Why, Vs. How!
Stress causes hypothyroidism, but explaining how it happens is like explaining how to remove this tree – I’ll tell how stress causes hypothyroidism in notes on intracellular hypothyroidism: here, I’ll tell you why.
Q: Why remove this tree? A: EASY! This is only half: a storm blew the other half down.
Q: How to remove this tree? A: TOO COMPLICATED to explain!
BTW: this guy probably has Zero stress, because what he’s doing is routine, for him.
Don’t explain “how” – try to explain “why”
Once in a while, some friend asks me about the thyroid and ends up totally confused by my explanation.
For example last night, when I said “stress causes hypothyroidism”, the really smart person with whom I was speaking said “you better explain that.”
I explained how stress produces a “low thyroid” situation inside the cells, as succinctly as I could without leaving anything out: my friend missed the point entirely.
So today, I reviewed my page on Intracellular hypothyroidism: it really is complicated!
Then I realised that “why” something happens can be explained easily and quickly,
but “how” it happened is always a long story!
I should explain “why”, instead of “how”, so let’s try “why” about the thyroid.
Why thyroid hormone Is important
The thyroid gland makes a “raw-material hormone”, “Thyroxine”, nicknamed “T4”, because it has 4 iodine atoms.
Your cells absorb T4 from the blood and remove one of its iodines, to make “T3”.
T3 supercharges the cells, maximizing efficiency: your cells can’t work without T3.
If there isn’t enough T3, you get tired, like in “Long Covid”, or “CFS”, or “adrenal fatigue“,or “Burnout”.
Why Stress Makes You Weak and Tired
Why produce extra cortisol when you’re stressed? – Because cortisol saves energy, which your body might need for healing.
Why is there is a problem, from increased cortisol? – Cortisol saves energy by blocking T3 and converting T4 into a twisted molecule called “reverse T3” (rT3), which doesn’t work.
So with high cortisol, it’s like your thyroid wasn’t making any thyroid hormone at all: everything in the body loses efficiency and “Hibernates”.
Why doctors don’t know about this
Stress reduces the amount of T3 in your cells, except inside the pituitary, because it makes its T3 In a different way, that isn’t affected by cortisol. So the pituitary does not know that the rest of the body is hibernating: it monitors T4 as usual, and puts out TSH as usual.
Doctors test for TSH only, believing that if it is normal, thyroid function is okay: so like the pituitary, the doctors don’t realize that the entire body is hibernating.
Why don’t we have a test for cortisone-induced shutdown?
If there is no stress, the test for good T3 is normal and rT3 is low. So the blood rT3 is a valuable “marker”: a high rT3 tells us that the cells are making rT3 instead of normal T3. However, the medical associations and the endocrinology professors, all around the world, tell regular doctors not to check T3 or rT3. **
** see “what our medical system ignores“, in the blog-page on “thyroid tests”.
Is any treatment available for stress-induced intracellular hypothyroidism?
Yes. It can be treated with slow-release T3.
(1) Preparations containing T4 don’t work well because the T4 is changed into rT3, so the T3 In the cells doesn’t improve.
(2) Quick-release preparations of T3 make the blood T3 “spike” an hour or so after you take the pills, then “crash” about 4 hours later: see the page on “thyroid tests”, under “treating functional hypothyroidism“.
(3) Slow-release capsules release T3 gradually: there isn’t a sudden rush of T3 into the blood and the treatment lasts all day.
What about TSH?
The conventional medical “system” tells doctors that they should only check how much TSH the pituitary gland is making. They say that if the TSH is low, or normal, the thyroid must be working okay, because if it wasn’t, the TSH would be high. So according to them, a normal TSH *** tells you that everything is okay and you don’t have to test T3 and T4.
They also tell doctors not to test for rT3: they think that rT3 is garbage and testing it is a waste of money.
But that’s not right. First, a normal TSH only tells you that the pituitary has enough T4 to make its own T3. It doesn’t tell you what’s happening in all the other cells. Second, testing rT3 tells you how much rT3 the cells are making. — If they’re making lots, they can’t be making normal T3.
*** see “regarding TSH”, in the blog-page entitled “thyroid tests“.
Why TSH stays low when cortisol prevents T3 production
As I said above, since the pituitary’s way of making T3 is different, Cortisol can’t stop its cells making T3 their own T3. So when you’re stressed and all your other cells lose T3, the pituitary still has lots.
Therefore it doesn’t call for more T4 by making extra TSH.
Why your doctor says nothing is wrong with you
Your doctor believes what the system says: TSH doesn’t lie. So no tests are done for “low T3 in the cells” and the doctor tells you that:
– Your TSH is low, so you can’t have “hypothyroidism”, or low-thyroid symptoms.
– Whatever you’re complaining about has nothing to do with your thyroid.
– Your symptoms mean you’re stressed-out, “burned out”, or anxious and depressed.
– What you need is rest, or a holiday, or meditation,
– Or maybe you need some antidepressants and sleeping pills. ——– In short, your MD doesn’t know, or doesn’t believe, that stress causes hypothyroidism.
Why your doctor has that attitude
In the old days, doctors were taught pretty much exactly as they are today, but after University no-one interfered with them. They learned by practical experience, by trial and error (very often, they tried new medicines or procedures on themselves first, before giving them to patients) and by discussing “cases” with other doctors. Every doctor’s experience was different and someone who did things differently from everybody else was considered at least normal, and possibly, smarter.
Nowadays, doctors are told by their “College Of Medicine” that they must all practice “evidence-based medicine”, which means that their way of diagnosing and treating must have been tested by experiments and published in a medical journal. Not only that: the colleges send inspectors to the doctors’ offices, to make sure that the doctors are doing things in the approved manner.
Doctors are afraid that if they order a test that’s not approved, or make a wrong diagnosis, or prescribe different medicines, or even say something like “stress causes hypothyroidism”, they could be “disciplined” by the College and perhaps lose their license to practice medicine.
So when the medical “system” tells them not to test T4, T3 or rT3, and says that prescribing T3 is malpractice, most doctors feel forced to follow the rules, rather than going along with what the patient says.
Why patients should know “why” and how”
The more you know about why (or maybe, even how) your body works and especially, why you have hormones and how they work, the more control you will have over your life and the better, perhaps even the longer, you will live.
Why I’m doing this
I have retired from medical practice, but it seems wasteful to jettison my learning and experience. The medical establishment disregards and ignores the hormonal aspect of our metabolic function and I feel obliged to offer my knowledge to all who wish to read these pages, in the interest of helping those who think outside the box. So please: feel free to check out “how” and “why” in my pages and blog posts, and if you have any questions, please do send me an email (there aren’t any stupid questions),.