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Please note: All of the physicians on this site are in agreement that low thyroid is under diagnosed. This article by Michael Gerber, MD, HMD is a reprint from Healthy Beginnings Magazine.

Hypothyroidism (low thyroid) – its causes, diagnosis and treatment – is an extremely multifactorial business. Misleading and misunderstood thyroid laboratory measures (TSH, T4) overshadow many important signs and symptoms of the physical examination, such as: coldness, dryness, obesity, depression, fibromyalgia, chronic headaches, heavy periods, infertility, hair loss, digestive disorders, constipation, and many more. Environmental and genetic inhibitory factors are legion at every level of central and tissue thyroid receptors. Untreated thyroid (the gland in the throat that is in charge of metabolism in every cell in the body) dysfunction is responsible for untold misery, such as: unnecessary hysterectomies from menorrhagia (heavy periods), needless antidepressant drug administration, and pain medication. Quality of life issues, such as: chronic fatigue, obesity, infertility, and up to 300 different health issues could be solved with proper thyroid support and lifestyle changes.

Although none of this information is particularly new, there are many recent citations I will review, which, I hope, will embolden the reader with this information to resist the standard, allopathic (regular doctors) only line that unless thyroid blood test parameters are grossly abnormal they don’t need natural thyroid pill support. In my 41 years of medical practice, we have had not just monthly, but daily and weekly, miracles related to sensitive thyroid replacement therapy.

All of medical prescribing is an art, as well as science, and particularly so for thyroid. Balancing adrenal (super gland on top of the kidneys) support is critical to avoid overstimulation during gentle titration of the thyroid hormone. I do like to repeat my “cup of coffee” rule of thumb:  patients who can drink a pot of coffee and go right to bed and sleep well can usually replace thyroid at a more vigorous rate than the patient who smells some coffee and is up for two days. Those who can’t stand any stimulation need to be started from 1/16th grain or less of my favorite thyroid, NatureThroid (Westhroid), and the new even cleaner (fewer additives and excipients) NatureThyroid P – especially for the more allergically sensitive patient.

Many good books and treatises have been written on hypothyroidism. The first that I read was Hypothyroidism: The Unsuspected Illness, by Broda Barnes, MD. Stephen Langer, MD wrote Solved the Riddle of Illness. More lately, Mark Starr, MD wrote Hypothyroidism Type 2: The Epidemic. Also, Stop The Thyroid Madness by Janie A Bowthorpe, M.Ed. Older endocrinology texts, such as Wilson’s Endocrinology, remind us that a high cholesterol level was the poor man’s measure of hypothyroidism.

What’s Wrong with Thyroid Blood Tests?

After a review of 118 peer-reviewed, medical articles, The National Academy of Hypothyroidism documents convincing opinions and data about the unreliability of TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone from the pituitary – master gland in the head) as a reflection of thyroid status. Hang in there with me on this…

“The TSH is thought to be the most sensitive marker of peripheral tissue levels of thyroid. And it is erroneously assumed by most endocrinologists and other physicians that, except for unique situations, a normal TSH is a clear indication that the person’s tissue thyroid levels are adequate. A more thorough understanding of the physiology of hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid axis and tissue regulation of thyroid hormones demonstrates that the widely held belief that the TSH is an accurate marker of the body’s overall thyroid status is clearly erroneous.”

The TSH test is rendered inaccurate by a plethora of coexisting symptoms: physiologic stress, depression, insulin resistance and diabetes, aging, calorie deprivation (dieting), PMS, chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia, obesity, and numerous other conditions. Thus, with physiologic or emotional stress, the TSH is not a reliable or sensitive marker of an individual’s true thyroid status.”

TSH is the only screening blood test that some physicians are using to determine thyroid status. It misses many people who desperately need thyroid.

References:

1. com/2011/04/hormones-metabolism-and-obesity
2. National Academy of Hypothyroidism