The Holistic Management of Hypothyroidism
This is one of Dr. Passero’s greatest passions and he prides himself on taking the time with each individual patient to asses their specific needs. A wide variety of options may be available for you to manage your thyroid problems including nutritional intervention, herbal therapy, vitamin/nutrient therapy, homeopathy and prescriptive thyroid hormones including natural glandular extracts and compounded thyroid hormone.
For an in depth discussion regarding my philosophy and approach to addressing hypothyroidism please read my online interview with New York Times best selling author and thyroid advocate Mary Shomon http://thyroid.about.com/od/practitionerinterviews/a/naturopathic-naturopathy-thyroid-passero.htm
Common Lab Tests for Evaluating Thyroid Function:
TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone): This is the most standard test for thyroid function and it is a measure of a hormone released by the brain, and as the name implies it stimulates the thyroid gland to produce hormones. An elevated TSH value suggests that the thyroid gland is under functioning as it is indicating that the brain has to increase the stimulation necessary to keep the thyroid producing adequate levels of hormone. When the TSH is very low it usually indicates the thyroid has become overactive as the brain tries to reduce the stimulatory effects on the gland.
The topic surrounding what is the ideal level of TSH is hotly debated among various health care professionals. The American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists announced in 2002 that the range of TSH should be narrowed to 0.3-3 from the current range of 0.5-5.0, which would have essentially doubled the amount of people in North America that would fit the criteria of hypothyroid. For a detailed evaluation of this topic visit http://thyroid.about.com/cs/testsforthyroid/a/newrange.htm
Most labs still list the reference range as 0.5-5.0 and most doctors still rely on those criteria for diagnosing hypothyroidism. It is common that people with symptoms of hypothyroidism have no idea their thyroid gland is having any influence over their health because their TSH was between 0.5-5.0 and it was deemed normal.
There are four other very important tests to ask your doctor for when considering how your thyroid function might be affecting your health.
1. Free T4: T4 is the main thyroid hormone produced by the thyroid gland. I like to refer to it as a pre-hormone because it is only about 10% metabolically active even though it represents roughly 90% of circulating thyroid hormone. The “free” part does not refer to the price, but rather to the fact that we want to measure the quantity of hormone not bound to other proteins in the blood. Only the free hormones can interact with our cells and help us to produce energy.
2. Free T3: T3 is not the most abundant circulating thyroid hormone, but it is the most active. In fact, it is many times more potent than T4. The T4 in circulation is converted by our organs and our cells into T3 in order to stimulate cellular metabolism. If T3 levels are low, you may have hypothyroid symptoms.
3. Thyroid antibodies (TPO, ATA, TSI)- These antibodies play a critical role in many thyroid conditions. Eighty percent of women that have hypothyroidism have it due to an autoimmune condition referred to as Hashimotos Disease. The TPO (thyroid peroxidase antibodies) and the ATA (anti-thyroglobulin antibodies) are two critical markers that are present when an autoimmune process is at play. The TSI antibody is related to an autoimmune hyperthyroid state called Grave’s Disease.
4. Reverse T3- This is where things get a bit confusing. If under stress, your body can convert the T4 hormone into reverse T3 instead of regular T3. The reverse T3 will bind to the T3 receptor site but will not activate it. In the process, Reverse T3 block these receptor sites from regular T3 and the net effect is your body having less T3 stimulation and reduced metabolism. A good analogy is that of a key and a lock. Reverse T3 is that key on your keychain that fits into the lock but will not turn and unlock it and until you remove it, it is effectively blocking that lock from being activated by the correct key. Why would your body want to do this? Under certain circumstances of stress, our body needs to preserve energy and slow down metabolism for survival. Although this mechanism for survival is not particularly relevant in modern living conditions it was useful thousands of years ago when our food supply was less stable. Stress in our daily lives can trigger these survival mechanisms and stimulate a person’s body to make excessive amounts of Reverse T3 which ends up slowing down the metabolism pathways.
Dr. Kevin Passero – Center Director
Dr. Passero is a licensed Naturopathic Doctor and graduated from one of only eight accredited Naturopathic Medical Schools in North America. His mission is to bring cutting edge natural and holistic therapies to the Washington DC metro area and to educate people on the value of naturopathic medicine across the country. His practice focuses on an individualized approach to medicine. His goal is to help people uncover the answers as to why their body is in distress and find the solutions necessary to restore optimal health.
Dr. Passero completed four years of post-graduate naturopathic medical education at the National College of Naturopathic Medicine (NCNM) in Portland, Oregon after receiving a Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Biology from the University of Colorado.
Dr. Passero is not a medical doctor and naturopathy is not a medical specialty but a separate and distinct health care tradition. Dr. Passero graduated from an accredited four year graduate program as a naturopathic doctor and is currently licensed as a Naturopathic Physician in both the state of Oregon and the District of Colombia. The State of Maryland does not currently offer licensing for naturopathic doctors.
For this reason, certain services listed on this website are only available through his Washington DC office. Please call the main office for details.