Hello everyone, Dr. Kyle Warren here for the Restorative Health Solutions blog. In this installment, we will discuss patients who likely know they have a thyroid problem and still suffer from symptoms from their thyroid hormones despite taking medication.
Common symptoms of hypothyroidism include hair loss or thinning, fatigue, depression, anxiety, weight gain, heartburn and bloating. If you take thyroid medication and it is truly working, you shouldn’t be suffering from any of these symptoms.
How Thyroid Hormones Works
Your thyroid gland produces a hormone called thyroxine, or T4. This hormone is processed in your liver and intestines to become T3, which binds to hormone receptors in the nucleus of every cell in your body and tells your cells to start making energy. This energy production happens in an organelle called the mitochondria. The problems we will be addressing in this blog have to do with dysfunctional steps in this process.
Thyroid Underconversion – Low T3
The main problem here is that the medication given for hypothyroidism – Synthroid (or levothyroxine) – only affects T4 production. Doctors assume your body can convert the medication to the active form of thyroid hormone (T3), which is why they typically test only
TSH and T4 levels. Typically, these hormones look fine while patients are struggling with poor conversion from T4 to T3.
Without the active form of the hormone, people are walking around without enough of the signal to make energy in the cells of their body. It’s like trying to drive the car without ever putting the key in the ignition and wondering why it isn’t running. Without enough T3, you end up with thyroid symptoms despite your TSH and T4 levels appearing normal.
Inflammation– The Blocker of Thyroid Hormone Activity
This pattern is fairly simple – inflammation blocks the protein response of your cells to thyroid hormones. Think of the thyroid hormone like a key to your car. The active T3 hormone binding to the receptor is like you putting your key in the ignition and turning it. Inflammation means the battery is dead – the hormone binds, you turn the key but nothing happens. Until you replace the battery, that hormone just won’t do what it is supposed to.
This is a frustrating pattern for many patients because it is what thwarts proactive patients. There are a few easy tests for inflammation, including an ESR test, a CRP test, or a Homocysteine test. Inflammation can also create havoc when hypothyroidism is caused by Hashimoto’s autoimmune disease. The tests for Hashimoto’s Disease are TPO and TGB antibody tests.
Poor Adrenal Function — “Adrenal Fatigue”
Your adrenals are another side of your energy metabolism. The short version is by the time someone has a chronic health problem, the adrenals are almost always involved, but they are rarely the root cause of the issue.
Your adrenals handle stress. Once they can no longer handle stress, your health goes down quickly. Helping the adrenals can be a way to make someone feel better, but the real key is to eliminate the cause of stress on the adrenals. If the cause is an infection, constantly eating foods you are allergic to, eating a high sugar diet, or breathing in toxic chemicals at work all day, there is no adrenal vitamin or herb that can magically cure you. Lifestyle change is a must for helping any patient with adrenal fatigue.
Iron – The Energy Metal
Once the T3 hormone binds to the receptor and tells the cell to make energy, your body uses sugar, protein, and fat to create energy. This process requires several nutrients including B-vitamins, CoQ10, and iron. One of the most common things we find on blood tests that seem to be missed is low iron. The blood test many people come into us with is either a hemoglobin or a serum iron level, but a more sensitive test is called a ferritin blood test.
Without hemoglobin, you will become anemic, meaning when you breathe you don’t have the red blood cells to efficiently carry oxygen to your cells and you have no way of properly making energy. Whenever someone in our clinic is low in iron we always try to find out why – we have to be careful. Some patients who need iron can’t take it until something else has been cleared.
Chronic Viral Infections — The Mystery Illness
Our modern view of an infection is extremely narrow. For example, have you ever had chicken pox? Did you get rid of them? Actually, you never got rid of them – they are still inside you! More than 90 percent of adult Americans have contracted a version of mononucleosis in their lifetime. That’s also still inside you.
The truth is your body doesn’t really get rid of many viral infections. They create a general infectious load that our body has to constantly deal with. Some infections can be chronic, creating mystery illnesses for patients and creating havoc in the body. They can cause inflammation in the immune system, creating further problems. A chronic recurrence of chickenpox, for instance, can lead to shingles.
If an infection is coupled with an autoimmune reaction, it can get particularly tricky to help a patient recover. Typically, alternative doctors get rid of these infections by giving things like Echinacea, which makes your immune system more deadly. The problem with that is if you have Hashimoto’s attacking your thyroid, and your immune system becomes more deadly, it attacks your thyroid. This is true with any autoimmune disease. One must be careful to help the immune system be healthier without increasing the destruction caused by the autoimmune disease.
Toxicity and Sluggish Liver Function
We are bombarded with more chemicals now than ever before. The detoxification of these chemicals happens in the liver and takes place in two phases. Phase 1 detoxification cuts toxins into pieces. Phase 2 detoxification hooks on “buddies” (mainly are methyl groups, glutathione, acetyl groups and sulfur groups) to escort the toxic chemicals out of our bodies through bile, feces, and urine.
If you are overloaded, or unable to detoxify at an adequate rate, these chemicals cause free-radical damage to your cells and you age at an accelerated rate. Because your mitochondria are so susceptible to free-radical damage, patients often feel fatigued as they become more toxic and their ability to produce energy is compromised.
Digestive Problems are Disrupting Metabolism
This is a huge factor and I have saved this for last for a reason. If you have been following our clinic for some time, you know we are firmly against the “one size fits all” approach. The key is that poor intestinal health can cause the other 6 patterns we have talked about. Because thyroid conversion from T4 to T3 takes place in the intestines, it can be a driving factor for low T3. It can be a source of inflammation and infection from reactive foods and infections from bacteria, yeast or parasites.
The labels people put on intestinal problems are various. The most common ones are leaky gut, SIBO, and Dysbiosis. Toxic waste products from dysbiosis poison your mitochondria and prevent them from making energy. This means if you have the thyroid hormone you still have symptoms because mitochondria get the message to make energy, but they are unable to do so.
For testing and symptoms, we look at a stool panel, testing zonulin to check the bonds of the small intestine cells and symptoms such as bloating, diarrhea, constipation, and heartburn.
What Can We Do for You?
At Restorative Health Solutions, we utilize chiropractic adjustments, nutrition, and lifestyle changes to help our patients achieve better health. We believe strongly in a properly functioning nervous system and a well-fed body being able to put you in the driver’s seat to help you live out your dreams.
If you’re suffering from any of these symptoms, contact us online or give us a call for a free 15-minute consultation at 952-479-7801.
Click below to read more articles from Dr. Warren all about the thyroid!