Why Conventional Thyroid Treatment Isn’t Always Your Best Option: Studies confirm that thyroid symptoms persist despite conventional medical treatments.
New studies are finally confirming what I see in my practice on a daily basis: conventional thyroid medications do not work to improve symptoms of hypothyroidism. Despite having normal blood levels of TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone – which is secreted by the pituitary gland in response to thyroid hormone levels), many patients treated for hypothyroidism with levothyroxine/Synthroid continue to have symptoms including fatigue and difficulty losing weight. Now, we finally have documentation from the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism that supports these complaints, confirming that normal TSH levels do not necessarily equate with optimal thyroid function. Endocrinologists have long believed that serum T3 levels (the active form of thyroid hormone) are restored to functional levels in hypothyroid patients treated with Synthroid, based on evidence that this medication normalizes TSH. However, this TSH correction occurs because your pituitary gland reacts to high levels of synthetic inactive thyroid hormone (T4) supplied by this medication, normalizing TSH output. This study confirms that while TSH may be normalized T3 levels remain lower in patients taking Synthroid because the body does not always metabolize or convert the synthetic hormone into biologically active thyroid hormone/T3. Low conversion is common since it can be effected by hormone levels (low progesterone/high estrogen), nutritional deficiencies (specifically B vitamins and selenium), and chronic stress.
Desiccated thyroid extract is a natural thyroid hormone derivative that contains both T4 and T3. This is an excellent option for patients that do not feel well on conventional medications since it contains the biologically active form of thyroid hormone, and therefore bypasses conversion issues. In a recent randomized, double blind study patients with hypothyroidism were treated with either prescription desiccated thyroid or T4 (Synthroid) for 12 weeks. After each treatment period, patients were weighed, had blood tests, underwent physical testing and were asked which therapy they preferred based on improvements in symptoms. The study reported that 49% of the patients preferred desiccated thyroid extract, while only 19% preferred levothyroxine/Synthroid. Desiccated thyroid extract use was also associated with significantly more weight loss and both types of thyroid hormone were able to normalize the abnormal thyroid blood tests.
Research is now confirming that it’s time to explore other options if you continue to feel tired, heavy and unwell despite taking daily thyroid medications. Every single day I see patients who feel absolutely terrible while taking thyroid medications, but are told by their doctors that they are perfectly fine because their TSH results come back within the normal range. If you have a thyroid condition it’s important to properly assess your thyroid levels in order to determine the best treatment to correct your symptoms. At your Naturopathic thyroid health appointment you ND can test a whole panel of markers in order to get a truly accurate reading of your thyroid function, including:
- Free T4, a precursor to active thyroid hormone
- Free T3, the metabolically active form of thyroid hormone
- Anti-thyroid peroxidase antibodies, an autoimmune marker
- Reverse T3, a form of thyroid hormone that occurs under chronic stress
My goal is to help optimize thyroid function in patients to encourage weight loss outcomes and improve the way that you feel. Naturopathic medicine works to reverse the side effects of thyroid disease by providing the building blocks and co-factors needed for thyroid hormone production, supporting the adrenal glands, balancing the immune system and supporting your metabolism with biologically active desiccated thyroid hormone. Desiccated thyroid is compounded in a specialized lab and available only by prescription from you Naturopathic doctor.
Looking to connect with a Naturopath in Oakville to discuss your thyroid health and develop a personalized plan? Book your appointment here.