While I have been been incorporating new dietary/nutrition treatments, as well as acupuncture, I want to discuss T3 and T4 today. But really quickly…
As for today, I woke up feeling pretty well rested. It is Sunday so I was able to sleep in, after all. My energy levels seem a bit higher this morning than usual, I can’t tell if it’s that or if I am just more awake feeling. I’m not getting too excited because it could just be that it will fade soon. Energy has been such an issue lately. I wake up with a small amount and then within a few hours it starts to fall off. There have also been other symptoms ailing me, but they are just all a part of the Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis roller coaster.
I must mention too that this is my 3rd day on 5-HTP and GABA supplements, in addition to the long list of supplements I have been taking over the past several months to support my body in all the various ways. Recently, I was intuitively pulled toward some articles revolving around the hypothalamus. Despite taking hormone replacements for my low thyroid condition, it seems my immune system still continues to flare and my symptoms persist. These symptoms include, extreme fatigue, dizziness, temperature dysregulation, headaches, nausea, muscle/joint aches and stiffness, as well as total lack of energy. I am also consistently anxious, nervous, with a lack of focus/concentration – or what some people refer to as “brain fog”. I learned about the basic function of the hypothalamus, and this lead me to research natural alternatives to some of the pharmaceutical treatments for hypothalamus disorder.
“The job of the hypothalamus is to release hormones that then cause the pituitary gland to release (or stop releasing) pituitary hormones. This hormonal process controls the body’s temperature, hunger, thirst, fatigue, sleep cycles, and daily cyclical rhythms.”
More on holistic supplements/treatments, and nutrition/dietary changes in another post.
I’ve been taking Levothyroxine since approx. end of July/early August 2014 – last year when I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, an auto immune condition where your immune system launches an attack on your thyroid until it’s completely destroyed. From my research, taking hormone supplements prolongs the deterioration of the thyroid and is supposed to lower the symptoms or rather, prevent “flare-ups” and “triggers” that aggravate the immune system. Levothyroxine is my “T4” supplement one of the major hormones created by the thyroid – that regulate energy in the body and effects all of your bodies vital systems.
Taking Levothyroxine has been a roller coaster for me. My primary care physician diagnosed me first with hypothyroidism – discovering my thyroid at a very low 8.29. The numbers are reversed for hypothyroidism, in that if you have a high number your thyroid is low – or hypothyroid, and if you have a very low number your thyroid is very high – or hyperthyroid. The healthy range for the thyroid stimulating hormone or TSH is 0.40 – 4.50 (while my personal research has shown that some doctors argue anything higher than 3.0 is considered hypo/low). In addition my Vitamin D was incredibly low, at a measurement of 15 where 30-100 is the normal healthy range for Vitamin D. The more I’ve read I’ve found that low vitamin D and low thyroid usually go hand in hand.
I was first prescribed a 50,000iu supplement to take once per week for 4 weeks to kick start my vitamin D, along with a 100mcg, 1 per day dosage of Levothyroxine, to help correct my low thyroid and my low vitamin D. It was at this point I asked my doctor, “Well, what could be causing my low thyroid?”
I must pause for a second before going forward – I think asking this key question was the crux in learning that I in fact had Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. Had I of just said “Well, okay I’m just going to take this for my low thyroid.” – I never would have thought to look further into the cause and later learn that there is much within my power outside of T4 supplements, to help slow or possibly reverse the condition. But I suppose that is just my natural inquisitive and questing nature.
So, my primary care doctor ordered a panel of labs for me, and a month later after taking the 100mcg dose of T4 daily I went in to give more blood and find out what could possibly be causing my low thyroid condition.
As it turns out my Thyroid Peroxidase antibodies were abnormal, at a level of 253, where anything more than 9 is considered abnormal. That was the diagnosis of Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, when your Peroxidase or TPO antibodies are abnormal. My Primary care doctor explained the condition to me and gave me a little printout explaining what exactly was Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis and basically told me that I will have to take these T4 supplements for the rest of my life – there is no known cure, and she herself was not very well educated on auto immune conditions.
In addition to the antibody panel I also had my TSH, Free T3 and T4 tested again. My TSH level had dropped significantly from the 100mcg’s of Levothyroxine from 8.29 all the way to .41 – right at the very lowest end before going hyperthyroid. At this point my doctor left me on the 100mcg dosage and ordered labs for me to take in a month again.
I came back a month later, in late September and retested and turns out my thyroid kept going in the same direction as before only now I was on the severely hyper end of the scale at TSH 0.02. It was at this point my doctor lowered my dosage from 100mcg to 88mcg. My vitamin D was looking better at this point, right at 30, the low end of the normal scale. So, I started taking a vitamin D supplement instead of the prescription dosage. At this point, I was still experiencing the same symptoms and not feeling any better, only now I had the anxiousness and jitters from the hyperthyroid symptoms. My primary care doctor referred me to an acupuncturist in October – in an effort to try a holistic approach alongside the traditional western medicine. (More on Acupuncture in another post).
I went back a month later to do labs once more, and my TSH levels had barely budged, they went up from 0.02 to 0.06 – still high/hyper. So, my doctor adjusted my dosage of Levothyroxine from 88mcg’s to 50mcg’s.
I went quite a while on this dosage in accompaniment with acupuncture, and retested in January of 2015 – only to find my TSH had gone back to the opposite end of the scale again into hypothyroid at 6.18. At this point, my doctor readjusted my thyroid medicine to 75mcg’s – but I was very tired and sick of this roller coaster so I wanted to seek out another opinion. I made an appointment with an Endocrinologist, brought all of my lab results and history with me and discussed the symptoms with her.
She performed an ultrasound on my thyroid and her response was, “Textbook Hashi’s”, with my poor thyroid littered with lymphocytes and inflammation. Lymphocytes are “natural cell killers”. My Endo’s diagnosis was that perhaps my T4 was not converting to T3 properly, and that I should try a dual treatment of T3 and T4.
So in February of 2015 I started taking 5mcg twice daily of Liothyronine, the synthetic hormone for T3. 1 tablet in the morning with my T4, and one tablet in the afternoon. She explained that if this was the solution, I would notice changes within a few days. Unlike T4, which is more of a time release hormone for energy, T3 is an instant release of energy into the body. She also took my dosage of T4 back down to 50mcg’s from 75mcg’s – as the addition of T3 would compensate for that.
The following day or two I did feel a change in my symptoms – meaning some highs were higher, but nothing that made me feel miraculously better, if my lows have become more low. The higher high’s have ceased and now, while I have the most energy in the morning out of the rest of the day I still struggle in the mornings to get going. I have to be careful not to over exert myself because any bit of energy that I use is gone for the day. There are no reserves and it is a finite source. I’ve been in touch bi-weekly with my Endo via the online patient portal, and she insists that I “be patient”. This has been continuing over the past couple months and now I am awaiting my latest lab results from over 2 weeks ago.
My Endo has not returned my calls/patient portal messages for over a week now and I’m concerned, frustrated, and stressed by this.