What You Need To Know About Your Thyroid
Your thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland that sits in the front of the throat. While it’s a small organ, it can have a big impact on your overall health. Many people in the USA suffer from thyroid issues without realizing it. Thyroid issues are important to diagnose and treat because it impacts almost all other systems in the body. Your thyroid gland is what produces many of your body’s hormones.
Hormones are basically messenger molecules that signal certain actions. Hormones are released or held based on signals from the blood; this is the feedback loop system of the body. Hormones are vitally important and will cause DNA or RNA changes, influx or efflux of certain ions or molecules, production or not of energy and so on.
Common Thyroid Issues: And Their Symptoms
Hypothyroidism is when the thyroid does not make enough of the hormone. Symptoms of hypothyroid include weight gain, fatigue, depression and fertility problems.
Hyperthyroidism is when the thyroid makes too much of any one hormone. Symptoms of hyperthyroid are heart arrhythmias, tremors or fasciculations and bone loss. You can also experience some aches and pains as a result of hypothyroidism as well. The term for when your thyroid is producing just the right amount of hormones is a state called “euthyroid.”
One of the most prescribed medications used to regulate thyroid function is Synthroid, or levothyroxine. This is prescribed for hypothyroidism and usually prescribed based on the results of a blood test.
The blood test used to diagnose thyroid problems measures your TSH levels. The TSH level is the thyroid stimulating hormone level. TSH is released if the feedback loop tells the thyroid there is not enough thyroid in the system. TSH is held for the opposite reason.
Unfortunately, about 5-15% pf people do not improve with this pharmaceutical. This may be from a poor product; many of the active pharmaceutical ingredients, or APIs, are from China and not regulated as they are here. This may also be because the problem was not fully explored and properly diagnosed.
Other Options For Diagnosing & Treating Thyroid Function
Before jumping to a different medication if one finds that levothyroxine is not working, a full work up of disorders that cause similar symptoms as hyper- or hypo- thyroidism should be accomplished.
This list of differential diagnoses includes obesity, depression, viral causes of chronic fatigue, chronic fatigue syndrome, sleep apnea, kidney failure, congestive heart failure and more.
However, about 20 million people in the United States suffer from hypothyroidism – and some say that the actual number could be up to three times that amount. This number depends on how many people are tested and diagnosed, so it could vary.
Natural & Pharmaceutical Options For Thyroid Treatments
Thyroid glands produce the hormone T4 and this is converted to T3 in the system. The TSH level blood test measures the reaction of the gland to the levels of T3 and T4.
The pharmaceutical levothyroxine is a synthetic form of T4. By giving a person T4 in the synthetic form, the TSH levels will return to normal. High TSH levels is the reason to diagnose hypothyroid and to prescribe levothyroxine.
One alternative treatment beyond the pharmaceuticals is a well-known brand called Armour Thyroid. This is a treatment that has been around for decades and consists of extracts derived from dried pig thyroid. This product will give the user both T3 and T4.
However, overdoses have been common with this particular product. It has taken much patient pushback against doctors to bring about a resurgence in Armour Thyroid and other natural products that give an individual both T3 and T4. Many of the patients pushing for this natural method of treatment found that they did not feel better after only receiving T4, and wanted to be able to use a product with both T3 and T4 as the combination made them feel better.
CBD may also be used to regulate your thyroid function. CBD works on your body’s natural regulatory system, called your endocannabinoid system. It can block stimulating hormones, called cannabinoids, or imitate them to bind to these cannabinoid receptors. This helps balance your regulatory system, which controls the creation and release of hormones – yes, even those created by the thyroid.
Should you wish to avoid natural products and stay solely on manufactured synthetics, there is a synthetic T3 available for prescription as well.
Some physicians are totally against any natural treatments and this is fine. However, some physicians are willing to work with patients that still do not feel right on T4 (levothyroxine) alone. It is also possible to combine synthetic T4 and T3 if you or your physician is leery of natural products such as Armour Thyroid.
During your treatment, it is most important to monitor all levels in the serum of markers and hormones associated with the thyroid gland and the clinical response. Too much of these hormones can cause as many problems as too little. You should always seek a second opinion from another qualified physician if you feel your health needs aren’t being met.