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