Thyroid Disorders

The thyroid gland regulates the way the body uses energy. A low thyroid level (hypothyroidism) can cause fatigue, weakness, lethargy, weight gain, depression, memory problems, constipation, dry skin, intolerance to cold, coarse and thinning hair, brittle nails, or a yellowish tint to the skin. A high thyroid level (hyperthyroidism) can cause fatigue, weight loss, increased heart rate, intolerance to heat, sweating, irritability, anxiety, muscle weakness, and thyroid enlargement.

The problem with hypothyroid diagnosis today is in part due to lab ranges. In early 2003, the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE) went on the record to encourage doctors to consider treatment for patients who test outside a narrower TSH range of 0.3 to 3.0. The AACE announcement was based on recommendations from the National Academy of Clinical Biochemistry, part of the Academy of the American Association for Clinical Chemistry (AACC), whose new Laboratory Medicine Practice Guidelines: Laboratory Support for the Diagnosis and Monitoring of Thyroid Disease said that the upper limit of the TSH range should be reduced to 2.5 because >95% of the population with normal thyroid function have a TSH between 0.4 and 2.5, and that a TSH level between 0.5 and “generally considered the therapeutic target for a standard L-T4 replacement dose for primary hypothyroidism”. The problem with all of this is that I haven’t seen a lab yet that has changed its ranges and most doctors didn’t seem to hear about these new guidelines, even endocrinologists, and they are still prescribing based on the old ranges.

Another problem with attaining a proper diagnosis of hypothyroidism is the fact that most doctors do not run a full panel of thyroid tests. Your TSH can be normal, but you could have a low level of T4 and/or T3, which they would not know if they did not run those tests. Some doctors run a T4 and TSH, but without running a free T3 level they can not see if you are converting the inactive T4 to the active T3.

Also, if T3, T4 and TSH all come back normal but you have a very strong hypothyroid picture, you may have an autoimmune form of thyroid disorder, called Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. No one would know this if they did not check for the thyroid antibodies.

Finding the exact nature of your disorder will determine how it is treated. Homeopathy works wonders in treating the symptoms but you may not see the results in the labs. Homeopathy is usually used in the case of every lab coming back normal but the patient still has hypothyroid symptoms. It may also be used in people who do not want to do the medication. Herbs like Ashwagandha and Rosemary help with the conversion of T4 to T3. Dietary and lifestyle changes may also need to occur as there are thyroid metabolism blockers in foods, like peanuts and broccoli, and environmental factors, like chlorine, fluoride, and smoking.

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