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Do Your Symptoms Mean Hypothyroidism?


by Barbara Minton
See all TBYIL articles by Barbara Minton

(The Best Years in Life) Is the average temperature of the human body still 98.6 (F)? This often quoted average was determined in the nineteenth century. A more recent study has reported an average temperature of 98.2, and many medical professionals believe this decrease in body heat is the result of an increasing prevalence of hypothyroidism. Whatever the answer is, one thing is sure. More people than ever are suffering from the large number of symptoms associated with low thyroid levels, especially women.

Thyroid is the most important hormone in the body. Because it stimulates cellular energy production, production of all other hormones will be negatively impacted when thyroid hormone levels are not optimal. In fact, every aspect of health is affected by low thyroid function.

Hypothyroidism is behind many disease states

Hypothyroidism is signaled by fatigue and loss of energy. People with the disease don’t have any sparkle in the morning. As the day goes on they find themselves falling asleep sitting in meetings or while driving on the highway, reading or watching TV. The only time they feel energized is from continuous movement, such as jogging or doing housework. As soon as the task is completed and they sit down, chances are good they will start to nod off.

Yet while they are fatigued, low thyroid people are often hyperactive at the same time. Thyroid expert Dr. Alan Gaby reported a study of 49 people diagnosed with hypothyroidism. Among them, 61 percent met diagnostic criteria for attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). When thyroid hormone is deficient, 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.

People with low thyroid exhibit many of the characteristics that are blamed on aging, with difficulty concentrating being the most blatant. They tend to flit from task to task and often accomplish little they set out to do. They can find themselves standing in front of an open refrigerator and unable to remember what they are there to get. They may have difficulty reading, having to read sentences again because their mind wandered off the first time.

Low thyroid sufferers are always the coldest people in the room, and their body temperatures can get as low as 95 degrees (F) in the cold winter months. People with low to very low levels of thyroid can experience the cold as extremely painful, and they plan their activities with minimizing exposure to cold weather as a priority. They also have trouble dealing with heat, and usually find comfort only in a very narrow range of temperatures, usually in the lower 70s. They are quite uncomfortable in overly heated rooms.

Other symptoms include inexplicable weight gain, painful premenstrual periods, fertility problems, muscle weakness and cramps, dry skin, yellow bumps on the eyelids, hair loss that can include the lower third of the eyebrows, susceptibility to infection, migraines, hoarseness, constipation, depression, difficulty getting words out when speaking, and goiter.

Miscarriage, fibrocystic breast disease, ovarian fibroids, cystic ovaries, endometriosis, and PMS are caused or aggravated by hypothyroidism, especially when it’s coupled with estrogen dominance, a condition that happens as progesterone levels decline starting in the late 20s. This is because estrogen inhibits thyroid secretion, while progesterone stimulates it.

A recent study to determine the prevalence of hypothyroidism in patients with benign breast disorders found that 23.2% of the women tested had unsuspected hypothyroidism.

Low thyroid can contribute to inability to let go of old hurts and angers, particularly against your mate.

Although the common perception of low thyroid people is that they are overweight, many people with low thyroid are underweight, so weight alone is not a determining factor. If the person is overweight, most of the extra weight is in water, not fat. People with low thyroid can drink and drink, but hardly ever need to urinate. Thyroid treatment can help an anorexic or other sick person gain weight.

A good night's sleep eludes the person with low thyroid who may fall asleep easily but awaken after only a few hours and be unable to return to sleep for the rest of the night. Headaches can often plague low thyroid sufferers, not only migraines but also stress and tension headaches.

There is a connection between multiple sclerosis (MS) and low thyroid. In a study by thyroid researcher Dr. Ray Peat, it was found that thyroid therapy caused MS symptoms to disappear in patients who had no other obvious causes such as heavy metal poisoning.

Depression is a classic symptom of low thyroid. Women with low thyroid are the most susceptible to severe bouts of post-partum depression following childbirth, and thyroid treatment helps restore their emotional equilibrium.

Dr. Broda Barnes, who runs a not-for-profit organization dedicated to research in the field of thyroid and metabolic balance, has found that the cardiovascular complications of diabetes are due to low thyroid function rather than insulin.

Reseachers in Italy examined the occurrence of coronary artery disease and long-term prognosis in patients without a history of primary thyroid disease, myocardial infarction, or chronic heart failure to determine if their coronary artery disease related to serum low levels of active thyroid hormone. They found that patients with low thyroid hormone level had an adverse prognosis, even after adjusting for traditional coronary risk factors.

Thyroid hormone deficiency has a direct effect on cancer and tumor development. When hormone level is low, the pumping action of the heart is weakened, and oxygen carrying red blood cells fail to provide proper oxygenation. Cancer can only thrive in an oxygen depleted environment.

Hypothyroidism can be life threatening

A rare condition that can result from long-term undiagnosed hypothyroidism is called myxedema coma. The coma can occur during illness, after an accident, from exposure to cold, as a result of the ingestion of narcotics and/or sedatives, or when the body temperature drifts below 95 degrees (F). It is a medical emergency that requires immediate treatment.

Diet and environment have a major impact on thyroid function

What is happening to our thyroids to cause such problems? Putting the natural selection theory aside, Dr. Lita Lee, reporting on the work of Drs. Peat and Barnes, says that the majority of people seen in doctors' offices have some form of thyroid dysfunction. She notes that radiation is the greatest environmental cause of hypothyroidism and other thyroid problems, including tumors and thyroid cancer. Since Chernobyl, radioactive fallout has become a worldwide phenomenon. But her hypothesis remains unproven for lack of an unexposed control group.

Epidemiological studies of radiation downwinders have found that this group shows many of the symptoms of hypothyroidism, including chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia. According to Dr. Peat, fibromyalgia is a combination of edema, inflammation and low blood sugar, all symptoms of hypothyroidism. He also believes that radiation is a major culprit in the hypothyroid epidemic.

“Organic animal protein is essential for the production of thyroid hormone and its conversion to the active form in the liver. Veganism leads to low thyroid function and low cholesterol which can lead to all of the major chronic degenerative diseases,” says Dr. Lee. She sees women as especially vulnerable because, when they have low thyroid function, they often become estrogen dominant and unable to make progesterone, a condition that exacerbates thyroid dysfunction. Because pesticides mimic estrogen in the body, she urges people to consume only organic produce.

Use of polyunsaturated oils contributes to low thyroid function whether the oils are processed or not. These include soybean, canola, safflower and corn oil. According to Dr. Peat, "the more unsaturated the oil is, the more strongly it interferes with thyroid secretion, the transport of thyroid hormone in the blood, and the response of the tissue thyroid receptors.” Olive oil, coconut oil and animal saturated fats do not compromise thyroid health.

Dr. John Lee, famed Harvard Medical School Professor and author, cautioned that unfermented soy products contain goitrogens, substances that inhibit thyroid function and the conversion of T4, the inactive form of thyroid hormone, to T3, the active form of thyroid hormone. Genistein, an isoflavone found in soybeans, can block thyroid hormone production. A transport protein called GLUT1 is shut down by genistein. This protein sends glucose into the cells, where it is used to generate energy. Slowing the transport of glucose means less energy production not only of thyroid hormone, but of every other action in the body. Phytate found in unsoaked nuts and legumes can accentuate these effects because it binds zinc and copper, leaving little of these important minerals available for the production of thyroid hormone.

Other notable causes of severe hypothyroidism include fluoride from water, foods and toothpaste. Synthetic and genetically engineered hormones used in birth control pills, hormone substitution drug therapy, and as growth stimulants in the non-organic production of food animals block the release of thyroid hormone from the thyroid gland. And while iodine is critical to thyroid functioning, too much can become a powerful thyroid inhibitor.

How to determine if you have a sluggish thyroid

There is no accurate medical test for thyroid function, according to Dr. Lita Lee. Anyone who has high cholesterol is practically assured of having hypothyroidism, because thyroid hormone controls the conversion of cholesterol to important anti-aging hormones and to bile salts. The lack of this conversion causes cholesterol levels to rise. However, many people with low cholesterol from a depressed immune system or from eating a low protein diet may also have hypothyroidism.

Dr. Barnes introduced the basal temperature test as a way to determine adequate thyroid function. The oral temperature is measured with an oral digital thermometer immediately after waking in the morning and before getting out of bed. This temperature should be no lower than 98.0 degrees F. It should then rise to 98.6 to 99 degrees during the daylight hours, and the resting pulse should be about 85 beats per minute. If temperature and pulse rates are below these levels, hypothyroidism is indicated.

What you can do about low thyroid

If you tell your traditional doctor that you suspect you have low thyroid function, he or she will probably order a lab test to measure your thyroid levels, and it will come back in the "normal" range. This is because more than 25% of people have low thyroid function, so what is considered the normal range is suppressed. If your TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) level is elevated, it means you probably need thyroid support, even if your doctor says you don't. If your doctor tries to put you on synthetic thyroid hormone substitution drugs such as Synthroid or Levoxyl, ask him to prescribe natural thyroid hormone instead. Natural thyroid hormone has not been altered to qualify for a patent, and is much more like the thyroid hormone your body would produce naturally if it could. It does not interfere with your immune system and your body will not build resistance to is as it would to synthetic thyroid substitution drugs. If you can't get what you are asking for from your doctor, consider a doctor who specializes in hormone replacement or anti-aging medicine.

For more information: Hormone Therapy Cutting the Gordian Knot.pdf

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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