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We address both the metabolic and neurological causes of your thyroid dysfunction...
What is different about Dr. Huffman's Approach?
#1) Dr. Huffman's Expertise: Many doctors claim to work with chronic cases but Dr. Huffman has the education, the credentials, and is board certified! Dr. Huffman is board certified in functional neurology and integrative medicine allowing him to thoroughly evaluate patients both neurologically and
metabolically! Dr. Huffman is a Doctor of Chiropractic but he is also a board certified chiropractic neurologist. He is a diplomate of the American Academy of Anti-Aging Health Practitioners (an AMA accredited institution) and he has a fellowship in Integrative Cancer Therapy. While every doctor will of course say that they are dedicated to your well-being, it can be very stressful to visit multiple Twin Cities doctors without finding any true answer to the source of your thyroid symptoms. That’s why we take the time to do a two-step intake process and we’ll give you the answers you have been looking for to properly identify what is causing your thyroid problem. In fact, you will not find a more qualified doctor than Dr. Joshua Huffman, when it comes to helping patients with ongoing thyroid symptoms.
#2) He thoroughly evaluates the underlying metabolic causes of your condition: Most patients that suffer with thyroid disease are told that they are hypothyroid, and that they need thyroid replacement. They are typically diagnosed because of an elevated TSH level but testing is never done to find the underlying cause of why they have low thyroid function. Many women suffer all of the thyroid symptoms but when their TSH comes back normal they are told that everything is fine. Most of the time this is not the case. There are many reasons that a TSH level can come back normal and you are still exhibiting all the symptoms of hypothyroidism. The bottom line is that if you want a chance to be free of the fatigue, the weight gain, the anxiety, the lack of motivation, the joint pain, and the myriad of other symptoms that can accompany thyroid disease you have to figure out what underlying factors are effecting the production and utilization of your thyroid hormones! Dr. Huffman will run advanced, specialized testing to assess for the underlying causes (discussed in further detail below).
Here are common examples of thyroid symptoms:
Hypothyroid (low function): Hyperthyroid (high function):
- Chronic Fatigue - Heart palpitations
- Irritability between meals - Anxiety
-Depression/lack of motivation - Diarrhea
- Constipation/Bloating - Increased pulse rate
- Weight gain - Insomnia
- Cold hands/feet - Night sweats
- Morning headaches - Weight Loss
- Hair loss -Nervous/Emotional
- Dry skin - Brain fog
*Hashimoto’s (an autoimmune attack against the thyroid) can cause hypothyroid and hyperthyroid symptoms.
#3) Dr. Huffman has a unique neurological approach to helping patients suffering with symptoms of thyroid disease: Most practitioners that claim to treat thyroid disease aim treatment at replacing thyroid hormones. It seems to make sense, right? The truth is that to address the symptoms created by thyroid disease you have to address brain health as well! Why is that? Many or most of the symptoms you develop as a consequence of thyroid disease are neurological symptoms. Altered thyroid function for any prolonged length of time negatively impacts the health of the brain. This results in certain areas of the brain becoming weak which results in other areas of the brain starting to over-fire. When working to
restore health to a patient that has thyroid symptoms the brain function must be optimized!
Some examples of neurologic symptoms that often develop in thyroid patients:
- Chronic Fatigue - Light Sensitivity
- Vertigo/Balance Disorders - Sound Sensitivity
- Decreased libido - Headaches
- Depression - Heart palpitations
- Anxiety - Increased Sweating
- Insomnia - Nerve Pain
#4) Our office offers the most advanced technology in alternative medicine! Laser therapy supports reduction of inflammation in the thyroid. We also offer oxygen therapy, whole body vibration therapy, eye lights therapy, and neurofeedback. These are only a few examples of the revolutionary treatments we use in our office. (For a more extensive list see below)
What Metabolic Testing Needs to be done?
The testing needed is different for every patient based on your own unique health history, but there are
certain areas that must be evaluated. Traditional laboratory testing does not dig deep enough to find the answers you are looking for. They screen for basic metabolic markers and they use a very wide lab range to determine if you are normal or not. When we run testing (as discussed below) we are going to dig deeper and we also realize that there is a grey area on the way to disease, meaning that if the normal lab range says your TSH should be less than 5 and you are at 4.8 we know that you are trending towards a disease state. The more comprehensive tests along with a more critical analysis allows us to identify areas of pathology as well as areas that are failing to function as optimally as they should.
In evaluating patients that are suffering with thyroid symptoms, a thorough thyroid panel must be performed! Most of the patients I see in my office have had their TSH and maybe a T4 tested, but this is simply not enough!
Why is a comprehensive thyroid panel necessary? Why isn't your TSH level enough?
Your TSH tells you if you are hypo or hyperthyroid but it gives us no insight into where your thyroid problem is coming from. Being hypothyroid does not necessarily mean your problem is starting in the thyroid gland. For example you could have a problem in the pituitary gland causing you to be hypothyroid. You could have a problem in the liver or the gut that is blocking your ability to convert T4 to T3 and is causing your hypothyroid symptoms. When we run a comprehensive thyroid panel we will be able to better support you.
Here is a list of the thyroid markers I will want to see:
· Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH): This is the hormone messenger that is sent from a gland in the brain (pituitary) to the thyroid.
· Free T3: This is a critically important hormone produced by the thyroid gland and it is considered to be the more biologically active hormone of the thyroid.
· Free T4: This is another important hormone produced by the thyroid gland. This will eventually be converted into T3 in the liver and the GI tract.
· Thyroid Binding Globulin (TBG): This test measures the amount of proteins in the blood that transport thyroid hormones to the cells. Elevated testosterone can lower TBG levels and elevated estrogen can raise TBG levels. Both can produce hypothyroid symptoms.
· Thyroid Antibodies (TGB & TPO): These are checked in suspected cases of autoimmune thyroid disorders (see below).
· Total T4: This is a reflection of how much total T4 hormone there is in the blood.
· Free Thyroxine Index (FTI): This is an estimate of how much thyroxine is in the blood.
· Reverse T3: In times of excessive or prolonged stress, your body may shift thyroid hormone conversion into reverse T3 creating hypothyroid symptoms.
The brain and your nervous system require two things to work properly:
To make sure the fuel supply for your brain is adequate you must ensure that these foundational areas are addressed:
(1) Blood Sugar - If you are diabetic, pre-diabetic, or hypoglycemic (too low of blood sugar) this will be a roadblock to healing your brain and stabilizing your immune system.
(2) Anemia - If you have any type of anemia you are robbing your brain and nerves of oxygen! Pernicious anemia is common form of anemia with thyroid disease.
(3) Vitamin Deficiency/Toxicity - Deficiencies in many vitamins and minerals can drive neurological deficits. At the same time if you are toxic with any of these elements it can also be a problem.
(4) Methylation - Methylation is a chemical process that takes place in your body which allows you to eliminate environmental toxins, reduce inflammation, and get essential nutrients to the brain and the nerves. There are genetic variants that can literally block your nerves, immune system and brain from receiving the nutrients that they need to work. It is estimated that 93% of people who suffer from neuro-immune disorders (like hashimotos) have a genetic defect in MTHFR. This genetic variant can literally be starving your brain!
(5) Auto-Antibodies - In my office I consider thyroid patients to be auto-immune until proven otherwise. Auto-immune diseases are diseases of the immune system where your immune system is attacking your own body! The most common cause of thyroid disease in America is hashimoto’s disease (an auto-immune disease). The important thing to understand is that if you are auto-immune the same attack going on against your thyroid can spread to your brain, your pancreas, your digestive system, etc. A
common target in auto-immunity is the cerebellum. The cerebellum is the balance portion of your brain. If your cerebellum is being damaged not only can in trigger migraines but it also can manifest as balance disorders, tremors, and movement disorders.
If you are auto-immune the immune system must be stabilized in order for your thyroid health to be stabilized!
Many practitioners over simplify the idea of auto-immunity. They talk about the immune system like it is a see-saw between what is called the TH1 (natural killer cells) and the TH2 (the B-cells) systems but the truth of it is that the immune system is extremely complex. There is more to it than just the TH1 and TH2 systems. To work to balance the immune system the TH1, TH2, TH3, TH17, the GALT, and many other chemical interactions need to be evaluated and addressed.
In the case of auto-immunity it becomes extremely important to thoroughly evaluate gut and immune health. Many more of those tests are discussed in the section below.
Other lab testing that may need to be assessed include:
(a) Food Intolerance Testing - If your body has an abnormal response to a food you are eating on a daily basis you can be poisoning yourself without even knowing it. Food reactivities are not severe enough that patients can accurately identify if they are present. But when you continually expose yourself to a food that your immune system is reactive to it can trigger rampant inflammation and lead to brain and thyroid damage. This type of test is not an allergy test like what your medical doctor may have tested. This type of test can be performed through the saliva, the stool, or the blood but you must be evaluated for your IgA and IgG reactions. IgA and IgG food reactivities are delayed responses which can make it very difficult to determine what you are reacting to. This is why thorough testing in this arena is so important.
Common symptoms of food reactions can be:
- Fatigue after meals - Bloating after meals
- Heartburn - Headaches
- Rashes - Inability to lose weight
- Constipation - Eczema/Acne
- Increased post-nasal drip - Diarrhea
- Mouth ulcers or sores - Chronic pain
(b) Infections - Infections can stimulate the immune system leading to an elevated immune response which can result in attack on the thyroid gland. This is a common trigger for how auto-immunity can be developed. Parasites, bacteria, viruses, fungi, and yeast are all examples of infections that can wreak havoc on the body. Most patients I talk to feel like they would know if they had an infection. This is not true. Many times there are low-grade infections that don't make a person acutely ill but do lead to a chronic inflammatory state, which gradually weakens the body.
Another example of an infection that can directly impact thyroid health is lyme disease. I will discuss Lyme disease below as there are many components to evaluating for lyme disease. We test for infections with serum testing, stool testing, and/or salivary testing.
(c) Lyme Testing - Lyme disease is caused by a bacterial infection with borrellia burgdorferi. This particular bacterial infection is a common cause of auto-immunity. It can also stimulate your immune system to attack the brain and the nervous system. Minnesota is a lyme endemic state and as such with any auto-immune patients, Lyme must be evaluated. Traditional lab testing for Lyme disease includes an ELISA test for b. burgdorferi and if that comes back positive a western blot test is performed to confirm the
diagnosis. This standard of testing can miss up to 70% of patients with Lyme disease. When testing for lyme it is necessary to run comprehensive immune markers.
In my office we test patients for:
(1) B. Burgdorferi
(2) B. Garinii
(3) B. Afzelii
Running more comprehensive testing for lyme is essential in identifying if this disease process may be playing a role in the progression of your thyroid disorder. If you have ever had a tick embedded in your skin or have had a bulls eye rash it is imperative that this be further evaluated!
(d) Adrenal Stress Profiles - The adrenal glands are your stress glands! Is your body under stress? This test measures the amount of cortisol being produced by your adrenals at 4 different times throughout the day. This is an important test because cortisol can be ruining your health in many ways.
Altered levels of cortisol may cause:
(1) Weight gain - Elevations in cortisol cause your body to store fat and decrease your ability to burn fat.
(2) Fatigue - Any time your cortisol rhythm dips during the day you will experience energy crashes.
(3) Insomnia - Altered cortisol rhythms causing too high or too low of levels at night lead to interrupted
(4) Brain Fog/Declining Memory- Cortisol is particularly toxic to an area of the brain called the hippocampus. The hippocampus plays a significant role in memory. Chronic elevations of cortisol are shown to damage this area of the brain and may even lead to conditions like alzheimers!
(5) Food Sensitivities - Elevations in cortisol causes elevations in antibody levels in your gut, which in turn leads to your immune system becoming abnormally reactive to foods.
(6) Hormonal Imbalances - The adrenals play a significant role in the regulation of testosterone, estrogen, and progesterone. When the adrenals are not healthy it can create imbalances in these hormones which can lead to infertility, anxiety, panic attacks, depression, irritability, water retention and weight gain.
(e) Immune Reactivity to Heavy Metals - Many practitioners refer to the need to eliminate heavy metals. There are many technologies to evaluate heavy metal exposure. The truth of the matter is that we live in an extremely toxic world. Everyone has heavy metals in the body. That is not the question. The question that must be asked is, 'how is your body's immune system reacting to the different heavy metals?' Heavy metals can certainly trigger an immune response that can create nerve and brain inflammation and by testing your individual response to each heavy metal we can see what specific metals may be contributing to your thyroid disease.
(f) Immune Reactivity toEnvironmental toxins - From pesticides, to plastics, to cleaning supplies, we are exposed to toxins on a daily basis. An individual’s exposure to these toxins is not the primary concern. If your immune system becomes hypersensitive to these environmental toxins it can wreak havoc on your thyroid and your body. We can run a comprehensive blood test to assess your individual response to these different toxins and to develop a specialized remediation plan for you.
(g) Iodine Testing – Iodine plays a key role in the production of thyroid hormones. Three molecules of iodine are used in T3 and four molecules of iodine are used to make T4. Insufficient levels of iodine can
definitely play a role in the development of thyroid disease. There is much debate about whether iodine should be used to support thyroid patients. If you are deficient in iodine levels you will need iodine. The most important thing about iodine support is the timing. We don’t want to give you iodine when you
have significant levels of inflammation in the body and the immune system. We can test iodine status in the serum or in the blood.
How is our Neurological Approach Different?
Dr. Huffman will take a 3-pronged approach to rehabilitating any neurological imbalances that may have been caused as a result of your thyroid dysfunction. The 3 areas that Dr. Huffman will evaluate and treat when necessary are:
(1) The Nerves
(2) The Spinal Column
(3) The Brain
Once Dr. Huffman has determined the specific neurological systems that need to be addressed he will employ state of the art rehab for those areas.
Therapies for the Nerves:
(1) Class 4 Laser Therapy: We use the M6 Robotic laser for accelerating tissue repair and inflammation reduction. This laser incorporates the use of 4 class 4 laser heads to help accelerate tissue healing. This laser is also phenomenal for reducing pain and inflammation.
(2) Nerve Regeneration Therapy: This is a unique, one of a kind form of nerve stimulation. It is FDA approved and is the only form of nerve stimulation that fires a nerve both chemically and electrically at the same time. This makes a huge difference in reestablishing proper nerve activity and reducing pain levels due to misfiring or damaged nerves.
(3) InfraRed Therapy: These boots use healing infrared light to help increase blood flow to the extremities. The increase in blood flow allows oxygen and nutrients to be delivered to the damaged nerve tissue.
(4) Cold Laser Therapy: This is class 3 laser therapy. We use class 3 laser to support the reduction of inflammation in the neck and back. It can also be used to activate misfiring patterns in neurological function.
Therapies for the Spinal Cord:
(1) Chiropractic Adjustments: We use gentle adjustments to create feedback to the brain. We typically use unilateral adjustments to help stimulate and balance the brain. Adjustments also may help to restore proper alignment to the spinal column and can help to prevent arthritic change in the spine.
(2) Non-Surgical Spinal Decompression: Disc herniations, spinal stenosis, and degenerative changes in the spine can contribute to nerve irritation and inflammation. They can also create extreme levels of pain in the
back, neck, and head. Spinal decompression uses a sophisticated computer system to gradually stretch open the disc spaces in the low back and neck. This advanced technology allows us to bypass spastic muscles and open up the disc spaces in the vertebrae reducing inflammation, muscle spasticity, pain, and nerve irritation.
(3) Ultrasound: This therapy is used to increase blood flow to areas of injury. Increasing blood flow to injured areas in the spine and extremity allows for accelerated healing in the joints and tissues.
(4) Intersegmental Traction: This table helps to improve mobility of the spinal joints. Increased spinal flexibility helps to reduce pain, inflammation and nerve irritation.
(5) ATM2-Active Therapeutic Rehabilitation: This specialized unit allows for us to stabilize dysfunctional joints and perform rehab on those joints pain free. If you have pain every time you bend forward, we can stabilize
the painful joint so that you can bend forward without pain. Once we have you stabilized so that you can bend without pain we can exercise that joint. This allows for us to move that joint without creating pain signals. This treatment can take someone who can't bend forward without pain and get them pain free in one treatment.
Therapies for the Brain:
(1) Whole Body Vibration: We use the Theravibe whole body vibration plate in our office. This is a true vertical vibration plate that you stand on. It sends vertical vibrations throughout the body helping to increase blood flow and lymphatic flow throughout the body. It results in thousands of reflexive muscle reactions per minute leading to increased muscle strength, tone, and balance. With the vertical movement it fires the vestibular system which activates the cerebellum of the brain.
(2) Balance Training: Balance is regulated via 3 systems. The primary centers for balance are the eyes, the vestibular system (inner ear, cerebellum) and the peripheral nerves. The rehabilitation for balance trains the cerebellum of the brain which is a vitally important area for certain thyroid patients.
(3) Oxygen Therapy: The brain is the most oxygen dependent organ in the body. Supporting the brain with oxygen while rehabbing it allows the brain to respond better and faster to the stimulation we are giving it.
Below are some quotes from studies on the benefits of supporting oxygen flow for the brain and the body:
- "Extra oxygen enables you to recover more quickly from exertion. It allows someone to train and then exercise again." – Dr. John Brewer, head of sports science at Lilleshall Human Performance Centre: Health and Fitness, 1999.
- "Oxygen can clear your head, help eliminate toxins, and give you a mind high" – Andy Davison exercise physiologist Cosmopolitan 2000.
- "If you use oxygen for 20 minutes, muscles become loosened; headaches and stress seem to disappear. There is a renewed energy and a feeling of relaxation. I am confident oxygen works." – Dr. Richard de Andrea Sunday Herald.
- "Increases alertness, improves the body’s ability to burn fat and enhances physical performance."
– Howard Robbins D.P.M, for The Journal.
- "Dr. Parris Kidd stated that 'oxygen plays a pivotal role in the proper functioning of the immune system; i.e. Resistance to disease, bacteria and viruses.' Dr. Stephen Levine stated that 'we can look at oxygen deficiency as the single greatest cause of disease.' thus the development of a shortage of oxygen in the blood could very well be the starting point for the loss of the immune system and the beginning of feared health problems such as Cancer, Leukemia, AIDS, Candida, seizures, and nerve deterioration."
- B. Goulet - The Magic of Aerobic Oxygen - Focus on Nutrition.
- "In all serious disease states we find a concomitant low oxygen state...low oxygen in the body tissues is a sure indicator for disease... Hypoxia, or lack of oxygen in the tissues, is the fundamental cause for all degenerative disease." - Dr. Stephen Levine, renowned molecular biologist author, Oxygen Deficiency: A concomitant to all degenerative illness.
(4) Exercise with Oxygen Therapy: Exercise drives blood flow and increased circulation. Exercising while breathing enriched air helps push even higher levels of oxygen to the brain.
(5) Interactive Metronome: This is a computer monitored brain rehabilitation tool. The frontal lobes of the brain control movement of the body as well as helping to regulate memory, focus, and emotions. The frontal lobes of the brain are also used for timing, impulse control, and movement. The interactive metronome exercises the frontal lobe by incorporating all three of these activities into one exercise. It is a dynamic therapy that can be helpful for balance, emotional health, memory, overall brain health, and
(6) Neurofeedback: This is a non-invasive process where brain waves are monitored in real time by a computer, which can then use that information to produce changes in brainwave activity. The process of adjusting brainwave activity is known as operant conditioning, which is a method where rewards for
positive behavior influence changes in the way the brain fires.
The combination of addressing all of the metabolic factors and supporting brain health gives you the best chance at recovering from your thyroid nightmare!