__ Is the outside third of your eyebrow thinning or non-existent?
__ Are your nails thin and brittle?
__ Do your feet and hands seem cold all the time? Conversely, are you severely intolerant to heat?
__ Is it almost impossible to lose weight, no matter how hard you exercise and watch your diet?
__ Do you "feel sluggish" throughout the day even after a good night's sleep?
__ Is your hair thinning or balding?
__ Do you have slow speech, movements, low blood pressure, hoarseness, or slow heart rate?
__ Do you have increased cholesterol levels?
__ If you take your under arm temperature before getting out of bed, is it below 97.6?
__ Are you pre or post menopausal?
If you answered yes to several of these questions asked in this article, you certainly should have your thyroid levels checked by a simple and inexpensive thyroid blood panel. The blood values included should be total T3 - the active form of thyroid, total T4 - the reserve thyroid, and TSH - thyroid stimulating hormone. In order to make a correct diagnosis, T3, T4, and TSH must be tested. Ideally, testing should be performed fasting after midnight; water only. If you are taking thyroid hormone, by all means take it one hour before the blood is drawn, so it can be determined how well your thyroid medication is or is not serving you.
Low levels of T3 and T4 indicate a need for thyroid replacement. Sometimes, the thyroid dose you are taking has not been given in sufficient dosage, or if on Synthroid, the body sometimes cannot convert T4 to active T3. The last thyroid value that needs to be tested is TSH. Thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) values are different from T3 and T4 in that a high TSH means thyroid replacement is needed. Low T3 and T4 are the indications thyroid replacement is necessary. A recent study of 25,000 participants argues that the ideal TSH level is 1.4 or less, not the upper limit of 5.5 still cited by some laboratories.
Many patients are denied thyroid replacement by their physicians because the physicians only prescribe thyroid if thyroid values fall outside the "expected or lab range". For TSH, that level is 5.5. Some physicians feel fearful prescribing any thyroid even if values are outside of "the norm." The fear originates from past censure by their local medical boards. This was the routine practice twenty years ago. Today, most patients are offered synthoid and anti-depressants for their symptoms.
Lab ranges were originally designed to identify a disease in process for the physician. These values are decades old, and our bodies, needs, and lifestyles have changed since then. Unfortunately, by the time a patient falls outside the "expected range" full blown disease is already in process. As nutritionists, we designate an optimal number as desirable for all lab values. Variance either way from the optimal value allows us to treat deficiency before it becomes a disease.
Most physicians today prescribe a drug called Synthroid, which is T4 only. It is synthetic, or made in a laboratory, and the body cannot assimilate the chemical. Pharmaceutical Synthroid is 78% bio-identical. Imagine trying to open a locked door with a key that is 78% keyed to the lock! Most of the time T3 should be included in thyroid replacement, along with T4. In a few cases T4 alone is called for, and this is an extremely rare situation. Physicians are really not educated by the drug representatives or continuing medical education about a choice in prescription medication for hypothyroidism. The drug company markets Synthroid to physicians as if it is the only remedy to treat hypothyroid conditions. Insurance driven medicine and drug company incentives have made physician research thing of the past.
Our choice for thyroid replacement is a combination of T3 and T4, called Naturesthroid, which originates from a porcine tissue source. It is inexpensive and available at a compounding pharmacy, and remarkablty by order at CVS. Most probably, your greatest problem will be finding a physician to prescribe it. Science has proven the porcine endocrine system to be the most similar to our own. Dr. Broda Barnes stated more than fifty years ago that “patients talking thyroid replacement therapy have much better improvement of symptoms with natural desiccated thyroid made from a tissue source of a pig, rather than with synthetic hormones”1.
Besides the synthetic chemical make up of Synthroid, another problem has arisen to prevent absorption and conversion of T4 to activate T3 in our systems. Years ago, our soil was full of iodine and selenium. We used to receive iodine and minerals in our food. Iodine is T4. Depletion of the minerals in our soil over time has rendered most foods unable to meet our needs for iodine. Most every person could benefit from 50mg of a tablet called Iodoral daily. Many women today suffer from fibrocystic breasts, because of lack of iodine in the food sources. Application of iodine directly to cysts in breast tissue several times daily can reduce cysts over time.
Any time a patient feels they are over medicated or perhaps have taken by mistake or has taken too much thyroid medication, the patient should eat 1/2 cup of raw broccoli, and keep it available in the freezer at all times. Broccoli temporarily calms thyroid function. Thyroid medication be discontinued until your physician's advice can be obtained.
Seldom are these extreme symptoms a problem for our patients. We begin thyroid titration slowly, in 30 mg or 1/2 grain increments. We routinely retest T3, T4, and TSH about every three weeks, until optimal values have been achieved. This process sometimes takes about 6 weeks, or more but once the dose has been determined, patients are given a prescription which is good for a year.
1. Suzanne Somers, "Breakthrough," Copyright 2008, p. 122