Tuesday, 26 August 2008


Recently I visited one of the leading hormone specialists in London. It is clear from the consultation that I need to make some changes to my lifestyle - mainly diet and exercise. But the best way to discover what is going on with your body is to take various tests - usually a combination of blood, urine and saliva.

So I start with a blood test to find out levels of various hormones in my body. Today I am going to focus on one of them - the thyroid hormone - this is the hormone responsible for regulating the body's metabolism amongst other things.

It appears that women are more likely to suffer a deficiency - medically known as: hypothyroidism - than men. There are various physicial symptoms - allergies, skin problems, fatigue, nervousness, gaining or losing weight, brittle nails, dry skin, constipation, infertility, mental sluggishness, depression and intolerence to cold. But since these symptoms can be associated with a catalogue of other illnesses the best way to verify this problem is by a blood test.

But there is confusion/controversy amongst medical professionals, particularly outside of anti-ageing medicine about what the exact parameters that constitutes a deficiency and what the drug treatment should be.

The thyroid gland measures just two inches across and is in the neck just below the Adam's apple. It actually secrets two hormones - mostly T4 (known as thyroxine) which converts into the active hormone (that actually used by the body) into T3 (triodothyronine). In healthy people most T4 Is converted into T3.

The regulation of the thyroid is controlled by a number of body functions - the hypothalamus, situated in the brain above the pituitary gland, triggers the pituitary to release a substance known as "thyroid stimulating hormone" (TSH). When levels of thyroid hormone reach optimum the amount of TSH decreases, conversly in people not producing enough there are higher amounts of TSH in the blood.

So when trying to determine thyroid function doctors will test for blood levels of TSH and also T4.

It should also be noted that dieting (lowering of calories) has the same effect of diminishing production of T3, which in turn lowers a person's resting metabolic weight, which can also lead to weight gain in the long term. Experts also tell me that many individuals have problem converting T4 into T3 which also leads to weight gain. This is music to my ears - can I blame my tendency to weight gain on this?

Of course its not as simple as this. A 54-year-old friend with absolutely no symptoms - no weightgain etc - was recently diagnosed by her GP as suffering from sub-clinical hypothryoidism. This simply means that the thyroid is not working 100% and may be a warning sign of further loss of function in the future. She was in disbelief and checked out her diagnosis with a private blood test which confirmed the result from her GP. She has been prescribed Levothyroxine - basically T4 - which is what most UK GPs prescribe - lets hope she doesn't have a conversion problem. This may well be because the UK Government's drug rationing body NICE may only allow doctors to prescribe this one.

Levothyroxine (thyroxine - T4) is a tiny tablet which should be taken on a empty stomach daily. Left untreated - aside from the weight gain issue - hypothyroidism can cause serious health problems including aenemia, low body temperature and heart failure.

I visit my GP and discovered that I too am sub-optimal on the thyroid hormone and get prescribed Levothyroxine, even though I point out the conversion problems. I will have a blood test to check that my body is converting this to the usable form T3.

So what are the other drug alternatives - one is Cytomel which is a synthetic form of T3 which is approved by the FDA in the US. A recent medical study showed that combining this with T4 had better results including for weightloss.

Armour Thyroid is one that contains dessicated thyroid derived from the thryoid gland of the pig but many doctors are reluctant to prescribe this, mainly because of dose inconsistency and contamination problems with its animal origins.

There are a myriad of side effects with drug thryoid hormone replacement, especially if you take other drugs particularly oestrogens, beta-blockers and anticoagulants.

Aborbtion is also impaired by iron sulfate, calcium pills and several other supplements.

So is there anything you can take naturally to help your body? The answer is yes - particularly the minerals magnesium, manganese, selenium and zinc - deficiences of these can prevent the conversion of T4 to T3.


In my investigations into this subject I have discovered that high levels of LDL are also indicators of poor thyroid function. I wonder if this is my problem with high LDL - despite loads of exercise and eating good fats my levels of LDL were still too high? I will see from blood tests if this is my problem after two months of thyroid replacement So perhaps doctors should try testing for this more often?


The standard range used by most labs is 0.2-5.5(mU/L), A greater TSH number than 5.5alerts the doctor to a thyroid gland problem as it is over producing TSH.

Anti-ageing doctors believe that this range is too broad and that anyone with a TSH reading of more than 2.0 should be investigated with a view to possible health problems.

I would greatly appreciate hearing expert views on this..


Anonymous said...

Dear Avril
Would you recommend the specialist you saw in London and if so would you email me his name please. I live in Jersey and can't find anyone here to listen to me so need some info as to who I can see in London.
Linda Fleetwood

Anonymous said...

Would you recommend the specialist you saw in London? I live in Jersey and need a recommendation of someone in London as am getting nowhere fast here!
Dragon Lady

ElixirNews.com said...

Yes - try John Moran at 19 Wimpole Street London W1. Tel: 020 7631 1111

ElixirNews.com said...

Yes I would recommend the doctor I saw in London. He does very detailed tests and balances everything to your body's own requirements.

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