Causes of Low Thyroid Function
- Stress, viruses that attack the thyroid, environmental and dietary toxins can all cause the thyroid to malfunction.
- Corticosteroids (prednisone) and lithium can suppress TSH and prevent the conversion of T4 to T3.
- Certain foods including Brussels sprouts, rutabaga, turnips, cabbage, radishes, broccoli, cauliflower, millet, kale, and soy products can all contribute to low thyroid hormone production.
- Vitamin and mineral deficiencies can also contribute to low thyroid function.
- The amino acid L-Tyrosine is the precursor for T4 hormone. Vitamins B1 and B2 are essential for proper thyroid function. The mineral selenium activates an enzyme that helps convert T4 to T3.
Symptoms Associated with Hypothyroid
Symptoms of low thyroid tend to become worse after a major stressful event. Childbirth, divorce, death of a loved one, job or family stress, chronic illness, surgery, trauma, excessive dieting, and other stressful events can all lead to hypothyroidism. Under significant physical, mental, or emotional stress the body slows down the metabolism by decreasing the amount of raw material (T4) that is converted to the active thyroid hormone (T3). This is done to conserve energy. However, when the stress is over, the metabolism is supposed to speed up and return to normal. This process can become derailed by a buildup of reverse T3 (rT3) hormone. Reverse T3 can build to such high levels that it begins to start using up the enzyme that converts T4 to T3. The body may try to correct this by releasing more TSH and T4 only to have the levels of rT3 go even higher. A vicious cycle is created where T4 is never converted into active T3. Certain nationalities are more likely to develop Wilson's Syndrome: those whose ancestors survived famine, such as Irish, American Indian, Scotch, Welsh, and Russian. Interestingly, those patients who are part Irish and part American Indian are the most prone of all. Women are also more likely than men to develop Wilson's Syndrome. One study showed that all the symptoms associated with FMS could be eliminated while the patient was taking high-doses (120 mcg.) of T3.
- Fatigue, headaches, dry skin, swelling, weight gain, cold hands and feet, poor memory, hair loss, hoarseness, nervousness, depression, joint and muscle pain, and or burning or tingling sensations in the hands or feet.
- Skin may become yellow, especially the hands, from a build-up of carotene. This is because the process that converts carotene to vitamins is slowed by hypothyroidism.
- Numbness or tingling in the feet is caused by hypothyroid neuropathy (a degenerative nerve disease). Carpal tunnel syndrome (medial nerve neuropathy) may also be caused by hypothyroidism.
- Hypothyroidism can also cause problems with balance and equilibrium. You may experience an unsteadiness on your feet or a lack of coordination.
- Constipation occurs from the slowed metabolism associated with hypothyroid.
- The most profound symptom associated with hypothyroidism is fatigue
Treatment for Hypothyroid, The Barnes Method
Dr. Barnes recommends patients take a desiccated glandular (derived from pigs) prescription medication known as Armour Thyroid, which was used before synthetic medications such as Synthroid were introduced. Armour Thyroid and other prescription thyroid glandulars (including Nuthroid and Westhroid), contain both T4 and T3.
Synthroid and other synthetic thyroid medications contain T4 only. Since some individuals have a difficult time converting inactive T4 to active T3, these medications may not work at the cellular level. Individuals may take T4 medications for years and never notice much improvement. Their blood tests look good, but in the mean time they are falling apart; gaining weight, having more aches and pains, battling one sinus infection after another, and becoming more and more fatigued, depressed, and withdrawn. Research is validating what many doctors including Dr. Barnes has been advocating for years, a combination of T4 and T3 therapy is superior to synthetic T4 therapy alone.
Treatment for Hypothyroid, Wilson's Syndrome
Wilson's Syndrome was first described by E. Denis Wilson, MD. He was refining some of the pioneering clinical research first performed by Dr. Barnes. Dr. Wilson showed that symptoms of low thyroid function could be present with normal thyroid blood tests. The group of symptoms that he studied he called Wilson's Syndrome. These symptoms can include severe fatigue, headache and migraine, PMS, easy weight gain, fluid retention, irritability, anxiety, panic attacks, depression, decreased memory and concentration, hair loss, decreased sex drive, unhealthy nails, constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, dry skin, dry hair, cold and/or heat intolerance, low self-esteem, irregular periods, chronic or repeated infections, and many other complaints. A lot of symptoms for such a little hormone problem! Perhaps the greatest obstacle Dr. Wilson has had to overcome in his attempts to be recognized by mainstream medicine is the vast symptoms associated with Wilson's Syndrome. Yet all these symptoms can be seen in hypothyroid patients.
Over the Counter Glandular Thyroid Supplements
The prescription thyroid glandular medications, Armour, Westhroid, and Nuthroid are the preferred method of treating low thyroid disorder. Dr Wilson's timed-release prescription T3 therapy is another option. However, many people have trouble getting their medical doctor to write them a prescription for one of these medications. If you have trouble getting your doctor to prescribe one of these medications then you should consider using over-the-counter thyroid supplementation. Over-the-counter thyroid glandular supplements can also be used to correct low thyroid function. Since these raw thyroid tissue concentrates contain T3, they can be used as a first line of treatment for low to moderate hypothyroid, euthyroid disorder, or Wilson's syndrome.
Individuals taking synthetic prescription thyroid medicines (Synthroid, Levathyriod, etc.) may find that adding an over the counter T3 glandular supplement helps them feel better. A study by the New England Journal of Medicine showed that patients who received a combination of T4 and T3 were mentally sharper, less depressed, and feeling better overall than a control group who received T4 only. Potent, high quality thyroid glandular supplements are not easy to find.
Thyroid Blend provides iodine and raw adrenal concentrates which may help with thyroid function. Thyroid Blend contains raw thyroid concentrate including thyroid hormones (Thyroxin, T4 free). This product is designed to help support T4 and boost T3 thyroid hormones. Raw glandular concentrates are from South American or New Zealand farm raised, grass fed cattle. All batches are analyzed for any contaminants. Free of BSE.
If you think you have low thyroid function, visit our Thyroid Support page for natural remedies.