Friday, November 02, 2007

Got the Blood Test Results

I saw the doctor today for the results of the blood tests for PCOS and hypothyroidism. The PCOS tests came back in the normal range, but the thyroid test wasn't so great. He prescribed Armour thyroid medication for me - 30 mg daily. I got the prescription filled this morning and have taken my first teeny tiny pill (so tiny I can't be sure it isn't stuck in a tooth somewhere). I'm not sure how I feel about the diagnosis. I'm thrilled that my thyroid might be responsible for the hair loss rather than my raw diet being responsible for it, but I'm not thrilled to have a "condition."

From what I've been learning, there is some connection between the symptoms of PCOS and the symptoms of hypothyroidism. I'm seeing that many women (not all!) are diagnosed with both. If you do a search on "hypothyroidism PCOS" you'll see websites that proclaim the two to be related. PCOS is polycystic ovary syndrome, and is associated with the growth of ovarian cysts (which I've had for over 10 years now), and can lead to insulin resistance, acne, hair loss and other unpleasant things. Hypothyroidism causes some of the same symptoms as PCOS, plus a slew of its own problems. I have symptoms associated with both of these conditions. It is like a giant maze trying to figure out what condition might be the cause of what symptom. My doctor believes that some of my symptoms point to PCOS, but he cannot diagnose that based on the test results. My dad was just diagnosed with diabetes this year, so my chances of having insulin resistance (or developing diabetes) is higher than I thought it was.

So, I'm thinking there is an indirect connection between MY eating raw and MY hair loss (this is a personal experience; I cannot speak for others.) Considering how ridiculously easy it is for me to gain weight, the family connection to diabetes, the dark patches of skin on my cheeks, my years of ovarian cysts, my doctor's beliefs, and other symptoms, I have reason to believe I have insulin resistance (IR) even if I don't have PCOS. A diet high in carbs is a problem for people with IR, and my raw diet is high in carbs. (What is considered "high carb?" I don't really know, but when I look at low-carb diets, most -if not all- are under 100 gms a day). Looking back over my 2006 diet, my carb intake was often between 125 and 200, and quite often over 200 gms per day. They were that high again this year, especially when I decided to add grains for protein after removing animal-based dairy from my diet. I've read from more than one source that grains are a relatively recent part of the human diet. They are associated with blood glucose problems, among other health issues. Yikes! So if I have insulin resistance and I'm eating a diet high in carbs -raw or not - I could be triggering the symptoms of insulin resistance that I've been seeing, such as the hair loss. Again, I'm not certain that this is my problem, but I may as well "act as if" by changing my diet to one that won't lead to the development of diabetes or any of its cousins.

My doctor told me that although he hates recommending Atkins to his patients, he has seen people with insulin resistance benefit from the low-carb/high protein diet by losing weight and lowering their cholesterol. The problem with Atkins is I have too much weight to lose. I'd be on the plan for too long, causing the high amounts of fat to do more harm than good. And I really don't want to eat all that meat and saturated fat anyway. So I'm putting together my own high-raw, low-carb/low-saturated-fat plan, which I will adjust as I learn more. Maybe I can get back to all-raw some day.

In my next blog post I will list the foods I plan to eat, and I'll track how the medicine and dietary changes affect my health and weight loss. The major improvements I'm hoping for include:

  • A return to my previous level of energy and ability to focus
  • Relief from dry skin
  • Improved ability to lose weight
  • Hair regrowth/cessation of hair loss
  • No more hair dryness or brittleness
  • Lifting of mild depression
  • Cessation of acne (I never had it when I was a kid!!)
  • Disappearance of dark patches on my face (cheeks)
  • Stronger fingernails
I've gotten some very helpful information from people trying to do raw while dealing with PCOS or hypothyroidism, and I'd love to know more about what you are doing. Also, if any of you out there take Armour, I'd appreciate knowing what I might expect over the next month or so.

So, this is yet another bend in the road of this Raw Odyssey. I never would have guessed a year ago that I'd be pursuing "low-carb raw," but I maintain that a raw diet must fit the needs of the individual. What works for one person can wreak havoc with someone else's body. We have to be open minded and willing to adjust our diet- and not feel like a failure if we have problems eating the way some "raw expert" tells us to eat. We have to educate ourselves and pay attention to our bodies.

By the way, if you have not come across the website "We Like It Raw" I highly recommend you check it out- no guru-speaking there! They support the individualized approach to constructing a healthy diet, provide lots of practical, helpful information, and introduce readers to others who follow a raw diet.


chubbiegirl said...

do you know what kind of cysts you have? pcos cysts have a characteristic look to them, like a string of pearls. a trans-vaginal ultrasound can let you know if this is what is going on for you. and if this is what you have, pcos is likely, in my opinion.

is the doctor you are seeing an endocrinologist or a regular md? it might be a good idea to see an endo if you aren't. they are more versed in both thyroid disorders and pcos than your garden variety doctor.

and lastly, you should be evaluated for insulin resistance. the gold standard would be a glucose tolerance test WITH insulin check. if that isn't an option, a fasting insulin and blood sugar would be a good second choice. women with pcos are often hyperinsulinemic. there is some controversy over whether pcos is caused by hyperinsulinemia and the resulting insulin resistance, or if it is just a part of the cluster of abnormalities seen in pcos. but, no matter what, getting a better handle on your insulin and blood sugar can go a long way toward helping any symptoms you may have.

i'm sorry you're going through this, boy do i know how you feel. but, look on the bright side, if you know what's wrong, you know what you can do to make yourself feel better. especially if your thyroid is the culprit, getting on meds will definitely improve your quality of life.

take care of yourself,

renewedhealth said...

I hope you read the responses to your blogs....

Getting all those diagnostic tests done could be an interesting exercise, but pcos has been known to go away with the right diet. You'd have a rare doctor indeed if he/she prescribed anything beyond medical and not-quite-there nutritional advice and surgical approaches that won't cure the underlying cause. I personally like medical tests for their "before and after" measurment capability, but they are expensive.

Your endocrine and hair loss issues scream "poor absorption of nutrients and/or lack of adequate nutrients in a useable form."

It may be time to revisit the idea of green smoothies, which will help both problems. Its just that you have to do ENOUGH green, and it must be BLENDED. And it has to taste good. Taking in enough BLENDED greens to provide 10-20 grams of protein will help you a lot. It will help your body produce more HCl to digest other foods (most of us over-40's are deficient, which puts us into an endless cycle of clogging our colons, even with good diets), it will help clean out your colon so you can absorb food properly, and it will provide you with an absolute powerhouse of minerals to balance your endocrine system and feed your hair properly.

A quick word on protein. Cooked animal protein, I have read, is only 80% bioavailable. That means that you might be eating 80 grams of protein, but you may end up with 60 grams of waste and 20 grams of useable protein. You can improve the digestability of proteins by always eating cooked meats with onions and with a naturally fermented food like saurkrauts, ginger carrots, kim chee, pickled onions, etc. They help convert the part of meats that become carcinogens in our bodies into useable amino acids. See Sally Fallon's "Nourishing Traditions," and Donna Gates' "Body Ecology Diet" if you want to keep eating animal protein. It is possible to easily make these fermented foods at home.

So your dietitian is right when it comes to the fact that it IS difficult to absorb protein from the veggies we eat, because we usually chew them. BLEND THEM. But don't let him/her scare you off with the amount of sugar in the fruit. This is not as important an issue as we once thought it was. And it is absolutely necessary to have these blended greens taste good, or we won't eat them. Frederic Patenaude explained that greens-plus-fruit won't aggravate candida and blood sugar balance, but that it is the fatty foods we eat that help keep the candida infestation alive. So cut back on the fats while doing green smoothies, live with the herxheimer die-off that will probably occur and last a few days, and you'll be so glad you did. If you are concerned about the blood sugar implications with all that fruit, it appears that people who do green smoothies find their blood sugar STABILIZES. Mine did, too. When I have a green smoothie, I don't have hunger pangs all day long. When I don't have them, I'm hungry every hour or so, whether I'm "hungry" or not.

I recommend "Green for Life," by Victoria Boutenko. It tells the story of how Victoria found green smoothies to be the answer to what was NOT working in her raw food diet, resulting in all sorts of improvements in hair, teeth, restful sleep, etc. It also includes a study of normal folks given 1 quart of smoothie per day for 30 days, with results, including tests for hydrochloric acid levels in the stomach before and after. It also has some recipes to follow or just be inspired by. She did a great deal of research, which she shares. She also recommends adding flax to the smoothies, which also helps stabilize estrogen, which sounds like it would be very helpful in your case, and of course it helps cleaning out the intestines. I bought my copy, but it is a quick read, and if it isn't on your library's search engine, you should be able to request it at the reference desk.

You might look into stabilized flax seed for convenience( I also recommend the Colonix program at It is a hugely entertaining site, in a gross sort of way, with pictures of what comes out of people. They have thousands of testimonials...this seems to be the most effective and pleasant program on the market.

From a weight-loss perspective, I'd suggest spreading the smoothies throughout the day. The body burns only so many calories per hour, unless we are exercising. Sipping 100-200 calories worth of this nutritional powerhouse throughout the day should result in excellent weight loss, both from removed debris in the belly area, healthy water/toxin loss (we retain water to buffer toxins), and by only taking in what we are going to use, so the body doesn't need to store anything as fat. It will also help wash away the lactic acid that causes muscle aches and which keeps us from exercising as much as we want, AND provide great energy to exercise longer.

rawnaija said...

hi there -- I think that many of the posters are echoing the same issues. Perhaps you need to take a step back and really ingest the natural recommendations that have been posted. On many of the hair loss threads I have read, the solution to reducing this loss has been to increase intake of all green leafy veggies, and perhaps even superfoods such as wheat and barleygrasses. I can sort of summarize what I have found to be highly beneficial. The medication is only making your gut even more confused about what should be absorbed.

1) Reduce your stress levels as quickly & consistently as possible.

2) Consume B- vitamins, or a complex of B-vitamins with biotin. Try a sublingual B-12 as well if you need it. Otherwise, maybe take a mutivitamin/multimineral or liquid vitamin/mineral supplement

3) Make smoothies or soups with natural protein sources:
- greens!!
- hemp seed oil or powder
- soaked nuts/seeds
- avocados!

4) Eat natural sources of essential fatty acids (EFAs). That will reduce your dry skin and moisture issues. You will lubricate the body from the inside out.
- flax oil
- coconut oil (coconut fudge recipe from is AMAZING)
- soaked nuts and seeds, esp. walnuts, pumpkin and sunflower seeds

5) Sleep more and drink water :)

6) Prophetically speak and think of a Healed Allison -- this is just as important as the nutritional things.

Feel free to email me at

PS -- I think you need to really address the greens and the EFAs asap. If you are off your thyroid meds, you can take some small amounts of sea veggies (nori, wakame) to remind the thyroid of its job :)



Anonymous said...

I know you posted this a long time ago and I only just found your blog via a youtube video of raw lasagna (want recipe by the way). I have a similar problem that is clearly stemming from a thyroid problem however my primary care doctor quickly gave up trying to find an explanation after one round of minimal testing, she pretty much only tested my tsh levels and had an ultrasound of my swollen thyroid done which revealed nothing.
But anyyyywayyy. A few years ago I tried the south beach diet which is when i started eating meat after 12 years of a poorly balanced vegetarian diet. I stuck with the meat for a while and a year and a half ago I started Atkins. I lost 40 pounds in 2 months, which was actually horrible and my skin is going to be paying for it for the rest of my life. I stuck with Atkins for 6 months. The entire time I suffered from all the problems you listed such as hair loss, brittle hair and nails.
So maybe you've already found a solution to this, but as soon as I stopped Atkins all those problems went away, I still have my mystery seemingly thyroid related issues, and I gained half the weight back but all the size (less muscle now). I've since gone vegan since the only reason I started eating meat was for my nutrition, and that back fired, so now my diet is again aligned with my morals and I just have to find a healthy balance so i can begin losing weight again at a safe pace.



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