Addressing Stubborn Thyroid Problems
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What's New in S.H.I.N.E. — Part 7: More on Hormones
This week continues my multi-part series on "What's New in the SHINE protocol." Today I'll discuss hormones — the "H" in SHINE — with a focus on underactive thyroid function, or hypothyroidism.
Physicians too often make the mistake of addressing a patient's test results instead of helping the actual patient. Because of that, they're unwilling to prescribe them the thyroid hormone they need. Fortunately there are two natural options that can be very helpful — and neither requires a prescription!
These can be taken together and can help you even if you're already on a prescription thyroid hormone.
Step 1: Correct the Iodine Deficiency
Here's a simple and low-cost therapy that offers a powerful breakthrough in healing thyroid imbalances: the mineral iodine. High amounts of iodine can help improve symptoms of thyroid function in many people.
Unfortunately, though many ways of testing iodine levels are discussed, including urinary iodine and speed of skin absorption, the most accurate test is to simply take it for 4-6 weeks and see how you feel. (I recommend taking a daily dose of 6.25-12.5 mg of iodine.)
Interestingly, supplemental iodine may not change your blood thyroid hormone levels. But what people often find is that their energy levels and other symptoms improve considerably! Symptoms such as:
- Fatigue or pain
- Difficulty losing weight
- Occassional "brain fog"
- Breast cysts or tenderness
If you have these symptoms, I would recommend a trial of iodine. Take 12.5 mg once a for 3 months. It could turn your life around …
For more on iodine deficiency, see Iodine Deficiency — An Old Epidemic Is Back.
Step 2: Another Very Helpful Natural Mix — An Herbal Supplement That Supports Normal Thyroid Function
If you are unable to find a physician who will write a prescription thyroid hormone, there are other alternatives. For many people, special natural thyroid glandular supplements can be very helpful. I recommend an herbal thyroid-support supplement.
Thyroid hormone is made of Tyrosine plus iodine. The thyroid glandular supplies the raw materials needed to optimize thyroid function — and often have a dramatic impact.
The iodine and thyroid-support supplements offer two excellent options that can help optimize your thyroid function (and they can be taken together).
To learn more about hypothyroidism, see Thyroid Disease in the Health A-Z section of this site.
More on Thyroid support
One Size Doesn't Fit All
Another development in our understanding of hypothyroidism is that there is no single therapy that works for everybody!
Some people do best with natural, desiccated thyroid gland, like Armour. Unfortunately, Armour reformulated their product and the new version is not as good as the old one. At this point, I recommend as better alternatives either Nature-Throid or Westhroid.
Other people have an allergic response to the thyroid gland protein itself (the proteins making up the gland are different from the hormone), and a compounded product that doesn't include the glandular — but only includes pure versions of the T3 and T4 hormones — works best at times.
I suggest asking a compounding pharmacy to make both the desiccated thyroid (in place of the Armour) and the pure T4 plus T3 combinations. When addressing your thyroid, it is particularly important to use a product that has excellent quality control, and ITC Pharmacy does a very good job with this. They also will fill prescriptions by mail.
Choosing the right therapy is a little like choosing the right pair of shoes. Working with a holistic physician, you should "try on" different therapies — desiccated; a compounded mix of T3 and T4; or Synthroid — and find the type and the dose that feels best to you.
Try Taking the Thyroid at Night
In another new development, a study suggests that thyroid levels actually start to rise during the night — so the medical tradition of giving thyroid hormone in the morning may not necessarily be the best approach. For the Synthroid (T4 hormone), which stays at a pretty steady level throughout the day, the time of day you take it likely does not matter. But for those taking a T3 containing hormone (like Armour), the blood levels are highest in the four hours after you take it — so time of day can make a big difference. Some patients do better when they take all or some of their daily dose at bedtime — and it also improves the quality of their sleep.
So work with your doctor to determine not only the best type of medication … and the best dose … but the best timing of the dose as well.
Jacob Teitelbaum, M.D. is one of the world's leading integrative medical authorities on fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue. He is the lead author of eight research studies on their effective treatments, and has published numerous health & wellness books, including the bestseller on fibromyalgia From Fatigued to Fantastic! and The Fatigue and Fibromyalgia Solution. Dr. Teitelbaum is one of the most frequently quoted fibromyalgia experts in the world and appears often as a guest on news and talk shows nationwide including Good Morning America, The Dr. Oz Show, Oprah & Friends, CNN, and Fox News Health.