Hypothyroidism is characterized by decreased thyroid function. Thyroid hormones regulate metabolism, growth and development and the activity of the central nervous system.
Thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) alone is not adequate for assessing thyroid function. Many people with hypothyroidism have normal levels of TSH which is produced by the pituitary gland. Blood levels of T3 and T4 should be measured although these also can not rule our thyroid issues. Dr. Mark Starr, author of 'Type 2 Hypothyroidism' and others explain that many people have a resistance to thyroid hormones, just as one can be resistant to insulin. There are no perfect lab tests for thyroid problems. Many integrative medicine experts diagnose based on physical findings, basal body temperature measurements and response to a trial of natural thyroid hormone supplementation. The following articles discuss some of the intricacies of hypothyroidism diagnosis and treatment.
- "Sub-laboratory" hypothyroidism and the empirical use of Armour® Thyroid, by Alan Gaby, MD
- Life Extension Foundation: Thyroid Regulation
- Major Revision of Hypothyroid Diagnosis Guidelines, 2003 by Dr. Mercola
- Metabolic Therapy: Adrenal & Thyroid Correction, by Dr. Bruce Rind
- Wilson’s Thyroid Syndrome, by Dr. Denis Wilson
- Wilson’s Syndrome: A Response to the American Thyroid Association
Living Well with Hypothyroidism: What Your Doctor Doesn't Tell You... That You Need to Know by Mary J. Shomon, 2000
“Mary Shomon is the www.about.com thyroid expert. Her $11 352 page book published in March of 2000 is one of the most cost effective and valuable resources that you could own on this subject. If you have thyroid disease this book should be in your library.” Dr. Mercola
Hypothyroidism: The Unsuspected Illness by Broda Barnes, M.D., Ph.D. (a pioneering Endocrinologist and thyroid specialist)
This is a classic text of hypothyroisism! See the Broda O. Barnes M.D., Research Foundation Inc.
- Iodine is an essential component of thyroid hormones, T3 and T4. Symptoms of iodine deficiency include hypothyroidism and goiter (enlargement of the thyroid gland).
- Selenium is required for a number of enzymes known as selenoproteins. The chemical reaction, which converts thyroid hormone T4 into T3, is catalyzed by specific selenoproteins. Selenium deficiency can impair thyroid function.
- Tyrosine is a non-essential amino acid, which is an essential component of thyroid hormones.
- Zinc is required for the action of Thyroid Stimulating Hormone. The zinc/copper balance also has a big influence on the progesterone/estrogen balance in women, which has a significant influence on thyroid function. People with Down Syndrome are often low in zinc, with thyroid function improving on supplementation.
- Dietary intolerances can contribute to hypothyroidism. Research reveals a high incidence of hypothyroidism in coeliacs not consuming a gluten-free diet.
- Iron is essential for the conversion of phenylalanine, an essential amino acid, to tyrosine.
- B2 (riboflavin) supports the secretion of thyroid hormones.
- Goitrogens are naturally occurring thyroid inhibiting substances found in foods. The thyroid inhibiting effect of these food components are thought to be largely inactivated by cooking. Foods containing goitrogens include brussels sprouts, turnips, soy, cauliflower, cassava, millet, cabbage, kale, flaxseeds and brocolli.
- Heavy metals such as cadmium, lead & mercury can inhibit thyroid function.