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FAQs on Thyroid, Adrenal, and Metabolic Problems

What are normal thyroid lab values?


Q. I've been told by my doctor that my lab values are normal yet I feel tired and am gaining weight in spite of a very disciplined diet. What's going on here?

A. I hear this a lot. Take a look at the text on Thyroid Scale. It not only explains why it is not enough to look for lab values within the normal range, but it also provides enormous insight as to whether or not you have a metabolic problem based on your lab values.

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What is a normal temperature?


A. A healthy temperature is 98.6 degrees. Most people are not in excellent health and therefore run a lower temperature. Normal refers to the statistical term ‘norm’ which is the average of healthy and not so healthy people. We need to strive to be at the healthy end of the bell curve and not at the norm or center of the curve. 98.6 degrees is where you want to be. Read the text on the Metabolic Temperature Graph to get a much better understanding of whether or not you have metabolic problems based on daily temperatures.

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What to fix first, thyroid or adrenals?


Q. I have adrenal fatigue. Do I have to fix the adrenals before the thyroid? Can't I just take Armour or T3 anyway?

A. If your adrenals can't handle the stress of the (thyroid) metabolic stimulation then you may harm them by taking thyroid in a dose that overwhelms them. In the short-run, you may feel better with the increased energy. In the long-run, you enter the world of adrenal fatigue which can be worse than thyroid hypo-function since you then get low thyroid AND low adrenal function. If it gets bad enough, you get purely adrenal symptoms and then wish for the good old days when it wasn't as severe. Fixing the adrenals is usually not such a big deal. Most people do fine and it usually only takes some adrenal support supplements. Once the adrenals are stronger, you can tolerate more thyroid support. The method I've developed and found most useful is to take daily temperature readings (see Metabolic Temperature Graph). This lets you know (by the pattern) if your adrenals are getting stronger and if your system is tolerating the thyroid support...thus you guide the process yourself once you understand the mechanism. Often, the temps rise as the body allows the thyroid to function better. If the temperature pattern becomes more stable but the temps do not rise, the thyroid may need a little help. Armour Thyroid or slow release T3 often help get things going if done gently and gradually. These medications (Armour thyroid, T3 or T4) are prescribed by your physician and you would work closely with him/her in this effort. If you only have a thyroid problem and the adrenals are fine, then the thyroid is all that needs to be addressed.

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Fixing the wrong one (thyroid vs. adrenals) first?


Q. What happens if I fixed the wrong one (thyroid vs. adrenals) first?

A.The thyroid and adrenals behave as if they have an inverse relationship with each other. A low function in one can look like a high function in the other. See the Metabolic Scorecard to get a better understanding of where your problem may lie. A mixture of both thyroid and adrenal problems provides the greatest challenge in treatment. If only the adrenals are supported, some adrenal symptoms may improve but the symptoms of hypothyroidism may become accentuated. Typically, these can appear as weight gain, fluid retention, rise in blood pressure, constipation, depression, etc. Conversely, if the thyroid is strengthened but the adrenals remain weak, we may see an improvement in hypo-thyroid symptoms but we may have an increase in adrenal fatigue symptoms such as anxiety, insomnia, hair loss, dryness, and unwanted weight loss. I have found that the improvement of hypothyroid symptoms tends to be short lived when the adrenals are not supported. For this reason, I tend to supported the adrenals first allowing the body’s metabolic state to return to optimal, then provide thyroid support only if needed.

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Generic Adrenal Support Program?


Q. Is there a simple supplement program to help support my adrenal function?

A. If you know that you have some adrenal issues and want to get started, I have outlined an adrenal support program that can be as simple or as complex as you feel you can handle. Use the feedback tools provided on this site to see if the treatments is working or not.

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How to take T3?


A. Unlike T4, T3 is very fast acting. It can be slowed down by mixing it with a slow release substance. This is not commercially available but may be obtained from a compounding pharmacy (not a regular pharmacy). Because even the slow release T3 has a peak action of only a few hours, it is best to take it in divided doses. Thus a 15 mcg daily dose can be taken as 7.5 mcg approximately every 12 hrs. Or better yet, 5 mcg approximately every 8 hrs. The adrenals are less stressed if their metabolic environment is stable. According to pharmacological principles, a dose of medication will produce blood level of the medication that rises and then falls. If taken as 2 separate doses, the blood level is more stable. 3 doses produce an even more stable blood level, etc. Cytomel is an example of a fast acting T3. It produces a strong immediate effect (high blood level) which is followed by a weak effect (low blood level). It may require breaking up the dose into many small doses. Note that a stick of dynamite and a candle stick can generate the same amount of heat or energy. The difference between the two is the rate or speed that the energy is released.

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What is Wilson's Syndrome?


A. Around 1990, Dr. Dennis Wilson identified a condition in which the thyroid tests are in the ‘normal’ range but patients have low body temperature and many symptoms suggestive of hypothyroidism. The old name for this condition was Euthyroid Sick Syndrome. Dr. Wilson defined it more clearly, including the role of Reverse T3 (RT3). He called it Wilson’s Syndrome and developed a therapeutic regiment that helps many sufferers. His pioneering work brilliantly recommends te use of slow release T3 as opposed to the quick release.

I have observed that T3 therapy is much more effective if the adrenals are supported. In my own experience, I have found that, when T3 is needed, using lower doses of T3 along with adrenal support produces fewer undesirable effects.

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Living Out of state?


Q. I live far from you and I know of no doctor near me that is familiar with natural approaches, use of T3, or adrenal problems. What can I do?

A. I prefer to work with a doctor near you and give support in that way. I'm always glad to share my experience with a colleague. It is the least expensive and best for you if that can be done. If you need to find a holistic doctor, your best bet is to do a search. There are sources out there like:

As a last resort, you can always come to Maryland. The tests I typically ask for initially are:
  1. CBC
  2. Chem 24 or similar
  3. Total T3 (not T3 uptake), unless you're on birth control pills or estrogen therapy, then use Free T3 instead.
  4. Total T4. Use Free T4 if on birth control or estrrogen therapy.
  5. TSH
  6. Start your Metabolic Temperature Graph™ as soon as you can.

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