Thyroid Hormone Resistance

By Linsey McLean
Environmental & Nutritional Biochemist

Enjoy Your Healthy Family

This is a newly recognized condition in the body that occurs when there is an adequate level of active thyroid hormones circulating in the blood, as measured by the standard thyroid profile blood analysis, but the patient still exhibits symptoms characteristic of hypothyroidism, or low thyroid activity. Environmental chemicals known as xenohormones, and more specifically xenoestrogens, (as of today there are over 80,000) are known to interfere with thyroid metabolism in the body, creating this syndrome of normal thyroid blood levels with hypothyroid symptoms. Specific detox of these chemicals while supporting normal basal chemistry has been shown to free thyroid metabolism in the body, relieving many symptoms of hypothyroidism and even normalizing blood profiles. Auto-antibodies decline as well.

Many obese, clinically depressed, severely allergic, chronically fatigued, fibromyalgia etc., patients suffer from this problem and have slipped through the cracks of conventional medicine for years. With the advent of the Prozac® generation of medicine, your body’s "mental response" to your dysfunctional biochemistry may be addressed, but the real disease process still goes on.

As many others before me have said, clinical depression, PMS, obesity, food cravings etc., are NOT Prozac® deficiencies. Mammalian bodies do not produce Prozac® naturally. These are problems with physiology and many are responses to twentieth/twenty-first century environmental chemicals, GMO food etc. It is interesting to note that behavioral, physiological, social and self-control systems break down in a society when environmental considerations are ignored. The lead poisoning of ancient Rome is a wonderful example.

Back to our original topic, the more we understand physiological responses to environmental contaminants, the more we can see that our body acts in a very logical way. Then we can research ways to protect our body and eliminate these foreign substances from the body. After all, that is where it is all truly at, besides trying to clean up the environment and prevent exposure in the first place.

We simply do not have enough time to sacrifice generations of individuals the way Nature does, in adaptations for survival of the fittest, now do we? This is what Hitler had in mind in trying to create the perfect race, eliminating all the imperfections from the gene pool. Understanding the body's physiological responses to anything it is not used to, is essential in trying to heal the body's disease process. When these responses are understood, like Alice traveling through Wonderland, everything becomes logical.


Hypothyroidism & Thyroid Hormone
Replacement in History

By regulating the speed of all processes, the implications for treating low thyroid or hypothyroid symptoms, problems and syndromes, such as chronic depression, chronic fatigue, poor energy metabolism and poor fat metabolism resulting in obesity, and many other conditions emanating from low basal temperature and metabolism, can be successfully treated - if we also understand the other, interfering, mechanisms at work here, in this most commonly occurring ‘Environmentally Induced Illness'.

Conventional medicine, in years past, has tried, often without success, and sometimes with undesirable side effects, to simply "plug in" to the thyroid pathway with various and sundry combinations of synthetic Thyroxine (T4) and Triiodothyronine (T3).

Thyroid hormone replacement therapy is now viewed with caution, and righteously so. Many patients suffered mental and physical side effects so severe so as to never want to touch the stuff again. However, medicine went through the same growing pains with other hormone replacement therapy, namely, estrogen. Women of The Greatest Generation who went through menopause back in the 1960’s, quickly decided that the side effects of estrogen replacement therapy at that time, were worse than suffering through menopause unaided.

Now, with state of the art laboratories and bio-identical hormone replacements and natural source hormone precursors available, Baby Boomer women today are spared the horrors of hormone replacement that our mothers suffered. New information is available to us about thyroid metabolism also, so that we no longer have to "throw the baby out with the bath-water".
Thyroid Hormone Replacement, Natural versus Synthetic

Now we come to a problem exhibited commonly among the hypothyroid population, that of the inability to enzymatically convert T4, the storage form of thyroid, to the biologically active form T3, in any amount necessary to be truly effective. This common scenario results in the patient consistently showing a "normal" T4 in blood, even being treated with the common synthetic T4, by the name of Synthroid® or Levothyroxine, and still feeling rotten. The addition of supplemental selenium, in a nicely bioactive form of selenomethionine will help greatly. Selenium is a mineral that is necessary to fuel the enzyme necessary to convert T4 to T3.

Individually, there is also a group of people who do not do very well on just T4 alone. For this group, changing to a natural form of desiccated thyroid, like Armour® or Nature-Throid® can make all the difference in the world. In fact, the generic forms of desiccated thyroid that weigh in at 65mg per grain, are what I have found to be the best choice for sufferers of hypothyroidism, The 65mg/one grains are standardized to contain exactly the same amount of T4 and T3 as the standard one grain of 60mg. The added 5mg are more of the desiccated thyroid components known to contain, as yet, unidentified factors that help with such problems as water retention and possibly other problems.

A common misconception with physicians in using a natural based product over a synthetic one is that so much more of the natural one has to be used, which, in turn, appears to lower its potency and therefore, its effectiveness. This is, I repeat, a total misconception. The one grain is standardized at 38mcg T4, and 9mcg T3. This amount of T4 is equivalent to 0.38mg of a synthetic version. But is it really? Environmentally Induced Illness sufferers who have been down the roads of synthetics, myself included, firmly resound a "nay". There is just no comparison in how you feel! And isn't that the real bottom line anyway? There would be no reason to challenge the current establishment and create unnecessary havoc for ourselves if the stuff really wasn't much better, if at all, since both are equally inexpensive, as prescriptions go.

The problem that just won't seem to go away in the minds of physicians, is that, in the early days of thyroid therapy, thyroid extract wasn't able to be standardized to be the same potency, batch after batch. This was a huge problem, as it depended on the thyroid status of the pigs that the glands were extracted from. Those days are now, thank goodness, long over. Could this residual resistance be coming from the pharmaceutical manufacturers of synthetics, for which they are protecting patents? Yes, I own patents too, and I know how much work and dollars go into them. But protecting them with false advertising about questionable potencies of competing products is more of a business than an ethical policy, especially when standardization of every batch is now guaranteed by law.


The Dirty Little Secret About Synthetics

The unspoken secret about synthetically made thyroid hormone is that is it not identical to Nature. Man has not learned yet the trick of making hormones like thyroid, with a base/backbone of amino acids to be exactly like Nature. You see, amino acids can exist in two forms, identical in structure but opposite in the arrangement of the components of the molecules in the three dimensional model. They exist as mirror images of each other.

If you look at your hands, they are mirror images of each other. In no way can you overlay one hand upon the other, yet they have the same fingers, in the same order, and what you can say about one hand will apply to the other... except the 3 dimensional shape. This phenomenon is referred to as stereoisomerism. And this fundamental aspect of biochemistry is crucial to understanding why some drugs work differently in some people than others, such as antidepressants. One form is natural and bioactive, the other form is a degraded form. In fact, we can even determine the age of dinosaur bones by looking at the ratio of D to L forms of tyrosine, which also happens to be the backbone of the thyroid molecule. In making thyroid hormone synthetically, we still do not know how to control the reactions in the vat so that we get all the L forms, like Mother Nature does. Therefore, each batch can be different in the amounts of the active L forms created in ratio to the degraded D forms also created. And this is the reason that synthetic forms often do not work as well for many people, where the natural forms will. Even if the product is labeled as L thyroxine, it is a mixture of both forms. It is not pure L form. Back in 1969, my organic chemistry professor at the University of Michigan challenged his students with this problem of industrial chemistry. The discovering how Mother Nature directed the assembly of stereoisomers would absolutely guarantee a Nobel Prize. That Nobel has yet to be claimed.


Blood Testing to Monitor Thyroid Metabolism

Incorporating all of this new information is crucial in interpreting the truly limited data we can acquire from our current laboratory tests. As mentioned previously, we don't have tests for everything and probably never will have, at least in our lifetime. So it would be a mistake to try to categorize every individual patient, each with his or her own collection of symptoms and syndromes and different exposures, and to forget their own set of genetics, into a "one size fits all".

It has been found that chemical compounds, viruses, bacterial infections and whatever else you can think of as foreign to the body, can set off an "autoimmune "reaction. It has also been discovered that these culprits can also cause genes to activate that normally would not. Add to this list nutritional deficiencies as well. Shocked? Well, researchers who worked with cats generations ago found, quite by accident, that the genetic anomalies resulting from nutritional deficiencies alone, in only one generation, took a full three to four generations to correct on a good nutritional program. It makes you think twice about what we are putting into our and our children's bodies. See The Pottinger Cat Studies.

The current procedure for evaluating thyroid metabolism in the body is to first screen for a standard thyroid profile which measures circulating Total T3 (biologically active form) and Total T4 ( storage form), plus a TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) . What happens to be circulating, however, often is not able to be biologically active, or can't plug into the receptor sites to do its job efficiently. But it will give you and idea of the levels of “roadblocking” elements in the body if compared with the free levels of T4 and T3. Even though it is currently thought that this profile covers just about everything, you can see from new information being presented that it doesn't.

It would be much more representative if there were no "roadblocks" to consider, and if everybody's thyroid followed the rules we think must apply, and everybody’s receptor sites were “clean”, but in Environmentally Induced Illness, The "Alice in Wonderland" principle applies. You have to know the rules of the kingdom to understand the logic of how things work. Then the light of day shines down and things suddenly make sense.

Simply relying on one test like TSH to gauge the activity or dosage of thyroid replacement, can miss a lot of pertinent information, which can make a dramatic difference in how people feel (not to mention losing lots of business for physicians who treat these victims). If the thyroid had a normal ability to respond in the first place, or receptor sites were functional and clean, then we wouldn't be facing certain of the thyroid metabolism problems.

We have to use as many of the testing abilities that we have, however, we must look at them with different eyes, now armed with the new information in Environmentally Induced Illness. And, word spreads like wildfire for those physicians who are progressive enough to dare to consider the possibility. They quickly become swamped by people, that other successful patients, have referred.