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Thyroid hormone helps the body convert food into energy, regulates metabolism, and body temperature. It also assists in proper function of the brain, memory and mood. Studies show that currently 52 million Americans are affected by this disorder. Approximately 10% of the population have not been diagnosed and suffer from clinical symptoms. This scenario is described as clinical or subclinical conditions.

T4, also known as thyroxine, and T3, or triiodothyronine, are the primary hormones produced. They play a critical role in regulating metabolism, growth, and development.

There are multiple reasons which cause the thyroid to become imbalanced resulting in a reduction in hormones such as Iodine Deficiency. Imbalances can be caused by a variety of factors, leading to conditions such as hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) or hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid.) Most common causes are: autoimmune dysfunction, age, medication, and nutritional deficiencies.

TSH or Thyroid Stimulating Hormone is a test used by all conventionally trained practitioners to determine if thyroid is functioning properly. This test has been utilized since 1973. This test actually measures a hormone from the pituitary gland, not the thyroid. A feedback loop within the body is what determines how much hormone to produce in response to the level of hormone circulating in the bloodstream.

What is a normal TSH Range?

The normal range for TSH has been lowered several times over the years. Currently, the AACE, American Association of Clinical Endocrinologist recommend a TSH level of 0.3-2.0. Many patients are still not being treated based on these guidelines. Most are being treated based on the old guidelines, using a TSH level up to 4.5 or 5.0 as the cut-off. This leaves many people untreated and symptomatic.

If a person suffers from an autoimmune disease, the TSH level can be within the normal range. The antibodies attack the thyroid, causing symptoms of underactive or hypothyroid. It is estimated that 1out of 5 Americans suffer from this disease.

Humans produce T4, T3, T2, T1 and calcitonin. For almost 100 years, practitioners have used porcine thyroid to treat the symptoms of this disorder. The treatment was increased until symptoms were relieved. Today we still use similar treatment protocols, however, caution is taken not to overdose the patient.

In the 1960’s Dr. Broda Barnes proved that when thyroid function was not adequate, cholesterol levels would raise, but once hormone replacement was given these levels fell.

Dr. John C. Lowe has documented a clear relationship between fibromyalgia and thyroid function. Many fibromyalgia patients benefit from treatment that includes T3 hormone. It is important for people to receive a combined product that contains both T4 and T3 especially when the body cannot make the appropriate conversion.

The function of the thyroid gland is to take iodine from foods and convert it into thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). Thyroid cells are the only cells in the body which can absorb iodine. There is a combination of iodine and the amino acid tyrosine to make T3 and T4, these are then released into the blood stream and are transported throughout the body where they control metabolism. Every cell in the body depends on these hormones for regulation of various metabolisms.

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    What is the Thyroid Gland?

    The thyroid gland is a small gland, normally weighing less than an ounce, located in the front of the neck.  It is separated into two halves, which are known as lobes.  This gland is situated just below the “Adams apple”.

    1. It is responsible for controlling the rate of which energy is converted from food.  It regulates digestion, oxygen consumption, and mobilization from fat storage.
    2. It is involved in every process conducted by the body.  In a healthy, balanced body, our gland helps increase immune function, and the activity of virtually all organs, glands, and cells.
    3. The Thyroid gland assists in regulating body temperature by regulating heat and energy production.
    4. In children, it assists in controlling the body’s rate of growth as well as brain development.  It has a direct affect in determining IQ.
    5. It assists in regulating mood and emotion by balancing brain chemistry.

    What are the major effects of thyroid hormone?

    • Basal metabolism and temperature regulation.
    • Carbohydrate and lipid metabolism.
    • The Nervous system.
    • Cardiovascular system is balanced with proper thyroid hormone production.  The heart’s ability to pump efficiently is affected by the amount of thyroid hormone produced.
    • The Muscular system is affected by thyroid production.  When the levels are low, muscle weakness and pain is noted.
    • In the Skeletal system, the thyroid assists in maintaining proper growth and maturation of the skeleton.
    • The Gastrointestinal system is affected by becoming sluggish or overstimulated, depending on the amount of hormone being produced.
    • The Reproductive system is affected by, causing irregular ovulation and menstruation based on the amount of hormone produced.
    • The Integumentary system is balanced with proper hydration based on the amount of hormone produced by the thyroid gland.

    Types of Thyroid Replacement

    The oldest type of thyroid supplement is desiccated thyroid, commonly known as Armour Thyroid. This thyroid replacement contains T4 (Thyroxine) which has four iodine atoms per molecule, and Free T3 the (unbound) portion of triiodothyronine which is believed to be responsible for the biological action. Approximately 20% of T3 is produced by the thyroid gland, with the remainder produced through conversion of T4 in the body. In order for this conversion to be effective, the body needs trace minerals and iodine.

    Various nutritional deficiencies, medications and diseases can interfere with conversion of the T4/T3 process. The following chart is an example of things that affect this conversion process.

    Nutritional DefMedicationsOther
    Beta Blockers


    Birth Control Pills



    Lipoic Acid

    Iodinated contrast








    Vitamin A


    Treatment Recommendations

    T4 thyroid supplements, commonly known as levothyroxine, are synthetic forms of the thyroxine (T4) hormone used to treat hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid). Levothyroxine helps restore normal levels of thyroid hormone in the body, thereby normalizing metabolism and other bodily functions.

    T3 supplements, commonly known as liothyronine, are synthetic forms of the triiodothyronine (T3) hormone used to treat hypothyroidism and certain other thyroid conditions. Unlike T4 (thyroxine), T3 is the more active thyroid hormone and exerts a stronger effect on metabolism.

    People may need a combined T4/T3 for optimal management of symptoms.

    Additionally, products which contain combined T4/T3 are Armour, Naturthroid, Thyrolar, and Westhroid. 

    Glandular thyroid replacement is a controversial treatment because it was believed to have inconsistent results in controlling the TSH level.  Armour had a dextrose base, making it a good sublingual dosing product until 2009 when it was reformulated to contain a cornstarch base.

    Cytomel is the most commonly used T3 supplement.  Nonetheless, it is not the best T3 supplement because it has a short half life, 95% of the drug is absorbed within four hours.  All things considered, it should be dosed three to four times a day to obtain consistent blood levels.  It contains talc as a base, which has been known to cause cancer when used in higher amounts.