Episode 142: PCOS, the Pill and Perimenopause: a Conversation with Dr. Lara Briden

Dr. Toni chats with Dr. Lara Briden, ND, about: the misconceptions around PCOS; how the pill masks your symptoms and may not be the answer; what happens to your hormones in perimenopause; and what to do to start to take back control of your hormonal health. Dr. Lara is the best-selling author of two books: The Period Repair Manual and The Hormone Repair Manual. She was also an expert featured in the movie, “The Business of Birth Control”.

Episode 88: Exhausted, Gaining Weight and Forgetful – Is it Your Thyroid? (previously released as Episode 42)

We refer to this past episode from October 8, 2020 so often that we decided to re-release it! Is your thyroid the reason you are exhausted, depressed, constipated, forgetful and gaining weight? We discuss signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism, how to properly diagnose imbalances, how to eat to support thyroid health and how we approach assessment and treatment as Naturopathic Doctors.

One in eight women will develop thyroid disease at some point in their life and women are 5-8 times more likely than men to experience thyroid issues.

As Dr. Lisa shared previously in Episode 3, she realized that her thyroid wasn’t functioning properly after giving birth to her son. It is common for women to discover thyroid issues in the postpartum period. Proper blood work, addressing stress and taking dessicated thyroid were crucial for Dr. Lisa to feel her best. 

Why is your thyroid so important?

Your thyroid gland regulates your temperature, energy production and metabolism. When your thyroid is under functioning, it is called hypothyroidism. High thyroid function is called hyperthyroidism.

Symptoms of hypothyroidism include:

  • Fatigue and exhaustion
  • Unexplained weight gain
  • Increased sensitivity to cold and temperature changes
  • Constipation
  • Dry skin and thinning hair
  • Puffy face
  • Cravings for sugar and carbohydrates
  • Muscle weakness, aches, tenderness and stiffness
  • Pain, stiffness or swelling in your joints
  • Heavier than normal or irregular menstrual periods
  • Depression and anxiety
    • as many as 15% of women on antidepressants have an undetected thyroid problem as the cause of their depression 
  • Brain fog, poor memory and concentration
    • Studies of women in their 60s have shown that low thyroid function can cause dementia-like symptoms and treatment can improve cognitive function and have a protective effect on the brain
  • High cholesterol
  • Increased risk of heart attack, cardiac arrhythmias and congestive heart failure due to the regulatory control of the thyroid on heart rate and rhythm
  • Fertility issues, increased risk of miscarriage and preterm birth
  • Increased risk of prenatal and postpartum depression

Why do so many women have thyroid issues?

Possible Causes of Your Thyroid Issue Include:

  • Environmental exposure to different chemicals, xenoestrogens and heavy metals
  • Certain medications including birth control pill
  • Vitamin and mineral deficiencies
    • Iodine, selenium, vitamin D, zinc, iron, vitamin A
  • Low calorie diets
  • Infections
  • Stress
    • High cortisol levels due to chronic stress:
      • reduces thyroid hormone production
      • inhibits your conversion of the inactive form of thyroid hormone T4, to the active form T3
  • Gut issues
    • Leaky gut (also known as intestinal hyperpermeability) and imbalances in your gut microbiome have both been shown to impact hormone imbalances and fluctuations, like when you are postpartum or in perimenopause
  • Autoimmunity
    • Environmental toxins, chronic stress, nutritional insufficiencies, leaky gut, food intolerances and having chronic inflammation are all factors that can contribute to autoimmune disease
    • Your immune system is triggered to produce antibodies that can attack your thyroid, which is what is happening when you have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis

How do you properly test your thyroid function and the underlying causes of thyroid issues?

Blood work: 

Full thyroid panel: TSH, free T4 and T3, thyroid peroxidase antibodies, thyroglobulin antibodies, reverse T3

Vitamin D, iron

Celiac screen 

Gluten and other food sensitivity

Saliva and urine testing for hormones including cortisol, estrogen, progesterone

Urine testing for heavy metal exposure (eg. cadmium, mercury)

Temperature checks every 3 hours during the day to see if your body is using your thyroid hormones properly

What can you do about an underfunctioning thyroid?

Avoid raw goitrogenic foods – soy and Brassica family veggies like broccoli and cauliflower

Increase your intake of thyroid supporting foods 

  • Seaweed like dulse for iodine, brazil nuts for selenium, pumpkin seeds and oysters for zinc

Reduce toxin exposure

Replace nutrient deficiencies

Consider adrenal and stress support:

  • Address your throat chakra – speaking your truth, asking for help
  • Herbal support with ashwagandha, kelp, bladderwrack, Coleus forskohlii

Thyroid hormone replacement with Synthroid or Dessicated thyroid

  • Take in the morning, on an empty stomach, away from caffeine

Why would you consider dessicated thyroid?

  • If you’re on monotherapy like Synthroid (T4), you still night suffer from anxiety and depression even if your TSH levels are normal
  • T4 may not be enough to restore your T3 levels in your blood and target tissues
  • It contains all four natural thyroid hormones – T4, T3, T2, T1, plus iodine, thyroglobulin

Today’s Mama Must Have:

Dr. Toni loves having a healthy and easy recipe like Egg Muffins from Amanda Naturally that the whole family will eat for breakfast or a snack. Check out Episode 5 for more tips for healthy food habits from Amanda.

Dr. Lisa knows that Dessicated Thyroid is an absolute must have for her!

Thank you for joining us today! 

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Stay safe and healthy everyone!