Posts Tagged ‘acne’

Complete introductory archives: ~250 posts

I posted a Paleo Archive post about a week ago.   The post covered a lot of important things, but it skimmed over a lot, too.  Lame.   Here, I am trying to mend those gaps.

That original archive provided diverse reading material on why one should eat a paleo-type diet.  It was, however, even at 120 links, brief.    Missing information included dairy, exercise, metabolic regulation, sleep, and, most importantly, diseases of civilization.  Because of that, I have collected information in those gap areas and added them to the archive.  What follows here is a collection of 250 + posts on a variety of topics, hopefully with little overlap, that present a diverse and compelling case for the marriage of evolutionary science and diet.

Coming after this post, in a few days, will be another archive.  This one will be the “Advanced” archive.  Instead of being selected to convince, these posts have been selected instead to prod, question, and provide diverse perspectives.  The topics covered include: how toxic really are grains, fructose, and dairy?, how does one lose weight?, do we supplement?, what are the most important metabolic regulators?, what is a macronutrient, and what sort of ratios should we be eating?, and : what do “primitive” or non-SAD cultures teach us about human health?   It will also include some more technical discussion of phenomenon mentioned in the introductory archive.  This is an archive designed for someone invested in the nuances of paleo diets and science, and will hopefully be as comprehensive as the current zeitgeist actually is.  It will, in addition, evolve over time.

Following that archive will be one regarding the benefits, cautions and recommendations regarding specific foods.  I also foresee an archive specific to exercise, and perhaps another archive specific to paleosphere commentary re: contemporary culture, medicine, and science.  I am also contemplating success stories.  I will never do recipes, ever, because that would be aggressively redundant.  I am a counter and an organizer and a bit manic and a bit OCD, which makes a brain perfect for archiving.  I fear I may be doing this for a long time.

You will note, reading below, that many posts belong in more than one category.  Often, I just chose.  Occasionally I permitted overlap and double posted.  I also found it difficult to make divisions at all.  The categories I ended up with may not have been the wisest choices, but I did what I could.   They follow and are listed in no specific order.

Table of contents:


Specific Diseases and Conditions


Gut, diet, and autoimmune disease



Skin and Acne

Women’s health

Testosterone and men’s health

Health limitations of a vegetarian diet

Allergies and food intolerances

Fructose and Sugar



Inflammation, PUFA and disease

Mental health


Weight loss

Carbs are okay



Disordered eating

Vitamin D

Intermittent fasting and Calorie restriction

Grass fed versus grain fed


China Study

Sustainability Concerns



Exercise and body fat

The Menstrual cycle and exercise metabolism, Part II

The evolutionarily correct guide to running

Can endurance exercise promote cancer?

Specific Diseases and conditions

A cure for migraines?

Ketogenic diet for NBIA (Neurodegeneration with brain iron accumulation)

An osteoarthritis recovery story

Vitamin A, Vitamin D, and osteoporosis reprise

Curing arthritis and depression with diet and supplementation

Red meat and strokes

Tooth decay reversal diet

Does Choline deficiency contribute to fatty liver in humans?

Cirrhosis and fructose

Cirrhosis and corn oil

Cirrhosis and fish oil

Why does inflammation cause anemia?

Anemia and exercise

Chronic obstruction pulmonary disease

Malocclusion: Disease of Civilization: Part IX

Ischemic heart attacks: Disease of Civilization

The coronary heart disease epidemic

Peripheral versus ectopic fat: implications for diabetes, your liver, and other diseases

The Vanderbilt protocol for multiple sclerosis

Cardiac disease and adiponectin

Fructose intake and kidney stones

Bowel disease part III: Healing through nutrition

Bone density assessment

Bone disease and lipids

Non-alcoholic fatty lipid disease

Coronary artery disease and vitamin D

Familial Hypercholesterolaemia

Parkinson’s disease

Rheumatoid arthritis and fasting

Rheumatoid arthritis and kidney stones

Chronic fatigue syndrome

Gall stones





Painful joints

Varicose veins

Polymyalgia rheumatica

Acid reflux: a red flag


Diet and recovery from chronic disease


High cancer risk if you’re fat

Omega 3s, Angiogenesis, and Cancer, Part II

Skin texture, cancer, and polyunsaturated (omega) fat

Are high fat, high cholesterol diets linked to breast cancer?

Cancer in non-industrialized cultures

Cancer rates among the Inuit

Cancer and the immune system

Prostate cancer paradox

Cancer and ketones

Skin cancer

Colorectal cancer and cholesterol

A holistic approach to cancer

How to protect yourself against cancer with food

Sunlight and melanoma

Glucose, lactate and cancer

Glycemic load and breast cancer

Could fructose promote cancer?

Carnosine, colons, and cancer

Fruit and vegetables and cancer risk

Omega 6 speeds up cancer development

Vitamin D and cancer

How to cause a (skin) cancer epidemic

DHA and Angiogenesis: the bottom line

Body mass index and cancer deaths in various US states

Your gut, diet, and autoimmune disease:

9 Steps to perfect health part 5: HEAL YOUR GUT

Autoimmune disease and ancestral diet trials

The gut-brain-skin axis

Is your gut leaky?

Gut flora and body composition

Stress and your gut

What’s up with your gut?  Beneficial bacteria, good digestive health, and your immune system

Conquering autoimmune disease by deleting grains

How to restore digestive health

The leaky gut

The human colon in evolution series


The diabetes epidemic

Why low carb for diabetes: a summary

The paleolithic diet for diabetes: clinical trial (part IV)

Why a ketogenic (low carb) diet reverses kidney damage in type I and type II diabetics

Diabetes I and II versus Diet

Diabetes and hunger

PaNu and type II diabetes

Diabetes and heart failure

Fat storage in pancreas and in insulin-sensitive tissues in development of type II diabetes

Mechanisms linking obesity to insulin resistance and type II diabetes

Lipotoxicity or tired pancreas? Abnormal fat deposition as possible precursor to type II diabetes

Diabetes update


The big sleep

Getting better sleep

Sleep and the circadian rhythm

Poor sleep may make you and your liver fat

Frequent sleep disruption increases risk of kidney and heart disease

Is 8 uninterrupted hours flawed conventional wisdom?

17 ways to improve your sleep

Sound cues and circadian rhythms

Sleep and oxidative stress

How light affects our sleep

Sleep and the immune system

Getting over the afternoon slump

F Lux software to make your life better

Skin and acne

Loren Cordain’s dietary cure for acne (ebook purchase and reviews)

The gut-brain-skin axis

Acne relief: fish oil and the paleo diet

Acne: disease of civilization

Weston A Price on Acne

Age spots

Dry skin

Women’s health/hormones

Dietary fat and ovarian cancer

What is PCOS?


Intermittent fasting for hypothyroidism

Meat is medicine: PCOS and female infertility

Micronutrient deficiency: an over-looked cause of hypothyroidism

Omega 6 fats supress thyroid signalling

PCOS and Low carb: is pregnancy a side effect?

How to grow a healthy baby

Maternal diet and heart development

Maternal diet effects offspring preferences

But Dad’s diet counts too

High fat diet and fertility

Gluten, thyroid, and autoimmunity

The contraceptive pill: if we don’t talk about it, it’ll all be OK?

Women’s set points

Fatty liver as a cause of PCOS?

Evolutionary disconnect and earlier puberty

MUST READ: Wise choices, healthy bodies: Diet for the prevention of women’s diseases

Natural PMS relief

Thyroid and Vitamin D Continued

Menstrual cramps

PCOS – Weston A Price


Thyroid and iodine

Thyroid basic physiology


Testosterone: not so manly after all?

Testosterone, Men’s health

The testosterone report: a young man’s trial and success

Protein-driven Lust

How to naturally increase testosterone

How to build muscle

The holistic treatment of men’s diseases

Soy: playing with poison

The health limitations of a vegetarian diet:

Vegetarian nutrient deficiencies

Vegetarianism: what the science tells us

Real Health Debate: Richard Nikoley debates paleo against vegetarian advocates

Carnosine: the latest uh oh for vegans and vegetarians

Latest uh oh for vegans and vegetarians: Creatine

More truth about raw vegan diets

Butter versus Margarine

Meat, sleeping babies, vitamin B12, and why eating meat is a must for mothers

Eat meat for better reproductive health

How many vegetables per day?  Probably not as many as you think.

Vitamin K2 and MK4:  essential nutrients only found in animal fats

Fat soluble Vitamin Musings

Diets high in fish and meat linked to stronger bones

Nutrient breakdown and speculation of 30 bananas a day vegan advocate

Plants and plant compounds are not essential or magic

This link contains more than a dozen links to academic articles on the B12 risks of a vegetarian diet

Allergies and food intolerances

Food allergies and intolerances reveal the true human diet

Histamine intolerances

Food hypersensitivity: where does it start?

Beef allergies? Part II

Allergies and hay fever

What can modern toxicology tell us about food toxins and intolerances?

The baffling rise in seasonal allergies: obesity or global warming?

Fructose and sugar concerns:

Fructose and gout

Sugar: The Bitter Truth, a lecture by Dr. Robert Lustig

Commentary re: Lustig’s lecture

There is no such thing as a macronutrient: why not all carbohydrates are equal

Studies suggest fructose is uniquely fattening

Fructose’s role in fatty liver disease

Fructose increases vulnerability to oxidative stress

Could fructose promote cancer?

Hepatic insulin resistance

Fructose makes bellies fat

Fructose, vitamin D, and calcium

When glucose makes a mess

A diet high in sugar can cause health damage even when a person is not overweight


How dairy entered the human diet

Dairy and its effects on insulin secretion

Mark Sisson’s definitive guide to dairy

Devil in the milk

Dairy fat and diabetes

Casein versus gluten

Why grains are bad:

Why grains are bad, or how to keep feces out of your bloodstream, a chapter out of Robb Wolf’s book: The Paleo Solution

The argument against cereal grains

Wheat-germ agglutinin: It isn’t all about gluten

Meat versus wheat: statistics from the China Study

Gluten and gall bladders

Gluten sensitivity: why celiac is the tip of the iceberg

Celiac and fat-soluble vitamins

The dangers of wheat

Can gluten contribute to irritable bowel syndrome?

Gluten, thyroid, and autoimmunity

Gluten intolerance is a brain problem

Gluten-free January data analysis: health effects of a gluten-free trial

Why wheat is a concealed cause of many diseases Part III

Lactose intolerance: often a result of wheat derived bowel disease

The China Study: Wheat flour, rice, and cardiovascular disease

A new “China study” links wheat with weight gain

Inflammation, omega 3 and 6 polyunsaturated fats, and disease:

Allergy, asthma, and autoimmunity start the same way

PUFA and the brain

Why omega 6 fats and inflammation leads to brain deterioration and Alzheimer’s

The case against omega 6s

Omega fats and cardiovascular disease

Omega 3s, Angiogenesis, and Cancer, Part II

Omega 3 fatty acids for muscle growth: promising potential

US Omga 6 and omega 3 consumption over the last 100 years

Have seed oils caused a multigenerational obesity epidemic?

Corn oil and cancer: reality strikes again

Skin texture, cancer, and polyunsaturated (omega) fat

Mark Sisson’s Definitive guide to fats

A comprehensive list of omega 6 and omega 3 content of different foods.

Perilous and precious: understanding PUFA

Mental health:

Anxiety, bipolar, mental health and diet

Gluten: it messes with your head

Dietary protein and serotonin

Depression, anxiety, obesity

Schizophrenia and gluten

Carbs are bad news for the brain (Alzheimer’s)

Diet and violence

ADHD, mood dysregulation, and micronutrients

Food elimination diet and ADHD

ADHD and omega 3

More on wheat and serious mental illness

How to prevent spending the last ten years of your life in a diaper and wheelchair

Autism and ketogenic diets

Magnesium and the brain

Metals and the mind

Moods and the immune system

Nutrition and mental development

Why a paleo diet increases longevity:

Paleo primates live longer, live healthier

The life expectancy of hunter-gatherers

Paleo life expectancy

The role of lean muscle mass and organ reserve in aging

High animal protein diet links to increased longevity

Living healthier longer: The Lipid Hypothesis has Officially Failed: Part II

Glucose restriction increases lifespan of human cells

How insulin controls aging

Intermittent fasting prolongs life in mammals

Life extension: part II

Weight loss:

17 reasons you’re not losing weight

Get real, get motivated

The body fat setpoint: how to change it

Why we get fat: food toxins

What is the best exercise for fat loss? Part V

The Perfect Health Diet for Weight Loss

Food reward: a dominant factor in obesity, part I

Fasting insulin and weight loss

Why “heart healthy” grains make us fat

Why snacking makes us both weak and fat

Kurt Harris’s How to lose weight

Where are the fat carnivores?

The secret benefits of being lean: Leangains

How lean should one be?

Growth hormone, insulin resistance, and body fat accumulation

Stephen Guyenet’s recent thoughts on carbohydrate and reward

Carb Sane Blog

But why carbohydrates are not the devil, either:

Are carbs the enemy?

There is no such thing as a macronutrient: why not all carbohydrates are equal

Views on insulin and obesity

Dangers of zero carb diets: can there be a carbohydrate deficiency?

Hunter-gatherer macronutrient ratios: More data

Estimates of nutrients and fatty acids in East African paleolithic diets: less hunting, more gathering?

Who said paleolithic diets had high fat percentages?

Cholesterol and heart disease, or, surprise, why everything conventional wisdom told you was wrong, again:

Meta-analysis finds no evidence that saturated fat promotes heart disease

Does dietary fat increase cholesterol or promote heart disease?

Statins and the cholesterol hypothesis, part I

Can a statin neutralize the cardiovascular risk of unhealthy dietary choices?

Dirty little secrets of the fat-heart hypothesis

Coronary heart disease: possible culprits part II

The Choline Smackdown (why you should save your liver and eat cholesterol containing foods) and again here, this time emphasizing the high nutrient density of a cholesterol-rich diet

When your brain is hungry for cholesterol

The diet-heart hypothesis, oxidized LDL, part II

The China Study: Cholesterol seems to protect against cardiovascular disease


The new science of stress and stress resistance

Worms and stress

15 ways to fight stress

Cortisol, stress, excessive gluconeogenesis, and visceral fat accumulation

Cortisol response to stress is much more elevated with carbohydrate intake than with protein or fat

Disordered Eating

Proof that Orthorexia exists

Neurobiology of binge eating

Therapy versus life

Why did we evolve a taste for sweetness?

Sugar addiction

Sugar is addictive

Hyperinsulinemia and anorexia?

Food addiction: harder to kick than cocaine?

Carb junkies?

Rats binge on pure fat but escape with sanity in tact

You are how you eat

Feel deprived?  Throw a hearty fuck you at American culture

Curbing physiological drivers of binge eating with a paleo diet

Vitamin D

Everyone needs sunlight.  I’ll give you one link and let it lie.

Intra serum 25 D level variations

Vitamin D via insolation: the only route in the north

Vitamin D home testing

Alzheimer’s and vitamin D

Vitamin D and the kidney

H1N1 Vitamin D3 and innate immunity

Vitamin D and the colon

Intermittent fasting and calorie restriction

Check out Leangains, possibly the BEST IF guide

What happens to your body when you fast?

Intermittent fasting prolongs life in mammals

Health benefits to intermittent fasting

How to intermittent fast

Intermittent fasting, set point, and leptin

Top ten fasting myths debunked

Intermittent fasting and infrequent meals: two meals a day

What I eat while fasting

Who shouldn’t try fasting?

Muscle loss and short term fasting

Intermittent fasting and reduced inflammation

The China Study: Does calorie restriction increase longevity?

Calorie restriction: partial restoration, not enhancement

Calorie restricted monkeys part II

Grass-fed versus grain-fed

The practically paleo guide to conventional meat

Low omega 6 to 3 ratio: grain fed beef or industrial oils?

Wild versus grass versus grain fed ruminants

More on grass-fed bison

Grass fed dieters see improved platelets, fatty acid profiles

The differences between grass-fed and grain-fed beef

Why fiber may not be all that good for you after all:

Fiber Menace

Dietary fiber and mineral availability

Colorectal cancer and fiber

The human colon and evolution, part III

The statistical debunking of the China Study:

The China Study: Fact or Fallacy?

The China Study: a thorough and diverse series of statistical analyses

Meat Versus Wheat: the China study

Sustainability concerns:

Vegetarian Myth review

Meat: A benign Extravagance review

Meat is medicine: how cows are helping revive desert ecosystems in Africa

Kurt Harris’s manifesto for diet and for life:

Paleo 2.0





05 2011

PCOS and acne update

I’ve been wanting to give you an update on my PCOS for a while now, but I kept saying, “just wait until X,” or “once Y happens.”  This was stupid.  Health progresses very slowly, and I might end up waiting to write about PCOS forever if I decide to wait for everything to be perfect.

Here is my original post on PCOS.  To summarize:

PCOS is the condition of having cystic ovaries, which is caused by a hormone imbalance.   When women have too many androgen (male) sex hormones, and not enough estrogen, we do not ovulate properly.  We develop cysts on our ovaries, and often exhibit other symptoms: we might stop menstruating, become infertile, have irregular periods, or exhibit testosterone dominant characteristics such as male-pattern facial hair, loss of head hair, and acne.  Gross.  Most PCOS patients are overweight and tend towards insulin resistance.  Testosterone is high in these patients for this reason, and even conventional medicine prescribes low carbohydrate diets for remediation.  However, there exists a minority of PCOS patients who have a bit of an opposite problem: that when they lose weight, or are perfectly fit, they mysteriously struggle with the same imbalance.  I am one of these.  Doctors are having a difficult time figuring out why.

I stopped menstruating about a year and a half ago now.  I don’t want to get to the punch line too early, but I also want to let you down slowly, so know in advance: I do not have an absolute victory to share with you.  I am not menstruating yet.  But I have hope that I will begin some time soon.  (!)

When I became period-free, I had recently lost a lot of weight.  I have maintained, more or less, that body size since then.  My doctor’s hypothesis for why I have PCOS is, therefore, as follows: since estrogen is produced in fat cells, when I lost fat, my body, which had become dependent on fat cells for estrogen supply, stopped having enough estrogen to menstruate properly.  Make sense?  Sure.   But I have also tested low on thyroid, and around 40 percent of PCOS patients also have hypothyroidism.  A high percentage of hypothyroid patients, in turn, (up near 80 or 90, according to Chris Kesser) have Hashimoto’s Thyroidism, an autoimmune condition.  So it is possible that this is the underlying cause of my PCOS.  I have yet to be tested for it since I am living in Taiwan, but I intend to find out once I return state-side.

That October 2009 was when I stopped menstruating.  I was on a zero fat vegetarian diet, and had in fact been doing that for three years, though it was only in the final months of 2009 that I ever “got really serious” and lost weight.   I wonder if this had anything to do with losing my periods, but, again, I don’t know anything for certain.  In March of 2010, still around 19 percent body fat, I switched to lacto-paleo.   My ovaries remained the same.  I had no periods, no vaginal discharge–which I used to have in spades–and no sex drive. Life can be really hard sometimes.

In August of 2010, acne emerged.  And not just acne, but, like, acne. I don’t have any photos from the time period because it was too horrific to even contemplate.  At one point I had 37 active cysts around my mouth.  Yikes.  I do, however, have one photo from after I had recovered a little bit, and I’m going to post it below.  We can pretty definitively attribute this acne to the high testosterone levels, since this is where testosterone-heavy people (such as steroid abusers) always break out.  I really panicked about it being due to food allergies, however, which made my diet an absolute mess.  My new hypothesis is that certain foods exacerbate the acne, but testosterone is the underlying cause.

Ugh, gross.  At this point, I decided to give up dairy.  It didn’t really help.  I was eating a lot of vegetables (including a shit ton of goitrogenic cabbage), eggs, fish, and industrial meat.  I noticed then when I took a lot of fish oil it seemed to improve, and also that whenever I put on weight it seemed to improve.  When I lost weight again after putting it on over the holidays, my face was a fiery nightmare.  Recall that estrogen is produced in fat cells, and helps mitigate the hormone imbalance.  Putting on weight, then, was at least moderately effective.

The first time I saw any significant improvement was when I took progesterone pills for three weeks.  This also made me put on about ten pounds in that three week time period, so I stopped taking it.  It made me a little suicidal anyway.

In any case, because of this, I have always sort of used my face as a metric for my PCOS.  The general trend seems to be that with a better hormone balance in my system, my face gets better.  The state of the acne is also, I believe, related to my diet.  There are two specific ways:  1)  I notice that if I have some sugary drinks while out on a weekend, I get a small break out.  This might be why dairy was so problematic for me, too.  (I think I noticed that the worst food instigator for me was store bought blue cheese dressing: dairy and low-fat additives and omega 6 dressing: Gods, could I have been putting anything worse in my body?)  So insulin is related.  Note that insulin’s role in all of this is probably due to how strongly it stimulates testosterone production.  2) I think that my diet, despite my best efforts, was still high in omega 6s while at home.  I also think I have a lot of inflammation left over in my body from my previous lifestyle and diets, so I need to really watch my omega 3s and 6s.  That “meat” that I was consuming a lot of including high quantities of chicken.  So perhaps it was never enough to balance the salmon filets I ate a couple of times per week.  I don’t know.  In Taiwan, I have been eating a whole hell of a lot of fish, which I think definitely helps.


Ok.  So my skin is bad and my vagina is as dry as Oscar Wilde, and I depart for Taiwan at the end of January 2011.

Within a week I see mild improvement.  Wtf?  What changed?

Honestly, I’m not sure.  There have been lots of variables at play already, and in Taiwan there are even more.  I stop eating chicken, and I eschew dairy 100 percent.  I also start eating seaweed.  I notice that this helps, I think, considerably.  This makes me wonder: is my low thyroid being fixed by iodine consumption, and is that in turn helping my PCOS?  Iodine is known to support ovarian and mammarian tissue health, so basic nutrient supplementation could be the key, I think.  When I discover this, I decide to eat seaweed daily.   I also decide to really pay attention to my omega 3s and omega 6s.  I eat as few vegetable oils as possible (though that is incredibly difficult in Taiwan), so I also eat fish twice per day.   This means that I am decently balanced, omega 3 to 6 (though I really have no idea, and I don’t take fish oil), and also that I am getting more than sufficient iodine.  More than sufficient, since seaweed and seafood are the most rich natural sources. I am also eating some pork, getting sufficient protein, avoiding sweets, and even adding some carbohydrate back into my diet.  I have yet to really test whether the carbohydrate is important, or not, probably not, but there we go.

I see my skin improve with time. It’s slow, at first.  Quite slow.  I troubleshoot and figure I need more seaweed and omega 3s.  I also stop eating sugar-free gum.  I start consistently sleeping seven hours a night.  I no longer live with my enormously stressful father.  I have put on five pounds.  I don’t know what is working, but something is.   After about six weeks in Taiwan, my vaginal discharge returns.  At this point, I’m pretty hopeful.

This is what I look like in early April:


From April through May, something really amazing happens.  I don’t know what.  But my skin advances like a warrior.  Every day I see it clear up.  Today, May 12, 2011, I have no acne.  Only scars.  I just sit back, and eat as carefully as possible, and watch the scars heal over time.

It’s also pretty fascinating, however, because in April I start getting violently ill once in a while.  I get incredibly nauseated and have disturbingly thorough diarrhea.  The first time this happens to me it is so severe that I am hospitalized for dehydration and shitting mucus and blood.  Yikes.  This meant that I end up eating a lot of sweet potatoes and occasionally squeezing in pork and eggs, and also carrots.  For a while I drink soy milk and even eat some granola, simply because those are the only things that feel good in my stomach (but I worry about the insulin for my face!).  This also means that, still, I am worried about my health.  Am I doing something wrong?  What is making me so ill? I don’t know.  Honest.  With my expert medical opinion, I have narrowed the causes down to: hyperthyroid activity, whether from an autoimmune condition or the vast amounts of iodine I was consuming, food poisoning, a duodenal ulcer, a parasite the hospital missed, or, my favorite candidate right now: iodine poisoning.   I think I overdosed on iodine.  Iodine can be corrosive in the stomach, and for a while I was exceeding the upper limit on iodine by a few thousand percent each day.  I didn’t know I had been eating that much.  In any case, my intestinal lining is upset and ulcerated, and this may be due to iodine consumption.  Therefore: I have dropped my seafood and seaweed consumption to about zero recently (boy I miss omega 3s), and I have been doing okay.  Skin still looks good, I feel great otherwise, my vaginal discharge is now not just present but constant, and my sex drive is back in full force. That is unfortunate, since I liked the mental clarity I had as an asexual for a year and a half, but Zeus hates me so what can I do?

This means that, I think, my periods will come back.  I have no real evidence for what is working and what isn’t.  The answer could simply be that my body needed time to adjust to the new body weight.  Or it could be as complicated as having low thyroid from iodine deficiency, or low thyroid from an autoimmune condition, recovering from inflammation, needing omega 3s and more iodine for my PCOS, living a relaxed lifestyle, eschewing dairy, getting more nutrients in my body, drinking more water, drinking less (herbal) tea, or keeping insulin low.   Another very important factor is that I’m about 5 pounds heavier than I was in September 2010.  That’s not very significant for someone who weights 200 pounds, but the difference between 110 and 115, or 115 and 120, is pretty profound.  I think it is a mix of a lot of things.  In any case, I am no longer ashamed of going out in public–of inflicting my face on people, I used to think–and I have a sex drive and I was kidding above it’s fucking (pun intended) incredible, and I may in fact regain my fertility in the near future.

When I first started getting vaginal discharge a few months ago I thought my periods would start right away. Now I know better.  Just like it took a long time for my acne to develop, cysts to show up, and menstruation to stop (perhaps that was a result of my long-term vegetarian low fat lifestyle), it is going to take a while for my body to find new balance and reap all of the benefits from increased nutrients on the paleo diet.  I need to keep moving forward slowly, and to experiment with different foods ideas, and to be as smart and safe as possible.  I think it’s going to come in time.  I don’t have a triumphant success story for you yet, but trust me, when I begin menstruating, you may in fact be the first to know.

This weekend.  A bit of foundation, hints of scars on the left side of the photo, but otherwise, well, free.  Not bad, eh?:



05 2011

PCOS, cancer, pregnancy and more: Why taking Iodine may save your life

One of the first posts I wrote for this blog was about my experience with Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome.  That was just three weeks ago, but I’ve had some relevant experiences since then that I think are worth sharing.

I was beginning to take estrogen pills the last we talked.  The idea was, since my estrogen was a bit low, these pills would bring my male/female hormones into balance and would help me menstruate.   They worked. The medical community knows their stuff, and if they want to make us fertile, they can do it.  What’s more, the pills helped clear up my acne a bit.  However, the pills also added 12 pounds of body fat to my 5’2 frame!  I legitimately stopped fitting into all my clothes, and in just three weeks.  For someone so acutely aware of body image and weight issues, this was startling.

So I had a period (my first in 15 months, huzzah!), but then stopped taking the estrogen pills (I was on Sprintec, a classic birth control pill) and ordered Yasmin, a birth control pill that’s supposed to be better for acne and for maintaining body weight than the rest on the market.  This should be a better fix than my last birth control pill.   However, I am not going to take it right away.  Instead, I have discovered a new treatment for PCOS, and I am going to experiment with this first.  Birth control pills are clearly just a band-aid over a larger issue, and I want to have the greatest holistic and true health possible.

Onwards, then!  Onwards, I say!


I was staring out the window on a bus ride down the western coast of Taiwan when, listening to a Robb Wolf interview on the Livin La Vida Low Carb Show, the two of them discussed the perils of iodine deficiency.  I know that my thyroid activity is a little low.  I know, too, that the other women I’ve talked to who have started experiencing PCOS since losing weight also have relatively low thyroid levels.  Robb said that he often sees many women experience PCOS and then normalize once supplementing with iodine.  Fascinating.  I decided to do some research.  This is what I found:


Only iodine and chlorine, of the four halogens–(iodine, chlorine, bromine and fluoride)–are necessary to the body. We need iodine in many of our organs, including the skin, muscle, and reproductive tissues.  We need chlorine in the stomach for secretion of hydrochloric acid. Chloride is also an important part of the blood’s regulation of its acid-base balance, so we need chlorine to breathe.  We consume bromine and fluoride in higher quantities than either iodine or chlorine.  Yikes.

Much like we’ve seen before with other elements, each of these halogens attaches to the same receptors in our cells.  Therefore, if we take in excessive bromine (which we do) or fluoride (which we do), we inhibit our ability to take up and use iodine.   Receptors may fill up with bromine, which is common in grains, bleached flour, sodas, nuts and oils as well as several plant foods. Fluorine from sources such as toothpaste, certain teas, and fluoridated water will also take up important spots in halogen receptors.

This information is important because iodine deficiency is not only caused by reduced iodine intake, but also by increased bromine and fluorine intake.  One researcher in particular, Dr. Flechas, has looked into trends in halogen intake over time, with specific emphasis on women’s health.   I found an interview with Dr. Flechas online, at the website, which is maintained by health care professionals aware of the dangers of iodine deficiency.  It’s a pretty cool site.  I went ahead and listened to the interview with Dr. Flechas.  What follows is a summary of what I thought were the most relevant points:

* 84% of women have some kind of cyclical breast pain, which is related to fibrocystic breast disease and linked to iodine deficiency.  84 percent… that’s so many people. Dr. Flechas reports that breast tissues uses as much iodine as the thyroid gland.  The New England Journal of Medicine, on July 24, 2005 reported that women with fibrocystic breast disease have elevated rates of cancer.

* Iodine deficiency in the ovaries leads to ovarian cysts, ie, PCOS.

* A women with hypothyroidism has a 6% chance of developing breast cancer. Once she starts taking thyroid hormone, it doubles her chances. Once she’s been on thyroid hormone replacement for 15 years, it more than triples it – she now has a 19.6% chance of developing breast cancer.  Thyroid hormone inhibits the body’s ability to take up iodine.  Clearly, thyroid hormone is not the ideal fix for this problem.  What’s more, those put on thyroid hormone may still suffer with 90% of their symptoms. For many, they have enough of the thyroid hormone already.  The problem is with the receptors.

* Dr. Flechas argues that the RDA of iodine is too low.  (Surprise!)  The RDA recommends an enough to prevent goiter, but not enough for optimal health.

* Iodine in the body is used as follows: 3% by the thyroid, 70% by muscles and fat, 20% by the skin, and 7% by the ovaries.  I am sure that this has implications for my ovaries and my thyroid and my weight loss, but how is totally beyond me.

* Absence of iodine in tissue allows cysts to grow.  This would explain why iodine deficiency leads to both fibrocystic breast disease and poly cystic ovarian syndrome. In his practice, Dr. Flechas has put women with PCOS on iodine supplementation and has seen their cycles not just return, but become regular.

* Iodine is also important for pregnancy. Absence of iodine in early pregnancy = ADD type symptoms in children.  Adequate amounts of iodine in early pregnancy and early childhood improves intelligence.  In China, where there is fluoride in the water and the iodine levels are marginal, many babies born are cretin.  Yikes.

*Bromine is evil. In the U.S., iodine used to be in bread – 160 mcg of iodine per slice of bread. Now manufacturers use bromide because it helps create a “beautiful” bread shape.  Not long after this change occurred, the incidence of breast cancer rose dramatically.  Another interesting Bromine phenomenon: Back in the 20′s, Bromo-Seltzer was used to cure headaches and hangovers.   Yet too much Bromo-Seltzer caused a buildup of bromide in the brain which resulted in paranoia and schizophrenia, which the doctors termed “Bromomania.”  The New England Journal of Medicine reported that from 1920 to 1960, 20% of the people admitted into psychiatric hospitals had acute paranoid psychosis (Bromomania) because of Bromo-Seltzer.  In 1964, the FDA finally caught wind of this, so Bromo-Seltzer left the market. But, that same year, bromide was included in another produce in the form of brominated vegetable oil – Mountain Dew. They use it to disperse the citric acid in citrus- flavored drinks.  Bromide depresses the central nervous system, however, so Mountain Dew is loaded with caffeine to make up for that effect.  Finally, bromide is injected into soil and sprayed on some fruits and vegetables since it makes a great pesticide. Fluoride is also used as an insecticide and pesticide.  In China they have found that no geniuses come from areas with fluoridated water.  Many are of substandard intelligence.

* Iodine also used to be fortified in milk, but is no longer.

* 50% of American women cook with salt that has no iodine. The Journal for the AMA recommends all physicians decrease their patients salt intake by 50%. Where are these patients supposed to get iodine?

* 20% iodine sits in the skin – it helps the body sweat. If you don’t sweat, you may be iodine deficient.  (I don’t sweat!!!)

* Japan has the lowest amount of cancer in the world, even though they’ve been bombed twice with nuclear bombs. Because they eat so much seaweed, they get the highest doses of iodine of any country.  This is a correlation, but one that I think is perhaps relevant, currently, in my own life.  More on that later.

* FSH/LH receptors (important hormones in the menstrual cycle) are also helped by iodine. Dr. Flechas mentions again that patients who aren’t having periods began having regular cycles again.

* Neuro-hormones in the brain also benefit from iodine. Within days, some people with depression find relief.

* Dr. Flechas has been supplementing with iodine for a number of years now. It took him a year to come off his thyroid hormone for hypothyroidism.


So that’s the interview.  Pretty powerful stuff, huh?   I have yet to fact check anything Dr. Flechas said, nor to perform further research on the matter.  I was just too excited about the possibilities for this treatment to wait to post it.

I lived at home with my family in Detroit for the last five months before I came to Taiwan.  While home, my symptoms with PCOS skyrocketed.  I had been infertile and experiencing acne before, but once home it got much worse.  I tried everything with my diet, and nothing was working.  However, I now know that we did not use iodized salt in my home, and I also know that Detroit fluorinates it’s water.  I also drank enormous amounts of tea, some of which may have had excess fluoride in it.  I never sweat, I have low thyroid, I have cystic ovaries, and I have dry skin.

Since coming to Taiwan, I have stopped drinking tea, I drink a decent amount of my water out of bottles, and I have made sure to eat two servings of seaweed every day.   Now, I know that I was on the birth control when I got here, so that might account for my improved acne and skin conditions, but while I was in the states and on the birth control I was still having breakouts.  Since coming to Taiwan, I haven’t had any.   At all.  And my vaginal health has stabilized some, even since coming off of the birth control.  Lots of things have changed in my life here–lots and lots of factors could be at work.  But I think I am on to something, and I am excited.

In addition to having Yasmin shipped to me, my mother is shipping my kelp tablets along as well.  I am going to supplement with them for a few weeks without any birth control, and see what happens.  I will keep doing research into thyroid activity, cystic tissues, and iodine levels.  And I will keep you posted both on my own progress and on what I find.  We seem to be on the right track (duh), with the paleo diet by eschewing foods that are manufactured and contain bromide, but sometimes things fall through the cracks.  I am plugging up those cracks one at a time, and I hope that in your pursuit of optimal health, you get to do the same.

The light of the future is bright and beckoning!



02 2011