Hidden Cause #14 why you still have low thyroid symptoms even though you may be taking thyroid medication, and even though your lab tests are normal is…
A Leaky Gut causing Low T3.
Normally when I tell this T4/T3 story, I get to a certain part and then I kind of drop off…It’s because I usually don’t talk about the gut connection with T3.
So let me explain how the gut (gastrointestinal tract) affects thyroid hormones.
About 40% of the T4 that your thyroid gland makes gets converted into Reverse T3 Reverse T3 is biologically inactive. It doesn’t do anything.
About 20% of T4 gets converted into active T3.
Another 20% of T4 gets converted into T3 sulfate and T3 acetic acid. This is what we’re interested in today.
Here’s why T3 Sulfate and T3 acetic acid are important:
In your GI tract T3 acetic acid and T3 sulfate can be acted upon by an enzyme called sulfatase. When this happens, T3 acetic acid and T3 sulfate are converted back into T3.
So, out of the total available T3 that you have access to, a big chunk of that – 20% – is dependent on you having a healthy GI tract.
If you have:
- dysbiosis (bacterial overgrowth, yeast or fungal overgrowth)
- a leaky gut (intestinal hyperpermeability)
- any kind of GI inflammation (from infection, food sensitivities etc)
…then you will have trouble making sulfatase. Without enough sulfatase you can’t convert T3 acetic acid and T3 sulfate into T3.
And you can end up with low thyroid symptoms, such as:
- hair loss
- weight gain on a low calorie diet
- requiring excessive amount of sleep
- muscle pain and joint pain
- brain fog
- dry skin, dry hair
- high cholesterol.
You could suffer any or alll of these low thyroid symptoms if you do not have a healthy gut.
What makes a healthy gut?
Think of a healthy gut as a healthy garden. A garden has lots of vegetables in it but not a lot of weeds…same for your GI tract. The good bacteria that live there, they are your defenses. They are like your army. They also help make some of your B vitamins.
And the health of that garden is what allows you to take T3 acetic acid and T3 sulfate and convert them into usable T3.
If you don’t have good GI health because of inflammation, leaky gut, parasitic infection, or food sensitivity…this will decrease sulfatase and your ability to convert T3 acetic acid and T3 sulfate into T3.
The other point I want to make about this is that there’s not a test you can currently do to look at T3 acetic acid and T3 sulfate.
And to be fair, if you had a drop off of 15% to 20% in your total available T3, that decrease might not be enough to change anything that you could measure on your blood work.
So having this problem is a sticky situation because your labs really do look “norma”,l but you don’t feel normal, and truthfully, your thyroid hormones aren’t normal.
How do you know if you have this problem with T3 acetic acid and T3 sulfate?
If you have low thyroid symptoms and Gastrointestinal symptoms such as:
- bloating 30 minutes or later after you eat
- abdominal pain
- stool is malformed
- stool is greasy or oily
…then there is a probability that this gut-thyroid connection could be an issue for you–it at least needs to be checked out. It may be a hidden cause for your low thyroid symptoms. It’s “hidden” because your doctor has really got to dig for it.
How do you find this problem?
You evaluate the GI tract. You could certainly run tests for gluten sensitivity. The best current test is Cyrex Labs Array 3 ( I have no financial interest). But… you should save your money and probably just go gluten-free anyway because there’s a good chance you’ll test positive for some kind of gluten sensitivity.
You could also do a leaky gut test (the best one also being from Cyrex Labs–Array 2).
You could also look for yeast/fungal overgrowths, parasitic infections, or bacterial overgrowths.
Your doctor (or you) can pay for all that testing, but your doctor’s still has to know what to do with the results. Spending lots of money on tests is fine as long your doctor knows what to do if the tests are unclear or don’t make textbook sense.
But, you don’t treat a lab test. What you’re supposed to do is treat the person.
So, a good doctor should be able to take care of you without relying too heavily on a lab test.
Hidden Cause #14 is poor conversion of T4 into T3 because you have gut inflammation/ a leaky gut that’s causing a problem with the enzyme sulfatase…and that is decreasing your ability to convert T3 acetic acid and T3 sulfate back into usable T3.
It’s kind of a long pathway, I know– but it’s very real because a lot of women have it. And remember, you can have more than one problem at the same. You need to find a doctor who knows to look for it.
© 2013 David Clark. All Rights Reserved.
Disclaimer: The contents of this site are for educational purposes only. Nothing here should be construed as medical advice. Nothing here is a substitute for actual medical care. Consult a qualified healthcare professional.