Have you been prescribed thyroid hormones and found that either they lost their effectiveness or that they just don’t work? Do you have issues with iodine or gluten containing foods? Does coffee, chocolate or things such as Echinacea or Maitake mushrooms make you feel worse?
Could this be you?
- Are you always cold?
- Do you gain weight regardless of how little you eat?
- Are you frequently constipated?
- Do you require excessive amounts of sleep?
- Is dry skin or hair an issue?
- Do you frequently have muscle cramps or problems with inflammation?
- Are you always the one catching the cold going around the office?
- Do you feel a little sluggish mentally?
- Are your bones becoming brittle?
- Is your hair thinning or have you lost the outer 1/3 of your eyebrows?
Or does this better describe you?
- Are you intolerant to high temperatures?
- Do you have difficulty gaining weight, even with a large appetite?
- Do you have issues with diarrhea?
- Do you find that you have become nervous, emotional, and/or have a hard time working under pressure?
- Do you experience inward trembling?
- Do you flush easily?
- Is your pulse fast even at rest?
- Do you have heart palpitations, insomnia or night sweats?
Or, maybe you feel a little like all of the above. If any of this rings true, you might have problems with your thyroid hormones.
Why is the thyroid so important?
Thyroid hormones are responsible for our basal metabolic rate. If you are cold, they help heat you up. If you are sick, they help amp up the immune system. If you are stressed, they help calm you down. Research has found links to thyroid activity and the brain, hormones, immune system, bone metabolism, cardiovascular system, gastrointestinal tract, liver/gallbladder, red blood cells, and macronutrient metabolism. Each of these systems also influences the manufacture and utilization of thyroid hormones. Talk about a catch 22! Since there is a thyroid hormone receptor site on every cell in the body, it is easy to understand why symptoms may be so varied.
How do thyroid hormones work?
To understand thyroid hormone dysfunction, you first need to understand how it works. Hormone production is initiated in the brain with production levels tightly controlled by the pituitary gland. If production is reduced, the pituitary commands the thyroid to produce more hormone, if too little, production is increased. Given all the correct cofactors, enzymes, neurotransmitter, and hormones, things go pretty smooth.
The thyroid produces mostly T4 which needs to be converted to the active hormone, T3. This conversion occurs for the most part in the liver and gut. To get where it needs to go and not react along the way, it is bound to a protein (whose numbers are dependent on estrogen and testosterone levels). After conversion, they are bound again and sent to the cells. If the cells are healthy, they readily accept the hormone for immediate use. Excess hormones are then detoxified by the liver.
What types of dysfunction are there?
There are quite a few types of dysfunction, but the end result may be hypothryoidism (too little hormone), hyperthyroidism (too much hormone) or autoimmune thyroid (Hashimoto’s). One should keep in mind that autoimmune thyroid is not an issue with the thyroid, but the immune system and needs to be managed as such. Please read my article titled Autoimmune for more details.
How do you test thyroid hormones?
We utilize Functional Blood Chemistry Analysis to look at the production and utilization of thyroid hormones as well any underlying potential systemic interactions that affect thyroid activity.
Many people believe that thyroid dysfunction is limited to the thyroid itself and/or its interaction with the pituitary, but it is also necessary to consider issues related to hormone production; conversion, binding, utilization, and clearance in addition to autoimmunity. We recommend a comprehensive blood test that includes a thyroid panel containing TSH; Total and free levels of T3 and T4; Reverse T3; T3 Uptake; and TPO and TAA antibodies.
How do you correct thyroid hormone dysfunction?
It is important to support thyroid activity while correcting any underlying systemic issues that may be contributing to thyroid dysfunction. This may require modifying diet; controlling blood sugar levels; correcting neurotransmitters; balancing hormones; improving liver or gut function; balancing vitamins, mineral, essential fatty acid levels, etc.. Adrenals and mitochondrial health are extremely important in that given high demands on the body, they slow down our metabolism to protect our valuable resources.