If you have Hypothyroidism and live in Ireland, then you are most probably taking the medication Eltroxin (Levothyroxine – synthetic T4). Eltroxin contains the active ingredient levothyroxine, as well as non-medicinal ingredients such as Sodium Citrate, Lactose monohydrate (dairy), Maize Starch (this could contain gluten), Acacia Powder and Magnesium Stearate.
After taking Eltroxin (T4), the absorption is incomplete and variable. Our body needs to convert synthetic T4 to the active T3. T3 is our main “energy” or “active” hormone. It’s only when sufficient amounts of T3 are produced that processes such as regulation of body temperature, metabolism of nutrient and optimal grown and development can occur.
Foods, digestive function, medications, nutrient status, other medical conditions and toxins may interfere with the action of thyroid hormones. In many people, this doesn’t always happen, and we can continue to feel exhausted despite “normal” TSH and T4 levels.
The only way to know is to actually test for T3, which is not conventionally done.
St. James’s Hospital state that “the patient may….require both T4 and T3 replacement in order to restore physiological function”.
As a nutritional therapist, I want to find out why my client has hypothyroidism i.e. what is the root cause? Is taking a synthetic thyroid hormone enough?
We also have to look at the adverse reactions of Eltroxin such as raised blood sugar levels and bone health. In women, long-term levothyroxine sodium therapy has been associated with increased bone resorption, thereby decreasing bone mineral density, especially in post-menopausal women on greater than replacement doses or in women who are receiving suppressive doses of levothyroxine sodium. The increased bone resorption may be associated with increased serum levels and urinary excretion of calcium and phosphorus, elevations in bone alkaline phosphate and suppressed serum parathyroid hormone levels. To minimize the risk of osteoporosis, dosage of levothyroxine should be titrated to the lowest possible effective level.
Patient information leaflets list other adverse effects which can include;
Skin rash, increased appetite, abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea, excitability, insomnia, restlessness, headache, depression, palpitations, increased blood pressure, sweating, flushing, hair loss, cramps in the skeletal muscle, muscular weakness, decreased bone mineral density, menstrual irregularity, impaired fertility, fatigue, heat intolerance and fever. The appearance of clinical hyperthyroidism may be delayed for up to five days.
We are usually told by our GP’s or Pharmacists that we will need to take this medication for the rest of our lives. If asked if diet has anything to do with it, we are mostly told no!
Interestingly the NHS and HSE state that “An underactive thyroid often occurs when the immune system, which usually fights infection, attacks the thyroid gland. This damages the thyroid, which means it’s not able to make enough of the hormone thyroxine, leading to the symptoms of an underactive thyroid. How many of us get tested for this immune reaction i.e. Autoimmune Thyroid or Hashimoto’s or Grave’s Disease?
Hashimoto’s disease is the most common type of autoimmune reaction that causes an underactive thyroid. It is not clear what causes Hashimoto’s disease, but the condition runs in families and are common in people with another disorder related to the immune system, such as type 1 diabetes, coeliac disease and vitiligo. A deep seeded infection has also been associated with Autoimmune Thyroid Conditions.
So what can you do?
Firstly, make sure that all your thyroid hormones are tested, including your free T3 and antibodies. Once you know whether it’s a symptom of an immune condition or primary Hypothyroidism, you can start to ask yourself why this has happened to you.
If you want to get these tests done privately via my clinic or would like to work with me to help get to the root cause of your condition do get in touch.