It is estimated that up to 25 million people in the United States alone have a thyroid problem, and half of them have no idea what they have. Hypothyroidism, or an underactive thyroid, accounts for 90% of all thyroid imbalances.
The thyroid, a butterfly-shaped gland in the center of the neck, is the master gland of metabolism. The function of the thyroid is interrelated with all the systems of the body. If the thyroid is not working optimally, then neither are you.
10 signs of thyroid problem:
· Fatigue after sleeping 8 to 10 hours at night, or needing to take a nap every day.
· Weight gain or the inability to lose weight.
· Mood problems, such as mood swings, anxiety, or depression.
· Hormonal imbalances, such as PMS, irregular periods, and infertility.
· Muscle pain, joint pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, or tendonitis.
· Cold hands and feet, feeling cold when others do not feel it, or having a consistently low body temperature.
· Dry or cracked skin, brittle nails, and excessive hair loss.
· Mental problems such as mental confusion, poor concentration, or poor memory.
· Neck swelling, snoring, or a hoarse voice.
How does the thyroid gland work?
Thyroid hormone production is regulated by a feedback loop between the hypothalamus, the pituitary gland, and the thyroid gland. The hypothalamic thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH) stimulates the synthesis and secretion of thyrotropin (TSH) from the pituitary.
In turn, TSH stimulates the production and release of T4 and T3 from the thyroid gland. When enough T4 is produced, it signals to TRH and TSH that there is enough thyroid hormone in circulation not to make more.
About 85% of the hormone produced by our thyroid gland is T4, which is an inactive form of the hormone. After T4 is formed, a small amount of it is converted to T3, which is the active form of thyroid hormone.
To complicate matters, T3 is also converted to free T3 (FT3) or Reverse T3 (RT3). It's the free T3 that really matters in all of this, as it's the only hormone that can bind to a receptor and boost your metabolism, keep you warm, keep your intestines moving, your mind working, and other hormones in check. The role of reverse T3 is not well known, however I see it elevated in people under extreme stress and those with mercury toxicity.
And finally, Hashimoto's thyroiditis, an autoimmune disease, is the most common form of thyroid problems and its numbers are increasing annually. An autoimmune disease is a disease in which your body turns against itself and begins to attack a certain organ or tissue that it believes is foreign.
It is advisable to routinely monitor autoimmune thyroid disease by ordering thyroid tests such as anti-thyroid peroxyase antibodies (ATPO) and anti-thyroglobulin antibodies (TgAb).
Why is the diagnosis of hypothyroidism so low?
Many of the symptoms of thyroid problems are vague and most doctors spend only a few minutes talking to patients to resolve the cause of their complaint.
Most conventional doctors use only one or two tests (TSH and T4) to detect problems. They are not checking FT3, RT3 or antithyroid antibodies.
More conventional physicians use "normal" laboratory reference values, only as a guide. Rather than listening to their patients' symptoms, they use “optimal” lab values and temperature as their guide without delving into that thyroid problems may be present even though it may not show up strongly in the lab values.
What lab tests are the best to determine if you have a thyroid problem?
Make sure your doctor reviews the following panel to determine if you have thyroid problems:
Free T4 Free
antibodies (ATPO) Anti-thyroglobulin antibodies (TgAb)
What are the "optimal" lab values for thyroid tests?
The following are the ranges in which both the physician and the patient can thrive. It is important that the doctor listens to you and takes into account how you feel.
What are the 10 things you can do to improve thyroid function?
· Make sure you are getting the right nutrients or a high-quality multivitamin with iodine, zinc, selenium, iron, vitamin D and B vitamins in your diet.
· Take a tyrosine and iodine supplement to help with the conversion of FT4 to FT3.
· Avoid gluten! If you have Hashimoto's disease, try to avoid grains and legumes altogether.
· Cope with stress and support the adrenal glands. The adrenal glands and thyroid work hand in hand. I recommend restorative yoga and adaptogenic herbs, which support the adrenal glands in coping with stress.
· Get 8 to 10 hours of sleep per night.
· Safely remove mercury fillings you may have.
· Be careful with the intake of cruciferous vegetables. (There is a bit of debate surrounding this.)
· Remove fluoride, bromide, and chlorine from your diet and environment.
· Heal your gut. A properly functioning digestive system (gut) is essential for good health.
· Find a functional medicine doctor in your area and have the above lab tests run and work with yourself to find the root cause of your thyroid imbalance.