back, and chest restriction.
Relaxation and stress management techniques.
Individual needs may vary considerably and the naturopath will select treatment accordingly. Naturopathy also places much emphasis on self-help in health care.
Articale written by
Dr. Meraj Din
Doctor of Naturopathy ...
What is Naturopathic Medicine?
Naturopathic medicine is a distinct primary health care system that blends modern scientific knowledge with traditional and natural forms of medicine. The naturopathic philosophy is to stimulate the healing power of the body and treat the underlying cause of disease. Symptoms of disease are seen as warning signals of improper functioning of the body, and unfavourable lifestyle habits. Naturopathic Medicine emphasizes disease as a process rather than as an entity.
Treating both acute and chronic conditions, naturopathic treatments are chosen based on the individual patient – their physiological, structural, psychological, social, spiritual, environment and lifestyle factors. In addition to diet and lifestyle changes, natural therapies including botanical medicine, clinical nutrition, hydrotherapy, homeopathy, naturopathic manipulation and traditional Chinese medicine/acupuncture, may also be used during treatments.
In Canada, the naturopathic medical profession’s infrastructure includes accredited educational institutions, professional licensing, national standards of practice, participation in many federal health committee initiatives, and a commitment to state-of-the-art scientific research.
Home Remedies for Colds
Are cold symptoms making you feel miserable? Here are 12 cold remedies you can use right now -- at home -- to feel better.
Cold Remedy #1: Drink plenty of fluids to help break up your congestion. Drinking water or juice will help prevent dehydration and keep your throat moist. Most people should drink at least 8 to 10 eight-ounce glasses of fluid daily. Include fluids such as water, sports drinks, herbal teas, fruit drinks, or ginger ale. Your mother's chicken soup might help too!
#2: Inhale steam to ease your congestion and stuffy nose. Hold your head over a pot of boiling water and breathe slowly through your nose. Be careful. Don't let the steam burn your nose. You can also use a humidifier to get the same effect. Moisture from a hot shower with the door closed or saline nasal spray is just as helpful to ease congestion.
#3: Blow your nose often, but do it the proper way. It's important to blow your nose regularly when you have a cold rather than sniffling mucus back into your head. But when you blow hard, pressure can carry germ-carrying phlegm back into your ear passages, causing earache. The best way to blow your nose is to press a finger over one nostril while you blow gently to clear the other.
#4: Use saline nasal sprays or make your own salt water rinse to irrigate your nose. Salt-water rinsing helps break nasal congestion while also removing virus particles and bacteria from your nose. Here's a popular recipe:
Mix 3 teaspoons of iodide-free salt and 1 teaspoon baking soda. Place in an airtight container. Add 1 teaspoon of this mixture to 8 ounces of lukewarm boiled or distilled water. Fill a bulb syringe with this solution (or use a Neti pot, available at most health foods stores). Lean your head over a basin, and using the bulb syringe, gently squirt the salt water into your nose. Hold one nostril closed by applying light finger pressure while squirting the salt mixture into the other nostril. Let it drain. Then treat the other nostril.
To avoid exposing yourself to other bacteria and infections, it's important to watch what you put in your nose. According to the CDC, if you are irrigating, flushing, or rinsing your sinuses, use distilled, sterile, or previously boiled water to make up the irrigation solution. It’s also important to rinse the irrigation device after each use and leave open to air dry.
#5: Stay warm and rested. Staying warm and resting when you first come down with a cold or the flu helps your body direct its energy toward the immune battle. This battle taxes the body. So give it a little help by lying down under a blanket to stay warm if necessary.
#6: Gargle with warm salt water. Gargling can moisten a sore or scratchy throat and bring temporary relief. Try a half teaspoon of salt dissolved in 8 ounces of warm water four times daily. To reduce the tickle in your throat, try an astringent gargle -- such as tea that contains tannin -- to tighten the membranes. Or use a thick, viscous gargle made with honey, popular in folk medicine. Steep one tablespoon of raspberry leaves or lemon juice in two cups of hot water; mix with one teaspoon of honey. Let the mixture cool to room temperature before gargling.
#7: Drink hot liquids. Hot liquids relieve nasal congestion, prevent dehydration, and soothe the uncomfortably inflamed membranes that line your nose and throat. If you're so congested you can't sleep at night, try a hot toddy, an age-old remedy. Make a cup of hot herbal tea. Add one teaspoon of honey and one small shot (about 1 ounce) of whiskey or bourbon if you wish. Limit yourself to one. Too much alcohol inflames those membranes and is counterproductive.
#8: Take a steamy shower. Steamy showers moisturize your nasal passages and help relax you. If you're dizzy from the flu, run a steamy shower while you sit on a chair nearby and take a sponge bath.
#9: Try a small dab of mentholated salve under your nose to help open breathing passages and help restore the irritated skin at the base of the nose. Menthol, eucalyptus, and camphor all have mild numbing ingredients that may help relieve the pain of a nose rubbed raw.
#10: Apply hot packs around your congested sinuses. You can buy reusable hot packs at a drugstore. Or make your own. Take a damp washcloth and heat it for 30 seconds in a microwave. (Test the temperature first to make sure it's right for you.)
#11:Sleep with an extra pillow under your head. This will help relieve congested nasal passages. If the angle is too awkward, try placing the pillows between the mattress and the box springs to create a more gradual slope.
#12: Learn the truth about natural remedies like zinc, echinacea, and vitamin C. People looking for natural cold remedies often turn to supplements. Many of these remedies have not been shown to help and some can hurt.
5 Ways to Protect Yourself (and Others) from Swine Flu
Swine flu has yet to escalate into a global pandemic, but here's what to do if it does
Experts say that the steps you should take to shield yourself from swine flu are not much different than those you might take to ward off seasonal flu.
1. Don't touch your face
Above all, keep your hands away from your eyes, mouth and nose, all of which serve as pathways for the virus to enter your respiratory tract, says Allison Aiello, an epidemiologist at the University of Michigan School of Public Health in Ann Arbor.
2. Wash your hands
If you must touch your face, scrub your hands, getting under the fingernails and inside all crevices, for 20 to 30 seconds with hot soap and water beforehand, Aiello says. "In addition to dislodging dirt that may contain virus particles, soaps contain surfactants [the primary components of detergents] which can damage the lipid [fat] protecting virus particles, " she explains. Soap should therefore be effective against all flu viruses.
3. Use a hand sanitizer
No sink nearby? Then use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, Aiello advises. About a quarter-size spot, rubbed all over the hands until the sanitizer evaporates (usually 10 to 15 seconds), should do it. Alcohol can inactivate viruses by destroying the structure of their proteins, she notes.
4. Cover your nose and mouth
When someone sneezes or coughs, liquid droplets packing flu viruses can travel as far as three feet (one meter) through the air and descend on your nose or mouth, so it's best to maintain at least an arm's-length distance when talking to someone who shows signs of infection, says Louise Dembry, director of epidemiology at Yale–New Haven Hospital in Connecticut. And to protect others, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, and clean your hands afterward, she says, noting that viruses can remain infectious for hours, if not longer, when they linger on the skin or other surfaces such as keyboards and subway poles.
5. Consider buying a mask in case you need it in the future
From press photos, it seems that Mexico's entire population has donned surgical masks, but the verdict is still out on how effective they are in stemming the spread of flu, according to Aiello. Some research suggests that masks—either the surgical variety or respirators called N95's specially designed to filter out water droplets containing viruses—reduce the risk of contracting the flu or other respiratory pathogens by as much as 80 percent, but research by Aiello's team suggests that masks do little unless used in conjunction with diligent hand washing.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is "extremely limited" data on the effectiveness of face masks and respirators for blocking flu spread in communities. The agency suggests, however, that people consider using them when it's impossible to avoid "crowded settings or close contact with others" in areas where swine flu transmission has been confirmed: face masks for crowded places and respirators for situations that involve close contact with people who have respiratory infections (caring for a sick family member, for example).