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Weight Gain and Thyroid Health: An Interview With Dr. Kyrin Dunston

On Friday June 11th I interviewed Dr. Kyrin Dunston on weight gain and thyroid health, and below is the written transcript. If you would prefer to watch the interview you can access it by clicking here [1]:

Here is the transcript:

Dr. Eric:

Happy Friday, everyone! Hope everyone is having an awesome day, and with me I have Dr. Kyrin Dunston and we’re going to be talking about weight gain and thyroid health!

Dr. Kyrin:

Hi.

Dr. Eric:

Hey, Dr. Kyrin, how are you doing?

Dr. Kyrin:

Good, how are you, Eric?

Dr. Eric:

Doing good, doing good. Thanks for joining me here.

Dr. Kyrin:

Thank you for having me.

Dr. Eric:

Yeah. I look forward to talking about weight gain and thyroid health and sharing your experience and so, Dr. Kyrin’s bio here is a very impressive bio. She’s been a board certified OB/GYN for over 20 years and is fellowship trained in anti-aging, metabolic and functional medicine by the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine and then leading by example, she lost a life changing 100 pounds and healed herself from chronic disease by adjusting the root cause of her overweight and dysfunction. That’s a lot of weight and a lot of people are just looking to lose 20 pounds…

Dr. Kyrin:

I lost a person.

Dr. Eric:

Yeah, so we’ll definitely talk about that. Also, you have a book called Cracking the Bikini Code: Six Secrets to Permanent Weight Loss Success and I assume people could find that on Amazon?

Dr. Kyrin:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dr. Eric:

Okay, great. And then she also is the host of her brilliant Health Revolution podcast where she offers interviews with inspiring and insightful experts in functional medicine for women, desiring to heal and achieve optimal health naturally and she also resides in Georgia with your two dogs, Otis and Carly, so not too far from North Carolina. So, I believe you’re also from up north too and you’re just like me, just escaped the cold and decided to go down south, and all right, well, thanks again for joining us, Dr. Kyrin.

Dr. Kyrin:

Thank you for having me, Eric. Super excited to be here.

Dr. Eric:

Yeah, so why don’t you start with your story, because again, a hundred pounds is, like you said, it’s a whole person. So why don’t you tell everybody a little bit about your journey?

Dr. Kyrin:

Sure. So, yeah, I was born and raised in New York City and I trained in Philadelphia and Delaware and ended up coming down to Savannah, Georgia because of a man and a job and I was a very successful OB/GYN. I delivered thousands of babies. I did pap smears and hysterectomies and worked with some wonderful women but my health suffered. I, at one point, weighed 243 pounds, so I was obese. I had chronic fatigue. I was tired all the time. I basically ended up only having energy to work and sleep. So when I wasn’t working, I was in my pajamas in my bed, even though I was a wife and a mom.

I didn’t have energy to show up as the wife and mom that I wanted to be. I had fibromyalgia, which is pain in the body on a consistent basis for over six months. I had anxiety and depression and was on multiple medications for those. I had gastric dysfunction, reflux. I had gastritis. I had irritable bowels, so I didn’t know if I was going to poo once every two weeks or if I was going to poo 15 times in one day.

And my health was really out of control, I was miserable and I used all the tools I learned in my medical training to figure out what was wrong and fix it. So, I would run tests. I’d say I’ve got to have a thyroid problem, right? I have cold hands, cold feet. I’m cold. I have weight gain. I am tired. I am constipated sometimes. So these are classic symptoms of low thyroid and I thought I’ve got to have a thyroid problem.

So I would do the test I was taught to use to diagnose a thyroid problem and they would come back normal or within normal limits or reference range. So, oh, I don’t have a thyroid problem and I think I checked it at least 10 times and it was normal and then I went to my doctor, my internal medicine doctor. I’d say, “Something’s got to be wrong, look at me. I’m miserable. I look and feel 20 years older than I am.” I was in my 40s at the time. And maybe some of you watching can relate to this.

And she’d say, “Okay, well, we’ll run tests. We’ll see what we find.” And she would run tests and she’d say, “All your tests are fine. They’re normal. You’re fine. You just need to eat less and exercise more. That’s your problem.” Basically, she told me it was my fault, which is what I told my patients because that’s what I was taught. So, she said, “It’s a math problem, too many calories in, not enough calories out.” I had no energy to exercise but sometimes I would muster the effort and energy to exercise and I tried diet programs, Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, Nutrisystem. I tried them all, diet pills. And I might have a little bit of success but eventually, I’d gain it back and more. It wasn’t sustainable and I was just getting worse and worse and I call it circling the drain. My health was just spiraling.

They told me I needed a spinal fusion, which no good ever comes from a spinal fusion. It just destabilizes the rest of the spine and you end up having the entire spine surgerized and fixated and very little mobility, so I knew I didn’t want that and I was so depressed and I felt so hopeless. I’m thinking I’m supposed to know more about women’s health than anyone else. I’m a board certified OB/GYN, right? Women’s health specialist. I clearly am unhealthy and yet, all the tests I run are normal. My doctor runs them and they are normal and I remember the last time I left her office, it was a Thursday and it was raining outside and she yelled at me. She literally said, “Kyrin, there’s nothing wrong with you! You just need to stop eating so much and exercise more! Stop with this! There’s nothing wrong!”

And I went out into my car in the parking lot and I just closed the door, I didn’t even turn the motor on and I just started crying because I felt so hopeless and alone, like there are no answers and maybe other women or people, anyone watching will relate to this. You go, you trust your medical doctor to have the answers and I was a medical doctor and didn’t have the answers and she was a medical doctor and didn’t have the answers. So I felt like there is no hope, there is no answer.

This is my lot in life and I’m just going to have to deal with it. I knew that I was facing surgery or disability, probably because I couldn’t stand and do the surgeries and I didn’t have a choice because I was the breadwinner in my family, so I had to keep putting one foot in front of the other. Has anybody ever felt that hopeless with your health? You’re like, “I don’t even know which way to turn. There are no answers.” Well, that’s where I was.

And then not long after that, one of my patients who was a woman at midlife who was having all the same type of problems I had, I forgot to mention the period craziness and I had given her the usual prescriptions that we doctors give, birth control pill. She couldn’t sleep. I was too tired. I gave her a sleeping pill. Doctors give anti-depressants because that helps to mask some of the symptoms of these midlife problems, medication for her gut problems.

So she left with this fistful of prescriptions, maybe you can relate. Well, none of it helped her. So she went away and she came back about a year later and I saw her at the end of the hall. I’ll never forget it. And I said, “Oh my gosh, something’s different.” She was slender. She had lost that 30 pounds. Her eyes were bright. Her hair was full. She had this pep in her step and a smile on her face. Skin was bright and I knew something was different. So, I couldn’t wait to get her into the exam room and ask her what she did.

So, I did that. I got her in. I’m like, “Girl, what have you done because you look amazing?” And she said, “Well, I learned about this thing called functional medicine and they talked about resolving the cause of these symptoms that I’m having. So, I found this doctor in another town and I went and saw her and she did these tests that we never talked about, salivary hormone testing and she did this comprehensive thyroid profile and she did all these tests that we’ve never discussed, so I assume you don’t know about them and she found all these imbalances and she balanced my hormones and the weight just started coming off and my energy started coming back and my hair regrew and my mood improved and my periods are straight now and all the things,” and I was like, “Well, you are a walking billboard for this.”

So, I went home that night and I thought, how is this possible? Like I’ve paid a half a million dollars for my medical education, I have the best education in the world for women’s health and I don’t know any of what she’s talking about. Clearly, she’s been successful. So I set out to disprove what she was telling me because I’m like, this just can’t be true. It’s not possible that I didn’t learn the things that she’s talking about in med school. So, I set about doing the research and looking and scouring all the information I could find and instead of disproving what she was telling me, I ended up proving what she was telling me.

So, even though she was the N of one in my experience, the only person I knew, there was this whole world that I hadn’t ever been introduced to of root cause resolution, of testing that I had never been trained in, even though I’m supposed to know about women’s hormones, we were told, we don’t check women’s hormones. We don’t do that. We just treat by symptoms reflexively but there’s this whole world of you can test women’s hormones and you can adjust them to be at the right levels and in fact, when you do, guess what? Sleep problems, energy problems, weight problems, all the problems, health problems that I was having resolved and so I learned about this and when I read about it, I knew it was true because they talked about the way the body worked, which I learned all about in med school.

So, I said, ooh, I’m going to use this to address my own health concerns and if it works, I’m going to teach as many women as possible about this. Fast forward two years, I had lost a hundred pounds, hair regrown, sex drive back, gut healed, no anxiety and depression, off all prescription medications and my patients now are pulling me into the exam room, “Girl, what are you doing because we need that?” And so I started doing it with them and I actually, after about a year of doing it with them in my regular practice, walked away from mainstream medicine, a very lucrative successful practice because I knew that that was not the way to help people do anything but survive and I was all about helping people thrive and so this is my journey about why I do what I do now.

Dr. Eric:

All right, now that is awesome. So you had a lot going on. So you had low thyroid but not Hashimoto’s, correct?

Dr. Kyrin:

Correct.

Dr. Eric:

Okay. So you had low thyroid and IBS-like symptoms and just yeah, it sounded like you were a mess but a year later, just everything resolved, libido back, sleeping well, energy, just yeah, that’s great. So let’s talk a little bit about testing. So you said that, of course, most medical doctors, they just do the bare basics when it comes to testing. So, you mentioned more comprehensive thyroid panels. So, can you talk a little bit about that because I’m sure there’s a lot of people watching this who, again, their doctor, all they want to do is just a TSH. So, what do you consider to be more comprehensive testing when it comes to thyroid?

Dr. Kyrin:

Right. So yeah, the TSH is the standard screening test that we doctors do to screen you for thyroid hormone problems but the issue is that that’s actually a secondary factor and so in order to really know if you have a thyroid problem, you want to know is the thyroid making enough active hormone and is that active hormone being convert … That’s T4, is it being converted into T3, the inactive thyroid hormone, in your body and you want the free fraction. That’s the part that’s not bound to protein that actually has activity in your body. So the gold standards that you really want to know are your free T3 and your free T4.

The TSH is only a marker of the hormone the brain makes to tell the thyroid to function and so it’s a lagging indicator of thyroid function. You do want that but the truth is that in mainstream medicine the standard of care is they are concerned with what is the diagnosis and what drug do I need to give or what surgery do I need to do? Those are the questions that your mainstream doctor is asking because that’s what we’re taught to ask. What’s the diagnosis, what drug, what surgery? That’s their concern.

And in functional medicine and root cause resolution medicine, we’re concerned with a little bit of what but more why. So, to get to the why, you’ve got to look at all those thyroid parameters. So you need a TSH but you also need a free and total T4, free and total T3. You need something called a reverse T3, which looks at this abnormal form of T3, active thyroid hormone, that your body will make particularly when your cortisol is out of balance and you’re having stress. So, you need to look at the reverse T3 because everything may look great with the rest of your thyroid indexes but if you have high reverse T3, guess what? It’s sitting on your T3 receptors and healthy T3 then can’t get on it. So you’re going to essentially act like a low thyroid person.

So, if you don’t have that, you’re going to be confused and then the other indicators that you want are thyroid peroxidase antibody or TPO and antithyroglobulin antibody or what I call ATA because I catch so many people when I do my programs with women who, everything else looks pretty cool with their thyroid but they’ve got some symptoms but if you didn’t do the antibodies, you wouldn’t know that they had an autoimmune thyroiditis, the most common one being Hashimoto’s. So I pick up usually at least one in 10 women who have no thyroid diagnosis. They have symptoms. Their doctor told them they don’t have a thyroid problem. When they do that comprehensive profile, they come back positive for those antibodies and that is golden because the course of Hashimoto’s, for instance, is many years.

So, these women typically wouldn’t be diagnosed for another, I don’t know, three, five, 10 years till they’re really sick and their thyroid is very inflamed. They might even had a goiter or nodules and then it becomes a big issue but if you know you have antibodies, if you knew you had them five or 10 years ago, you can address the cause of those antibodies and get rid of them and then, guess what? You don’t have to have a horrible thyroid problem. So, that comprehensive test at least includes those parameters.

Dr. Eric:

All right, sounds good. And also, I’m sure there’s some people watching with Grave’s even though weight gain is more commonly associated with Hashimoto’s, some people with Grave’s actually do gain weight. So someone asked about TSI, thyroid stimulating immunoglobulin, so yes, that’s something with Grave’s that’s commonly tested as well but I want to talk more about reverse T3. So reverse T3, like you said, it’s an inactive form of T3 and we especially see it with increased stress levels, also see it a lot with hyperthyroidism too, with hyperthyroidism just very high levels but can you talk about more stress and weight gain, cortisol weight gain just because a lot of people are focusing on diet, just improving diet and exercising and of course, thyroid hormone balance is important too but how about other hormones such as cortisol?

Dr. Kyrin:

Right, so this is the thing, thyroid is important but I do see a lot of people get fixated on the thyroid and if you don’t address all the hormones, you’re never going to get your thyroid right and one of the main hormones you need to get right is your cortisol stress hormone made by your adrenal glands that sit back behind on top of your kidneys and they’re little walnut sized things that you can’t live without and your cortisol is … I call her queen cortisol, all hail the queen. If you don’t hail her, she will wreck everything for you, including your thyroid. So that reverse T3 that we’re talking about will go up when your cortisol is unbalanced and I have to be honest with you, there isn’t a person today alive on this planet that doesn’t have a jacked up cortisol, I’m just going to be honest with you.

If you’re not doing something to address your cortisol, it is jacked up and you can know this when you do a salivary cortisol profile and you collect saliva morning, noon, afternoon, midnight, so it’s not if your cortisol is messed up, it’s how much and in what direction so that you can address it but if that’s out of balance, it’s going to cause your reverse T3 to go up and then it blocks that healthy T3. So, your cortisol regulates your sleep/wake cycle along with your melatonin hormone that’s made in your brain. It regulates your weight. It regulates your immune system function. So whether you get autoimmune disease or not, whether you get cancer or not. So, I always say autoimmune disease, you have to have two things, you have to have your foot on the accelerator of inflammation and that’s from the gut and elsewhere toxicity in the body and you have to have no foot on the brake on inflammation. Your brake on inflammation is your cortisol stress hormone.

So, this is why you’ve got to deal with the queen and get her balanced out. If you have cortisol imbalance, which we’ve already established everyone has one, you will have typically weight gain in your midsection. This is the tire around the middle weight gain that you’re like, oh, I just have this roll in the middle. That was a big part of it for me whereas more often, sex hormone weight gain is going to be in your hips and thighs, cortisol is going to be in your stomach and in my experience, thyroid is more diffuse all over.

So, if you want to lose weight, it’s not a math problem, particularly for all of us starting at midlife, men and women, but particularly women, why is that difference between men and women, because men have 10 times the testosterone that we ladies have and guess what, testosterone is a secret weapon when it comes to weight. So men and also the testosterone decline in men or andropause as it’s called is way more gradual but we women, we start with this descent into perimenopause usually by 35, 40 or 45 and that’s when estrogen starts going up, progesterone starts going down and progesterone really is the weight loss hormone and then by 51, our ovaries cease production of these hormones, so the factories shut down and we need those to lose weight as well.  So, yes, thyroid issues are important and you’ve got to address all of these hormone imbalances.

Dr. Eric:

So, what recommendations do you give to your patients when it comes to trying to balance cortisol?  Probably the first thing is maybe testing, because I know you said you had saliva testing. I also had saliva testing done when I dealt with Grave’s disease, even though now I do saliva testing but sometimes I’ll do … You’re probably familiar with DUTCH testing, dried urine testing, so sometimes I’ll use that as well.  Both saliva and dried urine testing to look at circadian rhythm of cortisol.  So what steps would you recommend for someone who has done everything with diet, has done everything with exercise…or not everything but they exercise regularly, they eat well, maybe even follow like a ketogenic diet and again, thyroid seems to be in balance yet they’re gaining weight. So, at least from a stress perspective, what would you recommend?

Dr. Kyrin:

Right, I think that testing is invaluable versus guessing because when you see your cortisol numbers in black and white, ink on paper, it has a whole different meaning. When you’re just guessing at how stress is affecting your body and how your body’s handling stress, we often are very much in denial about what’s causing stress in our body and what’s happening. Our culture is very much what creates our cortisol problems. We are a go do culture and most of us overwork, we overdo, we over-participate and so it’s one thing, there’s stuff all over the internet on oh, do meditation, do relaxation exercises, change your mindset but the thing is, do we do it? No, we’re like I just want to know the strategies and things that I have to change so I can keep living my life exactly as I want to live it, which is how I’m doing it now.

So, I find that it’s a rare person who, without the black and white staring them in the face, is really willing to make the lifestyle changes they need to make to calm it down and this is even true for us healthcare practitioners. Eric, in one of the groups we belong to, someone posted recently that she knows she has adrenal fatigue and she’s about to crash and what expert can help her and I’m like, girl, I know you and I know you know as much as I do about this stuff and we all want what’s the pill we need to take, what’s the supplement, what’s the diet?

None of us wants to stop living our lives in overdrive because that’s our culture and we all are socialized to living this way and I basically said, you just got to stop doing what you’re doing and take a break before … Because if you don’t do it, your body will say no for you and the body says no by cancer diagnosis or a huge accident, that happened to me because I wouldn’t stop going and doing, you get a huge accident that your body then has … I had a foot fracture where I had to be with my foot up in the air for six months and they said we don’t know if you’re ever going to walk again. So there are some things you just have to dial it back but what I say is if you can get a cortisol test, get a cortisol test. Definitely tweak your diet.

But I find some people tweak their diet so far to the opposite extreme of popcorn and Twinkies, then Ho-Hos every day, they go to the opposite extreme and they have no carbohydrates and they’re intermittent fasting and they’re basically starving themselves and they work out like crazy, right? So I see these two extremes and neither extreme is better. You really have to come back to the center and start listening to your beloved body because she’s always talking to you about what she wants and what she needs but we’re so data driven, mind based and we are not in our bodies that we’re like I got my aura ring, I got my HRV checker, I got my continuous glucose monitor. I’m going to manage my body like I manage my bank account and I’m sorry, but your body is not a material thing, it’s a living, vital organism just like a plant.

So, we really need to step back and look at how we’re living our lives when it comes to stress. Are we overdoing it? Learning how to say no. Learning how to prioritize and do the things that really matter so we can manage our cortisol. So yes, it’s the diet but dialing that into what’s right for you and what’s right for someone else might not be right for you, dialing in our supplementation. Everyone needs to be on an adrenal supplement in this day and age, you just can’t avoid it but what are the right ones and how much and how frequently and when is what you’ve got to dial in and then dialing in your lifestyle and your blood sugar because that’s another big stressor for your cortisol and your gut health, which I know you teach about, Dr. Eric, and your toxicity. So, you’ve got to really do a comprehensive program.

Dr. Eric:

And of course, sleep. If you don’t sleep, you’re not going to heal … Also, you’re going to be inflamed and again, it’s a little bit of a catch-22 because sometimes, a lot of times, blood sugar imbalances and/or adrenal issues, they definitely have a lot in common, can affect sleep and then you’re not getting enough sleep and that also could be a factor with losing weight and yeah, you mentioned a healthy gut, problems with the gut microbiome could also make it a struggle to lose weight and liver increased toxic loads, so essentially what you’re saying, it’s a whole body picture…

Again, it’s not obviously, just diet, exercise, thyroid and then not even just adding stress management to the piece of the puzzle too. If you’re blocking out time doing mind/body medicine every day, which I do recommend,  I think it’s great to do that and it’s important, but if you have an increased toxic load, if you have problems with the gut microbiome, if you’re not getting enough sleep, all of these can be factors as well when it comes to gaining weight, correct?

Dr. Kyrin:

Absolutely. Everything above. Check, check, check, check, yes. You’ve got to consider all of that.

Dr. Eric:

Yeah. So, you said you had IBS-like symptoms and can you talk a little bit about that… Because, again, a lot of people have issues with digestion and again, you need a healthy gut to have a healthy immune system, healthy gut, to again, lose weight as well, so please talk about the gut microbiome and the gut. What are some of the things that you would recommend to optimize the health of the gut?

Dr. Kyrin:

Right, so the gut is really a complex organism. I think about it like it’s its own organism. It has a head and it has a tail and it’s got everything in between and if there’s a dysfunction in any part of it, it’s going to affect other parts and one of the main things that you can do to improve gut dysfunction, whether you know you have a gut problem or not because most all of us, like cortisol dysfunction, have some degree of gut dysfunction in this day and age, if you’ve taken even one course of antibiotics, the studies show that that can knock out the majority of your healthy gut microbiome for up to two years and most of us have had an antibiotic within the past few years, so most of us have that dysfunction.

But just even talking about the stress that’s so connected to your gut health because the frame of mind and the autonomic nervous system balance that you are in or not in when you start eating can speak volumes to improve your digestion. So are you eating standing at your desk shoveling like this while you’re on the phone in a Zoom meeting, right? You’re in a sympathetic, autonomic nervous system state which blood is not flowing to your digestive system and your digestive enzymes are going to be lower, your stomach acid is going to be lower and you need these to break your food down. So making sure even before you eat that you’re in a calm frame of mind, that you’re not multitasking, that you take time to appreciate the food and all the millions of people who participated in bringing this nourishing meal to you and that you take some deep breaths to invoke that parasympathetic nervous system before you start eating and you let the saliva start flowing by smelling it and just getting your body ready.

It’s not only sex we have to get ready for and have foreplay. We have to have food foreplay also. So having that with your food and then chewing it 30 times until it’s a liquid, how many of us do that? Nobody. And then swallowing it and if you need digestive enzymes or additional HCL to help with your digestion, which a lot of us need after 30 because our production goes down, taking that and then really not drinking liquids for about 30-45 minutes before you eat and for a couple hours after so you don’t dilute those gastric juices and then really managing your stress throughout the day so that your digestion can work in a coordinated manner because a lot of us don’t realize it if we jump up from a meal and then we’re on the Zoom meeting and doing 10 million things and running around and driving and stress and traffic, we’re taking blood from our digestive tract and taking it to our arms and legs so we can take action in the world and our digestion is faltering.

So, really looking at how we live our lives and our microbiome so we’ve got trillions of bacteria in our gut, more healthy bacteria in our gut than we have cells in our body. Scientists have wondered for decades how do humans have a fraction of the genetic material of an earthworm, a little earthworm is this big and it has almost twice as much genetic material as we have and the way we’re able to do that is that we upload a lot of our genetic information into the cloud. Well, where’s our cloud? We actually carry it around with us in our gut, right? It’s our microbiome. That is our cloud sourced genetic information.

So they’re vitally important, we can’t live without them and yet we do things every day that kill them, eating food that’s not organic, that has pesticides, consuming water that’s not filtered so that has toxins and contaminants in it too that kill our microbiome, taking antibiotics, living a stressful life because when we live a stressful life, blood flow to our gut decreases and can’t nourish these little bugs that keep us healthy.

So the care and feeding of your microbiome is something that we need to think about every day that almost nobody thinks about and I’m sorry, but I know a lot of people are like well, I eat yogurt every day. They get all up in arms. I eat yogurt, Dr. Kyrin. I’m doing my thing. Mmm, not so much, right? Because a couple things about the yogurt, one, it’s a cow’s milk dairy product, if you’re not eating nondairy and that’s very inflammatory for a lot of people. Also, if it’s a flavored yogurt, it tends to be sweetened with sugar or some sugar euphemism like my favorite one is concentrated fruit juice, that ain’t nothing but sugar, y’all. So, step away from that. Or evaporated cane juice is another one of my favorites because everyone bypasses that on the ingredient list. It ain’t nothing but sugar.

So, if it’s got some strawberry something in it, right, it’s sweetened with sugar and there really aren’t enough healthy bugs in there to bypass everything it needs to bypass and remain viable to get into your gut. So almost everyone needs to be taking some type of probiotic. Now, you need to watch your probiotic because if you take one that has very little numbers or we’re overburdened with the lactobacillus species, you can find that everywhere at Sam’s Club probiotic but you can actually cause more damage by that. So you want a high quality, what I call pharmaceutical grade, nutraceutical, so they’ve proven the purity and potency, they’re really researched very well by some of the better companies that you often need to get through a practitioner like Dr. Eric. You want that and you want to change up … I tell my people, change your brand and your formulation every month.

It’s like your social circle, right? How boring would it be if you only interacted with the same hundred people all the time, right? You’d get bored with that. Well, your body needs variety just like it needs variety of food. If you could only eat one meal every single day because I know we humans like habit and we’re like I take this probiotic, I’ve taken it every month for two years and we’re so proud of ourselves and your body’s like, no, stop. Give me some different people. Give me something different to eat. You need variety with your diet. You need variety with your microbiome and the probiotics that you take. So, start looking at your species. Make sure you’re getting various species in your probiotic and changing it up every month.

Dr. Eric:

All right, great advice. Thank you.  A lot of people, when they think about gut, they’re thinking about food and, we shouldn’t take antibiotics but you tied it back into stress and you mentioned autonomic nervous system. I mean some of it was very basic as you mentioned, as we don’t chew our food 30 times, making sure it’s liquified. I can’t say I do that all the time also, as I’m guilty as well and it’s something I’m aware of and sometimes I’m better than other times, and not eating on the run… Yeah, just great information.  Do you recommend things such as vagus nerve exercises to your patients…

Dr. Kyrin:

Oh, all the time.

Dr. Eric:

You mentioned HRV also, heart rate variability but regarding vagus nerve exercises, you said all the time you do recommend these?

Dr. Kyrin:

Oh absolutely. You’ve got to be priming that vagal tone, whether it’s toning or singing, so anything with laryngeal stimulation. You could do vagal massage, back here behind your ear, acupuncture points will stimulate the vagus nerve. Breathing and resonance breathing practices. Oh yeah, all my ladies in like my Hormone Balance Mastermind, I’m like twice a day, resonance breathing, twice a day checking your HRV because I do the one where you actually get your numbers that tell you the power in your parasympathetic nervous system, which is amazing because then you have it in hard … I think that data is very important to inform your choices. I don’t think it should become the holy grail of what you do.

You’ve got to learn to listen to your body but if you haven’t really been in your body and listening to your body for 20 years like most of us at midlife, you do need something to reacquaint you and data is very informative but now it’s to the point I know when my HRV is high, I know when it’s low and I always play a game with myself. I guess what it is before I check it so that I’m fine tuning my knowledge of how my body works, what it needs, what it wants, what it likes, what it doesn’t like and this is … We knew this when we were infants. When we were hungry, scream our freaking heads off.

Who hasn’t heard … I flew home the other day and there were a couple babies on the plane. When those babies aren’t happy, they let you know, right? They scream, mouth wide open. We’re so in tune when we were born with what was wrong and we needed it fixed but it’s socialized out of us, right? When we’re in kindergarten, we raise our hand, “Teacher, can I go to the bathroom?” Teachers says, “No, you have to wait until we are done with class,” right? So this starts the whole socialization away from being intimately familiar with our body and our biology and being in our bodies and being internally directed by what our health needs.

Kids who are allowed to go with their biologic urges like eat when they’re hungry, introduced to vegetables, really like them, we get this concept like that kids will only like a McNugget chicken that’s ground up and have all these additives added and breaded with a disgusting sauce with 50 ingredients that I wouldn’t even feed to my dog. Where did we get this idea? So, we train them to like to eat unhealthy foods, to not listen to their bodies when they have to go to the bathroom, when they want to go to sleep or not, right? If we just let kids decide when they’re tired and go to bed, they will learn pretty quickly that if I don’t want to be tired in the morning, I’m going to go to bed on time, right?

So, I know I get on my soapbox about this but part of my job to reacquaint women at midlife with their health, is to reacquaint them with their internal biologic urges. So you’ve got to start becoming cognizant of when is stress too much? What is stress? Most of the people I talk to, they have no idea and then they do the cortisol test and it’s a mess and they’re like wow but they’re teetering on this edge, this American edge of over-productivity and like we fuel it with caffeine and we dial it down with alcohol in the afternoon and evening, right? Up with caffeine and the alcohol in the evening. This is the American way and part of it is getting off that rollercoaster that’s just causing you to survive in overdrive and going I choose something different, I choose to thrive in peace. I choose to be in my body. I choose to really be present for this life and that gets back to HRV and stress management.

Dr. Eric:

All right, that was awesome. Thank you for sharing. So I want to also let everyone know that Dr. Kyrin will be answering some questions in a few minutes, so if you have questions, if there are questions, definitely type them into the comments but I wanted to ask you, Dr. Kyrin, as far as action steps then to … I know that it’s complex when it comes to weight gain but what would you recommend? What are some starting points you would recommend for those who have been struggling to lose weight?

Dr. Kyrin:

Well, let’s just get out of the way that the things that most everyone knows. So, you’ve got to eat … You literally are what you eat. So if you want to be healthy, you’ve got to eat healthy foods. So that means organic, non-processed and you’ve also got to cut the sugars out, not because of calories, that’s not the issue with sugar, but weight loss is all about hormone balance. Seven main metabolic hormones. So insulin is number one, thyroid, cortisol, DHEA, estrogen, progesterone, testosterone and it all starts with insulin.

So your food is important, not only that it’s clean but also that it doesn’t have a high sugar content because that leads into that first hormone, which is insulin. So it all starts with insulin balance. Why? Because insulin helps to balance your blood sugar and is unbalanced by unhealthy intake of sugars and it, in turn, affects your cortisol and your cortisol will be unbalanced if your insulin is unbalanced and it will unbalance your DHEA, your thyroid, your estrogen, progesterone, testosterone.

So, it just goes down the line. Your hormones are like a symphony playing music and if one violin is off and that’s insulin, then it makes all the other instruments go off or it’s like a mobile. I used to have this mobile over my office at my desk and it had all these different moving parts. You push one part, and that’s insulin, so the biggest input into our biology is what we eat and if you’re eating an insulin unbalancing diet, all the other hormones move just like on a mobile. So you have to start with that first input, which is insulin, so you’ve got to cut the sugars out.

And again, I’m a fan of testing, not guessing. Where are you starting with your insulin? How much support do you need? How radical do you need to be in terms of cutting out the sugars? We’re all on the internet looking for the one thing, what’s the one diet we all have to follow to have balanced hormones? It doesn’t work like that. We’re all so unique. You have to figure out what’s right for you. And so a certain degree of keto diet might not be healthy for you but it might be healthy for someone else. So I’m a big fan of testing, not guessing. So it starts with insulin.

And then you’ve got to look at all these other hormones but what can you do in your day-to-day life? Say you can’t get testing, you don’t have access to someone, you mentioned sleep earlier. I’m going to say, sleep. You have got to sleep by any means necessary. Now, I say that and a lot of women and men too, at midlife, use alcohol to sleep but that’s not a great option for many reasons. Alcohol often has a lot of sugar in it, so it unbalances your insulin. It also is toxic to the gastrointestinal lining and it taxes your liver, which hormone balances about liver function, and so you don’t want to do anything to your precious liver, which is your sanitation department.

But you want to take, whether it’s melatonin or I like a supplement that has phosphatidylserine and theanine in it with a little melatonin. You got to take something to get yourself to sleep because that gets directly to your cortisol that you want to balance and if you’ve got a thyroid problem, because I know, Dr. Eric, that’s your main thing but I see a lot of people that get such tunnel vision on it’s my thyroid, what supplement do I need? What do I need for my thyroid? Well, a lot of times what you need to do is fix your cortisol, fix your insulin, fix your sex hormones and when you do that, the thyroid goes, “Oh, thank you,” because it needs the support of these other hormones. They all support each other and they’re rising up or they’re all circling the drain.

It’s kind of like in our communities and just in humanity, either we’re helping each other to live better lives and do better or we’re pulling each other down and we’re all going to go down with the ship. So your hormones are no different. So with the weight loss, you’ve got to realize, after midlife, weight loss is not a math problem, it’s a communication problem. It is no longer about calories in minus calories out, it’s about hormone balance. So you need to do whatever you can to balance your hormones and for a lot of … Most women, by the time you’re 51 and you actually go through menopause, that means you actually would need natural hormone replacement to replace your sex hormones, estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, which is safe and if your doctor thinks it’s not, it’s because they’re confused about apples and orange type hormones.

This is something I teach people about. The natural hormones are safe. They’re the ones that 20-year-old women have and that’s why they look and feel so great and are so healthy. So you’ve got to get yours like a 20-year-old woman but it’s all about hormone balance, weight loss after 40 is not a math problem, it’s a communication problem. Hormones are communicators in your body that tell your cells what to do and you’ve got to get the communication right to get the weight to come off.

Dr. Eric:

All right. Would you agree though that … I know you’re familiar with the pregnenolone steal, so you need to optimize adrenal health … Would you say adrenals are still a priority or …

Dr. Kyrin:

Oh my gosh, that’s why I call it queen cortisol, which is made in the adrenal glands. You have got to hail the queen and address the queen in order to lose weight. If you don’t address her, you’re not going to lose weight and there’s so many factors that go into what she considers stress. So what you think is stress might be totally different from what she thinks is stress and if you don’t figure out what she considers stressful and is unhappy about and unbalanced about and address it, guess what? No weight loss for you. So you have to figure that out and for each person, the secret sauce balance is a little bit different.

Dr. Eric:

Yeah. All right, so where can people learn more about you, Dr. Kyrin? Where can they find out more about you?

Dr. Kyrin:

Sure, they can find my website, which is kyrindunstonmd.com, and I’m also @kyrindunstonmd on Facebook and Instagram.

Dr. Eric:

Okay and then also make sure you check out Dr. Kyrin’s podcast as well-

Dr. Kyrin:

Oh, the podcast. Yes, Dr. Eric was just … We did his interview which will air in July, you definitely want to check that out. It’s Her Brilliant Health Revolution podcast and it’s available on iTunes and Google Play and where most podcasts are made available and each week, we cover a topic important to women’s health, particularly at midlife.

Dr. Eric:

All right, great. Well, thank you. Thank you, again, for sharing how to lose weight for those who have problems losing weight and yeah, let’s go ahead and jump into some questions if that’s okay with you, because we have a few here now.

Dr. Kyrin:

Sure.

Dr. Eric:

Now, this one I kind of answered earlier because just TSI, so as I mentioned, with Grave’s, typically you’re going to test thyroid stimulating immunoglobulins and so I will also say that if someone with Grave’s is having problems with weight gain, one common issue is taking antithyroid medication like methimazole or PTU. That, many times, will cause weight gain but any of the other factors Dr. Kyrin mentioned also, so again, if someone’s having problems with cortisol, cortisol imbalances, insulin resistance, disrupted gut microbiome, increased toxic load, so all of these could also be factors. So when I dealt with hyperthyroidism as we discussed during the podcast interview, I lost 42 pounds, but again, there are some people with Grave’s who want that problem. They’re like oh, I would love to lose weight but they’re gaining weight so If it’s not due to the antithyroid medication, there’s usually another factor.

Dr. Eric:

And then so this person asks, “How can we measure HRV at home?” So, I’ll let you answer that.

Dr. Kyrin:

Sure, there are lots of free apps that you can download. My favorite is Elite HRV but there are many others. There’s also the oura ring that tracks HRV. It doesn’t get the detail that I like though. The Elite HRV is really like medical grade. It actually can almost completely replace my $6000 machine I used to have in my office. So that’s something that you can use at home.

Dr. Eric:

Well, that’s great. Okay. Yeah, because I use HeartMath, which you might be familiar with but you said Elite HRV, that’s an app that people could download on their smartphone? Okay, cool.

Dr. Kyrin:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dr. Eric:

Thank you for sharing and then, let’s see, so Bonnie, I don’t know if you would mind mentioning, you mentioned a supplement with the phosphatidylserine and I think the theanine-

Dr. Kyrin:

Theanine and the melatonin. I think it’s Prothrivers Sleep Formula by Integrative Therapeutics. Hopefully, I’m remembering that correctly. I think that’s the one, mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dr. Eric:

Okay, very cool. Thank you. So Stephanie asks, “This has been great. Do you see pediatric patients with a family history of Hashimoto’s and obesity?”

Dr. Kyrin:

Oh, I used to but now I work exclusively with women at midlife in my Hormone Balance Mastermind, which we do virtually to help women at midlife because that’s really my sweet spot but there are lots of great practitioners out there who do exactly what you’re mentioning.

Dr. Eric:

All right and then Gabrielle, and again, if there’s any other questions, definitely type it in the comments. So, Gabrielle, “Can I lose weight while on methimazole? I’ve gained 20 pounds since being on it for my Grave’s disease and it won’t come off.”

Dr. Kyrin:

Yeah. Go ahead.

Dr. Eric:

No, no, that’s okay.

Dr. Kyrin:

I was going to say, absolutely, right? So it’s not only about thyroid, that’s what we’ve been talking about, it’s about all the hormones, right? And then if you’re on a medication like methimazole, that’s a lot of toxicity coming into your body. So detoxification is a big part of that and gut rehab but it starts with hormone balance. So yes, you’ve got to get your other hormones checked and get them balanced and yes, you can lose weight, mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dr. Eric:

Yup, okay. And I will say one thing though, like if you’re on a real high dose of methimazole and if it’s making you hypo, definitely check … Like you need to do regular labs as well, so it depends on if someone’s taking 40 mg of the methimazole and I mean usually they’ll start feeling hypo if they get pushed in that direction. So obviously, you might also need to have the medication modified too, so just keep that in mind and then let’s see, so “Hi, this has been great. I have both Hashimoto’s and Grave’s as well as other autoimmune disorders. Have you had other patients that have both?” And I will say, yeah, I do see a lot of people with the antibodies for Hashimoto’s and Grave’s but what’s your experience with that, Dr. Kyrin?

Dr. Kyrin:

Oh yeah, it’s not … I won’t say it’s common to see it but we see it not infrequently that people have both. The biggest risk for getting an autoimmune disease is having an autoimmune disease. So, where there’s one, there’s likely another and it may not have been diagnosed yet, but it’s very common and when you do a root cause resolution approach, you get back to that all autoimmune disease comes from inflammation, toxicity, gut disorder and cortisol problems, like the triad that when we were doing my podcast interview, Dr. Eric was talking about the triad, right? Genetic predisposition, maybe 5% to 10% in my opinion and then some inciting environmental exposure and gut dysfunction, right? Those are the three things you have to have and so it doesn’t matter if you have one auto-antibody or if you have five auto-antibodies, from a root cause resolution approach, the treatment is the same.

It’s only in mainstream medicine that we’re about what, what’s the diagnosis? What drug do I need to give you? What surgery do I need to do? But that’s just going around hitting every problem with a ginormous hammer instead of looking down at the roots of the tree and fixing the roots. So, to my root cause brain, it doesn’t matter to me if you have one auto-antibody or five, it’s still the same root causes, so you address the root causes and the auto-antibodies get better.

Dr. Eric:

All right, that makes sense and so Jennifer asks, “What should I get tested for a diagnosis?” And you spoke a little bit. You spoke about the thyroid testing. So the TSH, free T3, free T4, reverse T3, the antibodies if you’re looking to get diagnosed for Hashimoto’s, I mean either Hashimoto’s or Grave’s definitely do a full thyroid panel, look at the antibodies. Anything else that you commonly recommend to your patients? I mean I’m sure you recommend like the CBC with differential and comprehensive metabolic panel … But as far as diagnosis wise, what do you do? Just the thyroid panel antibodies?

Dr. Kyrin:

Like in my Hormone Balance Mastermind that I do with groups of women, they get blood chemistries, they get blood counts. Like we were talking about, I think on my podcast interview with you about I like to look for markers of inflammation. So, I have them do also an erythrocyte sedimentation rate. I have them do a high sensitivity C-reactive protein. I have them do a homocysteine and I do the full thyroid panel. I have them do a DUTCH Plus test that includes a salivary cortisol and then I teach them how to read this themselves and I got so frustrated with women not having access because then the next question would be well, where … Who in my state can prescribe natural thyroid or natural hormones for me, so I founded a telemedicine company to do that. But anyway, in terms of diagnosis, those are the things that I usually recommend.

Dr. Eric:

Okay. All right and Bonnie just says, “Great talk. Thank you. Love the talk on raising children to trust their intuition.” And yeah, thank you for sharing that.

Dr. Kyrin:

Yeah, if we did more teaching of our kids about these things when they were young, then we probably wouldn’t have the chronic health conditions that we have and then we wouldn’t have to unlearn all this stuff at midlife.

Dr. Eric:

Yup, very true. All right. Well, thanks, again, Dr. Kyrin. I appreciate you taking the time to share your story and a lot of valuable information about losing weight and I look forward to maybe having you again in the future and hope you have a great rest of your Friday and I hope everyone watching has a great rest of their Friday as well, and a great weekend ahead.

Dr. Kyrin:

Thank you so much for having me, Dr. Eric. Thanks to all of you who showed up and offered great questions. It was my pleasure to be here. Definitely check out Dr. Eric’s episode coming out in July on Her Brilliant Health Revolution podcast, which is on most major podcast outlets. Thanks so much for having me. All right, thank you. You take care. Again, thank you.

Dr. Eric:

Bye-bye.

Dr. Kyrin:

Okay, bye.