The Most Common Missed Factors in Treating Thyroid Disease
I have worked with people all across the United States and I can honestly say there's very little I haven't seen when it comes to all the pitfalls associated with thyroid disease and treatment.
The most important thing to understand is that recovering from and even reversing thyroid disorders is possible, especially when you understand exactly what's causing the problem.
But that's the issue. Rarely is the root cause of thyroid disease ever investigated.
More common is someone who has an abnormal TSH or T4 reading and their doctor simply prescribes Levothyroxine (Synthroid) or Liothyronine (Cytomel) and calls it a day.
There are several types of thyroid dysfunctions ranging from Brain or central nervous system issues, to true thyroid gland problems, nutrition deficiencies and environmental causes.
In no way could Synthroid or Cytomel correct all of these potential causes.
The truth is, we are all so very different and unique and the treatment approach is no different.
But if you're willing to dig in and investigate, you can figure out what is wrong with your thyroid, begin the process of correcting it and feeling like yourself again!
Here's some of the more common factors, often missed when treating the thyroid.
Not Getting The Right Thyroid Tests
Most conventional medical doctors rely on two biomarkers:
- TSH – Thyroid Stimulating Hormone
- T4 – Thyroxine Hormone
That's cute and all, but it's certainly not enough to know if the thyroid is functioning properly, much less recommend a drug that could cause harm!
TSH is produced in the brain and it's highly variable because, well… your brain is constantly changing and working.
So an abnormal TSH doesn't necessarily mean something is wrong. TSH is more like a thermostat in your house.
If thyroid hormone levels are low, TSH will signal your thyroid to produce T4.
If thyroid hormone levels are high, TSH will shut off and leave your thyroid alone.
T4 is the hormone produced by the thyroid gland. So if TSH is being released we would expect your thyroid gland to produce thyroid hormone.
This is where T4 comes into the picture. T4 is the production of hormone and gives us an idea if the thyroid is acting accordingly.
If T4 levels are low, it could be assumed that your thyroid gland isn't working. Here's where it can get complicated.
T4 is not the hormone that actually revs up your metabolic engine. It's not the hormone that will help you to lose weight and increase in energy.
So simply measuring T4 is not enough. What we need to know is whether or not your T4 is being converted to T3 (the active thyroid hormone).
You could have abnormal TSH, low T4 but healthy levels of T3 (no medication necessary).
But wait… sometimes T4 is not converting to T3 but Reverse T3. Again, this is not a problem of thyroid hormone production.
Finally, you could autoimmune thyroid issues where nothing is wrong with the thyroid but the body is attacking the gland (for whatever reason) and this is causing problems.
Once again, no amount of medication will correct this specific problem.
All that said, if you want to assess your thyroid function properly, you need to look at the whole picture and this would involve (at a minimum):
- Total and Free T4
- Total and Free T3
- Reverse T3
- Thyroid Antibodies (TPO and TgAb)
The final step is to have these labs interpreted appropriately. This means that you should never go off the reference ranges or intervals provided by standard labs.
Those ranges are based on national averages, not optimal states of health.
If you want to compare your health to the national average – which consists largely of unhealthy people – go right ahead, but just know that you'll be told, “You're Normal” as in, You're unhealthy, just like everyone else.
Not Finding the Right Thyroid Medication
Hopefully you understand why prescribing a drug should always come from an accurate diagnosis.
And hopefully you understand that most thyroid conditions lack a proper diagnosis or least isn't based on a sound examination.
Choosing the right thyroid medication requires answering the following three questions:
- What’s the mechanism that led to the need for medication in the first place?
- Are there any mechanisms that may interfere with the actions of the medication?
- Does the patient have sensitivities to the fillers used in the medications?
In other words, do you have an autoimmune disease (Hashimoto’s) causing destruction of your thyroid gland?
Do you have high levels of estrogen causing an increase in thyroid binding proteins and a decrease in free thyroid hormone?
Do you have a systemic inflammatory condition affecting your ability to convert T4 to T3, or decreasing the sensitivity of the cells in your body to thyroid hormone?
All these questions should be answered and you should know exactly why you are taking a medication.
The go-to thyroid medication for hypothyroidism is Synthroid® or Levothyroxine. It's such a go-to drug that it became the prescribed drug in America in 2018.
The problem with this medication is that it's a synthetic form of T4.
Remember, T4 is not the activated form of thyroid hormone.
Your body has to convert it to the active form known as T3.
And if you're like many thyroid patients, your body might not be able to convert T4 to active T3.
In this case, Levothyroxine won't help. This is not a matter of needing more T4, it's a matter of correcting factors to improve conversion!
And if that's the case, you will continue to struggle with fatigue, brain fog, hair loss, and other thyroid symptoms even while on a T4 medication.
If you have conversion problems, then the best case scenario is to figure out why.
It could be addressing inflammation, nutrient deficiencies and/or lifestyle factors.
But if this doesn't work, then you might need bio-identical hormone therapy such as combining T4 and T3 or a sythentic T3 like Cytomel.
Other bio-identical sollutions include dessicated thyroid medication such as Armour®,WP Thyroid®, or Nature-Throid®.
These forms of hormone contain T4 and T3, so there's a chance you'll do better than just synthetic T3.
Even then, there are powerful thyroid glandulars that work just as well as dessicated thryoid medications and you don't need a prescription!
Just realize that we are all different and it’s important to find the medication that works best for your body, rather than relying on a cookie cutter solution.
Not Addressing Thyroid Autoimmune Issues
The most common thyroid condition is hypothyroid, of which the 2 most common causes include nutrient deficiencies and autoimmunity.
The two most common forms of thyroid autoimmune dysfunctions are Hasthimoto's and Graves' Disease.
It's estimated that over 90% of hypothyroidism is Hashimoto's.
What this means that well over 90% of thyroid dysfunctions are not a problem with the thyroid, but the immune system.
Autoimmunity is when your body decides to start attacking itself. In this case, the immune system attacks the thyroid and causes imbalances in thyroid function.
There are many reasons why someone could have autoimmunity. Here's the most common causes:
- Digestive Dysfunctions
- Infections (bacterial, viral, fungal and parasitic)
- Environmental Toxins (chemicals, heavy metals, etc.)
- Brain communication issues (neurotransmitters, head trauma)
Not Addressing Nutrient Deficiencies that Cause Thyroid Problems
We all know that diet is a foundation for health.
Eating healthy is an absolute must, but simply eating healthy food doesn't mean you're going to fully digest and absorb that food.
This get's a lot of people into a hot mess of trying to figure out what is wrong with them and completely skipping over nutrient deficiencies.
I would argue nutrient deficiencies are at the core of most chronic health conditions!
Like any other organ in your body, if you want your thyroid and related hormones to function optimally, you'll need adequate levels of key vitamins and minerals including:
- Omega 3's
- Vitamins A
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin E
So it's critical that you get your levels measured when suspecting thyroid issues!
Not Addressing Gut Infections
Did you know that 80% of your immune system lives within the digestive tract?
Did you know that 20% of your thyroid hormones are converted in your gut?
The digestive system is also where we absorb all those nutrients that I mentioned previously, that have a powerful impact on thyroid function overall.
So it should go without saying that anything causing problems in your gut, will surely cause thyroid dysfunction.
It's estimated that 33% of the population has a parasite with absolutely no symptoms whatsoever.
This is why it's common to find gut infections including parasites, bacteria and fungal overgrowth.
Not only do these infections cause problems within the digestive tract, but they also active your immune system, prevent nutrient absorption and even impact the brain.
As you can see, there are many areas to consider when it comes to addressing thyroid problems.
Simply taking a medication without properly assessing your body is a sure path to frustration.
If you're interested in taking your health to the next level, consider setting up a free consult by clicking here.