Labs and More. Much, Much More.

I’m excited to write today.  I’ve had an intellectual breakthrough of sorts…if not a physical one, yet.  Things are starting to fall into place.  But first, labs. I did get some lab results yesterday – the normal lipid profile tests that my doc orders before we have an appointment.  You know, the usual stuff that gets you put on statins in the first place?  Well, I found the results to be pretty interesting.  Take a look:

Total LDL HDL Trigs
2010 279 195 43 275
2012 238 165 52 112
Difference 41 30 9 163

I went off Lipitor when I started the Leptin Reset 5 weeks ago, so I’m comparing my current results (2012) with my baseline prior to medication (2010).  My LDL cholesterol has dropped 30 points, my HDL has increased 9, and my triglycerides have dropped 59% to 112.  I’ve become fairly convinced that LDL cholesterol isn’t bad in itself, but rather is a marker for inflammation or infection in the body.  Dr. Kruse says as much in his Hormones 101 post:

So anytime the body is stressed or inflamed, it up-regulates cholesterol production to make more lifesaving hormones. It requires T3 and vitamin A as cofactors to complete this step. Blocking cholesterol’s production will increase cellular stress. This is why biochemically to me no statin drugs have ever made any sense under any circumstance in medicine. Moreover, this is why there is a chronic association of cancer to low cholesterol levels in the literature. In times of infection or stress, LDL levels always need to rise to protect the cell.

The idea that we blame LDL cholesterol for the problems of our health makes as much sense to me as blaming the paramedics for a car accident because they happen to be there on the scene.  Like LDL, they are correlated with problems, not the cause of problems.  So artificially reducing them with statins is just wrong.  I’m glad I’m off the Lipitor.  By the way, when I was on Lipitor, my total cholesterol was under 200, so I’m confident these higher numbers are a pretty accurate reflection of what’s really going on.  What I’m taking from this is that improvements are happening, but I’m not there yet.

I was reading on Dr. K’s brand new forum last night (love it, by the way) and a lightbulb went on in my head.  I came to this success story written by Shijin13, who I recognized as a regular commenter on his blog.  She described her situation as having difficulty losing weight (like me), even gaining weight while following the Leptin Rx.  She went on to say this:

After reading Dr Kruse’s response on the Perfect Health blog, in Sep 2011, regarding increased LDL in some people on a paleo/primal diet, I realized the crazy cortisol I had, in combination with the high LDL I was dealing with pregnalone [sic] steal syndrome, and my brain had turned off my hypothalamus-pituary axis, essentially shutting down my thyroid to a maintenance level, which was making it difficult to lose weight. It also explained why my Thyroid panels (TSH and T4- were normal!) This became a vicious cycle. So I continued to make LDL, but the cortisol was shunting the pregnalone so I wasn’t turning the LDL into the appropriate sex-steroid hormones. This was my biggest AHHAAA moment in my quest for health. I then focused on fixing the cortisol through the use of adaptogens, I gave up my beloved coffee for decaf, and I stopped working out.

I read this and something about it clicked.  I read more about pregnenalone (which I had never heard of before Dr. Kruse) and Pregnenalone Steal Syndrome (also known as Chronic Stress Response).  Pregnenalone is a hormone that makes other hormones. Essentially, cortisol levels become chronically elevated by stress, and the cortisol steals all of the pregnenalone so that the other bodily processes get ripped off and can’t make the other important hormones.  This is the perfect example of how we’re not biologically adapted to our current environment.  Cortisol goes up when our bodies perceive stress, shutting down all these other processes so that you can survive the stress.  However, we live in an age where stress is chronic and these processes get shut down chronically.  Here are some sources of stress that lead to elevated cortisol, according to Dr. Kruse:

The causes of stress in humans are: psychological, traumatic, infectious, allergic, electromagnetic (EMF), xenobiotic and geopathic, as well as Leptin resistance and dysbiosis.

Another site give these as examples of stress that lead to higher cortisol production:

Anger – Fear, Pain, Trauma/Injury, Toxic Exposure, Radiation, Malabsorption, Maldigestion, Illness, Chemicals, Infection, Poor Diet, Allergies, Food Reactions, Mold

So chronic exposure to any of this stuff causes cortisol to steal pregnenalone and causes these other processes to get ripped off:

  • Energy production goes down
  • Utilization of Glucose goes down
  • Blood Sugar rises
  • Gluconeogenesis (production of new glucose) increases
  • Bone loss (Osteoporosis) increases
  • Fat accumulates around rump & waist
  • Protein breakdown increases
  • Salt & H2O Retention increases
  • Immune Activity changes — Secretory IgA goes down, Antigen Penetration increases, Circulating IgG increases, NK Cell Activity goes down, Interleukin goes down, T-Lymphocyte goes down due to impaired Thyroid Gland function which begins with impaired Adrenal Gland function.

…leading to the following clinical conditions (I’m putting in RED the ones I’m experiencing or commonly experience):

  • Chronic Viral Infections (EBV, CMV, Herpes I & II, etc.)
  • Increased Infections
  • Yeast Overgrowth – Candida Albicans
  • Allergies – Food, pollen, dust etc.
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches – all types
  • Autoimmune Diseases – MS, Rheumatoid Arthritis, etc.
  • Cancer – all types
  • Cardiovascular Disease
  • Insomnia
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Hunger
  • PMS
  • Depression/Mental Disorders
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Digestive Problems

I’ve just started researching this, so I haven’t yet found sources I know to be reputable discussing this.  I don’t even know for sure that Dr. Kruse is reputable (although I suspect he is).  I was reading his Hormones 101 post, and it made so much sense after learning about cortisol and it’s effect on the body when chronically elevated.  I’ll be reading it several more times.  I think he’s probably brilliant.

In any case, my next step is to start figuring out getting cortisol testing done.  It seems the best way to do this is salivary testing, and there are lots of sites that offer this.  Some say you need a doctor’s prescription, depending on which state you live in.  I’ll have to call one of them up and get the scoop.

I’ve long suspected that stress in my life is damaging my health but it wasn’t until now that I really understand how that happens.  My health started declining after I moved and got married 6-7 years ago.  I was doing things that were very scary for me, and my response was stress…and lots of it…for a long time.  I’m going to figure out how to turn this around. I hope my doctor wants to help.

3 thoughts on “Labs and More. Much, Much More.

  1. Chris Kresser says if you divide your trigs by your HDL, you can figure out if your LDL is mostly light,fluffy IDL, or the sdLDL (Small dense–from carbs). If it is <3.8, it's mostly IDL (good kind), if it's over 3.8, it's the bad kind that damages arteries. In your case, it's 2.15 so you're fine.

  2. Also, Dr. Kruse likes HDL over 60 in women (70 in men), <60 suggests you still have some leaky gut issues.

  3. That’s good to hear about the cholesterol…I actually asked my doc at my last visit for labs separating the small dense from the large LDL. She didn’t seem to know what I meant.

    Re: the HDL…bring on the bone broth!

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