An estimated 27 million Americans have thyroid disease, and more than half are undiagnosed. Frequently misunderstood, and too often overlooked and misdiagnosed, thyroid disease affects almost every aspect of health, so understanding more about the thyroid, and the symptoms that occur when something goes wrong with this small gland, can help you protect or regain good health.
Women are at the greatest risk, developing thyroid problems seven times more often than men. A woman faces as high as a one in five chance of developing thyroid problems during her lifetime, a risk that increases with age and for those with a family history of thyroid problems.
Hypothyroidism is the condition in which the thyroid is underactive (i.e., it is producing an insufficient amount of thyroid hormones). Hypothyroidism is the most common thyroid disorder. A condition called secondary hypothyroidism sometimes occurs as a result of a failing pituitary gland. When the pituitary gland fails, it no longer stimulates the thyroid to produce thyroid hormones.
The thyroid has the only cells in the body capable of absorbing iodine. The thyroid takes in iodine, obtained through food, iodized salt, or supplements, and combines it with the amino acid tyrosine. The thyroid then converts the iodine/tyrosine into the hormones T3 and T4. The “3? and the “4? refer to the number of iodine molecules in each thyroid hormone molecule. When everything is working proper 80% will be T4 and 20% T3. T3 is considered the biologically more active hormone — the one that actually functions at the cellular level — and is several times stronger than T4. Upon T3 and T4 hormones being released by the thyroid, the T3 and T4 travel through the bloodstream to help cells convert oxygen and calories into energy.
As mentioned, the thyroid produces some T3. But the rest of the T3 needed by the body is actually formed from the mostly inactive T4 by a process sometimes referred to as “T4 to T3 conversion.” This conversion of T4 to T3 can take place in some organs other than the thyroid, including the hypothalamus, a part of your brain. The thyroid is part of a huge feedback process. The hypothalamus in the brain releases Thyrotropin-releasing Hormone (TRH). The release of TRH tells the pituitary gland to release Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH). This TSH, circulating in your bloodstream, is what tells the thyroid to make thyroid hormones and release them into your bloodstream.
There can be many causes for thyroid problems including overconsumption of soy protein (isoflavin) and powders, exposure to radiation, certain prescription drugs, surgical treatments of thyroid, over consumption or shortage of iodine in your diet, as well as an over consumption of uncooked “goitrogenic” vegetables such as cauliflower, broccoli, turnips, kohlrabi, and radishes. Certain risk factors are associated with hypothyroidism and include family history, pituitary or endocrine disease, autoimmune disorders, female, over 60 years of age, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, menopausal, smokers, post pregnancy, or diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. It is important to understand that conventional medicine will treat this disorder with prescription drugs designed to stimulate the thyroid but research has shown that bio-identical hormonal treatments work best when a patient is confirmed as having “hypothyroidism”. As part of our regimen for treatment we will educate the person as to the various options for treatment available, test for other hormonal deficiencies that may affect the T3 and T4, and replace bio-identically the hormones to restore gland function. There are also natural supplements and vitamins that may also be helpful in promoting good health of the thyroid and hypothalamus glands including certain enzymes.
The goal of treatment is to restore the thyroid gland to normal function, producing normal levels of thyroid hormones. Treatment may include prescription of thyroid hormones to replace the deficient hormones. Dosage of thyroid hormone may need to be increased over the years. Yearly or biyearly checkups are usually required to ensure the proper dosage of thyroid hormones is taken. A patient usually takes thyroid hormones for the rest of his/her life. Hypothyroidism is especially frustrating for patients that have not gotten the results they desired from conventional medicine. We understand your concerns and have solutions to where pharmaceuticals fail only to mask the need for interventional and innovative forms of treatment.