Monthly Archives: July 2012

Six Things People with Diabetes Rarely Tell Their Doctor

Lady holding her fingers to her lips as if saying, "Shhh!"

This post covers a variety of behaviors and lifestyle habits that people with diabetes rarely tell their doctor. I need to state a disclaimer before diving into this post. Please note I am not condoning the activities and actions I’ve shared below. I’m simply sharing what I know to be true and what I see occur frequently in the diabetic community. Please follow your doctor’s instructions exactly and do not deviate from them.

Most of you know by now that I’ve had Type 1 Diabetes (the auto-immune, insulin-controlled type) for over 45 years. In the time I’ve had it, I’ve devoted years of research to the disease of diabetes. I have also dedicated myself to understanding how diabetes affects a person’s emotions, not just their body. One of the most fascinating things I’ve discovered from chatting with thousands of people with diabetes is that there are some very common habits many of them share, but which few of them tell their medical staff. Some of these habits are harmless, while others could be potentially harmful.

Why do diabetics break the rules? The most common reason is because the rules don’t work for them. Although MDs live in a world of black and white absolutes, every diabetic knows that much of what they’re told about controlling their disease does not work for them or apply to their specific case. Their body never read the diabetes text book and doesn’t do the things the text book says it should. Most of us wish our doctors understood that control is highly individualized and that not all care guidelines work for all people. People with diabetes soon learn which topics are “safe” to discuss with their doctor and which will earn them a quick lecture. They grow weary of being told they’re “wrong” or being told one of the control tactics they rely on “can’t possibly work.” The truth is that every person’s body and lifestyle is highly unique and requires a unique approach to maintaining control. What works for me may not work for anyone else, and what works for them may not work for me. Doctors don’t have time to consider these “gray areas,” so diabetics keep this “secret info” to themselves.

The list that follows includes the top six things I’ve found diabetics rarely tell their doctor. Do you know of others? Please share!

I take a lot of supplements to help control my diabetes

This one is perhaps the most common. I hear this not only from diabetics, but from many different people with many different health conditions. Why do people not tell their doctor about their supplements? People I chat with share one of three basic reasons: 1) They are tired of their doctor telling them the supplement doesn’t work (even though using it has improved their health); 2) They are taking the supplement(s) instead of taking a prescription (see the next point); or 3) They know their doctor doesn’t believe in supplements and don’t want to risk upsetting him or her.

Obviously, it is IMPERATIVE to tell your doctor about every supplement you take. Your MD needs to know what you’re taking so that s/he can advise you about any potential interactions with your prescriptions. A growing group of MDs is learning about supplements and accepting their use. If yours is not one of them, perhaps it’s time to find one who is more accepting of the lifestyle you’ve chosen.

There are a wide variety of supplements that can help people with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes maintain better control. However, these supplements must be very carefully researched before being added to one’s regimen. It can be dangerous for a Type 1 diabetic to begin taking supplements without checking their blood sugar more frequently. No one taking a prescription medications should begin taking a supplement without first discussing the potential interactions with their doctor or pharmacist. My favorite resource for researching potential interactions between prescription medications and natural supplements is the PDR for Non-Prescription Drugs, 33rd Edition.

I don’t take some of the prescriptions you write for me

This is another very serious item. If you are not going to take a prescription your doctor prescribed, you must tell him or her. It is your choice to not take a prescription, but you owe your MD the courtesy of being honest about it. When you share this information with your MD, take your research, be direct without being emotional, and make it clear your decision is final. If your MD has an issue with this, perhaps it’s time to find someone who is a better fit for your needs. (On a side note, there are times it may be better to take the prescription. Please do significant research before deciding to not take a prescription. As an example, I take insulin. There are no viable alternatives that are 100% effective, so I consider myself blessed to have it available.)

I don’t use alcohol when I take my shot or check my blood sugar

I can’t say that 100% of diabetics fall into this category, but a huge number of them do. Remembering to pack alcohol swabs is just one more thing on an already long list of items that have to be carted around on a daily basis. Many diabetics have found – contrary to what their MD told them – that not using alcohol doesn’t make much difference. They don’t wind up with skin infections, and their insulin continues working perfectly. It’s a personal choice. (This is only true if they are healthy and are under good control.) From a bird’s eye perspective, I don’t think this is a big deal, provided their blood sugars are under good control, they don’t have any other auto-immune conditions, and they are not in a dirty environment filled with toxins. It’s always best to use alcohol, but the likelihood of developing a complication if none is available is fairly small.

I use my syringes and lancets more than once

Most people are horrified to learn that many diabetics re-use their syringes. Let me make it perfectly clear they are not sharing their needles, they are simply using them twice in order to save money The same is true of the lancets used to prick their finger to check their blood sugar. Is it the best way to treat their disease? No. Is it one that has a huge negative effect? Not really. I don’t recommend it, but based on the hundreds of diabetics I know who do this, the effects are too small to even be measured. Re-using syringes is never a good idea, but the effects will probably be minimal for someone who is under good control, is in a clean environment and who does not have other auto-immune conditions affecting their immunity.

In all honesty, if a diabetic cannot afford syringes and lancets, I’d much rather they re-use them than not take insulin at all. A diabetic who needs insulin and stops taking it will wind up in the hospital and deathly ill very quickly. Diabetics who re-use needles run a risk of infection and run a risk of injecting bacteria into their insulin bottles. The potential for disaster is huge, but the fact is that very few ill effects are seen. I don’t advise re-using syringes, but if you’re in a situation where you’re forced to re-use one, please do not exert much energy to worrying about the after-effects. Again … this does not refer to people sharing needles. I’m not talking about a family of diabetics using each other’s syringes. I’m talking about an individual who re-uses their own syringes.

I leave my insertion set in for more than 3 days and refill my reservoirs

This item applies to people with diabetes who use an insulin pump. Insulin pumps use a reservoir that looks somewhat like a short, squat syringe with no needle. The diabetic fills the reservoir manually and then inserts it into the pump. One end of the reservoir is connected to a long tube. The other end is connected to the body via an insertion set. The insertion set contains a very tiny plastic cannula (a form of tiny needle) that is inserted into the abdomen, arm or buttocks. The pump injects insulin into the diabetic’s body on a continuous basis. The amount of insulin infused into the person’s body is controlled by information the diabetic (or his/her support staff) programs into the pump. Programming the pump and inserting the insertion set is a very simple process. An insulin pump is the closest thing we have to a functioning pancreas.

Most pump companies instruct their users to change insertion sets and reservoirs every three days to avoid infection and to ensure insulin delivery continues at the correct dosage. Many diabetics I know leave their insertion sets in for longer periods. I also know a few who refill their reservoir instead of replacing it. These diabetics swear they can’t tell a difference. (One told me she can leave her insertion set in for more than 10 days before infection develops. I would say that’s pushing the limit on the insertion set’s ability to maintain adequate delivery.)

Why do they do it? It’s very simple. Many diabetics are uninsured, and many are underinsured. Many insurance companies have changed their deductible program and have raised deductibles above $10,000 per family. This means that most diabetics receive NO assistance with their pump supplies, in spite of having insurance. On my insurance plan, our regular prescriptions are filled for a co-pay and don’t apply to the deductible, but my insulin pump supplies do not. My insurance company will not pay a dime toward my supplies until my family meets our $10,000 deductible. There is no logic behind this, as helping their insureds maintain good control is the best way insurance companies can avoid more expensive claims. Almost four billion dollars each year are spent on diabetic amputations. That number could potentially be lowered if insurance companies would re-think their approach to handling insurance claims for basic care needs.

A 90-day supply of infusion sets and reservoirs costs anywhere between $500-900 dollars. That’s a huge expense for many people. It is an expense that motivates many diabetics to stretch a 90-day supply of materials into a 180-day supply or longer. They don’t do it as a form of rebellion; they do it because they have no other choice.

The diet you told me to follow kept my sugars sky high, so I found a new one that works for me

I hear this more than any other concern voiced by people with diabetes. A mother with a 10-year old recently came into my office and said her son’s dietitian recommended he eat seven servings of high-glycemic carbohydrates per day. She said he used over 100 units of insulin per day eating that diet because his blood sugars were so high. He also felt horrible most of the time. I worked with her to create an eating plan her son could easily work into his daily activities. The plan I recommended focused on low-glycemic carbohydrates in smaller quantities. Within two weeks, this young man’s energy had returned to normal levels and his insulin needs had lowered to around 60 units per day. (Lowering the amount of insulin needed to maintain control is helpful because of the hormonal side-effects of insulin.) I’ve also had clients come to my office who said they argued with their diabetes educator because they felt the amount of sugars and carbohydrates they were eating was excessive. These patients typically get a slap on the wrist and are told they must obey. Sadly, many who find they can maintain better control using a different eating style than the one their doctor’s staff recommended are labeled “non-compliant.”

This brings us back to individuality. Every person’s body responds to carbohydrates and other types of foods in different ways. Most people with diabetes know which foods affect them more than others. (For me, a quarter cup of white rice will send my blood sugar through the roof in about five minutes. I can’t eat it, even though it was one of the main foods recommended by the diabetes educator I saw many years ago.) It is impossible to use a “cookie cutter” approach to eating styles for people with diabetes. Each person must start with a basic recommendation and then tweak it to fit their needs. Many endocrinologists and their staffs are not willing to allow their patients to deviate from their strict guidelines. This is sad, because it makes many diabetics think they have to hide things from their endocrinologist.

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I recognize and fully expect this post will generate controversy. I’ve shared the truth, but I know many will react in anger. I’m ok with that.

Do you have diabetes? Do you hide things from your doctor? What do you think needs to change in the world of diabetes to encourage more open dialog between endocrinologists/doctors and people with diabetes? I firmly believe change occurs one person at a time. Let’s start here!

*Links in this post are affiliate links shared to provide a visual representation of the mentioned item.

The Joy of Fruitless Smoothies

Picture of a sliced avocado

Many people are currently trying to eat less sugar and fewer carbohydrates. The reasons for this are related to attempts to lose weight, eliminate Candida or pursue a new level of wellness. Most of these people look at smoothie recipes and sigh with frustration because they believe it’s impossible to create a delicious smoothie that is low in carbohydrates. (Even carbohydrates from natural fruit sugars can be challenging to anyone with Candida, insulin resistance or diabetes.) It is very possible to make delicious smoothies that are sugar-free, fruit-free and very low in carbohydrates. Fruitless smoothies can be delicious and can easily become a very addicting habit. Fruitless smoothies are the perfect solution for anyone trying to embrace a low-carbohydrate lifestyle, lose weight, reduce Candida overgrowth, etc. The smoothies I’ve shared below are also perfect fits for the Paleo lifestyle which is currently very popular, and make great options for anyone with insulin resistance or diabetes.

A wide variety of creamy, great tasting smoothies can be made without fruit. My breakfast many mornings is a delicious, all-vegetable, smoothie that is low in carbs, high in protein and which keeps me going strong for many hours. This type of smoothie not only provides huge amounts of energy, but also keeps me feeling full until lunch and beyond due to the tremendous nutrition provided. By using a low-carbohydrate, high-protein blend, my bloodsugars stay very stable. Fruit-laden smoothies that don’t contain protein can cause blood sugar spikes. These blood sugar spikes later fall because they don’t have protein to keep them stable. These falls may cause hunger and fatigue mid-morning as blood sugar levels plummet. A combination of carbohydrates with protein creates a slower, smaller rise in blood sugar and helps maintain blood sugar levels at a more stable level.

Following are some guidelines you can use as a basis for creating wonderful fruit-free smoothies:
  • Use sweet veggies such as yellow and red peppers, tomatoes, etc., to add natural sweetness to smoothies
  • Add avocado to make smoothies creamy and thick without using sugar-laden yogurt
  • Use Stevia as a sweetener if needed
  • Use neutral tasting veggies such as cucumbers and zucchini to add bulk to smoothies without adding a lot of taste
  • Add dark leafy greens such as kale, spinach, etc., to increase the nutritional content of smoothies
  • Use liquids such as coconut water, aloe vera juice, coconut water kefir, unsweetened nut or coconut milk, the leftover soak water from sundried tomatoes or nuts, or vegetable juices to add flavor, sweetness, and additional nutrition to smoothies
  • Add a protein powder to balance blood sugars and extend the feeling of fullness
  • Use organic spices to taste to add flavor. Don’t limit yourself to sweet spices … have fun with spicy spices to create soups and gazpachos!
  • Strategically add ingredients such as protein powders, green powders, superfoods, seaweeds, powdered greens, maca, raw cacao powder and others to add unique flavor and increase the nutritional content of smoothies.
Using these guidelines and a bit of creativity, you can create a multitude of uniquely delicious and nutritional smoothies. Your options are limitless! Following are a few smoothie recipes I enjoy. Please let me know what you think of them!

Vitamineralicious Smoothie Delight

A lack of minerals can wreak havoc on health. The smoothie that follows is rich in minerals from vegetables, but also adds an extra punch by including a liquid trace mineral. You can boost the mineral (electrolyte) content of this smoothie by using coconut water or coconut water kefir as the liquid.

Ingredients:
 
1 avocado, diced
1/2 cucumber, diced
1 scoop Hemp Protein Powder
1 tomato, diced
1 handful kale or spinach (about 1 cup)
1 tablespoon organic lemon Juice
1 serving green powder
5-10 drops of a trace mineral
1 cup unsweetened milk alternative of choice OR 1 cup of coconut water kefir or coconut water
1/2 – 1 cup Purified Water (adjust amount to achieve desired thickness)
Stevia to taste (optional)
 
Place ingredients in regular blender or high-powered blender and blend well.  Drink 1-2 cups for breakfast and save the rest for a mid-morning snack.

Red Light District Smoothie

This smoothie is rich in anti-oxidants and Vitamin C.

Ingredients:
 
1 diced organic tomato
1 diced organic red pepper
1-2 cup(s) water from soaking sun-dried tomatoes, purified water or organic tomato juice (adjust amount to achieve desired thickness)
1 handful red lettuce
1 teaspoon organic Cinnamon
1 avocado (optional)
Stevia to taste (optional) or experiment with many flavored stevias
 
Place ingredients in regular blender or high-powered blender and blend well.  Drink 1-2 cups for breakfast and save the rest for a mid-morning snack. Garnish with a sprinkling of cinnamon
 

Diabetic Chocolate Shake

This smoothie is delicious! Add ice to make it more like a shake. If you really want to make it shake-like, add a scoop of So Delicious Dairy-Free Chocolate Coconut Ice Cream. (It’s to die for! That’s not an affiliate link … I just love their products!) Be aware that adding the coconut ice cream will increase the carbohydrate content of this shake.

Ingredients:
 
1 avocado, diced
1/2 cup organic cacao powder or organic cocoa
1/2 – 1 cups unsweetened milk alternative of choice
Stevia to taste (I use chocolate liquid stevia)
Organic cinnamon  or organic nutmeg to taste if desired
 
Place ingredients in regular blender or high-powered blender and blend well.  Drink 1-2 cups for breakfast and save the rest for a mid-morning snack. This is one of my favorite treats.
 
Please consider these recipes to merely be a suggestion. Run with them and modify them to your heart’s content.
 
My passion is helping people improve their health by identifying and correcting nutritional deficiencies and other causes of illness. I have helped thousands of people improve their health, reverse symptoms and reduce their need for medication. If you are ready to improve your health using a holistic approach, please contact me to schedule a consultation.
 
Have fun!

Why You Need More Magnesium

Experts estimate that 80% of the US population is deficient in Magnesium, a very basic mineral that is essential for good magnesiumhealth and which is used by every system in the body.

A lack of Magnesium in the body may cause any of the following: 

  • muscle cramps
  • heart palpitations
  • headaches and migraines
  • fatigue
  • constipation
  • muscle weakness
  • digestive disorders
  • impaired pituitary and thyroid function
  • PMS
  • kidney problems
  • insulin resistance and/or hypoglycemia
  • insomnia
  • depression
  • vertigo
  • problems swallowing
  • muscle aches
  • tremors and shaking
  • anxiety or over-excitability
  • muscle twitching and tics
  • Restless Leg Syndrome
  • osteopenia and osteoporosis
  • kidney stones and heel spurs
  • coronary spasms
  • atrial fibrillation
  • dizziness
  • memory problems
  • numbness in extremities
  • worsening of asthma symptoms
  • water retention
  • high blood pressure
  • loss of appetite or nausea
  • and many more 

The problem with these symptoms is that many are very vague and most could be caused by a wide variety of other issues. Unfortunately, it is extremely rare for a medical professional to consider a magnesium deficiency and act accordingly when faced with symptoms that indicate one. Additionally, plasma levels of magnesium measured during blood tests are very inaccurate because only 1% of magnesium in the body is stored in the blood. The majority of magnesium in the body is stored in the tissues, making blood tests almost worthless. We live in a society where mainstream physicians are taught to place more weight on blood test results than on symptoms, which makes it even less likely that a person exhibiting multiple symptoms of magnesium deficiency will be given magnesium. (There is a blood test that is more accurate, the ionized magnesium test, but it is not widely available.)

As the huge list of symptoms indicates, magnesium is necessary for the proper functioning of every body system. A deficiency can have devastating consequences. Magnesium is the most prolific mineral in the body and is responsible for almost 400 different biochemical reactions in the body. A short list of the body functions magnesium directly influences include:

  • Allows the body to absorb calcium and to place it where it belongs 
  • Essential for the production of energy
  • Essential for the metabolism of carbohydrates and fats
  • Relaxes muscles so they remain flexible
  • Essential for the activation of B vitamins
  • Helps build bone and keep it flexible enough to not shatter
  • Helps maintain a normal electrical flow of nerve impulses in the heart
  • Essential for hormone balance (especially during PMS and menopause)
  • Essential for initiation over 300 different enzyme reactions essential for health
  • Essential for proper digestion
  • Essential for the production of key brain chemicals
  • Essential for normal kidney and liver function

Obviously, you need magnesium. If you eat a standard diet, drink alcohol, or drink coffee, you are probably magnesium deficient. Many people are magnesium deficient because of digestive disorders and malabsorption. (Please read Top Six Ways to Maximize Digestion for tips on improving digestion.) 

It is possible to maintain adequate magnesium levels by eating high levels of dark leafy greens, vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds on a daily basis. If you’re eating well and don’t have absorption problems, you’re probably not deficient. If you don’t eat well, drink alcohol or can’t get by without your daily cup of java, you need to be getting supplemental magnesium other ways. (Coffee and alcohol sap the body of magnesium very quickly. It is not unusual for alcoholics to have anxiety and sleep disorders as a result of their magnesium deficiency.)

Drinking a daily Green Drink is a wonderful way to get sufficient magnesium and other essential nutrients. If you don’t care for the taste of green drinks (which taste like grass, to be blunt), try Green Vibrance Capsules by Vibrant Health. It is one of my favorites and is one I use frequently.

If you prefer to increase your magnesium using supplements, do NOT take Magnesium Oxide. It is a form of oxide that your body cannot absorb. It is worthless. Read labels and make sure whichever supplement you purchase does not contain magnesium oxide. Most people do best taking 200-800 mg of magnesium on a daily basis. I recommend starting with 200/day and very gradually working up (not exceeding 1200 mg) until your symptoms disappear. Having loose stools is a good indicator that you’re taking too much. If you develop diarrhea, take less magnesium.

I recommend doing or using the following to increase magnesium levels, in conjunction with a healthy diet:

  • Take a very warm bath three times weekly with 2-3 cups of Epsom salts in the bath. Your skin will absorb the magnesium, eliminating the need for it to be absorbed through the digestive system.
  • Use Magnesium Oil:  Magnesium oil is not an oil, but has an oily feeling due to the high concentration of magnesium in the liquid. Note that it is necessary to use high doses of magnesium oil in order to receive a high amount of magnesium. Most oils need to be used in doses of eight sprays, three times daily.
  • Take Magnesium Glycinate:  Magnesium Glycinate is one of the more easily absorbed forms of magnesium. The magnesium molecule is bonded with glycine, which is an amino acid. The human digestive tract is maximized to absorb amino acids, and glycine is known to improve digestion, so the combination of the magnesium and the glycine greatly increases the absorption levels. The amount of glycine absorbed is minimal, so please do not use magnesium glycinate instead of a glycine supplement if you need supplemental glycine.

My passion is helping people improve their health by identifying and correcting nutritional deficiencies and other causes of illness. I have helped thousands of people improve their health, reverse symptoms and reduce their need for medication. If you are ready to improve your health using a holistic approach, please contact me to schedule a consultation.

As always, none of these statements were evaluated by the FDA and none were intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any health condition. Check with your medical practitioner before starting or stopping any supplement or medication.

References:

Yu ASL. Disorders of magnesium and phosphorus. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 120.

Rakel D, ed. Integrative Medicine. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007.

Common Nutritional Deficiencies Caused by Medications

Prescription Bottle

Many people do not realize the prescription they are taking to address one health issue is depleting nutrients that may cause other health problems. Unfortunately, few patients are told about nutritional deficiencies that can be caused by prescriptions. This results in health issues developing which may be a mystery but which can typically be reversed very quickly simply by replenishing the nutrient that was depleted by the prescription medication. In a strange twist of fate, many of the prescription medications I listed below deplete the body of a nutrient that is essential for preventing or controlling the very condition the prescription is used to remedy. Unfortunately, many doctors are not aware of the nutritional deficiencies caused by the medications they prescribe. As a patient, it is imperative to look up each prescription medication you take to see if you should be supplementing to replace what it is depleting. In my office, I review each client’s prescriptions medications to ensure they are taking measures to prevent a potential deficiency.

The table that follows provides a list of just a few of the most common prescriptions that can cause a nutritional deficiency. I’ve provided information about the prescription medication, the nutrient(s) it is known to deplete in the body, and information on which supplement might be used to help counteract or prevent deficiencies. I’ve shown one possible supplement per deficiency, but many options exist. I’ve merely shown the one I like or use personally. Please note this is a very tiny list and is not complete. If you’d like to pick up a book providing excellent, detailed information on deficiencies caused by prescriptions, I highly recommend Suzy Cohen’s Drug Muggers: Which Medications are Robbing Your Body of Essential Nutrients and Natural Ways to Restore Them.

Please also note this table does not list interactions which may occur between foods or supplements taken with prescriptions. Please consult your MD, read the information that comes with your prescriptions, and research to determine which supplements and foods should never be taken with your prescription medications.

NOTE: This information is being shared for educational purposes only. If this information concerns you, please discuss it with your MD before making any changes to your care plan. Please DO NOT begin taking any supplements without checking with your MD. Additionally, never stop taking a prescription medication or alter the dosage without the express consent of your MD or other healthcare practitioner. None of these statements were reviewed by the FDA and none are intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any medical condition.

Nutritional Deficiencies Caused by Prescription Medications

Medication Deficiency Caused Potential Source of Replenishment
  • Statin Drugs
  • Anti-Diabetics (Micronase, Glynase, DiaBeta, Dymelor,  Glipizide/Glucotrol, Metformin/Glucophage, Tolinase)
  • Pamelor and other Tricyclic Antidepressants
  • Beta-Blockers Used for High Blood Pressure (Lopressor, Toprol, Inderal, Coreg, etc.)
Co-Enzyme Q10 (CoQ10) Co-Enzyme Q10 is essential for heart health, so it is concerning that statin and drugs used to treat type 2 diabetes cause a severe depletion in this nutrient. Some studies indicate congestive heart failure’s base cause is a deficiency in CoQ10. If you take a statin drug of any of the antidiabetics listed, I strongly encourage you to take a Ubiquinol Supplement on a daily basis. I recommend taking .5-1mg per pound of body weight. Your body must convert CoQ10 into Ubiquinol in order to absorb it, so it is much more efficient to simply take the Ubiquinol.
  • Metformin
  • Most Antibiotics (Azithromyzin/Z-Pack, Amoxicillin, Penicllin*)
  • Most heartburn and GERD medications (Cimetidine, Omprazole, etc.)
  • Colchicine and other anti-gout medications

*Almost all antibiotics deplete Vitamin B12. A complete list would not fit in this table.

Vitamin B12 There are many differing opinions about how much Vitamin B12 a person should take to replenish a deficiency caused by a prescription medication. Luckily, Vitamin B12 is water-soluble, so it is very difficult to develop an excess without taking ridiculously high amounts. My recommendation is to take a minimum of 2000mcg of sublingual, Methylcobalamin B12 on a daily basis. I also recommend having your B12 levels checked every three months if you are taking a medication known to deplete B12. Please see my post, Surprising Facts You Need to Know About Vitamin B12 for more information about how important Vitamin B12 is and how many health issues may result from a deficiency.
  • Ritalin
  • Most Blood Pressure Medications
  • Most Acid Blockers and Antacids
  • Most Antibiotics
  • Most Oral Birth Control
  • Inhaled Corticosteroids (Flonase, Nasonex, Flovent, Pulmicort, Rhinocort, etc.)
Magnesium Magnesium is essential for lowering blood pressure, yet almost all blood pressure medications deplete the body of this essential nutrient. Seems somehow backward, doesn’t it? Several studies found that 70-85% of the US population – children included – are magnesium deficient. (See my post Why You Need More Magnesium for more information on the importance of Magnesium and information on which types are most beneficial.)
  • Valium (Diazepam)
  • Xanax (Alprazolam)
  • SSRI Antidepressants (Fluoxetine/Prozac, etc.)
  • NSAIDS (Celebrex; Ibuprofen/Motrin, Advil, etc.; Naproxen/Aleve, Naprosyn, etc.; Lodine; Daypro; etc.)
  • Hydrocortisone
  • Prednisone
  • Beta-Blockers Used for High Blood Pressure (Lopressor, Toprol, Inderal, Coreg, etc.)
Melatonin Oddly enough, Melatonin is a hormone that is essential for maintaining serotonin balance and for maintaining a positive outlook. Deficiencies can cause depression and insomnia, and may also increase the effects of aging because Melatonin is such a strong antioxidant. Dosage of Melatonin varies from person to person. I generally recommend starting with 1-3 mg each night and increasing the dosage (up to 10 mg) until restful sleep is easily attained. If you take Melatonin and it does nothing for you, that’s a good indicator that you are not deficient. However, most people taking anti-anxiety medications are deficient and find their symptoms improve very quickly once a Melatonin supplement is started.
  • NSAIDS (Celebrex; Ibuprofen/Motrin, Advil, etc.; Naproxen/Aleve, Naprosyn, etc.; Lodine; Daypro; etc.)
  • Aspirin
  • Anti-GERD Medications, both OTC and prescription (Axid, Tagamet, Pepcid, Prevacid, Prilosec, Nexium, Protonix, etc.)
  • Hydrocodone
  • Anti-Cholesterol Medications (Cholestyramine, Collestipol, Questran, Colestid, Atromid-S, etc.)
  • Colchicine (anti-gout)

 

 Iron

Please read Facts About Iron-Deficiency Anemia to learn more about combating anemia.

A word of warning about iron: Do not take an iron supplement unless you know you need it. Additionally, iron may interfere with the absorption of many prescription medications. (One example is that it should never be taken with thyroid medications such as Synthroid or Armour.) For best absorption and to prevent interactions with medications, I recommend taking iron supplements on an empty stomach, at least two hours before or after taking prescription medications.Many forms of over-the-counter iron supplements are almost impossible to absorb. This is why many of them cause constipation. I prefer to use forms of iron which are very easily absorbed and therefore do not cause digestive upset or constipation. My recommendation is to never purchase iron supplements from standard drugstores, as I have yet to find one that carries iron in a form that is easily absorbed. (Please let me know if you find one!)

Have you suffered from a nutritional deficiency you later learned was due to a prescription? How did you counteract it? If you’re taking one of the medications listed, I’m curious to know if your doctor told you in advance about the possibility that it might cause a deficiency? Were you warned and given a list of recommended supplements? I hope you were!

My passion is helping people improve their health by identifying and correcting nutritional deficiencies and other causes of illness. I have helped thousands of people improve their health, reverse symptoms and reduce their need for medication. If you are ready to improve your health using a holistic approach, please contact me to schedule a consultation.

Please note that the links in this post are Amazon affiliate links but that my use of an affiliate link in no way encouraged my listing of these supplements. They truly are my favorite supplements, most of which I use myself.

Tropical Traditions Organic Coconut Oil Give-Away!

This contest ended July 29, 2012. Many congrats to the winner, Lynn from Fort Hood, Texas!! I will be offering more contests in the future … stay tuned!


I recently received a great invitation to review Tropical Traditions’ Organic Virgin Coconut Oil. I was especially excited to receive their invitation because I have been a very happy customer of Tropical Traditions for many years. I’m excited to say Tropical Traditions has offered to give one of my readers a free quart of Organic Virgin Coconut Oil! See ways to win later in this post.

Their Gold Label Organic Virgin Coconut Oil is the best I’ve found. We use it in our household on a daily basis, but not only for cooking. We also use it as a moisturizer, as a base for many body care products, and have found it even works well to quiet squeaky hinges! We use nothing else for cooking. If you’ve never tried it, cook a batch of organic popcorn in Organic Virgin Coconut Oil. It is absolutely delicious and requires no butter!

I could ramble on for quite a while on the health benefits of Organic Virgin Coconut Oil, but the Tropical Traditions website provides ample information for you. I promise to share a future blog post on the health benefits and to debunk the many myths that surround it. Those of you who know me know I devote ample research to any product I’m considering using in my home and know I would not promote a contest to give away any product I did not fully believe in and support.

I have many reasons for loving their products. They use the finest processing available and are very committed to providing healthy, natural foods ethically and at an affordable cost. The company not only sells Organic Virgin Coconut Oil, but also sells:

You have seven ways to enter this contest. Note that the only way your entries will be counted is if you post a comment below! You may also share one additional tweet and/or one additional Facebook share of this page each day during the contest. Please note that you MUST enter a new comment for every entry – including a new comment for every retweet or Facebook share. Selection of winner is totally automated, but you must add a separate comment for each entry item you complete. (I’ve said that three times in a row … is it sinking in? Only  The only entries that count are those for which you leave a comment.) Contest ends July 29 at midnight.

To select the winner, I am using a WordPress plugin called And the Winner Is written by @spencersokol who resides in the great state of Indiana. Each entry must have a separate comment to be counted. (That makes four.)

You can earn an entry into the contest by doing any of the following. Please note I will verify each entry. YOU MUST ADD A SEPARATE COMMENT FOR EACH ENTRY ITEM YOU COMPLETE:

  1. Subscribe to the Tropical Traditions Newsletter
  2. Like the Tropical Traditions Facebook Page
  3. Join my newsletter
  4. Follow me on Twitter: @IndyHealer
  5. Like my Facebook Page: Good Works Wellness
  6. Share one of the posts about this contest that was posted on my Facebook page on your Facebook page
  7. Tweet about this contest using the following text:I just entered @IndyHealer’s contest to win a jar of @TropTraditions coconut oil! http://ow.ly/ch62F #coconutoil RT to win!  <– And then enter a comment below!

 

Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil - 32 oz.

Win 1 quart of Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil!

Tropical Traditions is America’s source for coconut oil. Their Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil is hand crafted in small batches by family producers, and it is the highest quality coconut oil they offer. You can read more about how virgin coconut oil is different from other coconut oils on their website: What is Virgin Coconut Oil?

You can also watch the video they produced about Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil:

Tropical Traditions also carries other varieties of affordable high quality coconut oil. Visit their website to check on current sales, to learn about the many uses of coconut oil, and to read about all the advantages of buying coconut oil online. Since the FDA does not want us to discuss the health benefits of coconut oil on a page where it is being sold or given away, here is the best website to read about the health benefits of coconut oil.

Disclaimer: Tropical Traditions provided me with a free sample of this product to review, and I was under no obligation to review it if I so chose.  Nor was I under any obligation to write a positive review or sponsor a product giveaway in return for the free product. Please also note that if you order by clicking on any of my links and have never ordered from Tropical Traditions in the past, you will receive a free book on Virgin Coconut Oil, and I will receive a discount coupon for referring you.

How to be Your Own Thyroid Advocate

I recently realized my dosage of thyroid medication was too high. This was great news, as it means my thyroid gland is coming back to life and doing what it’s supposed to. Although I considered this good news, it took a while to convince my practitioner it was possible for me to recognize a wrong dosage and that blood tests are not the only way to truly tell if a dosage is wrong. 

I will spare you the details and will simply share it took two weeks before my practitioner agreed to change my dose, even though I knew within two days that the dose was wrong. My symptoms were severe enough to negatively impact my ability to function normally. I could not wait two weeks to return to normal, so I changed my dosage on my own without her approval. (Please don’t do that. Always discuss dosage changes with your physician and never make changes without his or her direction and approval.)

Sign indicating thyroid frustration

Every thyroid patient I’ve ever met or interviewed says they know within two days whether a new dosage will work or not. Unfortunately, many doctors and mainstream practitioners don’t believe this and insist on waiting SIX WEEKS before performing blood work and agreeing to change a dose. If your thyroid gland stopped producing adequate levels of hormones, you would know something was terribly wrong within a few days. The same is true for medication dosage changes. Making a thyroid patient suffer for six weeks … or even ten days … is simply not acceptable and indicates a lack of understanding of the severity of thyroid conditions. It also indicates a lack of understanding of how sensitive patients are to what is occurring in their own body. There are multiple Facebook groups and international thyroid support groups that repeat this over and over again. Thyroid patients are tired of having practitioners ignore their symptoms. The fact these groups have hundreds of thousands of members from all over the world is valid proof there is a problem and lack of understanding related to adequately and effectively treating thyroid disease.

Being hypothyroid – or having insufficient levels of thyroid hormones – is a form of hell on earth that no one can understand unless they’ve experienced it. This is why many mainstream practitioners just don’t get it. They think thyroid patients should happily endure incredibly rapid and consistent weight gain unrelated to food consumption, edema that causes “cankles” and makes it impossible to see the bones in one’s feet, bald spots, depression, fatigue, itchy skin, severe aches that resemble arthritis, loss of balance with vertigo, weak muscles, muscle cramps, constipation, irritability, memory loss, slurred speech, feeling cold all the time (even in 100+ degree heat), and more. I’m here to say: NO MORE. (What I would actually say can’t be posted in a family-friendly article such as this one.)

It is estimated that 10-20% of US citizens have a thyroid disorder that requires intervention. Unfortunately, many of these thyroid conditions get ignored due to improper testing and doctors who don’t recognize the common symptoms. There is also a tendency for practitioners to dismiss symptoms, saying things such as, “You work full time and have four kids. Of course you’re tired!” Many doctors assume that complaints of fatigue, weight gain and more are simply “whining” and are not genuine symptoms or are indicators of psychological issues. There is also an assumption that weight gain is related to laziness and that patients who insist they are doing everything right are lying. That attitude, my friend, brings me closer to cussing than anything shared previously.

So what can you do? Be the squeaky wheel. If you know you have something physically wrong or that your thyroid medication dosage is wrong, INSIST your doctor change the dosage. Do your research and share your symptoms, stating the symptoms you are experiencing are obvious indicators the dose is wrong and that waiting several weeks to perform blood work will cause further damage. Be blunt and be insistent. If this doesn’t work, go ahead and get the blood work run early. Although docs insist blood work requires six weeks to show true results, your blood levels of thyroid hormones will show enough change after two weeks to show an imbalance and a need for a medication change.

Let’s review … to truly check how your thyroid is functioning, you must have the following tests run every time:

  • Free T3: A measure of the active T3 thyroid hormone.
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  • Free T4: A measure of the less active T4 thyroid hormone. The body should convert T4 to T3 but often does not.
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  • Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH): A measure of a pituitary hormone the body uses to stimulate the thyroid gland. Many doctors ONLY order this hormone, which is a grave error. Only measuring TSH – a hormone produced by a different gland entirely – is similar to checking the the temperature of your radiator fluid in order to gauge whether you need more oil or not. It is indirect and very inaccurate. Measuring the true thyroid hormones (Free T3 and Free T4 at a minimum) is the only way to tell where your levels are for sure. TSH levels may also fluctuate greatly in thyroid conditions caused by an autoimmune condition, so their use is highly unreliable.
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  • Reverse T3: Reverse T3 is a hormone that counteracts the T3 your body is producing. It is important to test this because your TSH, T3 and T4 could potentially be “normal,” but overproduction of Reverse T3 could cause you to be extremely symptomatic because your body is “killing” the T3 that’s produced. Excess insulin and insulin resistance often cause excess RT3, so it is important to test this hormone each time thyroid hormone levels are checked.
    .
  • Thyroid Peroxidase (TPO): TPO measures the amount of anti-thyroid antibodies in your blood stream and is used to identify an auto-immune thyroid issue. TPO typically should be measured multiple times, because levels vary and it may take several tests before levels are high enough to be identified in a blood test. (Remember that a blood test is a very tiny “snapshot in time” and that the results shown in that instance may not always be 100% accurate for some measures.)
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  • Thyroglobulin Antibodies (TgAb): This is another measure of autoimmune antibodies that is typically only used when hyperthyroidism exists.

When a dosage is changed, it is imperative to have new blood work run (TSH, Free T3 and Free T4 at a minimum) within 3-6 weeks to ensure the new dosage is correct. It breaks my heart when people tell me their provider changed their dosage of thyroid medication and told them to come back in six MONTHS for blood tests. Severe physical harm can occur in six months of hypo- or hyperthyroidism. Waiting that long is not acceptable.

Did you notice your thyroid gland makes two hormones? (It makes more, but T3 and T4 are two of the most important ones and affect health the most.) Be aware that commonly prescribed medications such as Synthroid and its many derivatives only contain T4. Your liver should convert the less active T4 into the active T3, but many people’s bodies just don’t do that. This means many people suffer needlessly while taking Synthroid because their bodies desperately need more T3. There is a mainstream prescription, Cytomel, that contains T3. Many people find their hypothyroid symptoms disappear once they add T3 to their regimen. Natural thyroid medications such as Armour and Naturthroid contain both T3 and T4 and work far better for most people. For me personally, switching to a combination of T3 and T4 was a true life-changer. My symptoms began to disappear within a few days and I could actually begin living again.

To receive the best care possible, you must be your own advocate and seek the best care you can. Have you done that? If not, please do!

If you are a thyroid patient who can’t make sense of your blood test results, please contact me. I would love to help you interpret the results and will help guide you to discuss the results with your practitioner. Please feel free to call me at 317.489.0909 to schedule a 15-30 minute test results review consultation.

Please join my newsletter for more in-depth information on natural approaches to wellness: http://ow.ly/bQ62Q

Healing Truths I Learned Riding My Motorcycle

It recently occurred to me that most of the truths I learned about achieving wellness and healing have parallel truths I learned while riding my motorcycle. Healing is as much a mental process as a physical. I hope the following wellness tips bring a smile to your face and help you advance in your healing journey.

Dr. Pamela's Motorcycle

Focus on Where You’re Headed, Not Where You Are

Most beginning motorcycle riders find that cornering (making a turn) is one of the hardest skills to master. Cornering has so many different facets to consider that schools exist which have the sole purpose of teaching how to corner more effectively. One of the first lessons learned is that the best way to turn without winding up in a ditch or in oncoming traffic is to focus on where you want to end up. (This tidbit works while driving a car, too, but is most effective in motorcycle riding.) It’s a simple fact that when you focus on your ultimate destination, your mind automatically triggers your body to do what’s needed to take you there. Most beginning riders get hung up looking down at the road lines or at their own front tire and wind up veering far away from where they need to be. Focusing on our destination is especially important for physical healing.

I find many people become so focused on being sick they fail to focus on becoming well. Their thoughts become burdened by their physical challenges and they stop thinking about regaining health. I know how easy it is to stop focusing on wellness and to become almost obsessed with the many physical problems you’re battling. I’ve been there. I can speak from experience that true healing requires the ability to look past today’s challenges to focus on tomorrow’s victories. Doing so will be easier some days than others, but committing to focus on your end goal will help you feel better physically, mentally and emotionally.

Always Wear Protective Gear

Nothing concerns me more than seeing a motorcycle rider zipping along without a helmet and without any protective gear. Common sense dictates that wearing protective gear will help protect one from the unexpected. In our household, one of the basic rules each of our kids has to follow before riding anything with two wheels is that full protective gear is always required. Ignoring this rule and not taking basic precautions for protection would be foolish. The same is true of wellness.

I am often amazed when I meet with people who want to feel better but who are not doing basic things to maintain the health they have or who are not doing the things they know they must to control a specific condition. For example, a diabetic who eats everything, doesn’t exercise and who never checks a blood sugar is asking for trouble. Regardless of the health challenge one is working to reverse, there are simple lifestyle habits that must be done on a daily basis. Occasionally skipping a day is acceptable, but ignoring basic health needs on a continual basis may result in worsening health or in an additional diagnosis. Taking full precautions to protect oneself from harm just makes sense. I’m not talking about extreme changes, but am merely referencing the basics. I estimate it only takes me about 60 seconds to put on my protective riding gear. Taking the steps needed to improve health are also rarely complicated or time consuming.

Speeding Doesn’t Get You There Faster

If you do the math, you’ll quickly find that riding fifteen to twenty miles over the speed limit only gains two to three minutes on short trips. The time gained is minimal and typically does not justify the added risks. Driving from one location to another is a process. It would be nice to speed up the process or skip a mile or two, but that usually isn’t possible.

The same is true in healing. Healing takes time. Most health conditions develop over time, so it logically will take time for your body to reverse conditions. One of the basic healing guidelines I learned in school was that the body heals conditions in the reverse order they occurred, and that one can typically expect the body to need about one month of healing time for each year the condition has existed. This is just a guideline – each person’s situation will be very unique. Sometimes the body can reverse a condition very rapidly, sometimes additional time is needed. Regardless, the fact remains that the body requires time to heal. Healing is a process. Mainstream medicine says you can skip the process by taking a pill, but this merely hides the symptom instead of reversing the problem. Healing takes times. We live in a society used to receiving instant gratification. Our bodies don’t work that way. Patience may sometimes be needed to stop being a patient.

Drop the “When Not If” Mentality

When I was learning to ride, one of the things I heard over and over again was the mantra: “It’s not a question of IF, it’s a question of WHEN you’ll drop your bike.” So what naturally happened? I developed a nagging fear of dropping my bike and dropped my brand new Buell within two months of buying it. Here’s my problem with the “when not if” mentality: It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. When you have those seeds of impending doom planted in your subconscious, they inevitably take root and bloom if you don’t work to pull out that weed of deception.

This is closely related to focusing on your desired destination and not on where you are now. I find many people become terrified of and focus on the potential outcomes of their condition instead of being thankful for the health they have now. I recently chatted with a woman who has had active cancer for over fifteen years. The doctors keep telling her she should be dead, but she refuses to listen. She gets up every day and gives thanks for how good she feels – even when she doesn’t. Her blood work continues to improve, she feels better every day, and her doctors can’t figure it out. By focusing on the positive and ignoring the potential negative consequences of her illness, she is maintaining a high degree of health. There are no guarantees. Just because you’ve received a diagnosis doesn’t mean you’re going to have every possible complication associated with that diagnosis. Focus on your wellness and maintain a positive attitude! Focusing on the positive actually creates physiological changes in our body chemistry that aid healing. Keeping a positive attitude may accomplish more healing than anything else. Even if it doesn’t, you feel better when you focus on the positive, so give it a try!

Everybody Loves a Custom

Anyone who’s ever watched the Discovery Channel knows many hit shows revolve around taking a stock motorcycle or stock parts and creating a custom look. We have a fascination with taking what the factory hands us and customizing it to fit our own personality and style. Most bike owners find customizing their bike is a back and forth process that is never really done. We need to use this same approach with wellness!

Every eating plan and lifestyle program can and often should be “tweaked” to fit your personal needs. Your body won’t lie to you. If you began a program that worked well for a few months but you’re now starting to lose the momentum you gained, it’s time for a change. I encourage my clients to get regular blood work or Zyto scans every six months to make sure various nutritional and physiological measures are staying at their optimum level. There is no single eating style or lifestyle approach that is perfect for everyone. Constantly monitor your progress. If you start to feel poorly or regain symptoms, then it’s time to identify and address the reason. This typically means a change is needed in lifestyle habits, eating styles or supplementation. Wellness is a journey with many twists, so we should expect to need to make adjustments along the way.

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What are your thoughts about this analogy? Please share your perspective!

For more information on healing and motorcycles, please visit:

Diabetes and the Art of Motorcycle Riding

How Motorcycle Riding Improves Physical Health