Salt Vindicated-a personal case study
by Tammera J. Karr, PhD, BCHN, BCIH
In 2005, I thought I was developing hypothyroidism; I was tired, overweight, with high triglycerides, and muscle pain, all symptoms. I was eating real food, but I was under a lot of stress. Remember I have said several times over the last three years that stress is the number one cause of illnesses, and can kill you.
I saw a doctor I had confidence in, had her run a battery of tests and found out – nothing. So I cut back on salt, red meat, grains, and cut all sugar out of my diet. By 2006, I was running very high heart rates, triglycerides as well as my LDL’s were still elevated, I felt like crap, and my stress had doubled. Now my thyroid test began showing elevations in my TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone), my free T4 and free T3 numbers changed also.
This scenario would have continued to escalate and in fact did – my TSH levels reached 8, my doctor told me I was too difficult of a patient and I needed a specialist, I couldn’t tolerate thyroid medication due to my elevated heart rate, and refused to take medications to slow my heart rate for the rest of my life.
I kept looking till I found the answers that made sense to me, and am very pleased to say today my thyroid numbers are all perfect without medication. My current nurse practitioner, when reviewing my labs from the last 7 years, admitted she had never seen anyone turn their thyroid around. Oh and my heart rate is normal again!
Dr. James Wilson told me in 2006, “If you don’t treat the Adrenal Glands before the thyroid, the client will never get better.” I went back to eating Celtic sea salt, lean red meat, and took supplements for thyroid support and stress. The hardest part was acknowledging what the major stress triggers were, and over time cleaning house so to speak.
In 2011, the medical communities called on food manufactures to cut sodium in commercial foods. GOOD, why, because the forms of salt used in commercial foods are nitrates and nitrites, not natural salt with all the trace minerals for health.
A study released October 2011, in the American Journal of Hypertension, brought into question the time honored belief salt is bad for you. When I first viewed this article on Medscape the opening sentence was, “critics don’t believe study findings”, and of course after reading the conclusion of the study I can see why – it is throwing salt in their eyes. The study titled – Effects of Low-Sodium Diet vs. High-Sodium Diet on Blood Pressure, Renin, Aldosterone, Catecholamines, Cholesterol, and Triglycerides.
At this point I need to tell you several of the aforementioned named in the study title are either manufactured in the adrenal glands or in the liver –salt, is a detoxification agent for several glands and organs. Cholesterol and triglycerides are also elevated by poor thyroid function. Beginning to see the connection here? This is what the study found to my hearts delight.
“sodium reduction resulted in a significant increase in plasma cholesterol (2.5%) and plasma triglyceride (7%), which expressed in percentage, was numerically larger than the decrease in blood pressure of 1%. These results do not support that sodium reduction may have net beneficial effects in a population of Caucasians.”
Aldosterone is a steroid hormone produced by the outer-section of the adrenal gland, and acts on the functioning unit of the kidney, to cause the conservation of sodium, secretion of potassium, increased water retention, and increased blood pressure. The overall effect of aldosterone is to increase reabsorption of ions and water in the kidney — increasing blood volume and, therefore, increasing blood pressure. So if this hormone goes up, so does your water retention and BP, salt prevents this from happening according to the study.
Renin is an enzyme released by the kidneys that breaks down proteins and helps regulate blood pressure. This enzyme is the key to activating a complex process in which it increases the secretion of aldosterone, and stimulates the hypothalamus to activate the thirst reflex, each leading to an increase in blood pressure.
Catecholamine is a compound that acts as a neurotransmitter or hormone; neurotransmitters are used in the brain. They include dopamine, as well as the “fight-or-flight” hormones adrenaline. Dopamine is the neurotransmitter lacking in Parkinson’s patients, and when under stress our fight or flight hormones increase. That’s why Dr. Wilson and Dr. Brownstein believe salt to be critical for adrenal health, when under constant stress the adrenal glands dump salt through the kidneys, creating an imbalance in electrolytes. When potassium levels elevate, tachycardia can result. (an excessively rapid heartbeat, typically regarded as a heart rate exceeding 100 beats per minute in a resting adult)
Cholesterol, is painted as the evil one, in fact it is far from it. Without cholesterol we would not be able to think or make hormones. All forms of cholesterol are important to the body as a constituent of cell membranes, and involved in the formation of bile acid. Cholesterol is necessary for the synthesis of vitamin D and the steroid hormones, including the adrenal gland hormones cortisol and aldosterone.
Now this doesn’t mean you can eat all the salt you can stuff in, but the reasonable use of high quality salts from Selina Naturally and Redmond, are indeed a recommendation for everyone living with stress. It won’t fix all of your health challenges; you will have to take back control of your health just as I did with the right supplements and dietary changes.
There is more to good health than the Status Quo.