Category Archives: Hormones

Do you have low Progesterone?

Do you have low progesterone?

Progesterone is a critical hormone our bodies require to function well. It is needed for fertility, thyroid health, weight management, and just to feel good in general. When you don’t have enough progesterone – or the progesterone you have is overtaken by estrogen, a whole range of negative symptoms can develop which can have a very serious impact on our health. This issue is often misunderstood or missed completely by medical professionals and can lead to inadequate or unnecessary treatment.

What are some of the symptoms of low progesterone?

  • Fertility issues (difficulty conceiving, miscarriages)
  • A history of PCOS (PolyCystic Ovary Syndrome)
  • Low thyroid function
  • Intense PMS
  • Low libido
  • Unexplained, irrational or uncontrollable emotions
  • Changes in menstrual cycle

Progesterone levels can also be severely affecting after childbirth, and during perimenopause and menopause.

One of the most common issues that affects progesterone levels is when the levels of estrogen become too high, leading to ‘estrogen dominance’

Estrogen dominance is extremely common for women and can wreak havoc on our hormonal system. What is it – well too much estrogen? Estrogen and Progesterone tend to balance each other out, this is how it is supposed to work in a healthy body. However, when the body creates (or receives) too much estrogen, the balance goes out, we become estrogen dominant. This can often be diagnosed by testing higher for serum estrogen, but also just through checking through the list of tell-tale symptoms and seeing how many we have.

How can estrogen dominance affect our thyroid hormones? When estrogen is taking over, and suppressing progesterone levels, our liver creates a protein called thyroid binding globulin or TBG – this goes through your bloodstream and actually binds up free T3 and free T4 well before they can be utilized by the body. This is turn can create many of the symptoms of hypothyroidism, however when our thyroid labs are tested, they can often appear ‘in range’. This can be confusing, frustrating, and may even lead to misdiagnosis.

What are the options to fix low progesterone or estrogen dominance?

  • Avoid phytoestrogens, especially soy.
  • Reduce xenoestrogens – often found in plastics.
  • Reduce makeup use or replace with natural alternatives.
  • Avoid hormonal birth control.
  • Find ways to reduce stress.
  • Consider supplementation with bio-identical progesterone.

When symptoms of low progesterone or estrogen dominance are present, it is important to get the diagnosis and treatment right. Seeing a functional or holistic medial professional is ideal as they can guide lab testing, help to interpret results, and consider a range of a range or natural and traditional treatment options. It is also most important to educate yourself on the important role progesterone plays in our bodies, the common symptoms low progesterone (or estrogen dominance) produce, and the many options available to restore a healthy balance.

What Causes Reverse T3

What causes reverse T3

What is T3?

T3 (Triiodothyronine), is the most active thyroid hormone, that gives you energy throughout the day, and is created by the body’s conversion of T4 (Thyroxine). This is why doctors will often prescribe a T4 only medication (e.g. Levothyroxine) for patients who are hypothyroid, because the T4 will be converted to T3 by the body which in turn alleviates the symptoms of hypothyroidism. However, not everyone’s body works perfectly, and some people do not convert T4 into T3 effectively, and instead create an inactive form of T3, known as Reverse T3 (RT3). High levels of RT3 can cause real issues with the thyroid and energy levels as it actually blocks the T3 that our body needs and relies on to feel good.

What Causes Reverse T3?

There are many things in life which can cause our bodies to create RT3, however some of the most common causes are stress, inflammation, and very low carb diets.

Stress: When people experience stress, especially chronic stress, their cortisol levels are raised well above normal much of the time, and high cortisol interferes with the body’s ability to convert T4 to T3, instead producing high levels of RT3. It’s not surprising that many people suffer from on-going, high levels of stress, but finding ways to reduce this is very important for overall health, and in particular thyroid health.

Chronic Inflammation: Inflammation happens when the body’s immune system becomes overactive because it is responding to an underlying health condition. It is very common for someone to experience the symptoms of inflammation (fatigue, brain fog, gut issues, pain etc.) but have no idea what the body is actually responding to. For example, it could be heart disease, cancer, or an auto-immune disease. The result however is inflammation and this can cause high levels of RT3.

Very Low Carb Diets: For the thyroid to function effectively, and convert T4 to T3, it needs glucose. When we starve the body of glucose by way of a very low carb diet (putting the body into ketosis), the body will find alternative sources of energy, but in the process, severely down-regulates thyroid hormones. One of the ways that it does this is by producing RT3. So for someone who already suffers from hypothyroidism, entertaining a drastic reduction in carbs is a bad idea.

Will Taking Thyrovanz Cause Reverse T3?

This is a common question, however the answer is no. Thyrovanz – or any other natural thyroid glandular – will not cause RT3 issues, because the problem is with T4 conversion and the RT3 that the body is already producing. However, if someone is converting T4 to RT3 instead of T3, introducing more T4 into the body can increase the levels of RT3, and this will happen no matter what the source of T4. For this reason, if someone has high RT3 levels, it is best to address the root cause of the RT3 instead of continually increasing the thyroid dose trying to feel better. The other option is to supplement with a T3 only medication like Cytomel, although this is still not addressing the cause of RT3 and can be difficult to manage.

Conclusion

High levels of Reverse T3 are not ideal and are an indication of thyroid dysfunction. Finding the underlying issue linked to RT3 can be daunting simply due to the large number of potential causes, however this is the only way to bring thyroid hormone levels back into balance and restore quality of life.

Thyroid Nodules: Should We be Concerned?

Thyroid Nodules - Should We be Concerned

Thyroid nodules are extremely common, although most people who develop them will be unaware of their presence.

For some however, thyroid nodules can be a sign of a serious health issue. What are thyroid nodules, and when should we be concerned about them enough to seek treatment?

Thyroid nodules are hard lumps which occur on the thyroid gland, behind the Adams apple and can contain fluid. They are often discovered during a medical exam, or when noticeable symptoms occur, like pain, discomfort in the throat, swelling, or difficulty swallowing or breathing.

Although most thyroid nodules are benign growths, others can affect thyroid hormone production (Thyroxine), or even develop into cancer. For this reason, it is important to take any changes in the thyroid seriously and seek treatment if necessary.

What are the symptoms of thyroid nodules?

One of the most common symptoms of thyroid nodules, is a slight swelling of the neck. This can also be caused by an enlarged thyroid (goiter) due to iodine deficiency. Other symptoms include pain in the throat area, difficulty swallowing, difficulty breathing, or symptoms of hyperthyroidism; for example a racing heart, feeling over-stimulated or anxious, and difficulty sleeping. Sometimes, thyroid nodules can be felt by touching around the neck, where the thyroid is located.

When should I be concerned and seek treatment?

Although nodules on the thyroid or other parts of the body are common as we get older, it is important to seek medical advice if experiencing any pain, swelling, or difficulty breathing or swallowing.

To further investigate thyroid nodules, a specialist may perform an ultrasound which provides a visual reference of the thyroid and any abnormalities. Once thyroid nodules are identified, it is also common to follow this up with a biopsy, where a microscopic sample of the thyroid (cells) are taken and analyzed to see if the nodules are benign or potentially cancerous. If the cells are abnormal or cancerous, it is common to perform a thyroidectomy, which removes part of all of the thyroid gland.

The other common treatment is radioactive iodine therapy which effectively destroys the thyroid and also the cancerous nodules. These drastic procedures may be justified but will also require the individual to rely on an external source of thyroid hormone for the rest of their lives.

What are some of the ways to avoid or prevent thyroid nodules?

Keeping your thyroid in good health is the best way to avoid thyroid nodules. We can do this through eating a diet rich in selenium, zinc, and B vitamins like quality meats, nuts and vegetables. It is also very important for your thyroid to get enough iodine which can be naturally sourced from seaweed, sea salt, cod fish, dairy products, and eggs. Iodine can also be taken as a supplement.  It is also important to try and limit stress and environmental toxins as much as possible as these can adversely affect your thyroid function.

How Stress Can Affect Your Thyroid

How stress can affect your thyroid

For people that need to take thyroid medication or supplementation, it can be difficult to stay on a consistent dose as there are many things in life that can affect how our thyroid functions, and just how much additional, supplementary thyroid we need.

One of the most common factors affecting our thyroid function is stress. But how does stress affect the thyroid, and what can we do about it?

How stress affects your body

For many people, 2020 has been a rather stressful year so far, and this can affect how your body functions in many ways. And aside from feeling more anxious, stress can cause many, very real physical affects in your body.

For example, stress can cause metabolic changes and make it easier to put on weight and harder to lose. Stress can raise your blood pressure and even lead to heartbeat irregularity. Stress can lower your immune system and make you more susceptible to illness.

In addition, stress can lead to hormone dysregulation and for someone who is already hypothyroid and taking external thyroid hormone, this can mean dramatic changes in how much thyroid you need to function.

The main reason for this is stress causes elevated cortisol levels produced by the adrenal glands, and this in turn interrupts Hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis which is how our body regulates hormones including thyroid hormones – it can also interrupt the brains TSH communication within the thyroid and skew test results, and even decreased  T4 to T3 conversion.

What this means for your thyroid dose

When stress levels increase, it is common for symptoms of hypothyroidism to increase and the previously stable dose of thyroid you were taking now seems insufficient. This is quite common and can feel like you are on a roller coaster of dosage increases when you feel you need more and decreases when you feel like the dose is too high.

What are some of the ways we can lower stress?

Often the things in our life which can be a source of stress are out of our control and will take time to resolve. But there are some things you can do immediately to lower the stress levels and cope more effectively.

  • Eating a clean diet with as few processed foods as possible.
  • Taking B-Vitamins which help the body to regulate stress more effectively.
  • Getting outside in the fresh air and getting in the sun so that your body can produce Vitamin D.
  • Keeping your mind in the present as much as possible. Focus on what you are doing and experiencing right now, rather than thinking about what has happened in the past, or may happen in the future, all of which is in the mind.

Can taking Thyrovanz affect TSH?

Can taking Thyrovanz affect TSH

The TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) is by far the most common thyroid test and is often used to diagnose hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, or to make decisions regarding thyroid treatment. However TSH results can be affected by a number of things, including taking a natural thyroid glandular like Thyrovanz.

The range for TSH is considered normal between 0.4 and 4.0 milliunits per liter (mU/L) depending on the lab used. Levels above this can lead to a diagnosis of hypothyroidism, and levels below this can be an indication of hyperthyroidism. However when taking a natural thyroid glandular like Thyrovanz at optimal levels, TSH will generally become suppressed, i.e below range.

The reason for this is that the body is receiving an outside source of thyroid hormones, and this sends a signal to the pituitary gland (which produces TSH) to lower TSH output as there is already enough thyroid in the system. How can I obtain accurate results if TSH is suppressed? By also testing Free T4 and Free T3, which should be ideally at optimal levels.

Due to the number of things which can affect TSH, it is important to tell your physician if you are taking Thyrovanz (or anything else) which will allow for more accurate treatment.

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