Today I’d like to talk about Levothyroxine (aka Synthroid). This is currently the most commonly prescribed thyroid medication in the world but this is slowly changing. This article may be a bit difficult to follow so don’t feel bad if you have to read it several times before it all clicks. I usually spend about an hour educating patients about the thyroid with white board drawings so 500 words may not be enough to get the full picture.
The brain secretes Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) which tells the thyroid to make triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4). Some T4 goes back to the brain to turn off TSH secretion so we don’t turn our metabolism up too much and some gets converted to T3 throughout the day.
T3 is the hormone that turns on every metabolic process in our body so of course it’s vitally important. T3 turns on all the factories that burn fuel to make thicker hair, erase brain fog, warm your body, and tons more. Burning this fuel helps maintain a proper weight and when T3 is deficient we slowly gain weight while all the systems slowly fail.
As we get older the body slowly loses its ability to convert T4 into T3. This is one reason why using Levothyroxine a synthetic version of T4) can be a problem. At some point the only way to get T3 is from the T3 produced by the thyroid. As this system ages we begin to develop symptoms of hypothyroidism. These include weight gain, brittle hair, fatigue, cold hands and feet, etc. During this time T4 is still able to go back to the brain and turn off TSH secretion so that TSH levels can still look normal even though the patient feels bad. Unfortunately, most doctors only look at TSH and do not even consider the patients symptoms so most thyroid problems are missed. Many patients tell us we’ve been tested for thyroid problems and were told the test was normal yet have numerous symptoms of thyroid disease and low levels of T3.
Once diagnosed with hypothyroidism, most physicians prescribe Levothyroxine (Synthroid) which is synthetic T4. You may already be able to see the problem here. If we adding T4 to a system that can’t convert T4 to T3 then our symptoms will not improve but our TSH level will still come into a “normal” range. In effect, adding levothyroxine can make your levels look good but not change how you feel. In fact, we frequently see patients on levothyroxine who tell me they felt worse when their doctor raised their dosage. This is because each dosage increase can lower your T3 which is the ONLY hormone that drives your metabolism. To me it’s obvious. Hopefully it is to you as well.
Thank you again for voting us Best in Destin for Women’s Wellness and Anti-Aging. I’m glad to have changed so many lives in our community. If this sounds like you or a friend of yours, call us at 850-837-1271.