In my two previous posts on thyroid health, I discussed the potential problems associated with diagnosing and treating thyroid issues. As I stated in my first post, thyroid problems are frequently under diagnosed, primarily because of inadequate testing and incomplete understanding of the complexities of thyroid function. At the same time, thyroid problems are often treated in ways that further compromise function.


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In my post last week, I introduced the topic of thyroid health and the many misconceptions that the medical profession has about diagnosing and treating thyroid disease. In general, thyroid problems are under diagnosed because the standard blood tests used to evaluate function are woefully inadequate. At the same time, an underactive thyroid is often over treated with thyroid replacement hormones—which frequently cause even greater dysfunction. In my experience, a much more effective approach is to focus on the factors that underlie the dysfunction, providing the support needed to restore balance and function to an endocrine system that has gone awry.

Unfortunately, conventional “modern” medicine insists on viewing the thyroid as an independent entity, and treats any dysfunction by addressing only the thyroid. But in fact, the thyroid sits at the epicenter of the endocrine system and oversees the critical job of regulating the body’s metabolism. Although the thyroid gland weighs less than one ounce, the hormones it produces affect virtually every cell in the body.


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While over 20 million people are currently being treated for clinical and subclinical hypothyroidism, there may be as many as 13 million more Americans suffering the ill effects of an undiagnosed thyroid problem–making it one of the most under-diagnosed health conditions in the United States. At the same time, because the thyroid is intimately intertwined with the other glands of the endocrine system, supplementing with thyroid hormones may be counterproductive if the problem is rooted in adrenal fatigue, dietary and lifestyle factors, and stress. Many factors affect thyroid health, including common stressors such as inadequate sleep, exposure to environmental toxins, or minor illnesses. Even the normal physiological changes associated with aging are stressors that are detrimental to thyroid function.


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 In my last post, I addressed the lifestyle changes that help to gently shift metabolism to a healthier state, which naturally results in achieving optimal weight. Excess weight is often a multi-faceted issue—not surprisingly, the best results are gained with a comprehensive approach. As I stated in my last post, I am not an advocate of a restrictive diet. Instead, I’ve found that providing the body with the nutrients it needs (including botanicals that enhance healthy metabolic function), in conjunction with a healthy and enjoyable lifestyle, results in almost effortless loss of surplus pounds.


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With cold and flu season upon us, now is the perfect time to consider herbal remedies for supporting respiratory health. During the fall and winter it is important to focus on strengthening the lungs with warming foods and drinks such as soups and hot teas, as well as specific tonic herbs. In my practice, I rely on botanical formulations of herbs that have a long history of traditional use for respiratory well-being to help us better adapt as we move into the colder months.


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In my blog post last week, I explored the connection between Vital Spirit and health. In my professional work as an herbalist and in my personal life, I believe that a strong and resilient Vital Spirit is the foundation for a healthy and happy life. But how do we strengthen the intangible quality of Vital Spirit? The answer lies in practices that encourage peace, expansiveness, and self-reflection—prayer, meditation, spiritual reading, time in nature, and even creative pursuits where the superficial falls away, and we find our deeper selves. Through these practices, we can be certain that we are living in accordance with our deepest truth.


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