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Dessicated Thyroid Versus Synthetic Therapies In The Treatment Of Hypothyroidism

1710 words - 7 pages

Hypothyroidism is an endocrine disorder that effects the lives of many people. In hypothyroidism, the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone, causing an array of symptoms such as fatigue, weight gain, depression, swelling of limbs, lack of focus and many more. The current standard of treatment of hypothyroidism is hormone replacement therapy with a synthetic form of thyroxine (T4) called Levothyroxine or T4 Monotherapy. The whole idea behind T4 Monotherapy is that the Levothyroxine (which is a synthetic version of the natural thyroid hormone thyroxine) will mimic what occurs naturally in the body, and be deiodinated in the peripheral tissues to become the more biologically active thyroid hormone triiodothyronine (T3) and thus, alleviating the patients symptoms. Unfortunately, this however, is not always the case. For some patients, even though they are in the therapeutic range using T4 monotherapy, their bodies aren’t properly converting the synthetic T4 to active T3. Because of this, coupled with the invention of the internet, patients are turning to search engines in hopes to find an answer that will alleviate their symptoms, which has led to a resurgence in the use of desiccated thyroid products. Desiccated thyroid is derived from porcine thyroid glands, and contain both T4 and T3 thyroid hormones. Some alternative medical practioners are claiming there is more benefit in this natural product vs synthetic, but perhaps we need to take a closer look into the alternative treatment options of hypothyroidism- such as desiccated products, and why natural might not always be better.
Hypothyroidism is a clinical syndrome resulting from a deficiency of thyroid hormones, which leads to a generalized slowing down of metabolic processes. The thyroid synthesizes two hormones: triiodothyronine (T3), and thyroxine (T4). T4 is a prohormone and is converted in some peripheral tissues (liver, kidney and muscle) to the more active T3 which acts at the cellular level. The secretion of these hormones is controlled by what is known as the Hypothalmic-Pituitary-Thyroid Axis. The hypothalamus produces a peptide called thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH), which stimulates the pituitary to secrete thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). In turn, TSH stimulates the growth and activity of the thyroid follicular cells by binding a G-protein-coupled receptor (TSHR) to trigger thyroid hormone synthesis and release. Once T3 and T4 are in circulation, they exert negative feedback to the hypothalamus. Any Disruption in the delicate axis can lead to hyper or hypo thyrodism.
The production of thyroid hormones is very iodine dependent, it used to be that the number one cause of hypothyroidism was due to iodine deficiency. Iodine deficiency stunts growth and causes the thyroid gland to become irregular, causing a goiter. Nowadays however, with iodized salt and iodine being added to water, hypothyroidism due to iodine deficiency is not seen as often anymore. The...

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