About donielle

Donielle is a natural momma of two, lover of real foods, and owner and editor of Grand Rapids Natural Living and Naturally Knocked Up. You can usually find her in the kitchen whipping up some nourishing foods, cuddled on the couch reading books to the littles, avoiding the laundry and Mt. Saint Dishes, or tapping away on the laptop. Her husband puts up with her sometimes crazy "hippie" ways, but loves her regardless. Welcome to my home away from home.

New stuff at John Ball Zoo

I recently had the opportunity to take my kids to John Ball Zoo with a group of my blogger friends and we had a great time. I grew up going to this zoo almost every summer and lately I’ve been impressed with the new additions. They are definitely getting more into creating natural environments for the animals to live in and that makes it fun as a visitor.

We started with the chimps, one of my favorites at the zoo! Even more fun was that we got to watch them be let outside for the day and got to talk with their keeper.

john ball chimps

We learned some of the nuances of each chimp and the older male had us laughing! They say he’s more human than chimp as when he was born in the 50’s they zoo (or people) that had him must have hand raised him. Something they’ve learned not to do as it takes the wild instincts out of them. He supposedly loves men with beards, so I must take my husband down there soon! And he also loves shoes and will run over to the window to check them out.

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The lions were busy lazing around, but the mountain lion was up and active. I think it’s the first time in my many years of going to the zoo that I’ve seen him down off his mountain perch!

john ball mountain lion

 

The bears were also quite active that morning.

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Ahem. The kids thought it was so funny that they were hugging.

As a special part of our trip, we were taken into the back rooms of the aquarium which was really cool. We got to see them preparing food for many of its inhabitants.

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The kids also loved the presentation about the screech owl and ferret.

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Side note – ferrets gross me out. They look too much like rats for me.

At this point our planned trip was over so the kids and I headed up to see the new tigers. I loved the wooded walk up there. The tigers were still quite shy, but my kids LOVED playing on the play structure up there as well as the tree play yard. We did get to see one of the tigers for a moment, but my little miss wasn’t walking fast enough for me to get up there with my camera.

On the way down we took the funicular.

My kids thought it was great.

I got claustrophobic and spent the ride praying we wouldn’t get stuck! It was not for me.

We had quite the morning at the zoo, and could have spent much more time there had I not been tired of baby wearing my chunky monkey! So we ended our trip to the zoo like every other time we’ve been. A late lunch at the park across the way and a bit of playing on the playground.

Zoo + playground = a nice quiet trip home for mom.

Have you been to the zoo lately? What are your favorite new exhibits?



All images and content are protected under US copyright laws, please do not copy and paste.

Links in the post above may be affiliate or referral links - meaning that through a sale I may be given monetary benefit. I blog with integrity and only endorse companies and products I love.

This blog is for educational purposes only. The information provided by Donielle, or any contributor, is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any condition. If you are seeking medical advice, please search out a qualified health practitioner.

Experiencing pregnancy

A guest post by Kristin Revere

I am happy to be able share my experiences as a newly certified Sacred Pregnancy instructor with the Grand Rapids Natural Living community.  grand rapids pregnancy

I read “Sacred Pregnancy” the book during my last pregnancy and it changed my views on this time so much that I felt called to be an instructor.  I signed up for the Virginia retreat before my son was even born.

I was considered high risk during my first pregnancy as I developed pre-eclampsia and had many of the signs in the first trimester with my second child. I started seeking natural methods to treat it and read many books on holistic pregnancy. None of the other books compared to the peace and serenity that I felt when reading “Sacred Pregnancy”.  In the end, I was able to have the natural, unmedicated birth that I desired and give much of the credit to the amazing movement that Anni Daulter created. I also give credit to my husband, doulas, naturopath and chiropractor for all of their support during my pregnancy, labor and beyond.

The instructor training was unique in that we didn’t just learn the material to be able to teach it in our hometowns, we were immersed in the program as if we were the pregnant women experiencing it for ourselves. It was such an amazing way to bring the joy and beauty of the Sacred Pregnancy movement to life.

grand rapids pregnnacy

The first series of the eight week pregnancy journey classes began here in Grand Rapids just last week. I feel so fortunate to be able to share in such a beautiful and powerful time in the lives of each of the women in my class. I was happy to be able to hold space for them to create connections with each other and find joy in this time that many people see as all about the baby. I want two hours each week to be all about the pregnant mamas.

I think that it is important for women to be able to experience pregnancy and birth in a more meaningful and personal way as Sacred Pregnancy teaches in the classes and in the book. Today’s society is so fast paced and disconnected that it is more important than ever to connect with ourselves, our babies, and other women during this important rite of passage. Women in tribal cultures support one another during pregnancy and birth and Sacred Pregnancy is bringing this tradition to women everywhere.

grand rapids pregnancy

The sessions are a special place for pregnant women to gather together for (“Pregnancy Journey” classes) for eight weeks early in their pregnancy journeys and again for (“Birth Journey” classes) four weeks toward the end of their pregnancies. Each week is spent exploring pertinent topics that naturally arise for most women as they walk down their pregnancy paths and encourage deep sharing, exploring art, expression, laughter, honoring and celebration.

I am holding a free Sacred Pregnancy info night on Monday, May 27th from 6:30 to 8pm at Baby Beloved inside the Women’s Health Center located at 555 Mid Towne St NE Ste 100 Grand Rapids, MI 49503. There will be refreshments and giveaways at the event. I will show you how to create a sacred space in your home and will have a “going to the bowl” ceremony and answer any questions. Please bring a small jar to take your bath salts home in if you wish to participate in the salt bowl ceremony.

26aKristin Revere is a fundraiser and works with nonprofits centered on women and children, as well as the arts. She is involved in the Healthy Kent Breastfeeding Coalition and was an organizer of an event with the national breastfeeding advocacy nonprofit called Milk for Thought. One of her clients offers free postpartum support to mothers. Kristin is passionate about empowering women to have the birth and pregnancy that they desire.

 

Please email sacredpregnancygr@gmail.com or call (616) 340-1086  for more information about classes. Additional classes can be set up based on demand.

For more information on Sacred Pregnancy the book, classes and courses, visit: http://www.sacredpregnancy.com. For details on the Sacred Pregnancy Grand Rapids classes, visit the Facebook page at: www.facebook.com/SacredPregnancyGrandRapids.

All photos copyright of Victoria Karalun, owner of Canary Lane Photography. She specializes in newborn, lifestyle and birth photography. Victoria has documented Sacred Pregnancy retreats in North Carolina, Virginia and California.



All images and content are protected under US copyright laws, please do not copy and paste.

Links in the post above may be affiliate or referral links - meaning that through a sale I may be given monetary benefit. I blog with integrity and only endorse companies and products I love.

This blog is for educational purposes only. The information provided by Donielle, or any contributor, is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any condition. If you are seeking medical advice, please search out a qualified health practitioner.

Kristin Revere receives Sacred Pregnancy Instructor Certification!

sacred

Sacred Pregnancy is proud to welcome Kristin Revere, the latest addition to its growing list of pregnancy and birthing journey instructors. Kristin is the first instructor to be certified in Michigan. She completed a week-long training in Gore, Va. on March 30.

The first series of classes will be held locally at Baby Beloved inside the Women’s Health Center at 555 Mid Town Street N.E., Ste. 100 in Grand Rapids on Tuesdays from April 16-June 4 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Please email sacredpregnancygr@gmail.com or call (616) 340-1086 to register or with any questions.

Sacred Pregnancy classes hold space for pregnant women to connect with one another and their pregnancy experiences in meaningful and personal ways. The classes bring back the age-old tradition of women sitting with one another during pregnancy and birth, becoming empowered, witnessing each others’ processes, and being there for one another during an incredibly power-FULL rite of passage…becoming mothers. Mothers-to-be are invited to look deeply at the issues unique to their journey and find a centered, peaceful place to live their pregnancy fully.

The sessions are a special place for pregnant women to gather together for (“Pregnancy Journey” classes) for eight weeks early in their pregnancy journeys and again for (“Birth Journey” classes) four weeks toward the end of their pregnancies. Each week is spent exploring pertinent topics that naturally arise for most women as they walk down their pregnancy paths and encourage deep sharing, exploring art, expression, laughter, honoring and celebration.

Revere is passionate about empowering women to have the birth and pregnancy they desire.

I always enjoyed childbirth itself, but never fully embraced pregnancy until I read ‘Sacred Pregnancy’ when I was pregnant with my son. It transformed the way I viewed this amazing time so much that I decided to become an instructor and bring these feelings of empowerment to other women,” Revere said.

For more information on Sacred Pregnancy the book, classes and courses, visit: http://www.sacredpregnancy.com. For details on the Sacred Pregnancy Grand Rapids classes, visit the Facebook page at: www.facebook.com/SacredPregnancyGrandRapids.

 



All images and content are protected under US copyright laws, please do not copy and paste.

Links in the post above may be affiliate or referral links - meaning that through a sale I may be given monetary benefit. I blog with integrity and only endorse companies and products I love.

This blog is for educational purposes only. The information provided by Donielle, or any contributor, is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any condition. If you are seeking medical advice, please search out a qualified health practitioner.

Spring Cleaning – the kitchen

This morning I just couldn’t take it anymore. The spots on the tile back-splash, the cabinets covered in finger prints and food, as well as the constant array of dirty dishes waiting to be washed.

It was time for spring cleaning.

So I grabbed my handy-dandy Norwex cloth, gave the kids a couple of rags, and got to work cleaning some of the spots that rarely see regular cleaning.

I’m more of the “quick, hide it in the dishwasher/stove before company comes over” kind of gal most days. And the adrenal fatigue I’ve been dealing with for the last year has pushed me to be a bit lazier when it comes to housecleaning.

Deal with the mundane first

The dishes had to be done and put away to clear the counter before anything else got done. Often I forget this crucial step and instead find myself with piles upon piles of “stuff” in my way.

I really should have taken a before picture, so y’all don’t feel bad about your own messes, but I forgot until I was almost done.

The Stove

The workhorse of my kitchen, the stove is usually used for every meal! I find that it’s best to pull out the stove from the wall a couple of times a year to vacuum underneath and get out any food that may have fallen under. It’s also a good time to wipe down the sides as well as the side of the counter that are usually covered. Then I push it back in, wipe down the stove top  and sides with my Norwex cloth and then get to cleaning the oven.

My oven has a self cleaner which I love to use (it’s easy) but if there was a spill I’ll clean that up with some baking soda and white vinegar. On Easter I decided to bake some au gratin potatoes and I figured the more cheese sauce the better right?

Wrong. It spilled all over inside and smoked up the entire house as it burned on the bottom of the stove. So I had to clean out the inside a bit.

Refrigerator

I also pull out he fridge and vacuum up lost toys, dust bunnies, and any fossilized food. The outside gets wiped down and then I get to work emptying it of contents to wipe down the shelves. I regularly just use my Norwex cloth, but diluted white vinegar also makes a fantastic cleaner. There is always something in the back that I haven’t seen in a while as my ferments tend to get piled in on top, so the lost and lonely food goes straight to the garbage.

Other appliances

We have a microwave above the stove, what a mess that thing gets to be! Grease spatters all around as well as ick from when food is reheated. (I rarely use it, Todd is the main microwave user here) But it also has a couple of filters from the vent that I go about cleaning as well.

The dishwasher gets to run a load or two empty and this is the one place I use a conventional cleaner. We have hard water that runs through a softener and we get a fair amount of lime scale buildup. We have learned over the years that a nasty dishwasher, covered in rusty lime scale, is a recipe for disaster. So I now run a bottle of dishwasher cleaner through it as well as check the drains and the little ‘do-hicky’ that often gets clogged and allows it to overflow. (I’ve tried every natural option I can think of and nothing works well enough. I even got to the point where I hillbilly rigged the hose up the deck so that I could haul it in the kitchen and use the sprayer nozzle a few times!)

Cabinets

The kids got the job of wiping down the cabinets today, made more fun by listening to an episode of Adventures in Odyssey while they worked. For the most part they quietly worked instead of arguing the whole time. Other kids argue to…right? It’s not just mine?

I didn’t do a whole lot cleaning out the insides of them as I recently went through them all a couple of months ago, but I did clean out under the sink and finally found space for some of my mason jars.

Those things sure pile up with all of the ferments and farm fresh milk we go through!

Since our cabinets down go all the way to the ceiling I also have to get up there and dust cobwebs. And get down all of the egg cartons I save for bringing back to the farm.

Floors

Well, I guess I haven’t fully cleaned my kitchen if I haven’t mopped my floor. But I also can’t seem to find the mop……. so that will wait for another day. It did get a good sweeping with my ‘custodian broom’ though. I bought this broom years ago when I found that sweeping up a large area with a broom was just beyond ridiculously a pain. So I went to the hardware store and picked up the small version of what they use in schools and churches, I absolutely love it. A few sweeps and I’m done.

Normally on the floors I use warm water with about a cup of white vinegar, a squirt of Dr. Bronner’s castile soap, and a few drops of essential oil.

Windows

I also wipe down the blinds, because man do white blinds show everything! Once the sun moves to the other side of the house I’ll also wash the windows inside and out. Now that the sun is finally out, I would like to be able to see through the winter grunge that has covered them.

spring clean the kitchen

As you may have noticed, I was so excited to have a clean kitchen that I also baked up a small plate of cookies. :-)

Have you done any spring cleaning in your kitchen yet? What’s the toughest part to tackle?

Unfortunately, I now have to start getting dinner ready which will eventually mess up all my hard work, so I’ll be back to cleaning it up….again….later tonight.

Read more:

Wellness Mama also talks about her cleaning methods

What’s Under My Sink? at Kitchen Stewardship



All images and content are protected under US copyright laws, please do not copy and paste.

Links in the post above may be affiliate or referral links - meaning that through a sale I may be given monetary benefit. I blog with integrity and only endorse companies and products I love.

This blog is for educational purposes only. The information provided by Donielle, or any contributor, is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any condition. If you are seeking medical advice, please search out a qualified health practitioner.

“Whey”monade, a healthy and refreshing drink {recipe}

It must be the flirting our weather is doing with spring that makes me crave the refreshing drinks of summer. Or the fact that I am So. Over. Winter.

Yea, maybe it’s that.

I really just want to sit outside with a good book while I sip some lemonade and let the kids play in the mud. Though usually the thought of lemonade makes me cringe as it’s so full of sugar!

But lemonade can be a healthy treat all year round as well, and can even contain some protein, minerals, and be probiotic.

Last winter I was able to go to the cheese making class that my friend Betsy, from Green Pastures Dairy in Coopersville, taught. And during the class someone asked what in the world do you do with all the extra whey after making mozzarella. Come to find out, you can make some pretty delicious lemonade from it.

If you use whey strained from yogurt or kefir, it will also contain probiotic benefits. When it comes from making mozzarella, it will have been heated, so no probiotics, but still plenty of nutrient content.

I make this and just go by taste, as the taste of the whey always seems to vary from batch to batch.

healthy lemonade

"Whey"monade, a healthy and refreshing drink {recipe}
Author: 
Recipe type: Beverages
 
Ingredients
  • 1 quart whey (from kefir, yogurt, or cheesemaking)
  • 1-2 lemons
  • 2 Tablespoons honey (or to taste)
Method of Preparation
  1. Let the whey warm to room temperature (or let it cool to room temperature after cheese making).
  2. Add the juice of the lemon and the honey. Stir to combine.
  3. Chill and drink.
Notes
If you use whey from kefir or yogurt, you can also add up to 2 quarts of water with the juice of an additional 4-6 lemons and let it sit out on the counter overnight.


I love being able to give my family something I know they’ll love, but that will also nourish their bodies, especially the little ones that are still growing.



All images and content are protected under US copyright laws, please do not copy and paste.

Links in the post above may be affiliate or referral links - meaning that through a sale I may be given monetary benefit. I blog with integrity and only endorse companies and products I love.

This blog is for educational purposes only. The information provided by Donielle, or any contributor, is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any condition. If you are seeking medical advice, please search out a qualified health practitioner.

Green Pastures Dairy introduces raw milk delivery locations!

I know many of you have to make the decision on whether or not to join a raw milk cow share due to where you live, and the driving that would need to happen once a week to pick up your milk.

Farms aren’t quite located in the midst of where we run our errands, are they?

Green Pastures, the cow share program out in Coopersville, MI is now setting up locations for milk delivery.

1. Grand Rapids, near Fuller and Franklin, Mondays

2. Ada, near Fulton and 1-96, Mondays

3. Comstock Park/North Side – 2 locations: Ellsmere NE and Division North in Comstock Park, Mondays

4. Muskegon, near Sheridan and MacAtrthur, across from Orchard View High School, Tuesdays

5. Holland, looking for a central location, Tuesdays

6. Jenison, near Cottonwood and Baldwin, Tuesdays

7. Grand Haven/Spring Lake, Tuesdays

8. Cutlerville, near Kalamazoo and M-6, Mondays

So if you’ve thought of joining before, to enjoy the benefits and great taste of farm fresh milk, but needed to find it closer to home, you can contact Betsy at migreenpastures AT gmail.com for information.



All images and content are protected under US copyright laws, please do not copy and paste.

Links in the post above may be affiliate or referral links - meaning that through a sale I may be given monetary benefit. I blog with integrity and only endorse companies and products I love.

This blog is for educational purposes only. The information provided by Donielle, or any contributor, is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any condition. If you are seeking medical advice, please search out a qualified health practitioner.

Gluten Free Muffins {banana, apple, blueberry, zucchini}

Our family has been gluten-free for a few years now, and while we are now happy to live without bread products for the most part, we still enjoy it every now and again. And these gluten-free muffins are soft and delicious, perfect for our chilly days here in Michigan.

(seriously….spring is coming soon, right?!)

gluten free muffin

One of the best things about this muffin is that it is so versatile. We’ve made them with mashed bananas, shredded zucchini and carrots, applesauce, and blueberries.

gluten free muffin

They rise well, very reminiscent of their wheat counterpart, and remain fluffy instead of dense like many gluten-free products tend to be. The trick, I believe, in keeping them so light, yet moist, is using the yogurt or kefir.

gluten free muffin

We have also successfully made this as a bread, though the smaller the loaf pan, the better it rises. The loaf above was a mini loaf, taking only a few minutes longer than the muffins of the same batch.

Gluten Free Muffins {banana, apple, blueberry, zucchini}
Author: 
Recipe type: Gluten Free Muffins
breads and grains
 
Ingredients
  • ⅔ cup sorghum flour
  • ⅔ cup brown rice flour
  • ⅔ cup tapioca flour
  • ⅔ cup whole cane sugar (sucanat or rapadura)
  • ¾ tsp xanthan gum
  • 2 tsp baking powder (aluminum free)
  • ¾ tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp pumpkin spice OR cinnamon
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 1 cup whole plain yogurt OR kefir
  • 1 egg
  • 5 Tbsp melted coconut oil (or butter)
  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed
  • (you can also use 1 cup applesauce, blueberries, or 2 cups shredded zucchini/carrots)
Method of Preparation
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and grease muffin tin.
  2. Combine all of the dry ingredients in a stand mixer or large bowl.
  3. In a second bowl, stir together the yogurt (or kefir) egg, coconut oil (or butter), along with your choice of fruit/veggie.
  4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredient bowl and stir gently until well combined.
  5. Fill muffin tin ⅔ full and bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  6. Let cool for a couple of minutes and transfer to a cooling rack. or eat them warm with some nice grass-fed butter.

*recipe adapted from Gluten Free Mommy’s Carrot Zucchini Muffin

gluten free muffin



All images and content are protected under US copyright laws, please do not copy and paste.

Links in the post above may be affiliate or referral links - meaning that through a sale I may be given monetary benefit. I blog with integrity and only endorse companies and products I love.

This blog is for educational purposes only. The information provided by Donielle, or any contributor, is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any condition. If you are seeking medical advice, please search out a qualified health practitioner.

EcoBuns new ownership {and a special discount for you!}

EcoBuns, a fantastic cloth diaper and natural baby care store in Holland, MI, just changed ownership and I had the pleasure of chatting with one of them. Here’s what Marissa had to say about EcoBuns:

What excites you about owning a company dedicated to cloth diapers?

Marissa: When I first started cloth diapering I was so confused about it all. It was Kellie, the original owner of EcoBuns, who sat down with me for over an hour and explained all the ins and outs of cloth diapering. If it weren’t for her and having a local store around to give me guidance when I first started, I probably wouldn’t have cloth diapered at all. I love that I can now be that person for other moms!

What customer services are you really passionate about?

Marissa: I am really excited to offer local natural parenting resources to the Holland Area such as babywearing classes, cloth diaper classes, natural birth option classes and more. EcoBuns is really focused on being not only a retail store, but also a resource center for all aspects of natural parenting. We are also now offering on-site diaper repair as well as snap conversions which are all done by one of the new owners.

What can people expect from the new ownership?

Marissa: A commitment to keeping our store fully stocked with the products that our customers love. Customers can expect useful parenting products and essential educational resources all in one place, along with exceptional customer service.

Will there always be knowledgeable staff available to help customers?

Marissa: YES! There are three new owners of EcoBuns: myself, my sister Meghan and our mom Vicki. Meghan and I both currently cloth diaper our kids. Vicki used cloth diapers on us in the 80’s with prefolds, pins and plastic pants, and she now uses the newer, easier version of cloth diapers on her grandkids. We can all help you with any of questions.

You mentioned classes for cloth diapers, what topics do you cover?

Marissa: We hold Buns Bootcamp classes once a month. It’s an hour-long class that covers topics such as reasons to use cloth diapers, styles and options of cloth, washing instructions, do’s and do not’s of cloth, what you can expect from us as your cloth diaper resource and finally, how we can help you get your stash started at little to no cost! You can find all of our current classes and events on our website.

Where are you located, and what are your current hours?

Marissa: EcoBuns is in The Holland Town Center (formally known as the Outlet Mall). We are between Carter’s and Gap Outlet, facing Dutch Village. (super easy to get to!) And we are open Tuesday to Saturday, 10:00am to 8:00pm. Please stop in and check out all that we have to offer!

As a special discount to our GRNL readers, EcoBuns is offering $5.00 off any purchase of $30 or more! Just print out the coupon below and bring it in to the store by the end of March.

ecobuns coupon



All images and content are protected under US copyright laws, please do not copy and paste.

Links in the post above may be affiliate or referral links - meaning that through a sale I may be given monetary benefit. I blog with integrity and only endorse companies and products I love.

This blog is for educational purposes only. The information provided by Donielle, or any contributor, is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any condition. If you are seeking medical advice, please search out a qualified health practitioner.

Inside the lunchbox {11.7.12}

healthy school lunches

My son currently goes to a full day homeschool program once per week, which means that he needs to bring a lunch. On his way home the very first day he was already commenting that “Other kids had COOKIES Mom!”

Since cookies are a rare treat in our house, it was a bit of a surprise for him and has lead to only a couple of discussions on why we don’t eat a lot of sugary products.

And since I about go out of my mind when my kids are hopped up on sweets, it’s not something I want to make his teacher go through either!

We’re also gluten free, so no sandwiches – sometimes we have to get a bit creative. Another issue we seem to be having is that I grocery shop after I drop him off on Wednesdays…..so Tuesday nights when we pack his lunch the fridge is a bit empty.

This week we packed yogurt (usually I don’t buy small containers, but it was a special treat), cheese stick, carrots, grapes, a pancake sandwich, and an Honest Kids drink.

What do you pack in your kids lunchbox? (or what do you serve for lunch at home?)



All images and content are protected under US copyright laws, please do not copy and paste.

Links in the post above may be affiliate or referral links - meaning that through a sale I may be given monetary benefit. I blog with integrity and only endorse companies and products I love.

This blog is for educational purposes only. The information provided by Donielle, or any contributor, is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any condition. If you are seeking medical advice, please search out a qualified health practitioner.

A Holistic Approach to Hypothyroidism:

a post by Katherine Heineman, DO at Holistic Care Approach

What does thyroid hormone do?

Thyroid hormone is the body’s metabolic regulator. Every cell in the body from muscles to organs to arteries depends on adequate thyroid hormone levels to achieve and maintain optimal function. When the thyroid gland is releasing inadequate amounts of thyroid hormone to meet the body’s demands, the metabolic rate is reduced.

Some common symptoms of hypothyroidism include the following:

  • Brittle nails
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Cold intolerance
  • Constipation
  • Depression
  • Poor memory
  • Fatigue
  • Dry skin
  • Elevated cholesterol
  • Essential hypertension
  • Hair loss
  • Nervousness
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Infertility
  • Irritability
  • Menstrual irregularities
  • Muscle cramps
  • Weight gain

What are some concerns for long-standing, untreated hypothyroidism?

Long-standing, untreated hypothyroidism can predispose patients to developing high cholesterol levels, which can lead to coronary artery disease. Coronary artery disease is the number one killer in the US. However, when the hormonal system is re-balanced appropriately,  oftentimes, the cholesterol level will lower significantly, thus lowering events related to heart disease.

How is the thyroid gland stimulated?

The pituitary gland releases thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) in order to stimulate the thyroid gland. Once stimulated, the thyroid gland then secretes two major hormones, Thyroxine (T4) and Triiodothyronine (T3). T3 is about 300 times more active than T4. T3 is responsible for increasing the metabolism inside the cells.

What does a conventional approach to diagnosing hypothyroidism look like?

The conventional approach to thyroid illness primarily revolves around the measurement of the TSH level. The TSH test has been the gold standard for conventional medicine to diagnose hypothyroidism for greater than 30 years. The reference range for ‘normal’ reported by most laboratories is 0.5-4.5 mIU/L.

What does a holistic approach to diagnosing hypothyroidism look like?

A holistic approach to diagnosing hypothyroidism will look at more than just the TSH levels. It is very valuable to also check T3 and T4 levels. Many times, patients will have normal T4 and TSH levels, but will have low T3 levels, bringing about the signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism. In addition, many people cannot adequately convert T4 into T3 because of nutrient deficiencies, medications, illness, stress, aging, and more.

Despite the ‘normal’ reference levels from most laboratories for TSH ranging up to 4.5 mIU/L, my experience has been clinically that the majority of patients have optimal thyroid function with a TSH between 0.3-2.0 mIU/L.

Which thyroid medication is the best?

There is no one “best” medication, as each patient is a unique biochemical individual. There are many options available to treat the underlying cause(s) of thyroid disorders. The conventional thyroid hormone replacement is Levothyoxine (Synthroid) which is an exclusively T4 thyroid preparation. Inactive ingredients of Synthroid include cornstarch, dyes, and lactose. In those individuals who cannot convert some, most, or all of T4 into T3, the T4 preparation may not be the best choice for thyroid hormone replacement.

What are other options for thyroid hormone replacement?

Amour Thyroid is a T4 and T3 thyroid hormone replacement derived from porcine (pig) thyroid gland. As it is glandular derived, it contains other active ingredients including calcitonin, selenium and thyroid hormones T2 and T1. Other porcine derived thyroid hormone replacements include Westhroid and Nature-Throid.

Cytomel is an exclusively T3 preparation. Cytomel contains sucrose and talc as inactive ingredients.

Compounding pharmacies can make various doses of T4 and T3 thyroid hormones without the additional additives and fillers. Sometimes it can be very beneficial to provide an individualized ratio of T4/T3 specific for each patient, or for those with allergy concerns.

Many times it can take a trial and error period to find the optimal dose for the patient. If you do not feel you are achieving the best results with your thyroid medication, I might suggest trying a different medication or altering the dose.

What are some common vitamin and mineral deficiencies that affect thyroid functioning?

In order for the thyroid gland to make thyroid hormone, adequate amounts of iodine must be present. Other vitamins and minerals are essential for aiding in the conversion of T4 to T3. These include selenium, zinc, vitamin C, and vitamin B12. When these vitamin and mineral levels are inadequate, symptoms of hypothyroidism may develop.

What else might be considered regarding hypothyroidism?

A holistic treatment plan for hypothyroidism may also include natural hormones, vitamin and mineral supplementation, dietary changes, and detoxification.

As you can see, treating thyroid disorders involves more than simply adjusting medications based on lab tests. Often times, thyroid disorder can be improved upon or corrected by simply improving the function of the thyroid gland with appropriate vitamins and minerals and by detoxifying the system.

There is lots of hope for patients with thyroid disorders. Educate yourself and don’t accept disease. You must be your own advocate in working toward achieving your optimal health.

grand rapids holistic doctorDr. Heineman is a fully licensed, board-eligible physician in Neuromusculoskeletal Medicine and Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine. She specializes in the apprenticed art of osteopathy that has been passed down, literally “hand to hand,” over the last 150 years. At Holistic Care Approach, Dr. Heineman will work with all of the holistic health care offerings and provide her specific expertise to approach health care problems including low back pain, neck pain, other somatic pain, headaches, traumatic injuries, pain of pregnancy, and treatment of infants with chronic infections, colic, plagiocephaly, torticollis, or birth trauma.

An osteopathic approach to medicine is ideal for patients looking for alternative solutions to chronic health issues. Dr. Heineman will commonly screen for nutritional deficiencies and offer expanded testing for thyroid, adrenal and other hormonal dysfunction. She will explore alternative approaches that are used in place of, or in addition to, prescription medications. Dr. Heineman fully discusses treatment plans regarding any abnormalities found in testing.

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References:
UpToDate: http://www.uptodate.com/contents/diagnosis-of-and-screening-for-hypothyroidism?source=search_result&search=hypothyroidism&selectedTitle=1%7E150. October 25, 2012

Brownstein, David. Overcoming Thyroid Disorders, 2nd Ed. Medical Alternatives Press: 2008.

Barnes, Broda. Hypothyroidism, The Unsuspected Illness. Harper and Row: 1976.



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