Fix Your Thyroid, Find Your Balance
An Undiagnosed Epidemic
Millions of people go undiagnosed with thyroid imbalance. Although these patients have symptoms of low thyroid function, their blood tests – TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone), T4, and T3 (the two main thyroid hormones) – show normal results. These normal blood tests are used to rule out primary hypothyroidism, a condition where the thyroid is struggling to produce enough hormone. Conventional medical physicians typically rely solely on these blood tests to eliminate thyroid dysfunction issues. However, many people with normal thyroid blood levels actually have a thyroid imbalance, from a Functional Medicine perspective. For these patients who go undiagnosed, it can be hard to find proper treatment. That is why I practice Functional Nutritional Medicine – to offer a more holistic perspective, rather than rely on blood test results alone.
Like all endocrine systems in the body, the thyroid system is a closed system, where the thyroid gland produces the hormones and the thyroid receptors metabolize the hormones. If the gland is producing the right amount of hormone, thyroid blood levels will be normal. But what if the problem is not with the gland? What if the problem is with the receptors themselves?
About 80% of your body’s conversion of T4 (the less powerful thyroid hormone) to T3 (the four times more powerful thyroid hormone) hormones occurs in your liver. About 20% of this conversion takes place in the thyroid gland itself. There are a number of reasons why the receptors can be slow to metabolize thyroid hormones, but the key here is that the metabolism of thyroid hormone in the receptors is what creates the thyroid effect, not the level of thyroid hormones in your blood. If the receptors themselves are sluggish and metabolize thyroid hormones too slowly, it also produces results similar to an underactive gland. This under-functioning of the thyroid system causes the same set of symptoms, whether the problem is in the gland or in the receptors.
The Symptoms of Low Thyroid Function
When the thyroid system is under-functioning, many symptoms may present themselves. If you experience a few of these symptoms, you should be checked by a Functional Nutritional Medicine doctor, such as myself, for a potential thyroid condition:
- Inappropriate weight gain
- Hair loss
- Heat and/or cold intolerance
- Headaches or migraines
- Irregular periods
- Severe menstrual cramps
- Decreased memory or concentration
- Decreased sex drive
- Low motivation
- Arthritis and joint aches
- Muscular Aches
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Dry skin or hair
- Itchiness of skin
- Fluid retention
Diagnosing Your Thyroid
When your thyroid receptors metabolize your thyroid hormones, heat is released. This process is called thermogenesis. Thermogenesis is also responsible for keeping your core body temperature at approximately 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. When thyroid receptors are sluggish, less heat is released, which lowers your core temperature. A simple way for you to check for yourself whether your thyroid system is metabolizing hormones at the correct rate is by checking your temperature orally. If you have several of the low thyroid symptoms listed above, and your average daily temperature is much lower than 98.6 (say 98.0 or below, on average), you likely have an underactive thyroid system. This type of thyroid imbalance is called Wilson’s Temperature Syndrome, or WTS.
What Is Wilson’s Temperature Syndrome?
Wilson’s Temperature Syndrome is:
- A persistent (but reversible) slowing of the metabolism, often caused by illness, injury, or emotional trauma
- Often worsened, in stages, by subsequent stress
- Characterized by a low body temperature and low-thyroid-like symptoms
- Often corrected with a special thyroid treatment protocol, even though thyroid blood tests are often in the normal range
To learn more about Wilson’s Temperature Syndrome, click here.
Charting Your Oral Temperature
Using an oral thermometer, check your temperature 3 times a day, approximately three hours apart, starting about three hours after you wake up. When you average these three temperature readings, a person with normal thyroid function will have an average oral temperature of 98.6. To verify whether or not there is a pattern of low body temperature, take these readings for five consecutive days.
Consult a Certified Practitioner
If your readings are consistently low, make an appointment with me to discuss treatment options for Wilson’s Temperature Syndrome, such as natural herbal medicine. It usually takes three to six months of herbal treatments to restore your thyroid system to better function.
Since 2002, I have been certified to treat Wilson’s Temperature Syndrome. Contact me at the Acupuncture and Holistic Health Center at (904) 296-9545, and let’s work together to get your thyroid back in balance.