Are you always tired, no matter how much sleep you get? Do you feel like your brain is in a fog? Are you cold when others aren’t? Do you find that you can’t lose or keep weight off despite dieting? You may be suffering from a thyroid deficiency, or hypothyroidism. We can help.
Your thyroid gland is like your body’s gas pedal. When it’s cruising along at the right speed, you feel great. But when it’s not “giving enough gas” – or not producing enough thyroid hormone – you feel like you’re driving in slow motion with one foot on the brake pedal. If you have low thyroid hormones, you are suffering from a thyroid deficiency, or hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism is extremely common but often goes undetected because standard blood tests miss the majority of low thyroid patients. Additionally, many labs still use an outdated range for thyroid hormones. Symptoms of hypothyroidism can include fatigue, weight gain, depression, sensitivity to cold, muscle aches, brain fog, brittle nails, constipation, thinning hair, PMS, infertility, and more.
Have you ever wondered how such a tiny gland like the butterfly shaped thyroid is responsible for so many and sometimes debilitating symptoms in your body like affecting your metabolism? That’s because how well your thyroid functions is inter-related with every system in your body. If your thyroid is not running optimally, then neither are you.
Chronic constipation is a common complaint of people with an underactive thyroid gland. Poor thyroid function slows down the amount of time it takes for food to move through the intestines. This increases the potential of gut infections from harmful bacteria and yeast, leading to inflammation, malabsorption, and increased risk of developing food intolerances.
The production of gastric acid depends on the hormone gastrin, which diminishes with hypothyroidism. This can cause digestive complaints like bloating, heartburn, gas, and infections. In people with hypothyroidism and low stomach acid, protein deficiency may occur. Thyroid hormones strongly influence the tight junctions in the stomach and small intestine, which form the impermeable barrier of the gut. “Leaky gut” (increased intestinal permeability) is a major contributor to thyroid autoimmune diseases like Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.
Studies showed that T3 and T4 thyroid hormones protect gut mucosal lining from stress induced ulcer formation. Inflammation in the gut reduces T3 by raising cortisol. Cortisol decreases active T3 levels while increasing levels of inactive T3. Among other roles, the gut bacteria assists in converting about 20 percent of inactive T4 into the active form of thyroid hormone, T3. Intestinal dysbiosis, an imbalance between pathogenic and beneficial bacteria in the gut, significantly reduces this conversion.
Gallbladder and Liver Function
A sluggish gallbladder interferes with proper liver detoxification and prevents hormones from being cleared from the body. Hypothyroidism impairs gallbladder function by reducing bile flow.
The liver metabolizes hormones, filters toxins, and cleans the blood. Low thyroid function interferes with this process, making the liver and gallbladder sluggish and congested, and contributing to gallstones. Thyroid hormones affect the liver cells responsible for detoxification most of all. When thyroid function is low, the enzymes that carry out the detoxifying tasks don’t function properly.
The thyroid gland produces and stores calcitonin, a calcium-regulating hormone. Hypothyroidism prevents the ends of the long bones from forming fully or correctly.
Insulin and Glucose Metabolism
People with low thyroid function absorb glucose more slowly than normal and their cells don’t use its energy as readily.
Estrogen and Progesterone Metabolism
Estrogen must first be made water soluble in the liver in order to be eliminated from the body. During this process, estradiol is formed, a secondary type of estrogen. Hypothyroidism may hinder pathways in the liver that make this possible, leading to estrogen dominance and breast cancer, uterine fibroids, ovarian cysts.
Thyroid hormones sensitize the body’s cells to progesterone, so that they are able to readily take it up when needed. When the cell’s progesterone receptor sites are not exposed to enough thyroid hormones, they lose the ability to allow progesterone into the cells.
You’ve probably experienced the frustrating, overweight symptom first hand, if you suffer from hypothyroidism. This simply slows down the body’s metabolism and fat burning. Adrenal hormones that enhance fat burning are not efficient anymore and the sites on the cells that respond to lipase, an enzyme that metabolizes fat, are shut down.
Cholesterol is the backbone of all steroidal hormones. The cellular uptake of LDL cholesterol will diminish if there is inadequate thyroid hormone in the cells. Consequently, LDL levels in serum may rise significantly due to poor LDL utilization. When a person’s thyroid is functioning below normal, he/she makes fat much more quickly than it’s burned, which drives up triglycerides and LDL cholesterol.
Testing for Hypothyroidism
Even when a patient is diagnosed with hypothyroidism, most doctors treat the disorder improperly or sub-optimally with T4-only medications such as Synthroid, Levoxyl, or Levothyroxine. This treatment can cause the patient’s lab results to look “normal” while the patient still feels exhausted or cannot lose weight. Proper thyroid hormone levels aren’t important only for your energy and metabolism. A number of health conditions are shown to be caused or associated with low tissue thyroid levels, including Diabetes, insulin resistance, Depression, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, PMS, autoimmune disease, iron deficiency, chronic stress, and chronic pain.
The TSH (or Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) is the test that most doctors use to screen for hypothyroidism. However, this test measures how well the pituitary is “talking” to the thyroid gland, rather than measuring thyroid hormones or, more importantly, the level of thyroid activity in the body. Patients are often frustrated because their TSH test results are considered normal, and their doctor tells them nothing is wrong. Standard testing does not catch 80% of patients who have low thyroid hormone levels.
Additionally varying thyroid levels can affect women in their fertility journey. The ovaries are extremely sensitive to any changes in thyroid levels. Unfortunately, even small declines in thyroid levels (that are still in the normal range) can adversely effect ovarian function. Commonly with these types of conditions, low ovarian thyroid levels are usually not detected with standard thyroid testing.
However, there’s a better way to measure thyroid health.
At Holtorf Medical Group, we specialize in comprehensive testing, including Free T4, Free T3, reverse T3, sex hormone-binding globulin (SHGB), leptin, computerized measurement of tissue thyroid levels, and basal metabolic rate. These tests can help us determine if you are suffering from hypothyroidism, and can help us get you on the road to wellness.
Our cutting-edge therapies also include the addition of important nutritional supplements that can help regulate thyroid balance, support a healthy metabolism, and improve your weight loss, energy, and mood. Results can be dramatic for a wide range of conditions with overall increased energy, weight loss, enhanced sense of well-being, resolution of hair loss, improved skin tone, enhanced immunity, and significantly reduced risk for cancer and heart disease.