Thyroid issues are the talk of the town lately. As they should be! Thyroid hormones are extremely important because they impact virtually every cell in the body. I’m going to break down what you need to know. Approximately 1 in 8 women will be affected by a thyroid condition at some point in their lives. The risk for women is about 10 times higher than it is for men. Why are thyroid issues so common?
· Too much estrogen inhibits thyroid function. High blood levels of estrogen signal the liver to increase the production of thyroid-binding globulin (TBG). This is an inhibitor protein that binds to the thyroid hormone, reducing the amount of T3 and T4 available for use by cells.
· The more stress an organism is under, the more thyroid dysfunction. As we age, we encounter more stressors. The thyroid will go down because the metabolism needs to reserve energy. This is an adaptation! When a person is under stress, the thyroid goes down, leading to a slower metabolism. At some point, this interferes with the body’s healing processes.
· The Standard American Diet creates problems for our thyroid and cholesterol. For example, areas where soybean consumption is common to correspond with higher levels of hypothyroidism. (Another reason to stay away from soybean oil!)
· When a patient has a low thyroid, they tend to have a magnesium deficiency.
· Low thyroid does not always mean a patient will be lethargic. Actually, it can be the opposite. A low thyroid state causes us to live on adrenaline and cortisol, which is destructive to our tissues. Too much adrenaline leads to an increase in cortisol production.
· High cholesterol is an indicator of low thyroid. When a doctor removes a patient’s thyroid glands, cholesterol goes up. Cholesterol usually goes down with thyroid supplementation.
· Other symptoms include low body temperature, cold hands, and cold feet.
· Test and supplement when needed.
Usually, doctors determine thyroid function based on blood tests. It is important also to look for symptoms of low thyroid function. When doctors treat hypothyroidism they usually prescribe a synthetic T4 hormone medication. In order to understand why T4 medications are problematic, it is important to remember that the active thyroid hormone is T3 and that T4 is the storage hormone, which is converted to T3 in the tissues, mainly in the liver. Women and seriously hypothyroid-affected people often have trouble on a pure T4 medication, because they have a less effective liver function and thus less effective conversion of T4 to T3. When T4 is not converted efficiently to T3, it accumulates and the T4 in itself will have anti-thyroid effects, leading to the many symptoms of low thyroid function. Thus as the dose of T4 is increased the symptoms often get worse. We recommend using a thyroid replacement therapy containing both T4 and T3 in ratios similar to that secreted by the human thyroid gland, although there can be situations where more T3 or even pure T3 treatment is needed. Natural desiccated thyroid contains T4 and T3 in ratios similar to that secreted by the human thyroid gland.
· Eat well. Protein and saturated fats.
One thing to note is that in many peri-menopausal and post-menopausal women, symptoms of hypothyroidism occur despite normal serum levels of thyroid hormone. Estrogen interferes with the intracellular utilization of thyroid hormone. Thus, many women with clinical signs of hypothyroidism such as fatigue, lack of energy, intolerance to cold, etc., are actually suffering from unrecognized estrogen dominancy and will benefit from supplementation with natural progesterone. Women taking thyroid supplements will find that their dose can be reduced or eliminated when natural progesterone is restored to adequate levels. In this regard, the test for thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) is a better guide for thyroid dosage than are the T-3 or T-4 tests.