How many of you reading this have gone to your doctor because you are experiencing one or all of the following symptoms: hair loss, fatigue, weight gain, depression or cold intolerance. I bet many of you had your thyroid levels checked (TSH and maybe Free T4) and told your thyroid was “normal”. And because your lab results fell within the normal range for thyroid your doctor told you that it must be something else. I also bet you left the doctors office defeated because you just don’t feel right and want an answer!
Here is the problem. The normal range for thyroid is just that, its a range. Hormones are not a light sight where if your labs fall within the normal range that means there isn’t a problem. Hormones act more like a dimmer switch, meaning the higher the levels the more optimal they function in the body. We see this with testosterone, growth hormone, DHEA, insulin and thyroid is no different.
If you go to the doctor with the above symptoms and your thyroid is less than optimal than you should take replacement thyroid and see if your symptoms improve. In the majority of the cases you will find that you feel much better with optimal levels (I will discuss below) vs the “normal” levels you walked in with. On top of that, the medical literature supports optimizing thyroid hormone to improve mood, cardiac function and metabolism.
Most doctors check what is called thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) and also free T4 in some cases. The problem with that is this; the metabolically active thyroid hormone (the hormone that actually has the effect on the cell) is T3. You can have a normal TSH, a normal T4 but have sub-optimal T3 levels which is why you are still symptomatic. The typical reference range for free T3 is 2.2-4.3 In early adulthood, free T3 levels are commonly 6-7 and they decline as they age. The optimal level for T3 is 4.0-4.3. This is where patients feel the best and have symptomatic improvement. So regardless of what your TSH and T4 are in the blood, if your T3 is sub-optimal you can have symptoms. Doctors are not taught this despite the medical literature and patient reports that show exactly that.
So what I do? If patients come to me with symptoms of thyroid disease and have sub-optimal T3 levels I treat them with compounded desiccated thyroid (or armor thyroid) until I get their free T3 levels optimal and they are symptomatically better! What is the downside? Many doctors will say that you can get osteoporosis (bone loss) or atrial fibrillation from treating with T3. However, this is NOT what the medical literature shows when you keep free T3 levels in the optimal range. There are over 40 studies that show there is NO associated bone loss when optimizing T3 with armor thyroid. In addition, there is not association with patients who take thyroid and atrial fibrillation as long as levels are monitored. If your doctor tells you that it is simply not true and I can show them the medical literature to support it. Lastly, thyroid has been shown to improve cardiac function (even in acute heart failure!) and improve cholesterol. So the literature actually support giving it to patients with impairment in cardiac function.
How do you know if you are getting too much thyroid? Patients who are too sensitive to thyroid experience tremors, and elevated heart rate (palpitations). That is it. If you experience those symptoms you simply reduce the dose.
The bottom line is this. If you have symptoms of low thyroid and have sub-optimal free T3 levels, you will benefit from taking thyroid hormone.
For more information feel free to call me directly at 949-529-0493