This is Tracie’s third and final part on hypothyroidism and knowing if you have it and how to deal with it. Today Tracie gets personal and shares her story of her struggle with her weight and her thyroid. I want to thank Tracie for taking the time to share this valuable information with us! I highly recommend you seek her counsel for any nutritional guidance. You won’t be disappointed! You can check out her website at http://www.itsyourplate.com
If you missed either of her first two articles or want to read the comments that she wrote to answer some of your questions, click the links below!
“There is nothing wrong with you. Your lab tests are normal.” Does this statement sound familiar to you? Many of my clients have reported to me that they go to their doctor feeling tired, depressed, constipated, bloated, anxious, and overall just not themselves. The doctor will run some lab test that come back normal and tell the patient they can’t find anything wrong with them. This is a terrible place to be….knowing something is not right and feeling as if there is no where to turn.
I was talking with Joy (Dustin’s mom) the other day. She encouraged me to share my experience so you can see the transformation that can take place when you get to the bottom of your health issues. I am not going to waste a lot of space giving you my health history. If you are interested in the details, please visit my website. To make a long story short, I had severe endometriosis when I was in my early twenties. This diagnosis led to surgery and drug treatment that had many side effects (having 15 hot flashes a day at 20 years of age is not fun). After that, I was on a quest to get my health back without drugs. Over the next 4 years, I made some progress with the help of a Naturopath doctor that I was seeing for treatment. I was still experiencing fatigue, bloating, and constipation. I also had 20 pounds that I could not get rid of, no matter what I tried.
I had taken many alternative lab tests (food allergy, metabolic profiles, and gut function tests) and spent thousands of dollars in supplements. In the end, it really did not get me the results I was seeking. I was baffled, because I was eating a so-called “healthy diet” and was not feeling better.
One day, I was reading online about hypothyroidism and realized that many of my symptoms, including endometriosis, was related to it (click here for an online thyroid questionnaire). I decided to go to my doctor and request a thyroid test. The doctor tested my TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone – put out by your pituitary gland) and my numbers came back normal. I thought that this was interesting since I had 20 signs of hypothyroidism after taking the quiz. Over time, I was not getting any better. I started to take my basal body temperature and found out that they were between 96.6°F and 97.0°F. In my mind, this was not adding up; I had low body temperatures and multiple symptoms for hypothyroidism, yet my doctor told me I was fine.
This is when I met a M.D. that had a more holistic approach. She told me that I needed to have my FULL thyroid panel taken. She explained that just testing the TSH does not tell the whole story. The active form of the hormones (Free T3) needs to be measured along with the Free T4 (is converted to T3 in your liver) and TSH. My full panel indicated that even though my TSH was normal, my T3 was low. At that point my doctor prescribed a bio-identical (desiccated) thyroid hormone called Armour (Naturethroid and Westhroid are other brand names). Desiccated thyroid hormones have been used for over 100 years around the world. It was the number one drug used to treat hypothyroidism until the 1960’s when pharmaceutical companies developed and marketed the inexpensive synthetic version. The difference between desiccated thyroid and synthetic thyroid drugs (Synthyroid and Levoxyl) is desiccated thyroid contains both T3 and T4 where Synthyoid and Levoxyl contain only synthetic T4. One of the main problems with using just T4 is that many individuals have a problem converting the T4 into active T3 in the liver.
There is a huge debate in the medical community about the use of synthetic vs. desiccated thyroid medications. You can read about both sides of the issue on the internet. Remember, a lot of the research you read is influenced and funded by pharmaceutical companies. For this reason, most mainstream doctors will only prescribe synthetic medications. This is unfortunate because many of my clients have fully recovered after switching to bio-identical hormones.
Hypothyroidism Type 2, by Dr. Mark Starr, is a fantastic book that goes into great depth on this topic. He scientifically explains why synthetic drugs do not work for most people and what you can do about it. He also addresses why current lab tests are not accurate. Dr. Starr also explains that you might be hypothyroid, even if your thyroid full panel comes back normal.
I want to leave you with a couple of last thoughts:
- If you are currently on a synthetic medication and you are not getting better, do your own research on this topic and talk to your doctor as an informed patient (resources below).
- Ask your doctor to run a full thyroid panel (Free T3, Free T4, TSH)
- If you are symptomatic with low body temperatures, find a doctor that will treat you with a holistic approach.
Remember that no one else is going to fight for your health but you. To wrap this up…here is an update on my situation. Since last October, I have overhauled my diet to include foods that support the metabolism (what these foods are will surprise you) and have been taking bio-identical thyroid for the last three months. I have lost 12 pounds by changing my diet to the recommendations that I give my clients. My body temperatures have risen from 96.6°F to 98.2°F. Since I started taking thyroid medication, I have lost an additional 8 pounds. I feel better than I have in years. I hope my story encourages you to do your own research and continue to dig until you find an answer and start to feel better. More often than not…proper thyroid function is a key to the equation.
Tracie Hittman Nutrition, LLC
Resources for further study:
Barnes, Broda and Lawrence Galton. Hypo-thyroidism: The Unsuspected Illness. NY: Harpers & Row Publishers, 1976.
Peat, Ray. “TSH, Temperature, Pulse Rate, and Other Indicators in Hypothyroidism.” Ray Peat.com 2007. 9 Sept. 2009. <http://raypeat.com/articles/articles /hypothyroidism.shtm>.
Shomon, Mary. Living Well with Hypothyroidism. NY: HarperCollins, 2000.
Starr, Mark. Hypothyroidism Type 2. Columbia, MO: Mark Starr Trust, 2009.
Tracie Hittman, MS, is a Nutritional Consultant and, as such, the nutritional consulting services provided are for information and education purposes only. Information provided is not to be substituted for a physician’s medical attention and professional judgment for diagnosis and hands-on treatment. Tracie Hittman MS, of Tracie Hittman Nutrition doesn’t provide medical advice or medical and/or diagnostic services. Follow suggestions as your own risk.