Episode 9: Your Thyroid May Need Attention
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For twenty-five years, Mary Shomon about that I have been out in the thyroid trenches fighting for decent care and awareness and doing what she can to help support her fellow thyroid patients.
She has written 15 books and the majority of them are on thyroid and autoimmune health and hormonal health, many of them are New York Times best sellers.
She took on the powers that were, back in the 90s but that haven’t changed much, to bust the myth that the symptoms of hypothyroidism—fatigue, weight gain, hair loss, dysregulated body temps, and more—were all in people’s heads. The message boards she was researching in were full of women saying otherwise.
If you are experiencing the symptoms mentioned above, or these from Mary’s site, and have been told “it’s probably that you’re stressed, depressed, PMS, menopausal, lazy, got to get off the couch, eat less, work out more and take an antidepressant”: know you are not alone. You need a doc or patient advocate like Mary to focus on the health of your thyroid.
The most common test a doc will give a person who comes in with symptoms is the TSH test, which stands for thyroid stimulating hormone. TSH is a pituitary hormone and it’s what we refer to as a messenger hormone, it is not a thyroid hormone at all but it is one piece—and one piece only—of the thyroid profile one needs.
It is a secondary marker of what’s going on with the gland itself.
Using only TSH as the measure of thyroid health leaves a lot of people who may have levels that fall into the so-called–and quite controversial–reference range, or the normal range. They may be looking normal on paper, but they certainly don’t feel normal.
This is a huge piece of information people, and one I did not know, Mary pointed out, “If you look at the prescribing instructions for anti-depressants and cholesterol lowering statin drugs, both of them say very clearly a complete thyroid panel should be performed before this medication is prescribed.”
Some women who experience mild depression and are given antianxiety or antidepressant drugs, who never had this problem before, they get their thyroid diagnosed and treated, depression lifts. They’re fine. It wasn’t a mental health problem.
If you find it difficult to lose weight even though you are eating well and exercising, if you’ve seen a doctor about this, you might be greeted with, “You just need to eat less and work out more.” Weight gain or inability to lose weight are common with hypothyroidism.
She also warned, “Ladies, if you’re penciling in those eyebrows, it’s probably a thyroid get you need to get it checked.”
I asked Mary what age is too old to look at the thyroid for symptom relief. “There’s never a wrong time to feel better and to get to the root of this.”
She talked about clients in their 80s who started to lose their usual energy, got the right thyroid tests, the right thyroid supplementation—meds or otherwise—came back to her and say things like, “I feel so much younger. I’m energetic, my joints don’t hurt anymore. I’m out there gardening. I’m doing my dance class. I’m doing the things I love, playing with my grandkids.” And so, there’s never a wrong age.
Shifts in estrogen and progesterone that women experience during the transitional period of perimenopause and after menopause and periods stop can be a trigger for the onset of various thyroid issues.
We discussed dessicated thyroid meds where all of the thyroid hormones are built in because they are formulated from the thyroid glands of pigs. And have been for one hundred years or more.
If you’ve been given Synthroid or another T4 only medication, and don’t feel well yet or feel worse—which is what happened in my case years ago—you can ask your doc to add some T3. (Mary explains it in our chat) or switch to a natural, dessicated version.
Dessicated thyroid meds are not FDA approved, but are FDA regulated legal to prescribe.
They have been around and saving lives since before the FDA was born!
Mary is the kind of coach you want if you can’t get answers to your stubborn symptoms and are tired of Dr. Google. She has talked with hundreds and thousands of people, read tens of thousands of journals, books, and articles, and can pull something together quickly for you so you don’t have to spend all the time doing the homework.