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Approximately two percent of Americans have been currently diagnosed with hypothyroidism. The number of sixty five year and older Americans diagnosed with hypothyroidism is markedly up at ten per cent. Alarmingly, many experts in this field such as Dr. Broda Barnes and Dr. David Brownstein, feel there may be as many as forty to fifty percent of the American population that are not diagnosed. What are the symptoms of hypothyroidism, and why are there so many people who have it? Some of the more common symptoms of low thyroid function are the following: dry skin, dry, brittle, thinning hair, chronic constipation, sensitivity to cold, infertility, chronic fatigue, inability to lose weight despite changes in diet, caloric intake, and exercise, and mental dullness/difficulty concentrating. This illness is epidemic in the U.S. and in other parts of the world. There is a western province in China, where seventy five percent of the population is retarded as well as hypothyroid. Why? There is negligible amounts of iodine in the soil and diet. Yes, iodine is a key mineral for the thyroid, as well as the breast, uterus, and prostate. The iodine deficiency is widening and worsening, going beyond the goiter belt. There are other critical nutrients necessary for optimal thyroid function such as selenium, zinc, B12, and vitamin D. Nutritional deficiencies in one or more of these nutrients is common.
There are other environmental factors that are affecting this condition as well. Arsenic in well water, mercury in vaccines and in amalgam fillings, and in food sources like high fructose corn syrup inhibit thyroid function. In addition, there are the other halides besides iodine which compete for receptor sites in the thyroid; chlorine in our water, bromide which covers the interior of our new cars and our children's and grandchildren's car seats, and added in many processed breads, sports drinks, Mountain Dew, and fluoride in toothpaste, mouthwash, and some municipality's water supply. The thyroid would rather have iodine, but in its absence, it will uptake bromine or fluoride! I have found bromine and fluoride toxicity in many patients through urinalysis.
I have had hundreds of patients come to me over the years and describe their symptoms to me- classic hypothyroid such as cold all the time, can't lose wight, thinning eyebrows, mental dullness, constipation, and the like. Most of these patients already had some blood work done. The doctors interpretation was that the thyroid was normal. What to do? Since our approach was not to medicate, we treated the patient with iodine/iodide, trace minerals such as zinc and selenium ,thyroid protomorphogen to support endocrine function, and their symptoms improved.
Why wasn't the blood work showing the problem? I didn't know in the beginning (thirty five years ago), but I now know there are a few things wrong with the standard blood testing of thyroid. The first problem is that reference lab levels are way to broad for the thyroid. When I was first in practice thirty five years ago, blood profiles for the thyroid always included TSH, T3, and T4. Now most doctors are just checking the TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) levels that are produced by the pituitary. This only measures the amount of hormone the pituitary is secreting to stimulate the thyroid to produce T4 (thyroxine). Most lab reference values are from .5 to 5.0, a one thousand per cent variance! Doctors who have nutritional backgrounds, or practice functional medicine feel this range is way too broad. They feel values from .5 to 2.0 are more in line. So those patients with values over 2.0 would be suspect for hypothyroid. A second problem with evaluating the TSH is that it is a very fragile hormone in the serum, and should be measured immediately. Unfortunately your draw may occur at 8 a.m., and the lab technician may run the test at 2 p.m.. Delays like this will allow the TSH to degrade, and cause lower values to be measured. Likewise, reference values for T4 are too broad, and there are many patients having high normal" reference range" T4 levels that suggest hypothyroid function, but fall within the reference range. Although the T4 represents 90% of the circulating thyroid hormone, it must convert to T3 which is the bio-active form. The number T3 or T4 represents the number of iodine atoms in each molecule. Another lab value that is often not ordered for consideration on a lab panel is reverse T3. Reverse T3 has the same molecular structure of regular T3, except the location of the iodine atom is different. This change in position of the iodine atom causes the reverse T3 to be inactive. However, the reverse T3 can bind to the receptor site on a cell, not allowing the good T3 to be accepted by the receptor site. In addition, the lab order should include a check for thyroid antibodies.
Another consideration in evaluating the thyroid is that only 50% of the potential problem is the hormone. The other 50% of the problem could be the thyroid receptor. There are some people who have thyroid resistant receptors. Those patients who have normal reference levels, and still exhibit hypothyroid symptoms are called Hypothyroid II. It has been my experience with patients that use of the dried blood spot technique from the capillaries in the fingertip for thyroid evaluation will show abnormalities when none were found through standard venipuncture techniques. Why is that? The capillaries contain arterial blood containing more non-bound hormone than the venous blood from the venapuncture, and the TSH is more stable in the dried spot form vs. the liquid form. Also, the standard for testing dried blood spot testing,gas chromatography, is considered the gold standard for blood analysis.
It has been my experience that almost all patients with hypothyroidism suffer from adrenal fatigue. This must be addressed for a full recovery. See my section on hypoadrenia. Standard medical treatment for hypothyroidism is a prescription of synthroid or levothyroxine, synthetic forms of T4. The problem with this is that this synthetic T4 is an "extraterrestrial" molecule that needs to be converted to an active T3 form. This conversion faces all the usual problems, plus being a slightly different configuration than the natural form of T4, poses more problems. There are numerous patients that take the medication but feel no difference. If your thyroid was working better, you should be able to tell the difference.
Low functioning thyroids usually respond to a combination of iodide/iodine, selenium, trace minerals, B, C, and D vitamins, thyroid protomorphogen, and/or ashwagandha herb, and adrenal support as needed.
This service is provided through Hoffman Clinic for Optimal Health.Call today if you suspect or know you have a thyroid problem.813-985-1322.
Kelly Miller, DC NMD FASA FBAARM CFDMP*, is a physician for Hoffman Clinic for Optimal Health.
*There is currently no licensure for Naturopathic Physicians (NMD) in the state of Florida and the Florida Board of Chiropractic Medicine does not currently recognize the credentialing of the Fellowship from the Brazil-American Academy for Aging and Regenerative Medicine (FBAARM), or the Certification in Functional Diagnostic Medicine (CFDMP) from Functional Medicine University.