I stated that the active Thyroid hormones were T45 and T3. In reality, T4 is actually a pro hormone that is converted into the active form, T3. We covered factors that would impede this conversion. Patients who are given T4 to treat hypothyroidism run the risk of it not vein converted into T3 as seen in yesterday’s post. T3 has an evil twin brother called reversal T3 or rT3. This substance sits on the thyroid receptor sites but is inert. We need to be certain that one’s T4 is being converted to the active T3 not the inactive rT3, lest hypothyroidism ensue.
Factors associated with low T3 or elevated rT3 include free radicals, aging, fasting, stress, prolonged illness, diabetes, toxic metal exposure and elevated levels of cytokines in the blood stream. On the other hand, certain factors increase the conversion of T4 to T3 and this is good. These include selenium, potassium, iodine, iron, zinc, a high protein diet and ashwaganda, the adrenal herb. Good levels of Vitamins A, B2 and E as well as growth hormone and testosterone also increase the conversion of T4 to T3, as does insulin, melatonin, tyrosine (an amino acid) and estrogen.
In order to properly study your thyroid function, several blood tests need to be drawn including TSH or thyroid stimulating hormone, free T4 levels, free T3 levels, reverts T3 levels and levels of Thyroid antibodies to r/o an autoimmune component such as Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. I will state this again. ALL of these components are needed to properly evaluate thyroid function. A patient can seemingly have normal levels of T4 and T3 and still have hypothyroidism if rT3 is elevated and blocking the actions of T3. If rT3 is not studied, one would come to a wrong diagnosis.
The treatment of hypothyroidism includes detoxification, medication and nutrition. After detoxification, many patients no longer need treatment for hypothyroidism. PCBs, dioxins, DDT, phthalates and heavy metals all affect thyroid function negatively. medication includes T3 and T4. Now this is a controversial area. T4 has little physiologic activity and must be converted to T3 to be utilized by cells. This conversion takes place in the liver and the kidneys. T3 is five times stronger than T4. T4 has never been proven to be effective for treating the symptoms of hypothyroidism in any long term study. 90% of thyroid hormone molecules that bind with receptors are T3 and only 10% are T4. It is better then to treat patients with a combination of T4 and T3. T3 has direct effects on the mitochondria, the energy packets in our cells, and has direct effects on the heart. T4 does not! In several studies, patients felt better when both T4 and T3 were replaced.
Tomorrow we end our discussion of hypothyroidism with some facts on associated disease processes and the nutritional treatment of decreased thyroid function.