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What is the function of the Thyroid gland?
The thyroid gland is the regulator of body metabolism and sets the thermostat for the rate that the body will use energy. Thyroid hormone is necessary for oxidative processes to take place throughout the body. Since nearly all of the cells of the body have their metabolic rates controlled by the thyroid hormone, a change in thyroid function will have the potential for creating a wide variety of effects throughout the body.

A low functioning thyroid is very common in the North American population and is often overlooked in medical testing because it rarely shows up in blood tests until it is extreme. Iodine and other minerals play a large part in the health of the thyroid gland. Certain geographical areas have less iodine and other important minerals in the soil. Therefore, the local population will have a propensity to thyroid dysfunction. However, thyroid dysfunction is becoming increasingly widespread as our soil becomes more and more depleted by modern farming techniques. The addition of iodine to salt may in principle be well founded, however, iodine in salt is ionically bound and therefore, not well absorbed.

How do I know if I have low thyroid function?
As already mentioned, traditional methods of evaluating thyroid function are often inconclusive. The basal metabolic rate (BMR) test established by Dr. Broda Barnes (see recommended reading) requires that a patient, before arising in the morning place a digital basal thermometer under the armpit until the indicator beeps. This temperature is recorded on a chart, which is available upon request. For menstruating women the best time to record temperature is 3 days before, during and 3 days after the menstrual cycle and preferably for a month. For others the temperature must be recorded every day for a month. The normal temperature range is between 97.8 F and 98.2 F (36.6C and 36.8C).

What are the symptoms of Hypothyroidism?
The symptoms of low thyroid function are many, due to the numerous cells whose function thyroid hormone affects. The one thing all hypothyroid patients will have in common is involvement of the teres minor muscle (between the shoulder blades).

Fatigue, low ambition and sluggishness are quite common in people with low thyroid function. Getting out of bed in the morning may prove difficult but as the day progresses, people feel better since the rate of metabolism increases as they begin their daily activity. These people will also feel much better after exercise, if only they can get motivated.

Due to the lowered metabolic rate, the hypothyroid person will often have difficulty with fat metabolism. They may have difficulty with weight control and/or with elevated levels of blood lipids. The hypothyroid person will easily gain weight and have a difficult time losing weight. Some of these people do not appear to have a weight problem, but can only maintain their present weight on 500 or 800 calories a day. If they overeat (for them) on a holiday, they might gain 3 or 4 pounds that require several weeks of near fasting to lose.

Some of these people have a normal caloric intake but find that they must exercise heavily to avoid weight gain. If they stop exercising, they immediately gain weight.

Elevated levels of serum cholesterol and/or triglycerides may be present in the low thyroid person. There may also, be a tendency to develop coronary heart disease and they may have lowered resistance to infections.

Thyroid symptoms are often worse at the change of the seasons, since it is at these times that the thyroid is under the greatest stress. In the fall and spring, the thyroid must adapt the rate of metabolism to the seasonal changing of the temperatures.

Symptoms that flare up in the fall and spring, especially sensitivity to cold in the fall, are likely due to sluggish thyroid activity. Seasonal allergies may also, come into play.

Acute sinus infections or recurrent sinus problems may occur at any time of the year.

People with hypothyroidism will often complain of cold hands and feet and increased sensitivity to the cold. Due to the lack of circulation in a person with low thyroid, skin problems such as dry, chapped skin and flaky skin can also be present.

Some patients will have an actual cracking and crevicing of the heels or the hands. The deep crevices in the edges of the heels, which may bleed, and which do not respond well to local therapy, will be accompanied by low thyroid function. These people also need essential fatty acids (this relates to the proper distribution of calcium to the tissues) in addition to thyroid treatment. Likewise, brittleness of the fingernails or softness of the nails can be related to low thyroid function.

The patient who is losing his or her hair is usually a thyroid patient. This is as true of the 50 year-old man who is balding as it is of the 13 year-old girl whose hair has started coming out in clumps in her hairbrush ever since she began menstruating. It is true that some men are more likely to lose their hair than others, but the process will be accelerated by low thyroid function. Women experiencing excessive hair loss are usually low thyroid or anemic.

People with low progesterone usually show symptoms of an elevated estrogen level, such as prolonged and frequent menstrual periods, holding water, etc. Since progesterone is necessary for proper implantation of the fertilized ovum, and the progression of pregnancy, and since thyroid activity is necessary for progesterone formation, miscarriage may develop due to low thyroid function. Women who have had one or more miscarriages, which cannot otherwise be explained, should monitor their basal temperatures.

Thyroid hormone is necessary for the absorption of glucose from the GI tract. People with flat glucose tolerance curves indicating malabsorption, may, in fact, have normal small intestine function, but be lacking in thyroid activity. Another GI symptom of hypothyroidism is constipation and low HCL levels.

Other somewhat more obscure low thyroid symptoms include headaches and dizziness that are worse in the morning and better in the afternoon. Also, a short-windedness in which the person feels like he just can not breathe deeply enough may occur.

The mental effects of hypothyroidism are important because they are most frequently attributed to some other cause. The person who goes to pieces easily under pressure is likely a low thyroid person as is the person who intensely dislikes being watched. Likewise is the person who dislikes crowds of people, who seems paranoid in general or has low concentration and is easily distracted. Memory loss in the young and old and sudden changes in personality may be attributed to low thyroid function. Possibly the most frequently encountered mental or emotional symptom associated with hypothyroidism is that of depression, specifically depression that is way out of proportion to a person's problems.

Unexplained swellings are a common sign in the pathological (diagnosed by medical means) form of hypothyroidism, but they may also be present in a functional low thyroid state as well. There may be unexplained swelling anywhere in the body such as ankles, elbows, carpal tunnel, etc. Another common sign of hypothyroidism is a puffiness of the upper eyelids. Also, the hypothyroid person may demonstrate a thick, swollen tongue.

Another sign, which is frequently seen, is that of a very thin or non-existent lateral third of the eyebrow.

I have Hypothyroidism. Now what?
Since some form of iodine is absolutely necessary for thyroid function, too much iodine can also result in lowered thyroid function. The level of circulating iodine must be within very narrow limits. Slightly lower levels of iodine will keep the thyroid from producing its hormone, but elevated levels of iodine in the bloodstream will cause thyroid suppression. Therefore, the level of iodine intake must be carefully monitored.

We always recommend natural thyroid support, with the idea in mind that the natural just might have some important factors that our present technology has been unable to identify as yet. Careful monitoring of basal temperature is important to controlling the amount and type of support given.

Since minerals are so important to the whole body and are a must for a healthy thyroid gland, we suggest the use of liquid colloidal minerals. If both non-colloidal iodine and iron are being used they should be taken well apart as they will neutralize one another.

If you suspect you may have some level of hypothyroidism, please request a survey form and a basal temperature chart. When completed you may return them to us for analysis before booking an appointment. If you don't live in our area, we may be able to help you find a suitable practitioner closer to you. If you take your results to your MD, you will likely not be given any medication unless the problem shows up in a blood test.

We have already discussed that blood tests are often inconclusive in low thyroid cases. If your doctor does decide to treat you, you will likely be given a synthetic medication. You can request a natural alternative such as 'Armour' Thyroid by Parke Davis Labs. The choice is yours.

Common Glandular Dysfunctions in the General Practice
- Dr. Walter H. Schmitt, Jr., D.C.

Recommended Reading:

Heart Attack Rareness in Thyroid-Treated Patients - Dr. Broda Barnes

coverHypothyroidism: The Unsuspected Illness* - Dr. Broda Barnes: an M.D. who has a Ph.D. in endocrinology on which to base his forty-plus years of clinical experience with thyroid patients.


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