Thyroid tests misleading

Pictures taken before and after treatment for hypothyroidism. Photos: Type 2 Hypothyroidism: The Epidemic

by Dr. Mark Starr — 

One of the most common problems in medicine today is the testing for hypothyroidism. Blood tests often indicate you are OK when you are not.

Blood tests measure the amount of thyroid hormones, TSH, circulating in our blood. Typically the tests indicate normal values. But it is not the amount of TSH circulating in your blood that counts; it’s whether you can use the thyroid hormones inside the cells where thyroid hormones do their work.

Hypothyroidism is similar to type 2 diabetes wherein the pancreas produces normal amounts of insulin but the cells are unable to utilize the hormone normally.

Thyroid hormones control our metabolism. If your cells are unable to utilize thyroid hormones properly, every aspect of your life may be affected. That is why the list of symptoms and diseases related to hypothyroidism is so lengthy and varied. Symptoms often slowly progress over decades. People think that is just the way they are, and their doctors don’t notice the often subtle and gradual changes, which can sometimes bring about a marked decline in overall health.

The most common symptoms are fatigue and weakness, intolerance to cold, joint and muscle pain, depression, headaches, inability to lose weight, recurrent infections, brain fog, low libido, dry skin, constipation, hair loss and brittle nails. Long-term problems include high cholesterol, heart disease, menstrual and fertility problems.

Many of us are hypothyroid due to genetics. A century ago, 50 percent of Americans died from infection at an early age. Two hundred years ago, the figures were much higher. Susceptibility to infection has always been one of the hallmarks of hypothyroidism. The elimination of plagues, smallpox and tuberculosis, along with the introduction of antibiotics, tampered with nature’s survival of the fittest. The effect has been to preserve those with weakened immune systems and hypothyroidism.

We have altered the gene pool. Now we need higher levels of thyroid hormone to stimulate genetically defective cells into normal activity. It is somewhat akin to when mankind lost its ability to manufacture vitamin C eons ago. Now we need to get vitamin C and thyroid from outside sources. Additionally, there are a host of toxins we all harbor that interfere with thyroid function and contribute to type 2 hypothyroidism.

For supplementation, desiccated thyroid is much more effective than synthetic thyroid. It is natural, so it can’t be patented. Natural Amour Thyroid contains natural thyroid hormones T1, T2, T3 and T4. Synthetic thyroid contains just T3 and T4. Glandular thyroid products available from health food stores have had most of the thyroid hormone removed. Intact desiccated thyroid is available only by prescription.


Mark Starr, M.D.(H), is a lecturer and author of Type 2 Hypothyroidism: The Epidemic. He is board-certified by the American Board of Pain Medicine and recently moved to Arizona where he has a practice in Paradise Valley. 480-607-6503.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 27, Number 4, August/September 2008.


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