I hear this from a lot from a significant number of patients who feel practically all their symptoms (fatigue, hair falling out being the most common) are due to their thyroid, despite normal serum levels. They frequently add that they have been told or they read on the internet that it is common to have thyroid dysfunction that does not show up in the testing.
Chances are you have also contemplated this dilemma. Assuming you are reading this because you respect my opinion, I will pull no punches in telling you what I believe is going on. If you don’t respect my opinion, then go find a quack down the street who will happily prescribe thyroid for you.
1. If we believe that blood levels are inaccurate, then, we must put EVERYONE on thyroid, since just about all patients have symptoms that could be attributed to low thyroid. By the way, most fatigue is from nutritional issues, stress and lack of sleep. Most hair loss is associated with deficiencies in intestinal absorption of nutrients, and stress.
2. Disreputable practitioners thrive on prescribing thyroid; their patients love them, because they “listen” and because the stimulant effects of thyroid are welcome by those who are comfortable with such an overdone pharmaceutical approach. But, within months of using thyroid that is not needed, these patients begin to feel the overstimulation: no problem! Your friendly practitioner will prescribe valium, xanax and sleeping pills for you. The myth that blood levels are not accurate is, in my opinion, perpetuated by these practitioners. It is true that even a broken clock will tell time correctly twice a day; no doubt there are patients whose tests are not accurate. But, they are rather the exception, not the rule. These patients deserve a complete hormonal work up, including insulin resistance and pituitary assessment, not “a trial of thyroid Rx.”
3. There are over 500 chemicals in the environment, in addition to background atomic fallout from Nevada’s nuclear testing legacy. No doubt they contribute to the strain that our thyroids are under. Add poor diets, hyperinsulinemia and adrenal stress and that makes the Dx of hypothyroidism top the list of problems we have. This should give us pause and make us more conservative in reaching for the prescription pad, instead of handing the hormone out to anyone who asks for it.
4. If you end up needing treatment:
Levothyroxine is very good. I am taking it myself. It may be taken once a week. AND, it is quite natural, as much as desiccated pig (Armour) thyroid is. Since the latter comes form pigs it is not quite the same as human thyroid (if you start oinking while on it you now know why). Yes, levothyroxine is just as natural. Even though it was made in the laboratory, it has been structured to virtually mimic our own native thyroid hormone. Think of insulin: science has advanced to such a point that these hormones are virtually “natural.” Think also of H2O. We make it in the lab to be equal to what we get from clouds because we know its structure.
5. Most people do not need T3 when they get T4. The body converts T4 into T3 at the correct rate. Each organ does it according to its own needs. The skin needs a whole lot less than the heart and brain. Other organs need different amounts somewhere in between the organs mentioned above. A blood level will determine if conversion from T4 to T3 is taking place. To take Armour just to give T3 is not a good approach. Armour has a fixed amount of T3, which is much higher than the levels our body needs in relation to T4: all organs then end up on the same excessive amount of T3, which may create problems, particularly with the heart (it happened to me).
6. Armour is reported to be going off the market due to low demand (docs don’t like it because of the above issues). So, my advise to you is to accept your docs’ prescription of levothyroxine, if you really need it.