The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped organ located in your neck. It is responsible for secreting your thyroid hormones, primarily Thyroxine, which is more commonly known as T4. T4 must be converted to the its active form of T3 in order to be effective throughout the body. This conversion occurs most heavily in the liver and intestines, but also in various other tissues around the body like the heart and muscles.
Wondering what our thyroid hormones do exactly… well, the simple answer is everything! They are involved in every major organ system in the body. They are involved in temperature regulation, brain development, sexual function and so much more. Therefore, when your thyroid hormones are out of the optimal range you can have many symptoms all over the body.
Hypothyroidism results when your thyroid levels are too low. This can be because not enough T4 is being secreted from the thyroid gland or there is an issue affecting the conversion of T4 to the active T3. There are several reasons this can occur. The most common reason is an autoimmune disorder known as Hashimoto’s. In Hashimoto’s your body’s own immune system is attacking the thyroid gland, compromising its ability to function optimally. Other causes of low thyroid hormones typically involve nutrient deficiencies, which can be easily remedied with lifestyle changes and vitamins and supplements. We also need to ensure a healthy liver and intestines, since this is where majority of T3 is created.
Symptoms of low thyroid can include, but are not limited to the following
- Feeling cold, difficulty getting warm
- Weight gain
- Brittle, rigid nails
- Anxiety or depression
- Decreased sexual interest
After making lifestyle changes and starting new supplements, it is possible that you may still require thyroid medication. There are two main categories of thyroid medications bio-identical (synthetic) T4/T3 and porcine-derived (natural) thyroid medication. Both options are equally effective and safe. The choice between these two types of medication is based on the prescriber and patient’s preference as well as the clinical reasoning that thyroid medication is needed in the first place.
Thyroid medication is available commercially, but only in specific strengths and recently has been on national backorder. Compounded options include both the synthetic and natural thyroid medications and can be customized to your needs.