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functional doctor for thyroid

What’s The Episode About?

In this episode,  I’ll be sharing with you what you need to know about managing an undiagnosed thyroid condition that may, in fact, save your life. I’ll dive into what really causes low thyroid, how the healthcare industry has been misdiagnosing patients with low thyroid, and the differences between natural and synthetic thyroid hormones.

Stay tuned to find out just how you can know if your thyroid levels are normal, and how you can get proper treatment if they are not.

Key Points Discussed: 

  • Insurance companies and big pharma are to blame (00:51)
  • Low thyroid related to cortisol being out of balance (02:46)
  • Iron deficiency can make your thyroid not function properly (07:00)
  • The dangers of an undiagnosed thyroid condition (10:51)
  • Advocating for yourself being put on a natural thyroid medication (15:05)
  • The detectives that medical providers are supposed to be (17:27)

Where Can You Learn More?


When Was It Published?

October 2, 2019

Episode Transcript

Disclaimer: The Transcript Is Auto-Generated And May Contain Spelling And Grammar Errors


00:00          In today’s episode of The Optimal CEO Podcast, I’ll be sharing with you what you need to know about managing an undiagnosed thyroid condition that may in fact save your life. So stay tuned to find out how.


00:16          Here at The Optimal CEO Podcast, we help CEO entrepreneurs who love taking ownership of their wellness journey, but because they know it’s their most prized investment and when their state of wellness is at its peak, their income source. We want to help relieve CEO entrepreneurs from the pressure of unnecessary health exposure so they can be highly focused on growing their business and physically optimize for the journey so they can enjoy getting there.


00:51          Hi, I’m Dr. Brian Brown and I’d like to personally welcome you to today’s podcast episode. Thank you for joining me. So, last week, I spoke in detail about the various boxes that people get put into by the traditional medical system. And it’s not really the fault of the traditional medical system so much as it is an issue with insurance companies, and the codes that they require, and the reimbursement, and big pharma, pharmaceutical companies. One of the boxes that I spoke about, was the fact that a person had actually gone to their primary care provider, had their lab work checked. They had told their primary care provider that they had been started on this natural thyroid hormone, and their provider actually got upset and said, “That’s dangerous stuff. You shouldn’t be taken natural thyroid. You need to be on this particular thyroid, but let me check your lab work and make sure you needed it in the first place.”


01:46          So, I’m going to be talking a little bit about that, and what is the difference between natural versus synthetic thyroid hormones. But before I get there, I want to actually go into more detail about specifics related to what causes a thyroid to be sub-clinical anyway. And, I think it’s important for even laypeople to understand this, much less medical people who are treating people with thyroid conditions. So, let’s get started. One of the things that I typically see, is that a person will struggle with sub-clinical hypothyroid or low thyroid issues, meaning they have all the symptoms of low thyroid, yet their thyroid numbers appear to be normal. They’re just on the low end of normal. And last week I said, you know, if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s probably a duck. Meaning, if it sounds like low thyroid, if it looks like low thyroid, it’s probably low thyroid we’re dealing with.


02:46          Well there’s one particular case where that might not be true. And in some cases, that could be related to cortisol being out of balance. Now, this can be a little bit difficult to tease out, but it’s fairly easy to obtain the lab work to get this done through a simple saliva test, where you collecT4 different saliva measurements over the course of a 24-hour period. And, once you get those results back, then you can see whether or not this person in fact has some type of cortisol insufficiency, they’re not producing enough, or they’re actually producing too much. In many cases, both of those examples can interfere with proper thyroid function. And it’s not that you don’t address the thyroid, but you address the cortisol as well. Now, that being said, the next thing that can interfere with thyroid function, and create a sub-clinical hypothyroid state is low vitamin D. I started to say extremely low vitamin D, but it can just be low vitamin D. The interesting thing was is that the limits for what is considered appropriate levels of vitamin D was actually lowered some years ago, and it was actually kind of surprising.


03:59          Now, anything 30 or over is considered normal. Typically when I check people vitamin D hormone, I’ll typically see that around the 30 range if they’re going to be hovering right there. So that begs the question, what do you do with the vitamin D level? It’s 31 32 33 well, you go ahead and treat it because from a functional medicine standpoint when it comes to the thyroid gland, the thyroid gland responds to vitamin D better when the levels are up between 50, 60, 70, 75, 80 somewhere along in there. It’s considered high vitamin D when it goes over a hundred and if you want to find out more about vitamin D, you can listen to the previous episode that I did specifically on vitamin D, but that’s not the point here. The point is is that low vitamin D can actually make your thyroid not function properly. The way that comes into play is your body, your thyroid gland produces mostly thyroxine or T4 and T4 has to convert to the usable form.


05:05          T3 vitamin D is an essential part of that process for the conversion. It also is essential for the usage of the thyroid hormone at the cell receptor site, meaning at the terminal end, so thyroid has effects all over the body. It has effects on the blood vessel, bone tissue, brain tissue, lung tissue, heart tissue. The list goes lymphatic tissue. The list goes on and on and on, but all of those T tissue types have different receptors and vitamin D has effect at those receptor sites and facilitates the bonding and the usage of vitamin D, the acquisition of vitamin D and just makes a person healthier and makes her thyroid levels healthier, healthier. Another issue that we typically see when we’re dealing with subclinical hypothyroidism is anemia of some kind. Now, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll see a person with changes in their blood count.


06:00          The hemoglobin or the hematocrit won’t necessarily change, but what you will see is you’ll see iron levels that’ll be really, really low. They’re still in the normal range, but they’re low. You’ll see ferritin levels, which is your stored iron that is really, really low, and that just means that if a person was to be involved in an accident or some kind of trauma or become really, really ill, like a really protracted pneumonia or something, you when under stress you use iron and to help repair and heal without it, without that storage, the stored iron, the ferritin, you’re not. You don’t have the pool of resources to draw from. So in this particular case, we would want to make sure that this person is taking some iron. Now you may want to do that conservatively. I typically, depending on where a person is, we’ll do iron three times a week just to gradually get their iron stores up, our intense to cause people nausea and things like that.


07:00          So there are some workarounds around that. But typically if we dose iT3 times a week with a meal, we tend to do pretty good in getting the iron levels up gradually and helping thyroid function. But low iron or iron deficiency anemia or those types of things will actually contribute to subclinical hypothyroidism. Another type of anemia is low B12 and this, I think it probably boils down to methylation. The methylation issues, we know poor methylators tend to have more subclinical hypothyroidism and a thumb speaking Greek to you. I’m talking about a specific type of genetic insufficiency called MTHFR. And those changes are those abnormalities, uh, in MTHFR can sometimes cause B12 levels to be low, folic acid levels to be low. And if we see these levels dropping, typically the next thing I’m gonna look for is, is the reverse T3 elevated. Another name for reverse T3 is an anti-thyroid hormone, and it’s exactly what it says.


08:04          It is a competitive antagonist at the receptor site and that it will sit on the receptor site like a wet blanket and not allow your good T3, the usable T3, the free T3 to get on the receptor site to do its job. So what does that translate to? Well, that translates to, I have a melancholy mood. I may be anxious, I may not be sleeping well, I may want to sleep all the time. I don’t have any energy. I’m sluggish, I’m constipated, my nails are brutal, my hair’s falling out. I have fatigue, I have brain fog, I have memory issues. All of those can be symptoms of subclinical hypothyroidism. And typically when we look at the thyroid markers and they look like they’re pretty good, they fall in the quote-unquote normal range. But the person has all these symptoms. Where do we start looking?


08:54          When we look at cortisol, we look at vitamin D, we look at iron, we look at B12 and we look at reverse T3 and those are important things to remember in the setup. Go into then what do we choose to treat this well? Like I said, if it’s a cortisol issue, we’re going to, we’re going to help regulate the cortisol in some fashion or another. If it’s too high, there are different herbs and things that we use to help control that and bring that down if it’s too low. There are also certain herbs and things that we can use to help support the adrenals so that they function more, a more healthy and they’re able to do what they’re supposed to do, but when it comes time to choose the thyroid medication, a lot of times we’re relegated in traditional medical realms to synthetic thyroid medication.


09:42          It’s a manmade version of T4 which is that thyroxine, the one that the, the hormone that your thyroid gland produces. Most of it really and truly it’s more of a storage store, thyroid hormone than anything. It’s just kind of circulating around waiting to be converted into the usable form. But synthetic thyroid medications are a manmade version of that T4 that’s made in a laboratory. Whereas natural thyroid medication comes from animal sources. More specifically, natural thyroid medication will come from pork or beef glandular products. And they’ve been used for for a very long time, decades and decades and decades upon decades they’ve been used. However, big pharmaceutical industry brought synthetic thyroid medication to the market and trained a new generation of medical providers to base their decision for treatment only on one particular thyroid marker. And that was TSH and T4 occasionally you’ll see people check T4 free T4 but mostly they just, they base their treatment on whether or not the TSH is normal.


10:51          And I spoke last week and last week’s episode about the problem with that as that there’s been debate since 2002 and then a final decision made in 2012 to change those limits so that we’re not diagnosing so many people with low thyroid. And you may be thinking that’s not a bad thing. Well, it is because if we have undiagnosed thyroid, it can lead to things like brittle bones. If we have undiagnosed thyroid, it can lead to cardiovascular disease. If we have undiagnosed thyroid, it can lead to elevated cholesterol, which can cause problems later on down the road. So simply getting the thyroid treated can take care of these things. And then you may be thinking, okay, it’s not so bad to have brittle bones. I fall, I break a bone. Sure it hurts. I have surgery, I get it fixed. Now, not necessarily so, because if you look at people, studies actually show people 65 years of age and older.


11:43          If they’re female, they’re five times more likely to die within one year of a fracture. That’s crazy statistics. If you think about it, and if you’re male, 65 and older and you fall and break a bone, you’re five times more likely to be debilitated and in a nursing home under care the rest of your life. I don’t know about you, but those, those odds are not good. So another thing I want to talk to you about when it comes to the whole argument of natural thyroid medications just aren’t safe. You can go on the food and drug administration website and there’s actually a letter published there related to a medication called Synthroid, which is a, it’s that synthetic T4 now Synthroid was the first synthetic to come on the market and this particular letter points to no pharmaceuticals as the carrier of that and I’m going to read you an excerpt from that letter.


12:42          So here it is quote, the history of potency failures indicates that Synthroid has not been reliably potent and stable. The difficulties in finding Synthroid to be generally regarded as safe and effective are compounded by the fact that its formula has been changed numerous times throughout its marketing history. Sent the right tablets have been manufactured using an overage of the active ingredient that has ranged in size over the last 35 years and overage is the amount of active ingredients above a hundred percent of the products labeled potency at the time the finished product is tested and released. This such an overage is intended to compensate for potential loss of active ingredient by degradation while the product is stored and thus permits and extended shelf life for a product with poor stability profile. Synthroid has a long history of manufacturing problems in August of 1989 no pharmaceuticals and initiated a recall of 21 lots of Synthroid tablets because of the decrease in potency during stability studies and quote, I know there was a long quote, but I wanted you to understand that many times we’re taught in our training and our medical training that natural thyroid medications are bad, said detic are the best.


14:09          They’re the gold standard that what we have to use. Yet nobody in our medical training tells us about these recalls that have occurred. I mean, no pharmaceuticals in 1989 and you’re thinking, God, that’s a long time ago. Yeah, but the list goes on and on. If you get on the FDA website, you can actually take a look at all of the manufacturers of generic synthetic T4 have also had recalls. Ironically, when you compare that to natural thyroid medication, the number of recalls for natural thyroid medication have been extremely low. Like you can count on two hands, the number of recalls there have been. Whereas when you look at the synthetic thyroid preparations, they’ve recalled numerous time. So where did we go wrong in our thinking? I’m, I’m not sure. I think it’s driven by greed. Now I’m a compassionate capitalist, but this bit goes beyond compassion.


15:05          And my book, I’m a firm believer that capitalism is, is what keeps our society, uh, wheels turning. But again, this goes beyond compassion. This goes to, this boils down to greed. So the bottom line is I wanted you to have a takeaway picture of what goes on. When a person has subclinical hypothyroidism, what can they know or prompt their provider to look for? Is it cortisol? Is a vitamin D? Is it B12 levels, folic acid levels? It has, is it iron levels? Is it reverse T3 levels? What can they do? And then when it comes time to be prescribed something, advocate for yourself being put on a natural thyroid medication, I think you’ll notice a huge, well. I know you’ll notice a huge difference. My clients that come to me with known thyroid issues, these aren’t the folks that are guessing whether or not they have a thyroid issue.


15:58          They know they do their own thyroid medication, they’re only synthetic thyroid medications, and they come to me and we switch them over to a natural thyroid medication and they usually come back within the first six weeks and they go, Oh my gosh, where’s this medication been my entire life? It makes that big a difference, people, and the reason is is because we are dependent on a really healthy human being, a perfect specimen to convert that synthetic T4 into usable form and it just doesn’t happen. If you’ll remember last week’s episode, I spoke about the fact that starting around age 30 35 we lose one to 2% per year. Our ability to convert the thyroid that’s produced into the usable form. So why would we want to give somebody a synthetic form of a hormone that were poorly converting anyway because of age? It doesn’t make sense.


16:51          Now that being said, do we throw a synthetic thyroid preparations out the window? Absolutely not. I actually find when you’ve got a younger person that’s taken this medication, they’d actually do quite well and it boils down to the fat if they’re, if they’re not auto-immune at boils down to the fact that I think that occurs because they’re making that conversion quite readily. The unfortunate thing is as we age, we don’t make that conversion, so I hope this has given you a little bit of perspective on thyroid medication. I know a harp on thyroid a lot. The thyroid is one of these things that is so easily treated. If we learn how to diagnose it and I’m just trying to get the message out there as best I can to the general public because it seems like my medical peers are slow and coming around. They’re coming around, it’s just very slow and it’s, it’s regional.


17:42          You’ll see pockets of areas in the country where when I go to conferences and I’m talking to a, they’ll go, Oh yeah, we do that all the time. And I’m like, what area of the country you’re in? Oh, we’re in Seattle, Washington. Okay. I Mark in my mind that Seattle is probably just a little bit more progressive and they’re starting to think outside the box. They’re starting to think more like a the detective that we’re supposed to be when we’re medical providers. So that’s all I’ve got today. If you have any questions, my inbox is always open, messaged me on Facebook or Instagram @TheOptimalCEO and I’ll respond to you as quickly as I possibly can. I do get a lot of messages so I take them in the order that they received and kind of go through them one at a time.


18:28          So naturally, it may take me a minute to get back to you, but I will reply. If you’re interested in working with me one on one, I encourage you to do so. It’s life-changing, what you can experience, what you can go through when you start getting everything imbalanced. Your genetics imbalanced, your gut imbalanced your hormones imbalanced, your thyroid imbalanced, your nutritional state. And, so if you’re interested in working with me, set up a phone call, go to, and click the link at the top of the page. It says, “Work with Dr. B.” And, fill out a really short 23 question questionnaire, and then I’ll get back with you or my administrative assistant will get back with you and set up a time for us to do a phone call. And, we’ll just kind of go over everything that’s going on. So, that’s all I’ve got for today. I’d like to thank you for joining me. Please tune in next time where I’ll be discussing further those boxes that we get put into when it comes to feeling our best in midlife and beyond. Until next time, this is Dr. Brian Brown, The Optimal CEO, signing off. I hope you have an optimal day


19:36          Here at The Optimal CEO Podcast, we help CEO entrepreneurs who love taking ownership of their wellness journey, but because they know it’s their most prized investment and when their state of wellness is at its peak, their income source. We want to help relieve CEO entrepreneurs from the pressure of unnecessary health exposure so they can be highly focused on growing their business and physically optimize for the journey so they can enjoy getting there.

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