What is thyroid: This is a small butterfly-shaped gland in your neck, wrapped around the windpipe, behind and below the Adam’s Apple area. This gland produces two hormones:
1. tri-iodothyronine (T3): the active, primary intracellular hormone and
2. thyroxine (T4): the inactive, primary extracellular hormone.
This gland governs the body’s metabolism and growth through the production of these hormones. Once released, T3 and T4 travel through the bloodstream to help cells convert oxygen and calories into energy. These hormones determine your body’s metabolic rate, the rate at which your cells produce and use energy. If your thyroid gland were to be removed and you weren’t given any supplementation, then you might live one year. You would slowly unwind like a doll on Christmas morning until your body would cease functioning.
When your thyroid is not functioning properly, thyroid disease usually results. Sometimes, there are few symptoms and other times there are major symptoms such as goiters or unexplained weight gain. In this article, we will describe hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism and an auto-immune disease called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.
Hypothyroidism: Hypo means low so this disease relates to a medical condition manifested by low thyroid function, not producing enough thyroid hormones or by low thyroid hormone action in the cells. If T4 is not properly assimilated into the cells or is not converted to T3 within the cells, then this disease results. This is the most common form of thyroid disease and one of the most overlooked because bloodwork does not always show a deficiency (see the article on Reference Ranges).
It is not the level of thyroid hormone in the blood that is important, but rather how much T3 is present within the cells. This is why blood tests are inconclusive and often do not correlate with a patient’s clinical symptoms. Some symptoms of hypothyroidism include, but are not limited to, chronic fatigue, weight gain, cold extremities, headaches, brain fog, depression, hair loss, irregular menstrual cycles, low basal body temperature, low blood pressure and many more. If left untreated, thyroid deficiency can lead to migraines, recurrent and chronic infections, skin disorders, obesity, menstrual irregularities and infertility, emotional disorders, hypertension, coronary artery disease, cancer and the complications of diabetes. Sometimes, diagnosis may be detected by Free T4 and TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) levels in the blood, but most commonly by a patient’s symptoms. There are many causes of hypothyroidism, but one of the most common is Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis.
Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis: This is a type of autoimmune disease in which the immune system produces antibodies to the thyroid gland. The antibodies attack this important gland and prevent it from making enough hormones to be properly assimilated into the cells. This usually leads to hypothyroidism and, therefore, the symptoms are very similar. Common symptoms include fatigue, depression, constipation, muscle and joint pains, weight gain, brain fog, sensitivity to cold, puffy face, dry skin, increased menstrual flow, infertility, miscarriages and presence of a goiter. Diagnosis is based on blood levels of antibodies against thyroglobulin and thyroid peroxidase, as well as symptoms.
Hyperthyroidism: When your thyroid starts producing too much hormone, you can become hyperthyroid and your body goes into overdrive. This may be caused by too much thyroid hormone replacement, which is why it is extremely important to have routine follow up appointments and bloodwork done. Some symptoms include insomnia, irritability or anxiety, unexplained weight loss, increased heart rate or palpitations, increased perspiration, shaky hands, feeling tired, menstrual abnormalities, muscle weakness, eye changes (bulging eyes, double vision), infertility, brittle hair, hair loss, lack of concentration or erratic behavior.
Treatment for Thyroid Diseases: Most traditional doctors will prescribe Synthroid or Levoxyl for treatment of hypothyroidism or Hashimoto’s. The Woodlands Institute for Health & Wellness treats first with Armour thyroid medication. Armour is a bio-identical, natural hormone. It consists of thyroid glands from pigs that are removed and desiccated (dried). After the glands are dried, they are pulverized, ground into powder, emulsified and finally punched into tablets. These tablets contain the exact same T3 and T4 hormones that our bodies produce as well as nutrients.
Drug companies look for chemical substances in nature that have therapeutic and medicinal value. The only way they can profit from them is by changing the chemical formula ever so slightly and creating a new synthetic drug to be patented and sold at a handsome profit. The pharmaceutical companies then market their drugs by employing salesmen to promote their products to private physicians. This includes Synthroid and Levoxyl.
These synthetic forms of thyroid contain only T4, which is the inactive form of thyroid. This means your body must convert that T4 into the active T3. Many people are resistant to this internal conversion, which explains why some hypothyroid patients do not feel much better when placed on synthetic thyroid replacements. For this reason, synthetic drugs and counterfeit hormones are not as effective as their bio-identical counterparts. Many synthetic drugs and counterfeit hormones have serious and harmful side effects. For this reason, we prescribe and recommend biologically identical hormones, including Armour Thyroid. Although the symptoms of functional hypothyroidism are many and diverse, virtually all will improve or resolve when the patient is treated with Armour Thyroid.
Click here to test yourself for low thyroid symptoms. For more information, visit the Ask Dr. McManus page at http://www.woodlandswellnessmd.com/resources/ask-dr-mcmanus.html to watch a short video on thyroid function.