Have you ever wondered why your blood work looks normal but you still don’t feel well? It takes 10, 20 or 30 years before your blood work may become abnormal. You went to your doctor all those years saying that you don’t feel well, your energy is low, your body temperature is low or that you have a sudden weight gain, constipation or even hot flashes which are all symptoms we don’t attribute to thyroid. It is estimated that 90% of America has thyroid issues and most go undiagnosed. The key is to understand that these symptoms are attributed to thyroid despite what your blood work looks like. When the blood work becomes abnormal, your doctor gives you thyroid replacement hormone and 9 times out of 10 your blood work becomes normal, however, you still don’t feel well. Let’s explore why this happens.
Three reasons why your blood work can be normal and you still don’t feel well.
Autoimmune condition – this condition, most commonly called Hashimoto’s, simply means that your own immune system is attacking its thyroid. Most doctors don’t test to see if you have an autoimmune thyroid condition or not, because the treatment is the same when it really should be different. When the blood work is abnormal, T4 hormone replacement is given which pushes your TSH to normal levels. If an autoimmune condition is present, even though your hormone levels seem normal, T4 hormone replacement does very little for the symptoms and that is why you don’t feel well. Therefore, it is very important to know if you have an autoimmune condition.
T4 thyroid hormone may not be converting to an active form of thyroid hormone called T3. T4 hormone is produced and stored in the thyroid but it is not an active form of hormone. In order for T4 to be activated, it has to be converted to an active hormone called T3. The conversion from T4 to T3 takes place in the liver. If this conversion does not take place even though your blood work comes back normal (“normal” refers to TSH levels that doctors use to gauge so you should feel well), your brain still senses a normal level of T4 and therefore, shuts down the production. This may happen due to liver issues and selenium deficiency.
T3 receptor problem
To understand this problem, we need to understand how our body works. The body is made up of many cells. Every cell has millions or more receptors. When taking a vitamin, for example, it has to attach itself to a receptor on the cell. Then it has to enter the cell and communicate in order for it to do what it has to do. When a vitamin can’t enter the cell, that is when problems happen. T3 is an active hormone. In order for T3 to work, it has to communicate with the receptors on the cell, attach itself to the receptor and enter the cell and only then is allowed to do its job like tell your DNA what to do therefore you feel well. Then you gain a lot of energy, you don’t gain weight and you can lose weight. This works well only if T3 enters these receptors. The real problems are not necessarily problems with hormones themselves, but rather the receptor to the hormone.
There is an epidemic of something called inflammation of the cell membrane which is the cause of the majority of degenerative diseases such as thyroid, diabetes, cancer to an extent and even the inability to lose weight. Inflammation of the cell membrane blunts the hormone receptors on the cell and prevents the cell from “hearing” the hormone so it can enter the cell. The analogy is like having plenty of gasoline but not being able to get it into your car. If you can’t get it into the car, then what good is it? Even if the T4 was converted to T3 and then could not get into the cell, then it will not communicate with the cell and will not be able to do the job and you won’t feel good.
Stress is a big conversion setback. When you undergo stress, your body takes T4 and instead of converting it into T3, it converts it into rT3 (reverse T3). rT3’s role in times of stress is to bind to the T3 receptor on the cell and block the T3 from getting its message to the cell for energy. This is normal because during stress your body wants to conserve energy and reserve it for healing. Just like when you have the flu, all your body wants to do is rest because it has no energy. After you are feeling better, rT3 stops binding to the cell receptor and T3 now can get its message into the cell. This process is not bad if it is temporary. What happens if the stress becomes chronic and your body is always under stress? Well, then you end up with the condition called ReverseT3 Dominance and that is not a good condition to have. When Free T3 is taken and divided by rT3, it gives them a number which will confirm if you are in rT3 or T3 dominance. When stress becomes chronic, whether its emotional or toxic, it can keep you in rT3 or T3 dominance. When that is the case, T3 is not getting into the cell and you are not feeling well. Adrenals, leaky gut and improper digestion of foods all have to be considered in thyroid health.
You have to fix the cell to get well.
Three main causes that increase inflammation of the cell are 1. Overconsumption of sugar and grains, 2. Bad fats and 3. Toxins. When the cell membrane is fixed, inflammation is reduced, only then you can get the toxins out and get the good stuff in. The hormones can now start communicating with the cell again. Remember, the symptoms you are identifying with is the reason why you are not feeling well, have no energy and not losing weight. Don’t just look at the blood test results and be satisfied. There are other tests that need to be done, there are definitely things that you can do that can make a big difference in your health.
Larisa Belote, CHHC, AADP, Integrative Nutrition Health Coach is a strong believer that your body is a smart machine and can heal itself given a chance and the right set of tools. Contact Larisa at 732.490.5770 for an appointment or more information, or visit stepbystep-wellness.net
This article appears in the October issue of Natural Awakenings najerseyshore.com. To subscribe click on the image below.