By Mike Spencer
Founder of Menieres-Help.Com – Supporting sufferers since 2004
Researcher and Author of Managing Menieres Disease – How to Live Symptom Free and The Need for Balance – Dealing with the Causes of Meniere’s
What are the connections between endocrine disorders and Meniere’s disease?
As far back as the late 1950’s and early 60’s the connection between endocrine disorders and Meniere’s Disease has
Add to this fact that there has been a 600% increase in Meniere’s cases in Fukushima following the disaster at the nuclear power plant in 2011, adrenal and metabolic issues have been linked to Meniere’s and we see a pattern through the endocrine-thyroid-immune system with many cases of Meniere’s.
In addition to this, we have long preached the importance of dietary considerations, nutrition and keeping the immune system strong and healthy in order to stay symptom free, regardless of the particular root cause(s) of the inflammation within the ear (there are several possibilities and every case is different).
By joining the dots, we can see that it is vital to keep everything in balance. For example, adrenal stressors such as stress, allergies, poor nutrition, toxins, lack of sleep, gut irritating foods, some prescription drugs and caffeine have been linked to Meniere’s either as triggers or root causes.
The adrenal glands are part of the endocrine system. Stressed adrenal glands can result in endocrine imbalances, thyroid dysfunction and can possibly ultimately result in the symptoms of Meniere’s Disease. As with all possible root causes of Meniere’s, it can lead to a domino effect and underscores the difficulty for the medical community in pinpointing a definitive cause. That is because there is no one definitive root cause. There are many, but as I point out in the book Managing Meniere’s Disease, that doesn’t mean you can not find yours and eliminate it from your life though.
In a 1977 German study published on Pub Med it concluded “This would result in reduced generation of the receptor potentials as well as in decreased activities of the first order afferent neurons as it was supposed earlier by other authors. This mechanism may be combined with a decompensation of active ion transport processes due to microcirculation disturbances. Finally it will be pointed out that true ruptures of the endolymphatic walls cannot be the usual mode of reversible lesions in Menières disease but a diffuse leakage of the perilymph-endolymph barrier.”
Blood flow is also an issue with Meniere’s Disease. Prescription drugs or supplements have been used to treat Meniere’s symptoms by promoting good blood flow. “Microcirculation disturbances” are an issue with Meniere’s.
A study was published in 2011 from The Department of Otolaryngology, Gifu University Graduate School of Medicine, Japan titled “The relevance of hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenocortical axis-related hormones to the cochlear symptoms in Ménière’s disease”.
The study was done to investigate the association of the HPA (hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenocortical) axis-related hormones with the progression of cochlear symptoms in patients with Ménière’s disease.
Their reported conclusion was: “Our results suggest that the cortisol levels influence the endolymphatic homeostasis resulting in a deterioration of hearing at high frequency with upstaging of Ménière’s disease.“
In layman’s terms, the balance of fluids within the endolymphatic system was affected by hormones produced by the adrenal gland and endocrine system.
Why would the endocrine system not function as it should and what can you do about this?
Something that disrupts the endocrine system can affect the adrenal gland, thyroid and metabolism causing all kinds of related health issues that doctors have difficulty finding the root cause of. All of the above have been linked Meniere’s Disease.
Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that throw the endocrine system out of balance and as this system is the main hormone regulator, as stated above this can cause all kinds of knock on effects, dysfunctions and disorders, including ultimately the symptoms of Meniere’s Disease.
Chemicals like BPA and phthalates are surprisingly used all around us in daily life and can infiltrate our body in many unsuspected ways. Most people are completely unaware of the toxins and health damaging chemicals that saturate our environment and directly enter our bodies everyday.
One of the reasons for this is the proliferation of plastics used today. Everything from food containers and drink bottles, to cosmetic and skin care product containers. Plastic is one of the main sources of endocrine disruptors. But it doesn’t stop there. Substances and materials used in paper receipts, tin cans, electronics and even money are common everyday items that contain endocrine disrupting chemicals.
Efforts by the European Union have been made to ban endocrine disruptors in all products but with the power of Billion dollar corporations whose only concern is profit the going is very slow. With the introduction of recent global “trade deals” such as TTP it may become increasingly difficult to control the use of such harmful toxins in our lives.
Endocrine disruptors are commonly found in personal items, medicines, and cleaning products. Things we use to protect ourselves from harm can actually be harming us in different unintended ways. Sunscreen is a classic example.
The reproductive organs are part of the endocrine system. A recent study found a chemical in sunblock has been linked to infertility in men, and another noted that phthalates in toys cause many of the same issues.
Dr Edward Group of the Global Healing Center in Texas explains how endocrine distruptors are such a huge health problem:
“Constant exposure to endocrine disruptors is like putting a drop of water in the gas tank of a car. One drop may not have a major impact, but drip by drip, the car soon breaks down.
Endocrine disruptors do the same thing to the human body. Unlike the car, before the body breaks down its main systems go haywire and present symptoms such as infertility, weight gain, cardiac disease, dementia, and so much more. That’s because hormones from endocrine organs, such as the thyroid, pituitary gland, testes, ovaries, pancreas, adrenal glands, and even the gastrointestinal tract, control every function in the body.”
Endocrine disruptors to avoid:
- Organophosphate Pesticides
The overuse of pesticides in modern forced food production is discussed elsewhere on this website. It doesn’t take a genius to put 2 and 2 together to realize that the explosion of degenerative diseases over the past half century or so coincides with the introduction and proliferation of forced farming techniques that have robbed the soils of their mineral content and consequently resulted in the over use of chemical fertilizers and more and more pesticides.
Pesticide residue on vegetables and fruits are one of the most common ways we consume dangerous chemicals. Organophosphate pesticides have been shown to cause infertility in men, slow brain development in children, and have even been shown to affect thyroid function.
The only way to avoid these toxins is to eat organic. If that is impossible then regular detoxing and/or using quality, clean, safe dietary supplementation would seem very wise.
Estrogen mimickers abound in consumer products these days, causing all kinds of problems but 17a-Ethynylestradiol is a synthetic form of estrogen and the only one that remains active when taken orally. Currently, this synthetic hormone can be found in all forms of oral birth control.
Perhaps its most dangerous side effect is increasing the chances of breast cancer. Even the US government ( not known for over protecting its consumer public much in recent times) has had to acknowledge the dangers of this chemical.
PBDEs are fire retardants used in mattresses and other furniture and household goods. Normally exposure is associated with dust but according to a study published in the USA in 2009 one of the major sources of exposure to PBDEs was red meat and poultry! The study analyzed data from 2004 as part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES)
The study found serum levels of 5 different PBDEs were associated with eating poultry. People who ate more poultry had higher levels of the PBDEs. Poultry fat was the greatest contributor to the body’s burden of PBDEs.
Red meat intake was associated with two of the measured PBDE levels. Seafood and dairy were not associated with any changes in the PBDE levels in serum.
Vegetarians had 23-27 percent less PBDEs circulating in their serum as compared to meat-eaters.
The highest levels of PBDEs were found in males, the youngest age group examined (12-19 yrs old), the poor and the underweight (subjects with lowest BMI).
This study indicates that food is a more important route than previously thought. A number of scientific studies have suggested that PBDE levels in food supplies are rising.
The toxic garbage that ends up on our plate in the form of meat is the subject of a whole book but why is this all significant to the Meniere’s sufferer?
PBDEs, or polybrominated diethyl ethers, disrupt thyroid function by blocking the uptake of iodine, eventually taking its place in the thyroid. Because of this action, they also mimic and disrupt thyroid hormones.
As already stated above, over a 3rd of Meniere’s sufferers have thyroid issues and this may contribute to the root cause. Read about the importance of iodine and thyroid dysfunction connections to Meniere’s Disease here.
Phthalates are chemicals used as plastic additives for durability and flexibility. The negative health effects of these chemicals have been constantly reported in various studies all across the world. They can easily leach into water so people drinking water from pet-bottles are the most susceptible to chronic exposure. Again the proliferation of pet-bottle use for water over the past 30 years can be correlated to the rise in so many serious diseases and health conditions.
These chemicals have been linked to infertility in men, obesity, diabetes, and thyroid conditions. Returning to the old ways of storing foods and liquids in glass whenever possible would seem wise, or choose phthalate-free varieties if possible.
Bisphenol A (BPA) is a well known health hazard yet they still manage to permeate their way into our food and environment. Its use has continued in plastic bottles, dental sealants, cell phone protectors, water pipes and it even coats store receipts.
This toxin easily leaches from containers and can absorb through the skin on contact; studies have found people who handle receipts have this chemical in their urine just a few hours later. According to government research, 93% of Americans have detectable levels of BPA in their bodies.
Exposure to BPA is a concern because of possible health effects on the brain, behavior and prostate gland of fetuses, infants and children.
First synthesized in 1891, bisphenol A came into use as a synthetic estrogen in the 1930s. Later, chemists discovered that, combined with phosgene (used during World War I as a toxic gas) and other compounds, BPA yielded the clear, polycarbonate plastic of shatter-resistant headlights, eyeglass lenses, DVDs and baby bottles.
BPA is another estrogen mimicer. When it enters the body the endocrine system thinks it is estrogen and this throws hormonal balance out of sync.
Geneticist Patricia Hunt wrote in ‘Scientific America’ in 2008 of her studies into BPA, that with one dose of exposure in lab mice, “We’re actually affecting three generations simultaneously.” She explained, “With hormones (and estrogen mimicers like BPA), she says, high doses can sometimes “shut down” the body’s response, and low doses are enough to exert effects.”
It would seem wise to choose BPA-free storage containers and use glass whenever possible.
Primarily used in rocket fuel, explosives, fireworks and fertilizers, yet water contains the highest concentrations. According to the Water Research Foundation perchlorate contamination was found in ground water, surface water and drinking water in at least 26 US states as well as Canada. Although at very low levels it can be found naturally occurring, for a number of mainly industrial reasons high levels of contamination have been found everywhere from India to the UK.
Similarly to PBDEs, perchlorate replaces iodine in the thyroid and leads to decreased thyroid activity. Symptoms of decreased thyroid activity include weight gain, poor energy, depression and of course most importantly for readers of this website, decrease thyroid activity is linked to Meniere’s Disease.
The best solution to prevent damage from this endocrine disruptor is to ensure you are getting enough quality iodine on a daily basis and to use a high-quality water filter may also help filter out perchlorate and other contaminants.
This highly toxic element naturally occurs in trace amounts deep within the earth’s crust, but can enter water supplies through mining, industrial practices and agriculture.
The World Health Organization (WHO) clearly states that it is hazardous to human health. Scientific American published an article in 2011 with headlines, ‘Many U.S. Drinking Water Wells Contaminated with Arsenic, Other Elements‘ stating it is a national problem, scattered in every region.
Exposure to arsenic can result in insulin resistance, immune system suppression, slowed cognitive development, cardiovascular damage, and weight gain/loss. The best way to protect against arsenic is to install a water filter, one that specifically contains the ability to remove arsenic.
- Perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs)
It’s estimated that 99% of Americans have PFC accumulation in their bodies. PFCs are commonly used to make non-stick pans. During cooking, some of these chemicals escape into your food and have the power to accumulate in your body. Once it’s there, it can be very difficult to remove.
PFCs disrupt hormone function and have been tied to infertility, ineffective sperm, heart disease, thyroid disease, high cholesterol, and low birth-weight in babies. In a study for the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2007-2010 it was confirmed PFCs, especially PFOA and PFHxS, negatively affect thyroid hormone levels.
According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry at the CDC, PFCs can among many other things, alter thyroid functions and the immune system. They state that completely preventing exposure to PFCs is unlikely, however, if you live near known sources of PFC contamination, you can take steps to reduce your risk of exposure to PFCs. Minnesota, Michigan, and Alabama have issued advisories cautioning consumers to either stop or limit eating fish from waters contaminated with PFOS or other PFCs.
Avoiding non-stick cookware, checking packaging and clothing labels may help you to avoid PFCs, and a deep and thorough cleansing may be helpful for removing built up levels of PFCs in the body.
Mercury toxicity is a well known possible root cause of Meniere’s Disease, usually from leakages in amalgam fillings.
Mercury also attacks the pancreas in the endocrine system, thereby affecting insulin production. It can also result in headaches. Many people with Meniere’s symptoms also suffer from Migraines. High mercury counts have been found in fish in recent years and the type of new CFL light bulbs contain dangerous levels of mercury. In fact, if one of these light bulbs break, it’s recommended you evacuate the area to prevent exposure.
A whole host of health problems can occur from mercury exposure depending on the source, if it is organic mercury, inorganic mercury or elemental and vaporized mercury. Mercury exposure at high levels can harm the brain, heart, kidneys, lungs, the immune system and cause hearing loss.
Mercury is known to be the most poisonous, non-radioactive, naturally occurring substance on our planet and The World Health Organization (WHO) has stated that there is no safe level of mercury. Mercury toxicity from amalgam can take a long time to accumulate. It’s a scientific fact that toxic mercury vapor can continually be released from amalgam fillings. 80% of it enters the body and accumulates in it.
Many people have stopped all Meniere’s symptoms after removing amalgam fillings and detoxing. Exposure to mercury in general is known to cause nausea/vomiting, dizziness, ringing in ears, sinusitis, lack of concentration/brain fog, allergies and water retention (edema). All of these are known Meniere’s symptoms or triggers.
It is also connected to these diseases related to the endocrine system: Hormonal dysfunction, Immune system disorders, Metabolic encephalopathy, Thyroid disease.
Dr Tom McGuire, a “Mercury free’ dentist has campaigned for years for the banning of the practice of using amalgam fillings and written several acclaimed books on the subject, including how to detoxify naturally.
Dioxin is recognized by the US government as an endocrine disruptor, yet the environment continues to be polluted. Research connects dioxin, a by product of many industrial processes, with heart disease, diabetes, reduced fertility, poor sperm activity and low sperm counts.
Meats and other food products which contain animal products provide the majority of exposure to Americans. It accumulates in fat and can remain for years, slowly poisoning us and slowly resulting in disease states.
Even if you never drink, alcohol can still be a relevant endocrine disruptor for you to consider. Alcohol has the power to negatively affect glands associated with the secretion and regulation of hormones, like the pituitary gland, possibly leading to complications with the body’s ability to maintain normal hormonal balance.
The pituitary gland, for example, synthesizes and secretes essential healing and repair hormones, such as human growth hormone (HGH). This gland has been shown to experience noticeable impairment from alcohol exposure.
Insulin, an important hormone that regulates blood sugar, can be severely impacted from prolonged alcohol consumption. Alcohol can also potentially impede the body’s ability to regulate and absorb calcium.
Even if you do not drink, topically applied alcohol can enter your bloodstream. The proliferation of alcohol (ethanol) hand cleansers means that more and more people are exposed to this endocrine disruptor. Consider the rubbing alcohol in your medicine cabinet as another example.
Other common sources include body lotions, cosmetic oils (even baby oils), aftershave, air fresheners, eye makeup, shampoos, insect repellants, hair dyes, dishwasher and laundry detergents, paint, perfumes, deodorants, and cooking oils.
In the case of hand sanitizers, one study that focused on hospital employees found that over 30% exhaled low levels of ethanol just one minute after using hand sanitizer. In one case, a one-month old baby suffering from lethargy was found to be intoxicated from an alcohol-soaked gauze used to treat the umbilical cord.
We already know that alcohol is a massive trigger for Meniere’s attacks so it would be prudent to avoid it completely, at least until you have recovered from Meniere’s.
The best way to minimize exposure is to avoid alcoholic beverages and check the ingredient lists of other products for alcohol, ethanol, ethyl alcohol, ethyl hydrate, ethyl hydroxide, and methylcarbinol. There are plenty of other non-alcoholic options available.
What can you do with so many toxins attacking your endocrine system?
While difficult, it is possible to take steps to avoid endocrine disruptors. If you eat meat or fish, choose organic, free-range, or wild sources. Buy fresh, organic produce as much as possible, and choose glass for food storage. Supplementing with the correct iodine to protect the thyroid can have dramatic results. Regular cleansing to help the liver remove toxin accumulation would also seem prudent given the information above.
Help other Meniere’s sufferers. What are your experiences with Meniere’s and endocrine/thyroid issues? What made it worse and what helped? Tell us all about it in the comments box below or email Mike at firstname.lastname@example.org