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Hypothyroidism is characterized by insufficient T3 thyroid hormone at the cellular level.  Thyroid hormone regulates the metabolic rate, so people with hypothyroidism typically have a low metabolic rate.  This results in low energy level, slow heart rate, low body temperature, and weight gain.

Hypothyroidism can result from the thyroid gland not producing enough thyroxin or T4, or from a decreased rate of conversion of T4 into T3, the hormone that activates the cells.  This latter condition is also known as "Low T3 Syndrome" or "Wilson's Syndrome."  Either cause leads to low blood levels of T3 and hypothyroid symptoms.

Hypothyroidism can be caused by a lack of nutrients necessary to make the hormone or it can be caused by illness.  Routine thyroid tests performed on patients in a hospital will show that most patients have low thyroid hormone levels.  Fasting will also cause thyroid hormone levels to drop.  The decrease in thyroid hormones in both of these cases seems to be a built-in safety mechanism of the body to preserve energy for healing and prevent catabolism of the muscles.

It appears that for the thyroid to produce a normal amount of hormone, the body must be well.  Any disease can cause low thyroid output as a preservative function.  This appears to be a good "strategy" for the body, because you don't want to have plenty of energy if your body needs to rest and heal.

Consequently, correcting hypothyroidism can often mean correcting all the health problems in the body.  While this may sound like a daunting task, I believe that if the body is supplied with all the needed nutrients, health will return and the thyroid will function adequately.

Sometimes the same nutrient deficiencies that are causing hypothyroidism are also causing the other disease conditions.  In these cases, by supplementing with the nutrients we know to be involved in thyroid hormone production may also correct the other health problems.

One exception to this may (or may not) be hypothyroidism caused by RAI (radioiodine therapy administered to stop hyperthyroidism).  Because of the damage to the thyroid by radiation, it may not be possible for the thyroid to recover.  On the other hand, it might be possible.

I talked to one woman who told me that she had been hypothyroid and on replacement hormone for over 20 years.  She began a nutritional supplement program and felt so much better that she was able to stop taking the hormone.  This is just hearsay, but still interesting.

Generally people who have undergone RAI feel that their thyroid glands are not working at all.  This doesn't seem to be the case.  My estimation is that if the thyroid gland were totally inactive, then the person would need about 300 mcg of Synthroid, which is levothyroxin or synthetically produced thyroid hormone which is identical to the T4 that our bodies make.

If a person who had RAI were taking 100 mcg of Synthroid, then by deduction their thyroid glands must be producing the equivalent of 200 mcg of thyroxin or about 2/3 of normal.  Trying to get the thyroid gland to go from zero production to 300 mcg a day would be daunting, but getting it from 200 to 300 seems possible.

When essential nutrients for thyroid hormone production are deficient in the diet, the thyroid gland grows in an apparent effort to filter more blood to get the scarce nutrients out of the blood supply.  This enlargement is known as goiter.

It is well known that iodine deficiency will cause a goiter and less well known that selenium deficiency will also cause a goiter.  Other nutrient deficiencies may cause goiter, but this has not been well studied.

The existence of goiters demonstrates that the thyroid gland has the capacity to grow or at least enlarge.  If this is true, then perhaps it can grow or regenerate after RAI.  It would seem theoretically possible, but I don't have the information to answer this question with any degree of confidence one way or the other.

(To be continued)