Hypothyroidism Overview – Clarifying The Need For A More Holistic Approach To Thyroid Problems

In this hypothyroidism overview, we'll explore a lot of information which will allow you to determine whether you are perhaps suffering from hypothyroidism, and what this condition is all about anyway.

On this website you'll discover many self-empowering concepts with which to improve your health. You'll also learn that low thyroid function can present in an often bewildering range of different formats.

The aim of this site is to encourage you to not only learn more about hypothyroidism, (underactive thyroid) but to also explore:

• A better understanding of thyroid function in general

• The many hypothyroidism symptoms found in this condition

• Important, additional thyroid function tests, beyond those usually ordered by your doctor

• The crucial role of environmental factors in creating thyroid problems

• The importance of detoxification for improving thyroid disease

• How nutrition impacts thyroid disease symptoms

• The link between stress management and thyroid disorders

• A range of hypothyroidism treatment options, with herbs for hypothyroidism as one of the many holistic health choices, aside from homeopathy and nutritional supplements

Want To Skip Ahead In This Hypothyroidism Overview?

The following discussion will obviously flow more logically if you read it as it unfolds below. However, if you're in a hurry and wish to focus on one specific point initially, then simply click on any of these links in the blue box below in order to jump ahead.

Hypothyroidism Causes
Understanding The Thyroid's Peripheral vs Central Functions
Three Questions To Ask In Regard To Thyroid Testing
"Normal" Thyroid Tests Only Measure Central Function – Not Peripheral Function
Why The Term Subclinical Hypothyroidism?
More Focus Is Usually Given To The Physical Symptoms Of Hypothyroidism
5-Minute Consults Inevitably Misdiagnose Hypothyroid's Mental & Emotional Symptoms
An Urgent Call For A Paradigm Shift
Primary, Secondary & Tertiary Hypothyroidism
Hypothyroidism & Detoxification
The Need For Stress Management In Hypothyroidism
A Final Point Of Emphasis

Many Names For The Same Condition

In this hypothyroidism overview it's important to realize that hypothyroidism often comes listed under a broad range of alternative names, such as:

• Hypothyroid disease

• Subclinical hypothyroidism

• Thyroid deficiency

• Sluggish thyroid

• Myxedema

• Thyroid resistance

• Underactive thyroid

• Thyroiditis

• Hypothyroidism type 2

The last term described above is especially significant, as it highlights a core aspect to why so many people who have a genuinely underactive thyroid, nevertheless remain undiagnosed. This aspect to the overall hypothyroidism overview will become increasingly clear as the discussion below unfolds.

Hypothyroidism Causes

Far too frequently, hypothyroidism is put down to no more than the thyroid gland not producing enough of its primary hormone T4 (thyroxine), or that people are not getting enough iodine.

Both are true, but this approach alone shows a rather shallow understanding of the many other layers involved in driving thyroid disease symptoms.

In this hypothyroidism overview, we'll explore the reality that a thyroid gland doesn't usually go into a sudden, full-blown mal-function – unless it has been damaged by an acute infection; during surgery or from various acute toxin exposures.

It's also true that present-day thyroid tests are good at picking up the more full-blown stage of hypothyroid disease, but are seriously inadequate when it comes to identifying the far more prevalent scenario of under-functioning thyroid.

In this hypothyroidism overview you'll discover that there are many factors which can cause both forms of hypothyroidism, such as:

• Autoimmunity – this is the main cause in Western countries

• Problems with pituitary or hypothalamus function, causing secondary and tertiary hypothyroidism respectively

• Genetics

• Iodine deficiency – rare in the USA or some parts of Europe

• Drugs used for other health issues – such as amiodarone, lithium, interferon, cortisone, propyl-thiouricil

• Environmental toxins such as fluoride, chlorine, bromine, mercury – all very prevalent in Western life

• Excessive intake of certain foods such as soy, cruciferous (cabbage family) vegetables, turnips, corn or kale

• Infections – for example, Candida can inactivate thyroid hormone

• Too much estrogen. Environmental estrogen-mimickers will affect both males and females

• Excessive medical treatment for hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid), causing unnecessary damage to the thyroid gland – e.g. radioactive iodine therapy; too many poorly protected dental X-rays; excessive thyroid gland excision/damage during surgery

Further risk factors which can predispose a person towards developing hypothyroidism include:

• Age

• Sex

• Family history

• Inadequate nutrient intake

• Or having had thyroid problems earlier in life

However, despite these many hypothyroidism causes, the inevitable end result is a wide range of ever increasing under-functioning within the thyroid gland, as it slowly edges its way towards the more end-stage of complete mal-function.

It's this subtle, 'grey-zone' of thyroid underfunction (compared to malfunction) that is harder to pick up via the routine thyroid function tests presently used. This can result in many people who are suffering from genuine thyroid disease remaining undiagnosed – and therefore not treated.

Nevertheless, such an under active thyroid may still present with most, if not all the usual symptoms found in a thyroid gland which is in a state of advanced mal-function.


Understanding The Thyroid's Peripheral vs Central Functions

Another critical point this hypothyroidism overview will help you grasp is the reality that present testing procedures for diagnosing hypothyroidism only look at whether the thyroid gland is fulfilling its central role - in other words, producing enough of its principle hormone known as T4 (thyroxine).

The fact that there are equally important peripheral components to how the thyroid functions within the body is ignored or not understood.

Unfortunately, present-day hypothyroid tests for measuring supposed thyroid function are more quantitative (only measuring the amount of something), rather than qualitative (measuring how functional, or effective the tested body part or secretion actually is at the target site).

Three Questions To Ask In Regard To Thyroid Testing

For instance, there are three questions which need to be asked in regards to overall thyroid function, and which this hypothyroidism overview will explore, namely:

1) Do the thyroid cells secrete enough T4 hormone (let alone T3, T2 and T1 – the other thyroid hormones)?

2) Is this T4 (which is mostly in an in-active format) subsequently converted to the more active T3 (triiodothyronine) form in sufficient amounts? This conversion mostly occurs in organs peripheral to the thyroid gland, such as the liver, kidneys, and within all cells themselves.

3) And finally, is this activated T3 actually able to effectively dock onto, and stimulate the various cellular receptor sites on and within cells? Much like a lock and key – if the key is dysfunctional (broken in some way) then it won't turn the lock, even if it does fit into the lock!


"Normal" Thyroid Tests Only Measure Central Function – Not Peripheral Function

'Normal' blood tests for diagnosing hypothyroidism only consider the first question asked above, but don't measure the other equally crucial aspects to overall function of the thyroid gland!

Yet, it's precisely this peripheral component to thyroid disease, which nevertheless does drive so many people's experience of very real hypothyroidism symptoms.

This page is more about a general hypothyroidism overview, however, you can explore these peripheral aspects in greater depth by going to the section discussing 'Thyroid Function'.

Simply put... the tests routinely used for diagnosing hypothyroidism are presently incapable of detecting those more subtle, underactive thyroid states (where TSH, FT4 & FT3 test results are all inevitably 'normal'), let alone testing the viability of the equally crucial peripheral components determining optimal thyroid function.

You can explore these issues in greater detail by clicking here.

Unfortunately, the average doctor – and even some endocrinologists! – simply haven't caught up yet with this latest shift in knowledge about the multi-layered aspects to this facet of thyroid disease.

The sad consequence of such a lack of understanding is that many people with genuine underactive thyroid symptoms are not being picked up through 'normal' diagnostic procedures – let alone treated!


Why The Term Subclinical Hypothyroidism?

This important term is introduced in this hypothyroidism overview to highlight the reality that many people can experience authentic hypothyroidism symptoms, yet are not clinically visible to the doctors they are consulting, because routine thyroid tests (TSH, FT4 & FT3 – all discussed in greater detail later – aren't capable of detecting this earlier stage of thyroid failure.

The unfortunate end result is that such people fall between the 'diagnostic cracks'. It's a sad reality that within medicine there's a far too frequent and disconcerting phenomenon whereby too much status is given to laboratory results, compared to the amount of validity given to the information presented by the patient, or which a keen clinical eye would be able to observe in that patient.

More Focus Is Usually Given To The Physical Symptoms Of Hypothyroidism

Another aspect that needs to be touched on in this hypothyroidism overview, in regard to the misdiagnosis of genuine hypothyroidism cases, is the reality that far too many doctors only look for the physical symptoms believed to be due to an underactive thyroid.

These would include symptoms such as excessive weight gain or obesity; dermatology symptoms such as dry, scaly skin, chronic eczema; poor circulation; cold and/or heat intolerance; chronic tiredness; constipation; hair loss; muscle cramps, low libido... to name but a few.

The problem is that a low thyroid status can equally produce a lot of mental and emotional symptoms, with powerful effects on mood, feelings and brain function, like forgetfulness or a sense of confusion, depression, anxiety and much more.

For a more comprehensive listing of hypothyroid symptoms, you might like to click here to do the 'Thyroid Quiz.'


5-Minute Consults Inevitably Misdiagnose Hypothyroid's Mental & Emotional Symptoms

Unfortunately, depression and tiredness are two of the most common symptoms the average doctor encounters, and an underactive thyroid is often simply not considered as a valid cause of such symptoms. Especially, if the routine thyroid tests all come back as supposedly 'normal!'

So, what's a doctor to do in a 5–10 minute consult, but grab the prescription pad and prescribe some antidepressants? Yes, the depression and tiredness may improve on such therapy, but nothing has been done to truly resolve the deeper issues driving those symptoms.

Surely, such an approach can hardly be classified as an optimal way in which to treat a person's lack of wellness? But the bigger problem is that all these 'quick fixes' accumulate over time, often resulting in people taking large numbers of specific drugs for specific symptoms – yet many of which are driven by just one core dysfunction – an underactive thyroid.

Urgent Need For A Paradigm Shift

Hopefully, what this hypothyroidism overview has accomplished is to allow you to see that there is so much more to an underactive thyroid than simply whether the thyroid gland is producing enough hormone, or whether there is an iodine deficiency, which is what most authorities will tell you.

And we haven't even looked at the many environmental factors which play an important role in determining how functional your thyroid gland will be!

The reality is that for many people, the focus needs to be more on subclinical aspects to their hypothyroidism. Yet, when this term is mentioned to many doctors, you either get a blank stare, or they hotly deny that subclinical hypothyroidism has any validity or relevance in medically accepted treatment approaches.

The problem is that hypothyroidism is not an on/off situation. This condition far too often presents with a vast, 'grey zone' of under-function, before it goes into full-blown malfunction, but which nevertheless creates a large number of very real symptoms.

There's an urgent need for a deep and powerful paradigm shift to occur within medicine when it comes to adequately managing thyroid problems, especially those of a subclinical nature.


Primary, Secondary & Tertiary Hypothyroidism

In this hypothyroidism overview, it's also important to acknowledge the reality that hypothyroid disease can be broken down into:

• Primary hypothyroidism

• Secondary hypothyroidism

• And tertiary hypothyroidism

Such differentiation becomes significant when treating an underactive thyroid from an holistic, and hence more genuinely curative basis.

It's also imperative to not mix up the concepts of primary and secondary hypothyroidism with hypothyroidism type 1 or 2. They are uniquely different, as further exploration within this website will clarify.

Hypothyroidism And Detoxification

Another factor in hypothyroid disease, necessitating a mention in an hypothyroidism overview, is the fundamental need for detoxification in anyone presenting with an underactive thyroid gland.

Common environmental toxins, such as chlorine, fluoride and bromine are known to seriously hamper thyroid function – often by competing with iodine within the body.

Ignoring the need to detox the body of these – and other - noxious substances can seriously impede a person's capacity to recover from an underactive thyroid.


The Need For Stress Management In Hypothyroidism

A final point to bring up in this hypothyroidism overview, is the fact that stress is inevitably a major factor in most ill-health conditions. Equally so in thyroid disease.

Let's look at just one example of how stress can affect thyroid function by seriously hindering normal intestinal function, which in turn can significantly disturb liver function.

We need to keep reminding outselves that despite a tendency for medicine to break down and isolate overall body function into numerous, and seemingly separate and isolated states of function, nothing could be furhter from the truth.

Everything is interconnected within our bodies, and we ignore that reality at out peril! Disrupt one organ or gland function, and it will inevitably cascade into dysfunction elsewhere within our system.

So too with anything that affects liver function, because it is one of the major organs playing an essential role in converting the less active T4 thyroid hormone into the far more active T3 hormone. If this conversion is hampered, then so too is thyroid function.

Hence, any holistic approach to treating hypothyroidism must take into account a person's stress levels; how this impacts on gut function, which in turn affects liver function, which in turn affects thyroid hormone conversion. Therefore, it is crucial to teach patients ways in which to more effectively manage their daily stressors.

A Final Point Of Emphasis

It's worth reiterating that what is called for in the overall arena of hypothyroidism is a recognition that subclinical hypothyroidism is more about a systemic failure on a cellular as well as a secondary organ level (liver and kidneys), compared to solely a thyroid gland failure... which is how many within medicine perceive it to be.

I hope that this hypothyroidism overview has helped clarify issues around hypothyroidism which may have been a bit of a mystery before.

By the time you have more deeply explored the various topics covered in this site: holistic-hypothyroidism-solutions.com, you will no doubt also have a much better grasp of the many subtleties associated with an underactive thyroid.

This in turn should give you a more self-empowered platform from which to bring a struggling thyroid gland back to optimal function - if this is a condition you feel you do have, but may not have had vindicated by medical science.

Now you know why that medical vindication may not have occurred, and why your intuitive sense was correct afterall!


"Knowledge empowers; intuition guides – both are needed to succeed in Life's Journey"

(Please note that this is a recently launched site (May 2012), with much more information to be added.

If some of the links haven't yet been activated, but you're interested in a particular topic, and would like to be advised when that information is uploaded, then do fill out the 'Contact Form' below, and you'll be advised of each new update to this site's ever-increasing amount of self-empowering information).


Topics Accessible From This Page

Hypothyroidism & Thyroid Resistance Hypothyroidism & Autoimmune Diseases
What Is Hashimotos Disease Primary Hypothyroidism
Secondary Hypothyroidism Tertiary Hypothyroidism
Hypothyroidism & Hormonal Imbalance Hypothyroidism & Holistic Health
Graves Disease Living With Hypothyroidism
Hypothyroidism & The Immune System

Return here from Hypothyroidism Overview to this site's Home Page at: Holistic-Hypothyroidism-Solutions.com

Return here from 'Hypothyroidism Overview' to 'Thyroid Function' at: Holistic-Hypothyroidism-Solutions.com

Link To Peter de Ruyter's Other Website


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