Tuesday, August 08, 2006

symptom thyroid : Woes from an Underactive Thyroid (Part 2)

In the previous article, I ended by stating that there are tests available for hypothyroidism and that these will: check the level of the two thyroid hormones (T3 and T4); check the level of the pituitary hormone (TSH) that stimulates the thyroid gland; check the level of brain hormone (TRH) that stimulates the pituitary gland; check the levels of thyroid-attacking antibodies, and; check the level of iodine.

The most common of the above tests is the TSH test, considered the standard 'screening' test for thyroid dysfunction. This test measures the level of TSH - the hormone excreted by the pituitary gland that stimulates the thyroid to produce more T3 and T4. The relationship between thyroid hormone levels and TSH levels is inverse - in other words, a high TSH level usually indicates that your body has a low thyroid hormone level.

Up until 2003, the range for a 'normal' TSH level was extremely wide: 0.5-5.0. That wide range for normal was reduced in 2003 to 0.3-3.04 ... but would it surprise you to learn that many family doctors are unaware of this change? Many millions of Americans, of course, are now considered 'hypothyroid' with this change in range - and many don't know it. Researchers now suspect that thyroid dysfunction has surpassed diabetes as the number one endocrine gland disease - and diabetes is considered at 'epidemic' levels.

The new range for the TSH test is good news. The bad news, however, is that you can have ALL of the symptoms of an underactive thyroid even with a normal TSH. Unfortunately, most doctors look at your TSH 'screening' test results only, and if this is in the 'normal' range (and remember, many doctors are still using the pre-2003 ranges) then they believe your thyroid function is fine. But there is almost NO correlation between TSH and T3 (the workhorse) hormone levels. Lack of correlation makes sense if you think about it. TSH is a pituitary hormone, T3 is a thyroid hormone.
To compound the problem, if your TSH does happen to fall outside the 'normal' range, the common practice is for doctors to write a one-size-fits-all prescription for a synthetic T4 thyroid supplement - usually Synthroid or Levoxyl. If you have problems converting T4 to T3, or if you have thyroid-attacking antibodies, synthetic T4 is unlikely to fix your underactive thyroid.

If you have been diagnosed with hypothyroidism and still have symptoms - OR - if you have symptoms but have not been diagnosed with hypothyroidism, find a doctor that uses the Comprehensive Thyroid Assessment blood panel for testing. Every single aspect of your health could improve JUST by getting your hypothyroidism under control ... every single aspect. Please - make this investment in yourself! As someone once stated: 'Hypothyroidism has been called the great imitator for the vast number of medical conditions it can mimic.'

Tips for Improving Thyroid Function

It would not be surprising if half (or more) of all baby boomers have subclinical hypothyroidism. Like insulin resistance, hypothyroidism seems to be part of the aging process. The stress hormone cortisol, for example, negatively affects thyroid (hormone) receptors on cells, just as it negatively affects insulin (hormone) receptors on cells.

Insulin resistance (pre-diabetes/metabolic syndrome) and subclinical hypothyroidism make it extremely difficult (and sometimes impossible) to shed those unwanted pounds. When it comes to losing weight, remember that you need to be healthy to lose weight, not lose weight to be healthy.

There are some additional things you can do for subclinical hypothyroidism. First, supplementing with the mineral selenium is smart. The daily requirement for good health is 70 micrograms (mcg) of selenium. It is not enough, however, if you need support in converting T4 to T3. A better dose of this mineral is 200 mcg daily (but not to exceed 400 mcg). And because selenium is also recommended for protection against several cancers (prostate cancer in particular), I recommend this supplement at 200 mcg. Recall, if you will, Linus Pauling's statement: 'There is no disease, sickness or illness that cannot be traced back to a deficiency of one mineral or another.'

Second, subclinical hypothyroidism is present mostly in the over-40 age group, and so I also recommend a whole-natural thyroid extract supplement. Whole-natural thyroid extract provides both T3 and T4. Supplementation can have a wide range of health benefits - and in many 'anti-aging' programs it is considered important in slowing the aging process.

Final Words: If you have symptoms of hypothyroidism, find a doctor that uses the Comprehensive Thyroid Assessment blood panel and get tested - you're worth every nickel this will cost. If you want to supplement with whole-natural thyroid extract as the first step in an 'anti-aging' program, do so - but do it prudently.

By Sharon Moore

I'm on herbal thyroid supplements for two years due to my hypothyroidism. After a few months of usage my thyroid levels dropped and began to normalize.
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