Suzy Cohen has appeared on TV shows like Good Morning America Health, The Dr. Oz Show, The 700 Club, The View and The Doctors. What an honor for me to be included in Suzy’s Cohen book Thyroid Healthy.
Here is page 52 of Suzy’s must-read book Thyroid Healthy. Get a copy of your lab results and check that you’ve had all these tests done and that your levels are optimal not just normal.
Written by Suzy Cohen, America’s Pharmacist
The big lie in conventional medicine is that thyroid disease is easily detected, but the truth is that more than half the people are undiagnosed because of inappropriate testing. There’s a lot of talk about the TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) blood test, and how it is relatively useless at detecting thyroid illness. That is getting to be pretty common knowledge these days and more physicians are evaluating your “free T3” instead. This is definitely more indicative of thyroid status, however, even this blood test can fail some women. Momentarily, I will tell you about two other tests that you can have done that will offer more clues to your health status especially if you take oral contraceptives, hormone replacement, eat commercial hormone-laden meats, or drink from plastic water bottles.
Getting tested is critical, especially if you’re a woman. Did you know that thyroid illness is dramatically more common in women? The unfortunate part is that doctors assume symptoms are related to your monthly cycles, menopause, emotional or relationship conflicts at home, or poor eating habits. You are apt to get misdiagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, depression or psychiatric disorders. In come a slew of potent medications, referrals to psychiatrists, pain specialists, rheumatologists and years of pain and expense… all because you were not taken seriously or tested properly at the outset of diagnosis!
Before I tell you about these important tests, there’s an important connection you need to know about. Drinking from plastic water bottles, or taking “The Pill” can cause hypothyroidism by raising levels of estrogen hormone in your body. The same can be said about menopause drugs which contain the same synthetic estrogen ingredients or commercial cattle that are injected with estrogen hormones to make them heavier at the time of sale. These hormones – no matter how you get them- just so happen to raise your body’s level of estrogen. When you have high estrogen, you have too many transporters, or taxis that can bind up your active thyroid hormone, (making it less available to get inside trillions of cells where it revitalizes you).
The taxi cabs in your bloodstream that I’m talking about are scientifically called “thyroid binding globulin” or TBG. This is the name of a specific transporter that drives your thyroid hormone around and then drops it off at your cells. The high estrogen raises TBG and that lowers your thyroid hormone activity. The simple fix is to drink from glass bottles and use alternative methods to birth control pills.
You have to remember TBG and T4 (thyroxine) are like inseparable buddies in this case.When TBG is high, Free T3 is low and you will have symptoms of hypothyroidism, more specifically you are “thyroid sick.” This is commonly associated with estrogen dominance, or high estrogen from oral contraceptives (or shots/patches) and menopausal medications (Estradiol, Premarin) and even high doses of estrogenic herbs like black cohosh, diadzein, genistein, soy supplements and soy milk.
The more estrogen you take in, the less likely you can break it all down properly. Hypothyroidism or being “thyroid sick” is a risk factor for premature birth, low birth weight, miscarriage and poor fetal neurological development so it is very important for you to optimize thyroid function, especially if are pregnant or plan to become pregnant.
So What Are These 2 Special Tests?
Since the TSH blood test doesn’t speak to levels of thyroid hormone in your body, what are better tests? There are 2 rarely talked about tests that are simple to take:
Sex Hormone Binding Globulin or SHBG
Suggested Level: Women < 70 and Men < 30
This is a blood test to evaluate SHBG. What does “sex hormone” have to do with thyroid hormone? A lot, at least in women. It doesn’t correlate well in men though so I wouldn’t track SHBG in men. This biomarker goes up in response to 3 things, estrogen, insulin or thyroid hormone. They correlate directly. If SHBG is low, it means one of three things. You either have:
1. Reduced estrogen
2. High levels of insulin (watch out, diabetes follows next)
3. Low thyroid hormone
The best place to start is to get a hormone level on the estrogen and I’d suggest a 24 hour urine evaluation. Evaluate estrogen levels and replace estrogen until you get a normal level. Then retake the SHBG blood test. If it’s still low, that means you’re low in thyroid hormone. If you take thyroid hormone and SHBG doesn’t go up, it proves you are ‘thyroid sick.’
The reference range differs but for our purposes, when I say “low” SHBG I mean less than 70 for a woman, and less than 30 for a man indicates you have either low estrogen or low thyroid (or possibly both). You could benefit from straight T3 medicines (as opposed to straight T4 drugs, or NDT drugs). Taking thyroid will definitely help to bring down SHBG, but reducing insulin will be better for you. Using natural supplements such as quercetin, resveratrol and other nutrients.
Thyroid Binding Globulin or TBG
Suggested Level: 13 – 39 μg/ml
This is a blood test to evaluate how many taxis you have in your blood stream. Oral contraceptives (The Pill) increase your TBG that’s why you feel worse if you take those pills or patches/shots. Some of you may benefit from progesterone medication or creams. I’d prefer that you get a bio-identical form of hormones from your doctor rather than buying the cream at a health food store.Most women do better on the oral “micronized” progesterone pills, than the transdermal ones, however this is very individual. Transdermal is okay with me, so long as it’s bio-identical.
What Can You Do Right Now?
You are not helpless, there are simple things you can do to get well, and reduce levels of estrogen in your body while also improving thyroid hormone levels. Here are my ideas to help you get back on track:
1. Switch out your water bottles for glass bottles.
2. Order grass-fed, organic free-range meats as often as possible.
3. Snag a copy of my book Thyroid Healthy because it offers 300 pages of mind-blowing information that no one else is willing to tell you.
4. Find an alternate form of contraception because “The Pill” raises TBG
5. Consider T3 thyroid drugs or natural desiccated thyroid (NDT) instead of pure T4 Levothyroxine drugs.
Most of all, don’t resign yourself to “this is just my life” or “my doctor is really nice so I’m going to follow this plan” when you are simply miserable and tired all the time. You are in control of your life, and your body. It’s up to you to be your own health advocate and fight for yourself! You are just one of several hundreds of patients to your physician, but you are special to your kids and spouse and you need to think about what’s best for yourself. Never resign yourself to symptoms that leave you feeling less than healthy, sexy and energetic. I honestly believe that no matter how hard it has been for you, you can make a new choice and lose weight, look beautiful and live the life you imagine!
About Suzy Cohen
America’s Pharmacist Suzy Cohen has been a health writer for over 15 years and has dedicated her life to researching an immense variety of health topics. Her syndicated column, Dear Pharmacist, reaches millions of readers each week and you may have also seen her blogs on The Huffington Post. She has spoken on programs such as Good Morning America Health, The Dr. Oz Show, The 700 Club, The View and The Doctors.
Suzy’s books have been featured in hundreds of magazines and interviews, and have helped millions of individuals around the world understand complicated health issues. Her books Thyroid Healthy and Headache Free (do you know chronic headaches may be a red flag your thyroid is not optimally treated) are included in Hypothyroid Mom’s Favorite Thyroid Books (because they are EXCELLENT).