Articles by Natural Health Author Barbara Minton

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Do You Have Enough Thyroid Hormone for Optimal Health?
Part 1 of 3

by Barbara Minton
See all TBYIL articles by Barbara Minton

(The Best Years in Life) Most patients taking supplemental thyroid hormone are not getting a dose high enough to reach optimal function and resist disease. This is the latest finding from Dr. Kathy Maupin, a pioneer in anti-aging medicine and medical director of BioBalance Health, and it underscores the critical importance of the thyroid to health. The reason is that the dosage prescribed is most often decided by arbitrary laboratory values that capture only a single moment in time and are not reflective of the true state of the patient. Instead of making judgments based on narrowly representative lab results, Dr. Maupin says, the dose should be decided by the resolution of symptoms. What a novel idea!

Why lab tests don’t provide much real information

When you have your blood drawn or provide some other bodily sample, the idea is that the sample will be compared to a fairly large group of your peers. If your results are pretty much like the average of theirs, you will be considered “normal”. If your results are not like the average of theirs, you will be considered “abnormal”. This probably worked fairly well when lab tests were first invented, because back then most of the population was healthy. Today it’s a different story because a large chunk of the population is unhealthy, and your lab results are being compared to a group that contains many unhealthy people.

Today hypothyroidism is at epidemic levels, particularly in the Midwest, where soil used in farming is devoid of iodine, the mineral that forms the basis of thyroid hormone. So if you are tested for low thyroid and your results are in the “normal” range, it does not mean you have enough thyroid hormone to function optimally and avoid disease. It simply means that you are as thyroid deficient as most of the people in your peer group.

Why are optimal levels of thyroid hormones so important?

Thyroid hormone is the most important hormone in the body. Because it stimulates cellular energy production, production of all the other hormones will be negatively impacted when thyroid hormone levels are not optimal, affecting the maintenance of organ and tissue integrity, and the support of all enzymes systems in the body. When body temperature falls below 97.9  (a symptom of hypothyroidism) millions of enzymes fail to work optimally and metabolism becomes impaired. The result can be any of the degenerative diseases, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer.


Symptoms say you don’t have enough thyroid hormone

Hypothyroidism is the slow draining away of the life force within you. People with low thyroid are always the coldest people in the room, and their body temperature can dip as low as 95 degrees in winter. To them the cold is actually physically painful, and activities are planned with the need to keep warm as the determining factor. Yet these people also have difficulty dealing with heat, and are usually only truly comfortable in temperatures in the mid 70s.

People with low thyroid no longer have any sparkle in the morning, and as the day goes on they find themselves nodding off while sitting in meetings, driving on the highway, reading or watching TV. The only time they feel energized is from movement, such as jogging or housework. When the task is completed and they sit down, chances are good they will start to fall asleep.

Yet while they are fatigued, low thyroid people are often hyperactive at the same time. Thyroid expert Dr. Alan Gaby led a study of people diagnosed with hypothyroidism. He found that 61 percent of them met diagnostic criteria for attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD). When there is not enough thyroid hormone, the nerves require abnormal stimulation to function, and the body produces excess adrenalin to keep it going. The result is that people become tired and tense at the same time.

Low thyroid is often behind symptoms people write off as just being part of the aging process, including difficulty concentrating and inability to finish tasks. People with low thyroid can find themselves standing in front of an open refrigerator, unable to remember what they wanted. They may have difficulty reading, having to read sentences repeatedly because their mind has wandered off.

Inexplicable weight gain, fertility problems, low blood pressure, weak heartbeat, muscle weakness and cramping, dry skin, yellow bumps on eyelids, hair loss, hoarseness, constipation, depression, and goiter are also symptoms of low thyroid. One of the most definitive symptoms is loss of the temporal sides of the eyebrows.

In the untreated or insufficiently treated, hypothyroidism knocks out the body’s defenses to stress, leaving you vulnerable to what’s known as a myxedema coma should you encounter a stressful situation. This coma can also occur if your body temperature drifts below 95 degrees. It is a medical emergency and requires immediate treatment.  Low thyroid can also be behind a terrible disease known as chronic venous insufficiency.

Females are the most likely to experience low thyroid. Miscarriage, fibrocystic breast disease, ovarian fibroids, cystic ovaries, endometriosis, and PMS are aggravated or caused by hypothyroidism, particularly when it is coupled with estrogen dominance, a condition that occurs when progesterone and testosterone levels decline in the late 20s or early 30s. Estrogen inhibits the thyroid while progesterone and testosterone stimulate it. A study determining the prevalence of low thyroid in patients with benign breast disorders found that 23.2% of them had undiagnosed hypothyroidism.

Thyroid expert Dr. Ray Peat has found a connection between multiple sclerosis (MS) and hypothyroidism. His study found that raising thyroid hormone to optimal levels caused MS symptoms to disappear in patients who have no other obvious causes such as heavy metal poisoning.

Hypothyroidism is behind many bouts of depression. Women with low thyroid are the most susceptible to post-partum depression following childbirth, and supplementing thyroid hormones restores their emotional equilibrium.

Other research has shown that the cardiovascular complications of diabetes are due to low thyroid, as is a poor prognosis following heart attack or chronic heart failure.

Why treat a lab report when you can treat a real person?

Now that you know the myriad symptoms that can signal low thyroid, you can see that a few numbers on a lab report can’t possibly tell the whole story. This is why Dr. Maupin’s approach when treating patients for thyroid issues is to actually look at them and evaluate what she sees. Do they have a cold hands, dry skin, swollen fingers or tongues, thinning hair, or loss of the temporal eyebrows? If they have visible symptoms of hypothyroidism, along with a basal body temperature below 97.9, and low T3 or T4 (thyroid hormones), she treats them with enough thyroid replacement to alleviate those symptoms and bring them into the optimal range. At the first follow up visit, she evaluates how their symptoms have improved. The main question in her mind is: Are they getting better with the dosage I gave them?

See also:

Do You Have Enough Thyroid Hormone for Optimal Health? Part 2 of 3

Getting It Right with Thyroid Hormone - Part 3 of the Thyroid Series

Do Your Symptoms Mean Hypothyroidism?

About the Author:

Barbara is a school psychologist and the author of Dividend Capture, a book on personal finance. She is a breast cancer survivor using bioidentical hormone therapy, and a passionate advocate of natural health with hundreds of articles on many aspects of health and wellness. She is the editor and publisher of AlignLife's Health Secrets Newsletter.

See other articles by the Barbara Minton here:

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