Can’t seem to lose that extra weight? Feeling tired or sad? Do you have thin, brittle hair or nails or even cold intolerance? These are a few signs and symptoms of suboptimal thyroid production or hypothyroidism. According to the American Thyroid Association, over 12% of the US population will develop a thyroid condition in their lifetime. Women are 5 times more likely to have thyroid problems than men. Some research indicates that stress and inflammation can prevent your thyroid hormone, T4, from activating into the useable form, T3.
Your healthcare provider can determine if there is a problem with your thyroid gland by using a blood test usually checked during your annual exam or when you have symptoms. Always ask for a copy of the blood work results. If you are having symptoms, but your doctor says your labs are normal, this doesn’t mean that it’s all in your head. Comparing your lab values over time may show a trend up or down, which may explain why you are having symptoms. Just because a lab value falls in the “normal” range doesn’t mean that it’s normal for you. Thyroid-Stimulating Hormone (TSH) is commonly the only thyroid level drawn, but it has a wide reference range and optimal levels will fall closer to the center of the range. Other thyroid levels that should be ordered if TSH levels are not optimal (less than 2mIU/L) or you continue to have symptoms are Free T4, Free T3, and Thyroid Peroxidase Antibodies (TPO). These additional labs will allow you to see the whole picture.
If you fall in the normal range, but still have symptoms you may benefit from over-the-counter supplements to help boost your thyroid to the right level for you. XymoDine™ is an iodine supplement which may enhance thyroid production. Iodine is used as a building block to help your body make T4 and T3 to keep your metabolism functioning in a balanced state. Another thyroid supplement, T-150, has natural thyroid hormone along with a small amount of iodine and selenium to help relieve your symptoms.
There are prescription medications that replace thyroid hormones also. You may have heard of or even tried Synthroid® or Levoxyl®. These synthetic medications only have one of the inactive form of thyroid, T4; therefore, it may be more difficult to achieve a balance if your body is not activating it to T3 efficiently. Armour® Thyroid is a prescription medication that has a mix of T4 and T3 from a porcine thyroid gland. The combination may help mimic the body’s natural way of producing these hormones. However, the strengths available may not work for everyone and porcine thyroid can be in short supply since it is a natural product. An accredited compounding pharmacy can make any T4/T3 combination prescribed by your healthcare provider.
Lastly, addressing the stress and inflammation in your body can increase your thyroid activation efficiency and may improve autoimmune conditions such as Hashimoto’s and Grave’s Disease which involve the thyroid gland. A functional approach is taken at Annie’s Apothecary by utilizing the Food Inflammation Test (FIT) to assess the foods that cause an inflammatory response in your body. Eliminating these foods and healing gut inflammation may also positively impact your thyroid hormone balance.
Make sure to talk to your doctor or pharmacist about these options if you think you may be experiencing symptoms related to your thyroid.