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Thyroid: The Cause of Our Most Common Problems?

photo credit: COMSALUD via photopin cc

photo credit: COMSALUD via photopin cc

Certainly a commonly diagnosed medical problem, hypothyroidism has far reaching effects. The most commonly found effects are:

  • fatigue
  • constipation
  • dry and thinning hair
  • cold extremities
  • intolerance to cold
  • menstrual irregularities
  • weight gain.

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Deficient Thyroid and Adrenal Hormones
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No doubt you have wondered if your thyroid is working properly.  It’s more than just feeling sluggish and constipated.  Here are some other symptoms that indicate low thyroid.

slow Achilles tendon reflexes, swollen eyelids, hands, lips, face and tongue, loss of the ourter third of the eyebrow, slow heart rate, dry scaly skin, cold hands, brittle nails, yellowing of palms and soles of feet.  These people have intolerance to cold and heat and don’t sweat easily when it’s hot.  They always seem to be cold and always have layers on.  They can have joint stiffness and muscle pain especially in the morning.  Leg cramps are often an issue with them and carpal tunnel syndrome is more common as can be low back pain.  Hair loss can be common as well and headaches  may develop.  These patients don’t lose weight easily when they diet.

Keep in mind that as your TSH level creeps over 1.5 and 2.0 and beyond, it may be described as normal to you but an increase in TSH means your body is trying to tell you something.  T4 is only part of your important levels to check.  T3 is the active form of the thyroid hormone and should be determined as well.  If you are able to determine the reverse T3 level as well then you have a large part of the thyroid story.  High stress situations lead to T4 being converted to reverse T3 more and more instead of T3.  Reverse T3 binds to the T3 receptor but has no biological activity.  You can imagine the detrimental effect on the body when this happens.  It’s like the body has low thyroid but is really just fine.  In fact your doctor looks at the TSH and T4 and feels you’re fine.  In fact you know something is wrong.  You have a functional thyroid disorder.  Small doses of T3 may help, perhaps 1% of the entire T4 dose.  Not the 25 % that you have heard suggested at first.

The thyroid needs properly functioning Adrenal glands in order to function properly.  We often determine adrenal health by taking a cortisol reading in the saliva 4 times during the day from am to bedtime.  In testing these levels we often see low levels of cortisol all day.  No nice peak in the morning and just flat all day.  These people can hardly drag themselves out of bed in the morning, they start to come around around lunch but feel the need for a nap around 3 pm.  They may feel more energetic around supper and feel normal tired around 11 pm and if they stay up they can get a second wind and feel they can stay up all night.    Low cortisol from the adrenals can show other symptoms like nervous behaviour that is prone to emotional outbursts, melodramatic descriptions, allergic type reactions to everything, painful joints, skin disorders, rapid heart rate, low blood pressure, and unusual pigmentation of the skin.  A common complaint is often cravings for sweets and intense and sudden hunger attacks.  There may be cravings for salt and they don’t seem to tolerate medications very well.

I often see under responsive adrenals rather than over responsive ones.  Either way there are effective therapies.  There are numerous effective therapies for adrenal issues but they must be used in the right situation.  hypo activation symptoms include fatigue, inflammation and autoimmune disorders, inability to cope or perform routine tasks, weight loss restless sleep, chronic pain and weakness, low libido asthma and allergies .   Hyperactivation symptoms include anxiety, agitation, restless sleep, high cholesterol, triglycerides and blood pressure, insulin resistance, low libido, central obesity, bone loss, loss of muscle tone and GI disorders.

Examples of adaptogenic adrenal help for the adrenals include holy basil, ashwagandha, bacopa, cordyceps, asian ginseng (panax), rhodiola, and licorice root.  For the thyroid we have T4 and T3, bladderwrack, iodine, selenium, vitamin E , vitamin A and D and Zinc.

 

Reference, The Hormone Book , Thierry Hertoghe, MD, SA Internationsal Medical Books, 2010

 

 

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