Thyroid Disorders: Introduction
This blog post aims to introduce the idea that thyroid problems can be helped with key nutrients. In my experience, a good start would be to follow the Root Cause Protocol which addresses copper regulation in the body and helps improve the conversion of T4 to T3.
Once settled on the RCP start on the Iodine Protocol to clear the toxic halides from the thyroid so it can function properly and increase T4 levels.
If proper blood testing of Free T3 and Free T4 levels has confirmed UAT then Natural Desiccated Thyroid is a better alternative to Levothyroxine because it contains T3 and T4.
What is the Thyroid?
This definition is from Thyroid UK:
“The thyroid gland is a small butterfly-shaped gland with two lobes. It is situated in the front of your neck, just below the Adams Apple. The thyroid gland produces two main hormones which are very important for growth and development. One is called thyroxine (T4) and the other is called triiodothyronine (T3). T4 is converted to T3 in the body’s cells and tissues. T3 is an active hormone and is needed by all of the cells and tissues of the body.”
More information here: http://thyroiduk.org.uk/tuk/about_the_thyroid/thyroid_overview.html
What is an Underactive Thyroid?
UAT is when the thyroid gland in the neck doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormones. Dr Brownstein says that this is due to iodine insufficiency caused by toxicity. He recommends improving thyroid function with a high dose of Lugol’s iodine alongside the companion nutrients to facilitate detox. Once full saturation of iodine has been achieved it may mean that those with subclinical hypothyroidism (which doesn’t show up on blood tests) feel much better and those who remain hypothyroid may need to take NDT, but less of it than they might have done without optimising their thyroid function with Iodine.
Some people who don’t convert T4 to T3 may need to add in some Liothyronine (synthetic T3) if there is too much T4 for them in NDT. After reaching full saturation of Iodine I experienced improved hypo-symptoms but I wasn’t 100%. If later found out that I don’t convert T4 to T3 due to the DIO2 gene mutation, so I now take T3 only which has worked really well for me.
I discovered that Morley Robbins’ Root Cause Protocol improves the conversion of T4 to T3, so I would advise everyone to follow the full protocol to reduce the need for NDT or additional T3.
What are the causes of UAT?
Dr Brownstein says that 95% of the population is iodine deficient due to bromine, chlorine, and fluoride blocking the iodine receptors in the thyroid gland.
Thyroid UK has a list of other causes here: http://thyroiduk.org.uk/tuk/about_the_thyroid/hypothyroidism.html
Genetic defects in the DIO1 and DIO2 genes can cause problems with conversion of T4 to T3 resulting in low Free T3 – this is why it is important for GPs and Endocrinologists to routinely test Free T3 along with Free T4 and TSH.
Do I have an underactive thyroid?
Signs of UAT are anxiety, depression, weight gain that won’t shift, particularly around the face and jaw-line, feeling tired all the time, lack of motivation, needing to sit down and rest a lot more, going to bed really early due to exhaustion, not feeling refreshed on waking, brain-fog, being unable to articulate thoughts, lack of concentration, and irritability.
A full checklist is here which would be a good thing to take to your GP: http://thyroiduk.org.uk/tuk/about_the_thyroid/hypothyroidism_signs_symptoms.html
It is best to try to get as much testing as you can on the NHS as private testing independently through Medichecks or via a private GP or Endocrinologist can be expensive. Ask your GP to test Free T3 and Free T4 which is the best way to find out if you have UAT. The standard GP testing is Free T4 and TSH which means those who don’t convert T4 to T3, and therefore have low Free T3 levels, remain undetected. If your GP won’t test Free T3 ask for a referral to an Endocrinologist. If you see an Endocrinologist it would be good to ask if they can test Reverse T3 as this will give a better indication if you have conversion issues.
You also need to know your B12, Folate, Vitamin D, and Ferritin levels. If these aren’t optimal, according to the STTM guidelines, then you won’t feel better on NDT. But remember, we follow the Root Cause Protocol to address low iron and Vitamin D, this group doesn’t recommend taking iron and Vitamin D3 or D2 supplements.
The standard treatment for UAT is Levothyroxine, which doesn’t work for many people. This is because it contains synthetic T4 only. Some people don’t convert T4 to T3 and continue to have hypothyroid symptoms. This isn’t recognised by the majority of GPs and Endocrinologists because they don’t routinely test for Free T3 so they have no idea what your T3 levels are.
Stop the Thyroid Madness explains that many people continue to feel bad on Levo because they have conversion problems which means their Free T3 levels are not optimal. Conversion can be helped by addressing low Selenium levels which can be discovered by the Selenium RBC blood test. Stop the Thyroid Madness says that in order to feel well your Free T4 should be in the middle of the range and your Free T3 should be in the upper quarter of the range.
Research has shown that hypothyroid patients feel better on a combination of Thyroxine (T4) and Triiodothyronine (T3) – which naturally occurs in NDT.
Effects of Thyroxine as Compared with Thyroxine plus Triiodothyronine in patients with Hypothyroidism – The New England Journal of Medicine Feb.11, 99 Vol. 340. http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJM199902113400603
Anxiety & Depression
GPs often prescribe antidepressants without testing Free T3 levels. Low T3 causes depression and anxiety. Low B12 and D3 is also a factor. There are other natural ways you can address symptoms of anxiety and depression and I’ve blogged about it here: http://tinyurl.com/y7za6teb
Go it alone
Some people who can’t get Free T3 tested by a GP and can’t get a referral to an Endocrinologist do their own testing via Medichecks. It would provide you with the ammunition you need to go back to your GP for a referral or you may decide to find a private GP or Endocrinologist to treat you. You can do a finger prick test at home for some of the tests or go to your local test centre for a blood draw.
This is a good test to start with as it is very comprehensive: https://www.medichecks.com/thyroid-function-tests/thyroid-check-ultravit-rt3 Look out for Medichecks special offers and ‘Thyroid Thursday’ discounts.
You can then supplement with T3 and/or NDT using the guidance from Stop the Thyroid Madness and Paul Robinson.
1. Start the Root Cause Protocol
2. Get Tested
3. Start the Iodine Protocol