Posted by: Scott Stewart, MSAc., Dipl.Ac., LAc.
Many people feel the same way you do, they’ve been on Levothyroxine or an equivalent thyroid medication and their TSH and total T4 levels appear to be normal, but they still have lingering symptoms of hypothyroidism that affect their day to day activities.
The most common complaints are:
In theory, Levothyroxine and Synthroid are great drugs, but in reality they do not address the actual problems that are at the heart of hypothyroid disorders. The reason for this is threefold.
Firstly, these drugs are synthetic versions of thyroxine (T4), and this means that they are not bio-identical to the hormone produced by your body. This presents another complication, because this synthetic T4 is going to compete for the same receptors that your natural T4, the one produced by your body, needs to use.
Secondly, these synthetics only increase serum T4, which after reaching a max - point, sends a signal to the pituitary to stop producing TSH. This is why the TSH will return to a position within a normal range. But, if over- production of TSH is not the problem, then you’re no better off than before. For example, if the problem is that you’re not converting T4 into T3, then you’re still hypothyroid.
In a small number of cases, some patients are genetically unable to produce the enzymes needed to convert T4 into T3. In which case, a better option would be to use a natural thyroid medication such as Armour, which is derived from porcine and contains BOTH T4 and T3. Many years ago they had problems with consistency in the dosages, but have since rectified this with standardization.
Thirdly, apart from genetic causes, these synthetic medications do not address the root cause of why your body isn’t producing enough thyroid hormone; whether it’s due to under conversion or some other cause. As mentioned in the last post, the underlying cause tends to be either lifestyle related or environmental. The key to a successful treatment is finding out the root cause and correcting that, instead of taking a drug for the rest of your life.
Undiagnosed Hypothyroid due to Under Conversion
Millions of people in America suffer from hypothyroidism and don’t even know it, because their doctor has missed the diagnosis as a result of not ordering the correct lab work. The majority of physicians opt to follow a subminimal protocol when ordering labs, and in the case of the thyroid, this only includes looking at thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), which is a hormone produced in the pituitary.
Unfortunately, this is not enough to make a diagnosis of hypothyroid, because a patient’s TSH can be in the normal range in hypothyroid cases that involve under conversion of T4 (thyroxine) into the bioactive thyroid hormone T3 (triiodothyronine); the majority of which is metabolized in periphery.
What exactly is conversion?
The thyroid gland itself produces very little T4 and T3, in fact, 90% of what the thyroid releases is in the form of T4, which is converted into T3 (10xs more potent than T4) in peripheral tissues like the liver, kidneys, heart, brain, etc. This means that about 80% of the active thyroid hormone (T3) is produced outside the thyroid gland itself, with most of this taking place in the liver. When certain enzymes (iodine, tyrosine, glutathione, selenium, zinc, etc.) act on T4 it’s converted into bioactive T3, which is then pushed onto the receptor by vitamin D; of which many Americans are deficient.
What does thyroid hormone do?
What are some of the main causes of under conversion?
In my experience, under conversion in the American population is caused by a combination of factors that stem from the American lifestyle and the Standard American Diet (SAD diet). Contributing factors include:
Why Free T4 and Free T3 have to be tested?
Total T4 and Total T3 are not accurate indicators of how much of the hormone is availablefor the body to use, because they are bound to protein in the blood.
In contrast, Free T4 and Free T3 are not bound to any proteins, and therefore can be utilized by the body.
What should be tested and what are the optimal health ranges?
The only way to make an accurate assessment is to order a complete thyroid panel, which includes not only TSH, but also Free T4 and Free T3; all of which must be tested together, NOT SEPARATELY, since they are all relative to one another and can fluctuate due to certain variables.
For patients who have a history of autoimmune symptoms it is strongly recommended to also test for antibodies:
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Posted by: Scott Stewart, MSAc., Dipl. Ac., LAc.
Late last year, an observational study was published in Shanghai, in which researchers studied myelosuppression caused by chemotherapy in cancer patients, and the efficacy and safety of the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) herbal formula called Shuanghuang Shenbai (SSG) on this patient population.
Myelosuppression (bone marrow suppression) is a common side-effect of chemotherapy and represents a decrease in the bone marrows ability to produce blood cells, some of which are responsible for maintaining a healthy immune response.
Patients were randomized into a treatment group consisting of 209 cases and a control group composed of 102 cases. The treatment group began taking the SSG formula on the first day of chemotherapy and continued use for 14 days. The control group only took the chemotherapy, which consisted of Leucogen tabs.
The study findings showed that the treatment group using the SSG formula had an average of 50.2% increase in white blood cells within the normal range, which included a significant increase in Immune cell lines, CD3 and CD4, compared to the control group. Researchers also reported a considerably lower incidence of bone suppression in the treatment group compared to the control group.
In sum, the SSG formula had a high rate of efficacy in the treatment group by providing protection against myelosuppression and significantly lowering the side-effects associated with chemotherapy. Additionally, it was shown that the SSG formula was safe for use by cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.
This is just one of many studies supporting the use of Herbal formulas as an adjunctive therapy to counteract the horrific side-effects of both chemotherapy and radiation therapy.