Is Your Thyroid Under Functioning?
Your thyroid is a butterfly-shaped bi-lobed gland located at the base of your neck, just below your Adam’s apple. Did you know that every single aspect of your metabolism, from the rate at which your heart beats to how quickly you burn calories, is precisely regulated by thyroid hormones?
As long as your thyroid releases the right amounts of these hormones at the right time, your system functions normally and like clockwork. But sometimes your thyroid doesn’t produce enough hormones, or produces far too much of one hormone, upsetting this precision and resulting in an imbalance in your body. This condition is known as hypothyroidism.
Hypothyroidism is a common, treatable disorder that currently is poorly managed by Western medicine with the current drug-based approach. Over the many years of practice, I have seen many hundreds of patients exhibiting many of the signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism, yet come back completely normal on the blood-tests and they are deemed “euthyroid” (or “well” thyroid). As long as the tests are normal, everything must be ok. But what about a lump in the neck and the blood tests show everything is ok? Then the patient must be imagining that it could be a thyroid problem.
Dr. John Lee – The Thyroid Expert
A most informative seminar was held in New Zealand in 2004 by Dr John Lee, leading thyroid expert from Australia. Dr Lee specialises in thyroid conditions, and I was amazed to see so many medical doctors sit up and take notice when it came to the thyroid and natural treatment options. Dr. Lee helps patients in his clinic with hormonal imbalances with natural hormone therapies. The seminar was well attended with a mixture of general medical practitioners as well as natural medicine practitioners.Dr. Lee mentioned that giving convention Synthroid (T4) was not a good idea, and that each patient with an uderactive thyroid needs careful balancing when it comes to their nutritional requirements. Some need selenium, many need iodine assessment and supplementation. Many others will benefit from a thyroid glandular supplement.
I hope you find this article of relevance, it may help you determine if you have a potential thyroid complaint which needs further investigation and possible treatment. Don’t give up! Many patients who have seen me over the years with thyroid issues were at the point of giving up, they couldn’t find any answers to their many and varied health problems. I have used many different types of therapy for hypothyroid patients over the years, including various minerals, vitamins, herbal medicines and glandular extracts. When I practiced with medical doctors for several years I also recommended whole thyroid (dessicated thyroid gland, porcine), T3 and combinations of T3 and T4 (Thyroxine, otherwise known as Synthroid).
Are Hypothyroid Patients Actually Adrenally Fatigued?
I have found it generally always best to first make sure the patient is not adrenally fatigued before I start to treat for hypothyroidism, unless the patient has an obvious (sometimes not so obvious!) iodine, selenium, zinc or other deficiency. The reason being is that many practitioners will mistakenly treat the patient for a hypo functioning thyroid, when in fact the adrenal glands are not functioning that well. Besides, the signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism and adrenal fatigue are very similar. You may find this article of great help to determine whether you are hypothyroid or adrenally fatigued.In New Zealand where I live, minerals like zinc, selenium and iodine deficiencies are common indeed. At times I have seen “miracles” occur with patients when all they did was take some iodine or selenium into their diets. Unfortunately, not all cases are that simple and for this reason I recommend that if you suspect an adrenal or thyroid problem – that you approach a health -care professional for proper assessment and treatment.
Many people, especially women (but also plenty of men) older than age 40, have an under-active thyroid. Men can also get hypothyroidism. Because hypothyroidism usually develops slowly, only about half of all cases are diagnosed early.
- A high prevalence is partly due to low selenium, zinc and iodine levels in the person’s diet.
- About 15% of women aged 35 to 60 are affected to some degree by hypothyroidism.
- 15% – 20% of women over the age of 60 are affected by sub-clinical hypothyroidism.
- 50% of people who have it are unaware that they have hypothyroidism.
Most subclinical cases of hypothyroidism go undiagnosed. When blood levels of thyroid hormones are found to be normal, the patient is deemed to be “euthyroid”, or having a normal functioning thyroid (inspite of having signs & symptoms). Hypothyroidism is believed to be more prevalent than once thought, with up to 1 in 10 of the population is believed to be affected by some degree of hypothyroidism.
Hypothyroid Signs and Symptoms
At first, you may have few noticeable symptoms, or you may just feel tired and sluggish. The signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism vary widely, depending on the severity of the hormone deficiency. Be careful before self-diagnosing: The below mentioned signs and symptoms can also be attributed to many other illnesses. Many people falsely attributing their weight gain to an under active thyroid, when in fact it may be simply that they never exercise!
You can download my Thyroid Symptom Checklist
here. This will give you and idea if hypothyroidism may play a role in your health problems.
- Fatigue – the most common symptom
- Eyes – can be gritty, burning, itchy, blurry, puffy eyelids.
- Skin – can become dry, cold, rough and scaly.
- Sex drive – none or poor.
- Cholesterol elevated – unexplained high or resistant levels.
- Skin itchy – in various places, itchy patches.
- Hair – becomes coarse, brittle and grows slowly or may fall out excessively.
- Eyebrows thinning – losing outer 1/3 of eyebrow.
- Sensitivity to cold – feelings of being chilly in rooms of normal temperature.
- Difficult for a person to sweat – perspiration may be decreased or even absent even during heavy exercise and hot weather.
- Constipation – resistant to magnesium supplementation and other mild laxatives is also another common symptom.
- Difficulty in losing weight – despite rigid adherence to a strict diet seems to be a common finding especially in women.
TSH: The BIG Myth
An interesting point which Dr Lee made was the inaccuracy of the current way of blood- testing patients to determine whether somebody is hypothyroid. So, when a doctor checks your blood for three thyroid hormone markers, they are basing this generally on the reading of the hormone called TSH (thyroid stimulating level). These tests should be abandoned because they are unreliable as gauges of thyroid function. We should be favouring the temperature test instead, according to Dr. Lee. The most common traditional way to diagnose hypothyroidism is with a TSH that is elevated beyond the normal reference range. The big myth that persists regarding thyroid diagnosis is that an elevated TSH level is required before a diagnosis of hypothyroidism can be made. There is no question that this will diagnose hypothyroidism, but it is far too insensitive a measure, and the vast majority of patients who have hypothyroidism, particularly those patients who are classified as sub-clinical, will be missed. Clinical studies have demonstrated that treatment of hypothyroidism with combination thyroid hormone (T4, T3) therapy is more effective than treatment with Thyroxine (T4) alone.
There is one simple thing almost anyone can do at home to uncover an under- functional thyroid: take your own temperature. The “basal body temperature” test was developed by Dr Broda Barnes, PhD, a physician who, for decades, helped raise the consciousness of both doctors and their patients regarding the risks and prevalence of hypothyroidism and weak thyroid function. His book 3 still remains as the best clinical description of the syndrome.Because thyroid hormone is so vital to cellular metabolism, reduced thyroid function manifests as a drop in body temperature to below the normal level of 36.7 C (98.6F).
The Hypothyroid Revolution
The Hypothyroid Revolution is an excellent choice if you are serious are weight-loss, metabolism and improving the health of their thyroid gland.Tom Brimeyer’s comprehensive Hypothyroid Revolution contains an incredible amount of useful information for those who want the facts and not fiction. When you learn how to help boost your thyroid function, you hold the key to optimizing your metabolism and once you balance your thyroid gland with the many valuable tips you find in this program, your health will improve in countless ways. Did you know that almost half the population have some degree of under-active thyroid function? It’s time to stop suffering and start beating an underactive thyroid gland quickly.
It’s no secret that in order to lose weight…you have to burn MORE calories than you consume. However when you have an underactive thyroid…regular WEIGHT LOSS DIETS DON’T WORK. It’s true… you can strictly control your calorie intake but you STILL won’t lose weight. That’s because reducing your calories slows your metabolism down. And not only that, your thyroid slows down as well. And this can actually cause you to GAIN weight. What’s worse… diets make you feel tired, exhausted, and miserable. But if you were to follow a healthy thyroid eating plan that actually BOOSTS thyroid activity and SKYROCKETS your metabolism… it’s possible to finally lose weight. Can you imagine how great that will feel? The Hypothyroid Revolution contains one of the best thyroid diet plans I’ve seen.
The Barnes Basal Temperature Test
- Use a digital thermometer, they are the easiest & most accurate ones to use.
- Leave it there for 5 minutes (or until it beeps!) and record the temperature for a whole month. Do this before you get out of bed (the normal temperature on rising will be between 36.4 Centigrade to 36.9 Centigrade. (97.8 – 98.2 Fahrenheit). Check and record the temp also a couple of times at regular intervals throughout the day.
- I’d recommend an Excel spreadsheet (computer), otherwise draw up a chart with the columns date, morning temp, These recorded levels will help establish your temperature trend, which becomes easy to plot over a month..
- If your temperature is 36.1 Centigrade or less for 3 to 5 consecutive days, one could conclude that the thyroid function is fairly compromised. You may have hypothyroidism. However, it could also indicate adrenal fatigue or exhaustion. Head for your Naturopath or nutritionally oriented GP.
- Even if you have had a blood test and were told you did not have a low thyroid reading, you might go back and look at the results again. You may find that your blood levels of thyroid hormones are actually low normal. Many people who are within the so-called “normal” range but below the midpoint could benefit tremendously from thyroid treatment.
- If you miss a reading or a day, that is ok, but try to be consistent.
I would also recommend doing a hair analysis if you suspect hypothyroidism. It is one way to determine your level of iodine, selenium, zinc, which are critical in thyroid hormone metabolism. Hair is also a good screening tool for the presence of heavy metals such as lead, mercury, arsenic or cadmium, all which may bind with selenium, reducing the amount available to convert T4 (the inactive hormone) to T3 (the active form), remembering that selenium is already in short supply due to deficiencies in the average diet. Many people present to their doctors and naturopaths with mineral deficiencies, a simple test such as a hair analysis can help pinpoint the problem. Check with your health-care practitioner about hair-analysis.
Natural Thyroid Management
Iodine: It is estimated the thyroid gland must capture approximately 60 mcg iodide daily to ensure an adequate supply for thyroid hormone synthesis. Ensure you eat sea minerals or have seafood in your diet. Kelp is a good source of iodine. We have seen several patients loose significant amounts of weight just by taking kelp tablets as part of their diet. This is definitely worth a try, particularly if you have tried averything to loose weight and your neck is enlarged.
Although doctors generally recommend synthetic thyroxine (T4) for hypothyroid, it is important to remember that you do have options, you can take charge of your health and what you take, and do not necessarily have to stay on prescribed thyroxine for life. Natural treatment options are now available for the natural hormone management of thyroid conditions. I recommend Adrenal Rebuilder, a glandular product developed by Dr. James Wilson from America. There are NO hormones in this product, and it is made from glands (porcine) which help to support your adrenal glands which in turn help the thyroid gland. You will need to be a member before you can access Dr. Wilson’s products through this website.
Again, this is one condition I would not give advice regarding what to take, without consulting with the patient on an individual basis. I would never recommend self-medication when it comes to the thyroid, it is always best to consult your health-care professional. You nutritionally-oriented Doctor or Naturopath can best help you with your natural treatment of hypothyroidism.
Why not pick up a copy of Tom Brimeyer’s Hypothyroid Revolution? This program will give you all the information you need to fast track your recovery. I have reviewed this comprehensive program and endorse it.
1. The many benefits of natural thyroid. Life Enhancement. February 2001.
2. Bunevicius, R., et al. Effects of thyroxine as compared with thyroxine plus triiodothyronine in patients with hypothyroidism. New England Journal of Medicine. 340(6):424-429, 1999.
3. “Hypothyroidism: The Unsuspected Illness”, 1976, Dr Broda Barnes, PhD.