It’s time to start talking about the thyroid gland now. A while back I promised it would be covered and here is some more reality about this very, very important hormonal structure.
I just Googled several different but related key words about hormone therapy to see the number of available ‘hits’ found in the Web. Some interesting numbers showed up:
Menopause = 39,100,100 hits
Male Menopause = 2,520,000 hits
Low Testosterone = 3,980,000 hits
Overweight = 52,700,000 hits
Obesity = 83,200,000 hits
HYPOTHYROIDISM = 9,240,000 hits
I am actually quite surprised that Hypothyroidism polled so low. Realistically, you could add the rest of the hits as a sum number creating a grand total of 240,300,000 hits. That might be more accurate of the interest in Hypothyroidism, as many of those 240 million have some degree of Hypothyroidism. Medicine in general does agree that the thyroid gland is quite important, considerably under diagnosed and undertreated. Many natural hormone specialists even consider that a slowing underactive thyroid may be the spark that sets the fire of hormonal imbalances in many cases.
The thyroid produces hormones that regulate body temperature, warmth, metabolism, increases energy, and lowers cholesterol. It even helps with hair thinning, dry skin and thin nails; just some of its functions. These primary hormones are called T3, Triiodothyronine, and T4, Thyroxine.
Quite a while ago I told the anecdotal story of the origins of the TSH test. This is still the standard test by most physicians to evaluate the thyroid. If you read my earlier blog entry, you will understand why it should not be.
The standard treatment by “experimental” physicians has been the use of Synthroid, generically named Levothyroxine. From the official web site of Synthroid, it is defined as “a synthetic T4 identical to the body’s T4”. That is fine and dandy, but what about T3? Where did it go? After all, it is the ACTIVE thyroid hormone.
Well, follow this story:
The thyroid gland initially produces thyroid hormone as T4 as a “storage form”.
As it circulates this storage thyroid hormone T4 is converted by an enzyme to the ACTIVE thyroid hormone T3 and it goes to work. Aging, pollutants, and other factors, causes decreased production of T4 and the conversion process of T4 to T3 slows as well. The end result is that your body has less T3, the primary ACTIVE thyroid hormone. At the cellular level, the mitochondria are weakened by the lack of T3. It is needed for the mitochondria to burn oxygen and produce ATP which is our body’s fuel. End result, lower metabolism, lower energy, weight gain, and all the varied symptoms of Hypothyroidism, from constipation to miscarriages. Since so many of these symptoms are not intense, seem unrelated to the thyroid, they are tolerated or even looked at as normal, ’part of growing old’. The underactive thyroid T3 starved body does not get treated, or the Experimental Physician orders a TSH and finds it in the normal range, and says take 2 aspirin and call me in the morning. Actually they never say the “call me in the morning” part anymore.
So where is T3 anyway? That is the sad part of the story. It is readily available as Armour Thyroid, Westhroid, and also known as desiccated pig thyroid. Yep, again we humans are a lot like pigs! It is a natural product and not a synthetic or experimental drug, and therefore was not well known until recently. Simple replenishment of T3 with regular monitoring of the level or amount you have in your body to keep it in the appropriate range and amazing things happen! Things like normalcy and resolution of all the various symptoms of Hypothyroidism.
As the evolution of natural (bioidentical) hormone therapy progresses, so does the diagnosis and treatment of hypothyroidism. This is under considerable debate, and many studies are being performed. I just Googled Hypothyroidism Studies and got 5,130,000 hits!
The moral here is that it looks as though, and we know from years of experience, as well as traditional studies on Armour Thyroid, that it is the appropriate and correct treatment for Hypothyroidism. This debate is growing by the day but is complicated by economical, industrial, pharmaceutical, conventional medical thought, and even by insurance companies or governmental agencies such as the FDA.
Knowing there is effective and safe treatment out there is not the major problem. The major problem now is in recognition of the symptoms of Hypothyroidism, improvement in the diagnosis, so effective therapy can be given, resulting in improved general health for all those who need it.
Next up about the thyroid; just what are the many symptoms and how is treatment judged and given. Stay Tuned.