Low thyroid function causes high health risks

Low thyroid function is a very prevalent problem that really deserves some explanation. Your thyroid hormones are important for numerous functions in the body, and several chronic health conditions can be improved — which most people have no clue are even related — by treating low thyroid hormone function.

Thyroid hormones affect many organs and systems

The thyroid gland sits just in front of your windpipe in your lower neck region. It produces primarily two active hormones: T4 (thyroxine) and T3 (triiodothyronine). Let’s look at what these thyroid hormones do in your body.

Thyroid hormones determine the metabolic activity of just about every cell in your body. Thyroid hormone:

  • Increases blood flow, heart rate, energy production, and metabolism
  • Speeds up thinking, intestinal motility, thirst, and urination
  • Lowers blood pressure (when optimal levels are achieved)
  • Decreases LDL (“bad”) and total cholesterol levels and improves HDL (“good”) cholesterol
  • Improves your immune defenses against various infections and cancer [1]
  • Improves other endocrine gland function so they can more readily produce their respective hormones, including cortisol and the sex hormones
  • Is a critical driver of nutrients into each cell as well as of waste product removal from each cell including old defective enzymes

Contraiwise, if your thyroid hormones are under-functioning then there are a number of organ systems that will also under-function. Is this something you should be concerned with?

Well, consider that low thyroid hormone function is estimated to affect nearly 50 percent of American adults, according to the clinical experience of a prominent group of European endocrinologists, Dr. Broda Barnes and several generations of the Hertoghe family of endocrine physicians from Belgium. That’s why you really need to know the key symptoms and signs to look for.

Symptoms caused by low thyroid hormone function

Low thyroid hormone has the potential to cause illness in any body tissue or organ. When your metabolic rate slows, many indicators will be subtle. However, if low thyroid state remains, later findings will arise. Early and later indicators are listed here together:

  • Feeling tired in daytime when sitting or at rest
  • Unwanted weight gain; morning puffy face/swollen eyelids; water retention
  • Sensitivity to cold; hands and feet often cold
  • Constipation, abdominal bloating or colitis symptoms
  • Cardiovascular effects: high blood pressure, high cholesterol
  • Memory/concentration impairment; confusion, depression, dementia
  • Depressed mood or anxiety upon waking
  • Menstrual disorders (excessive bleeding or painful menses)
  • Dry or slow-growing hair or nails/excessive hair loss; acne, eczema, psoriasis
  • Hoarse voice, slowed speech
  • Stiff or painful joints; rheumatoid or osteoarthritis; carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Night time muscle cramps / burning or tingling/ bradycardia (slow rate)
  • Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
  • Frequent colds, sore throats, ear aches, or other infections
  • Endometriosis, infertility, miscarriages
  • Heavy menstrual bleeding, infertility; increased risk of miscarriages, premature deliveries and stillbirths

Now let’s consider the ways in which low thyroid contributes to heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, kidney disease, and even cancer. You will want to make sure your thyroid hormone is optimal.

Thyroid deficiency behind chronic illnesses

The prominent group of European endocrinologists I previously mentioned have long-been able to largely identify thyroid deficiency without blood tests. Then, with physiological replacement doses, their patients improved quite reliably from many other chronic diseases. One of these conditions is heart disease. They estimated that the leading cause of heart disease is actually low thyroid function!

Furthermore, they found that thyroid deficiency correlates with significantly increased rates of cancer, osteoporosis, arthritis, dementia and many of the autoimmune diseases. In other words, by treating these patients with natural thyroid hormone supplementation (not synthetic levothyroxine), they found that these other chronic conditions improved or resolved too.

Heart disease: Dr. Barnes reported in 1976 that when his thyroid deficient patients were properly treated with natural thyroid hormone, it resulted in a 94% protection rate against heart attacks. [2] Moreover, his report was preceded by other reports linking coronary artery disease to thyroid deficiency. In 1895, a group of prominent Austrian physicians removed the thyroid glands from sheep and goats (which rarely get arterial disease). All of the animals subsequently developed severe diffuse arteriosclerosis and heart. [3] To confirm their conclusion, fifteen years later other Austrian physicians removed thyroid glands from sheep and goats but in this group they gave hormone replacement from thyroid extract. None of these animals developed arteriosclerosis. [4]

A 2009 report in Clinical Endocrinology [5] demonstrated that 56 women patients with subclinical hypothyroidism had higher blood pressure, and higher levels of other cardiac disease risk factors than normal, and when supplemented with L-thyroxine for 18 months, their blood pressure, total cholesterol, triglycerides, LDL-cholesterol, lipoprotein (a) and homocysteine levels returned into the normal range.

Kidney disease: In a January 2013 issue of Thyroid, [6] authors reported that chronic kidney disease (CKD) is greatly improved when the subclinical hypothyroid state is treated with thyroid supplementation. They followed 113 subjects with CKD for two years who supplemented with L-thyroxine and measured their eGFR (estimated Glomerular Filtration Rate, the best measurement of kidney function) and found the improvement to be very significant. [7]

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Cancer: One of my mentors is Richard Pooley, M.D., a formerly retired clinical professor of surgery (for 25 years) at New York Medical College and senior cardiothoracic attending surgeon at Westchester Medical Center in New York. Dr. Pooley returned to practice four years ago because he has found so much success reversing diseases by using the hormone balancing/targeted nutrition techniques of Dr. Broda Barnes and his endocrine colleagues. Dr. Pooley explains, “An optimally-functioning immune system is absolutely dependent upon adequate amounts of thyroid hormone and, I might add, cortisol as well. Thyroid deficient people always have depressed immune systems, which often results in a greater susceptibility to infections, as well as an increased mortality from them. But, a healthy immune system is also necessary to recover from any non-infectious degenerative disease like cancer.” [8] Dr. Pooley also told me about the work of Dr. Samuel Schwartz in 1977 that followed the incidence of cancer in 74 of his thyroid deficient patients over a period of 15 – 46 years. Of those who received at least 2 grains of natural desiccated thyroid hormone (31 total patients) only one person developed cancer (incidence of 3.2%) while of those who received no treatment (43 total patients) there were 32 cases of cancer (incidence of 74.4%). This appears to represent a 95% protection from all cancers in the properly-treated thyroid deficient group!

Autoimmune diseases: According to the clinical experience of Dr. Pooley, even autoimmune diseases (i.e. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, etc.) improve much better when physiological replacement doses of natural thyroid hormone and cortisol (when clinically indicated) are used.

In my next article I’ll show you what’s behind the high prevalence of low thyroid function. I’ll also discuss why conventional medicine blood tests may fail to detect low thyroid function and how you can test for it at home for free.

To feeling good with optimal health,

Michael Cutler, M.D.
Easy Health Options

[1] Schwartz, Samuel: “The Relationship of Thyroid Deficiency to Cancer: A 50-year Retrospective Study,” Journal of IAPM, Vol. VI, No. 1, 1977.  As reported by Dr. Schwartz in 1977, they studied the incidence of cancer in 74 thyroid deficient patients over a period of 15 to 46 years. There were two groups of patients: (1) a treated group who received at least 2-3 grains of natural desiccated thyroid hormone and (2) an untreated group who received no treatment at all or less than one grain of natural desiccated thyroid hormone (a clearly insufficient dose for all but small children). In the treated group of 31 patients, there was only one case of cancer for an incidence of 3.2%. In the untreated group of 43 patients, there were 32 cases of cancer for an incidence of 74.4%. This represents about a 95% protection from all cancers in the properly treated thyroid deficient group.
[2] Barnes, Broda O: Solved: The Riddle of Heart Attacks, Robinson Press, Fort Collins, CO, 1976
[3] von Eiselsberg, AF: “On the Vegetative Disturbances in Growth of Animals after Early Thyroidectomy,” Archives Klinik Chirurgie, 49:207, 1895
[4] Pick, EP, Pineless, F: “Research on the Physiologically Active Substance of the Thyroid,” Exp Path Ther 7:518, 1910
[5] Adrees M, Gibney J, El-Saeity N, Boran G. Effects of 18 months of L-T4 replacement in women with subclinical hypothyroidism. Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). 2009 Aug;71(2):298-303.
[6] Shin DH, Lee MJ, Oh HJ, et al. Thyroid hormone replacement therapy attenuates the decline of renal function in chronic kidney disease patients with subclinical hypothyroidism. Thyroid. 2013 Jan 2. [Epub ahead of print]
[7] eGFR improved from -4.31 to -1.08
[8] Personal communication with Dr. Pooley, 2012

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