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 Integrative Medicine: The Diagnosis and Treatment of Hypothyroidism 

He has suggested the use of a special long acting T3 preparation to reset the conversion of T4 to T3 process. Dosages of T3 are given exactly every 12 hours in increasing amounts with close monitoring of oral temperatures during the day. High doses of T3 may be given and in order to normalize the oral temperature to 98.6 F. After the optimal temperature is reached and maintained for approximately three weeks or if the patient develops an intolerance to the particular dosage of long-acting T3, the dosage is tapered down to zero.

When the treatment is successful, the temperature will remain optimal with the loss of hypothyroid symptoms, even after the medication is tapered to zero. In other words, the thyroid system is reset at a higher temperature. This process may take several cycles of going up and down on the T3. This treatment requires a lot of discipline from the patient and often leads to symptoms during the treatment. However, it does seem to be useful in some patients. If the patient is stressed significantly and again enters the low thyroid system mode, the entire process can be repeated again. Usually, the treatment is easier at each subsequent episode.

Nevertheless, for most patients, especially if there are adrenal problems or other medical complications, the use of Armour desiccated thyroid on a continuous basis is probably easier and preferable.

Recent studies indicate that patients who have been treated with excessive doses of thyroid hormone over long periods of time may be at increased risk for developing osteoporosis. This may be due not only to too much thyroid, but also to an imbalance between the anabolic and catabolic endocrine hormones. The catabolic hormones are those that help to break down dead tissues and rid the body of metabolic waste. These would include thyroid hormone and hydrocortisone. The anabolic hormones are those that help to rebuild the body and would include DHEA, estrogens, progesterone and the male hormone, testosterone. A physician who is trying to balance a person's thyroid system must also look at all of the other hormones and also all aspects of the person's lifestyle, including diet, nutritional supplements, exercise patterns and stress coping mechanisms. The nutrients that are especially important to a proper functioning thyroid system are iodine and the amino acid tyrosine to make thyroid hormone in the thyroid gland and the minerals iron, selenium, zinc and copper to convert the inactive T4 to the active T3.

How Long Should Patients Take Thyroid Hormone?
When using the desiccated thyroid protocol, patients often remain on the thyroid for life. However, there may be times when the patient can be weaned off the thyroid as all other functions improve, as long as the patient is carefully monitored for the development of low thyroid symptoms and signs and low basal temperatures. When a person's basal temperatures are low, many of the enzymes of the body function in a suboptimal way, which leads to all of the problems we have discussed.

On the other hand, well treated hypothyroid patients should enjoy a vibrant life with lowered risks of all of the degenerative diseases including arthritis, cancer and heart disease. I personally have seen a number of patients whose arthritis pains have completely cleared when treated with proper doses of thyroid. With regard to cancer, the well known alternative cancer treatment developed by Max Gerson, involves the use of Armour Desiccated Thyroid in virtually all of his cancer patients. High serum cholesterol and the development of atherosclerosis are well known effects of hypothyroidism. Therefore, all patients with coronary artery disease and other atherosclerotic conditions should be checked carefully for evidence of a low functioning thyroid condition and treated cautiously and appropriately if a low thyroid condition is found. Psychiatrists have found that the addition of thyroid hormone to patients suffering from refractory depression often is helpful, even when the blood tests are normal.

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 About The Author
Michael Schachter MD, FACAM Director of the Schachter Center for Complementary Medicine, Michael B. Schachter, M.D., is a 1965 graduate of Columbia College of Physicians & Surgeons. He is board certified in Psychiatry, a Certified Nutrition......more
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