Why You Need to Optimize Your Thyroid…This ONE Simple Hormone Does So Much!
Thyroid hormone is a metabolic hormone secreted by the thyroid gland. It is responsible for the regulation of body temperature, metabolism, and cognitive function, and optimal levels result in increased energy, optimal body temperature and warmth. Thyroid hormone increases fat breakdown, resulting in weight loss, as well as lowers cholesterol. It protects against cardiovascular disease, and improves cerebral metabolism, thereby protecting us from cognitive impairment. Thyroid hormone relieves the symptoms of thin and sparse hair, dry skin and thin nails, and even constipation. Every cell in our body requires optimal thyroid functioning.
People who experience hypothyroidism (low thyroid hormone) tend to experience low energy (fatigue), brain fog, e.g. delayed thinking and acting, forgetfulness, mental confusion, depression, and also arthritis-like symptoms (pain) and increased susceptibility to colds and infections. Our thyroid function declines with age, as do all of our hormones, but this is really not considered true hypothyroidism, but rather a thyroid insufficiency. In the past, it was thought that a thyroid or hormone insufficiency didn’t require replacement, but research has now proven otherwise. We now know that improving thyroid levels (and other hormones) will alleviate many of the symptoms of thyroid insufficiency and allow our body to function much more effectively.
Many healthcare professionals believe that thyroid hormone should not be used if levels are normal, despite the patient complaining to their healthcare provider of fatigue, weight gain, hair loss, or constipation, for example. This is a complete myth! Or on the other hand, some patients seem reluctant to want to start thyroid hormone because they believe the myth that once they start it, they will have to take it forever, or that their thyroid hormone will no longer produce enough on its own.
First of all, it’s not always about the actual thyroid hormone, but more about the health of the thyroid receptors, and the additional thyroid hormone helps to wake up the receptors and allow them to function optimally. Even doctors don’t seem to get this. Plus, secondly, “bioidentical” thyroid hormones are NOT pharmaceutical drugs. They are what our body is suppose to make naturally, but doesn’t always do a good job of it (for a variety of reasons).
The scientific literature refutes these myths and supports the benefits of “bioidentical” thyroid hormone for all theses reasons and more, and thus there seems to be no reason not to take “bioidentical” thyroid hormone supplementation. Plus with all the stress and toxins we are exposed to everyday that assaults our thyroid, we need all the protection and assistance that we can get.
Now, taking “synthetic” thyroid hormone (e.g. Synthroid or Levothyroxine), on the other hand, is NOT a good idea. That is where the problem lies. Many patients treated with synthetic T4 products, such as these, will still experience hypothyroid symptoms even though the lab test values appear normal. This is because a physician tends to rely on only one thyroid test, the TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone), which is an indirect measurement of thyroid function. The correct way to measure thyroid hormones in the body, is to measure the “Free” T3 level. The “free” T3 hormone is the active thyroid hormone and thus is a more accurate indication of the body’s metabolism of the hormone. Correcting the deficiency of thyroid hormone (Free T3) to “optimal” levels with “natural or bioidentical” thyroid results in optimal blood levels, improved metabolism, and resolution of symptoms. Despite our thyroid levels varying, symptoms often do not improve until will optimize the levels, similar to levels we had when we were younger. Sadly, most physicians do not grasp this concept. Another problem, rarely addressed with the use of “synthetic thyroid hormone,” e.g. Synthroid, is that it contains “corn” and sometimes, “gluten.” These are ingredients that are contradictive for people with the autoimmune thyroid condition, called “Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Yet, doctors prescribe this drug everyday to these people—-jeopordizing their recovery from this condition.
Keep this in mind when being told that your labs are so-called, “normal”: just because lab values fall within a normal range does not mean the levels are OPTIMAL. “Normal” levels for any test are just an “average” for the a population (usually a “sick” population). Some people may be low and some people may be high, and it is the average of this that determines the normal range. But a normal level for a middle-aged person may actually be low in comparison to a younger person. Doctors may call this “normal for your age,” but that is crazy. Why would we want to be “normal” for a so-called age group? What is normal any way? Who determines how you should feel at a certain age? I certainly don’t want to feel like someone my age who doesn’t eat well or live a healthy life. It might be considered “normal,” but it certainly isn’t optimal, and I am not going to live by those standards because someone else tells me that is what “normal” is.
We now know that thyroid hormone at higher doses has been sown to be effective treatment of chronic fatigue syndrome. Treatment with “optimal” thyroid hormone amounts is the best way to improve how one feels and functions.
Are you taking a medication to lower your cholesterol? I hope the answer is NO, but if you are, that is another topic for another discussion, but for now, let’s just say that by giving you “optimal” thyroid hormone, your cholesterol level will likely significantly improve (without the cholesterol-lowering medication.
Thyroid hormone, in the form of T3 is necessary to lower LDL cholesterol. Reversal of plaque that can’t be accomplished with statins, can be accomplished by optimizing thyroid.
Benefits of thyroid (other than those listed above) are:
* Protects against plaque formation
* Results in plaque reversal at proper doses
* Normalizes dyslipidemia when statins don’t
* Utilizing the correct dose and type of thyroid is what matters
There are several recent landmark articles demonstrating efficacy of T3 over T4. This comprehensive review of all the literature demonstrates the importance of optimizing thyroid, particularly T3, and its effect in the mitochondria in reducing cholesterol and improving metabolism that T4 does not.
There are many reasons why it is unconscionable for us healthcare practitioners to NOT optimize thyroid hormone for our patients, and the scientific literature that supports its optimization can be found HERE. As a bioidentical hormone specialist, I do not treat patients based on fads, but only on the scientific literature that supports my recommendations. (Warning: there is much scientific jargon in these references, so this link is for you scientific geeks out there like me!)
Additionally, when you improve thyroid function (as mentioned above), you are also improving metabolism. Improving metabolism is foremost in preventing many health conditions, especially Insulin Resistance and Diabetes Mellitus. Insulin resistance is a major cause of cardiovascular disease morbidity and mortality. Thyroid hormone is the missing link in improving weight loss, insulin resistance and diabetes mellitus. Current research-based evidence supports a decrease in all-cause mortality from cardiovascular disease when thyroid is optimized.
When you take bioidentical thyroid hormones, you will be getting benefits towards promoting a healthy weight, cardiovascular disease protection, an alternative to a statin drug and overall improved symptomology….all in one simple hormone!