11 Oct Hypothyroidism: Why Are Doctors Ignoring Your Symptoms?
Tips on Balancing Thyroid Function
Imagine yourself trudging through life with cement blocks attached to your ankles, and you are miserable from chronic constipation. Add to that the fact that you have been diagnosed with depression or bipolar disease, with the added insult of having been given a prescription for an antidepressant that you likely don’t need. Your cholesterol and blood pressure are high, your memory is getting worse, you keep gaining weight despite a “perfect” diet, you exercise but never sweat, and your hands and feet are always cold.
These are all symptoms of classic hypothyroidism, a poorly functioning thyroid, which often goes untreated, because a person’s thyroid lab test falls within a “normal” reference range. Most conventional physicians only test TSH, or thyroid stimulating hormone, to monitor how the thyroid is doing. Remember, TSH rises as your thyroid function goes down. In 2008, both the American Endocrine Society and the American Medical Society recommended lowering the upper limit for TSH from 5.5 to 4.5 uIU/mL. However, the National Academy of Clinical Biochemistry has suggested the upper limit of TSH should be reduced to 2.5 uIU/mL. For optimal metabolic function, the ideal thyroid range for TSH is actually between 1 and 2.
To make things more confusing, the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists and the American Thyroid Association in 2012 recommended: “the decision to treat subclinical hypothyroidism, when the serum TSH is less than 10, should be tailored to the individual patient. Tailored? Since when do conventional doctors have time to tailor treatments to the needs of their patients? The average family physician spends 8 to 10 minutes face time with their patients, with about 23 seconds allowed for the patient to talk about themselves before being redirected (You’re On the Clock: Doctors rush patients out the door, Kaiser Health News, 4/20/14)
Why are conventional physicians and endocrinologists so hesitant to improve your thyroid so it functions optimally? The short answer is cost, both in time and money. To truly listen to the patient would take way too long for the physician to understand what the real needs of their patients are. So most patients walk away without feeling heard, even after waiting months to get in to see a specialist. To compound the problem, physicians rarely check actual thyroid hormones, T4 and T3, because they are limited by insurance companies’ need to minimize cost. Checking T4 and T3 is the most accurate way of assessing thyroid function.
Reverse T3, and thyroid antibodies are two additional important markers. As with T4 and T3, these markers are rarely checked. So one can easily understand why only checking TSH will often lead to an improper evaluation and treatment.
The most common treatment for hypothyroidism, is supplementation with T4 alone (Levothyroxine, Synthroid, etc.). This assumes the patient will convert the T4 to T3 properly, which often doesn’t occur.
Why is optimal thyroid function so critical? Arguably, the thyroid is the most important gland in the body, since proper function of all other glands is not possible without it. The thyroid forms in the 24th day of gestation and is the first endocrine gland to develop. The thyroid controls how quickly the body uses energy, makes proteins, and it determines how sensitive the body is to other hormones. Also, when the thyroid is low, the adrenals try to compensate by increasing cortisol, the major “stress” hormone, which can cause anxiety and high blood pressure.
In summary, to treat the thyroid accurately, one must work with a practitioner who is skilled and knowledgeable about the entire body, and who has an understanding of the intricacies of the whole endocrine system. Balancing the thyroid involves more than chasing TSH levels.
John Sherman, N.D.
Tahoma Clinic Physician, 6839 Fort Dent Way, Tukwila, Washington 98188
Acquiring health is a different journey for all of us, and only by returning the body to balance can we achieve true healing. By maintaining ones ideal diet, unique biochemical and hormonal make-up, plus removing toxins and blockages, we are able to open our lives to greater health, energy and creativity.
At Tahoma Clinic, Dr. John Sherman sees patients with diverse health problems, including men and women interested in Dr. Jonathan Wright’s bio-identical hormone therapies. His areas of special interest include thyroid and hormone balance, auto-immune challenges, chronic fatigue, immune system support, detoxification of the body, individualized nutritional programs, and preventive whole-health programs for men and women. Dr. Sherman served as Clinic Director for Bastyr University in Kenmore, Washington, and also as associate professor for both the National College of Natural Medicine and Bastyr University. He has authored a classic naturopathic textbook on herbal medicine titled, The Complete Botanical Prescriber; and also co-authored, Alternative Medicine: The Definitive Guide.
Class Description: (Marlene’s Federal Way: 5/14/15)
Tips on Balancing Thyroid Function: The Latest Research
Please join us on May 14th, 2015, for an in-depth look at the latest research on thyroid function, with emphasis on hypothyroidism, laboratory testing, and maximizing thyroid levels using whole foods, natural therapies, and the right lifestyle choices.