A Second Set With Dr. Eric Serrano (Part 3)

JP: Can you briefly describe the diagnostic methods that you use to evaluate hormones?

Dr. S: Well, you have urine, saliva, and blood. As I mentioned previously, if I have a choice, I prefer urine because it gives you the breakdown of metabolites over the past 24 hours. Blood will only give you a snapshot of that particular time and it is not always truly indicative of what’s happening in your system. If you were watching a football game, for example, and your team lost, your blood work would show elevated cortisol and depressed testosterone values for that particular time. So how do you know if this a normal reading or not? Urine is more accurate in this manner.

JP: Let’s discuss the thyroid gland. If TSH levels are high, how do you go about improving thyroid function by natural means? And what about if TSH levels are low? Also, do you feel that the morning body temperature test is valid to gauge thyroid function? It’s been criticized quite a bit lately.

Dr. S: Over the years, I’ve tried different approaches to improve thyroid function, but if someone comes along with high TSH, I don’t fool around. It’s just too important. I place them on Armour Thyroid which is actually a natural thyroid source, no supplement is as effective. In fact, if TSH is very high, I will use Thyrolar first which is a synthetic version of T4/T3, and then introduce Armour Thyroid once their levels normalize. And I’ve had some cases in my office where I’ve been able to wean patients off of Armour Thyroid after 6-9 months of use so they are not on it forever. They just needed a bit of nutrition (i.e., raw material) to feed the thyroid gland to get it working again!

If TSH levels are very low, you need to find out why they are hyperthyroid. Is it Graves disease? Do they have cysts? Some investigation is required.

Actually, many people can present with normal TSH levels, but their thyroid can still be out of whack. Several drugs and medications are culprits for this.

Here’s another aspect that you may not have thought of: Why do people gain weight when they quit smoking? One of the primary reasons is that nicotine increases the conversion of T4 to T3. Well, when nicotine is no longer there, T3 levels begin to drop!

Regarding the morning body temperature test, in order for it to be accurate, you must test it at the exact time, place, and so on. If you don’t standardize the test properly, it’ll affect the results and that’s why it’s been criticized so much.

JP: Okay, how about the adrenals? You’ve mentioned in the past about using a product like Standard Process Drenamin to regenerate the adrenals. What is the exact protocol that you use in this case?

Dr. S: If I have someone that is highly stressed, I will start them on hydrocortisone (60 mg for a male, 40 mg for a female) and they do great! This works extremely well for patients with fibromyalgia as well. Remember, these individuals are working their adrenals so hard to make cortisol that the hydrocortisone will ease the stress, both literally and figuratively! It will help the adrenals rest. Thereafter, I may prescribe a product like Drenamin.

I don’t really use protocols in my office because as soon as I say I have a protocol, someone is going to come around and mess it up. My theories will go down the drain and one patient can throw everything out the window! It’s always different for everyone. I may say out of 100 people, 50 or 60 can use this protocol. That’s a safer approach.

I generally check the adrenal gland function by measuring DHEAS, cortisol (urine cortisol if possible), T4, T3, TSH, estrogen, progesterone, and (total & free) testosterone. I would then screen for symptoms.

JP: What about using something like licorice root to extend the half-life of cortisol?

Dr. S: Oh, I have some information that you’ll find interesting. Okay, oral licorice will extend the half-life of cortisol, but at the expense of what? Your androgenic hormones… that means lower testosterone! However, if you apply licorice cream topically to an area, guess what happens? You lose fat in that area! I’m not making this stuff up. It’s been confirmed through ultrasound measurements.

JP: Speaking of fat loss, I’ve heard you mention that females have higher intramuscular triglyceride levels and because of this, their training should be slightly different than that of males for body composition purposes. You recommend that they follow their high-intensity interval work with prolonged lower intensity activity. Can you discuss this further?

Dr. S: There are two types of triglycerides: one in the plasma and the other in the muscle. My theory is that you start females on a 5-10 minute warm-up (e.g., a jog), not only to lower blood sugar but also plasma triglycerides. Then you introduce high-intensity interval training (HIIT). I’ve discovered that the optimal time for HIIT is 12 minutes of 6-12 seconds high intervals followed by 9-15 seconds of low intervals. Keep in mind that you might start a beginner at only 3 minutes total duration, and then gradually ramp them up from there. You can then end with a 5-10 minute cool-down. With females, however, you can extend this low-intensity work a little longer, but the maximum duration of time should not exceed 42 minutes. After that point, you start eating away your muscles.

Tomorrow in Part 4, we’ll discuss liver detoxification, the timing of digestive enzymes, cleansing products and diets, and an interesting study from 1962 on organ consumption.

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