Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Another Round of Thyroid Labs

By Diana Hsieh

On May 11th, I had another round of thyroid blood tests. For reference, here were my prior labs on February 26th, after taking one grain of desiccated thyroid per day for two months:

  • TSH = 3.24 (normal range: .4 to 2.5)
  • FreeT3 = 2.6 (normal range: 2.0 to 4.4)
  • FreeT4 = 1.0 (normal range: .82 to 1.77)
After that, my doctor bumped me up to one and a half grains of dessicated thyroid per day for two months. Here were my new labs results on that dosage, taken on May 11th:
  • TSH = 0.115 (normal range: .4 to 2.5)
  • FreeT3 = 2.8 (normal range: 2.0 to 4.4)
  • FreeT4 = 1.14 (normal range: .82 to 1.77)
I'm surprised that my TSH suddenly plummeted because I feel basically the same as I did on one grain per day. In general though, I've seen almost zero correlation between my lab values and my sense of well-being. Perhaps my iodine intake -- still about 25 mg per day -- is having some beneficial effects. I don't know.

Although my Free T3 is slightly higher than before, it's not much changed. And it's still in the low-normal range. I've read that it should be in the high-normal range from hypothyroid advocates, but I've also read that perhaps somewhat lower is better. Again, I don't know. I just want to feel and be well.

Due to the low TSH, my doctor wanted me to back off my thyroid meds a bit, so she's asked me to skip a half to one grain per week. I've been doing that for a few weeks now. She thinks that might help with my lingering symptoms, given that the symptoms of mild hypothyroidism are often the same as the symptoms of mild hyperthyroidism. (Nice, eh?)

I know that Janie Bowthorpe (of Stop the Thyroid Madness) advocates dosing with desiccated thyroid to alleviate all symptoms, even if that pushes the TSH down to zero. I'm hoping that I won't need to do that. I'd rather take as little thyroid medication as I need. And given that I'm fully functional right now -- unlike this winter, when I was a brain-dead corpse -- I'm willing to play around with a more conservative approach for a while.

As for my lingering symptoms... I've had bouts of unbearable cold during the middle of my monthly cycle when body temperature drops naturally. I'm fine now, but I'll find out over the next few weeks whether that happens again. (Right now, my morning temperature is about 97.3.) My skin had been terribly dry, but that's improved in the past few weeks. My energy levels aren't quite as high as I would like, but CrossFit seems to be helping with that. That's it... otherwise I'm great. I'll be interested to see what happens to my cholesterol with my annual exam this fall. My numbers improved on paleo for a while, then went to hell as I developed hypothyroidism, then improved slightly as of late February.

Oh wait... I have one more update! (I'll be vague about this matter; you'd thank me if you knew!)

After a year of utterly perfect digestion on paleo, my hypothyroidism caused major blood sugar regulation and digestive problems. Most of that came and went with my other major hypothyroid symptoms, but some problems lingered. Despite months of tracking and testing what I ate, I just couldn't figure out the root of the problem.

Happily, thanks to a strict elimination diet for a few weeks, I realized that the recent digestive problems were due to magnesium. Most people can take 400 mg of magnesium without a problem, but I found that even the 250 mg in my multivitamin had most unwelcome effects. So I've cut out any and all supplements with magnesium. Cruciferous vegetables seemed to magnify the nasty effects, so I'm taking care not to eat too much of them. Even chocolate can be a problem. Basically, I'm just exquisitely sensitive to magnesium. Now that I know that, my digestion has returned to utterly perfect. Hooray!

In other thyroid news, Mary Shomon reports on a new study showing clear benefit to some people with the addition of T3 to the standard T4-only regimen. Good!

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