Hypothyroidism Type 2:
A New Way of Looking
at an Old Problem
© 2008 by Nenah Sylver, PhD
This article originally appeared in the
December 2008 issue of Townsend Letter.
The Basics of An Epidemic
What do chronic pain, diabetes, heart disease, menstrual difficulties, and sleep apnea have in common? . . . There’s an excellent chance that this apparently disparate collection of disorders—among literally dozens, if not hundreds—indicate abnormally low thyroid function.
The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped endocrine gland located at the throat that produces numerous related hormones: thyroxin (also known as T4), liothyronine (also known as T3), T2, and T1. T4, the most well known of all the thyroid hormones, heats the body and speeds metabolism (of fats, proteins and carbohydrates) and heart rate. T3, the most active form of thyroid hormone, also heats the body and speeds metabolism and heart rate. At best, T4 is only about one-quarter as potent as T3, and in any case most is converted into the more active T3 by the liver, kidneys, and other body cells. T2 stimulates metabolism, while one animal study showed that T1 cools the body and slows the heart. Together, all four of these related hormones probably act synergistically in ways that are not yet fully understood.
Thyroid underactivity, commonly called hypothyroidism, was first reported in London in 1875. According to many reliable sources, including doctors Broda Barnes, David Derry, Jacques Hertoghe, and James Howenstine, at least one-third to one-half of the US population suffers from slight to severe hypothyroidism.