Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Dr. Bowman's Blog... thoughts and discussions on health

The purpose of this blog is to provide ideas and opinions on various health topics. As always, not all topics will be applicable to all persons. Furthermore, the primary goal of some topics is to stimulate further thought and discussion. Please note that questions must only be posted in the 'Ask The Doctor' forum and will not be answered here.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

What's so important about the thyroid anyway?

Some studies have shown that as much as 60% of the population may have a thyroid disorder by the time they reach 65 years of age. This seems like an inflated number until you consider the percentage of the population that unknowingly suffers from subclinical hypothyroidism. Basically, this portion of the population tests within the 'normal' range via blood work for thyroid hormones (T3 and T4) and TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) from the pituitary and yet they exhibit many of the classic signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism. How can this happen? Mathematically speaking the range for these hormones are quite large to accommodate for the large degree of variability between individuals. Unfortunately, this means an individual with a normal moderate amount of T3 or T4 production could suffer a 75% deficit and still be at the low end or just barely outside of the normal range. At this point your symptoms can be rather severe despite 'normal' appearing blood work.

Why is this such a problem? Let's first consider the physiological duties of the thyroid. Thyroid hormones are known to affect protein, lipid, and carbohydrate metabolism, growth and development. They also stimulate the oxygen consumption of the majority of cells in the body, resulting in increased energy expenditure (and thus heat production), and possess a cardio-stimulatory effect that helps determine the normal sinus rate and rhythm of the heart. Simply put, the thyroid is the gas pedal of the body. If the pedal is stuck on idle then you feel as though you're barely getting through the day. You may survive, but you certainly won't thrive. Any such endocrine imbalance can result in a myriad of symptoms varying in nature and severity from individual to individual. However, because I'm often asked such symptoms may include fatigue, depression, PMS, hair loss, weight changes, infertility, allergies or other immune disorders, memory or cognitive issues, hypertension, anxiety, MS, and even cancer. Therefore, it's vital to determine your thyroid's functional state of health and not just merely it's level of hormone output compared to that of the masses. This is why I recommend baseline testing via blood work for your thyroid so that you have a 'normal' value to compare with should you begin to experience such symptoms. However, as most patients don't have baseline levels to compare against, current blood work showing 'normal' values while the patient is experiencing acute symptoms is next to meaningless. At this point only functional organ testing like Meridian Stress Analysis (MSA) will be of benefit.

Natural Medicine and Your Health, Dr. Bowman Video