For a long time now, people with normal or low thyroid blood test values have suffered from the symptoms of chronic fatigue and hypothyroidism: fatigue, headaches, migraines, dry skin and hair, hair loss, fluid retention, inappropriate weight gain, insomnia, depression, anxiety, decreased concentration, memory loss, ringing in the ears, chilliness, cold hands and feet, allergies, asthma, high cholesterol, arthritis, muscles aches, carpal tunnel syndrome, frequent colds, flues, or sore throats, blood pressure irregularities, ulcers, easy bruising, yeast infections, constipation, infertility, and others. They were either untreated or destined to stay on thyroid medication for the rest of their life. Now, for the first time in medical history, there is a therapy that can effectively treat the underlying condition in these patients and get them off thyroid medication entirely. To give you an idea of how new this discovery is, there are only about 200 physicians in the country treating it at this time.
History has shown us that every once in a while an open-minded doctor in the right place at the right time, makes a discovery that has the potential of helping a lot of people. Of course, doctors being the slow-to-change professionals that they are and the politicians of health being the receivers of drug company contributions that they are, only by word-of-mouth and educational opportunities such as this do the people have a chance of getting a treatment for their cause. Back in the 50's Dr. Broda Barnes, a specialist in treating hormone disorders, became aware of patients who had all the symptoms of the condition known as hypothyroidism, a low thyroid state, without the usual low thyroid blood tests. Some of these patients whose blood tested completely normal for thyroid hormones, were actually as sick as patients showing considerably low thyroid blood levels. He described these patients as suffering from "functional hypothyroidism".
The thyroid gland secretes only 2 thyroid activity related hormones: 75% slow-acting thyroxin (T4) and 25% fast acting triodithyronine (T3). If blood tests are low they usually show low levels of T4 and the patient is often prescribed the brand name of T4 know as Synthroid and the patient often responds favorably. If blood tests are normal though and the patient with hypothyroid symptoms is given Synthroid, nothing happens. So Dr. Barnes tried giving these patients animal thyroid preparations that contain both T4 and T3 and low and behold they improved. Why? Decade’s later research showed that T4 by itself has no function; it must be converted to T3 by an enzyme in the cell. These patients were getting benefit from the T3 in the animal preparation.
The New Diagnosis
Dr. E. Dennis Wilson M.D. of Florida has explained "functional hypothyroidism" now as a cellular inability to convert T4 to T3. Current research and his clinical work has supported this diagnostic classification named Wilson's syndrome after it's discoverer. It's the cluster of often debilitating symptoms especially brought on by significant physical, or emotional stress that can persist even after the stress has passed, which responds characteristically to a special thyroid hormone treatment method. It is characterized by a body temperature that runs on average below normal, with routine thyroid blood tests often in the normal range.
Many types of stress impair the thyroid hormone conversion system but common among them are pregnancy, divorce, death of a loved one, job or family stress, surgery, accidents and excessive dieting. When interviewing patients who have Wilson's syndrome, they can usually determine a specific time in their life after which their health began to diminish. These patients have abnormally low temperatures, 90% with temps 97.8 or lower, and any combination of symptoms indicative of low thyroid hormone system functioning. The list is great because of the impact that thyroid hormone function has on the entire body. Symptoms include fatigue, headaches, migraines, PMS, fluid retention, inappropriate weight gain, unhealthy nails and skin, irritability, depression, memory loss, poor motivation, anxiety, panic attacks, joint aches, muscle aches, hypoglycemia, constipation, irritable bowel syndrome....the list goes on.
Many Wilson's Syndrome sufferers have been abandoned by their doctors because their blood tests showed normal or borderline thyroid levels. It's as though doctors check the carburetor to see if gas is reaching the engine but never check the engine to see why the operating temperature is low. As it turns out, when your body is chronically cold, your cellular enzymes convert T4 to "reverse" T3 (RT3) which instead of activating cell metabolism actually blocks it. Thus the increased RT3 levels prevent the normal burning of sugars and fats which would heat up the body thus allowing enzymes to be warm enough to convert T4 to T3, it's a vicious circle. Because fats and sugars are not burnt properly in the cells there can be inappropriate weight gain and because of the backup of dietary fat, vegetable or animal, that should be burnt, there can be high cholesterol.
But many other systems in the body are affected by this slow T4 to T3 conversion problem. Every cell has receptors for thyroid hormones because the activity of each cell is regulated by thyroid hormones. That's why so many symptoms can be traced to this problem. For example, if the bowel musculature is slow in contracting due to poor thyroid stimulation the patient can be chronically constipated. If the joints are not efficiently laying down new cartilage and intercellular compounds the patient can suffer from arthritis. If processes normal to healthy respiratory function are not stimulated by the thyroid people can develop asthma. If the immune system is not properly stimulated by the thyroid a patient can develop allergies and frequent colds, flues, coughs, sore throats and chronic muscle aches. Take care of your thyroid function, it serves you well.
If you would like to take the first step at discovering if you have Wilson's Syndrome, take your temperature by mouth with a regular glass-mercury thermometer in the following way: take it 2 hours after lunch. Do this for 4 days. If you menstruate do this on day 2-6 of your cycle only. If your daily averages are below 98.3 and you have some of the symptoms described in this article the answer to your prayers could be the special thyroid treatment of Wilson's Syndrome.
The New Treatment
After a visit to the doctor for these symptoms your Thyroid blood test will come back normal or borderline low. If he chooses to treat your slightly low T4 (synthroid or levothyroxin), this may provide initial improvement or none at all. Patients like you often have had the conversion problem for so long that now thyroid cells themselves are putting out lower levels of the hormone.
The problem with using animal thyroid preparations in treating Wilson's Syndrome is that the T4 in the preparation dilutes the effect of the T3 and you have much less chance of ever raising the body temperature to normal levels. Using the traditional tablet form of T3 is not well tolerated because it is too quickly absorbed and therefore becomes too stimulatory. Dr. Wilson experimented with time-release preparations and came up with a 12-hour capsule that works well. It works so well in fact that after the temperatures reach the normal range for a while, you can so effectively eliminate reverse T3 levels such that the condition is cured! The doctor weans the patient off the medicine and when the temperatures hold in the normal range the patient stops the medicine, something you can't do with conventional thyroid preparations.
You can now see how many common medical conditions such as chronic fatigue syndrome, weight gain, depression, anxiety, panic attacks, fluid retention, premenstrual syndrome, arthritis, asthma, constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, Reynaud’s disease, carpal tunnel syndrome, hair loss, hypoglycemia, ulcers, coffee and cigarette addiction, ringing in the ears, yeast infections, urinary tract infections, infertility, chronic skin conditions and premature aging are often caused by Wilson's Syndrome. Since so many symptoms stem from T4 to T3 conversion problems, so many people have this problem, and so few doctors are aware of it, there are a lot of mystified doctors out there treating Wilson's Syndrome patients with mood elevators, stimulants, anti-cholesterol drugs, anti-inflammatories, diuretics, asthma drugs, etc. and getting frustrating results. As you may know, doctors are the highest risk group for suicide in this country, and I think it has a lot to due with the lack of personal gratification in their work. Not so for myself. I go home at night with a big smile on my face at the results I get from this awareness and this treatment. So do my patients.