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Thyroid problems

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  • Thyroid problems

    Hi gang

    Well, I just had my labs reviewed by my ND. She says the reason why my 14 weeks on the PB has not shown any muscle gain/ fat loss is coz my thyroid is messed up (amazing how my allopathic doc says I'm fine- but I guess they take more of a pass/fail approach whereas an ND tend to look at things in grades- like A-F!)

    Any thoughts on thyroid meds? She suggests Armour or another natural brand. I don't like the idea of taking anything but cannot take it much more (all this work and I cannot budge my 29% bodyfat at all) At least we know why...


  • #2

    If you want to know more, you should check out . My wife has been hypothyroid for about 5 years now, and recently switched from synthetic T4-only therapy to armour (I had to go find a new doctor who would prescribe it, so be glad you have a doctor who actively recommends it).

    It's completely premature to diagnose hypothryoidism based on inability to lose weight. If your ND has done some other tests and has other data, that's one thing, but low thyroid effect can be a result of a number of problems with the Pituitary-Thyroid-Adrenal axis.

    The pituitary gland releases thyroid stimulating hormone, which elicits thyroid hormone release from the thyroid. The thyroid gland makes thyroid hormone (T4)T (with iodine as a necessary precursor). The liver converts T4 to T3 with an enzyme made from selenium. Then T3 acts on tissues, as well as being converted into T2 and T1, which also act on tissues to drive metabolism. Cortisol from the adrenal glands helps get thyroid hormone into the tissues.

    Low metabolism could be a pituitary issue, in which case you'd have low serum thyroid hormones and near-zero TSH levels. You could have adrenal fatigue, with insufficient cortisol for your tissues to use the thyroid hormone. You could have iodine deficiency and/or selenium deficiency. High consumption of omega-6 fat will also reduce the effect of thyroid hormone on tissue.

    TSH is the method most doctors use to diagnose hypo/hyperthyroidism. If it's low, that means the pituitary thinks the thyroid is producing too much, and if it's high, the pituitary wants it to produce more (with a working pituitary). Normal range used to be 0.5-5, now it's 0.3-3 (at the time my wife switched doctors her TSH was 5.5 and they were fine with keeping her levothyroxine dose where it was).

    However, in studies, TSH has shown no correlation with symptoms of hypothryoidism. Serum free T3 has shown a mild correlation (R^2 = 0.3, pretty poor) with symptoms -- the best of any of the common tests. I can provide a link to that paper if you want -- the same lab did a study showing that T4+T3 therapy performed better than T4-only therapy in patients, too (in other words, Armour is better than Levoxyl).

    Ultimately the most important thing is your symptoms. Get a good thermometer, and take your waking temperature and afternoon temperature at 3pm. Waking temperature should be 97.8-98.2, and afternoon you should hit 98.6. The more days you can record this for, the better. Then you will be able to track the improvement as you take whatever steps are necessary depending on the eventual diagnosis.

    Other symptoms include dry/cracked skin, feeling like extremities are cold, digestive issues, feeling tired/sleepy in the middle of the day, and many others (

    Armour contains T4 and T3 in a 4:1 ratio, but also contains T2 and T1, as well as calcitonin (a critical hormone for calcium trafficking that T4-only replacement drugs do not supply). Eating animal thyroid glands has been a therapy for ailing patients for thousands of years, and we can assume Grok probably didn't shy away from eating some thyroid either when he got the chance.

    Tried my best to give you the info necessary to navigate dealing with a doctor and thyroid issues, but please ask if you have any other questions.


    • #3

      Marci, I have been watching your posts and I have to say I commiserate....I am about the same age as you, and am having very similar problems. I did primal full on for 2 months, normally I would see some improvement for a change like that, I put on more fat in that time. no sugar of any kind, fat above 55% and carbs well under 50gms. after that I felt very discouraged and fell off the wagon. I still eat well, but am no longer particularly primal, but agree with it in principle. late last year I had a hair analysis that showed high levels of mercury, I had a blood test and my tsh showed 3.17, my ND said this was sub obtimal and put me on some glandulars which did nothing. because of the mercury they did an oral chelation challenge and the stuff they gave me really hurt my kidneys and liver. It was right before xmas so I didnt have alot of time to research it, if I had I wouldnt have done it, as my mineral panel showed my body couldnt take it. then they wanted to do IV chelations and I never went back. I got my amalgams out with a holistic dentist and started feeling better.

      but still I gained weight mostly round hips and butt but creeping to abs and my arms. so went to allopath and told her my concerns, she weighed me, ok I only put on 3 pounds since my check up in NOvember but she doesnt seem to get that its compositional, ie loss of muscle gain of fat. she wouldnt take me seriously. I was almost in tears and she was smirking. I am 5' 3" and weigh 120 but my skeleton is very slight, and I feel my best just under 110, which is where I was 2 years ago, with a lot of lean muscle mass. I guess for her to take me seriously I will have to gain another 80 pounds. I got her to do tsh and t4, but not for lipid panel which is important. my body temp is on the low side.

      I have had urine tests for adrenal function and they showed low function, but have improved recently. So has my sleep and not getting up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom which was driving me mad.

      Anyway, I like to ride my bike on my trainer in the morning, and had quit drinking coffee because of this whole mercury/adrenal mess, then I thought to hell with it, so started drinking coffee again, about the same time I started on the taurine and then I started taking about 3gms of L-Tyrosine which really kicked my energy levels up and I have loads more energy now. when I comb the conditioner out of my hair there seems to be less in the comb now.

      I really wish I could find someone that would take my endocrine concerns seriously that I can trust. At the moment I feel very alone.


      • #4

        wow- Nick & Shelby- amazing responses. There's so much great info in here that I'll have to read & re-read these at home when I can really focus.

        Nick- prior to logging on I found the STTM site while doing a search...will get the book and study it. Yes we've done quite a few tests over the years so I do believe it's thyroid. So hopefully this therapy will help, along with the PB.

        Shelby-sending you a big e-hug!

        I wish I could waive a magic bone (as opposed to a magic wand) and fix all our issues.


        • #5

          Is it common for people who have thyroid problems to have joint/bone aches?


          • #6

            Er, yeah. That wikipedia link didn't hyperlink properly:


            Muscle cramps and joint pain are on the list of early symptoms. Of course that's a symptom with a numerous causes. The thyroid affects so much that it's easy to find a symptom of hypothyroidism, even if you have some other problem. Looking at a combo of body temperature, heart rate, and blood tests (free t3 being the most applicable, but TSH being useful just in case it's a pituitary problem) is the best way.


            • #7

              Hfox -the site Nick recommends is excellent, will answer many questions you may have!


              • #8

                I like the STTM site, good info.

                Marci back at you with the e-hug. wouldnt be nice to know that youre doing the right thing for yourself and it just all fall into place. I really admire your tenacity in the face of treading water, I am so weak willed in comparison!


                • #9

                  Shelby- was it you who said taurine is good for water retention?

                  I commiserate with both of you!

                  I've gained a couple of pounds that I just cannot get off! I mean, they will not budge. I can't figure it out. I gave up sugar entirely and eat really "cleanly". And nothing seems to work. I mean, I used to eat something with sugar every day and at least 2 pints of ice cream a week. I've had none of it for over 2 mos and no change! I don't get it.

                  Last time this happened (where my weight would not budge regardless of diet)-- it was because of my adrenal function.

                  So, what I'm doing is supporting my adrenals, hoping that will help the situation.

                  I'm a little taller than you at 5'4 and weigh 123. I'm most comfortable weighing in at 119-120'ish. I have a small frame and a fair amount of muscle. I'm probably older than you and Marci though- I'm almost 46, so likely my age has something to do with it. Man I hate that! ~to not have control over some of these hormonal issues.


                  • #10

                    Ecala- we are the same age, I am 47 in December, so yeah the changing of the guard is always in the back of my mind, but I figure I am still regular and dont get any symptoms of either perimenopause or menopause, or is that just because I am fit? I know its terribly frustrating having towed the Primal line and not to see any results. I used to be able to tweak my exercise and diet and have absolute control over where it was going, and I hate that my allopath thinks its no big deal. even if its effecting my mental and emotional well being its a big deal imo.

                    I take the Taurine for water clearance and for energy, the tyrosine rocks, suddenly nothing is a big deal for me, my g/f in Chicago started taking it after me and she is noticing some positive changes. I was going thru the motions with my exercise for the longest time, just doing the minimum to keep a base, now I am feeling more on fire like I used to, and am able to train harder. the sleep is up and down, I am going to take some big doses of magnesium to keep me asleep this weekend.

                    I would really just love it if we could just figure out some answers ourselves rather than rely on indifferent health care providers.


                    • #11

                      I am fortunate that I have a very good doctor who is an allopath, but leans alternative/holistic. I'm on thyroid meds because of low FT4 and low FT3-- I had a "normal" TSH of 1.34'ish. I don't know if it's helping or not to tell the truth.

                      Changing of the guard... hahaha..

                      Well, I had the changing of the guard and am not happy about it in the least bit. I'm trying to be more accepting of it but it's difficult. Losing my estrogen is probably about the worst thing that could happen to a female! I do NOT feel sexy anymore. Can you imagine it?


                      • #12

                        I'm with you on not being happy about it, but I know some women cant wait. Speaking for myself I dont want to lose the estrogen that protects me from osteoporosis and heart disease. Why would I be thrilled about that? For the small amount of annoyance the monthly visitor makes I think its worth it.Though admittedly its more than a small annoyance for some.

                        My TSH last count was 3.17, my doctor thinks this is great, my T4 is low and T3 mid range. I have half a mind just to get some Armour but my friend whom is an acupuncturist and naturopath has me on iodine..that with the tyrosine which is a precursor to thyroxine seem to have helped my energy levels. where they were up and down they are mostly up. another friend is a personal trainer and has had me doing weights the last month or so, still in adaptation mode but feel stronger...we were doing hypertrophy but I am feeling bulky so this weekend we are switching to muscle endurance which suits my body better.

                        considering that I am reasonably active and dont go overboard on food, my mind is going round and round on why my body has gone into fat storage mode in such a way that i seemingly have no control over, no matter what I do.

                        I know its vain but I am getting married soon and want to look my best of course, so I am obsessed most of the time which I really hate as its such a waste of energy, but its such a conundrum.


                        • #13

                          Your doctor needs a refresher if TSH == 3.17 is alright with him.

                          In 2003, AACE updated the standard to 0.3-3.0 for normal range:


                          Here's the other paper about TSH and free T4 basically meaning nothing at all:


                          Here's a paper from the same group showing that armour/T4+T3 is superior to T4-only:



                          • #14

                            thanks for the info Nick, I will take it with me when I get my test results next week. I had showed her the 3.17, and suggested to her that it was high, that for women it was supposed to be around 2 or lower from what I had been reading, but she is a skinny 25 year old that couldnt care less. Last year I had an ecg because of my concerns, as my heart rate was unusually low, ie 45bpm,though I had been training hard for a cycling event, but since I am in my mid forties, female and an ex smoker this is stupidly low....(they just said, 'its because youre so fit', crap!)I would measure it after I had eaten lunch, and it would be 45, now it has rebounded, so I am more hopeful.

                            I am living in Cambridge Ontario Canada presently where there is a massive doctor shortage, it took me a long time to get a gp. When I get married I will be moving to the states, and so will be under the care of my fiance's doctor. My fiance is an athlete and so is his doctor and by his accounts a reasonable human being.

                            I hate that I am in touch with my body's changes and my doctor dismisses them. its so frustrating. I will be printing those reports out as ammo, thanks again.


                            • #15

                              62shelby, I am also greatly frustrated by ~25-year old doctors!

                              In the last month, I have had 3 appointments with her and to this day, have virtually no answers whatsoever. She has not handled my concerns with any sense of urgency and she routinely dismisses my own insights about my situation. The only reason I continued to see her was because I was at my wit's end and had no choice but to wait until the end of the month before my insurance would permit me to switch doctors!

                              I wish you the best of luck with finding solutions to your thyroid problem and hope that you find the American doctor much more competent :-)