Seniors especially, take note. Most of you, if asked, would say that you suffer from lack of energy. Almost everyone can make and has made that complaint at one time or another.
But if your fatigue is chronic, and you also experience one or more of these symptoms — depression, weight gain, memory loss, hair loss, muscle cramps, dry skin, decreased libido, cold feet, confusion, delirium or even a failing heart – you should suspect low thyroid function.
Low thyroid function – hypothyroidism — is the unsuspected illness in America. Estimates are that fully 60 percent of Americans have low thyroid function, making them susceptible to all manner of illness and very low energy.
If you’ve made this complaint to your physician, or your physician has determined you have low thyroid function, you were likely prescribed levothyroxine (brand name Synthroid), especially if your test showed elevated levels of TSH (thyrotropin or thyroid stimulating hormone). Levothyroxine is the most-dispensed prescription drug in America — with 121 million prescriptions annually — and almost one in five Americans is taking it, according to a Johns Hopkins survey.
Trouble is, it doesn’t work.
In a major study published in The New England Journal of Medicine, researchers found that while levothyroxine lowered the readings of TSH, patients found no improvement in their symptoms related to low thyroid function. They didn’t feel less fatigue; they didn’t feel stronger or more energetic; and they didn’t lose weight.
Why is there so much hypothyroidism? The first part of the answer is xenoestrogens (synthetic estrogen) that dominate in our environment because of agricultural chemicals, household chemicals and prescriptions that either act exactly like estrogen in the body, or are actually prescriptions for estrogen disguised as “menopause” drugs.
Secondly, iodine is no longer found in U.S. soils in any significant amounts, and any iodine we do get is displaced from the body by the fluoride in or drinking water.
Dr. Arnold Jackson of the Mayo and Jackson clinics wrote in The Journal of the American Medical Association, “Hypothyroidism is the most frequent chronic affliction and the most overlooked condition in the United States.”
But standard thyroid function tests used by doctors usually do not show low thyroid function. The basal metabolism test, the blood test, the protein-bound iodine and radioactive iodine uptake test usually are not dependable. And doctors usually take an indifferent attitude toward hypothyroidism, and those who do pay attention insist on biopsies and operations.
Hypothyroidism is very serious whether chronic or mild. Cretinism is a condition occurring in children caused by a deficiency of thyroid secretion and characterized by a stunted and malformed body and arrested mental development. Myxedema is a condition in which the person affected has a less than attentive appearance, an empty or vacant look, slow speech and general dullness of intellect caused by lack of functioning in the thyroid gland. Sounds serious to me!
But even hypothyroidism of a very mild to moderate degree is very often responsible for a wide range of health problems that go a lifetime without relief or cure. Very mild degrees and atypical forms of thyroid deficiency complicate and inhibit achievement in millions of people.
Chances are that most of us have an iodine deficiency. But it doesn’t have to be this way. And since hypothyroidism is so easy to treat, it shouldn’t be a problem in America. Really nothing could be simpler to diagnose and treat.
Anyone can test himself for hypothyroidism or iodine deficiency. Low basal (at rest) body temperature is a prominent indicator of low thyroid function.
Simply take your underarm temperature for three days, before you get out of bed, and take the average. If you are running as much as one degree or more below 98.6 you can suspect hypothyroidism.
You can request an iodine-loading test from your doctor. But I would start my iodine test by just rubbing food grade iodine (Lugol’s) on a small spot, maybe two inches across on my arm. If the iodine disappears overnight, I would take this to mean an iodine deficiency. Even if too much iodine is taken it will be excreted. Iodine has a detoxifying effect on the body.
Iodine is important for the whole body, but it is concentrated in the prostate gland, the thyroid and breast tissue.
According to David Brownstein, M.D., in his excellent book, “Iodine: Why You Need It, Why You Can’t Live Without It,” if a person suffers from iodine deficiency, using thyroid hormone supplementation without first correcting (or simultaneously correcting) the iodine deficit will exacerbate the body’s deficit of iodine.
So iodine and thyroid hormone go together. Thyroid hormones raise the body’s need for iodine. Alternative doctors always recommend Armour Thyroid which is natural thyroid hormone (from pigs) and available from compounding pharmacies.
Points from Dr. Brownstein:
- The World Health Organization (WHO) has recognized that iodine deficiency is the world’s greatest single cause of preventable mental retardation.
- Iodine supplementation markedly increases urinary excretion of fluoride and bromide.
- Brownstein says that more than 90 percent of his tested patients exhibit laboratory signs of iodine deficiency.
- In the brain, iodine concentrates in the substantia nigra, an area of the brain that has been associated with Parkinson’s disease.
- Iodine deficiency is one of the main underlying causes of many varied illnesses including thyroid disorders, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, cancer (including cancer of the breast and prostate) and other health issues.
- The thyroid gland and the breast primarily utilize iodine. The prostate gland concentrates iodine. Breast cysts have been treated with iodine for more than 50 years. Iodine deficiency is a causative factor in breast cancer and fibrocystic breast disease.
- The relationship between hypothyroidism and breast cancer has been reported for more than 100 years.
- Thyroid hormone is essential for normal brain development.
- In children, iodine deficiency can result in mental retardation as well as goiter.
- Research has found an almost 50 percent increase in perinatal mortality due to iodine deficiency.
- Many studies have shown that children who live in iodine-deficient areas have lower IQs as compared to children living in iodine sufficient areas.
If your doctor determines you need additional thyroid hormone, insist on natural thyroid hormone and not synthroid (levothyroxine). He/she will start you out on a very low dosage of about 1/4 grain daily, no matter your condition.
The dosage will be gradually stepped up over a year or more (up to two grains daily or more.) Your body temperature will gradually rise to normal, raising your metabolic rate. There is no risk of excessive thyroid dosage as long as you start with a very low dosage and step up very gradually and as long as basal (at rest) body temperature does not exceed 98.6 degrees.
I recently wrote an in-depth article on hypothryroidism for my readers of the Bob Livingston Alerts. If you’d like to receive these alerts in your email box you can sign up for them by going here. You’ll receive my e-book, “The Forbidden Truth About Cancer”, as a free bonus.