Because the thyroid has so many facets, when its function drags, so does that of every one of our systems. The thyroid is nothing short of a formidable figure in human bio chemistry. In controls the rate of energy production that maintains body temperature, helps regulate many hormones, immune system, digestive system and profoundly effects brain chemistry. Hypothyroidism is a condition of under active thyroid. It is estimated to effect nearly 10 million Americans, mostly women.
The very short version of the relay of events with thyroid metabolism: The brain gets a signal that not enough thyroid hormone is in the bloodstream and sends that signal to the pituitary gland. From there, The pituitary gland sends a message to thyroid gland that says “hey thyroid, kick it up a notch!” This message is called Thyroid Stimulating Hormone. (with hypothyroidism the TSH always running high). Once this message hits the thyroid, the thyroid will produce two thyroid hormones. 97% is a T4 hormone. 7% is a T3 hormone.
Measuring Thyroid Stimulating Hormone is the most common way conventional doctors access thyroid function and many doctors will prescribe medications based on TSH levels, with the promise of wiping out a number of symptoms in one swoop. In most cases if TSH is high, doctors typically prescribe a synthetic T4 hormone. Levothyroixine is probably the most prescribed T4 in America. But there are other factors that come into play and troubleshooting with a prescription of synthetic T4 often becomes apparently inadequate. This approach is turning a blind eye to what caused the thyroid to become depressed in the first place.
The body must convert T4 to T3 by removing one molecule of iodine. I emphasize must because T3 is what our body uses. It does not use T4. Nevertheless both T’s head to the bloodstream but T4 knows it is basically useless unless it converts to T3 in the liver, heart, muscle and small intestines. A sizable 20% converts in the small intestinal track, but only in the presence of good bacteria. Antibiotics are the number one reason good bacteria is destroyed but other digestive issues will significantly lower good bacteria as well. It is fair to assume supplementing with enough synthetic T4, increases the odds of sufficient conversion but does not address any underlying struggling conditions.
The body is an intelligent matrix and thyroid is the master intelligent switch that takes into account immune, digestive system and hormonal balance. It is far wiser to ask what the faltering thyroid says about the entire body and proceed from there. Irregular immune function, poor blood sugar metabolism, gut infections, suppressed adrenal, hindered hormonal function, liver congestion, poor digestion, estrogen imbalance, gluten sensitivities and nutritional defiencies can significantly depress the thyroid. And the grandaddy of all under active thyroid is an autoimmune called Hashimotos’s disease. An autoimmune disease is defined as antibodies attacking healthy tissue. This disease often goes undiagnosed or at best misdiagnosed as ‘regular’ hypothyroidism.
My mom was on levothyroixine for 30 years. As caregiver for my mom in her last few years, I was convinced my mom’s thyroid was out of whack, even though her TSH levels were within normal range. So I took her to the doctor. I asked for further testing on her thyroid, specifically T3. He refused to test for T3 (probably no medicare reimbursement) but based on what I said he agreed to lower her dose of T4. Five weeks later her TSH remained within normal range which only furthered my resolve that there was something mysteriously elusive and inefficient about the diagnosing and the standard prescript of T4. However at that point I had also come to accept there was little more I could do for my mom’s thyroid condition, as no doctor was going to delve too deeply into the thyroid health of an 86 year old women with advanced alzheimers.
Even if you were told you will be on thyroid hormone the rest of your life, you may be able build back a normal functioning thyroid through nutritional and herbal therapy. Concentrated nutrition with a targeted herb supplement program has been shown effective in many case studies. One such herb which has been shown to have stimulatory effect on T3 is ashwagandha. But I emphasize success will elude you by adding one or two herbs without other lifestyle changes with lasting nutritional support.
The above blog is a very short adaptation from Dr. Datis Kharrazian book, Why Do I Still Have Thyroid Symptoms When My Lab Test Are Normal. Dr kharrazian’s book is a breakthrough in the treatment of hypothyroidism, including the autoimmune Hashimotos’s disease. He has instructed over 5000 hours in post graduate education in lab analysis and nutrition and conducts over 50 seminars a year to medical doctors throughout the world. The testimonies from the MD’s read something like ‘much ahead of conventional medicine, revolutionized my practice.’ Please, if you or any one you know is having thyroid issues, get to this website www.thyroidbook.com. You will learn more in his 5 min video than all your combined visits to your doctor. Also pretty please, take moment to get this information to one who suffers with hypothyroidism. I wish I had known this years ago for my mom.