Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Thyroid Awareness

Most of you may or may not know what your thyroid gland does and how it can affect your daily life. Fatigue, weight gain, dry skin, and constipation can all be associate with poor thyroid function. This month Dr. Marie will be hosting a free health lecture on Thyroid. Join her Thursday, January 27th 6pm at NFC.

Trends in Thyroid Disease by Dr. Marie

The incidence of hypothyroidism is steadily rising in the United States with women more commonly affected than men. The most common cause of hypothyroidism in adults is Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism – an autoimmune condition in which the person’s immune system makes anti-bodies to the thyroid hormone. Hashimoto’s is often difficult to detect as many patients have a period of hyperthyroidism (high energy, weight loss) before their thyroid crashes and symptoms of fatigue, hair loss, constipation, weight gain, low body temperature and high blood pressure can set in. Many physicians just screen for TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone), which is often normal in Hashimoto’s patients. Hashimoto’s often sets in after pregnancy even if the pregnancy is not carried to term or after a viral syndrome. Taking a thorough patient history and running the appropriate labs is crucial for early detection. Treatments like low dose naltrexone therapy can actually reverse the autoimmune process. Increasing plant sterols, avoiding goitragenic foods and eating an anti-inflammatory diet are good starts for treatments.

Sometimes hypothyroidism is simpler in that the thyroid gland is not producing enough hormone (T4) The brain keeps sending the signal to produce T4 through TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) so lab results will show an elevated TSH. Many debates surround what is the ideal level of TSH for optimal thyroid health and this can differ from patient to patient.

The thyroid gland can be functioning normally but the thyroid hormone T4 is not being converted into T3, which is the usable form for the body. This can be due to selenium deficiency or impaired organ function.

To complicate matters further, sub clinical hypothyroidism often called Wilson’s Syndrome has normal lab values and is diagnosed clinically.

Patients require different treatments – some respond better to synthetic thyroid over animal derived thyroid. Some choose synthetic based on ethical, religious and personal preferences. Acupuncture, herbs, nutritional changes and supplementation can also alleviate the symptoms of hypothyroidism.


Do you have any of the following symptoms?
More tired and sluggish than normal
Hair and skin drier than normal
Sleep more than normal
Colder than other people
Muscles cramp more easily
More depressed
Slower thinking
Eyes more puffy
Math is more difficult
Hoarse or deeper voice
Heavy menstrual cycles
Sexual dysfunction or lack of drive
Puffy hands and feet
Easy weight gain

If you answered yes to more than 3 of these questions, you may be suffering from subclinical hypothyroidism. Left untreated, subclinical hypothyroidism can lead to increased risk of:
Sudden death
High or low blood pressure
High Cholesterol and other blood fats
Vascular disease
Neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s
Arthritis and inflammatory diseases
Pregnancy Complications and Infertility

Just like any good detective uses numerous clues to find the facts and solve a crime, as your doctor I use a variety of tests to evaluate your thyroid function. These tests may include but are not limited to:

Blood tests: TSH, total T4, total T3, free T4, free T3, reverse T3
Antibody tests: microsomal TPO-Ab, thyroglobulin Ab
Basal body temperature
Thyroid Symptom Questionnaire
Vitamin and Mineral deficiencies

Naturopathic Family Care was the first clinic to use the Thyroflex machine and continues to use it today. The Thyroflex machine is based on research that shows our reflexes are slower if our thyroid function is low. Thyroid treatment helps to normalize the thyroid and therefore the reflexes.

Thyroflex is a simple, non-invasive 4 minute reflex test that is done in our office to show if your thyroid function is normal or if you are on an appropriate dose of thyroid medication. A reflex hammer-like device is used on your brachio-radialis reflex, which is on your arm. A computer then calculates how quickly your reflex occurred.

Optimizing thyroid function greatly reduces your health risks and helps regulate hormones, neurotransmitters and immune factors. If you would like to have your thyroid fully evaluated, please call our office today and make an appointment with Dr.Orona.