Underactive/low thyroid is medically termed Hypothyroidism. In simple terms, you do not have adequate amounts of thyroid hormone. Consequently, you develop symptoms of low thyroid hormone. These symptoms include fatigue, weight gain and thinning of hair.
You bring it up to your physician, who orders a blood test. Finally, you hear from your physician. “Well, your thyroid blood test is within the normal range. Therefore, you cannot be hypothyroid.”
Sometimes, the blood test turns out to be abnormal. Then, your physician will diagnose you with hypothyroidism and as a knee jerk reflex, will place you on Levothyroxine, which is also called T4. Brand names for T4 include Synthroid, Levoxyl, Unithroid and Levothroid.
Underative Thyroid – Low Thyroid- Hypothyroid, despite taking Levothyroxine
Despite taking your medicine, you often continue to suffer from symptoms of low thyroid or may even develop new symptoms. You discuss this with your physician, who runs another blood test for thyroid. Often, it is “within the normal range.” Your physician reassures you that your thyroid level is “normal.” Therefore, you cannot be hypothyroid.
“But why am I having these symptoms?” you wonder. You may decide to seek an endocrine consultation or go online and try to find some answers. Often, you hop from your regular family physician to an endocrinologist to an alternative health practitioner, but continue to suffer from your symptoms.
T3 is Crucial
The medical fact is that the thyroid gland produces two thyroid hormones, not one. In addition to T4, it also produces T3 (Triiodothyronine.)
Obviously, it makes sense to give both of these thyroid hormones, T4 as well as T3, to a hypothyroid patient. T3 is extremely important for our metabolism as well as for normal functioning of various organs in the body. That’s why a hypothyroid patient on T4-alone therapy often continues to suffer from symptoms of hypothyroidism, such as fatigue, weight gain and thinning of hair.
Why are doctors so reluctant to prescribe T3? Because they have been taught to prescribe only T4 with the assumption that it will get converted into T3 in the body and everything will be fine. Often, they don’t even bother to check the T3 level to see if their assumption is correct or not.
The medical fact is that T3 normally comes from two sources: It is produced directly by the thyroid gland. In addition, T3 comes from T4 to T3 conversion. In many individuals, this T4 to T3 conversion does not take place properly. Net result: you have low T3 and that’s why you continue to suffer from symptoms of hypothyroidism.
Upon your insistence, your physician may reluctantly add a small dose of T3, which is usually not enough to provide you with the optimal level of T3. Therefore, you continue to suffer from symptoms of hypothyroidism until you find some physician who prescribes T3 and T4 in the correct ratio. Only then will your symptoms of hypothyroidism get better.
However, even this is still a superficial approach to treat your condition. Why? Because it does not treat the root cause of your hypothyroidism, which is Hashimoto’s thyroiditis in a majority of hypothyroid patients.
Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is an autoimmune dysfunction. In autoimmune dysfunction, your immune system goes haywire, seemingly becoming paranoid and mounting pre-emptive strikes against normal cells of the body, reacting as if they were dangerous and needed elimination. This is the basis of “autoimmune disorders.”
For example, if your Immune System kills off your insulin producing cells (beta cells) in your pancreas, you develop Type 1 diabetes. If the target of the attack is your respiratory system, you develop asthma. If the target is nerve tissue, you develop Multiple Sclerosis (MS). If the target is the intestines, you develop Celiac disease, Crohn’s disease or Ulcerative colitis. If the target is joints, you develop Rheumatoid arthritis or Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE). If the target is the thyroid gland, you develop either Hashimoto’s thyroiditis which often leads to hypothyroidism or Graves’ disease, which often leads to hyperthyroidism.
It is important to realize that those patients with Graves’ disease who receive treatment with radio-iodine or surgery continue to suffer from the autoimmune dysfunction, because these treatment modalities do not treat the autoimmune process in your body. Consequently, you remain at risk to develop any other manifestation of the autoimmune dysfunction.
My Own Journey to T3
In my early days as an endocrinologist, I too, used to treat every hypothyroid patient with Levothyroxine-only (T4-only) therapy, like most endocrinologists in this country and around the world.
Then, one day I read a research article in the February 11, 1999 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, that would drastically change my treatment approach towards hypothyroid patients. The study compared the usual T4-only treatment approach to a treatment with the combination of T4 and T3. The results were astounding. Hypothyroid patients who were given a combination of T4 and T3 did much better compared to patients who were given T4-only therapy.
The results of this study made perfect sense to me. So, I started treating my hypothyroid patients with a combination of T4 and T3. Over the last fifteen years, I have seen some amazing results. Many patients who suffered from symptoms of hypothyroidism while on T4-only therapy simply blossomed when I switched them to a combination of T4 and T3.
However, this was only half of the solution. Despite a combination of T4 and T3 therapy, many of these patients would continue to suffer from autoimmune dysfunction. Sooner or later, some other manifestation of autoimmune dysfunction would pop up and we would go chasing it with full force.
How To Cure Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis
My next step on this road was to see if I could get rid of autoimmune dysfunction at its roots. In this way, I could prevent my patients with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis from developing hypothyroidism or other manifestations of autoimmune dysfunction. But how? The current medical consensus is that autoimmune dysfunction including Hashimoto’s thyroiditis cannot be cured. You just have to learn to live with it. In fact, there is no treatment or cure for Hashimoto’s thyroiditis at the present time. If you are diagnosed with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and have not yet developed hypothyroidism, the usual advice is to wait until you develop hypothyroidism. At that point, your physician will treat your hypothyroidism – often with a T4-only approach. A good analogy would be watching a train wreck in slow motion.
In order to cure Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, we first need to find out what is its root cause. In medical literature, genetics is a well known factor that causes Hashimoto’s thyroiditis or any other autoimmune disorder. Beyond that, medical literature is silent. With a fresh mind, I investigated what really causes Hashimoto’s thyroiditis or any autoimmune disease, for that matter. I made some amazing discoveries. I was able to figure out the factors, (in addition to genetics), that cause Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. All of these factors are related to our life-style and can be rectified.
Based on my findings, I developed a strategy to treat Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and put it into practice. I am seeing some amazing results in my patients, many of whom are cured of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. I share this strategy with you in my book, “Hypothyroidism And Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis”
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