Google has made medicine easier to understand, and has been a godsend for someone who doctors have secretly wanted to shut up , for years.

This is a collection of thyroid knowledge nuggets, collected over the years. I have tried to put everything here. Sometimes it may appear to be too much. :-)

Comments, brickbats, tomatoes (non-BT) and eggs (non-BT) welcome.

Shoes most unwelcome.

Just added !

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Everything you wanted to know about FLAX seeds .

Here is some more useful information : Flaxseeds are known as ALSI in Hindi, Gujarati, and Punjabi, Ali Vidai in Tamil. In Marathi, it is also known as jawas, alashi, and linseed. n Bengali, it is known as Tishi, in Oriya its Pesi. In Kannada, its called Agasi, and telugu people call it Avise ginzalu. Finally, in Kerala, the Malyalis call it Cheruchana vithu

We, in India have an amazing capacity to ignore our plant Kingdom riches and consign them to the archives, till someone from the developed countries publishes exciting news about the medical and other uses of such things.

Take FLAX.

There was so much one read about flax seeds, all the time. How useful they were, how best to take them, how NOT to take them, the quantities, the various recipes, and so on and so forth...

I found out what flax was in Marathi (my mother tongue) and then had an enlightening discussion with the lady who sometimes comes to help me with my daily housework. She saw the flax seeds that I had brought and told me that right from her childhood in the plains of Maharashtra, it was always routine for houses to have earthen pots in which this flax seeds chutney was stored, for eating along with jowar bhakri . It was like people in the west store their fruit preserves and stuff.

Turns out that flax seed has been used for a very long time here in India.

Why am I going on about Flax seeds ?

Read what Dr Udo Erasmus has to say about this..

Thyroid Hormone Receptors

According to Dr. Erasmus, essential fatty acids are critical to thyroid function because, first, they are required for the integrity of the structure for every membrane of every cell. Second, they increase energy levels in the cell. And third, there is some evidence that essential fatty acids, especially Omega 3s, improve the efficiency of the hormones on the receptor sites.

To understand the importance of the receptor issue, think about the situation of diabetes. Pre-diabetes, the condition that is considered a marker for future diabetes, is also known as insulin resistance. Insulin is in the body, but it isn't being utilized because saturated fats block insulin receptor function, and ultimately receptors become desensitized -- and ultimately immune to and unable to receive -- insulin. Essential fatty acids are required for receptor function and can make diabetics more insulin sensitive. So diabetics taking essential fatty acids may need less receptors, and ultimately, less insulin.

Dr. Erasmus believes that this same mechanism takes place with other hormonal functions, such as the androgens, pineal glands, adrenal glands -- and specifically, the thyroid.

There are practitioners who believe that thyroid hormone resistance is not a rare occurrence, and is actually a more common sign of impending thyroid disease, much like insulin resistance is a precursor to diabetes. This issue of receptors is critical, because according to Dr. Erasmus, "With proper essential fatty acid nutrition, what will sometime happen is that you get fewer receptors but they work better." This would mean that proper levels of essential fatty acids might make the thyroid hormone receptors work better, so that thyroid hormone actually accomplishes its mission.

When thyroid function goes down, the metabolic rate goes down, and the body burns fewer carbohydrates. Dr. Erasmus believes that people with hypothyroidism should switch from grains and starches to green vegetables as their primary source of carbohydrates. Green vegetables, plus good fats and proteins, should form the core of the diet.

Sufficient essential fatty acids help increase energy and suppress appetite, thereby aiding in weight loss. In addition, they have been found to block the genes that produce fat in the body (saturated and Trans Fat do not have this same effect) and increase thermogenesis -- the burning of fat.

Dr. Erasmus actually feels that Omega 3s work better than the heralded conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). He feels that CLA may have some negative side effects, particularly at higher doses.

My Experience....

Flax seeds are one of the best sources of Omega-3 fats. In our typical Indian vegetarian diet, one of the typical fats we miss out on, in Omega-3 fats. Those who are fish eaters, are slightly better off, as Fish are one of the best sources of these Omega -3 fats.

Essential fatty acids are a must for glandular health, and they often improve overall health. These can be Omega-3's or Omega-6's from marine sources, flax oil, flax seeds, black currant seed oil, evening primrose oil or borage oil.

Why do we need these Omega -3 ? Well, ever heard of Cholesterol ? Indians are notoriously prone to high levels of cholesterol and particilarly a thing called lp(a). Its a genetic thing. The Omega-3 fats are the fats the body needs, They help to regulate your cholesterol. Increase the HDL and lower the LDL. Omega-3 fats also wage war on your triglyceride levels.

Anyone, and particularly a woman with thyroid problems, is subject to things like weight gain, lipid abnormalities etc. It goes without saying that if she can keep her lipid profile under control through dietary stuff, she would really be taking care of some cardiac risk factors as a thyroid patient. There are some lipid lowering medicines that are actually contra-indicated if you are on thyroid medication.

I have myself tried using flax seeds for 1-2 months, with an encouraging lowering of my diastolic blood pressure; it was not alarming to start with, but when you are 50 plus, and little signs show up here and there, you need to be on the watch.

There are a few things one needs to bear in mind while using flax seeds . (Flax oil, as such, is not easily available in India). It's best to lightly roast the seeds, either in a kadhai till they start crackling (similar to til or sesame seeds). Raw Flax seeds, contain a substance called cyanate, which can be harmful to the body in larger quantities.
  • Avoid eating flax seeds whole. They have the nasty habit of leaving your body in the same condition they came in ....
  • Ideally , one should grind the roasted flax seeds, This is easily done in a grinder. The recommended amount per day, is about 1-2 tablespoons.

  • People who suffer from constipation, may find these a useful change. Conversely, those whose intestines go into peristalsis at the slightest excitement, may find that they need to take a lesser daily quantity. (In case you are wonderingwhat I am saying, it means that overindulgence in these may cause increased trips to the toilet).

  • A decent combination, just learnt from the lady who helps me at home : FLAX SEED chutney !

    --Grind together 250 gms roasted flax seeds, a big palmful of dried red chillies, and 1-2 whole garlic (the whole thing). Add salt to taste. Enjoy on toast, curd rice, boiled veggies, dal-rice , what else.......
    (On second thoughts, this is like manna from heaven for cardiac types....flax, garlic, frying, )

    ---For those who are anti-garlic, a ground mixture of dried kadhipatta leaves,
    flax seeds and dried red chillies is also very tasty.

    --- Make a delcious mixture of juice of a few lemons, salt, red chilly powder, fenugreek powder(methi), haldi (turmeric), and add in ground flax seeds chutney, or just plain ground seeds. This makes a delicious sandwhich spread.