Tell me I’m not alone...
When I was first diagnosed with Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, I didn’t know anything about hypothyroidism diagnosis, let alone hypothyroidism causes or treatments. And you best believe I didn’t know how to increase thyroid health naturally.
Can you relate? Have you spent countless hours trying to figure out what is fact from fiction (because everyone is an expert, am I right??)? Well let’s clear some things up, shall we?
By adjusting therapy using only the TSH level it assumes that all tissues in the body respond essentially the same, and that the brain’s response to circulating T4 levels is the whole story.
While T4 is supposed to convert to T3 with all the proper supports in place, some people have genetic variations in the gene that codes for the enzymes carrying out this reaction. So, if the enzyme in the brain that converts T4 to T3 isn’t working at the necessary rate, the brain won’t get enough T3. Is this making sense, or are you still a little brain foggy?
By assuming only TSH matters, it means that levels of the T3 active hormone aren’t really relevant to how a person feels or functions.
Since T4 is the precursor to T3 – the hormone that is making things happen in each cell – it seems that it should be obvious that the level of this hormone should matter too, no? And since we know that individuals can have issues converting, this creates a ‘rate limiting’ situation where T4 levels can be fine, but if it won’t convert to the active T3, we’re still going to have every cell outside of the thyroid starving for their T3.
The normal range of TSH is the target range for optimal health.
The conventional TSH range is based on studies done in individuals with both abnormal and normal thyroid function. Therefore, the ranges are wide to represent the spectrum of lab values used to determine the diagnosis – so TSH may have been seen as normal at a certain level and diagnosis was missed, when in fact T4 was low and not considered.
Functional medicine practitioners (hi!) use lower TSH targets and tighter ranges, with the addition of measuring T4 and T3.
Nothing blocks the thyroid receptors inside of cells. (aka nothing stops the machine’s wheels from turning)
Toxins are everywhere in our environment. It’s pretty uncool, and unfortunately, we don’t have much control over many of our exposures.
Bisphenol-A (BPA), a ubiquitous product additive detected in human blood and fetal umbilical cord blood, is just one example of a chemical that has such effect. Studies show that it binds to rat thyroid receptor and increases thyroxin blood concentrations in developing rat brains. We, and the food we eat, are routinely exposed to other chemicals manufactured for industrial purposes that have been shown to cause similar effects. Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), polybrominated diphenyl ethers (flame retardants), bisphenol-A (BPA), phthalates, and specific derivatives and metabolites of these compounds have been shown to bind to thyroid receptors and may have undesirable selective effects on how the receptor functions.
There are many toxins in our world, and I’ll have more info coming for you on ways to reduce your exposures and eliminate what you’ve already absorbed. TWO things you can do today:
1) Stop taking printed receipts on thermal paper – this is one way we are exposed to BPA (have them emailed to you) and save the planet, too!
2) Head over to my Safer Makeup + Skincare place to see which products I use and love.
Nothing prevents the conversion of T4 to the active T3 hormone.
T4 is converted into the more active T3 by a series of enzymes. These enzymes make up the deiodinase system, and they are present in multiple tissues and organs, but especially in the liver, gut, skeletal muscle, brain and the thyroid gland itself. If there are issues with any of these enzymes, T4 will not properly convert to T3, the active form of the hormone.
It is known now that there are many steps and many micronutrients required to produce thyroid hormone. Deficiencies of any of these nutrients can decrease the production of thyroid hormone, impair the conversion of T4 into the active T3 form or keep the receptors from functioning normally. With all the endocrine disrupting chemicals, we have in our bodies it is no wonder we are challenged in all our hormone systems.
It also shouldn’t be very surprising that if we raise our food on sterile, depleted soil, and douse the plants we and our livestock eat with chemicals, our food system will be lacking in micronutrients and full of chemicals. These changes to our food supply can cause an array of changes in our bodies. The changes can be expressed slowly over time as a cumulative effect, making them almost indistinguishable as actual symptoms of illness amidst all other complex processes going on in the body.
Autoimmune thyroid problems are irreversible. Once you have antibodies against your thyroid gland you will never be able to get them within normal range, and there is nothing to do about it.
Functional medicine practitioners believe both in treating thyroid problems more aggressively and that there are things that can be done to find and reverse the root cause of thyroid problems in some individuals. We believe that diet can play a role in the pathogenesis of many immune conditions, as much of our immune system is based in the gut. For example, wheat and gluten sensitivity; even without full blown Celiac Disease, these proteins can trigger autoimmune processes that can bring out autoimmune conditions in some people.
There is no link between gut health and thyroid health.
Sigh. So, here’s the deal – if your gut isn’t healthy, you aren’t healthy. You’ve heard this before, glad we got it out of the way. BUT WHY?
If your gut isn’t healthy, it’s damaged, which leads to poor food breakdown, inadequate nutrient AND medicine absorption. Double whammy. You aren’t getting enough nutrients to fuel your metabolic processes to support your thyroid health, and you’re also not absorbing enough of your medication at baseline. So all methods are only working sub-optimally. Solution? FIX.YOUR.GUT.
If you believe that your symptoms are not being taken seriously by your healthcare providers or loved ones, or if you want to take a deeper dive into determining the root cause of what’s ailing you, get in touch. I’ve felt the way you feel, I’ve walked the road to recovery. Drop me a line here to set-up a free call so that we can get you feeling your best again.