Thyroid Hormones & Reverse T3

Posted May 24, 2011 by advancingcare
Categories: Hypothyroidism, Thyroid Lab Tests


Reverse T3 is a thyroid hormone made from the primary thyroid hormone T4 or thyroxine.  It plays an important role in regulating our metabolism.

Sometimes the thyroid can produce too much T4 which causes hyperthyroid symptoms such as restlessness, weight loss, increased heart rate… everything to do with a fast metabolic rate.  When this happens more of the T4 will be converted to Reverse T3 to put the brakes on, to slow down metabolism.

Too much T4 can also happen if a person is taking too much thyroid hormone in the form of Synthroid or Levothyroxine.  The body will convert the T4 in this medication to Reverse T3.

Sometimes the body will convert its T4 into Reverse T3, especially if there is an active or chronic infection.  A person can have fairly normal levels of thyroid hormones including T3 and have low thyroid hormone symptoms because of an elevated Reverse T3.

This is one reason why a person’s Reverse T3 should be checked whenever they have low thyroid hormone symptoms.  They should also be checked for thyroid antibodies and all the other thyroid hormones including TSH, T4, Free T4 and Free T3.

Reverse T3 acts in a number of ways.  One is to slow the conversion of Free T4 to Free T3.  The hormone T3 is the hormone which is primarily responsible for increasing our metabolism and thus the production of energy and vitality.  If there is a problem with conversion, when Free T4 is right in the middle of the lab’s reference range (optimal) and Free T3 is low, then elevated Reverse T3 is suspect.  Other causes of poor conversion can be a deficiency of selenium as well as low levels of the adrenal hormone cortisol.

Anyone with an elevated Reverse T3 should not be taking a thyroid prescription which contains T4, at least not in the normal doses, but should be using the thyroid hormone prescription known as T3 or Cytomel.  This will help with symptoms and will not feed the further elevation of Reverse T3.

All in all how the body works is miraculous and to understand its language we use lab testing which provides the details, the script, of its particular dialect.

Be sure to watch our series of videos on our Hashimotos site.


Three Phases of Treating Hashimoto’s

Posted March 21, 2010 by advancingcare
Categories: Hashimoto's Treatments, Hashimoto's

Tags: ,

I just finished uploading 8 video presentations onto YouTube on the primary causes of Hashimoto’s and its treatment. Here’s a brief summary of Phases I, II and III.

Phase I

The primary goal of the first phase of treating Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis is to reduce inflammation. Thyroid inflammation is due to too much hydrogen peroxide production in thyroid cells which is due to the stimulating effects of the hormone TSH.

Reducing TSH is a must and is accomplished by taking a thyroid medication. This prescription adds thyroid hormones to the circulation and signals the pituitary to reduce TSH production. Just because a person takes a prescription in the first phase does not mean they will have to take it for the rest of their lives. Much depends upon how long a person has had Hashimoto’s and damaged their thyroid gland is.

The other way of reducing TSH is to avoid iodine and iodide. Both of these stimulate the pituitary to secrete more TSH.

A third effort is needed to reduce the thyroid’s inflammation and this is accomplished by providing lots of antioxidants. The best one is glutathione which the body can make by giving it selenium and N-Acetyl Cysteine. A sublingual glutathione can also be used.

The goal of the Phase I is to reduce TSH below 1.0, to lower the thyroid antibodies close to the upper normal limit and to prepare the thyroid for optimal production of its hormones.

Phase II

This is the time to re-introduce iodine and iodide for health reasons as well as to see how well the thyroid can once again produce thyroid hormones. The introduction of these trace minerals is also for helping to prevent the recurrence of Hashimoto’s.

During this phase TSH needs to be monitored as well as thyroid hormones and thyroid antibodies just to be sure that the iodine and iodide are not over stimulating the production of TSH and thus increasing inflammation and thyroid antibodies.

Once a person is able to take about 6 mg of iodine and iodide without any problems they have entered Phase III which is basically the continued optimization of their health.

Third phase is when iodine and other nutrients enter various tissues including the breast and ovaries and are now protecting them from environmental toxins and pathogens.

Simply provide the body with what she/he requires for health is THE MOST effective means of prevention as well as the protection of health.

Synthroid & Levothyroxine: Lab Testing

Posted March 9, 2010 by advancingcare
Categories: Hypothyroidism, Synthroid, Thyroid Lab Tests

Tags: ,

I get a lot of questions from women on Synthroid.  In general they don’t feel well and they’re asking about other lab tests to know if they are taking enough Synthroid and if they can take more.

Synthroid (levothyroxine, etc.) is a synthetic thyroid hormone similar but not identical to one of the thyroid hormones (T4 or thyroxine) the thyroid makes.

It’s very important to know that both Synthroid and the T4 your thyroid makes do not regulate metabolism.  I’ll repeat that again because it is an extremely important point.

You can swallow a bottle full of Synthroid and if your body cannot convert it into T3 its only effect will be to lower TSH.

T3 is the other main thyroid hormone and is the one which activates and governs your body’s metabolism.


Synthroid is prescribed when a person’s thyroid is not making enough T4 even though their thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) is high.

When a person takes Synthroid their blood levels of T4 go up and as a result their TSH comes down.

Most physicians prescribing Synthroid only monitor TSH to know if a person is taking enough Synthroid.  When TSH comes down into the normal range the patient is told they are taking enough Synthroid even though they may still be suffering with low thyroid symptoms.

And this is about as far as most women get.  End of story.

What’s wrong with this picture?

What is THE most important consideration when it comes to determining if a woman is taking enough Synthroid?

Why is it that you and 99% of women can’t answer this question?

What is it about our educational system that avoids the all important subjects of personal health and psychology?

The most important question and consideration is this.  Is there an optimal amount of T3 contacting receptors inside our cells so that metabolism is turned on?  It’s that simple.

Even though we can’t measure T3 inside cells we can test T3 levels in the blood.  This is easy.  The first test then is Free T3 to know if there’s enough T3.

If free T3 is low then what’s the next question?  Why is it low?

T3 can be low for two reasons and both relate to free T4.

Naturally, since T3 is made from free T4 if it’s low then T3 will be low.  This is a no brainer.

If free T4 is low it’s either because the person is not taking enough Synthroid or too much of the Synthroid is bound up and unavailable which is usually due to too much estrogen.

If there is plenty of free T4 but T3 is low then it’s a problem with conversion.  Conversion simply means the removal of one atom of iodine from the T4 to make the T3.  This happens primarily in the liver.  Poor conversion is most often due to specific nutrient deficiencies but can also involve liver problems.

So there you have it.  The tests needed to know why a person on Synthroid is not feeling a whole lot better are TSH, Total T4, Free T4 and Free T3.

The biochemistry of thyroid hormones is not that difficult to understand.  It just means finding a physician who can think outside the box and who knows and applies the medical research that’s available today.

Oh, and one more thing.  For T3 to bind to receptors once it gets inside the cells there needs to be plenty of vitamin D and vitamin A.  Have a lab test for vitamin D.

I believe that most women taking Synthroid can optimize their thyroid hormone levels and provide essential nutrients for improving their own thyroid hormone production and for preventing other conditions arising from hypothyroidism.

Hypothyroidism itself is not a disease.

Fibrocystic Breasts & Breast Cancer Treatment

Posted March 7, 2010 by advancingcare
Categories: Breast Cancer Risks, Fibrocystic Breasts

Tags: , ,

“I know that the tenderness and pain in my breast isn’t right… but my doctor tells me I should feel lucky it’s not cancer… but I’m concerned.’

And you should be!  You don’t need a degree in medicine to know something is wrong and your physician’s dismissal discounts the importance of treating it.

The real question is, ‘Does fibrocystic breasts increase my risk for breast cancer?’

The answer to this question depends upon who you ask and how well informed they are.  When I googled the words fibrocystic, breasts and breast cancer I found the first 30 sites, including The Mayo Clinic, say there’s no relationship.

Yet the prominent New England Journal of Medicine in 2008 confirmed the obvious.  Again, common sense should tell us that any unusual tissue growth has the tendency of one day becoming abnormal.

So why wouldn’t well established clinics and physicians recognize this research and make it known to their patients?

Maybe it’s because physicians don’t want to cause alarm with only possibilities especially when there’s nothing to offer for treatment.

So I googled fibrocystic, breasts and treatment and only one medical site, the Mayo Clinic again, showed up in the first 30.  All the others were sites for marketing supplements.

Mayo’s suggestions included a few natural approaches including the avoidance of caffeine, colas and chocolate along with Evening Primrose Oil and vitamin E.  These suggestions will help to primarily reduce the pain and inflammation but have not been shown to actually reduce or alleviate the cystic condition.

Other treatment suggestions included OTC ibuprofen and prescriptions for both pain relief (danazol) and adjusting hormones (birth control).

I know of other effective approaches including ‘natural’ progesterone cream for cyclic breast cysts and improving lymph drainage around the breasts.

But the most effective approach I’ve found and a solution which has been confirmed in research from around the world is the use of iodine and potassium iodide.  This research contains the feedback of the research participants and physical exams and mammograms.

Here are a couple of thermographs from a friend of mine.

The right thermograph is the before treatment with the blue areas showing poor circulation, areas which were obviously cystic, areas which for her were very painful especially the week before her menses.

After only 3 months of using iodine and potassium iodide the image on the left shows improved circulation (absence of blue or cold areas) and with her being free of pain and palpable cysts.  This should be encouraging for anyone with cysts and those who understand the importance of reducing breast cancer risks.

Besides improving fibrocystic breast disease iodine and potassium iodide also reduces a variety of other risk factors.

Any woman with a family history of breast cancer, take note.  You need to take a proactive role in prevention.  Besides iodine and potassium iodide there is a lot of really good and important research out there.  Take initiative and educate yourself.  There is a world of health waiting for you.

CAUTION:  The higher doses of iodine and potassium iodide being promoted by a handful of physicians are not necessary.

Iodine will often increase TSH or thyroid stimulating hormone, something you don’t want to do if you have a thyroid autoimmune condition or a lack of selenium and glutathione.

Breast Cancer & The Cure

Posted March 5, 2010 by advancingcare
Categories: Breast Cancer & Thyroid Hormones, Breast Cancer Education, Breast Cancer Risks

Tags: , , ,

The word cure has many hidden meanings.  When used by the fight against breast cancer community is condones hope, passion and promise.

I’d like to share a few insights about ‘the cure’ to infuse our community with even more optimism and to keep us from running around in circles.

I pose the question, ‘Where are we now in breast cancer research, where have we been and where are we going?’

Presently we are and have been focused on three primary fronts with each front focusing upon people who already have cancer.

One front continues to develop sophisticated technology for earlier detection of cancer cells.  This is very useful because an earlier detection increases a more hopeful outcome.  But, it still focuses on women with BC.

The second front researches treatments (chemo & radiation) that target BC cells with the hope of a zero recurrence.

The third explores the universe found within the chromosome hoping to interrupt or suppress breast cancer gene expression and replication.

These are all useful and hopeful directions to take.

But let’s step back for a moment?

Doesn’t it seem logical to think more about preventing BC in the first place so that we don’t have to CURE it?

What I am proposing about prevention is simple and straight forward because…

  • We already have the medical research on reducing BC risks.
  • We already have the technology to implement preventative medical programs.
  • We already have the media allowing us to educate hundreds of millions of women with the click of a button.

Here is a very brief tour of a small portion of research on BC.

Environmental toxins known as endocrine disrupting chemicals play a role in a variety of health problems including BC.  I recognize that not everyone exposed to these toxins ‘gets’ BC but these toxins are known risk factors.  Some more recent research has even found one protective nutrient, a trace mineral that is highly effective in protecting tissues from these toxins.

A second risk factor for women is fibrocystic breast disease which is becoming much more common.  We have 30 years of research that proves an easy and effective treatment.  Yet because it is not a drug its use is not supported by the FDA.

Third, we know that breast cells have estrogen receptors.  When estrogens become elevated or when progesterone is lowered we know that women’s risk of breast cancer increases.

More than 30 research articles address this issue offering clear guidelines on the important relationships between estrogen, progesterone, insulin, thyroid hormones and the adrenal hormone cortisol.  Monitoring and optimizing all these hormones can effectively prevent BC.

The fourth is the connection between hypothyroidism, Hashimoto’s and breast cancer.  I find this research to be the most exciting with the greatest potential because thyroid problems can be easily tested and fairly simple to correct.  Women also look and feel fantastic when their thyroid gland is humming.

It all comes down to two simple factors, money and time.  We have the money and I know we have the power of a dedicated community.  So let’s expose women to the breast cancer research of teams from around the world, from the US, the UK, Italy, France, Greece, The Check Republic, Denmark, Austria, Switzerland, India, Japan, Iran and others.

This exposure will give women more options and encourage them to implement nutritional and lifestyle changes which will positively alter the course of their lives and the lives of their children.

Hashimoto’s Treatment: The First & Most Important Step

Posted February 28, 2010 by advancingcare
Categories: Hashimoto's Treatments

Tags: , ,

A person suffering from Hashimoto’s is often frustrated, confused and desperate.  Their physician doesn’t seem to have the answers and the medication they’ve been prescribed hasn’t really made much difference.

But here is some encouraging news.  There is a lot of really good medical research out there that clearly guides us physicians about how to effectively treat Hashimoto’s.  The problem is that it seldom finds its way into a physician’s clinical practice.

Hashimoto’s is a complex condition that has taken years and decades to develop.  Believe me, if you’ve been diagnosed with Hashimoto’s you are one of the lucky few because there are millions and millions of women walking around suffering needlessly who don’t know they have it.  If you don’t know you have it you cannot treat it.

Hashimoto’s is the primary cause of hypothyroidism yet few doctors check for it.  At least you know and now you can do something about it.

There are several approaches necessary for correcting Hashimoto’s but the most important one is to take selenium.  Why?

When your thyroid cells make thyroid hormones they must also make hydrogen peroxide.  The production of H2O2 is essential.  At the same time your thyroid is also producing substances to counteract or neutralize some of the downstream effects of the hydrogen peroxide.

It’s kind of like the engine in your car.  The spark plugs, the burning of gasoline and all the friction create heat and this needs to be dissipated by circulating cool water throughout the engine.

This is where selenium comes in.  Selenium needs to be present for your thyroid cells to make selenoproteins which go on to make antioxidants such as glutathione peroxidase and thioredoxin reductase.  These defend and protect your thyroid cells from the ‘heating’ or inflammatory effects of hydrogen peroxide.

One study published in Biological Trace Element Research followed a woman with Hashimoto’s who was taking only Synthroid.  When selenium was included her blood selenium levels rose by 45%, her glutathione improved by 21% and her thyroid antibodies (TPO) declined by 76%.  After withdrawing selenium all these markers returned to where they were before.  There are many other studies which conclude the benefits of selenium for the treatment of Hashimoto’s.

Including selenium in the form of methionine is truly the first and most important step for improving thyroid antibody levels in Hashimoto’s.  The dose is normally 400mcg daily taken any time.  Selenium will not interfere with any other medication or approach you are taking.

I do not see Hashimoto’s as a disease.  I see it to be a condition resulting from specific nutrient deficiencies.  Once these are corrected a person can, to a great extent, recover their health.

Treating Hashimoto’s may require a thyroid prescription as a safe way to simply optimize thyroid hormone levels and to live life with more vitality.  There are no side effects from thyroid hormones as long as all nutrient deficiencies are corrected.

Risks of Breast Cancer Reduced by Optimizing Thyroid Hormones

Posted February 27, 2010 by advancingcare
Categories: Breast Cancer & Thyroid Hormones, Breast Cancer Risks, Hashimoto's

Tags: , ,

When you ask women about how they can reduce their risk of breast cancer you’ll usually hear regular mammograms, avoiding the birth control pills and to reduce exposure to environmental pollutants.  And this is about all you’ll hear from doctors as well.

With over $8 billion spent on treating breast cancer in 2004 and with our tax dollars soon to be dedicating close to a billion dollars annually on breast cancer research it’s time we got serious about finding ways to prevent breast cancer?

It just seems like common sense to save lives and money by preventing the problem in the first place rather than after the fact and having to spend billions on cleaning up the mess!!

But the truth is we have the research but nobody is listening, nobody has put the pieces to the puzzle together.  The reasons for this is primarily because a lot of the research on breast cancer from countries like Greece, Italy, France, the UK, Japan, Croatia, the Chech Republic and others has focused on specific nutrients and food extracts.

To offer just one example I’ll refer to just 2 out of many papers on the causes of breast cancer.

Many studies mark the relationship between thyroid disease and breast cancer.  The first of its kind came out of Pisa, Italy where they demonstrated that 50% of the 103 women with ductal cell carcinoma (breast cancer) had undiagnosed thyroid conditions.  These included thyroid goiter (most often caused by low iodine), Hashimoto’s (thyroid autoimmune condition) and sub-acute thyroiditis (inflammation).

It’s worth noting that the WHO has estimated that the number of people in the world with undiagnosed hypothyroidism is approximately 750 million with 2 billion having iodine deficiencies.

The percentage of the participants in the Pisa study with thyroid disease would have been even higher if both subclinical and sub-optimal hypothyroidism had been included.  The conclusion of this research suggested that physicians should screen their breast cancer patients for thyroid problems.

Yet here is such a typical example of how a conclusion can be too narrow because it remains disconnected from other relevant research.

Many other studies from around the world have connected iodine intake with the lowered incidence of breast cancer.

In 1976 the prestigious medical journal, The Lancet, published a study focusing on the incidence of cancers in various countries around the world.  At that time this study shook the world because it exposed the much higher rate of breast cancer in U.S. women as compared with Japanese women.  Their conclusion found the only variable between the two cultures was the high intake of iodine rich foods found in Japan.

How are the two studies, the one from Italy and the one from The Lancet, possibly related?

These studies overlap with a couple of important points.

The first is that women with breast cancer have a high incidence of thyroid issues.  I suppose we could also look at it from the other angle as well, that women with thyroid issues have a higher incidence of breast cancer, which has actually been proven.  Women taking a thyroid prescription have 3 times the risk of developing breast cancer and there are reasons for this.

The second point is that we know thyroid goiter, low thyroid hormones and Hashimoto’s have their origin in inadequate intake of iodine and iodide.

Your physician may not agree with this last statement regarding Hashimoto’s but that is only because he or she is not familiar with the latest research.

So, might an iodine deficiency cause a woman to develop an enlarged thyroid?  Most definitely.

Might an iodine deficiency cause a woman to develop Hashimoto’s?  Certainly.

Might an iodine deficiency cause a woman to develop hypothyroidism and taking a thyroid medication increase their risk of developing breast cancer?  I already answered this one.

Might an iodine deficiency predispose a woman to develop breast cancer?  Yes and this research along with about another 20 articles should be compelling enough to incite women to take action.

Medicine always turns to research to prove its point and to establish protocols and guidelines for their physicians to follow.  Yet, here is the research but no one is applying it in their practice.

Our system, when it comes to breast cancer, is one sided, focusing on surgery, prescriptions and radiation.  Our system does not focus on prevention but sides with treatment from their narrower perspective.

I suggest that any woman with a family history of breast cancer or thyroid disease should be fully screened for any thyroid issue.  And by the word ‘fully’ I mean a MUCH more in-depth screening than what is being recommended these days even with endocrinologists.  This topic of diagnosing thyroid issues requires much more explanation.

The point here is that we have the research.  We know a great deal about the prevention of breast cancer.  We just need to implement it.

Will it reach mainstream some day?  Maybe.

But I suspect it never will until women become informed and educated.  It is, after all, our bodies, our lives which we have so trustingly placed into the hands of professionals who are looking at us through their own set of lenses.

Thank you,


Dr. Alexander Haskell’s recent publication, Low Thyroid Hormone Symptoms, 7 Causes & 7 Solutions, dives deep into the topics of low thyroid hormones and breast cancer to offer answers, solutions and hope to millions of women.  His 30 years of clinical experience as a licensed Naturopathic Physician and his last 2 years of medical research have provided him with a unique voice and practical, clinically relevant point of view.  His publication is a testimony to the ideology of medicine; to educate, to empower and to encourage.

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