FAQ: I feel that I am hypothyroid but my doctor says my blood tests are normal. What can I do?
First, make sure you have had a complete panel of blood tests, not just the TSH. At a minimum, a total T4 and/or Free T4, and a Total T3 and/or Free T3 should be run in addition to a TSH. (Many doctors use the T3 uptake test, but it is not a direct test of T3 levels, and can be influenced by other hormones. The T7 test or Free T4 Index is a "calculated" test and of little value.) Then get the actual value of your blood tests and compare them with the lab reference ranges. The lab reference ranges are very wide, and you might not feel well with "low normal" results. Some doctors realize this, and you might be able to talk him/her into a trial of thyroid hormone with low normal lab values. Often, thyroid antibodies tests and TRH stimulation test are abnormal even when blood tests are within reference ranges.
A TRH stimulation test measures one form of secondary hypothyroidism, originating in the pituitary gland. For more information on secondary hypothyroidism, see:
In Hashimoto's Hypothyroidism, antibodies are elevated-- For a discussion of this, see:
Also, there are at least three "alternative" treatments for hypothyroidism involving the administration of thyroid hormone even with normal thyroid blood tests. Be forewarned that many endocrinologists are unfamiliar with these, or dismiss the theories. These are for your consideration only, not to be construed as medical advice for your particular situation, and this has been written by a non medical person. They are as follows:
1. Broda Barnes Foundation -- Dr. Broda Barnes (he is now deceased) gave many of his patients Armour Thyroid (dessicated) when they had low basal body temperatures, as measured under the armpit upon waking up in the morning. He reported excellent clinical results with this. More information and book and doctor references can be obtained from the Broda Barnes Foundation.
Broda O. Barnes, MD Research Foundation, Inc.
The above website can be only partially viewed without Java, but you can still access their telephone number and e mail.
A general discussion of hypothyroidism, including a reference to Broda Barnes, may be found here--
2. Wilson's Syndrome -- Dr. E. D. Wilson, in his clinical practice, found that cycles of time release T3 medication (specially compounded by a compounding pharmacy) could raise body temperatures to normal, and often symptoms disappear when normal temperatures are achieved. He believes that an overlooked problem is T4 to T3 conversion problem (the T3 hormone is by far the more active at the cellular level), otherwise known as sick euthyroid syndrome, which can "stick" after the stress is gone. Dr. Wilson believes that this is most common among those whose ancestors survived starvation, such as Irish and Native American. He also finds that many WS patients have red highlights in their hair. The goal of the therapy is to be weaned off all medication and have temperatures averaging 98.6 degrees. The Wilson's Syndrome Foundation number is 1-800-621-7006. If you are ordering the book, the web sites below would probably be quicker. The web sites with information are as follows:
Wilson's Syndrome Foundation
The Cold Body Page
Included in the Wilson's Syndrome website is a forum to post questions. Often Dr. Wilson himself will answer.
Wilson's Syndrome Forum
3. Lowe's Theory -- Dr. John Lowe is a chiropractor in Houston, who, in collaboration with the family medicine department at Baylor University Medical School, has done double blind studies showing that euthyroid fibromyalgia is a disorder of hypometabolism. Depending on the results of blood tests and the TRH stimulation test, which he uses, he recommends T4 or T3 medication, often using the latter in very high doses. He reports that his research has confirmed that when thyroid hormone is used properly, it is a safe and effective treatment for fibromyalgia. Dr. Lowe believes that in euthyroid fibromyalgia, T3 receptors in the cells may be mutated or otherwise hindered from regulating gene transcription (possible causes include environmental toxins such as PCBs and dioxins). Unlike the first two theories, he does not rely on changes in body temperature during treatment. Dr. Lowe has a newly published book, The Metabolic Treatment of Fibromyalgia (The Lowe's theory explanation was edited by the Fibromyalgia Research Foundation.)
The Metabolic Treatment of Fibromyalgia
Dr. John C. Lowe
For a discussion of the hypometabolism theory of fibromyalgia and other alternative treatments of fibromyalgia, (concentrating on the orthomolecular approach) see this website (some of these supplements may help hypothyroidism):
Alternative FM treatments
For another discussion of Lowe's theory, and autoimmune problems in chronic fatigue syndrome:
Chronic Fatigue, Fibromyalgia, Gulf War Illness
This international thyroid group site is made up of medical professionals and lay people who are all sufferers and the site is registered with HON (Health on the Internet).
International Thyroid Group
For one doctor's discussion about T3 medication, read this enlightening account about the use of Cytomel for subclinical hypothyroidism.
You can find interesting MEDLINE abstracts searching for "T3" "Triiodothyronine" and "Liothyronine." Among other things, I have found that tissue levels of T3 in hypothyroid rats are not normal unless T3 is supplemented along with T4, that low T3 levels in tissues may be common in rats given diabetes, that T3 receptor problems may be involved in attention deficit disorder, and that T3 can work as an anti-depressant.
Welcome to PubMed (medical search)
There is evidence that T3 medication can help autonomic nerve dysfunction, which can be related to neurally mediated hypotension and other causes of chronic fatigue, as well as heart disorders. Here is one study:
Treatment of Raynaud's phenomenon with triiodothyronine corrects co-existent autonomic dysfunction: preliminary findings.
Test results showed a considerable improvement. ........Evidence of somatic neuropathy was present electrophysiologically in all 9 subjects and clinically in 8. Triiodothyronine may have corrected autonomic dysfunction by increasing blood flow to ischaemic peripheral nerves or by acting on the autonomic system more directly.
•Gledhill RF •Dessein PH •Van der Merwe CA
Address: Department of Internal Medicine
University of Pretoria, South Africa.
Postgrad Med J
Volume: 68, 263 through 267
There are many traditional web sites on thyroid disease. The Mining Company has lots of past articles that are worth reading. Here is the web site:
Thyroid Disease, Welcome from The Mining Company
Here is a Mining Co site on Alternative Medicine:
Alternative Medicine, Welcome from The Mining Company
If you want a refresher course in high school biology, on how food is converted into energy, and the implications for our health, see this commercial website, sponsored by ENADA, an NADH supplement mentioned in the Alternative FM site. The "sparks" of energy actually burst on the screen, (at least with Windows 95) so be ready to duck!
Welcome to the Guided Tour 01
FAQ: Are there any special diets that can help hypothyroidism?
If you feel the pyramid diet is not working for you, if you are carbohydrate sensitive, have low blood sugar, or a strong post prandial response (tired after a big meal), see these web sites on alternative information about diet. The Zone turns the pyramid diet into a building block. Of special interest are the Zone ideas about fatty acids.
The Zone Files
Carbohydrate Addicts ~~ Healthy Food Differences
The Paleolithic Diet Page
Here is a web site compiling research on low carbohydrate diets--
Low Carb Research
For an alternative view on the low fat diet craze see this web site--
Article on Low Fat Diets
Is genetic heritage a factor in the ideal diet?
Peter D'Adamo, ND
The glycemic index of foods can be important.
Benefits of Low Glycemic Foods
Are unbalanced electrolytes a problem?
FAQ: I have other health problems in addition to hypothyroidism. Are they related?
In wholistic medicine, ALL parts of the body are related, not just the physical, but the mental and the spiritual as well. Of course, in hormonal disorders like hypothyroidism, it is common for many parts of the body to be involved. But there is one condition that seems to be fairly common in many chronic health conditions-- intestinal permeability.
If you are having gastrointestinal problems that may mimic hypothyroidism, or contribute to it, good web sites to check out are these related to leaky gut syndrome:
Altered Immunity and Leaky Gut Syndrome
Welcome to GSDL
There seems to be some evidence that abnormally shaped red blood cells may block the flow of nutrients and oxygen into small capillaries. One doctor who has done work in this area is Dr. Les Simpson from New Zealand.
Red Blood Cell Shape
If you have severe allergies along with your hypothyroidism, you might want to access this web site discussing enzyme potentiated desensitization, a promising new allergy treatment:
Enzyme Potentiated Desensitization
Here is another new form of allergy treatment which, though not scientifically studied, to my knowledge, seems to have good clinical results for some people:
Other conditions that may mimic hypothyroidism include, but are not limited to, low adrenal function, hemochromatosis, celiac disease, and pernicious anemia. The book From Fatigued to Fantastic by Jacob Teitelbaum, MD is recommended as a "reference book" for testing for all possibilities. His book, in turn, can refer you to other authors.
Dr. Teitelbaum has a website promoting his book and newsletter. It usually has a few interesting articles to peruse. Of particular interest is the site where you "vote" on which treatment helped and which didn't help chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia. Of course the thyroid treatments are part of that. But the list ranges from homeopathy to sleep medications to massage therapy.
From Fatigued To Fantastic
There is ongoing research into the role of viruses, bacteria, and mycoplasma in chronic health conditions such as fatigue, arthritis, and lupus.
Medical Mycology Research Center Index Page
Dr. Garth Nicolson Discusses Mycoplasma
CFS Radio Show Transcript
Webs sites with links to many alternative medicine web sites (eg, acupuncture and homeopathy), some of which have been used to treat hypothyroidism without the administration of thyroid hormone (or in addition to it), and links to digests and articles:
NONE OF THE ABOVE SHOULD BE TAKEN AS MEDICAL ADVICE, WHICH YOU SHOULD GET FROM A QUALIFIED PRACTIONER. DO NOT APPLY THIS TO YOUR PARTICULAR SITUATION WITHOUT PROFESSIONAL GUIDANCE. TRADITIONAL MEDICAL DOCTORS MAY VIEW SOME OF THE ABOVE TREATMENTS WITH SKEPTICISM.