An Interesting Twist on Thyroid Health

All too often people are walking around “not feeling like they used to,” and wonder, “what happened and how did I get this way.” Perhaps this sounds like you or someone that you know. The answer is not always a simple one, but is a perfect fit for the functional approach to medicine. I want to describe to you through this blog entry one not too well known factor that might contribute to this type of situation. One in fact that you probably will not be told about by your primary care provider but is all too common.

When it comes to energy and your everyday experience, there is nothing much more influential than the Thyroid gland. The thyroid controls the body’s metabolism and when low functioning (hypo-thyroid) there can be many different uncomfortable symptoms including lethargy, weight gain or trouble losing weight, hair loss, constipation, and that’s just to name a few. An overly functioning (hyper-thyroid) can lead to feelings of anxiety, heart palpitations, restlessness and other more serious health concerns.

There are several different conditions in thyroid pathology that are good to differentiate between. You can have primary hypothyroid where the thyroid itself does not work well. You can have secondary hypothyroid where the thyroid is not getting the proper signals from the brain and therefore will not produce adequate amounts of hormone. You can have an overactive thyroid. Or you can have an autoimmune thyroid where the body is attacking itself. But for the sake of this article you can have problems with the proteins that bind to and carry the thyroid hormones in the blood. The reasons for this can vary considerably.

Problems with the binding of thyroid hormones are very often overlooked in mainstream medicine. Depending upon how much of the hormone is bound to these carrier proteins the overall daily experience for the person can be totally different. Quite literally you could have a normal looking blood test for your thyroid but still feel either high or low. T3 is active thyroid hormone and the more of it that there is bound to carrier proteins the less that there is to stimulate the receptors and allow you to feel normal. The clinical pearl that I want to share with you here is that elevations in the hormone Estrogen will work to increase thyroid hormone binding protein and therefore create a situation where less active hormone can do it’s job. This will actually mimic a hypo-thyroid condition. The unfortunate part is that it will not show up on a basic routine thyroid screen. You have to know what other things to look for.

So from a functional medicine perspective it is important to take other hormone influences into account when creating a plan for each patient. In this case there really isn’t a thyroid problem even though the thyroid system is what is being affected. The problem lies with the elevated estrogen. Focus the energy on lowering estrogen and you will not only see an improvement in thyroid function but you will also be helping to avoid certain cancers associated with elevated estrogen. We are currently seeing in this country an alarming increase in elevated estrogen in both men and women. Women are told to take hormone replacement therapy and men are actually creating their own estrogen by being overweight and having high blood sugar & insulin.

The management of thyroid conditions, in my opinion, is unfortunately a misunderstood and therefore mismanaged part of mainstream medicine. Like most other hormonal conditions, treatment is aimed squarely on the prescribing of hormone replacement. Not much care is given to the harmonizing of the body’s various other associated systems. The functional approach allows the patient and practitioner a chance to pick apart each system and determine what is the root cause of the problem. I urge you to take a stand and demand a more thorough look into why you are feeling the way you do these days. Perhaps it is low energy or difficulty losing weight. It is time to figure out and unwind the different stressors keeping you from optimal health and wellbeing.

Call me today or email me and let’s get started!