Alzheimer’s and dementia symptoms are frequently produced by hormone deficiencies: low testosterone for men, low estrogen for women, and especially low T3 thyroid, the master hormone, for everyone.
It is not complicated to obtain tests for the gender hormones. If cognition is problematic, make sure the doctor includes gender hormone tests for testosterone, estrogen, etc. Also, if you need supplementation, inquire about bioidentical forms of those hormones. They tend to carry fewer risks than the synthetic varieties.
The situation with thyroid testing and treatment is more complicated and more critical, because medical schools still provide less-than-adequate training regarding low T3. T3 is the form thyroid has to take in order for it to be assimilated into the cells of the body, and is therefore the substance that determines how you feel and function.
But amazingly, the standard test for thyroid function (T4 and something called TSH) ignores T3 levels altogether. Why? The assumption is that if T4 is present in sufficient quantities, the body will automatically convert it to T3 as needed. And it’s true that the body will convert T4 to T3, but only if the person’s conversion capability is working properly.
Unfortunately, as we age, that capability often degrades, so that even if we are making plenty of T4, we can’t use it. As a consequence, one expert endocrinologist estimates that, of the total nursing home population of 1.4 million, between 10 and 15 percent—140,000—are institutionalized unnecessarily. If they were tested and treated for low T3 thyroid with natural desiccated thyroid, they might well get their lives back.
It’s increasingly common for people as young as 30 to find that conversion capability to be insufficient for a whole host of reason having to do with our environment, our food supply, and the absence of a reliable source of iodine.
How do you tell if you have low T3? Here are some of the symptoms: Dementia—foggy thinking, disorientation, trouble finding words, memory loss, trouble focusing, mental confusion, depression, and more. Other symptoms include stubborn weight gain, cold hands and feet, low body temperature, fatigue, muscle weakness, low libido, thinning hair and eyebrows, and dry and/or sagging skin.
Even after describing all these symptoms to their doctors, many patients have been unable to get a full panel of thyroid tests administered. If that happens to you, we recommend finding a doctor who does such testing every day.
Here’s Dr. Neal Rouzier, MD, an expert in thyroid and other hormone treatment, speaking about the impact of proper thyroid treatment on his patients and patients in research studies, and also about the importance of having the right physician examining and treating you.
For a diagnosis of low thyroid, ninety-nine percent of doctors prescribe Synthroid or Levothyroxin, both of which are T4-only synthetic thyroid replacements. That’s OK for people whose T4-to-T3 conversion capabilities are working properly, but it won’t work for those of us whose bodies can no longer convert T4 into T3.
For over 100 years, the best and most natural remedy for low thyroid was considered to be natural dessicated porcine or bovine thyroid (NDT). Knowledgeable experts think it still is. NDT most closely resembles what the human body makes and contains: T1, T2, T3, T4 and calcitonin. Many people report significantly better results on natural versus synthetic thyroid.
Here’s how to start learning about whether or not low T3 thyroid is problematic for you. Much of the information is taken from a book called Stop the Thyroid Madness and a website of the same name. www.stopthethyroidmadness.com. It is a compilation of wisdom from thousands of patients who have been mistreated for low T3. Doctors in the know frequently use that book as a reference.
Here are some steps for getting started on this issue:
- Take your temperature. If your waking temperature is below 97.6 and your afternoon temperature is below 98.6 you may be low in T3 and may need natural desiccated thyroid or thyroid support. See Dr. Rind’s site for more info.
- Visit www.stopthethyroidmadness.com and similar sites and books on natural thyroid to see if you have other symptoms of low thyroid even if your labs are normal.
- Get tested for thyroid including free T3, free T4, reverse T3, and thyroid antibodies (anti-TPO and TgAb)
- Find a doctor who is familiar with desiccated thyroid (such as Nature-throid, Westhroid, Armour, and Canada’s Erfa thyroid all natural), and find a doctor who will prescribe a dosage based on symptoms, such as low temperature and energy levels, rather than relying solely on lab tests. Call your local compounding pharmacy to get names of doctors who routinely prescribe NDT (natural desiccated thyroid)
- Do what you can to correct causes of low T3.
- Iodine deficiency is a primary cause of low T3. Build up the thyroid with iodine and other thyroid-supporting supplements, such as a combination of selenium and L-tyrosine. Many naturopaths recommend Iodoral, which is available online, as well as ThyroPower by Physician’s Strength.
- Stress is also a culprit. Cortisol, the primary stress hormone, inhibits the conversion of storage thyroid hormone (T4) to active hormone (T3) leading to states of hypothyroidism even with normal-looking labs. Cortisol also mobilizes blood sugar for running away from tigers and suppresses all other activities. Chronic stress thus depresses the immune system over long periods. Take up meditation, even just a recording of a guided meditation for 20 minutes, can make an enormous difference. Exercise, as often as you can, even for periods as short as 5 or 10 minutes. Breathe, long deep breaths at least three times an hour while at rest.
- Inflammation messes up your endocrine system. See the section on nutrition for more detail, but here’s the short form: Certain foods are a major cause of inflammation in the body and brain. Refuse grains, sugars, and carbs. Avoid chemicals. Clear parasites and candida, also bacteria of all kinds, which throw the immune system into a state of alarm.