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Thyroid Replacement

Hypothyroidism: An Epidemic

What do chronic pain, diabetes, heart disease, menstrual difficulties, and sleep apnea have in common? As physician Mark Starr points out in his extensively researched book, Hypothyroidism Type 2: The Epidemic, there’s an excellent chance that this collection of disorders – and literally dozens, if not hundreds more disorders– indicate abnormally low thyroid function.

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 his book, 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. (I will say more about TSH a little later.)
•    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).

Laboratory tests showing inadequate bloodstream levels of thyroid hormone make it easy to diagnose Type 1 hypothyroidism. However, lab tests fail to detect Type 2 hypothyroidism, because despite adequate bloodstream hormone levels, the cells are unable to accept and utilize that hormone (for a variety of reasons, which I’ll address in a moment). Since the main problem lies with the cells that are actually utilizing the hormone, a different approach needs to be taken when testing for – and to a certain extent, when treating – Type 2 hypothyroidism.

Many more people suffer from Type 2 than Type 1 hypothyroidism.  Type 2 is widely misunderstood and misdiagnosed.

Symptoms of Type II Hypothyroidism

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.

Endless Disease 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

Blinded by the devotion to laboratory tests:

The biggest error in hypothyroid diagnosis is the medical profession’s excessive reliance on laboratory tests only, to the exclusion of the subjects’ symptoms. When hypothyroidism was first detected in the 1800s, physicians listened to the people who actually had the disorder and based their treatments on what they observed and on what their patients told them. There are many physical signs of hypothyroidism, among them puffy face and lips, hair loss, dry puffy skin, abnormally slow movements and speech, hoarse voice, and intolerance to cold. (Not only does the person subjectively feel chilly, but the hands and feet feel cold to another person’s touch.) Mark Starr writes that in the early twentieth century:

…the ultimate test of whether or not a patient was hypothyroid was the patient’s response to a trial of thyroid hormones. Confirmation depended upon improvement or resolution of their symptoms. . . . [But] the list of thyroid blood tests grew until there were scores of available tests. Unfortunately, they failed to improve the ability to detect Type 2 hypothyroidism.

Today, the overwhelming majority of doctors are taught to check only the patients’ blood tests if they suspect hypothyroidism. If the tests are normal, the search begins for other possible causes of their problems. The vast majority of patients with hypothyroidism have normal thyroid blood tests, because the tests do not detect Type 2 hypothyroidism.
Countless new syndromes, both mental and physical, have been adopted in [futile] attempts to explain the myriad symptoms related to hypothyroidism.

What’s the best treatment?

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 Thyroid 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!

Factors That Complicate Diagnosis and Treatment

  1. Heavy Metal Toxicity – The thyroid is highly susceptible to the damaging effects of environmental toxins. Detoxification protocols to reduce the toxic burden on the body are critical to successful recovery.
  2. Chemical Toxicity and Fungal Overload – Many chemicals and fungal mycotoxins have an estrogenic effect on the body, further suppressing thyroid function.
  3. Nutritional Deficiencies – Mineral deficits are common, particularly magnesium, zinc, selenium and of course, iodine.  These and any others present must be addressed.
  4. Adrenal Exhaustion – Suppressed adrenal function has an adverse effect on both diagnosis and treatment due to the closely interrelated functions of the glands.

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.

Sadly, most patients who suffer from this disease 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.

Resources:

This posted information has been drawn heavily from:
Dr. Mark Starr’s book, Hypothyroidism Type 2: The Epidemic;
The Townsend Letter, December 2008- Hypothyroidism Type 2;
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