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HOLISTIC HEALTH -September 2017 - Kansas City
How to Naturally Treat Hypothyroidism
By Nancy Russell, M.D.
Hypothyroidism or low functioning thyroid gland can cause all over body symptoms. These symptoms include: cold hands and feet, cold intolerance, fatigue, decreased mental clarity, dry skin and hair, constipation, difficulty losing weight, infertility, muscle and joint aches, low sex drive, trouble falling asleep, constipation, depression and increased incidence of eczema and psoriasis.
An under active thyroid doesn’t manufacture enough T4, thyroxine (the storage form of the thyroid hormone and/or T3, triiodothyronine. The thyroid may convert too much of the T4 to reverse T3, the inactive thyroid hormone. In some cases, a person’s body may have an autoimmune disease and produce antibodies against ones own gland and slowly or quickly destroy the thyroid tissue. This auto immune disease is called Graves’ disease if it causes hyperthyroid problems or Hashimotos’ thyroiditis if it the thyroid is under active or hypothyroidism.
To completely test the thyroid, the following tests are generally performed on the blood. The test are; TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone-from the brain), Free T3, Free T4, reverse T3, and thyroid antibodies: anti-thyroglobulin and anti-TPO or thyroid peroxidase. Other nutrition levels that can be helpful are zinc, selenium and iodine levels. An ultrasound of the thyroid can also be helpful and necessary if the thyroid gland is enlarged or feels boggy.
Many practitioners and the AACE, American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists suggested a revision in the normal range of TSH from (0.5 to 5.0) to (0.3 to 3.0). Most laboratories still have 4.5 to 5.0 as the top of the reference or normal range. If you wait for the TSH to slowly rise from 3.0 to over 5.0, a person may have low thyroid symptoms for years before they are treated. Another approach is to treat people with a TSH at 3.0 or above and with Free T4 and Free T3 at the low side of normal with natural thyroid supplements or prescription thyroid medication.
Treatment for hypothyroidism includes eating a healthy diet with organic produce, cage free eggs, free range beef, organic poultry, wild caught fish with minimal sugar and no artificial sweeteners. Nuts, seeds and other good fats such as avocado, coconut oil, olive oil, and palm kernel oil. These oils should be organic and unrefined. Supplements or over the counter capsules for thyroid support may include: Iodine, zinc, L-tyrosine, selenium, adrenal herbs such as ashwaganda, etc. If the thyroid blood levels don’t improve with diet and over the counter supplements within 2-3 months, then prescription medication is probably needed.
Prescription medication for hypothyroid is conventionally Synthroid or the generic, levothyroxine. This medication is synthetic T4 only and is not guaranteed to be gluten free. Another synthetic T4 medication that is guaranteed to be gluten free is Tirosint. Many people improve with the synthetic T4 prescriptions, but there are some people who don’t convert the inactive T4 hormone to the active hormone T3 and some convert to reverse T3 which is inactive. Free T4 and Free T3 testing needs to be assessed in addition to the TSH to determine the type of thyroid medication for each person. Options for adding T3 hormone is needed include; Cytomel, a synthetic T3 prescription medication, Armour thyroid, Naturethroid, Westhroid or WP thyroid which are all dessicated thyroid gland from pigs or compounded T4 and T3 from plant based ingredients from beet root, minerals or duck feathers. All of these preparations are prescription and must be prescribed by a medical provider. After starting thyroid medication, it is suggested to assess a blood test with the thyroid hormones 6 to 8 weeks after starting. Dosage may need to be adjusted several times to get the appropriate dose and then assessed at least one time a year.
If you have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis with resultant hypothyroidism, treating with medication may not offer complete relief. This is an auto immune disorder and if not treated properly can lead to other auto immune issues. If you are not getting better with the usual thyroid medications or if you have Hashimoto’s disorder with positive antibodies, there are probably other health concerns to address. A few of these include food sensitivities, dysbiosis which is an imbalance in gut flora, leaky gut, adrenal hormone imbalance, candida or bacterial overgrowth, neuro transmitter imbalance and sleep disorders. For more information regarding Hashimoto’s thyroiditis; references include The AutoImmune Solution by Dr Amy Meyers or Hashimoto’s 90 Day protocol by Dr Izabella Wentz.
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Nancy Russell, M.D. has been a holistic Internal Medicine physician in the Kansas City northland for over 30 years at 5140 N. Antioch Road in Kansas City, MO.
Her phone number is 816-453-5545 and website is www.nancyrussellmd.com where you can get more information. Dr. Russell is board certified in holistic medicine and is a member of the American Holistic Medical Association and a prior board member.