Every cell in the body depends upon thyroid hormones for regulation of their metabolism! The thyroid gland is located in the front of the neck and is attached to the lower part of the voice-box (or larynx) and to the upper part of the windpipe (or trachea).
The main function of the thyroid gland is to absorb iodine, found in many foods, and convert it into Thyroxine, also called (T4) and Triiodothyronine, also called (T3).
Thyroid cells are the only cells in the body which can absorb iodine, these thyroid cells combine iodine with the amino acid tyrosine to make T3 and T4. These hormones go into the blood stream, and throughout the body, where they control how calories are burned to create cellular energy. When this process is not working properly, you are going to experience problems.
Thyroid Output-The normal thyroid gland produces T4 and T3 in the following ratios:
> Around 80% of the hormones produced by the thyroid is T4
> Around 20% of the hormones produced by the thyroid is T3
T3 possesses about four times the hormone "strength" as T4. The hormone that makes up 20% of the normal thyroid output (T3) is four times as strong as the hormone that makes up 80% of the output (T4).
Hormones produced by the pituitary gland and hypothalamus influence the thyroid gland:
> The pituitary gland produces the thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH).
> The hypothalamus produces thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH).
When the level of thyroid hormones (T3 & T4) drop too low, TRH, from the hypothalamus, is released, stimulating the pituitary gland to release TSH, which then stimulates the thyroid gland to produce more hormones. These two organs work together to act as a backup system to make sure that the thyroid hormones stay at the proper level in your body. This is known as the Hypothalamic - Pituitary - Thyroid Axis.
The Thyroid Acts as Your Body's Furnace
One can imagine the thyroid gland as a furnace and the pituitary gland as the thermostat. Thyroid hormones are like heat in your house. When the heat gets back to the thermostat, it turns the thermostat off. As the room cools (thyroid hormone levels drop), the thermostat turns back on (TSH increases) and the furnace produces more heat (thyroid hormones). Keep this concept of heat regulation in mind as I explain further on in this report how thyroid hormones control your body temperature, which is normally 98.6 degrees F.
Iodine plays an important role in the function of the thyroid gland. It is the chief component of thyroid hormones, and is essential for their production. Iodine is obtained from the water we drink and the food we eat. If there is little iodine available in our diet, insufficient thyroid hormone is produced by the thyroid and the person develops symptoms of low thyroid function. It is very important to know if your body is low in iodine.
Signs You May Have Hypothyroid/Low Thyroid
Frequent ear infections, colds, pneumonia, bronchitis or other infections, difficulty concentrating, abnormal fatigue, having difficulty getting up in the morning, poor athletic ability, headaches, migraines, sinus infections, post-nasal drip, visual disturbances, frequent respiratory infections, difficulty swallowing, cold and/or heat, poor circulation, heart palpitations, indigestion, gas, flatulence, constipation, diarrhea, frequent bladder infections, infertility, reduced libido, sleep disturbances, adolescent girls that suffer from menstrual irregularity or premenstrual syndrome and painful periods, dry skin, acne, high cholesterol, anxiety, depression, poor mental clarity, high blood pressure, fluid retention, loss of memory, mood swings, puffy eyes, thick and swollen tongue, rough dry flaky skin, brittle nails that break easily, acne, dry brittle and thinning hair, loss of the outer third of the eyebrows, enlarged thyroid glands, joint and muscle pain.
Normal blood test results but you have all the symptoms?
You might have Euthyroid Syndrome. Euthyroid is a medical term for patients who have normal thyroid blood tests but have all the symptoms associated with hypothyroidism. This can be a problem because most doctors will not recommend thyroid replacement therapy if the patient's blood tests come back normal. The problem is that test results for thyroid function are often inaccurate because it measures the amount of Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH), T4, and T3 in the bloodstream. But thyroid hormones don't do anything within the bloodstream - the action takes place in the cells themselves. There's no way to measure how much thyroid hormone is actively in the cell by measuring it in the bloodstream. We can only guess how much thyroid hormone is actually in the cell!
The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry has reported that Laboratory blood tests for thyroid may be inaccurate for many who get tested for hypothyroid disorder. Blood tests are a poor and inadequate way to measure true thyroid hormone levels.
T4 needs to convert into T3 (four times stronger than T4) for optimal metabolic function (bodily energy). Many patients often have a problem converting T4 into active T3 due to a build up of Reverse T3. Reverse T3 is initiated by stress. The more stress, the more Reverse T3 and more likely T4 isn't converting into the more active T3. A build-up of Reverse T3 actually blocks the conversion of T4 into T3. Your blood tests may show normal levels, but since T4 is not being converted to T3 within the cells, fatigue and other symptoms associated with low thyroid begin to appear.
Individuals taking synthetic thyroid hormones like Synthroid (T4 only) may continue to have the symptoms of low thyroid for years, even in spite of normal blood tests. Your T4 Prescription Thyroid Drugs Synthroid, Levoxyl, Levothroid, etc., may not be helping. These drugs are synthetic (man-made) forms of T4 and may not be able to convert into the more active T3 thyroid hormone.
If your synthetic T4 drug isn't converting into the more active T3, you're going to feel less than optimal. And, doctors miss this all the time. And to complicate matters, Millions of Americans go undiagnosed because most doctors continue to use older, now outdated, guidelines. Not only are blood tests inaccurate, but the parameters for determining who has a thyroid disorder, and who doesn't, have been changed.
In the past, those with a thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) above 5.0 were considered hypothyroid (have low thyroid). However, many doctors wouldn't prescribe thyroid hormone therapy until the TSH reached 10 or more.
In 2004, The American Association of Clinical Endocrinology (AACE) changed the guidelines so that a TSH above 3.04 is considered positive for hypothyroid. Some doctors believe that anyone who has a TSH above 2, and complains of hypothyroid symptoms should be placed on thyroid hormone.
How do I know if this is happening to me or not?
Low Body Temperature is a Major Sign of Hypothyroid. Dr. Barnes was the first to show that a low basal body temperature was associated with low thyroid. His first study was published in 1942 and appeared in The Journal of the American Medical Association. This study tracked 1,000 college students and showed that monitoring body temperature for thyroid function was a valid, if not superior, approach to other thyroid tests. Most of the biochemical reactions occurring in the body are driven by enzymes - protein molecules that work according to their shape. Enzymes, and their actions, are influenced by the metabolic temperature of the body which is controlled by the thyroid hormones. When the body temperature is too low, the enzymes slow down, creating hypo-metabolism (hypothyroidism) and reduced metabolism (cellular energy). Then, every cell and every bodily system starts to slow down, leading to all sorts of health problems: fatigue, unwanted weight gain, poor sleep, lowered immune function, high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol levels, anxiety, depression, achy pain, constipation, tingling hands and feet, brain fog. The list of symptoms goes on and on...
Reason Your Thyroid Function May Be Low
Based on the past decade of the research, there are five primary reasons for the high rate of hypothyroidism that we now have in this country.
1. Iodine Deficiency
The biggest problem stems from a lack of iodine in the diet, and because iodine is one of the essential components of thyroid hormones, production of thyroid hormones is limited. Iodine consumption has dropped dramatically in this country over the past 20 years. This drop is due in part to the depletion of our soils and in part to less iodized salt being used as an ingredient in our foods.
Why are iodine levels so important? Low levels of iodine mean your thyroid isn't functioning properly. The thyroid helps balance hormones, regulate heartbeats, stabilize cholesterol, maintain weight control, encourage muscle growth, keep menstrual cycles regular, provide energy, and even helps you keep a positive mental attitude. Women are naturally prone to iodine deficiencies. That's because the thyroid gland in women is twice as large as in men -- so under normal circumstances, women need more iodine. When women are under stress, the need for iodine can double or even triple!
The foods we eat today contain less and less dietary iodine. Back in 1940, the typical American diet contained about 800 micrograms of iodine. By 1995, that amount plunged to just 135 micrograms. That's an 83% decline. Two thirds of the body's iodine is found in the thyroid gland.
The quickest, and most affective, way to get the iodine your thyroid needs to operate at optimal levels is to take over-the-counter iodine supplements.
2. Selenium Deficiency
The second factor contributing to hypothyroidism is selenium deficiency. You might have heard how important this mineral is to your immune system, but you probably don't realize how important it is to proper thyroid function. The effects of a selenium deficiency are very serious!!! As with iodine, our soils have become deficient in the trace mineral selenium. In the last few years, researchers have found that certain selenium-containing enzymes (lodothyronine 5' deiodinase) are responsible for the conversion of thyroid hormone T3 to T4.
The thyroid produces several hormones, and must produce them in a somewhat balanced ratio. Without selenium, this conversion process is greatly hindered. This is another reason why some patients continue to feel bad even though they are taking Synthroid or one of the other synthetic T4 drugs. T4 can't effectively convert into the more active T3 without optimal amounts of selenium.
This process requires several B vitamins (vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5), coenzyme Q10, minerals, such as magnesium, and other substances. If a person is either deficient or does not have optimal amounts of these substances, then a prescribed thyroid hormone will not work optimally and may even cause side effects.
3. Estrogen-like Compound Pollution
Another factor that has generally been overlooked by the medical community is the recent introduction of estrogen-like compounds into our environment. These compounds make their way into the body through respiration, ingestion of contaminated food, and skin contact. These chemicals can block thyroid hormone production and contribute to hypothyroidism. These compounds include such environmental pollutants as PCBs, dioxins, and pesticides. These toxins can now be found in our food and drinking water. This is one of the primary reasons we see hypothyroidism in our children.
4. Chronic Stress
Stress is part of everyone's life every day. Stress can aggravate the symptoms of hypothyroidism. When a person is undergoing stressful events, even everyday stress causes the body to produce a chemical called cortisol. Cortisol is one of two main hormones produced by the adrenal glands and it is necessary and beneficial to the body to handle long-term stress. When a person continually undergoes stressful events the affects of stress are very apparent by the way the body systems work together. The symptoms of low thyroid (hypothyroidism) and low adrenal (adrenal fatigue) are in many ways mirror images of each other.
5. Adrenal Fatigue
Low adrenal function is characterized by feeling weak, lacking desire for sex, having dark circles under the eyes, experiencing joint or muscle aches/pains, being affected by low blood sugar, have select food cravings or cravings for salt, experiencing poor sleep, dry skin, discoloration and lines in fingernail pigment, showing marked difficulty in recovering from common colds or temporal situations like jet lag, having lowered immunity to illness, affected by depression and showing signs of premature aging.
Clues to low adrenal functioning include a low blood pressure (less than 120/80), allergies, asthma, breathing difficulties, skin problems (such as acne, eczema, psoriasis, lupus, dry flaky skin), joint or muscle pains, as in arthritis, and emotional problems, such as mood swings, weeping, fears and phobias.
If a person has adrenal fatigue it must be treated along with the low thyroid or the patient won't see the desired benefits of thyroid treatment. The adrenal hormone cortisol is necessary for the conversion of T4 to the active T3. If the weak adrenals are not addressed, the patient may see little, if any, benefit to thyroid therapy and may actually feel worse and/or develop symptoms of an overactive thyroid gland, such as palpitations, a rapid heart beat, and increased sweating. Chronic stress and adrenal fatigue are very common in today's society.
Thousands of patients miss out on the life-restoring benefits of thyroid replacement due to a missed adrenal insufficiency. The restoration of low thyroid function can yield amazing health results including, increased energy, better moods, less pain, lower cholesterol, and improved immune function just to name a few.
Do the Iodine Self-Test. If you're low in iodine, consider taking Thyroid Blend which provides iodine and raw adrenal concentrates which may help with thyroid function. Thyroid Blend contains Raw glandular concentrates from South American or New Zealand and are farm raised, grass-fed cattle. All batches are analyzed for any contaminants and free of BSE. This product is designed to help support T4 and boost T3 thyroid hormones.
Self-Testing Methods for Adrenal Fatigue
Ragland's sign is an abnormal drop in systolic blood pressure (the top number) when a person arises from a lying to a standing position. There should be a rise of 8-10 mm. in the systolic (top) number. A drop or failure to rise indicates adrenal fatigue.
Example: Someone takes your blood pressure while you're lying on your back. The systolic number (top number) is 120 and the diastolic number is 60 (120 over 60). Then, take your blood pressure again after immediately standing up. The systolic number (120) should go up 10 points (from 120 to 130). If it doesn't increase 10 points, this indicates adrenal fatigue.
Pupil Dilation Test - Another way to test for adrenal dysfunction is the pupil dilation exam. To perform this on yourself, you'll need a flashlight and a mirror. Face the mirror and shine the light in one eye. If after 30 seconds the pupil (black center) starts to dilate (enlarge), adrenal deficiency should be suspected.
Why does this happen? During adrenal insufficiency, there is a deficiency of sodium and an abundance of potassium, and this imbalance causes an inhibition of the sphincter muscles of the eye. These muscles normally initiate pupil constriction in the presence of bright light. However, in adrenal fatigue, the pupils actually dilate when exposed to light.
If your thyroid is not functioning optimally, it might be time to consider natural supplements to improve thyroid function.