The thyroid gland affects the function of just about every organ system in the body and is an essential component in the balance between female hormones and the adrenal gland. For the other hormones to work together, the thyroid hormones must first be balanced.
The thyroid gland is controlled by the pituitary gland, which produces thyroid stimulating hormone, or TSH. TSH regulates two of the four thyroid hormones that are produced by the thyroid gland—triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4). The other thyroid hormones, T1 and T2, are the results of iodination of tyrosine molecules, and do not require clinical correction. There is an inverse relationship between TSH and T3/T4; if the thyroid does not produce enough T4, the pituitary will secrete more TSH to stimulate T4 release. T4 is then converted to T3 by a deiodinase enzyme.
It is common practice to prescribe only T4 to patients who may be suffering from hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid); however, a study from the New England Journal of Medicine proved that patients may only need T3 alone, T4 alone, or a combination of both to achieve optimal thyroid values (NEJM 1999 Feb 11; 340(6):424-9). The following chart compares the two thyroid hormones.
Hypothyroidism, the most prevalent thyroid disease, can have multiple causes. For example, in underdeveloped countries, the primary cause of hypothyroidism is iodine deficiency. In the United States and Europe, where iodine is added to salt and other foods, Hashimoto’s is the main cause of hypothyroidism. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is an autoimmune disease in which the human body attacks its own thyroid cells leading to the destruction of the thyroid gland. This causes the thyroid to inadequately produce thyroid hormones needed to work throughout the body. Hashimoto’s accounts for 90% of cases of hypothyroidism in the United States. Other causes of hypothyroidism are silent thyroiditis (from seasonal allergies, viral infections, or vigorous neck massage) or post-partum thyroiditis (from pregnancy), both of which are autoimmune antibody production.
Hyperthyroidism, or the overproduction of hormones from the thyroid, is usually caused by an autoimmune disorder called Graves’ disease in which the patient produces antibodies to the TSH receptor. Most thyroid dysfunctions appear before menopause in women, but many arise as they enter menopause. As female hormone levels begin to fluctuate, thyroid hormones may follow suit. This is because there are thyroid receptors on the ovaries and ovarian receptors on the thyroid gland.
At Innovation Compounding, we assess the patient’s individual needs as to whether T3, T4, or a combination of both are necessary and whether to use porcine (pig-derived) or synthetic thyroid hormones. We can also switch patients between the two, depending on their individual needs. Our compounded thyroid products are part of Vanessis, our female health line of products.
Thyroid function is one of the most important aspects of hormonal balance and paramount to achieving total body wellness.