Feeling fat fuzzy or frazzled?
is the name of a fabulous book about hormones…so hopefully it’s ok that I named this blog post that way.
The book is by Richard Shames MD and Karilee Shames, PhD, RN.
But in the event that you do not read the book, let me give you in a nutshell some of the takeaways.
One – the list of shitty things you might feel if your thyroid or adrenals or parathyroid glands are out of whack is extensive.
Feeling fat (fat isn’t a feeling but bear with me), fuzzy (in the head), or frazzled is WAY TOO COMMON. and it is usually hormones…
Today I will focus on just the thyroid…and I will deal with the others in future days.
I want to start with the thyroid because if you are a woman over 30, you have a one on 4 chance of having a thyroid issue …DID YOU KNOW THAT!!??
Women going through perimanopause are the most likely people to have Graves disease, a thyroid problem, and owmen in their 40s have a 20% chance of hypothyroidism that wont get treated. By 60, it’s worse.
And I want to start with it because thyroid problems to me are like the biggest single reason women don’t have better self esteem and that KILLS ME.
“Thyroid problems” is a blanket term that includes either an under-functioning thyroid (hypothyroidism) or over-functioning thyroid (hyperthyroidism) and maybe autoimmunity in the thyroid.
Parathyroid problems are also common but I will speak about them separately.
Here’s a list of symptoms associated with just hypo – thyroidism (low thyroid).
It’s crazy yo…
–Constipation, rabbit plop poops
–Difficulty with focus
–Dry skin, coarse and/or itchy skin
–Dry, coarse and/or thinning hair
–Feeling cold (cold feet in summer!)
–Infertility or miscarriages
–Irregular menstrual flow
–Low sex drive, low sexual response
–Muscle cramps, loss of muscle
–Feeling ‘sluggish’ or blah
–Unexplained or excessive weight gain
What’s super crazy about this is that is not even all the stuff, AND it is not textbook in most cases and even if it is you can miss it!
So it’s a huge list and it can still be confusing even if you have many of the things on the list…or maybe it’s just confusing because of brain fog!!
I had low thyroid forever …and just thought I had dry skin…and was confused…and had thin nails…was I sluggish or tired…if you have it long enough it feels normal…it was just me…I thought.
I had thick hair…yes it came out in clumps but it was soo thick…I was thin….not overweight…and yes I was cold….so cold that when friends went swimming in the lake I felt horrified at the idea…I hated wearing open shoes because my feet would freeze.
Additional signs that are potential symptoms of hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (the autoimmune kind of hypothyroidism where your body attacks the thyroid gland) the most common kind of hypothyroidism, and the kind that I have, include:
–Candida (yeast overgrowth)
–Difficulty expressing yourself
–Digestive discomfort or diarrhea
–Eyebrow loss especially at the edges
–Feeling socially distant
–High LDL cholesterol
–Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
–Irregular menstrual flow
–Lack of motivation
–Low level of vitamin B12
–Low level of ferritin (iron) or anemia
–Low level of vitamin D
–Low sex drive
–Muscle cramps and muscle loss
–Throat discomfort and/or tightness
Um I had all of them…pretty much. Aside of eczema and frequent colds, I had the whole list. THE WHOLE LIST.
Which is INSANE…because it is SO FREAKING COMMON AND I DIDN’T GET DIAGNOSED!!!
I had to diagnose myself. Seriously people?
Yes I had even more symptoms that this…so maybe that was confusing.
BUT, honestly, if I showed this list to Dr. Google I would be diagnosed with hypothyroidism…and probably Hashimotos, PROBABLY IN A FEW SECONDS.
AND DID I MENTION IT IS REALLY FREAKING COMMON?
Especially amongst people who have been under major stress (that’s a trigger for the epigenetic changes that allows it to express).?
So why do doctors miss it for YEARS?
If it was this common for men would it be such a mystery and a challenge??
To this day, endocrinologists and physicians will have somebody walk in with the same laundry list of symptoms and they will NOT diagnose Hashimoto’s.
And I feel the reason is simple: knowing you have it won’t change how they treat you…so why bother finding out?
Allopathic, Naturopathic and Functional medicine and your thyroid
A functional medicine approach or an ND’s approach to your thyroid begins with the doctor herself having in mind that hypothyroidism or autoimmune thyroid is more common than most doctors realize and is likely the single most likely cause of what is up with you.
But if you don’t get such a doctor, you might get missed. I mean, there are a whole bunch of good tests, which I will list below, and most Doc’s even endocrinologists, don’t run them. Endocrinologists rarely order these tests when approaching a patient with low thyroid, because they don’t specialize in thyroid, usually, because they deal with so much diabetes, they basically get focused on that.
Also, because in conventional medicine, there is no reason to diagnose an autoimmune thyroid person, because there is no treatment for the autoimmune component with a conventionally marketed drug, to be honest.
What I am saying is, the allopathic regular system doesnt have a drug AKA a treatment for Hashimotos. So they don’t bother checking for it.
BUT THERE ARE TREATMENTS.
YOU CAN GET BETTER.
SO YOU WANT TO KNOW!!!
Also, conventional doctors might have been scared off of more natural treatments, like dessicated thyroid, that work when your levels are just slightly off, instead of needing them to be WAY off. The doctors are encouraged to limit their thyroid testing to one test only: the TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone) blood test. They look to diagnose to find the drug to give, instead of taking a more holistic view and treating the whole patient. And up to 60% of this group are unaware that thyroid function is an issue.
The TSH test measures your thyroid levels only indirectly, though, so you can see that this is already sounding like a flawed or limited approach.
TSH is a hormone, but it isn’t one produced by your thyroid gland, but rather by your pituitary gland. The pituitary stimulates the thyroid into activity when it senses thyroid underactivity.
If your TSH is high, the test indicates hypothyroidism.
That’s because if the pituitary is producing lots of TSH, so it’s inferred that your thyroid must be underfunctioning.
Even with only this one test… which isnt even of the thyroid itself, we could be doing better than we are.
That’s because we should be looking for a much tighter range than we are.
We should be looking for a 2.5 TSH reading or lower, yet endocrinologists have decided that a TSH level up to 4 is fine and any higher you probably have an underactive thyroid. So they dont look, or if they do, not hard enough.
For decades the standard was 5 or higher and it’s estimated the number of missed hypothyroid diagnoses was in the millions.
However when the test range was updated they didn’t go tight enough still. The amount of miscarriages and other suffering this is causing makes me ANGRY!!!
Another flaw with this testing is that hypothyroidism isn’t the only thing affecting TSH.
TSH results are influenced by what you eat, your stress levels, and even the time of day your blood is drawn!!
Lab tests for thyroid issues
Here’s the list from Janie A. Bowthorpe’s excellent Stop The Thyroid Madness website. Each item revolves around how your body is functioning with its current supply of thyroid hormone.
—TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone). Since this hormone comes from the pituitary gland, at best it tests pituitary function. High TSH usually means underactive thyroid, but low TSH in the presence of hypothyroidism means pituitary insufficiency.
—Free T3 and Free T4. These are measurements of the actual thyroid hormones themselves.
—Reverse T3 (rT3). This is an “inactive” hormone that can appear in some cases of hypothyroidism. Your body should convert inactive T4 to the active hormone T3, but under certain stresses it makes rT3 instead. By itself, reverse T3 is not a helpful test, but it should be viewed in context of thyroid function.
—Thyroid antibodies. The most common autoimmune disease and cause of hypothyroidism is Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. The presence of thyroid antibodies clinches a Hashi diagnosis. Some physicians, especially in Europe and the UK, start thyroid hormone replacement when antibodies are present. You can also get a drug called LDN, or low dose Naltrexone, to help you control the autoimmunity to some degree, but not all doctors will do this.
—Iron profile (ferritin, percentage iron saturation, iron binding capacity). Symptoms of low iron are often indistinguishable from hypothyroidism.
—Saliva adrenal cortisol. The same goes for adrenal fatigue, but more about this next week.
—Vitamins D, B-12 and folate. More on this next week too.
—Sex hormones (estrogen, progesterone, testosterone) measured throughout a one-month cycle. Single-day test is fine for postmenopausal women.
—MTHFR gene mutation tests susceptibility to heavy metals damaging thyroid. If MTHFR inherited from both parents, test for metals.
—Complete blood count and comprehensive metabolic profile. This is the standard wellness profile your doctor orders when you get a general check-up. It can yield a lot of useful information.
–Basal body temperature measurement for five days in a row. This is your oral temperature just as you emerge from sleep (click here for full instructions) If you’re a menstruating women, take your temp for five straight days beginning with the second day of your period (to avoid the normal temperature rise that occurs with ovulation). An average temperature of 97.6 or lower make a diagnosis of mild hypothyroidism a strong possibility. The test is less useful for adjusting your dose once you’ve started thyroid replacement.
So, I think if a doctor is always suspecting hypothyroidism, she’ll rarely miss the diagnosis. If we go back and look at that list of possible symptoms, for virtually all of them, there are other possible causes. BUT, a relatively small number of lab tests can figure out if they are caused by hypothyroidism.
Do you wonder if this affects you?
Do you want some help? I would love to help you, I can guide you.