Natural Support for a Sluggish Thyroid (PART 1)

By Michael Dworkin, PD, CCN, & J. Erika Dworkin

Millions of Americans suffer from fatigue, weight gain, depression, and cognitive impairment. Many believe that they have no choice but to accept these seemingly “age-related” declines in quality of life. Underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) is often overlooked or misdiagnosed and can be the underlying cause of these symptoms. ~

[H]ypothyroidism is defi nitely a major stress.

Subnormal body temperature and too little thyroid hormone can reduce the strength and resistance of every cell, including the billions involved in the immune system. ~ Stephen Langer, MD, Solved: The Riddle of Illness

is slowing down, and natural ways to support it so you can start feeling healthier. This two-part article will provide you the basics of this expansive topic to start your journey to greater wholeness.


The Important Function of the Thyroid Gland The tiny thyroid gland is butterfl y-shaped and semi-circles

the windpipe just below the Adam’s apple. It is made up of small sacs fi lled with thyroglobulin, an iodine-rich protein, and the thy- roid hormones thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3, in smaller amounts). Outside the thyroid, three selenium-dependent enzymes (iodothyronine de-iodinases) convert T4 to T3, the biologically active form of thyroid hormone (TH), but nutrient defi ciencies, prescription drugs, and chemical toxicity can interfere with this conversion. These hormones regulate metabolism by controlling the rate at which the body converts oxygen and calories to energy. According to Stephen Langer, MD (Solved: The Riddle of Illness) (Langer), numerous well-designed studies have shown that “pro- duction of thyroid hormone can make or break a person’s health.”

The hypothalamus and pituitary glands in the brain regulate the production of T4 and T3 (each molecule has four and three iodine atoms respectively). When the blood level of TH falls below normal, the hypothalamus releases thyroid-releasing hormone (TRH), which in turn causes the pituitary to release thyroid-stimu- lating hormone (TSH), which causes the thyroid to start working. When TH levels are adequate, TSH production decreases, which then slows the thyroid gland’s release of new TH.

26 Natural Nutmeg - July/August 2017

o you feel like you’re completely falling apart? If so, now may be a good time to learn about the function of your all-important thyroid gland, how to determine whether it

Multiple naturally occurring biological factors can hinder TH

activity: (1) T4 also converts to reverse T3 (rT3), an inactive form of T3 that blocks the thyroid hormone receptors in the cell, thus blocking activity of regular T3; (2) most THs (99%) circulating in the blood are metabolically inactive because they are bound to carrier proteins, and only the minute amount of “free” TH (mostly T3) is biologically active and binds to and activates TH receptors (even the slight changes in the amount of thyroid carrier proteins that can be produced by oral contraceptives, pregnancy, and conventional hormone replacement therapy, can lower available free TH); and (3) since even mild adrenal gland dysfunction can interfere with the steady, effi cient conversion of T4 to T3, “the adre- nal glands must be strengthened for thyroid supplementation to be effective” [Langer; symptoms of adrenal dysfunction include aller- gies/ asthma/breathing issues, skin issues (acne, eczema, psoriasis, fl akiness/dryness), arthritic pains, and emotional swings].

Diagnosing Hypothyroidism: Symptoms & Tests Hypothyroidism exists in both women and men when the

thyroid gland fails to make enough THs, which results in lowered metabolic rate (slowed heartbeat, lowered blood pressure, sluggish circulation). The key symptoms of hypothyroidism are: subnormal temperature/increased sensitivity to cold; fatigue/weakness; muscle cramps; digestive problems/chronic constipation; weight gain; dry skin; brittle nails; hair brittleness/lifelessness/loss; infections and slowed wound healing; slow thinking/poor memory; persistent depression and anxiety; female problems (menstrual irregularities, infertility); and diminished/nonexistent appetite and sexual desire.

Unfortunately, since these symptoms can take years to surface, a condition called early/mild, or subclinical, hypothyroidism (SCH - without defi nite or readily observable symptoms) can commonly go undiagnosed with tests that show elevated TSH (0.5 – 9 µIU/ mL) but normal T4 and T3 levels. Since those with early hypothy- roidism are at greater risk for developing overt hypothyroidism, Kenneth Ain, MD, director of the Thyroid Oncology Program at the University of Kentucky, maintains that doctors should screen cer- tain patients for SCH, including: (1) those with family histories of thyroid disease; (2) women who are planning pregnancy, pregnant, or have just given birth; (3) women over age 40, with PMS or peri- menopause symptoms, or diagnosed with premature menopause; (4) anyone over age 60; (5) those with depression, chronic fatigue syndrome, fi bromyalgia, a non-thyroid autoimmune disease, or

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