The thyroid is the master gland of the endocrine system. It determines the basal metabolic rate for the body, so one of the most noticeable signs of thyroid malfunction is low body temperature (below 97.6 degrees) and a resulting intolerance to cold. Puffiness along the jaw line and around the eyes are other telltale signs.
Hair loss, brittle nails, dry skin, migraines, immune suppression, asthma and allergies, heart arrhythmias, anxiety, depression, stubborn weight gain, menstrual problems and infertility are all common symptoms of thyroid insufficiency.
Many more people suffer from Type 2 than Type 1 hypothyroidism, and Type 2 is widely misunderstood and misdiagnosed.
Classic (Type I) Hypothyroidism is an inherited disorder that is known to affect about seven percent of the American population. Caused by the thyroid’s failure to secrete adequate hormone levels, it is typically diagnosed early in life through blood tests. However, there is a far more prevalent form of the disease (some say up to 50-80% of the population) that cannot be detected with blood tests and is therefore ignored by modern medicine: Type II Hypothyroidism, or thyroid resistance. In Dr. Mark Starr’s book, Hypothyroidism Type 2: The Epidemic, Starr explains the differences between Types 1 and 2:
With Type 1 Hypothyroidism, the thyroid does not produce sufficient amounts of hormone to maintain “normal” blood levels of hormones, which in turn will maintain normal blood levels of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) produced by the pituitary. Laboratory tests showing inadequate bloodstream levels of thyroid hormone make it easy to diagnose Type 1 hypothyroidism.
With Type 2 Hypothyroidism, the thyroid gland produces “normal” amounts of hormone, but the cells are unable to utilize the hormone properly. Some experts call this thyroid hormone resistance (which may be regarded as similar to insulin resistance, or Type II Diabetes). Lab tests fail to detect Type 2 hypothyroidism, because despite adequate bloodstream hormone levels, the cells are unable to accept and utilize that hormone.
Conditions Caused by Low Thyroid or Thyroid Resistance
Most people regard the thyroid as responsible for proper metabolism. However, this gland plays a major role in hundreds of bodily functions. Here is just a sample of the many symptoms and conditions that can be caused, indirectly or directly, by an under-functioning thyroid gland:
- Appetite disruption (heightened or diminished)
- Autoimmune conditions, including allergies, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis
- Blood sugar disorders, such as diabetes, hypoglycemia, or a combination of the two
- Cancers, all kinds
- Cardiovascular abnormalities, including high cholesterol, poor circulation, heart palpitations, hypertension (high blood pressure), and hypotension (low blood pressure)
- Dental problems, including chronic gum infections, receding gums, and TMJ or Temporomandibular Joint dysfunction (clenching of the teeth, leading to chronic inflammation and pain in the temporomandibular joint)
- Fatigue and lethargy
- Gastrointestinal disorders, including irritable bowel syndrome, and impaired digestion leading to constipation and nutritional disorders
- Heart conditions, including coronary artery disease from accelerated atherosclerosis (hardening of the
arteries), arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat), abnormal blood pressure (either too high or too low),
diminished cardiac output, weakness of the heart muscle, and congestive heart failure
- Hoarseness of voice, difficulty in swallowing, swollen enlarged tongue, and sleep apnea
- Immune response malfunction, leading to increased infections (including Candida albicans) in all parts
of the body
- Mental and emotional problems, including difficulty in cognition, and anxiety, depression, memory loss,
manic depression, psychosis, and schizophrenia
- Metabolism malfunctions, leading to weight gain (usually) or weight loss (occasionally)
- Muscular disturbances, including ataxia (lack of coordination), carpal tunnel syndrome, fibromyalgia, and weakness
- Neurological impairment, including but not limited to ear conditions (deafness, tinnitus, and vertigo), headaches and migraines, Multiple Sclerosis, and paresthesia (numbness and “pins and needles” in nerves)
- Pain in joints and muscles, including arthritis and fibromyalgia
- Perspiration reduction
- Reproductive disorders, including birth defects, cysts in breasts and ovaries, endometriosis, infertility, and menstrual disturbances
- Respiratory conditions, including asthma, emphysema, pneumonia, and chronic sinus infections
- Skin disorders, including acne, alopecia (hair loss), boils, dryness, eczema, hives, and psoriasis
- Sleepiness and sleep apnea
- Slowed movement and speech
- Structural weaknesses/deformities and impaired ability to repair damaged tissues, manifesting in brittle nails, brittle or scant hair (including baldness), degenerating bones (osteoporosis), malformed bones (scoliosis), and thinning and loss of eyebrows, notably the outer third
- Temperature regulation malfunction: intolerance to heat, and excessive coldness, particularly in extremities
- Urinary tract problems, such as urinary infections and especially kidney failure from shrunken, scarred kidneys
Sadly, most patients who suffer from low thyroid have symptoms that are being ignored because the blood tests do not match the diagnosis. Instead of getting the help they so desperately need, they are offered anti-depressants, beta blockers, statins, synthetic hormones and anti-resorption (bone loss) drugs, and a host of other medications that simply address symptoms rather than the ROOT CAUSE: Hypothyroidism.
Synthetic vs. Natural Thyroid Supplements
Years ago, before the advent of synthetic (but patented) hormones and thyroid blood panels, physicians used iodine and natural glandular therapy to treat symptoms of thyroid insufficiency with tremendous success. Full spectrum desiccated glandulars like Armour or Nature-Throid are much more effective at restoring glandular function than isolated synthetic hormones because they contain a cross section of all the thyroid hormones, peptides and other metabolites. Not only does Armour or compounded thyroid offer gland specific nutrition, but it conveys information encoded in the RNA and DNA of the glandular tissues that simply cannot be transmitted any other way.
Synthetic thyroid hormones (Synthroid, Levothyroxine and others) cannot deliver the greatest advantage of glandular therapy. Besides, if a person lacks the ability to metabolize T4 to T3, what good does it do to give them more T4? Synthetic thyroid is ONLY T4!
Only the finest of physicians are capable of diagnosing or effectively treating Hypothyroidism Type II today, because it requires a thorough family history and physical exam, a sound understanding of human physiology, a willingness to treat the patient as a whole, the wisdom to see and the courage to admit that the disease exists in the first place. A comprehensive review of thyroid function and treatment is included as part of our bio-identical hormone replacement program. Call 503-772-3297 or visit our Portland location to learn more.