Thyroid – More Than Energy and Metabolish
Thyroid hormone deficiencies are fairly common and consistently undertreated in our current healthcare system. The disconnect occurs as physicians fail to treat symptoms of hypothyroidism and only focus on the numbers. The numbers used however are insufficient for providing a diagnosis and treatment plan. The medications used are also inadequate to optimally treat the problem and provide relief of the symptoms for a thyroid gland functioning sub-optimally. The thyroid is a small butterfly-shaped gland in the front of the neck above the trachea. The thyroid gland is stimulated to produce active hormone (T3 or triiodothyronine) and inactive hormone (T4 or thyroxine) by a chemical produced in the anterior pituitary gland called TSH (thyrotropin). Thyroid hormone is integral for multiple life processes including metabolism, temperature regulation, and cerebral function. Hypothyroid or deficiency symptoms may include fatigue, memory impairment, weight gain, depression, temperature imbalance, dry skin, brittle nails, constipation, and menstrual irregularities (in women). These issues are primarily seen as a part of the natural aging process by the mainstream healthcare community. For that reason, hypothyroidism is consistently undertreated. The problems also typically overlap with other issues such as andropause, menopause, sleep deprivation, depression, anxiety, and cognitive decline which further complicates the treatment.
Thyroid deficiency affects 10% of men and 20% of women although these numbers, in my opinion, are low. There are many more that have symptoms and subclinical hypothyroidism that fail to receive treatment. These issues are often missed because typical evaluation by medical professionals primarily involves evaluation of TSH and at times free T4. TSH is a poor measure of thyroid function as the normal range is so vast. The TSH and free T4 also fail to assess the active form of the hormone which is free T3. Normal free T4 levels also may be misleading as this needs to be converted to free T3 for activity via the enzyme deiodinase. If this enzyme is low or functioning abnormally, then no conversion occurs, and the symptoms rear their ugly head. This is the reason that the commercially available medications including Synthroid and Levoxyl fail to improve symptoms in upwards of 15-20% of patients. They contain only T4 and must be converted to the active form in the body. This is the main reason to use a combination drug like Armour or Nature-Thyroid which contain both T3 and T4. The pharmaceutical industry in their infinite wisdom has attempted to discredit these products in hopes of sustaining profits. Similar to our current presidential administration, they use fear, lies, and denials (of the evidence-based science) to carry out this injustice. This practice is pervasive in medicine and society as a whole, and it needs to stop. Facts and truth matter and they need to trump (pun intended) profit and power as motivation for actions.