Tired of being tired? Measure thyroid properly for true evaluation
BY SUZY COHEN Dear Pharmacist
Saturday, December 01, 2012
Dear Pharmacist, I went through
your timeline on Facebook and learned
why I’m still tired and overweight. My
physician says my TSH is normal, just
like you said he would; can you discuss
hypothyroidism in your column? —
G.O., Decatur, Ill.
There’s an epidemic of tired,
overweight folks who don’t
know they’re hypothyroid
because of improper testing.
Some old-school physicians
are still drawing blood levels
of TSH (thyroid stimulating
hormone) as the sole method
to evaluate thyroid function.
TSH is incapable of telling you
or your doctor what’s happening
inside your cells. It’s fine to
check as part of a comprehensive
profile, but not by itself.
People are often told they have
“normal” thyroid levels, based
upon their “normal” TSH. TSH
is a brain hormone and has
nothing to do with intracellular
(mitochondrial) levels of active
thyroid hormone called “T3."
TSH may very well be normal,
while T3, (the hormone you
want) is desperately low. You
will hold on to weight, have
dry skin, suffer with hair loss,
fatigue, muscle aches, arrhythmias,
anxiety and low libido.
TSH is just a messenger
hormone; it’s not active though
levels are ideal around 0.1 to 1.0
mIU/l. Measuring a “free T3”
gives you relevant, usable data.
I’d shoot for 3.5 to 4.2 pg/ml
myself. During the same blood
test, you should also measure
T4 (which is inactive hormone,
but it converts to T3). This is
important to ascertain because
it gives you a gauge to see how
much hormone is available to
eventually become active.
Evaluating blood levels of
Reverse T3 also called “Reverse
thyronine” and abbreviated
as “rT3” is equally important.
Reverse T3 is a mirror image of
active T3. Elevated rT3 causes
all the symptoms of clinical hypothyroidism
I just mentioned.
It’s often high in people with
Did you know that hypothyroidism
is a major cause for
diabetes? When rT3 is high,
that means it’s poised like a
pitbull on your cells’ receptor
sites preventing the real deal
(T3) from entering the cell. The
net result of elevated rT3 is you
feel like zombie.