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Let’s look at factors that lead to a decreased ability to convert T4 to T3 by rate reduction of deiodinase enzyme activity. (deiodinases are enzymes that help convert T4 hormone to T3 hormone.
Factors that Decrease Conversion of T4 TO T3
Look at these factors for reasons why your thyroid levels are not optimum so you can change these factors in your daily life, it is fairly easy, you just need to apply yourself.
- Inflammation – I see as the non-specific cause of most chronic conditions, and it often has a systemic effect, as well as specifically in thyroid disease. Consider testing CRP and ESR labs for confirmation. Oxidative stress also leads to autoimmune illness of the thyroid via high levels of free radicles releasing hydrogen peroxide.
- Lack of sleep reduces melatonin production and reduces the process of autophagy in the body which allows the body to regenerate and do metabolic house cleaning of free radicles. This reduces thyroid function, but if autophagy is stimulated via restorative sleep, the thyroid is able to restore.
- Dieting using calorie restriction causes your body to go into survival mode, increasing cortisol and thereby reducing thyroid hormone via reducing T4 to T3 conversion. The majority of people still hold onto the outdated dogma that calories in equal calories out. Weight loss is a dance between the hormones and not the calorie counter. Incorrect dieting leads to effectively throttling the thyroid.
- Leaky gut, including illness such as dysbiosis, allergies and IBS which can lead to thyroid dysfunction and autoimmune disease; since 70% of the immune system is found in the gut. Leaky gut therefore leads to reduced conversion of T4 to T3 processes, which can be aggravated by parasites.
- Stress which raises the stress hormone cortisol is an instant kill switch to thyroid function and T4 to T3 conversion. In today’s 21st century this may be the most fundamental issue to address as there are not many patients, I have seen who are good at regulating their stress response whether it be physical or emotional. I have a hypothesis I have been building, that every autoimmune thyroid patient I have seen has ‘lost’ themselves emotionally and once they are able to recover from that shock, they are firmly on the way to healing.
- Conventional pharmaceutical medications are well known thyroid disruptors and include blood pressure medications, diabetic medications, steroids and certain heart medication.
- Endocrine disruptors – which are almost endemic in our environment derived from industry and are commercially available in many of our consumer goods from Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) which are flame retardants to Per-fluorinated chemicals (PFCs) found in non-stick cookware and are also found in certain textiles, leather, water-resistant apparel, rubber and plastics. They affect thyroid and sex hormone levels in the body, by tricking the body into believing they are hormones. They bind to receptor sites, taking up space reserved for the real hormone and the effect it should bring.
How to Increase Your T4 to T3 Conversion and Improve Thyroid Function
These factors below will assist you to counter thyroid problems, especially if you are suffering with T4 to T3 conversion and struggle with the causative aspects outlined above.
Assistance of a qualified practitioner is essential with chronic thyroid disease since the hormonal interactions and causes of this illness are multifactorial and in my opinion are not successfully treatable with a layperson’s expertise. However, it is essential to be fully involved in your personal healing since healing occurs on several levels including emotional and lifestyle factors which you alone have control over. You need guidance on dietary changes, or stress control with meditation or gut support with probiotics and other appropriate treatments. Most of all you need a professional practitioner who will listen as thyroid disease, we are very aware of, can in itself be emotionally exhausting and there is often a time where you need support from a practitioner.
Supplementation of deficient nutrients are very beneficial to support the enzyme processes to be able to convert T4 to T3. Our dietary intake is sadly lacking due to our food supply contaminated with synthetic pesticides and herbicides (endocrine disruptors) as well as nutrient deficient soils. There are certain ‘thyroid’ supplements that are very supportive in this regard, incl selenium which helps to reduce the oxidative stress involved in autoimmune thyroid disease, zinc, vitamin B2 and B3 as co factors as well as iodine. Homeopathic favourites include: Fucus versicolor, Lycopodium, Nat mur, Selenium, Iodum, Thyroidium, Lycopus Virginicus and Spongia, which should be prescribed specifically by a homeopath according to your symptoms.
An interesting adjunct homeopathically is the prescription of HDT homeopathy, including remedies of thyroid antibodies, and pancreatic fungi to reduce the autoimmune effect on the thyroid. This is an exciting new adjunct in homeopathy and is speeding the healing of chronic thyroid pathology. If you are interested in this new approach to thyroid health, click the link for a no obligation 15-minute introductory chat to find out more about the HDT Homeopathy for thyroid.
Diet although does not directly affect thyroid function has a direct effect on the autoimmune component of thyroid function, especially since 70% of the immune system is located in the gut. Problems such as leaky gut can almost be used as a pre marker for thyroid dysfunction. There are several dietary approaches to take from the autoimmune protocol diet to the paleo way of eating and anywhere in-between. What is essential I have found in my practice is that the inflammatory nature of gluten and dairy on the gut can systemically prevent complete healing of thyroid conditions and must be eliminated to facilitate T4 to T3 conversion.
Exercise is a wonderful stimulant to the entire hormonal system and metabolism, esp. the thyroid. Today people have a tendency to not exercise or over exercise which is more detrimental as without adequate regeneration and autophagy the oxidative effect on the thyroid is crippling. Slow gentle exercise is what is required in thyroid disease, for no longer than 45 minutes. Preferably outside for sun exposure and fresh air.
Everybody can benefit by employing these hormone conversion protocols. Understand that there is also the conventional medical approach which also employs the use of T3 supplementation to balance the thyroid. In my experience with a complete case history and treatment protocol, I have never had to go this route to manipulate the hormones. It has always been sufficient to use homeopathic, herbal and nutritional supplementation protocols with lifestyle and emotional changes. Remember, one of the biggest mistakes you can avoid in thyroid disease treatment is allowing your medical practitioner to treat you according to TSH lab outcomes and prescribe only T4 preparations such as Levothyroxine, Euthyrox and the like. There is so much more to be discovered in thyroid autoimmune conditions.