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The thyroid gland plays a vital role in countless functions. Hypothyroidism, or an under active thyroid is one of the most commonly diagnosed and medicated conditions in healthcare today. It can leave an individual feeling mentally fatigued, physically tired, constipated, unable to lose weight, abnormally cold, or plagued with dry skin, brittle nails and hair loss; to name a few.
This desperate individual turns to a doctor for help and is usually provided thyroid hormones without a blink of an eye. Right off the bat we are witness to a flawed system and an antiquated way of thinking when it comes to health and our bodies.
The thyroid gland, just like every other organ in our body, does not exist and function in isolation. As such, its function or dysfunction is normally a consequence of some sort of additional dysfunction somewhere within the interdependent matrix that is the human body. The practice of supplementing thyroid symptoms with thyroid hormones is no better than a stop gap at best, as the underlying dysfunction persists and a dependency or worse is created by the external source of thyroid hormones.
Traditional medicine currently listens to symptoms, measures TSH, perhaps some form of T3 and T4, and diagnoses and prescribes from there. It should be known that TSH alone is great at telling you something is off along the thyroid, pituitary access, but is useless as far as telling us what or why. Adding some measurement of T3 and T4 to the panel is superior to the former, but again comes up short in shining a light on the why.
When the option of a more illuminating, complete thyroid panel (blood work) can be ordered, one must ask why it isn’t? Even further, with the number one cause of hypothyroidism in this country being an autoimmune issue, why would a test for thyroid anti-bodies not be included in the standard testing?
Perhaps all resources aren’t utilized due to the fact that it doesn’t change the cookbook approach allopathic medicine has to offer. If thyroid symptoms are present and the limited blood markers ordered signify that the thyroid hormones are off, another thyroid hormone consumer is created and left to life long dependency and/or incremental increases in dosage. This shotgun approach is nothing less than reckless and a prime example of sick care. Perhaps the thyroid isn’t the main issue that need be addressed.
Perhaps the adrenal glands are on overdrive from constant stress (physical, chemical or emotional). Did you know hyper-functioning adrenal glands will dampen thyroid function?
Perhaps a leaky gut or gut infection is present. Did you know that ~20% of thyroid hormones are converted in the intestines to an active form the body can use, BUT only in the presence of a healthy gut and proper gut flora?
Perhaps liver function is hampered due to a high fructose diet, long term statin use or toxic overload. Did you know the majority of thyroid hormones are converted to the active form in the liver?
These are just a few common examples of what can lead to hypothyroid symptoms and a skewing of limited, tunnel visioned lab numbers.
The most intelligent approach to the thyroid puzzle should at the very least include a COMPLETE thyroid panel accompanied by an antibody test. Some practitioners may deem this medically unnecessary and refuse to order it, and to some aspect they may be correct.
It may very well be medically unnecessary if the goal is to simply stick a finger in the damn of dysfunction by flooding the body with thyroid hormones. However, from an intelligently formulated functional standpoint, the complete panel (in addition to a comprehensive history, and a few other additional tests) can guide those interested in identifying the source of the dysfunction and provide the practitioner with the information needed to construct a plan. If this is the goal, than it is no doubt medically necessary.
An eye opening example of this rests within the fact that the number one cause of an under active thyroid in America is due to immune dysfunction (Hashimotto’s Disease). That makes this an immune issue, not a primary thyroid issue. The immune system can be and must be addressed and balanced in order to halt the attack on the thyroid gland. This attack is what leads to the symptoms and can be identified by, amongst other things, a test for thyroid antibodies.
That is just one instance of how ordering the proper tests and not immediately resorting to medications can clear the path to true health and wellness. If you have a practitioner who refuses to order the tests you request, maybe it’s time to ask why, or find one who will.
Personally, my patients have been met with reluctance and sometimes outright refusal when the additional tests are requested. However, they can be done and it is your right as a proactive, educated patient to receive the tests you desire; as well as to work with a professional who is open minded and willing to work together when it comes to your health.
That is the model we strive to achieve and implement on a daily basis. If it sounds appealing and liberating to you, feel free to contact us at anytime.
We’re ready when you are.
Make health happen.
As of the spring of 2014 one in four Americans over 45 were taking a cholesterol lowering drug known as a statin. Over 43 million Americans between the ages of 40-75, along with an increasing number of younger customers are now including a Lipitor or Crestor as part of their daily regimen.
As the lab values that serve as the criteria for prescribing a statin continue to change, the umbrella for those deemed in need of statin therapy continues to widen. Leaning on the outdated and now uneducated vilification of fats and cholesterol, the multibillion dollar statin industry continues to thrive. Sad thing is, cardiovascular disease and overall health have not improved despite the low fat, statin fueled culture we know find ourselves in.
So is this widening spread use of statins necessary? Is it safe? Here are some facts about statins and cholesterol that should at the very least provoke some individual concern and subsequent investigation.
In 2012 the FDA issued a statement declaring statin drugs can cause cognitive side effects such as memory lapses and confusion.
An AMA (American Medical Association) study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine demonstrated a 48% increased risk of diabetes (a powerful risk factor for type III diabetes aka Alzheimer’s) among women taken statins.
It is well known that statins paralyze cells’ ability to make coenzyme Q10, a vitamin like substance found throughout the body, where it serves as an antioxidant and energy producer. Depletion of CoQ10 leads to fatigue, shortness of breath, mobility & balance problems, muscular pain & weakness. CoQ10 deficiency has also been linked to heart failure, hypertension & Parkinson’s. CoQ10 has actually been proposed as a treatment for Alzheimer’s. At the absolute very least, individuals currently undergoing statin therapy should consult with their physician about adding CoQ10 to their regimen.
How about Vitamin D deficiency? Vitamin D is derived from cholesterol in the skin. When statins lower cholesterol, the ability to generate Vitamin D is hampered leading to (amongst other things) a heightened risk for diabetes, depression, cardiovascular disease and ultimately dementia and other neurodegenerative diseases.
Consider the fact that our sex hormones are also derived from cholesterol. Lowering cholesterol through use of statins and diet can lead to lower testosterone levels and subsequent decreased libido and ED (erectile dysfunction) which are common complaints amongst statin users.
LOWER levels of cholesterol have been linked to depression, dementia and even earlier death.
This type of information and suffering will hopefully continue to provoke reconsideration and remodeling of the current paradigm. As we learn more through research and prior failures, the appropriate response is to act on this newfound knowledge and improve. Unfortunately pride and profits appear to be standing in the way, so it is on us as individuals to educate and investigate when it comes to our health.
When it comes to evaluating cholesterol levels, they are usually included in a lipid panel. This entire process should be reevaluated as well, but there are ways to alter and more accurately measure your triglyceride and small LDL. Before resorting to a statin, why not attempt to uncover the reason for the unfavorable levels, and attempt to remedy it?
How about starting with rethinking the dietary approach?
No not the seemingly logical, oversimplified and outdated, disproven theory that dietary fats and cholesterol are the main culprits behind “bad” cholesterol and cardiovascular disease.
You must once again look to carbohydrates and the subsequent release of insulin, which triggers fatty acid synthesis in the liver. This starts the chain that eventually leads to the rise of triglycerides and “bad” cholesterol. It is no coincidence that diabetes (a disease which features erratic blood sugar and insulin levels) is associated with the lipid triad of low HDL or “good” cholesterol, and high triglycerides and small LDL or “bad” cholesterol.
(Calling HDL and LDL cholesterol is actually incorrect as the “L” actually stands for Lipoprotein, and the “HD” and “LD” stand for High or Low Density. These are carrier proteins that transport cholesterol throughout the body.)
The majority of type II diabetes can be reversed by reducing carb consumption, and the same holds true for naturally improving your lipid panel.
Another area to look at is thyroid function.
Patients with hypothyroid symptoms often display a lipid panel that includes high triglycerides and high LDL due to the body making fat much quicker than it can burn it. The slower metabolism seen with hypothyroidism leads to:
…a sluggish liver and gall bladder making fat less likely to be metabolized and cleared from the body.
…it causes cells to be less receptive to LDL circulating which sets the stage for the LDL to accumulate and be oxidized. This is actually when LDL becomes harmful, not merely its presence alone as it is actually necessary to deliver vital cholesterol to our body’s tissues.
…leaves an individual less able to burn fat as fuel as a healthy person would. This creates a reliance on glucose (carbs/sugar) for fuel and the subsequent insulin release, fat storage and higher triglycerides and small LDL.
Diet and hampered thyroid function are just two possible reasons for an unfavorable lipid profile, and in many cases can be improved with lifestyle changes and the application of functional medicine. Depending on the individual, cleaning up the menu, fortifying the digestive system, balancing the immune system, supporting the adrenal and thyroid glands and detoxification pathways can all be used to improve underlying function, which in turn creates a healthier human who can hopefully steer clear of statins and the accompanying baggage.
As always, consult with your healthcare provider before making any changes. If you are interested in a unique, knowledgable approach based on the most current research, experience and understanding of the underlying function of the body and would like to learn more, call us today.