Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Metabolism – how to get it going

Many of my patients battle with their weight and seem to get nowhere with dieting and exercise alone. Such was the case for 57 year old Juanita who came to see me complaining of excess weight, fatigue and sore breasts. She had most of the weight around her middle and had the tell tale roll of fat around her upper abdomen, which often indicates a fatty liver.

I ran some tests on Juanita and found the following

  • A fatty liver was obvious from her ultrasound scan of the upper abdomen
  • A sluggish thyroid with a blood TSH level of 4
  • Examination of her breasts revealed tender ropey areas of breast tissue
I explained to Juanita that her fatty liver was not breaking down the unhealthy estrogen known as estrone, which was being produced in her fat tissues. The estrone was building up in her body and was making her breast tissue inflamed. A fatty liver is not regulating fat metabolism efficiently and instead of burning fat, it stores fat.

The combination of a fatty liver and sluggish thyroid caused a very low metabolic rate leading to inability to burn dietary calories efficiently. This poor lady was trying to lose weight with exercise and calorie restriction but her slow metabolic rate made this impossible.

To speed up her metabolism we had to improve her liver function and get the unhealthy fat out of her liver. It was also vital to improve the production of thyroid hormone, as this hormone stimulates the energy factories inside every cell of the body. I recommended a short list of nutritional supplements to support thyroid and liver function which would result in faster metabolism.

I recommended that she avoid sugar and high carbohydrate foods such as bread, pasta, cookies, muffins, donuts, cakes and desserts. I also encouraged her to eat more vegetable salads to improve her liver function.

When I saw her 3 months later, she had lost 42 pounds and the roll of fat had gone from her upper abdomen. Her blood test showed an improvement of thyroid function with her TSH level now at 2. She had much more energy and no longer felt like having an afternoon sleep. This was because her metabolic rate had increased, so that dietary calories were now converted to physical energy instead of fat. As we get older we need to support the function of the liver and the thyroid gland, otherwise our metabolism often gradually slows down.

The thyroid gland and metabolism
The problem of a slow metabolism was illustrated by another woman I had first seen several years ago. She was aged 57 and had weighed around 180 pounds for 6 years. She suffered with a thyroid condition known as Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, which is an autoimmune disorder named after Dr Hashimoto. Eventually the thyroid gland becomes so damaged that it is unable to manufacture adequate levels of thyroid hormone and an underactive thyroid condition occurs, which varies from mild to severe. In most cases of Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis it will be necessary to give the patient thyroid hormone tablets to bring blood levels of thyroid hormone back to normal. Ideally this will restore an efficient metabolism and relieve the symptoms.

This patient had been taking Thyroxine (Synthroid) tablets for years; but they were not really working as well as she had hoped; she remained overweight and tired. The Thyroxine tablets provide the T 4 form of thyroid hormone, which contains 4 molecules of iodine, and the body converts the T 4 into a much more active form of thyroid hormone known as T 3, which contains 3 molecules of iodine. Unfortunately in this woman this conversion of T 4 into T 3 was not occurring and this was obvious from her blood tests. I explained to her that T 3 was much more active than T 4 and unless she had adequate levels of T 3 in her body, her metabolic rate would remain too low for her to lose weight. She was very relieved and asked me to balance her thyroid function as quickly as possible as she really wanted to lose weight and feel energetic again.

I prescribed the following –

  • T 3 tablets known as Tertromel tablets, to be taken in a dose of 20mcg twice daily
  • She was to continue the Thyroxine tablets at a lower dosage, as best results are obtained by a combination of T 3 and T 4 hormone tablets.
  • Supplements of selenium and iodine and zinc as these minerals improve the health and function of thyroid tissue; selenium is needed for the conversion of T 4 into T 3.
Well I did not see her again for nearly 2 years but when she finally returned and told me of her incredible success with this program I was really impressed. Since the introduction of my program she had lost 36 pounds and regained her wellbeing; indeed she told me that she felt 20 years younger!
Once again I saw the excellent results of increasing the metabolic rate by fine tuning the thyroid gland function and the liver function.

Other common times for women to experience a slow metabolism is during menopause, after childbirth or after a period of prolonged stress has finished. It really can result in a dramatic improvement without a huge amount of effort and suffering. So many patients battle with their weight and low energy levels simply because their thyroid hormone levels are out of balance. Many also have a fatty liver, which even if of mild degree only, really slows down your metabolic rate.

It does not have to be this hard and it is sad to see so many people struggle to get the right kind of treatment. For more information see my book Your Thyroid Problems Solved and Fatty Liver – You Can Reverse It


  1. Hello. I have searched your sites trying desperately to find some information. like where you studied? did you residency? how many years if any research you did? and most importantly your paper on the premise of the liver detox study.
    where the research was conducted, what type of research, blind, double blind, how many participants were used, over what time frame, etc. Even your 'sandracabot' site contains nothing of your bio. this is not the first time I have asked for links to your research, I'm STILL waiting. I'm not saying your work is dishonest but there are pages and pages and pages of internet sites designed to fleece money from gullible punters and we are just checking.

    1. Hello,
      Thanks for your inquiry. I graduated from medicine and surgery in 1975 from Adelaide University with honours. I did my residencies at various hospitals in Adelaide, South Australia. I also hold a Diploma of Obstetrics and Gynaecology from the Royal Australian College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. I was involved in a clinical study of patients with Fatty Liver Disease and we studied the effects of dietary modification and specific nutritional supplements on the reversal of fatty liver. The results can be seen on It is not possible to double blind a dietary and lifestyle modification study.
      I do agree that you need to check people's credentials and keep up the good work!
      Yours faithfully
      Dr Sandra Cabot

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  3. On average how long does it take to reverse a fatty liver? Thank-you, Gina

  4. hi,
    I am doing a project in cell metabolism for biology in high school.
    I would like to know what it is because i still dont understand.

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