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© 2017 Naturopathic Care

  • by Tara Nelson

Why you can't lose weight even if taking thyroid medication and have a low TSH.


Are you on thyroid medication, have a low to “normal” TSH, (1 or below 1), but are still experiencing thyroid symptoms, and have an inability to lose weight?

I see this commonly in clinic. A patient is diagnosed with hypothyroidism, is put on thyroxine or and equivalent medication…their TSH decreases and may be less than 1, but they are still experiencing thyroid symptoms and their weight remains the same or increases? This is where I come to help.

Let’s talk about what is going on here first.

The thyroid typically begins its downfall spiral when the body is constantly bombarded by stress.

Now stress can be –

Physical - falls, accidents, injury, illness

Metabolic – affecting adrenals, hormones, high oestrogen for example

Emotional – finances, relationships, negative thoughts

Chemistry – chemicals from food, medications, pesticides, toxins

Environmental – air, food, water toxicity, EMF’s form WIFI and our phones

Microbial – bacteria, parasites, viruses, yeast overgrowth

All these create stress on the body and when we have an accumulation of these stressors long term and it becomes chronic, this triggers something called a “cell danger response” which triggers inflammation in the body, causing more cells to turn on inflammation which deactivates, or turns off, thyroid hormones and converts them to the inactive rT3, (reverse T3). Every cell and tissue requires thyroid hormones to function, so when thyroid hormones can't carry out heir functions, many systems begin to slow down and not work well ... hello thyroid symptoms!

This is called “cellular hypothyroidism”, the first stage of thyroid dysfunction, where not enough active thyroid hormone can get into the cell and the emergence of thyroid symptoms such as fatigue, weight gain, and brain fog for example.

If chronic stress persists, stage two, or primary hypothyroidism occurs and we see decreased thyroid hormones, T4 and T3, and an increased TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone ). It is at this stage that medication such as thyroxine is commonly prescribed, which saturates the brain or hypothalamus causing a lowering of TSH – yay – this is the whole idea, BUT, if the if there is still inflammation of the cells present causing the deactivation the thyroid hormones, thyroid symptoms will still occur until this inflammation in the cells and tissues is sorted out!

This is around the time where I see patients who are very frustrated as their TSH is “normal” or quite low (below 1), but they are still experiencing debilitating thyroid symptoms.

Another problem here and this applies to weight, is that when the brain is saturated with T3 from medication, it causes suppression of a receptor called MC4R. MC4R is a receptor or signalling molecule in the body that controls leptin and insulin which tells us when we are full and have eaten enough. So when leptin and insulin are not responsive, you will not get that “ok I am full” signal and you are more likely to over eat and store more fat…hello weight gain.

Another problem with increased T3 in the brain and a reduction of thyroid hormones is an increase in the sympathetic nervous system – the fight or flight system, which decreases digestion – poor digestion, and can increase blood pressure. So now we have increased weight, insulin resistance, leptin resistance, increased blood pressure, digestion issues such s constipation, increased anxiety, and poor sleep. This whole mechanism is still causing you to struggle with hypothyroidism symptoms, even though you have a low TSH!!

So what can we do to fix this??

You need to address the physical, emotional, environmental, chemical, metabolic and microbial stressors that caused the thyroid dysfunction in the first place, and continues to cause inflammation and deactivate your thyroid hormones in the cells and tissues. If you do not address your triggers and stressors, your symptoms will continue and you will not be able to lose weight.

So many thyroid patients rely on their medication to “fix” their thyroid condition and I truly wish it was that simple. But the whole repair process takes time to recover and heal and it is best done slowly, gently and with a lot of support.

I have written a Thyroid Recovery Program which address all these stressors, with ways to understand and identify yours and ways to heal and recover your thyroid.

You can check it out HERE.


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