An exhausted nation.
We will spend the next few “episodes” talking about fatigue and some possible permutations of why we are so tired.
Fatigue is the primary or secondary reason for up to 12% of all primary care visits.
There are about 860 million primary care visits per year in the US alone.
That means 86 MILLION people’s main complaint is FATIGUE.
Sleep Disorders, Depression, and Stress
were the most common cause (18%) of persistent fatigue.
What about the other 82%??
What are some others?
Today we will discuss the thyroid gland and possible dysfunction as a potential primary cause of fatigue.
There are a variety of reasons why we could be suffering from fatigue.
The intention of this series of blogs is to address the most common causes, which of them is affecting us, and a functional approach to mitigating the cause and the symptoms.
disclaimer- you know the drill. This is not an attempt to diagnose, treat any medical condition, or otherwise do anything useful for any human on the planet because we might get sued. The FDA, (in their infinite wisdom), has not reviewed, approved or have knowledge of the information presented.
The thyroid gland is a small butterfly shaped gland located in the lower part of your neck.
It plays a major role in metabolism, growth, and development of the body.
The thyroid gland produces three major hormones T4 (Tetraiodothyronine, also called thyroxine), T3 (Triiodothyronine), and calcitonin.
However, T4 is considered the main hormone produced by the thyroid.
T4 is technically an inactive form of the hormone and has to be converted into T3, the active form. This happens primarily in the liver.
The active T3 has the following effect on the body:
- Body temperature rises
- Faster pulse and stronger heartbeat
- Food is used up more quickly because energy stored in the liver and muscles is broken down
- The brain matures (in children)
- Growth is promoted (in children).
- Activation of the nervous system leads to improved concentration and faster reflexes
This short video describes normal thyroid function:
Stress and the thyroid gland
Now what happens if the thyroid is NOT working properly?
Clinically, I have seen that all of us start with a low functioning thyroid, A.K.A. hypothyroid.
I believe it’s because the thyroid gland tries to calm everyone and everything down when the body is going crazy trying to deal with the stressors we have in our lives.
What are some symptoms of low functioning thyroid?
- Increased sensitivity to cold
- Dry skin
- Weight gain
- Puffy face
- Muscle weakness
- Elevated blood cholesterol level
- Muscle aches, tenderness and stiffness
- Pain, stiffness or swelling in your joints
- Heavier than normal or irregular menstrual periods
- Thinning hair
- Slowed heart rate
- Impaired memory
- Enlarged thyroid gland (goiter)
Didn’t you look at that list and think that you had most of those symptoms and now are sure you definitely have hypothyroid?! LOL.
This video explains how stress can alter thyroid function and lead to hypothyroidism.
How do you know if this is happening to you?
- Blood test- a normal blood test will maybe show you TSH. From the video you know that this is not enough information.
- A complete thyroid panel should include: TSH, free T4, free T3, reverse T3.
This bloodwork will let you know if you are having issues at the pituitary level (TSH), the thyroid level (T4), the liver level (T3), or if it’s all freaking out due to excessive stress and cortisol (reverse T3).
At home test
What about if I don’t have blood test results?
If you don’t have blood tests, a subclinical test you can do is the Barnes Basal Temperature Test.
First thing in the morning when you wake up, DO NOT GET UP, but lay in bed completely rested and-
using am old fashioned mercury thermometer (ideal) or digital, take your temperature under your arm (axillary) (by holding it there for 10 minutes for a traditional mercury thermometer or once at 5 & 10 minutes and then averaging the value on a digital thermometer). For women who are still have menstrual cycles, take it on your 2nd, 3rd and 4th day of your menses. For menopausal or peri-menopausal women and men take it for 3 days at any time of the month.
Normal Thyroid Function: 97.8˚F (36.6˚C) to 98.2˚F (36.8˚C)
- Hypothyroid Function: < 97.8˚F (36.6˚C)
- Hyperthyroid Function: > 98.2˚F (36.8˚C)
Is it at reliable test?
It is not a substitute for blood tests but will provide you with some useful subclinical information.
(Even though Dr. Barnes introduced this test back in the 1940’s, it was never adopted by the medical profession).
Nutrition and the thyroid gland
Each part of the process described above requires cofactors. Cofactors are essential elements that “drive’ a process or reaction.
Do you remember high school chemistry where you had a formula to describe a reaction?
Well, the left side of the equation was called the REACTANTS and the right side was the PRODUCT. But what was often left out was information that sat on top of the arrow. In humans, the “driver” of these reactions are cofactors. Proteins, vitamins, minerals are examples of cofactors. Without these cofactors, a reaction does not happen or is significantly limited.
This video explains the role of cofactors in proper thyroid function.
Now you understand what these things do in your body and why you get symptoms from a nutritional deficiency!
You also know more nutrition than 95% of all doctors out there.
How do I know if I have enough of these cofactors?
Unfortunately, there are no good tests to determine nutritional deficiencies, especially ones you can do at home.
However, Iodine is one of the things you can test for at home.
The Iodine Patch Test-
- Get a solution or tincture of iodine (the orange solution, not the clear one.
- Paint a 2-inch by 2-inch square on your abdomen, inner thigh or inner forearm. Allow it to dry before touching anything, as it will stain.
- Monitor the patch over the next 24 hours for color changes.
Proponents of the test believe that the thing to pay attention to is how long it takes for the iodine patch to disappear. If the patch still exists 24 hours later, the results are normal; you have adequate iodine.
If the patch disappears or mostly disappears in less than 24 hours, it is supposed to indicate some degree of deficiency. In fact, significant lightening or disappearance in less than 18 hours is said to indicate moderate to severe iodine deficiency.
Again, is it reliable?
If taken with a more holistic viewpoint, I think the information is valuable.
In isolation, no one thing gives you the whole picture.
Utilization of thyroid hormones
Once you make proper thyroid hormones, you need support nutrients to make sure you can UTILIZE those hormones!
This final video shows you what you need to properly use the thyroid hormone so that you can have a healthy body and mind.
Strategies for supporting the thyroid gland
Support for the thyroid gland is fairly straight forward.
First, I think it’s important to address any possible nutritional deficiencies that exist.
We want to eat foods that are rich in the necessary cofactors to ensure proper thyroid function: iodine, b-vitamins, magnesium, zinc, selenium, A, C, D, E, protein, iron, CoQ10, and omega 3 oils.
Food as medicine
Eat MORE foods like:
Seaweed, brazil nuts, eggs, fish/seafood, chicken, beef.
Make sure you cook cruciferous vegetables. (they can bind iodine and keep the thyroid from using it. cooking them negates that property).
Eat LESS foods like:
Soy products, sweet potato, peaches, strawberries, pine nuts and peanuts.
Historically and even today, thyroid glandulars are used to restore proper thyroid function.
Thyroid glandular support- thytrophin pmg
Selenium, vitamin E, Magnesium- cataplex E
Iodine prolamine- iodine plus
Vitamin D- cataplex D
Bladderwrack- thyroid complex
Parathyroid glandular support- cal-maplus
Vitamin F- cataplex F
B-vitamins- cataplex B Core
Your health as a living experiment
Many things can cause the primary complaint of fatigue; low thyroid function is just ONE possibility.
My intention with this blog post was to help you see a different possibility of what may be at the root cause of it.
Sometimes we have to learn, then experiment and see what the results are. Only then can we make changes and understand our overall health better.
Are you fatigued?
Do you feel like you are getting enough sleep?
No, then get more rest and see what happens.
Yes I get enough sleep, then what?
Maybe it’s poor thyroid function.
Try some of the support suggestions and see what your results are.
The worst thing that can happen is you become a little healthier and you gain a little more knowledge. Not a bad deal.
That is using your health as a living experiment.