When an elderly gentleman first came to Erika Schwartz, MD, for medical advice, she took one look at his outdated medications and corresponding symptoms and requested to speak to his cardiologist about radically changing his regimen. The man was overweight and sluggish, suffering from low thyroid and testosterone levels, and had developed a severe case of eczema and subsequent sleep problems because he was up all night itching.
After three weeks of attempting to contact the cardiologist, Dr. Schwartz finally got him on the phone. She suggested taking the patient off some of the medications that, in combination, were contributing to his eczema.
“The guy said to me, ‘I can’t talk to you. You don’t know science,’” recalls Dr. Schwartz, who reminded him that they share the same medical degree. “So he hung up on me!”
After discussing her ideas with the patient in question, the man opted to ditch his cardiologist and try Dr. Schwartz’s plan. She implemented treatment that included boosting the level of his thyroid hormones and taking him off his cholesterol medication. Initially, the man thought this would cause him to have a heart attack; however, Dr. Schwartz says now that correcting his hormones naturally kept his cholesterol low, and the man did not have a heart attack.
Thyroid hormones are, not surprisingly, created by the thyroid gland—a butterfly-shaped endocrine gland located in the lower front of the neck. The two thyroid hormones—triiodothyronine and thyroxine—are most commonly referred to, respectively, as T3 and T4. T4 is converted into the active T3 within cells, and it travels via bloodstream to our various organs. Although thyroid is most notably responsible for regulating metabolism and energy, these hormones affect all areas of the body, from the brain to the heart to the liver and beyond, helping all organs to maintain optimal function.
The most common problem associated with thyroid is hypothyroidism—underactive thyroid, in which the thyroid gland doesn’t make enough hormones to regulate the necessary functions in the body. Hypothyroidism can result from a variety of internal and external factors, including Hashimoto’s disease, an autoimmune condition in which the immune system attacks the thyroid.
People with hypothyroidism can display a wide variety of symptoms: fatigue, weight gain, hair loss, dry skin, brittle nails, body temperature irregularities and feeling cold, mood swings and depression, brain fog, poor reflexes, and more. The symptoms of hypothyroidism often overlap with other conditions, yet many doctors are quick to hand out prescriptions before even considering thyroid imbalance.
The conventional thyroid function tests are widely criticized. One of these tests is thyroid stimulating hormone test or TSH test which shows the level of pituitary hormone, TS, in the blood.
But it doesn’t show the amount of T3 or T4 in the blood. The pituitary hormone actually stimulates the thyroid gland to produce and release thyroid hormones
That is why the patients can have the symptoms mentioned above and still have a normal TSH result, so they are prescribed with improper medicines that cannot help with their problem and can even have some dangerous side-effects.
Dr. Schwartz says “At the end of the day, we suffer because we’re treating individual symptoms, and we don’t look at the body—at the person—as a whole.[The TSH test] is actually doing a disservice to anybody who wants to take care of themselves, or someone who actually wants to take care of the patient.”
To obtain better results, the levels of T3 and T4 should be separately examined. It is also important to be sure that T4 is being converted into active T3 and that the T3 is transferred towards the body organs.
The natural treatment of Dr. Schwartz also included diet changes, hormones, supplements and exercise. She healed the whole body and doesn’t treat the symptoms only and that is why her treatment was effective.
She says: “What I also found out was that giving those people thyroid to begin with—giving them T3, let’s say, to begin with, which is the active thyroid hormone—was actually the quickest way to get people to feel better. And once they felt better, then you could tweak their diet, exercise, lifestyle.”
Shamon believes that the way thyroid hormones affect the whole body is very important for effective treatment:
“Our metabolism relies, in large part, on our thyroid’s ability to function properly. If we’re not getting enough oxygen or energy to the cells for digestion, for pancreatic function, for brain function, for all of the other hormone production processes and the glands that are producing those, then everything is going to be slowing down and not working properly,” she explains. “It’s the gas pedal, essentially, for everything.”
To conclude, both external and internal factors can cause thyroid disorders like diet, environment, immunity etc.