Levothyroxine – Not the best solution to control Hypothyroidism
Hypothyroidism is a condition characterized by an insufficient production of thyroid hormones. While the main task of thyroid hormones is to maintain the metabolism of the human body, a low production of these hormones will lead to a slow metabolism. This condition is not rare and approximately around 10 million Americans suffer from it.
The thyroid hormones in a human body are Thyroxine (T4) and Triiodothyronine (T3) and they play an active role in our body throughout the day. The thyroid gland takes up iodine and converts it into one of these two hormones. Since the thyroid cells are the only cells that absorb iodine, the thyroid hormones are produced within these cells by combining iodine with the amino acid Tyrosine. A normal thyroid gland produces 80% of T4 and 20% of T3. Anyhow, the most active form of thyroid hormone is T3 and therefore, most of the T4 is converted into T3. The T3 hormone is 4 times more active than the T4 hormone. This conversion of T4 to T3 is catalyzed by the enzyme 5’- deiodinase in liver cells and requires several minerals for the process as well. Hence, liver diseases and mineral deficiencies can greatly affect this conversion. Further gastrointestinal problems, adrenal problems and certain medications such as Beta blockers may disturb the T4-T3 conversion.
Levothyroxine is a medication frequently given to people who suffer from hypothyroidism as the main measure of hormone replacement. This medication contains T4 hormone and will be converted to T3 in the person’s body, to be actively used. But, in conditions where there is a coexisting disturbance of T4-T3 conversion, the T4 in Levothyroxine will not be converted to T3- the active form. Therefore, the prescribed Levothyroxine will not perform at it is expected due to the low activeness of T4 and the symptoms of hypothyroidism will remain or deteriorate.
Symptom deterioration takes place as the patient continue to take Levothyroxine. As the negative feedback mechanism of the human body activates due to the increased levels of T4 during Levothyroxine intake, the body’s low production of thyroid hormones will further decrease reducing the production of even the low levels of T3. The levels of T3 will further reduce while the T4-T3 conversion is also disturbed and the symptoms of hypothyroidism such as fatigue, weakness, weight gain, dry skin, dry rough hair, hair loss, muscle cramps, constipations, depression, irritability, memory disturbances, menstrual irregularities and decreased libido will worsen.
This situation can be controlled and corrected by either correcting the disturbance of T4-T3 conversion or by administering medications that contain the active form of thyroid hormone – T3. The best options, therefore, are natural thyroid hormone or Cytomel.
You MUST avoid gluten, you must avoid gluten. I know you are so sick of hearing it by now ESPECIALLY if you have autoimmune Hashimoto’s. But here’s the thing, as humans we need to know the why behind our behaviors. When someone tells us what to do our first instinctual question is…why?
In order to make a true behavioral health change we must understand, at least on some level, why we are making a change, why we are doing something that is so dam hard to do.
So lets discuss! Gluten will interfere with your thyroid functioning properly and you will gain more weight, be more tired, and lose more hair. Period.
I never said I was going to tell you what you want to hear, I’m going to tell you what you need to hear.
Now you want some details. Ok let’s start with inflammation. Gluten is not tolerated by approximately 80% of all humans. I’m not talking about having celiac, I mean not tolerated at all. (Non-celiac gluten sensitivity to be exact) Some call it gluten intolerance. Our bodies just weren’t cut out to process gluten so we experience inflammation, and oftentimes its not felt or experienced on a daily basis so we ignore it. However, ignorance is NOT bliss and this inflammation will do a few different things:
First, since conversion of t4 to t3 takes place in the liver AND in the gut, eating gluten containing foods will inflame the gut lining, cause leaky gut (that’s another article for another day) and reduce the conversion. That equals a bad day and is the last thing you want. We want and NEED that t3. T3 runs the show, gives us our metabolism and gets us out of bed in the morning. Our bodies crave it, our cells crave it, and without it, well you all know how it feels without it, you feel like garbage. Hold onto that thought for a moment…
Second, for those with Hashimoto’s or Graves, did you know that the molecular structure of gliadin, the protein portion of gluten, closely resembles that of the thyroid gland? What does this mean for you? When you eat gluten containing foods the gliadin enters the bloodsteam via your broken down, inflamed gut lining that has been wearing down from years of eating gluten, and is then targeted for destruction by your immune system. The antibodies to gliadin also start attacking your thyroid gland. So, if you have autoimmune thyroid disease your immune system attacks your thyroid. You have to be 100% gluten-free to prevent immune destruction of your thyroid.
Unfortunately “mostly gluten free” is not acceptable. That’s like being kind of pregnant. You need to make a decision, what do you want more, to feel good and work a little harder at eating right or to feel like crap but get to eat what you want when you want? The studies are in and science is backing me on this…if you have ANY thyroid issue you MUST avoid gluten. I gave you the why, so now you have no excuse.