Tuesday, June 19, 2012


A year ago I noticed something very frightening: a lump in my right breast/arm pit area. After three months of observation, I noticed it would increase in size and tenderness about 10 days before my period, but would disappear as soon as I started my menstrual cycle. Then, again, it would appear about ten days before the following period. I scheduled a breast exam with two different doctors and both said it wasn’t something I should worry about.

Each month I noticed it was slightly bigger and more obvious than the previous month. By this past February, it was worth worrying about.  There was no doubt in my mind I had a problem, so I scheduled another doctor’s visit as well as a mammogram and ultrasound. By the time I got the mammogram I had started my period, the lump was smaller, and nothing was found. I left the exam both excited, but also feeling a bit crazy.

This is where cold therapy comes in. I had been reading the blogs written by Dr. Jack Kruse where he describes the science and details to the healing benefits of cold adaptation or cold thermogenesis(CT) along with his genius application of seasonal eating. Keep in mind- his blogs are specific to a natural means to reduce leptin resistance and ailments caused by leptin induced inflammation. Being that I have very low body fat, I wasn’t thinking this information could be used to reduce or heal my own issues, but I instead I was reading to gain insight into CT as a suggestion to help other people. 

Cold therapy isn't new to me. As a college athlete, bags of ice all over my body was a daily need. I played volleyball at the collegiate level and not only did we wrap ice bags on our inflamed and over used knees, spine, and shoulders, but we jumped into the near by river for 10-15 minutes as a daily ritual- especially during two-a-day practices. I even arrived early before practice to ensure enough time to sit in an ice bath. The sports medicine trainers warned me that ice before practice might cause injury, but to me it made practice bearable.

While reading Dr. Kruse's blog,  I connected the dots to my own obvious inflammatory problems. It became obvious that CT might be a solution to my menstrual inflammation and osteoarthritis (caused from years of over training). So I reintroduced CT to my body and hoped for the best.

But the decision to add cold therapy  has come with risk.  I do not have leptin resistance and because of my very low body fat percentage, I assumed my response to CT (from a fueling perspective) might cause fat gain. Why? Since I have less fat, my body might react differently than a person who has more fat and leptin resistance.

From my understanding, for people who have leptin resistance, CT (as described by Dr. Kruse) reduces leptin levels. The result would be reversed leptin resistance, less hunger, less inflammation, and more fat loss. Like a game of balance atop an upside down U curve (an arch like a rainbow), preventing blood leptin from levels that are too high or too low is the goal. Less leptin than ideal results in symptoms of starvation. More leptin than ideal results in resistance, fat gain, inflammation, and most modern ailments our culture experiences today. The goal is a balance on top of the curve, which would make for an optimal hormonal environment.

My experience with this curve comes from observation of the hCG protocol. Over the last four years, I have observed- in detail- over a thousand patients through multiple rounds of Dr. Simeons hCG protocol.  It is my speculation that hCG does the opposite of CT. Low dose hCG stimulates the body to release leptin, which reduces hunger and the hormonal need for food. However, in order to avoid symptoms associated to leptin resistance, a  controlled very low calorie protocol is necessary. Rapid fat loss is a result of this hormonal balance and maximized fuel demand. Whether it's hCG or CT, the goal is to hit the optimum level of leptin at the top of the curve. This is where there is ideal fuel demand  which results in fat loss, loss of inflammation, and as an adaption - improved resting metabolic rates.

The discovery of leptin and the scientific understanding of its influence during starvation, fueling homeostasis, fat cell multiplication, inflammation, mitochondrial biogenesis, and much more have exposed the incredible ability the body has when given the opportunity to maintain life in threatening environments. Here is a link to scientific study that describes how this can be done.

For me, being that I didn't have leptin resistance or extra fat to lose, I assumed cold adaptation might make me susceptible to fat gain.  If my body's reaction to CT worked in negative feedback loop-  my body might have the reverse influence from CT- stimulated leptin. Ultimately this would increase my susceptibility to fat gain. But, even so, I was more concerned about reducing these symptoms:
1) Osteoarthritis in my spine.
2) Restless leg syndrome.
3) Inflammation with weather related cold fronts.
4) My right breast lump.
In my mind, it was worth the risk.

It took about 2 months at 15 minutes each day to acclimate to 52-55 degree showers, and here is what I observed:

1) I no longer take anti-inflammatory meds for chronic osteoarthritis. It is manageable with CT, and postural alignment exercises (Egoscue Method).
2) Restless leg syndrome occurs less often.
3) Cold fronts aren’t noticeable, but I am now aware all pressure fronts influence my fluid retention and inflammation.
4) The breast lump has reduced in size and tenderness. It also goes away sooner which has made it very easy to predict the start date of my period.
5) My periods are shorter in during.
6) My legs have less circulation problems during my period.
7) I have gained 5 pounds of fat (just as I predicted).
8) I get heartburn with citrus fruits, especially during the 10 day period before my period.
9)Now that its summer and I have more time in heat and the sun, I've noticed a weird throat feeling that is difficult to explain.  This weird fluttery feeling doesn't occur as often when I add back starches to my diet. I'm assuming this is thryoid????
I've noticed that my fat gain occured during the luteal phase of my menstrual cycles. During this time hunger is minimal and I have intolerance for fruit (heart burn). Except for 3 days before my period, where my hunger dramatically increases (and so does the weird throat fluttering). I've come to realize my diet has needed to change depending on where I am during my menstrual cycle.  It’s pretty obvious why, when you look at articles that describe significant increases in leptin levels during the luteal phase.
It is thought that the recorded increases in leptin during the luteal phase correlates with the increase in estradiol and progesterone. Here is a picture of this cycle.
  1. With the natural increase in leptin related to the increase in estradiol and progesterone, is CT at that time making me more sensitive to gain?
  2. In a woman who has excess body fat, would she lose fat during that time?
  3. If I remove all carbs during that week would my leptin levels have less of a slope, which would reduce my sensitivity and symptoms of heartburn, fat gain, and the increase in my breast lump?
  4. Does the increase in core body temperature during the luteal phase increase further with CT or does CT reduce this temperature?
  5. I'm thinking this increase in leptin after ovulation has to do with preganancy. Maybe the upswing in leptin is necessary to increase hCG release from a newly implanted egg, which would further increase projesterone levels that are necessary to sustain the placenta for full term pregnancy?
My goal would be to reduce the slope of the (progesterone/estrodial) curve but not eliminate the slope of the curve (which I'm assuming would stop menstruation all together).
With this in mind, for the last two months I've increased my starches just before and during my period. But immedialty after ovultation, I've removed both fruit and starch from my diet. All the while, I've continued daily CT. As a result I've noticed my body fat hasn't increased, but it hasn't gone back down. The luteal occurance of heart burn is gone, and the breast lump has reduced in size and tenderness even more.

As a woman, and knowing my body cycles hormonally, integrating CT and change in diet to offset my symptoms has been an awesome experiment. I will continue to adjust and adapt my diet, but it has required I stay tuned into my body, into hunger, and that I adjust to it's rhythms. I've had to adapt to monthly rhythms, to changes in sleep, with alcohol intake, and now I've adjusted with the change in season.

I believe this capacity to adapt, as Dr. Kruse preaches, is a big deal. The less adaptable we are, the more prone to disease we become. And to all of you lean people- you aren't immune.
For those of you who are implementing CT either with the hCG protocol or alone, what have your symptoms been during your menstrual cycle? Have you been able to compare a protocol with CT to a protocol without CT? I am very excited about what CT has to offer and as a woman I know we can use this science to reduce symptoms during our menstrual cycle that are less understood by the science community. 

Dr. Kruse has done us a huge favor. He's taken modern science and made it applicable. But for CT to work, there is a large amount of personal responsibility to change your eating lifestyle and that you have tolerance for fleeting physical discomfort. The questions you need to ask yourself are:
  1. Would you be willing to sit in a bathtub was water that is 55 or less degrees Fahrenheit for enough time that your body acclimates?
  2. Is it worth the risk to understand your body isn't flawed, but our desire for "comfort" is?
  3. Are you desperate enough to set your ego aside to open your mind to witness your body's capacity is to survive and heal itself?

And if CT does reduce premenstrual symptoms, it could in fact- make the world a better place.

I would like to thank Dr. Jack Kruse for putting himself out there by delivering this incredible science. HERE IS A LINK TO DR. JACK KRUSE'S BLOG


Relation of menstrual cycle and alimentary consumption of women

Modulation of placental vascular endothelial growth factor by leptin and hCG.

Monday, June 4, 2012


One of the most important life sustaining reactions to under-fueling or starvation is a decline in energy demand. This decrease comes from a decrease in thyroid hormones (T4 and T3). With the discovery of leptin in 1994, we more fully understand why this metabolic decrease occurs. Hypothalamic leptin levels are an integral part of why the thyroid supresses, and metabolism decreases during starvation.

The link between leptin and starvation has been discussed for well over a decade. Initially scientists viewed leptin as a hormone designed to prevent obesity, but many studies suggest that leptin also signals the switch from a fed to the starved state, which would reduce fat use for fuel. As leptin levels decline, so does the metabolic signal from the brain as well as a decline in fueling from fat.

What we understand today is that as eating decreases and the demand for fuel isn't adequately met, leptin levels also decrease, signaling to the brain that the body isn't fueling adequately.  This decline in leptin in the brain suppresses Thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH). TRH is the neuropeptide that controls the release of Thyroid-stimulating Hormone (TSH), which in turn acts on receptors in the thryoid to promote the synthesis and release of T4 and T3. Ultimately, this response tells the body to conserve energy, which would reduce overall need for fuel in an attempt to balance the body's metabolic mechanisms when lacking food.

In an attempt to solidify that this metabolic turn-down in response is regulated by leptin, researchers studied the thyroid reponse to starvation, with and without leptin administration. This means that scientists put mice into starvation and gave some mice leptin and others a placebo (water). The mice with leptin administraion didn't have the same starvation induced drop in thyroid hormones like the placebo group. This research indicates leptin as an important influence on the throid during starvation.

Here is a link to an easier to read article about this leptin/thyroid/starvation link.

In searching for answers to why low dose hCG could possibly prevent symptoms of starvation during Dr. Simeons' 500 kcal protocol, I knew that prevention in the starvation response from the thyroid would have to be necessary.  As science would suggest, eating less than 500 kcal in food for over a month would most likely show significant changes in the thyoid that would indicate reduced leptin levels, then decreased TRH, TSH, and ultimatlye reduced T4 and T3. This would negatively impact overall metabolism. However, the data I've collected shows the opposite: metabolic rates significatly increase after the 500 kcal protocol with low dose hCG administration.

The next important piece in sustaining life during starvation is maintaining energy balance through adjustments in fueling mechanisms. In other words, where does the body create it's fuel: muscle, fat, glycogen, or blood glucose? In order for symptoms of starvation to be prevented the body would most definitely have to create fuel out of body storage, but in order to prevent muscle loss, there would have to be adequate fuel supplied by stored body fat. Science has shown one of the most important regulators of fuel release from fat is leptin. Leptin regulates the most importand fat combusting , AMP-activated kinase (AMPK) and more. Could this science explain why most people experience improved resting metabolic rates after eating less than 500 kcals for over a month? Does the body adapt at the mitochondrial level?

Here is a link to not easy to read science that describes how leptin (when in proper amounts) regulates fat use for fuel.

If there was a way to keep leptin levels from falling as they do with starvation, could symptoms of starvation be prevented, not only in the brain but in the body? Could fat adequately fuel the body so that muscle and organ tissue could be preserved? That is a very important question, considering thousands and thousands of people are experimenting with starvation through the hCG protocol.

One of the most important studies I've come accross describes how there could be a drug created that would prevent all metabolic symptoms of starvation. But, in my opinion, I don't think we need a drug when we have a simple hormone that could be used instead; HCG.

Here is a link to a minireview that literally describes experimentation with mice to show what our physiology is capable of.  This study discusses the use of a fatty acid synthase ihibitor (similar to leptin). What if the control of leptin could be balanced by the stimulus of leptin through hCG, rather than a drug? Could the very low calorie protocol keep leptin controlled to prevent leptin-resistance?  This could make sense to explain why people aren't experiencing symptoms of starvation, and even better- improved metabolic rates.

Until we have laboratory experimentation for why and if low dose hCG can prevent starvation, we are all left to just assume otherwise. For this reason, I have written a hypothesis that can be used to start a more intelligent and scientificially relevant discussion of why Dr. Simeons hCG protocol could work. Is it the hCG or is it hCG's link to leptin? Based on the science that is available to us today, my bet is on the relationships between hCG and leptin.

READ MY HYPOTHESIS and make that decision for yourself.