The thyroid gland has two lobes located on the sides of the neck just below the “Adam’s Apple”.
Symptoms. As most people know, thyroid hormone affects our metabolism and low levels can trigger weight gain and fatigue. But, fewer would know to look to the thyroid for depression, high cholesterol, constipation, pain, menstrual irregularities, memory issues or hair loss. Because thyroid is involved in regulation of body temperature, low thermometer readings can be one clue to look further.
Testing. Many people have insufficient thyroid function but the problem remains untreated because it is “sub-clinical”. That means that the standard medical tests are not looking at the right weak spot in the complex system or that the test’s “normal” limits are too broad. If my thyroid quiz hints at a problem, that is something to take to the doctor and request a full panel of thyroid tests which can include several more detailed the typical TSH or even T3 and T4 levels. There is a thorough and seemingly useful discussion of testing at this link.
Medication types. I often hear from people who still experience symptoms even though they are taking synthetic thyroid drugs. Those contain only the storage form of the hormone (T4) and the body doesn’t always convert that to the active form efficiently. Those folks typically improve greatly when the doctor takes their complaints seriously and either adjusts the dosage until symptoms go away or better yet, switches them to medication that contains T3 (active form) as well as T4 (storage form). Natural desiccated thyroid from animals is one such drug that has been shown to be more effective than the synthetic. This site link lists studies showing the relative effectiveness. Also, a compounding pharmacy can create whatever ratio of T4/T3 the doctor recommends. Hopefully, the doctor knows that the dosage differs when moving from synthetic to one of these T3/T4 combos. Armour brand is expensive, but the generic natural thyroid is much more affordable. To find the most reasonable prices in your area, check out the website GoodRx.com and its handy smart phone app that will get you discounts.
Nutrients. The thyroid system (creation of the hormone, conversion to active and getting the cells to pay attention to it) requires nutrients. A main one is iodine which is no longer so easily available in the diet. Vitamin A and selenium are also needed. Beware that a study showed that many dietary supplements for “thyroid support” actually contain thyroid hormones, both T4 and T3. This must come from the thyroid glandular ingredient.
Threats to thyroid. Various toxins like mercury are hard on the thyroid. Some people experience thyroid problems as a result of sensitivity to gluten. Autoimmune disease can also target the thyroid gland.
Books and Resources:
Solved, The Riddle of Illness, by Stephen Langer, MD and James Scheer
Copyright 2014 by Martie Whittekin, CCN