The Many Benefits of Natural Thyroid
Let Natural Whole Thyroid Help . . .
Although a little thyroid hormone goes a long way, the body's needs are extensive. The thyroid gland is a vital link in the endocrine system. Even a small decline in the output of thyroid hormone, if sustained over an extended period of time, can have profound consequences for health and longevity. Thyroid hormone is vital - without it we would die.
Low thyroid most often affects women over 40, but men and even teenagers can also have reduced thyroid function, especially if it runs in the family. According to some estimates, as many as 15-20% of women over the age of 60 may have subclinical hypothyroidism. This means, essentially, that they would benefit from thyroid supplementation even though most conventional doctors would insist, based on standard laboratory test results, that they had no thyroid pathology requiring treatment. Each year, 5-15% of these women develop symptoms, some of which may contribute to a shortening of their lives.
WHAT LOW THYROID MEANS
Age-related thyroid decline remains underdiagnosed by many conventional doctors, largely because they are not generally trained to look for it. Traditional physicians rely heavily on laboratory results rather than the symptoms the patient may be relaying. Also, many doctors, as well as their patients, accept that the symptoms are due to aging and are therefore normal. They don't consider that there is something that can be done about these discomforts and inconveniences.
Low thyroid (also referred to as sluggish thyroid, thyroid deficiency, and subclinical hypothyroidism) means that your thyroid gland is putting out less thyroid hormones than your body needs. This is a natural occurrence with aging.
The thyroid gland produces a hormone called thyroxine, also known as T4. When functioning properly, the body converts some of its T4 to triiodothyronine, or T3, which is the major active thyroid hormone. Other hormones called T2 and T1 are also formed, although their precise functions are not yet fully understood.
WHY WHOLE THYROID IS IMPORTANT
Natural thyroid preparations containing T4, T3, T2, and T1, most closely resemble natural human thyroid hormones. In fact, the hormones extracted from animal thyroid glands are identical in molecular structure to the human hormones, and there are many advantages in using them. By contrast, synthetic preparations (the prescription drug Synthroid®, for example) consist solely of T4. They depend on the body to convert the T4 to T3 and other metabolites. This may be fine for some people, but for those whose problem is not a decline in T4 production but a defect in the conversion of T4 to T3, taking T4 may not help much. Also, the different thyroid hormones surely exist in the body for a reason, so supplementing with all the thyroid hormones seems the natural course and makes good sense.
(An example of an animal hormone that is not identical in molecular structure to its human counterpart is the horse estrogen used in the drug Premarin®, which unfortunately is widely prescribed for estrogen replacement therapy in menopausal women.)
THYROID HELPS YOUR HEART
It is indisputable that elevated cholesterol levels in the blood are associated with atherosclerosis and the risk of cardiovascular disease. However, cholesterol is not the only indicator for cardiovascular risk. People with elevated levels of the amino acid homocysteine (Hcy) in their blood are at risk for atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease. Some researchers believe that elevated Hcy levels may be as much or even more of a risk factor than high cholesterol.
So how does one go about lowering Hcy levels? Most nutrient-knowledgeable physicians and health care practitioners recognize the need for consuming foods and supplements high in the B vitamins folic acid, B6, and B12.1
We now also know, however, that low thyroid can lead to high Hcy levels. In one study, for example, patients who had their thyroid gland completely removed and had stopped thyroid hormone supplementation were periodically tested for blood Hcy and cholesterol, both of which were found to be increasing (in a parallel fashion).2 When thyroid supplementation was reinstated, however, both of these substances were reduced to the patients' normal levels within 4 to 6 weeks.
Perhaps the best way to combat elevated homocysteine levels, thereby reducing the risk of heart disease, is to use a combination of whole thyroid extract and the B vitamins (folic acid, B6, and B12) known to be beneficial for this purpose.
THYROID HELPS YOUR WEIGHT
Thyroid hormones have a significant effect on weight. Central to the many functions of these hormones is the regulation of the body's metabolism. They speed up or slow down metabolism as needed, thereby governing the rate at which your body burns calories. Ongoing research shows that a healthy thyroid is essential for fat loss.2 As our thyroid function slows down with age, fat storage increases, and we tend to get plump. In our youth, it was almost difficult to put on fat. As we age, however, the same amount of food eaten is more difficult to burn off, and it takes much more exercise to produce the same amount of caloric burn.
Perhaps the best way to combat
elevated homocysteine levels, thereby
reducing the risk of heart disease, is to
use a combination of whole thyroid
extract and the B vitamins.
Metabolism slows by as much as 40% when thyroid function is low.3 Thermogenesis, the process that burns calories as heat, stops when thyroid hormones are not available in brown fat cells.4 Anyone concerned about excess fat needs to ensure good thyroid function. When it is optimal, your body has a better chance of being healthy. If thyroid function is abnormal, however, you may suffer from a number of other discomforts or diseases, even if you're doing everything else right. Nourishing the thyroid is paramount to maintaining good health and your ideal weight.
THYROID HELPS COGNITION AND MOOD
Studies have shown that when patients were given the thyroid hormones T4 and T3 rather than T4 alone, significantly higher cognitive test scores resulted, along with improved mood. The patients who received the T4 plus T3 treatment reported that they had more energy and improved concentration, and they just felt better overall. Probably the most important finding was that the combined treatment improved quality of life. These results help make the case for taking whole thyroid rather than T4 alone.5
Additionally, studies done on pregnant women with low thyroid - one group receiving thyroid supplementation and one group receiving none - found that the children of mothers who were treated with thyroid hormones had higher IQ scores than the children of the untreated mothers. The children were tested between the ages of 7 and 9.6
THYROID HELPS EVERY CELL IN YOUR BODY
Thyroid hormones help regulate virtually every cell in your body, including those in the brain, heart, liver, kidneys, skin, and bones. Among the most important functions of thyroid hormones in our cells is to control the rate of metabolism. If cellular metabolism drops, the result can be mild to severe widespread dysfunction.
If you are tired, are feeling mentally dull or depressed, are cold when everyone else is comfortable, are gaining weight, are losing your hair, have dry skin or brittle nails, have achy, stiff joints, are losing your interest in sex, or are constipated, then you may find that a whole thyroid extract as a dietary supplement can have a wide range of benefits.
- Kok FJ. Folic acid, vitamins B6 and B12: relation to homocysteine and cardiovascular disease. Bibl Nutr Dieta 2001;(55):1.
- Krotkiewski M. Thyroid hormones and treatment of obesity. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord 2000 Jun;24 Suppl 2:S116-9.
- Cui J, Zaror-Behrens G, Himms-Hagen J. Capsaicin desensitization induces atrophy of brown adipose tissue in rats. Am J Physiol 1990 Aug;259(2Pt 2):R324-32.
- Curcio C, Lopes AM, Ribeiro MO, Francoso OA Jr, Carvalho SD, Lima FB, Bicudo JE, Bianco AC. Development of compensatory thermogenesis inresponse to overfeeding in hypothyroid rats. Endocrinology 1999 Aug;140(8):3438-43.
- Bunevicius R, Kazanavicius G, Zalinkevicius R, Prange AJ Jr. Effects of thyroxine as compared with thyroxine plus triiodothyronine in patients with hypothyroidism. N Engl J Med Feb 11, 1999;340(6):424-9.
- Haddow JE, Palomaki GE, Allan WC, Williams JR, Knight GJ, Gagnon J, O'Heir CE, Mitchell ML, Hermos RJ, Waisbren SE, Faix JD, Klein RZ. Maternal thyroid deficiency during pregnancy and subsequent neuropsychological development of the child. N Engl J Med 1999 Aug 19;341(8):549-55.