February 04, 2016

Thyroid part 5 of 5

Articles by Dr. Erdman are for informational purposes, and are not to be taken as specific medical advice.

In the last four columns we’ve gone through the anatomy of the thyroid, it’s functions and dysfunctions.  In this last article of the five part series, we will look at what treatments are available once you have a diagnosis of thyroid dysfunction.  Treating low thyroid function is fairly straight forward. First you must find out where the problem is with proper lab testing and get a useable diagnosis.

If you find out that your body has elevated heavy metals by using the reverse T3 testing, the majority of those people can be treated with chelation therapy with EDTA and DMPS. These draw out the heavy metals and allow the thyroid to return to normal function.

When it comes to replacing thyroid hormones, there are two options from which to choose. First, there are the most commonly prescribed synthetic hormones such as Synthroid or generically, Levothyroxine. These are a T4 only supplement. This seems like an obvious choice if you are low on T4 production.

Unfortunately, as with most things made by big pharma today, it should not be your first choice. To start, it is fake, synthetic, man-made T4. It is not like real T4, and your body knows it. No matter how much the drug companies say it is exactly the same as real T4, it isn’t. Otherwise, if it was exactly like real T4, it couldn’t be patented and sold for profit.

In some cases fake T4 can make you worse as it competes with real T4 at the cellular receptor sites.

The other problem is that Synthroid is only T4. T4 needs to be converted to T3, which is usable by the body. Most people cannot effectively convert synthetic T4 to T3. This is probably why most studies show that T4 and T3 must be taken for the best results.

This brings us to the second option for thyroid hormone replacement, natural thyroid products. These are also known as bioidentical hormones because they contain T4, T3, T2 and T1 made from dried porcine (pig) thyroid. Studies clearly show better symptomatic improvement with natural replacement versus synthetic.

Some of the brand names of bioidentical thyroid are: Armour Thyroid, Nature-Throid and Westhroid.  Again, these are made from pig thyroid glands and contain the full spectrum of thyroid hormones.

The most difficult part of hormone replacement is finding the right dose. Most times it is done over many months with regular lab testing. Add too little and you get no help; add too much and you get excessive sweating, rapid heart rate or heart palpitations. It needs to be tailored specifically to you, there is no “normal” dose.

Now we come to the best solution for thyroid conditions. Don’t get it in the first place! Prevention is the best medicine. As previous articles noted, gluten, soy, bromines, fluoride and stress are all detrimental to the thyroid.

Probably the most common cause of poor thyroid function is the lack of iodine in the diet. It is estimated that 40% of the population is iodine deficient. The US RDA is just 150 mcg of iodine per day. That is barely enough to avoid getting a goiter. Dr. Mercola recommends 2-3 grams per day, but Dr. Wright, and iodine expert, recommends therapeutic doses of 12.5 mg per day. You must be careful and knowledgeable about iodine, as taking too much can have some detrimental health effects.

Having proper iodine in your system has other positive effects. It also protects against breast cancer. Too little iodine can cause cry mouth, rough and dry skin, and produce nodules, scar tissue, fibrosis, and fibromyalgia and pain in soft tissues.

Taking an iodine supplement is one way to increase it. The preferred way is to get it in your diet. Dr. Mercola says toxin free sea vegetables and spirulina are a good source, but who eats that? There are things normal people eat such as raw milk, raw eggs and shrimp (not raw), that contain good iodine.

One last point on iodine. Many people’s thoughts turn to nuclear fallout when thinking of iodine. We know that potassium iodide is used to prevent thyroid cancer when nuclear material is in the air. How does this work? It’s a fairly simple concept, actually. If you flood your body with iodine, the thyroid takes it up quickly. Then, when you contact the nuclear atoms that compete with iodine for receptors on the thyroid, the receptors are already full of good iodine, and the bad material is not absorbed, thereby preventing possible thyroid cancers.

This article concludes the review of the thyroid. We’ve covered a lot of ground, but this really is just the tip of the iceberg.   This series of articles should be up on my website shortly if you want to read all of them.