Tag Archives: Hormone

The Substance of Love

Over the last few weeks we have learned about some lesser known nutrients that directly impact the functioning of the cardiovascular system and heart. But because healthy heart month falls in the shortest of the twelve, we couldn’t showcase all of the foods and herbs known to benefit our most important muscle. Here’s a quick review of the items we did cover.

As befitting as it gets, February is also the month of the infamous L-word; so, I could not let it pass without making mention of the substance most affiliated with this wonderful and wondrous emotion-love’s elder and offspring, Oxytocin.

oxytocin-neurophysin complex based on: "C...
Image via Wikipedia

Oxytocin is a hormone and neurotransmitter possessed by all members of the mammal family. Produced in the brain’s hypothalamus and secreted by the pituitary gland, it is actually composed of nine different amino acids-cysteine, tyrosine, isoleucine, glutamine, asparagine, cysteine, proline, leucine and glycine. One of its primary functions is to regulate the flow of information throughout the reproductive and central nervous systems.

In the reproductive system, Oxytocin helps trigger uterine contractions for childbirth, the mammary glands’ release of mother’s milk, and the transports of the sperm and egg. In the brain and central nervous system, Oxytocin receptors help regulate the behaviors associated with social connection such as identification, association, bonding, sexual pursuit and parental attachment.

Some mammals have Oxytocin receptors in their hearts, and it is currently thought to participate in the development of the human embryo’s heart. In addition to that critical role, Oxytocin is theorized to contribute to many other biological processes. Inflammation is reduced and healing is accelerated after Oxtocin’s release; fear and anxiety subside and feelings of emotional security and contentment are increased.

Our Bodies Hold the Patent

The body produces and releases Oxytocin in response to arousal, loving gestures and moments of intimate connection. And once the connection is made, the mere smiling face of that loved one can trigger the substance’s release. Because there are significant benefits to Oxytocin’s release, yes, scientists have cracked its code and manufactured synthetic versions. But Oxytocin is destroyed in the GI tract so when it’s not naturally produced, it must be injected or inhaled.   In the case of this hormone, once it is secreted by the pituitary gland it is not reabsorbed by the brain. Likewise, synthetic versions of the hormone do not live long in the bloodstream and, for the most part, also do not successfully penetrate the blood brain barrier. For this reason, nasal spray forms have been used in the majority of behavioral studies on Oxytocin; but the reviews of their influence on mood and emotional expression have been mixed. Intravenous forms have been more successfully used to induce labor and support the birth process. However manipulating and interfering with the body’s natural Oxytocin cycle is a tricky thing that can lead to some adverse reactions. Consequently, many health professionals are hesitant to recommend synthetic Oxytocin as treatments for behavioral and reproductive disorders. This leaves the ball in our court. We, more specifically the way we treat one another, are our best means of boosting and maintaining healthy Oxytocin levels. And the more we learn about this substance and its functions within the mind and body, the more we see just how necessary it is to the human experience and evolution.

A Balance Beam

The malfunctions observed by over or under medicating with synthetic Oxytocin mimic those experienced when there is an internal imbalance of the natural form.

Too Much                      Just Right                               Too Little

Cardiac arrhythmia         Lowered blood pressure               Increased anxiety

Pursuit of inappropriate desires   Sense of emotional safety    Emotional neglect

Obsessive emotional experiences     Healthy social bonds           Antisocialness

Additionally, balanced Oxytocin levels have been associated with increased learning capabilities, enhanced immune system function, increased pain thresholds, and reduced stress and cortisol levels.

Upping Your Oxy

There are many ways to boost the body’s Oxytocin levels and experience more of its physical and emotional benefits.   Hugging, cuddling, and kissing all trigger Oxytocin’s release, but that doesn’t mean that romance is the only way to increase this hormonal flow. Making eye contact with loved ones, showing appreciation for family and friends, and displaying empathy for other people all impact the body’s levels. Generously giving love and freely communicating your joy in receiving it are the very best ways to keep this substance flowing. Seems the romantics were right; we actually do come from love. And more apparent, we will not survive without it.

Until next time…

Take care, show you care and BeWell

Sources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oxytocin

http://www.oxytocin.org/oxytoc/love-science.html

http://www.delawareonline.com/

Advertisements

Perking Up That Sluggish Thyroid

I recently came across a headline stating Americans may be
Iodine deficient due to heavy fluoride consumption and the current focus on low
salt diets. This returned my attention to a question posed by my Lil’Mommy a couple of months ago on natural alternatives to treating Hypothyroidism. The most
familiar herb associated with this condition is kelp, specifically for its naturally high iodine content. However, there are a few other recommended nutrients that can be supplemented for additional support. Before we delve into
these options, let us first clarify the difference between hyper and hypothyroidism.

The thyroid gland, at the base of the neck, is the body’s temperature regulator. It does this by secreting two hormones-thyroxine and triiodothyronine-that control the rate at which the body uses calories and energy. If too much of these hormones are secreted, hyperthyroidism occurs. Too little and the result is hypothyroidism.

Hypothyroidism Some Possible Symptoms

  • Low body temperature and Intolerance to cold
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Reduced appetite
  • Tendency to gain weight easily
  • Elevated cholesterol
  • Yellow bumps on the eyelids and/or droopy, swollen
    eyes

A Suggested Self-Test: Using a thermometer, take the temperature underneath your arm as soon as you wake in the morning. Do this before getting out of bed, while lying down still and quiet. Hold the thermometer under your arm for 15 minutes; and repeat this test for the next 4 days, logging your temperature each morning. A consistent measurement of 97.6 degrees Fahrenheit or lower may indicate an underactive thyroid and should
thus be discussed with your physician.

If you believe and receive confirmation of hypothyroidism, your doctor may prescribe a thyroid hormone depending on the extent of the condition and cause of under-activity. If medication is prescribed, request a recommended eating plan to follow and get their thoughts on your supplementing additional supportive nutrients that will not conflict or interfere with your prescribed medication. Once all appropriate information is reviewed and clearance is obtained, the below list of supplements may be helpful in managing the condition. Please note that sometimes medications and even simple foods can interfere with both the body’s natural processes and the helpful benefits of otherwise supportive nutrients.

Supplement

Benefits

Dose

Other
Sources

Competing
or Conflicting Nutrients

Kelp Natural source of iodine,
important to the synthesis of thyroid hormones
2000-3000mg/day sea salt, seafood, dulse, asparagus, garlic, mushrooms, sesame seeds,
soybeans
Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, spinach, kale,
mustard greens, peaches, pears, turnips, chlorine, fluoride: Known to block
the thyroid gland’s absorption of iodine when consumed in large amounts
L-Tyrosine Thyroid hormones originate from this amino acid 500 mg twice a day, on an empty stomach. For better absorption, take only
with water or juice, 50mg of Vit.B6 and 100 mg of Vit.C
Almonds, avocados, bananas, poultry, dairy, pumpkin seeds Anti-Depressant Medications of
the MAO (monoamine oxidase)
inhibitor class. The two combined can cause dangerously high blood pressure
Natural raw thyroid glandular Can be used as an alternative to synthetic thyroid hormone As directed by your physician and supplement’s dosing instructions Armour Desiccated Thyroid Tablets;Natural Sources Raw Thyroid Blood thinners, estrogen therapy including birth control pills,
diabetes medications including insulin: may interact negatively with
glandular thyroid supplements

For more information on nutritional healing for hypothyroidism, Phyllis A. Balch’s Prescription for Nutritional Healing is an amazing resource, both thorough and user-friendly.

Thank you for visiting. Hopefully this information helps simplify and clarify some options available for managing this condition. Until next week…

Be Informed and BeWell