Issue #219 July 14, 2014
Welcome to KnowYourThyroid.
Today Dr. Marchegiani is talking about high cholesterol. This is a condition I have been fighting since having RAI treatment. Since I have no thyroid or very little thyroid, I am on thyroid hormone replacement therapy and every doctor I have seen tells me my cholesterol is too high. Not one has connected the high cholesterol with my hypothyroidism. They tell me to watch my diet and exercise and if that doesn’t help, we will have to look at starting me on statins. (BTW, my total cholesterol is between 210 and 220 consistently even while on Armour Thyroid.) This article explains what most doctors don’t seem to understand.
Is Hypothyroidism Linked To High Cholesterol?
Dr. Justin Marchegiani
Without enough thyroid hormone many of our bodily functions begin to slow down (weakened metabolism) and our body temperature tends to drop. Thyroid hormone is essential to health and is needed to help breakdown the building blocks of our hormones (cholesterol) into our active hormone constituents such as estrogen, cortisol, progesterone and testosterone. If there is an inability to break down our hormonal raw material on the front end we tend to see a decrease in supply of hormone on the back end. It can literally create a bottleneck regarding our body’s ability to create hormones.
Healthy hormone balance helps keep our body in a healthy anabolic state where we can heal and stay youthful vs break down and stay inflamed or in pain.
Imagine you are construction worker trying to build a house. You told your foreman you needed 100 pieces of wood to build a frame of a house but you show up the next day with only 50 pieces of wood at the construction site. What do you do? When it comes to your body’s inadequate levels of thyroid hormone, it will be difficult to have optimal hormonal balance, control inflammation and produce energy until this problem is fixed.
Patients who have been diagnosed with high cholesterol should ask their physician about having their thyroid checked. If they have an underlying thyroid condition in addition to their high cholesterol, the cholesterol problem will be difficult to control until normal levels of thyroid hormone are restored.
~Richard A. Dickey, M.D.
The Hard Science!
Below I am going to break down some of the science proving that thyroid function has an effect on our lipid and cholesterol levels. If you feel overwhelmed just take a deep breath, and as long as you understanding the key concepts you are on the right track.
Thyroid hormone has enough influence on a compound known as cholesteryl ester transfer protein (CETP) activity. which convert cholesterol esters from HDL to VLDL and helps with the break down of triglycerides.
Thyroid hormone also has an effect on the lipoprotein lipase which helps break down triglycerides and helps convert HDL into intermediate density lipoprotein compounds.
T3 thyroid hormone also helps up regulate aapolipoprotein AV. Apolipoprotein AV helps regulate triglyceride metabolism. With adequate levels of T3 our body has the ability to help keep our triglyceride levels at a healthy balance.
Thyroid Hormone Affects Our Genes!
T3 also has an effects on thyroid hormone responsive elements (TRE’s). Just look at the picture below, you will see TRE circled on the left side of the picture. The (TRE’s) Impacts the expression of the LDL gene receptor site. With adequate T-3 levels it also protects the LDL cholesterol from oxidation. It’s almost as if adequate levels of thyroid hormone are an antioxidant. This is important because cholesterol helps create a healthy cell membrane, keeping it fluid, flexible and stable.
Thyroid Hormone and Blood Sugar:
Adequate levels of thyroid hormone are shown to help with insulin sensitivity. With hypothyroidism insulin resistance goes up. As our body makes more insulin, this can stimulate our liver to make more cholesterol. By regulating thyroid function and blood sugar we have a direct effect on our body’s ability to produce cholesterol.
Thyroid Hormone Recap:
We’ve got two types of thyroid hormone generally speaking, T4 and T3. Consider T4 a storage hormone, its metabolic effects on the body are insignificant. Consider T3 your active thyroid hormone, it is four times more potent than T4. Most people only get their thyroid assessed using a few specific lab markers including thyroid stimulating hormone (a brain hormone) and maybe T4. The most important hormone of them all is T3 and it’s very rarely assessed in its free and total fraction forms. But again T3 is what has the real metabolic effect on the body.
Assess Your Thyroid Function:
We mention that thyroid hormone has an effect on our metabolism. A simple way to measure our metabolism is via body temperature. With healthy thyroid function your body temperature should be between 97.8°F to 98.2°F in the axillary or armpit area.
Body temperature does go off slightly if you are using your mouth or oral area. In your mouth normal body temperature should be between 98.2°F to 98.6°F. If your body temperature is in this range this is a good sign that you have adequate thyroid function.
These are simple assessments you can do at home without taking any blood work just to see how your thyroid function is doing. Now again, it’s possible to have low body temperature and not have it be purely a thyroid issue. Many other issues can cause low body temperature including chronic infections, adrenal fatigue and anemia to name a few. Many thyroid conditions are autoimmune in nature, which is when your immune system begins to attack it’s thyroid tissues. Both situation call for different measures of treatment to ensure success.
A good functional medicine doctor will rule out all of these things one by one to make sure nothing is missed. To get assessed click here!
There are also several great programs to help you and your thyroid down the path to healthy thyroid function, start here: Hypothyroidism Revolution
About the Author
Dr. Justin started off his career in the health field working in a surgical center as he prepared for medical school while at the University of Massachusetts. Working in the surgical field gave him a first-hand, up-close perspective into the healthcare system. He was able to see where it shined, especially in the area of treating acute injuries and trauma. He also saw its short comings, which are most evident in the areas of chronic disease like diabetes, heart disease, and obesity which are still a problem today! This experience shifted his focus from conventional medicine to a more holistic or natural approach to healing; where the underlying cause of his patient’s health issues are addressed and not just medicated and surgically removed. He is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst with a degree in Kinesiology and Pre-medical studies. Dr. Justin has completed his Doctorate degree in Chiropractic Medicine from Life West University. He has completed post graduate study in the area of clinical nutrition, rehabilitative exercise and functional medicine so he can offer the most cutting edge techniques to help address his patient’s growing health care needs. He works with a wide variety of patients all the way from athletes trying to increase performance and heal from injuries, to the everyday person with chronic health challenges. Using a holistic approach, Dr. Justin addresses core underlying barriers to health which allow his patients to heal faster and feel better. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.