About Your Thyroid – Nutrition, Supplements, and More

The thyroid gland is located in the lower front part of the neck. Thyroid hormones are best known for regulating the body’s metabolism, which is your body’s ability to break down food and convert it to energy. It also plays a role in breathing, heart rate, central and peripheral nervous systems, muscle tone, muscle control, menstrual cycles, body temperature, cholesterol levels, bone growth, body growth rate, nervous system development, brain, reproductive functions, and more.

Thyroid hormone receptor sites are found in every cell of the body. Every single cell of our body depends on thyroid hormones. If your thyroid doesn’t operate optimally, neither will the rest of your body.

This is an excerpt from the ridiculously long article, Holistic Guide to Healing the Endocrine System and Balancing Our Hormones I believe that it’s easier to heal the body when you understand how the body works, but understanding the endocrine system is big a task.  It’s a long article, but I think it’s worth it and I hope you’ll check it out.

Three Thyroid Hormones

Thyroglobulin is a protein (not a hormone) that’s produced by the thyroid, synthesized from amino acids and an iodide, and stored in the follicular lumen as colloid. This protein is used only within the thyroid gland for production of thyroid hormones. T3 and T4 are the two most well-known hormones the thyroid produces, and there’s also calcitonin.

Triiodothyronine or T3

T3 affects almost every physiological process in the body. The thyroid produces about 20% of the T3 in our body. The rest is converted to T3 from T4 in our cells throughout the body.

Thyroxin or T4

T4 (AKA tetraiodothyronine) is a prohormone (a committed precursor of a hormone, usually having minimal hormonal effect by itself) that the body converts to T3, a much more active and viable hormone. T4 is synthesized from residues of the amino acid tyrosine. A normal thyroid gland produces about 80% of the body’sT4 and about 20%of the body’s T3.

Calcitonin

Calcitonin lowers blood calcium and phosphorus levels by decreasing the rate of re-absorption of these minerals to bone.

Hyperthyroidism

Hyperthyroidism occurs when the thyroid makes too much T3 or T4 (or both). This leads to elevated blood pressure, rapid heart rate, hand tremors, and many other symptoms. Graves’ disease is an autoimmune disorder that is the most common cause of hyperthyroidism. Graves’ disease causes antibodies to stimulate the thyroid to produce and secrete too much.

Other causes of hyperthyroidism can include:

  • Excess iodine
  • Thyroiditis – inflammation of the thyroid gland (causes T4 and T3 to leak out of the gland)
  • Benign tumors of the thyroid or pituitary gland (causes pressure, hormones leak out)
  • Large amounts of tetraiodothyronine taken through dietary supplements or medication
  • A tumor of the ovaries or testes

Hyperthyroidism can’t last forever; it’s sure to wear out a thyroid eventually, leading to hypothyroidism.

Hypothyroidism

Around 20 million Americans and about 250 million people worldwide have low thyroid function. Up to 90% of all thyroid problems are autoimmune in nature. Hashimoto’s is the most common thyroid disorder. In people with Hashimoto’s, the immune system attacks the thyroid.

List Of Hypothyroidism Symptoms

  • Allergic rhinitis
  • Asthma
  • Angina pectoris
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Bursitis
  • Conditions related to the cardiovascular system
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Carotenodermia (slight orange tinge to the skin, usually on the palms of the hands and soles of feet)
  • Cold extremities, intolerance to the cold
  • Coarse, dry, or thinning hair
  • Constipation
  • Decreased libido
  • Dry, rough, and/or itchy skin
  • Edema
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Fallen arches
  • Fatigue
  • Fibrocystic breast changes
  • Fibromyalgia symptoms
  • Headaches
  • Hoarseness
  • Infertility
  • Hypercholesterolemia
  • Hyperhomocysteinemia
  • Hypertension
  • Itchy and/or flaky scalp
  • Memory loss
  • Mood swings, irritability
  • Muscle aches
  • Menstrual irregularities (amenorrhea, oligomenorrhea, menorrhagia)
  • Neck pain, stiffness, aches (especially in the back of the neck)
  • Knee pain (due to fallen arches)
  • Pallor (an unhealthy pale appearance)
  • Pain in the trapezoid and/or neck area
  • Psoriasis
  • Poor mental concentration
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome
  • Postpartum depression
  • Premenstrual syndrome
  • Reactive hypoglycemia
  • Recurrent infections
  • Sluggishness, tiredness
  • Shoulder pain
  • Tinnitus
  • Urticaria
  • Vasomotor rhinitis
  • Vertigo
  • Weakness
  • Weight gain

How to Heal the Thyroid

Learning about the endocrine system is one the best ways to understand how incredibly connected each and every part of the body is and how imperative a holistic approach to healing is to repair the body. You can’t really heal the thyroid gland without taking care of the adrenals, the pituitary – the whole endocrine system.

Fresh, raw, organic produce heals. Produce heals everything. Other than that, foods high in iodine and foods that are high in selenium are known to aid in thyroid function.

The thyroid gland requires iodine to function. Iodine taken by itself or ingested through fortified salt can be problematic. Good food sources include the usual: meat, seafood, yogurt, milk, and eggs, but there are vegan sources as well:

  • Blackstrap molasses
  • Seaweed
  • Himalayan sea salt
  • Navy beans
  • Cranberries

Selenium is required for the body to convert T3 into T4. Without enough selenium in the diet, the thyroid suffers. Seafood and meat are high in selenium, but there are also some vegan choices:

Vegan Food Sources of Selenium

  • Brazil nuts
  • Shiitake/white button mushrooms
  • Lima/pinto beans
  • Chia seeds
  • Brown rice
  • Seeds (sunflower, sesame, and flax)
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Spinach

Supplements For Hypothyroidism

A number of vitamins and minerals are critical to thyroid health, and many herbs can help boost thyroid function as well.

B Vitamins

Vitamin B12 is found in every cell of the body. It is required for cellular metabolism and energy production, so obviously, without B12, the thyroid can’t function optimally. B12 deficiencies are very common with hypothyroidism. A lack of B12 can cause and worsen hypothyroidism. Even though most people actually consume enough vitamin B12 in their diets, a deficiency occurs in many due to an inability to absorb the nutrient in the blood. This goes back to gut health. The body cannot absorb and assimilate nutrients properly with a poorly functioning digestive system.

In addition, a poorly functioning liver radically inhibits the body’s ability to utilize B12. Unless a knowledgeable naturopath recommends it for a limited amount of time, do not take vitamin B12, or any one B vitamin, without the entire B complex.

Vitamin D

Over a billion people worldwide do not get enough vitamin D. A recent study showed that vitamin D levels were significantly lower in people suffering from hypothyroidism than the general population. While vitamin D deficiencies and hypothyroidism do tend to take place together, a lack of vitamin D and pretty much every other disease (including cancer) coincide as well. It’s unlikely anyone’s hypothyroidism is primarily caused by a lack of vitamin D, but it’s a certainty that the body will not fully heal without enough vitamin D.

Vitamin A

We all know vitamin A is required for good vision. We also need vitamin A for the immune system, hormone synthesis, and the production of T3. Without enough vitamin A, thyroid hormone levels quickly drop.

Bromelain

Bromelain is the enzyme that makes pineapple the superfood that it is. Bromelain helps reduce inflammation.

Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha is an adaptogenic herb that has many benefits, including the ability to significantly improve liver function, and it can help stabilize cortisol levels. This helps stimulate T3 and T4 hormone synthesis.

Licorice Root

Licorice root can benefit the thyroid and adrenal glands for people who have low cortisol (adrenal fatigue).

Reishi Mushroom

Reishi mushroom is a good source of selenium, and it has a ton of other benefits including boosting the immune system.

Schisandra Chinensis

This is another adaptogenic herb that helps the thyroid and has many other health benefits.

Ginseng

There are many varieties of ginseng, all with their different strengths, but Siberian ginseng root, Brazilian ginseng root, Korean or Asian ginseng, American ginseng, and Chinese ginseng all benefit the endocrine system, and therefore the thyroid.

Selenium

Selenium is the major cofactor for the key thyroid enzyme 5’deiodinase. This enzyme converts T4 into T3 and can help normalize the thyroid hormone balance.

Zinc

A zinc deficiency has been shown to inhibit T3 production. Zinc also contributes to immune modulation, which may reduce thyroid antibody levels. Additionally, like selenium, zinc contributes to 5’deiodinase activity.

Iodine

A lack of iodine inhibits the body’s natural detoxification, leads to cancer cell growth, and causes hypothyroidism. The thyroid absorbs iodine and, in doing so, replaces other toxins it has accumulated.

It’s also important to avoid excessive iodine intake for anyone with Hashimoto’s or hyperthyroidism. As stated above, we highly recommend that any iodine consumed come from whole food sources unless otherwise recommended by a knowledgeable, competent professional.

Gluten, Hashimoto’s Disease, and Leaky Gut

When the thyroid is not functioning properly, there is a good chance the gut is hyper-permeable, or “leaky.” Many suspect leaky gut to be the main cause of Hashimoto’s. In this state where the gut is too permeable, undigested food proteins leak into the bloodstream. Human tissues have proteins and antigens very similar to those in foods, bacteria, parasites, and Candida. When the body senses these foreign molecules, it develops antibodies that attack the body, hence the name “autoimmune disease.” Gluten proteins are very similar to Candida proteins and proteins that make up the thyroid. This is probably why the immune response to gluten can last up to 6 months each time you eat it.

When healing the thyroid (or the body in any way), regardless of whether or not it’s due to Hashimoto’s, modern wheat is a bad idea for a multitude of reasons.

Check out this Leaky Gut article for more information.

Calcium regulationParathyroid

There are four parathyroid glands; they’re located two on each side of the thyroid. Although the parathyroids are attached to the thyroid gland anatomically, and the glands are connected to the thyroid, they have no related function. The parathyroid release parathormone, or PTH, or parathyroid hormone. PTH has the opposite job of calcitonin (the lessor known thyroid hormone); PTH increases levels of calcium and phosphorus in the blood. It accomplishes this by increasing the cells of the bone (osteoclasts), which reabsorb calcium. It also increases urinary re-absorption of calcium by the kidneys. In addition, it causes the kidneys to form calcitriol, a hormone made from vitamin D that increases absorption of calcium from the GI tract.

Parathyroid Adenoma

Hyperparathyroidism refers to increased PTH production, usually because of a benign tumor of one or more of the parathyroid glands (parathyroid adenoma). When PTH is excessively produced, calcium is reabsorbed back into the blood from the kidneys, bones, and stomach. This leads to a condition sometimes called “stones, bones, groans, and moans,” which refers to the classic set of hyperparathyroidism symptoms: kidney stones, osteoporosis, groans of pain due to intestinal distress, and moans due to psychosis.

Removing a parathyroid adenoma, a fairly simple, typically successful surgery, can cause an immediate return to healthy function.

Natural remedies for hyperparathyroidism generally include anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, vitamin C, desiccated glandsg, and vitamin D supplementation (extreme caution should be taken with large dosages of vitamin D when blood calcium levels are high). A holistic approach for tumors on the parathyroid will take time, but fortunately, hyperparathyroidism has a very slow progression.

Conclusion

Diet is, as always, paramount. A slightly alkaline diet full of fresh produce detoxifies the endocrine system and keeps it healthy. Check out Detox Cheap and Easy Without Fasting – Recipes Included. And again, this is only an excerpt from the ridiculously long article, Holistic Guide to Healing the Endocrine System and Balancing Our Hormones. It’s worth the read for anyone wanting to get well.

Related Reading:



Detox and Support the Pineal Gland, Balance Melatonin

The pineal gland, also known as the pineal body, epiphysis cerebri, or conarium, is an endocrine gland in the vertebrate brain about the size of a grain of rice. It is shaped like a tiny pine cone (hence its name), and it’s located in the center of the brain behind and above the pituitary gland. Mystics consider this gland to be the third eye and the connecting link between the physical and spiritual worlds, but until recently the medical community considered it vestigial (an organ that has become functionless through evolution). Now the medical community knows the pineal gland is our major source of melatonin production.

This is an excerpt from the ridiculously long article, Holistic Guide to Healing the Endocrine System and Balancing Our Hormones I believe that it’s easier to heal the body when you understand how the body works, but understanding the endocrine system is big a task.  It’s a long article, but I think it’s worth it and I hope you’ll check it out.

circadian rhythmMelatonin

Since its discovery in 1958, melatonin has been studied extensively and shown to be widely beneficial to the body. The pineal gland releases melatonin with a clear circadian (daily) rhythm. The trigger for the production and release of melatonin from the pineal gland is darkness. The darker it is, the more melatonin is released. Streetlights, nightlights, and ambient lights from cell phones, TVs, computers, and other electronics disrupt melatonin output. If you’re thinking that covering the eyes will solve this, think again. It turns out that light falling on any part of the body will inhibit the hormone. While the physiological function of the pineal gland remained unknown until recently, considering this gland seems to be able to see, the “third eye” concept once again gives credence to thousands of years of ancient wisdom.

Sleep Is Awesome InfographicIt seems most health professionals agree that melatonin levels decline as we age, but this isn’t completely accurate. A Harvard study back in 1999 proved that melatonin levels do not necessarily decline with age. Previous studies had not excluded those on medications that suppress melatonin, nor did they control for factors such as sunlight and fluoridation.

On the other hand, our own melatonin may lose some of its potency as we age. Our receptors for melatonin don’t create the same power from the dose of the hormone they receive. In other words, as we age, the effect of melatonin in our body may diminish some. We don’t know much more than that yet, but it shouldn’t surprise anyone within the natural health community that this too is much more heavily influenced by lifestyle factors than age.

Melatonin offers many other benefits other than sleep. It is one of the most powerful antioxidants produced in the body. It is both water and fat-soluble which allows this neurotransmitter to reach almost every cell in the body, and some studies suggest this hormone may improve the immune system’s health.

Nighttime melatonin levels are low in people with mood swings, depression, panic disorders, seasonal affective disorder, and many other mental health issues.

Unlike sleep medications, supplementing with melatonin does not affect rapid eye movement, REM sleep, or dreaming, but many experts suggest limiting supplementing to no more than three months straight unless recommended by a professional, as melatonin supplementation may have long-term effects on the pineal gland’s production. (Like with other glands, you use it or lose it.)

How to Decalcify and Detoxify the Pineal Gland

Calcification is the biggest problem for the pineal gland, and the main cause is suspected to be fluoride, which accumulates in the pineal gland more than any other organ, leading to the formation of phosphate crystals. There are foods and supplements that can help decalcify the pineal gland, as well as other steps you can take to help rejuvenate and restore health to the third eye.

Don’t wear sunglasses. Light reflected by the retina stimulates the pineal gland. We’re supposed to get sunlight daily, on our skin and with our eyes. Just don’t stare directly at the sun of course.

Fluoride, chlorine, lead, pesticides, synthetic calcium, artificial sweeteners, synthetic fragrances, and mercury, are well-known endocrine disruptors that can lead to pineal calcification. Eat organic produce (from small, responsible farms), and drink only clean, healthy drinking water. When drinking or cooking with tap water, use a filter that removes fluoride and chlorine. A whole house filter, or at least one for the bathtub/shower, would be advisable since we breathe a lot of fluoride and chlorine and other chemicals into our lungs when we shower with tap water, and chemicals are absorbed through the skin.

Antioxidants are a big help to the pineal gland and the endocrine system as a whole. Oregano oil is a powerful antioxidant with a host of other healthful properties that can aid a detox. Oregano oil and neem oil are said to be able to remove existing calcification within the pineal gland. Spirulina, chlorella, wheatgrass and blue-green algae are chlorophyll-rich foods that can also assist in the decalcification of the pineal gland due to strong detoxification properties and massive nutritional benefits. Raw apple cider vinegar is another natural detoxifier that can assist with decalcification of the pineal. Iodine is also imperative for strong pineal function, but supplementing with too much can cause problems as well.

Vitamin K2 is imperative for the body’s ability to properly assimilate calcium. K2 also helps remove calcification and puts that calcium to work elsewhere. Vitamin K2 deficiency is common in modern society and has been connected with a wide array of health ailments. K2 is the new D.

Boron, naturally present in beets, can also be taken in supplemental form and can help decalcify and remove fluoride from the gland. Most importantly, avoid refined, processed foods. Eat a diet with lots of organic, fresh raw produce, which will alkalinize the body and alleviate almost every other symptom of poor health.

Diet is, as always, paramount. Especially in the case of the penial gland, a slightly alkaline diet full of fresh produce decalcifies the gland and keeps it healthy. Check out Detox Cheap and Easy Without Fasting – Recipes Included. And again, this is an excerpt from the ridiculously long article, Holistic Guide to Healing the Endocrine System and Balancing Our Hormones.

Related Reading:



Diabetes, Endocrine Functions of the Pancreas, and Natural Healing

The pancreas produces enzymes for digestion (exocrine) and makes hormones (endocrine). The pancreas makes more exocrine than endocrine. Ninety-eight to ninety-nine percent of the pancreas is used for the digestive juices, but the pancreas also contains scattered groups of neuroendocrine cells called pancreatic islets, or islets of Langerhans. The pancreas is about 12 inches long and tapers to your left. It’s located in the upper abdominal cavity, towards the back, in the C curve of the duodenum.

This is an excerpt from the ridiculously long article, Holistic Guide to Healing the Endocrine System and Balancing Our Hormones I believe that it’s easier to heal the body when you understand how the body works, but understanding the endocrine system is big a task.  It’s a long article, but I think it’s worth it and I hope you’ll check it out. If you just ant information on diabetes, check out How to Improve Blood Sugar Levels and Reverse Diabetes.

Physiology of the endocrine pancreas — four cell types

The islet of Langerhans is comprised of four distinct types of cells, alpha, beta, delta, and gamma.

Alpha cells

Alpha cells constitute 20% of the islet’s cells. They secrete a hormone known as glucagon which is a polypeptide made up of 29 amino acids, which raise blood sugar as needed to maintain normal levels.

The pancreas releases glucagon when glucose levels in the blood fall too low. Glucagon causes the liver to convert stored glycogen into glucose, which is released into the bloodstream. High blood glucose levels stimulate the release of insulin.

Beta cells

Beta cells constitute around 80% of islet cells. They produce and secrete insulin, a small protein hormone that regulates how the cells in the body utilize glucose. Seventy-five percent of this glucose is used for brain function, while the rest is used for muscle function, red blood cell production, and fuel for every single cell in the body.

Beta cells also produce insulin-like growth factors (specifically, IGF-2), which are available in many body tissues at concentrations that far exceed insulin. IGF -2 shares the molecular structure and shape of insulin and is involved in growth.

Delta cells

Delta cells, which constitute less than 1% of pancreatic islets, secrete somatostatin, the same growth-hormone-inhibiting hormone secreted by the hypothalamus. This hormone inhibits insulin release and slows the absorption of nutrients from the GI tract.

Gamma cells (F cells)

Gamma cells also constitute less than 1% of pancreatic islets. They secrete a pancreatic polypeptide to inhibit somatostatin release.

Delta cells and Gamma cells regulate each other.

Diabetes Mellitus

As of 2015, diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S. and it’s moving up, especially throughout the rest of the world. If stats took into consideration cardiovascular disease (when caused by diabetes) and kidney failure, those numbers could be considerably higher.

There are two main types of diabetes. Type I is insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus and Type II is non-insulin-dependent diabetes, which used to go by the name “maturity-onset” or “adult-onset diabetes,” but with our modern diets, it’s not just adults over 40 anymore, or even just adults who are diagnosed with Type II. The third type of diabetes, gestational diabetes, is a temporary condition that occurs during pregnancy. Type I and Type II diabetics end up at essentially the same place, though they arrive there in a very different manner.

With Type I, the body can’t produce enough insulin to drive the sugar into cells where it needs to be used for energy production. With type II the body produces enough insulin (at least in the beginning), but cells become insulin resistant, so sugar stays in the blood.

Natural Protocol for Dealing with Diabetes

Alternative methods for dealing with both types of diabetes are similar, but there are a few additional needs for anyone with type I due to the fact that it’s an autoimmune disease as well as an endocrine disease.

Metformin is the first-line medication for the treatment of type 2 diabetes, generally used to keep blood sugar levels low. Like almost every other pharmaceutical, it’s toxic and has a list of side effects. The good news is the following herbs are shown to work just as well, or even better when you consider the lack of side effects:

  • Gymnema sylvestre, also called “miracle fruit” (note that this is a common name for two unrelated plants), is an herb native to the tropical forests of southern and central India and Sri Lanka. Studies have shown that this plant can help maintain healthy blood sugar levels.
  • The prickly pear cactus, known as nopal in Mexico, offers many medicinal effects including the ability to lower blood sugar. It has been well documented by many studies, and it’s used for treating type-2 Diabetes in Mexico.

Other herbal supplementation known to stabilize blood sugar levels:

The following nutrition can help reverse insulin resistance:

You can also help to rebuild the beta cells in the pancreas to optimize insulin production with:

Remember, adrenaline suppresses the release of insulin. Some say to reduce stress, which is always a good idea, but more importantly, handle stress well without losing your temper.

Specific Additions for Type I diabetes (insulin dependent)

Since Type I diabetes is an autoimmune disease, addressing autoimmune activity makes sense. But, the following nutrition wouldn’t be a bad idea for type II diabetes or for almost any autoimmune disease.

Immunomodulators

The following can balance immune system activity and reduce inflammation.

Infection

Viruses may be a cause of Type I diabetes (and Lyme, and many other autoimmune diseases). It’s not at all the whole story (and our bodies can turn off and on viruses depending on our health and genetics, and incidentally, our genetics change with our health as well). Candida, bacterial infections, other fungi, parasites, and/or viruses are likely to be running havoc on anyone with diabetes.

  • Garlic (antimicrobial, many other benefits, pills are ok but best when eaten raw, crushed, see more on garlic)
  • Olive leaf (rare herb that leaves beneficial bacteria intact, kills bad guys)
  • SF722 (antimicrobial, specifically very effective antifungal
  • Berberine (powerful antimicrobial)
Other Nutrition

Protect organs from damage and repair damage caused by the high insulin caused by diabetes:

  • Blood cleaning formula, because the healthier the blood is, the healthier the body is.
  • Proteolytic enzymes (aka systemic enzymes) to break down protein. (Better assimilation of proteins, and helps break down virus proteins, too.)
  • Probiotics, because anyone who’s eaten enough sugar to get a diabetes diagnosis needs to take a good probiotic for a long time!
  • Coenzyme Q10 may help with blood glucose control, and it’s got a massive amount of other benefits, many of which help with diabetic issues.

Diet is, as always, paramount. Check out Detox Cheap and Easy Without Fasting – Recipes Included. And again, this is an excerpt from the ridiculously long article, Holistic Guide to Healing the Endocrine System and Balancing Our Hormones.

Related Reading:



Gonads – Reproductive Organs – Natural Endocrine Health

Although the gonads are part of the endocrine system, their primary purpose is to produce gametes (semen and eggs).

The woman’s ovaries are located on both sides of the uterus below the opening of the fallopian tubes. They are oval or almond-shaped. The ovaries produce estrogen and progesterone. These two hormones affect many of the female characteristics and reproductive functions.

The male’s testes are egg-shaped organs that hang in a pouch of skin called the scrotum outside the male body. The testes produce testosterone, which affects many of the male characteristics and sperm production.

Women synthesize most of their estrogen in their ovaries and other reproductive tissues. Since men lack this female anatomy, they need to produce estrogen through a process involving an enzyme called aromatase that transforms testosterone into estradiol.

In women, testosterone is produced in various locations. One-quarter of the hormone is produced in the ovaries, a quarter is produced in the adrenal glands, and one-half is produced in the peripheral tissues from the various precursors produced in the ovaries and adrenal glands.

This is an excerpt from the ridiculously long article, Holistic Guide to Healing the Endocrine System and Balancing Our Hormones I believe that it’s easier to heal the body when you understand how the body works, but understanding the endocrine system is big a task.  It’s a long article, but I think it’s worth it and I hope you’ll check it out.

Testes

The testes secrete testosterone, which is necessary for proper physical development in boys. Testosterone maintains libido, muscle strength, and bone density. Disorders result from a lack of testosterone production. Here are the common causes:

  • Defects in the pituitary, hypothalamus, thyroid, and adrenals can affect testosterone production.
  • Medications can affect testosterone production.
  • Testes-based conditions, such as severe injury, radiation, or chemotherapy can all deplete testosterone levels.

Besides the case of an injury, if the testicles aren’t working there’s almost always a problem within the endocrine system.

Raise Your Testosterone Naturally

  • HITT (High-intensity interval training)
  • Weightlifting
  • Moderate intermittent fasting
  • Don’t smoke
  • Detoxify the endocrine system (if need be)
  • Eliminate refined foods, especially sugar
  • Eat healthy fats
  • Get enough vitamin D and zinc
  • Handle stress well
  • Sleep well
  • Avoid soy and alcohol
  • Eat nuts
  • Limit or eliminate coffee

Ovaries

The ovaries are a pair of ova-producing organs (that is, they produce egg cells) that maintain the health of the female reproductive system. The ovaries, like their male counterpart, the testes, are known as gonads. This simply means they are the primary reproductive organs.

In addition to their role in producing ova, the ovaries also have the distinction of being an endocrine gland because they secrete hormones—primarily estrogen and progesterone—that are vital to normal reproductive development and fertility.

Estrogen (estradiol, specifically) plays a vital role in breast development, fat distribution, and the development of the reproductive organs.

Diseases and Disorders of the Ovaries

Diseases associated with the ovaries include ovarian cysts, ovarian cancer, menstrual cycle disorders, polycystic ovarian syndrome, and osteoporosis.

Menopause is a rapid loss of estrogen production at a certain age, typically around 50; better health can delay it.

The ovaries play an immensely important role in the female reproductive system, and in the endocrine system as a whole. The hormones they secrete ensure the proper development of the female body and promote healthy fertility.

Natural Remedies for Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome

Avoid AGEs: Women with ovarian cysts have higher levels of advanced glycation end products (AGEs) in their blood. These are cancer-causing compounds formed when glucose binds with proteins, typically caused by high-heat cooking methods with meat and sugars.

Get Enough Nutrition

Obviously, eat well, but also make sure you’re getting enough vitamin D, calcium, vitamin E, essential fatty acids, chromium, and magnesium.

Avoid Wheat

Just try it for two weeks. Today’s wheat is wreaking havoc on our bodies, and many women dealing with ovarian cysts have issues with gluten. Eliminate refined sugars as well, detoxify the gut, and take care of the endocrine system.

Supplemental
  • Increasing progesterone in the body, which decreases estrogen, can help as well. You can do this with a progesterone cream applied to the skin, but the following herbal remedies are a better choice than ingesting or absorbing a hormone.
  • Maca root (Lepidium meyenii) helps the body produce progesterone, balances the hormones, and helps balance the endocrine system as a whole.
  • Black Cohosh root (Actaea racemosa): helps regulate the menstrual cycle, and is really good at relieving ovarian pain.
  • Dong Quai root (Angelica sinensis) is a Chinese herb known to aid hormonal balance and, specifically, congestive fertility issues. Dong Quai also supports healthy circulation to the reproductive organs and promotes healthy menstruation cycles. Dong quai should not be consumed by women with fibroids or blood-clotting problems.
  • Milk thistle seed (Silybum marianum) supports hormonal balance through liver support.
  • Tribulus (Tribulus terrestris) has been shown to normalize ovulation when used prior to ovulation.
  • Vitex, AKA chaste tree berry, chasteberry (Vitex agnus-castus) aids in regulating hormonal balance, promotes ovulation, and improves menstrual cycle regularity.
  • Wild yam root (Dioscorea villosa) promotes a healthy menstrual cycle and hormonal balance and reduces ovarian pain.
Naturally Alleviate Menopause Symptoms

Menopause can be both a blessing and a curse. The right diet can usually alleviate symptoms, but the bad news for some women is that when health is restored fully, menopause may be delayed. It may be a choice between hot flashes or periods, but know that PMS symptoms dissipate as well with better health, and so does heavy menstrual bleeding.

  • Black Cohosh (Actaea racemosa, Cimicifuga racemosa) has received considerable scientific attention for its effects on hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms.
  • Red Clover (Trifolium pratense) has been reported to help women with hot flashes. Studies report few side effects and no serious health problems with use.
  • Dong Quai (Angelica sinensis) has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine to treat gynecologic conditions for centeries. Dong quai has blood thinning properties, and should not be consumed by anyone with fibroids or blood-clotting problems.
  • Evening primrose oil or black currant oil provide gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), an essential fatty acid that can influence prostaglandin synthesis and help moderate menopausal symptoms.
  • Ginseng (Panax ginseng or Panax quinquefolius has been shown in research to alleviate some menopausal symptoms, but it has not been found to be helpful for hot flashes.
  • Omega 3s with DHA and EPA, B vitaminsvitamin D, Vitamin E, Magnesium, and exercise have all been shown to alleviate hot flashes as well.
Natural Remedies for PMS

Most women deal with headaches, mood swings, bloating, and other hormonal problems that threaten their relationships, work life, and well-being every month due to PMS.

It’s not a curse. It’s not something women have to live with. Difficult monthly cycles are a sign of poor health. The healthiest women barely notice their cycle, do not feel as though emotions run away with them every month, are exceptionally regular, they do not cramp, and they spot, as opposed to a heavy bleed. Along with a healthy diet, make sure you have the basics covered, including B vitamins (get a complex with extra B6), healthy fats (with DHA and EPA) vitamin D, Vitamin E, Magnesium and exercise, along with lots of fresh, raw, organic produce every day (more vegetables than fruit). And as always, avoid stimulants, soy and refined processed foods.

PMS is also a symptom of an unhealthy gut with too much Candida. Cutting out sugar and other foods that feed yeast, and high-quality probiotics taken regularly also work wonders for many women with difficult PMS.

Also for cramps, cranberry lemonade with stevia, and Mountain Rose Herb’s pregnancy tea works amazingly well. This is also great for detoxifying the liver and kidneys, and alleviating morning sickness.

  • Chasteberry fruit extract (Vitex Agnus-astus) can help balance the hormones released by the pituitary gland that control your overall hormone function. Studies of over 5,000 women have found it effective. Take 100 mg twice a day of a 10:1 extract.
  • Wild yam (Dioscorea villosa) and cramp bark (Viburum opulus) can help regulate cycles and relieve cramps.
  • Dandelion root can help with liver detoxification and also works as a diuretic.
  • Flax seeds contain lignans that balance hormone metabolism and block some negative effects of too much estrogen. The fiber in flax seeds helps too. 
  • Black Cohosh (Actaea racemosa, Cimicifuga racemosa) has received considerable scientific attention for its effects on hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms.
  • Red Clover (Trifolium pratense) has isoflavones that improve estrogen detoxification.
  • Dong Quai (Angelica sinensis) is an antispasmodic herb that eases cramps and other symptoms of PMS. It dilates blood vessels to increase flow and helps replenish blood after the period has ended.

Some swear by progesterone creams to calm raging PMS. As previously mentioned, increasing progesterone reduces the problems associated with estrogen. Extreme care should be taken with this or similar hormone therapies.

Diet is, as always, paramount. Check out Detox Cheap and Easy Without Fasting – Recipes Included. And again, this is an excerpt from the ridiculously long article, Holistic Guide to Healing the Endocrine System and Balancing Our Hormones.

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Nutritional Support for Cystic Fibrosis

The global incidence of cystic fibrosis is estimated as 1/2500 live births.  CF cannot be cured, but the symptoms can be managed to support overall health, to manage associated symptoms, and to increase the quality of life. CF is equally diagnosed in males and females, although males tend to have a higher life expectancy (approximately 40 years) in comparison with women (approximately 37 years). Progressive lung conditions or related problems are the primary cause of death in CF patients; therefore, intervention strategies are usually aimed at supporting respiratory health and increasing immune function against respiratory infections.  A nutritional-based approach can effectively help to manage CF and associated symptoms to increase overall health and quality of life.

CF is caused by a mutation in the gene responsible for regulating the passage of salt in and out of exocrine glands. These glands produce and secrete substances onto epithelial surfaces of the body: sweat glands, salivary glands, reproductive glands, pancreas glands, and glands of the digestive and respiratory systems. If this gene is mutated, the protein influenced by it will be transformed and consequently stimulate the production of thick, sticky and abnormal mucus that may obstruct airways and damage tissues.

Each person inherits two copies of the gene related to CF, but CF is only possible if both parents have the mutated gene and passes it on to the child. If only one parent has the defective gene, their offspring will be a carrier of this gene and may pass it on to their children if their partner is also a carrier. A child with two carrier parents has a 25% chance of inheriting the disease and a 50% chance of being a carrier. The primary risk factor is both parents being carriers of the defective gene.

Every part of the body that presents with exocrine glands will be affected by CF: the pancreas, reproductive glands, digestive tract, salivary glands, sweat glands, and the respiratory tract.

Symptoms of CF

Symptoms of CF begin early in life and are often first seen in the respiratory tract or in the digestive tract.

Cystic Fibrosis Manifestations

Respiratory Tract

Thick, sticky mucus in the lungs and bronchial tubes may block lung passage and thereby promote the colonisation of harmful bacteria in the respiratory tract. Symptoms related to respiratory issues in CF patients include coughing, wheezing, difficulty breathing, and recurrent lung infections. The bacteria may remain dormant in the lungs and contribute to repeated outbreaks of lung infections. These bacteria are often immune to conventional treatment and may contribute to tissue damage and may even suppress immune defences. Another primary characteristic of CF is chronic inflammation in the respiratory tract, which may consequently contribute to the formation of pro-oxidants, which are components that may damage and cause deterioration of tissues.

Digestive Tract

Thick secretions from the pancreatic gland may obstruct the secretion of digestive enzymes, which are required for digestion of food particles. Insufficient digestive enzymes may contribute to malabsorption and subsequently minimise nutrient stores in the body. Fat digestion and absorption are particularly affected by CF, leading to greasy and foul-smelling stools.

Other Common Symptoms

  • Excessive and salty sweating
  • Salty-tasting skin
  • Infertility (reproductive organs are affected)
  • Dehydration
  • Chronic diarrhoea
  • Poor growth
  • Excessive appetite, but poor growth or low weight (due to malnutrition)
  • Sinusitis

Conventional Approaches to CF

  • Antibiotics are generally given to CF patients to manage chronic respiratory infections; however, antibiotics destroy both harmful and beneficial bacteria, which may in effect lower defences even further (beneficial bacteria is critical for immune functioning).
  • Anti-inflammatory medication (e.g.: ibuprofen) is often administered to reduce airway inflammation, which may effectively reduce inflammation, but it may also damage the gastrointestinal tract, which should be protected and strengthened as this tissue is already vulnerable in CF patients.
  • Devices are used to remove mucus, to increase breathing, and to keep the airways open.
  • Lung replacement surgery is often performed if lung conditions worsen or if lung tissue is excessively damaged.

A Nutritional Approach

Nutrition can help manage not only the symptoms of CF but the side-effects of treatment, as well.

Guidelines for Useful Supplements

  • Multivitamin and mineral supplement – to ensure optimal nutrient stores. The highest quality sources of bio-available nutrients are plant- or food-derived multi-nutrient supplements. Malnutrition often exists alongside CF due to reduced digestive enzyme secretions and damage to the intestinal lining, which reduces capacity for absorption. Therefore, it is critical to ensure adequate nutrient intake through the diet and supplementation when needed to replenish nutrient stores in CF individuals.
  • Gastrointestinal supporting supplements – 60-70% of the body’s immune tissue is located in the gastrointestinal tract; therefore, if the gastrointestinal environment is sub-optimal or presents with an overgrowth of harmful bacteria, it may significantly reduce immune capacity. The abnormal mucus secreted in CF tends to damage the gastrointestinal tract, which may further reduce immune function. Supporting gut health is a primary consideration for nutritional therapy intervention and includes the following strategies:
    • Probiotics: Essential probiotics for the gut are Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium lactis. Dosage should preferably be 50 billion units per day.
    • Digestive enzymes: As mentioned, the pancreatic secretions of digestive enzymes may be reduced, which significantly reduces the body’s ability to digest and absorb foods. Providing digestive enzyme supplements alongside a meal ensures that these enzymes are present in the gut when food arrives that needs to be digested and absorbed.
    • L-Glutamine powder: An amino acid that fuels the gut epithelial cells to repair any present damage and to protect against further deterioration to these intestinal cells. Dosage depends on age and progression of disease; suggested dosage is generally between 10g-50g per day.
    • Vitamins A, C, D and E: Essential vitamins for immune functioning and maintaining gut epithelial tissue integrity. Dietary intake of these vitamins should be optimal, but a supplement form of these vitamins may be required for additional support. Vitamin C and E are powerful antioxidants to protect the body’s cells and tissues against damage incurred by oxidants and inflammation. A high-quality multivitamin generally provides sufficient amounts of these vitamins, but the diet should also ensure a broad variety of fruit and vegetables to increase the intake of vitamins.
  • Essential fatty acids: Omega 3 essential fatty acids (especially DHA and EPA) are powerful anti-inflammatory fatty acids and may, therefore, protect tissues against inflammatory damage. Essential fatty acid supplements should preferably be purified to minimise exposure to heavy metals and toxins. Cod liver oil provides concentrated quantities of vitamin A, vitamin D, and essential fatty acids in a highly absorbable form.
  • Zinc: A mineral that supports integrity and healing of tissues and provides immune support.
  • MSM (methylsulfonylmethane): To protect lung tissue against damage and maintain strength and integrity of the respiratory tract.
  • N-acetyl cysteine: A building block for glutathione production, a potent antioxidant required to protect cells against oxidant damage. Systemic glutathione levels are often deficient in CF individuals, especially in the epithelial lining. Glutathione has a therapeutic effect on lung tissue through the neutralisation of oxidants, reduction of inflammation, and resolving accumulated mucus.
  • Curcumin (the main active ingredient in turmeric): Curcumin is one of nature’s most potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant agents. It may protect against lung inflammation and promotes optimal immune functioning. Curcumin assists in liver function and protects liver cells against damage. Optimal liver function is required to stimulate the secretion of digestive juices and bile acid production, which are both crucial for digestive functioning. A curcumin supplement should be combined with black pepper or in a highly absorbable form (usually indicated), because curcumin has a very low bio-availability and therefore needs assistance to be taken into circulation.

General Dietary Guidelines

CF often contributes to malnutrition, therefore, the diet is of paramount importance to ensure adequate intake of nutrients to support health, growth, and immune functioning. The diet should be mainly plant-based with a broad variety of fruits and vegetables to ensure adequate intake of all the essential vitamins and minerals. Fruits and vegetables should preferably be organic to ensure a high nutrient profile, high antioxidant content, and a low exposure to toxins and pollutants.

As mentioned, sufficient intake of omega 3 may be effective in reducing inflammation, supporting immune function, and preventing mucus over-production. High-quality dietary sources of omega 3 include oily fish (especially salmon), flaxseed oil, and nuts (particularly walnuts).

Processed and heavily cooked foods stimulate mucus secretions and should, therefore, be avoided to prevent excessive build-up of thick, abnormal mucus. Foods should be easy to digest and if food intolerances are present, these foods should be eliminated completely to avoid an over-active immune system, excessive inflammatory responses, and increased mucus secretions.

Foods to Avoid

  • Animal-derived foods are hard to digest, often contain a high amount of toxins, and are rich in saturated fats. Animal foods provide high amounts of arachidonic acid (AA), a fatty acid that is generally excessive in CF patients. Reducing the intake of animal-derived foods may keep AA levels in check, especially if the person supplements with a high-quality omega 3 supplement containing DHA and EPA.
  • Dairy products stimulate mucus secretions.
  • Processed foods, junk foods, processed meat, cheese, pre-packaged foods, etc.
  • Refined starch such as white flour products (bread, pasta, pizza, pastries, etc.)
  • Sugar

Foods to Include

  • Animal protein alternatives include soaked nuts and seeds (to increase nutrient absorption), beans, pulses, sprouts, high-quality protein powder and hemp powder (a high quality, high protein source). Nuts and seeds additionally provide essential fatty acids and vitamin E to reduce inflammation and provide antioxidant protection.
  • Anti-inflammatory foods reduce inflammation in the respiratory tissues and prevent damage caused by inflammation. Anti-inflammatory foods include dark green leafy vegetables, avocados, oily fish, ginger, garlic, turmeric, and cinnamon.
  • Foods that may reduce mucus formation and secretion include garlic, onions, parsley, celery, cranberry, and lemons / lemon juice.
  • Pineapple and papaya provide natural digestive enzymes to support proper digestion and absorption of ingested foods. Include these fruit alongside meals to optimise nutrient stores.
  • At least 10-12 glasses of water per day are required to ensure proper hydration of the body and to regulate fluid balances.
  • Expectorant foods that may assist in relieving congestion and mucus build-up include cayenne pepper, garlic, turmeric, and hyssop.
  • Immune-supporting herbs and food include eucalyptus, onions, ginger, garlic, tea tree oil, Echinacea, and thyme. Garlic, ginger, and onions also act as cellular antioxidants to protect against oxidant damage.

Blood Sugar Regulating Diet

Damage to the pancreas may often incur damage to the cells responsible for secreting insulin, thereby reducing the body’s ability to regulate blood glucose levels. Carbohydrate intake should be restricted to prevent excessively elevated blood sugar levels, which may eventually manifest as insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes. Cinnamon can be used daily to assist in blood sugar regulation. If insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes is already present, more specifically tailored dietary and supplement guidelines should be followed to manage blood sugar levels.

A therapeutic and powerfully anti-inflammatory drink to include daily is “Golden milk.”

Golden Milk Recipe

  • 1 cup of full cream coconut milk
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp raw honey
  • a pinch black pepper (increases turmeric absorption)
  • a tiny piece of fresh ginger
  • a pinch of cayenne pepper powder

Blend the ingredients in a high-speed blender until it’s properly mixed. Heat for 3-5 minutes over moderate heat in a saucepan and drink immediately.

Other Measures

Functional breathing techniques can also be very useful and effective to increase the capacity and flexibility of the respiratory tissue. An example of a functional breathing technique is 4-7-8 breathing:

  • Inhale deeply through the nose for 4 seconds, taking the inhaled oxygen deeply into the diaphragm.
  • Hold the breath for 7 seconds.
  • Exhale deeply through the mouth for 8 seconds.
  • Repeat at least 3 times.
  • This exercise also calms the nervous system and can be quite effective to combat stress and anxiety.

For a more tailored, personalised approach, a nutritional therapist can develop an intervention program according to the person’s unique biochemical make-up and current state of health.

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Author:

Jeanne Van Zyl lectures in Nutrition for the group of colleges that includes CNM (College of Naturopathic Medicine), in Europe, and CNH (College of Natural Health) in South Africa.




Glyphosate Found In 93% of Urine Samples

The Detox Project is a research organization bringing awareness to the public by testing for man-made chemicals in our bodies and in our food. The project gives consumers an accurate report on the levels of glyphosate in their urine.

Through this unique public testing project carried out by a laboratory at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF), glyphosate was discovered in 93% of urine samples during the early phase of the testing in 2015. The urine and water testing was organized by The Detox Project and commissioned by the Organic Consumers Association.

The project has provided more urine samples for testing than any other glyphosate bio-monitoring urine study ever in America. It was supported by members of the public, who themselves paid for their urine and water samples to be analyzed for glyphosate residues by the UCSF lab.

The data released in a presentation by the UCSF lab only covers the first 131 people tested. Further data from this public bio-monitoring study, which is now completed, will be released later in 2016.

Later this year, The Detox Project will be working alongside a new, larger lab to enable the public to once again test their urine for glyphosate residues. The Detox Project is also researching whether or not an organic diet has an effect on the level of man-made chemicals in our bodies. They’re not just testing for glyphosates either, they are also testing for 150+ man-made chemicals.

The Results

glyphosate was discovered in 93% of urine samples

Glyphosate was found in 93% of the 131 urine samples tested at an average level of 3.096 parts per billion (PPB). Children had the highest levels with an average of 3.586 PPB.

The regions with the highest levels were the West and the Midwest with an average of 3.053 PPB and 3.050 PPB respectively.

Glyphosate residues were not observed in any tap water samples during the early phase of the project, most likely due to phosphorus removal during water treatment.

The Method

Glyphosate (N-(phosphonomethyl)glycine ) is directly analyzed using liquid chromatography- tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS). Water and urine samples are prepared for analysis by solid phase extraction using an ion exchange column. Extracted samples are injected to the LC-MS/MS and the analyte is separated using an Obelisc N column (SIELC Technologies, Prospect Heights, IL) through isocratic elution. Ionization of glyphosate is achieved using an electrospray ionization source operated in negative polarity. The analyte is detected by multiple reaction monitoring using a 13C-labelled glyphosate as the internal standard. Quantification of the analyte is done by isotope dilution method using an eight-point calibration curve.

The assay has a limit of quantification of 0.5 ng/mL. The intra- and inter-day precision observed are 6-15% in concentrations that range 0.5-80 ng/mL. Recoveries for glyphosate range 70-80% at concentrations within the assay’s linear dynamic range.

Glyphosate and Health Concerns

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Glyphosate-containing herbicides are sold under trademarks including Monsanto’s “Roundup”. Glyphosate was labeled a “probable human carcinogen” by the World Health Organization’s cancer agency IARC in 2015. The European Union is currently putting restrictions on the use of glyphosate due to health concerns.

Glyphosate has never been studied at the level of exposure that we in the U.S. are currently being subjected to (under 3 mg/kg body weight/day). Industry-funded science many years ago suggested that lower exposure is likely safe, but that more exposure could prove to be dangerous. Modern independent science has discovered that many toxic chemicals can have major effects on our endocrine system, sometimes at very low doses. Interestingly enough, due to the nature of endocrine disrupters, there’s often a “sweet spot”, where less or more exposure would be more damaging to health. These chemicals are known as hormone disruptors, or endocrine disruptors.

For more on the endocrine system check out Holistic Guide to Healing the Endocrine System and Balancing Our Hormones.

A study from March 2015 stated that the health cost to the European Union of only a few of these endocrine disrupting chemicals is over EUR 150 Billion per year. The same report also said that lower IQs, adult obesity, and potentially 5% or more of autism cases may be linked to exposure to endocrine disruptors like glyphosate.

“With increasing evidence from laboratory studies showing that glyphosate-based herbicides can result in a wide range of chronic illnesses through multiple mechanisms, it has become imperative to ascertain the levels of glyphosate in food and in as large a section of the human population as possible. Thus, the information gathered by the glyphosate public testing service being offered by The Detox Project is most timely and will provide invaluable information for the consumer and scientists like myself evaluating the toxicity of real world levels of exposure to this most widely used pesticide.”

These results show that both the U.S. regulators have let down consumers in America. Independent science shows that glyphosate may be a hormone hacker at these real-life exposure levels found in the food products. The safe level of glyphosate ingestion is simply unknown despite what the EPA and Monsanto would have everyone believe.” – Henry Rowlands, Director, The Detox Project

If consumers had any doubt about the extent to which they are being poisoned by Monsanto’s Roundup, these tests results should put those doubts to rest,” – Ronnie Cummins, International Director of Organic Consumers Association 

It’s interesting to note that the testing is on a volunteer bases, and some speculate that people getting tested are more likely than the general public to purchase organic foods and avoid GMOs.

How to Avoid and Detox Endocrine Disruptors

The most common endocrine disruptors we are likely to have in our bodies include Bisphenol–A, AKA BPAs, Phthalates (added to plastics to make them softer and last longer), Parabens, PBDE’s (found in flame retardants) PCB’s, Dioxin: (an unintentional by-product of many industrial processes),  pesticides and herbicides, and heavy metals. It’s a scary list, and there’s obviously many more chemicals we haven’t heard about yet.

The good news is that studies have shown that fresh, raw, organic vegetables detox the body of all of these toxins. It’s becoming more and more imperative that we grow our own food and buy unpackaged, unprocessed food to prepare at home. Get gardening and get detoxing if you’re not already. See the recommended reading list below for more on this.

Conclusion

If you’re ready to send in a sample, unfortunately, the project was put on hold. Due to the enormous interest, they had to temporarily stop the urine and water testing program until they are working with a much larger lab, which is supposed to begin in “summer, 2016.” You can sign up if you’re interested at The Detox Project here.

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How to Test and Amend Soil

Even gardeners with a green thumb can be foiled by bad soil. If you’re doing everything right but your plants are still dying, it might be time to take a look below the surface. Learning how to test your soil and use natural amendments to restore it to a healthy type will tremendously help your lawn or garden flourish this season.

The Different Types of Soil

When it comes to your soil, you might be thinking, “Why does it matter? Dirt is dirt”. That’s not exactly the case, though. There are several kinds of soil, and each is different. Each soil type drains differently and has varying levels of nutrients that can impact the growth of your lawn and garden. Here’s a quick rundown of some of the soil types:

  • Loamy soil. This kind of soil is the best type for gardening. It tends to be slightly acidic (which lots of plants prefer) and drains well to keep plants hydrated but not soggy.
  • Clay soil. When you have clay soil, it tends to be thick and feels sticky when it’s wet. While clay is rich in nutrients, it doesn’t drain well.
  • Sandy soil. Sandy soil drains well but doesn’t retain any moisture, which makes it difficult for plants to stay properly watered. Sandy soil is also low in nutrients and won’t feed plants well.
  • Silty soil. This soil type is rich in nutrients; however, it can get slimy when wet, resulting in poor drainage.
  • Chalky soil. When you’re dealing with chalky soil, you’ll find it is very alkaline and free draining. It dries out very quickly and doesn’t have many nutrients to offer besides calcium.
  • Peaty soil. Soil that is peaty is damp and spongy. It will retain moisture well, but drainage can be a problem.

Find out What Kind of Soil You Have

Now that you know about the different soil types, it’s time to do a test to find out what kind of soil you have. Use the following steps to get your soil sample:

  • Dig down about six inches and take some soil. If you have a large planting area, you’ll want to test soil from multiple places.
  • Put soil in a pint-sized jar until it’s about halfway full. Then, add a few drops of liquid dish soap and fill the jar the rest of the way up with water.
  • Put the lid on tightly and shake the jar for about three minutes.
  • Put the jar aside and allow 24 hours for all the particles to settle. Once it’s settled, you’ll be able to see the individual layers that make up your soil.

Check Your Soil’s pH

Your soil pH is another important factor in how well things will grow and even what you can grow in your soil. Knowing what the pH of your soil is and how to amend it is a big part of having a healthy garden:

  • You can pick up a pH test kit from your local garden center, but if you’re more of a DIY person, there are several options for testing pH at home.
  • A pH reading of 7 means your soil is neutral. pH readings below 7 are acidic, and readings above 7 are alkaline. An ideal soil reading will be around 6.5. This means your soil is slightly acidic, and nutrients will dissolve well and be readily available.
  • To raise your soil pH, you can add limestone to your soil. The lime will break down in the soil and raise the alkalinity over time.
  • To lower your soil pH, sulfur should be added. Peat moss can also be used, but this method isn’t sustainable. Additionally, peat moss has been overharvested in some areas, which may make it difficult or expensive to obtain.
  • When amending your soil pH, be sure to check your pH levels regularly and add any amendments slowly over time.

What to Do With Difficult Soil

Many gardeners often dump too much time and too many resources into their lawn before realizing it’s just not working as well as they’d hoped, or it’s taking too long. If you find yourself in this situation — with a soil type or pH that will take too much to fix — you can still have a garden.

You might look at planting raised garden beds and using prepackaged soil. This is a perfect solution to yards that are massive works in progress. A few advantages to a raised garden bed include:

  • You can quickly and easily put together a raised garden bed.
  • Raised beds are more accessible to gardeners with physical limitations such as arthritis.
  • You can often plant earlier since the soil stays warmer in a raised bed.

No matter what challenges are put in front of you, there’s always a way to create your own little slice of heaven by growing a garden. With the right testing processes and soil amendments (or raised garden beds), you’ll have your garden on track and ready to grow in no time.

What's Good Soil - Infographic by Safer Brand

Infographic created by Safer Brand.