Low Thyroid: Do you have a slow brain, weight gain or thyroid hair?

This week in Mission Ignition we are taking on the thyroid. Thought I’d share. 

Do you have, or have you experienced in the past…
Hair loss, including of the outer third of your eyebrows and/or eyelashes (which indicates both a beauty crisis and a hormonal imbalance)?
Dry skin?
Dry, straw-like hair?
Fluid retention or swollen ankles?
Trouble losing weight?
High cholesterol?
Bowel movements less often than once a day? Or you feel you don’t completely evacuate?
Recurrent headaches?
Decreased sweating?
Muscle or joint aches? Poor muscle tone?
Tingling in hands or feet?
Cold hands and feet (even wearing socks to bed)? Cold intolerance?
Sensitivity to cold, shivering easily and always wearing layers?
Lethargy? Like you’re moving through molasses?
Fatigue, particularly in the morning?

Difficulty concentrating?
Diminished reaction time, even a bit of apathy?
Depression or moodiness?
Infertility or miscarriage? Preterm birth?
Heavy periods? Or other menstrual problems?
Thin, brittle fingernails?
Slow speech, perhaps with a hoarse or halting voice?
Slow heart rate or bradycardia (less than 60 beats per minute — and it’s not because you’re a competitive athlete)?
Enlarged thyroid/goiter? Difficulty swallowing? Enlarged tongue?

How to Evaluate Yourself
If you have five or more symptoms, you are likely to have a thyroid problem. I  recommend you ask your doctor to test your thyroid. Since some doctors view women with concerns about their thyroid like they are suffering from mild hysteria I also beg of you to become an educated consumer by reading this chapter. If you have fewer than five symptoms, but have some of the overlapping symptoms from other chapters– for instance of estrogen dominance or high or low cortisol, then read on, because adrenal and sex hormone issues can mask thyroid symptoms and vice versa.

One woman in Mission Ignition offered her lab tests which illustrate some of the principles of thyroid issues and how they connect to other hormonal problems. These are Amy’s results…

Cortisol – 12.9
TSH – 1.14
Free T4 – 1.1
Free T3 – 2.7
T3 Reverse – 31
Thyro Glob ABS – 9.6
Thryo Pero ABS – < 10
Thyroxine ABG 20.5Estradiol – 45
Estriol – <.10
Estrone – 45
Progesterone – <.5Testosterone – 10
Free Testosterone – .7
Dihydrotestosterone DHT – 12
DHEA Sulfate – 59

Amy is mid-40s and her labs show this: Normal-ish TSH (personally, I like my TSH 0.3-1.0), low-normal free T3, high-normal reverse T3, which you make when stressed and blocks thyroid receptors. When I saw her normal morning cortisol, but a low DHEA, I wondered about Amy’s adrenal glands and whether she might have adrenal dysregulation. I asked Amy if she had other cortisol levels, and indeed she did.

CORTISOL:  2007 – 24.5  2008 – 11.6   2009 – 17.2   2010 –  8.9  2011 – 12.9

Amy’s cortisol from 2007 is sky high. It came down to the normal range (10-15) in 2008 but crept higher again in 2009. After years of making too much cortisol, your adrenals will often burn through their reserve, and then you can’t make enough, as Amy shows in 2010. Ultimately, both low and high cortisol mean that you don’t make as much free T3, which is the active form of thyroid hormone. It may be for Amy that the more we focus on optimizing her adrenals, the happy byproduct will be a better functioning thyroid gland.