Hypothyroidism, More common than you think

14 March 2009

More than 1 in 10 older Australians have Thyroid Disease , in a recent population study, 3504 adults aged 49 and over were surveyed and tested for thyroid disease. • 10% had diagnosed thyroid disease • 3.6% had an undiagnosed thyroid condition • 25% of those treated with conventional thyroid medication still had test results indicating insufficient thyroid activity. Are you suffering from? • Weakness • Tiredness / Sleepiness • Dry and coarse skin • Slow wound healing and easy bruising • Hair loss / dry brittle hair • Poor memory and Concentration • Constipation • Reduced appetite • Depression • Sensitivity to the cold • Weight Gain • Difficulty swallowing • Hoarse voice, slow speech • Increased susceptibility to infections • Puffy face and hands • Stiff and aching muscles Then a sluggish Thyroid otherwise known as Hypothyroidism may be the cause. What does the Thyroid and Thyroid hormones do? Thyroid hormones are the master regulator hormones. Think of them as the accelerator in your car, the more hormones you have the faster your car goes, the less you have (like in Hypothyroidism) the slower you go! Thyroid hormones raise basal metabolic rate by stimulating and increasing the bodies basic homeostatic functions, like blood flow, glucose production, cholesterol synthesis and oxygen consumption. What causes Hypothyroidism? • Iodine deficiency • Some Medications • Autoimmune disease like Hashimoto’s • Pregnancy • Stress • Other more specific nutritional deficiencies like Selenium and Tyrosine may contribute to hypothyroidism. So How Do I know If I Am Suffering from Hypothyroidism? The first thing that you need to do is to confirm this with a blood test. Blood tests should include TSH, fT3, fT4, Reverse T3, Thyroid antibodies and TSH receptor antibodies. Unfortunately most doctors only test TSH levels, which doesn’t give you the whole picture. Even worse is that the reference range for ‘normal’ thyroid levels is huge and even if your levels appear in the normal reference range and you are suffering symptoms of hypothyroidism then there is a very good chance that your thyroid is the culprit. So what is a ‘normal’ TSH level? Naturopathically speaking we look for a TSH level of 1.5mU/liter as greater than 95% of healthy functioning thyroids will have a TSH of between 0.4 and 1.5mU/litre. The National Academy of Clinical Biochemistry stated in 2003 that “patients with a serum TSH of 2.5 mU/liter, when confirmed by repeat TSH measurement made after 3-4 weeks, may be in the early stages of thyroid failure.” So I have Hypothyroidism, now what? The good news is that Natural Medicine offers so many safe and proven options in treating Hypothyroidism that may mean you can avoid drugs and worse still surgery. Natural remedies like Iodine, Selenium, Tyrosine, Withania, Bladderwrack, Coleus and many more have all been scientifically validated to have a positive effect on lowering TSH levels and reversing Hypothyroidism. If you suspect that you may be suffering from Hypothyroidism then it is really important that you see you health care provider for comprehensive blood tests to confirm this. Naturopaths can tailor an individual program to help you start feeling well again and get your TSH levels and your thyroid back to normal. Even better Duncan Capicchiano one of our resident naturopaths specialises in Hypothyroidism and has just finished writing a book on it that will be available early next month. Visit . Or book and appointment to see one of our Naturopaths at the clinic by calling 03 9894 0014 or emailing Empson M et. Al. Prevalence of thyroid disease in older Australian population. Intern Med J. 2007 Jul;37(7):448-55 Wartofsky L Dickey RA. The Evidence of a narrower Thyrotropin reference range is compelling. J Clin Endocrinal Metab. 2005 Sep;90(9):5483-8