Recently, an older man with serious health problems came to Erica Schwartz, MD, for consultation. She examined his medications and treatments, and decided to consult his cardiologist in order to change the patient’s therapy.
The man was suffering from excess weight, low testosterone and thyroid levels as well as eczema which caused unbearable itching. When she finally reached his cardiologist in three weeks, her proposition was quickly shunned. “The guy said to me, ‘I can’t talk to you. You don’t know science.” After stating that they have the same medical degree, she adds “he hung up on me!”
Afterwards, she explained what happened to her patient and suggested he changes his cardiologist and try her treatment, which included boosting the levels of thyroid hormones and eliminating the cholesterol medication. In the beginning, the patient was not really fond of the treatment, but he eventually agreed when Dr. Schwartz explained that regulating the thyroid hormones will keep his cholesterol levels low.
Thyroid hormones are produced by the thyroid, an endocrine gland which is located on the lower front part of the neck. The two main thyroid hormones are T3 and T4 – T4 is turned to T3 in cells and is then distributed throughout the body. The main function of the thyroid is to regulate metabolism and provide the body with energy, while maintaining proper function of your organs. Hypothyroidism is the most common thyroid disorder, and it occurs when the gland is underactive and doesn’t provide sufficient amounts of thyroid hormones. The problem can be caused by internal and external factors such as Hashimoto’s disease, an autoimmune condition in which the thyroid is attacked by the immune system.
Hypothyroidism exhibits numerous symptoms such as dry skin, brittle nails, fatigue, weight gain, poor reflexes, feeling cold, depression, brain fog, etc. However, these symptoms are linked to other diseases as well, which is why the condition often goes unnoticed. Mary Shomon, an expert on the matter and author of several books says: “People are going in with high cholesterol or depression and are getting handed cholesterol meds and antidepressants. And no one’s ever checking to see if the thyroid is at the root of the problem.”
She also adds that there is a critical flaw in the convention hypothyroidism test – it only measures the levels of TS, a pituitary hormone in the blood. The test doesn’t measure the levels of T3 and T4 in the blood, so many patients who experience the aforementioned symptoms have a normal TSH test result, and are being prescribed medications that don’t treat the underlying issue. “At the end of the day, we suffer because we’re treating individual symptoms, and we don’t look at the body—at the person—as a whole. [The TSH test] is actually doing a disservice to anybody who wants to take care of themselves, or someone who actually wants to take care of the patient,” says Dr. Schwartz.
In order to get proper results, you need to check your T3 and T4 levels individually – it’s vital that you also check if T4 is being converted to active T3 and that the T3 hormone enters the cells accordingly.
Dr. Schwartz’s treatment includes altered diet, hormones, exercise and supplements. Her approach doesn’t treat the symptoms individually – it sees the body as a whole. “What I also found out was that giving those people thyroid to begin with—giving them T3, let’s say, to begin with, which is the active thyroid hormone—was actually the quickest way to get people to feel better. And once they felt better, then you could tweak their diet, exercise, lifestyle,” she says. Dr. Shomon shares her view: “Our metabolism relies, in large part, on our thyroid’s ability to function properly. If we’re not getting enough oxygen or energy to the cells for digestion, for pancreatic function, for brain function, for all of the other hormone production processes and the glands that are producing those, then everything is going to be slowing down and not working properly,” she explains. “It’s the gas pedal, essentially, for everything.”
As you can see, both internal and external factors play a part in thyroid disorders, as they result from a combination of the immune system state, diet, hormones, the environment, etc. “We’re living in such a toxic world—and our lifestyles have changed so much. And that’s a critical thing for us to realize when we look at our diets and we look at our daily habits. We have to put in place some strategies to compensate for the fact that we’ve moved so far from our natural evolutionary ancestral history,” says Greg Emerson, MD, founder of the Emerson Health & Wellness Center in Queensland, Australia.
The leading substances on the list are mold and mycotoxins.
“There’s a huge amount of scientific evidence that the poisons that the mold produce are terrible for the thyroid gland. And the other problem is that we’re consuming foods which are also high in mycotoxins. Or we’re consuming foods that are high in sugar, which makes the mold grow in the body. And we’re also not consuming foods which are protective against those mycotoxins. I don’t think I’ve seen a patient with Graves’ disease—which is an overactive thyroid—who has not had a problem with mold, and then mycotoxins.”
The opposite of hypothyroidism is an overactive thyroid which produces too much thyroid hormones, causing sudden weight loss and irregular heartbeat. Making some important lifestyle changes can restore your hormonal balance – you need to start with your diet first and consume more raw, organic foods. Regular exercise is also needed, as are healthy relationships with the people around you. According to Dr. Emerson, you should ask yourself: “Am I eating the right food? Am I drinking the right water? Am I getting enough sun? Am I getting enough sleep? Am I getting enough exercise? Am I getting medicines in my food?”
Dr. Schwartz adds: “Listen to what your body’s saying. If you can’t sleep at night, why don’t you sleep at night? Did you drink too much and it woke you up in the middle of the night? Are you eating too late? Are you eating the wrong foods? Are you exercising too late? Do you have all this electronic equipment sitting right next to you? Do you sleep with the TV on?”
If you properly take care of these things, you will easily find the underlying issue. “There are a million reasons why you may not be sleeping at night. And you need to look at them and take responsibility for improving,” Dr. Schwartz says.
Joseph Mercola, a popular American alternative medicine doctor, agrees with the same view and also believes that you need quality resources for proper health. Dr. Mercola says “It’s probably the mindset that you are responsible for your health.”