Treating Hypothyroidism

I came across some very good information on a message board recently and I thought anyone with hypothyroidism could really benefit from this.  I have had Hashimoto’s for over 20 years and I have learned a lot recently about how nutrition affects the thyroid gland and what supplements can help.

Many people have symptoms of hypothyroidism but when the doctor orders blood tests, they come back “normal.”  Part of the problem is due to overly broad reference ranges.  Also, many doctors rely solely on the TSH, which is only a small part of the picture.  To accurately access the thyroid when problems are suspected you need the following labs drawn:  TSH, Free T3, and Free T4.  These 3 should be checked every time the thyroid levels are ordered.  It is the relationship of these three values that will allow a knowledgeable doctor to assess the thyroid properly.  Initially the doctor should check the for thyroid antibodies using TPO and ATA in the hypothyroid patient to rule out Hashimoto’s.   A patient with Hashimoto’s should continue to have TPO and ATA checked to verify the effectiveness of treatment in reducing thyroid antibodies.  For more information about interpreting lab values, visit http://www.drrind.com/thyroidscale.asp#tests
However, diagnosis and monitoring of hypothyroidism should not be based solely on laboratory values.  Here is a list of symptoms of hypothyroidism.

LOSS OF HAIR
WEIGHT GAIN
COLD HANDS AND FEET
CELLULITE
WEIGHT GAIN ON THIGHS AND HIPS
DRY SKIN
LOW BODY TEMPERATURE
LOW BLOOD PRESSURE
LOW ADRENAL FUNCTION
MENSTRUAL IRREGULARITIES
INFERTILITY
PMS
OSTEOPOROSIS
SUGAR CRAVINGS AND HYPOGLYCEMIA
UNEXPLAINED FATIGUE
CHRONIC FATIGUE
CONSTIPATION
MUSCLE CRAMPS AND SPASMS
PROBLEMS DIGESTING FATS AND OILS
SLUGGISH LIVER
COPPER TOXICITY

An easy test you can do at home is a basal temperature.  Is your temperature immediately upon awakening below 97.8?  For a woman in the childbearing years, the best time to check is 2-3 days after your period starts.  Check the temperature before you get out of bed, talk, or do anything else.  Most people with a basal temp below 97.8 will have symptoms of hypothyroidism as well.  It can be helpful to monitor basal temps daily and keep a graph to track change over time.  Keep in mind that a menstruating woman has a di-phasic temperature graph which is higher in the second half of her cycle due to the influence of progesterone.  Temperature readings can also be used to check adrenal function.  In that case they are taken throughout the day, starting 3 hours after waking, and a daily average then is plotted.  You can learn more about temperature patterns and adrenal function here on Dr. Rind’s website.

Hypothyroidism is more common is women, probably because the female hormones exert their effects on thyroid function.  Progesterone aids in the retention of zinc and potassium in our cells.   Zinc and potassium allow the thyroid hormone to enter the cell and then to be converted to the active form known as T3.  Some authorities believe that progesterone facilitates the action of thyroid hormone, while estrogen is antagonistic to thyroid hormone.  So if a woman has low progesterone and/or a high level of estrogen, it is more difficult for the thyroid hormone to do its job.  Weight gain on the hips and thighs, common in women with hypothyroidism,  is associated with high estrogen and/or low progesterone.  Estrogen can cause copper retention if zinc or progesterone levels are too low. Copper has been found to be an antagonist to thyroid hormone.

The thyroid also needs sufficient iodine to function properly.  Years ago, store-bought bread contained iodine.  However, the iodine has been replaced with bromine, which displaces iodine from the thyroid gland.  So it is best to use flour that is unbrominated and unbleached.  Also purchase only breads that are made with unbrominated flour.  In my opinion, a good quality sprouted or a true sourdough bread is best.  Check the labels on everything you use made with wheat flour.    Chlorine and fluoride also displace iodine from the thyroid gland.  The risks of water floridation, including adverse effects on thyroid function, were recently discussed by the scientific community, see ‘Second Thoughts about Fluoride,’ Reports Scientific American. Particularly if you have city water piped in, you should treat your water to remove these harmful substance. If you have well water, you should also have it tested, as you can have high levels of naturally occurring fluoride and other contaminants. You may need to filter your well water, depending on the test results. Please note that only reverse osmosis or a filter specifically designed to remove fluoride will take the fluoride out of your water.  If you choose reverse osmosis, many sources recommend adding minerals back into the water before drinking. See part two on treating hypothyroidism here
Note:  The information here does not constitute medical advice.

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4 Comments

  1. December 29, 2007 at 6:14 pm

    [...] September 22, 2007 · Filed under Resources &#183 Tagged calcium, copper, hashimoto's, hypothyroidism, iodine, iron, kelp, manganese, nutritional supplements, protein, Resources, selenium, T3, T4, vitamins, zinc (Also see part 1 on Treating Hypothyroidism,  here.) [...]

  2. ~melissa said,

    January 11, 2008 at 1:53 pm

    Very well said. this was just exactly what I was looking for! It backed up everything else I have found this morning. Thank you

    ~melissa

  3. Thyroid And Infertility said,

    March 26, 2008 at 4:42 pm

    Thyroid And Infertility

    I enjoyed reading your blog. What a great thing it is to be able to share information like this on the Internet.

  4. Christina said,

    September 6, 2010 at 7:49 am

    I have hypothyroidism. I was diagnosed 6 months ago and for the first time in my life – I am 48 – I have cellulite. It is on my upper arms and all over my stomach and I feel very depressed about it. I have no idea how to fix this or at least improve it. Can anyone help?


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