The underactive thyroid has been a recognised and potentially mortal illness for over a century now, but the incidence of the condition seems to be increasing, and its treatment less effective than ever.
Unquestioning overreliance on blood tests instead of in-depth clinical evaluation means that the diagnosis is missed or worse, denied, in hundreds of people. Doctors also ignore the high incidence of low adrenal reserve complicating and worsening thyroid dysfunction.
Such patients may be quite disabled by their thyroid deficiency, with a poor resistance to infection, episodes of fainting, bowel disturbances and an inability to tolerate thyroid medication or a failure to respond to it. They are cold and miserable, with weight loss due to lack of appetite, and episodes of prolonged prostration sometimes leaving them unable to get out of bed.
Even if a patient's thyroid problem is recognised, the standard treatment is rarely satisfactory. For all the shrill protests to the contrary by many practitioners and endocrinologists, synthetic thyroxine is not enough, and the failure to treat low adrenal reserve a disastrous omission.
Another problem expressed by many patients is that their own observations are not taken into account. Indeed, they may provoke hostility from a doctor whose mind is already firmly made up about their treatment.
If you suspect you have an undiagnosed thyroid problem, or your treatment doesn't work properly and your doctor is unwilling to try other options, now may be the time to take matters into your own hands, which can be done safely with natural products.
It's important to start with a healthy lifestyle to promote a stronger body - regular exercise, regular meals, reduced stress, lots of restful sleep, vitamins, especially vitamin C, and minerals, particularly calcium, selenium, magnesium, iron and boron.
The next step is to treat yourself with glandular extracts, which require no prescription as they are nutritional supplements and have no side-effects. I have safely prescribed products from Nutri Ltd (see p 6 for contact details). For adrenal support, you can take:
* Adreno-Lyph 80, which contains 80 mg of adrenal extract
* Adreno-Lyph-Plus, which contains 221 mg of adrenal extract, and pituitary and parotid extracts, as well as vitamin C and most of the B family
* DSF Formula, which contains 25 mg of adrenal extract plus vitamins, minerals and other tissue extracts
* Adreno Complex, which contains a combination of minerals and herbs without adrenal extract
* Core Level Adrenal, which contains 120 mg of adrenal extract, and a wide range of nutrients and tissue concentrates.
For thyroid support, there is:
* Core Level Thyro, which contains iodine, and vitamin and mineral synergistic support
* T-Lyph, which contains 130 mg of thyroid extract
* T-Lyph-Three, which contains 42 mg of thyroid extract and other tissue extracts.
If you have been ill for some time and are therefore subject to adrenal stress, you will need adrenal support before you start the thyroid supplementation. If you are fairly convinced you have an element of adrenal weakness, start with Adreno-Lyph Plus (one tablet daily, increasing to two after a few days, taken in the morning). If you are less sure of having adrenal weakness, you may wish to start with Adreno-Lyph 80 (one or two tablets daily, in the morning).
Thyroid support may cause adrenal stress initially, so it is safer and more beneficial to start with adrenal support in any event.
Alternatively, you can support the adrenals by taking liquorice root, also available as a tincture, or you may prefer to take DFS Formula (twice daily) for minimal support, then later revert to the adrenal extract-free Adreno Complex.
Within a week or so, when you are likely to feel the benefit of the adrenal support, you will be ready to start the thyroid supplements. Unless you feel that your thyroid is only mildly affected, I suggest starting with T-Lyph (one tablet daily). After 10 days, this may be increased to one tablet twice a day and, depending on response, this may be
further increased to three a day. Monitor your temperature and pulse morning and evening (see Viewpoint, WDDTY, vol 12 no 9) as well as your own reactions, to adjust the dose to suit yourself.
T-Lyph-Three is a lower-dose alternative. After some weeks, your morning temperature and pulse may start to increase and this may be reflected in your late evening readings.
These natural extracts are likely to prove the answer for mild-to-moderate low thyroid function, and they may be used alongside current thyroid medication (usually thyroxine), the dose of which may most likely be reduced. If you are on natural glandular extracts and haven't reached your optimum level, thyroxine will make up the deficiency if necessary.
You may also need to have levels of your other hormones tested.
Don't expect dramatic changes at once, although you should experience an uplift in energy and spirits. Your morning temperature (after a while) will rise past its starting value - but don't expect it to become normal - and your morning and evening pulse rate will also slowly increase.
Most of all, base your responses on how you feel. Keep a diary and, above all, have the courage of your convictions. If you feel your dose needs to be changed, make the adjustment.
Dr Durrant-Peatfield is a GP with much experience in treating thyroid patients holistically. Recently suspended from practice by the General Medical Council because of his unorthodox approach to thyroid treatment, he has taken an enforced retirement.