This is the question Susan asked me as we sat down to go over her hormone blood test results. She came to see me because she said she just wasn’t able “to keep up with life anymore.” No wonder: 3 children under the age of 7, working 20 hours a week as a bookkeeper, husband on the road a lot for his job, and she is the Young Women’s President in her ward.
“No, I don’t think crazy is the word for it. According to the blood tests, you’ve got your foot to the floorboard but your tank is pretty empty—you’re running on fumes. A lot of the emotional stuff you are feeling is a result of the accumulated stresses you have in your life. And stress eats up your hormones like a teenage boy at a dessert party.”
Susan had come to see me because her primary care doctor had suggested she start taking an antidepressant, but she refused that because of the side effects.
“Susan, you don’t really strike me as a depressed person. What we need to do is give your body a fighting chance. According to the blood tests we’ve run on you your cortisol is extremely high and your thyroid is in the basement. Have you gained much belly fat in the last year?”
She gasped, “Are you kidding me? Yes! I’ve got this spare tire that I can’t get rid of, no matter how much I cut back on calories and how much I exercise. I’m falling apart.”
Considering the load she is carrying all the time, and considering her cortisol and thyroid levels, she has what I call the “Wired But Tired Syndrome”: she is tired all day long but can’t sleep at night (the former because of an undiagnosed low thyroid and the later because of high cortisol levels).
“Yep, that describes me perfectly!” she said.
So what did we do for Susan? First, we had to put her on a low dose thyroid (not Synthroid or levothyroxin—neither will work in this case) to kick-start her metabolism. Her progesterone levels were low, so as soon as we put her on oral progesterone, she started sleeping through the night. The progesterone also helped lower her cortisol levels.
We started her on a fairly high dose of magnesium and calcium lactate. It is important to know that most of the calcium available out there is calcium carbonate (which is junk-food calcium) and most of the magnesium out there is magnesium oxide (also junk). Don’t take those, as they will cause more problems than they are worth. Use the lactate form of both. They helped Susan calm down overall. It’s all about the nerves
The last thing I “yelled” at her about was her habit of staying up late at night to “get things done.” I informed her that studies show that the healthy, regenerative, hormone-releasing sleep is between 10 p.m. to 2 a.m., that is, if you are ASLEEP! It doesn’t matter if you get 8 hours of sleep but you go to bed at midnight and get up at 8 a.m. That doesn’t cut it. It’s the hours of sleep you get between 10 and 2 that matter most. So if you go to sleep at midnight every night, that means you are getting only one-half the regenerative sleep you need, even if you sleep in until noon the next day.
Susan started getting to bed at 10 p.m. and getting up earlier to get things done. She struggled with it at first, but pretty soon the thyroid kicked in and her energy levels went up. I had her eating 30 grams of protein within the first hour of getting out of bed to start her day out right.
Within 2 months of taking the thyroid, progesterone, and calcium/magnesium lactate, and adding the protein to her breakfasts, she made a wonderful turnaround. “It’s like the fog is gone” was her latest comment to me. She is slimming down and slowing down.
Now she’s working on her husband!
Dr. Robert Jones is the Clinical Director at the Utah Wellness Institute in Draper, Utah. Go to www.utahwellnessinstitute.com for more information and to take an online hormone evaluation. 801.576.1155