If you?ve been diagnosed with hypothyroid disease, you?re very aware of how frustrating it can be. You are told by your doctor that your thyroid isn?t functioning well and that you need to take thyroid hormones. However, when you had your blood work done, the results may have come back ?normal,? but you still didn?t feel well. You were still tired, you gained weight just looking at food, and you always felt low?almost depressed?on most days. ?How can my test be ?normal? and I feel so terrible?? This is where a functional medicine approach may be the answer you?re looking for.
Functional medicine is a branch of health care that asks, ?why? rather than ?what.? Why is your thyroid not functioning well, as opposed to, what is the thyroid doing wrong? First, we need to understand a little about the thyroid hormone process.
The thyroid releases two types of thyroid hormones.? One is T3 and makes up about 7% of the hormone released from the thyroid gland.? The other is T4 which makes up the remaining 93%. Now this is where it gets interesting. The T4, while making up the far majority of thyroid hormone, is metabolically inactive; it has to be converted to the active form of T3 in other areas of the body. To help explain this, I will use an example of crude oil.? It has to be refined to gasoline to run a car. The same way our “body engine” doesn’t run on T4 (crude oil).? It runs on T3 (gasoline). So to keep your body engine running we have to make sure our “refining factories” are running optimally.
One of the major refining factories is the liver, where 60 percent of T4 hormone is converted to T3 hormone. Poor liver function will cause poor T4 to T3 conversion.
Another refining factory where twenty percent of T4 is converted, is the gut. If you have poor gut function, it will cause poor conversion of T4 to T3. Usually, when you see your doctor, he or she only looks at only two markers for thyroid function?TSH (gas gauge) and T4 (crude oil). But as explained in the previous paragraph, it is a much more complex system, with a lot of possibilities for dysfunction. There are actually six patterns that we will often look for.
1. Primary Hypothyroidism: The thyroid gland gets lazy and the pituitary gland tries to ?kick it in the pants? by pumping extra TSH. This is the only pattern of the six that may re- quire hormone replacement therapy. (People who have Hashimoto?s disease may need it, too.)
2. Hypothyroidism is Secondary to Pituitary Hypofunction:? The pituitary gets ?lazy? for many reasons, such as: ? chronic stress ? hormone pills, including Synthroid ? creams with estrogen ? postpartum depression: pregnancy ? fluctuating insulin/glucose levels.
3. Thyroid Under-Conversion:? The gland is making enough T4 hormone, but there is a decrease in conversion from T4 to the active form of T3. Why? Chronic stress gives rise to increased cortisol, which suppresses T4 to T3 conversion. This is due to chronic infection/inflammation. This condition is often missed because low T3 doesn?t affect TSH. Only T4 does, and T3 is rarely checked with a blood test.
4. Thyroid Over-Conversion and Decreased TBG: (thyroid binding globulin, which are like little taxi’s that transport thyroid hormone through the blood) Too much active T3 is made and it is overwhelming the cells, or too little TBG, which means too much free T3. Why? The number one cause is insulin resistance, especially in women. The cells are not ?listening? to the insulin, so more insulin is secreted. This increases testosterone levels in females, resulting in too much free T3 and too little TBG.
?5. Thyroid Binding Globulin (TBG) Elevation:? Too much TBG in the blood is like to many taxi’s transporting hormone around the body but never releasing it to do its job. Why? Oral contraceptives or estrogen replacement therapy can cause an increase in estrogen, which leads to increases in TBG.
6. Thyroid Resistance Pituitary: The thyroid glands are fine and so are the hormone levels. However, the hormones aren?t getting into the cells. Why? Chronic stress stimulates the adrenal glands (stress glands) to produce too much cortisol, which causes cells to be resistant to thyroid hormones.
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your thyroid issues?
Attend our free informational seminar on March 17th at 7pm.
Call 314 983 9355 for more information.