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Thyroid Funtion Thyroid Bioidentical HRT and Anti Aging

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The Carlton Clinic
Richard Snouffer, MD
1713 Hamric Dr. East, Suite B
Oxford, Alabama  36203

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Thyroid Anatomy

Basic thyroid anatomy at a glance
Basic Thyroid Anatomy

Thyroid Function and its Effects on the Body


Thyroid hormone is responsible for the regulating the metabolic rate of every cell in the body Since every cell in the body depends on its metabolism to perform its function, when the thyroid system is malfunctioning it can affect every system of the body. Thyroid malfunction is very serious.It can cause death whether it is too high or too low Low thyroid is by far the most common.Low thyroid function causes lowered body temperature, weight gain, elevated cholesterol, increased rates of atherosclerosis, heart failure and heart attacks. It is a common cause of fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndromes. It can cause menstrual irregularities and difficulties(heavy flow, irregular flow, painful menses), as well as fertility problems, problems getting pregnant and difficulty staying pregnant to term.  If low thyroid function is severe and left untreated, it can even cause coma and death.

In response to a hormonal signal from the brain, the thyroid gland makes and releases thyroxine into the blood stream This thyroxine molecule is also known as T4 because there are 4 iodide ions attached to it. Thyroxine (or T4) is not very active in telling your body cells how fast to run their metabolism.T4 circulates until it leaves the bloodstream and enters the fluid space around the body cells.There, an enzyme removes one of the iodide ions to turn T4 into T3. T3 is the active form of thyroid hormone that is very good at binding to the cell thyroid hormone receptors and telling the cells how fast to run their metabolism.

Detection of Thyroid Disease

The problem is, much thyroid disease is not detected in the United States. Most doctors are trained to only check TSH and T4 levels and rely completely on those values no matter what symptoms the patient may be having. Even many endocrinologists often say that, "If the TSH is normal, the patient does not have hypothyroidism. Period." this despite the fact that multiple studies have demonstrated that TSH by itself is a lousy indicator of thyroid disease.

There are several ways to have low thyroid function.The thyroid gland could produce too little thyroxine, (Actually, there are several causes of not enough thyroxine production.), the body could be bad at converting T4 to T3 (either by not converting it, or converting it incorrectly into reverse-T3, a form not metabolically active), or the body could have a problem that in some way prevents the T3 from working properly in the cell. The problem with the "standard" thyroid tests utilized by most physicians, is that it will only detect low thyroid function if there is too little thyroid hormone in the blood. It will pick it up if the TSH is elevated, but the TSH is usually only elevated if the thyroid hormone in the blood is low anyway. The other ways to have low thyroid function are usually undetected by the standard TSH and T4 tests.  See Testing for Thyroid Function.


The best form of thyroid hormone replacement therapy would include both T4 and T3, and have a natural, physiologic ratio between the two.Levo-thyroxine, whether generic or brand name, is a synthetic form of T4 only.Liothyronine is a synthetic form of T3 only. However, there is a thyroid hormone replacement that is bioidentical (natural to the human body) and comes in a natural T4/T3 ratio. These are the dessicated porcine products, of which Armour Thyroid is probably the most famous. However, porcine means from the pig. If someone has a religious reason for not consuming pig products, or if someone has had Hashimoto's Thyroiditis, then synthetics are the only choice for thyroid HRT.

Dessicated porcine products are superior to the synthetics for most people. This is my clinical experience as well as that of many other physicians. This conclusion was also backed up by a study published by the New England Journal of Medicine in 1999. This study showed that when patients were switched from synthetic to Armour, most had symptom improvement across multiple symptoms assessed. No one was noted to have improvement in any of the studied symptom categories when being switched away from Armour to the synthetic.

No food for two hours before, or one hour after taking this medicine. Thyroid hormone should be taken with water only.  Coffee and other drinks can interfere with the absorption of thyroid hormone as well as the iodine which the body needs in sufficient quantities for proper thyroid hormone metabolism and function.

For more on thyroid function, see: The Importance of Iodine.

Return to Hormones Page

Bioidentical Hormones and Anti Aging
Testing Thyroid FunctionTesting Thyroid FunctionWays to test the thyroid by laboratory test and basal temperature are discussed.
IodineIodineUses that the body has for iodine, its importance in hormone production and metabolism and the role and safety of iodine/iodide supplementation.

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Copyright © Richard Snouffer, MD
The Carlton Clinic
1713 Hamric Drive East, Suite B
Oxford, Alabama  36203