It’s a common term, but let’s look at what it really means by breaking the word hypothyroidism apart.

Hypo-: This part of the full word hypothyroidism means “less than normal“. So in the thyroid sense, it means you are making, or have, “less than the needed amount of thyroid hormones” to keep you healthy, provide a good metabolism, or result in the right amount of energy.
thyroid: Here is the word that refers to a gland in your neck which releases important thyroid hormones: T4, T3, T2, T1 and calcitonin. T4 is the storage thyroid hormone. T3 is the active thyroid hormone.
ism: Refers to the fact that hypothyroid is a “condition”.

thyroid gland
Here’s what the butterfly-shaped thyroid gland looks like in the front of your neck.

Causes of hypothyroidism

Having a less-than-normal release of thyroid hormones, aka hypothyroidism, has many causes:

Underfunctioning thyroid
An under-functioning thyroid can cause all sorts of problems.

Symptoms of hypothyroidism

  • the need for a nap, especially in the afternoons
  • easy sleepiness
  • fatigue or poor stamina
  • dry skin or dry hair
  • hair loss
  • high cholesterol or rising blood pressure
  • depression
  • anxiety
  • easy weight gain; difficulty losing
  • thinning bones
  • brain fog; concentration problems
  • fibromyalgia type symptoms; inflammation of joints
  • many more symptoms
Get sleepy in the afternoons? Feel the need to nap?
You might be hypothyroid.

Lab tests to discern a hypothyroid state

  • TSH (aka Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) But note this can be in the normal range while you have hypothyroid and doctors don’t get that. By the time it rises high enough to reveal hypothyroidism, you may have been hypothyroid for quite awhile. The two below are FAR more important.)
  • Free T3 (active thyroid hormone and what is available for use, aka the “free”. If it’s below midrange, that can be hypothyroidism.)
  • Free T4 (thyroid storage hormone and what is available for use, aka the “free”–if it’s below midrange, that can be hypothyroidism)
  • Reverse T3 aka RT3 (inactive hormone which if it goes up, causes a hypothyroid state, and keeps T3 from getting to the cells well. Can also rise due to chronic stress, inadequate iron, high cortisol, infections)
  • Anti-TPO; AntiTg (to test for autoimmune Hashimoto’s, a common cause of hypothyroid due to the attack on the thyroid. Both antibodies are needed, and doctors don’t often get that)
It’s important to find out via lab testing what is going on,
even if symptoms strongly imply a hypothyroid state.

How to understand your lab results

It’s not about falling anywhere in those so-called normal ranges, and doctors don’t understand that, dismissing your hypothyroid state by proclaiming you are “normal”. What it is about is where you fall in those ranges, alongside your clear symptoms. This is where you need to be comparing your lab results to the Lab Values page on Stop the Thyroid Madness.

Lab results are NOT about falling anywhere in those ridiculous “normal” lab ranges.

Problems associated with being hypothyroid

Sadly, the longer patients are hypothyroid, the more problems they end up having. This can be also true with being on the worst way to treat hypothyroidism: T4-only medications like Synthroid or Levothyroxine, say patients. It’s individual which of the below will happen in a hypothyroid state.

  • high cortisol (due to the body being alarmed at one’s hypothyroid state)
  • low cortisol (happens after time due to one’s continued hypo state stressing one’s adrenals, also called adrenal fatigue or hypocortisolism)
  • bone thinning (called osteopenia, then leading to osteoporosis)
  • depression (due to the brain not getting enough T3, the active thyroid hormone)
  • anxiety issues (due to the body being alarmed at the continued hypothyroid state)
  • heart problems (a heart needs the active hormone T3 to be healthy)
  • high cholesterol (commonly rises due to a hypothyroid state)
  • high blood pressure (commonly rises due to a hypothyroid state)
  • inadequate iron levels and sometimes anemia (commonly lowers due to low stomach acid from the hypothyroid condition)
  • inadequate B12; inadequate Vitamin D (due to low stomach acid from the hypothyroid state
  • more conditions

How to treat hypothyroidism

  • Natural Desiccated thyroid (NDT) An excellent product which gives all five thyroid hormones aka T4, T3, T2, T1 and calcitonin. Made from porcine and has been around for nearly 130 years and changes lives. Patients have to be optimal, not just on it. It naturally lowers the TSH lab test below range, and contrary to what doctors state, that low TSH has not been harmful, nor does it mean the same as what Graves’s disease (hyperthyroidism) does to the TSH in lowering it. We also have to have good iron and cortisol levels to tolerate raising it in search of our optimal amount.
  • Synthetic T4 with Synthetic T3 Man-made thyroid hormones. Patients have to be optimal, not just on them. They naturally lower the TSH lab test below range, and contrary to what doctors state, that low TSH when on these meds has not been harmful. We also have to have good iron and cortisol levels to tolerate raising it in search of our optimal amount.
  • T3-only Dosed three times a day, often 4 hours apart. Mostly used by people who have a strong genetic mutation preventing the conversion of T4 to T3. Or by those with a high Reverse T3 (RT3).

The worst way to treat hypothyroidism

  • T4-only This synthetic storage hormone has been proven by millions over the past several decades to be an inadequate way to treat hypothyroidism. T4 is meant to convert to T3, the active thyroid hormone which changes lives. But depending solely on conversion, and receiving no direct T3, the active hormone, has proven to be problematic since synthetic T4 first came out around 1960. Some never feel well on it. Others do report feeling better, but they are destined to see problems sooner or later. Why? The body is not meant to live for conversion alone. And there are numerous situations which can negatively affect that conversion.
T4-only has been problematic for millions, sooner or later, due to all the reasons that can block conversion of T4 (storage hormone) to T3 (active thyroid hormone)

Books you may want related to hypothyroidism, no matter the cause:

  1. Hashimoto’s: Taming the Beast (for those who suspect or have the autoimmune cause of hypothyroidism) This is a companion book to the below Stop the Thyroid Madness revision.
  2. The 2019 updated revision Stop the Thyroid Madness: A Patient Revolution Against Decades of Inferior Thyroid Treatment (called the bible of thyroid treatment no matter the cause of your hypothyroid state; based on years of thyroid patient experiences and wisdom). This book has proven to be a must-have for any reason someone has hypothyroid.
  3. Stop the Thyroid Madness II (each chapter topic contributed by a practitioner.) Perfect for patients to read the perspective of a medical professional, or for practitioners to see that some of their colleagues see the same thing that informed thyroid patients see) This does not replace #1 or #2.
  4. 2012 translations of #2 above in German, Swedish and Spanish. Based on previous revision of #2. Still good info.

Related hypothyroid topics

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