Hypothyroidism affects approximately 40% of the American population and is becoming more and more rampant. The thyroid is a gland that is located in the front of the neck and it secretes several life sustaining hormones. Thyroid hormone controls our metabolism by regulating energy production in the powerhouses of our cells known as mitochondria. Symptoms of hypothyroidism consist of the following: fatigue, low sex drive, cold hands and feet, dry skin and hair, hoarse speech, facial swelling, constipation, inability to lose weight/weight gain, excessive menstrual flow, inability to concentrate or “brain fog”, depression and feeling tired yet finding it hard to get a good nights sleep.
Western medicine’s approach is prescription drugs such as Synthroid, Levothroid etc. Unfortunately these drugs consist of only T4-the inactive form of thyroid hormone. T4 is converted into T3-the active form of thyroid hormone in the liver and kidneys. This conversion is selenium-dependent and is heavily influenced by adrenal and pancreatic hormones and heavy metals. So what if there is a conversion problem of T4 into T3? Taking T4 may not correct the underlying problem and that is why I see so many patients with all the signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism yet they are still taking these medications. The prescriptions Armour thyroid or Naturthroid are dessicated animal gland extracts and are much better choices because they contain both T4 and T3.
The diagnosis of hypothyroidism also has many flaws. Most physicians only look at TSH or thyroid stimulating hormone. The TSH is not a thyroid hormone! It is produced by the pituitary gland in the brain so it is only one small piece of the puzzle. The more appropriate lab tests would include TSH, Free T4, Free T3, Reverse T3 and thyroid antibodies to see if the body is attacking the thyroid gland. Iodine levels should also be checked because it is the most essential nutrient for the health of the thyroid gland. The adrenal hormones cortisol and dhea should also be looked at because abnormalities with these hormones can influence thyroid hormone production and it’s effects on our cells. Heavy metal toxicity can influence thyroid hormone and blood sugar problems can have a negative affect as well.
So as you can see, managing hypothyroidism does not consist of solely treating the thyroid, but the entire body as well. Many times patients can regain normal thyroid function by supplementing with the proper vitamins, minerals, natural hormones and a thyroid-friendly diet. If you feel like you have the symptoms of hypothyroidism or have been diagnosed and still don’t feel quite right there are alternative ways to regain your health.