Dr. David Clark, DC - Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill Thyroid expert, explains how low dopamine can cause low thyroid symptoms
Hidden Cause #17 Why You STILL Have Low Thyroid Symptoms even though you may be taking thyroid medication, even though your lab tests look normal is...
A peripheral deficiency in the neurotransmitter Dopamine
What would that look like? Well, there’s really not a lot of peripheral signs of dopamine deficiency.
Most of dopamine deficiency signs happen because of it's effect on your central nervous system and how your brain is working....and those are typically things that look like ADHD: so we’re talking about
- can’t focus
- can’t stay on task
But there’s also some sort of, you know, emotional symptoms that go along with that.
Let's clarify "deficiency." In most people, absolute low quantities of dopamine are not the problem. In most people the problem is low activity of the neurotransmitter.
Deficiency implicates that you’ve got absolute low levels, but it could be that your levels are fine...and it’s just that the receptors for the dopamine are not doing their job.
So with that in mind, what are some of the emotional signs that go along with dopamine being low activity or deficient?
- Preferring to isolate oneself
- Anger under stress
My favorite example of this last one is my own personal example. It was about 16 years ago....
I was in the kitchen cutting up an apple, and the apple fell in the sink and I yelled a 30 second stream of expletives.
My wife ran into the kitchen, struck with terror...“Oh my God, what happened? Are you hurt?”
I screamed back: "This APPLE FELL in the sink!"
Well, you understand that’s completely out of proportion, right? I had a little bit of stress and I got very angry. That's a good sign of a dopamine issue.
How would dopamine and thyroid symptoms show up in someone that has that problem?
Well, first thing they could have are low thyroid symptoms:
- hair loss
- brain fog
- high cholesterol
- gain weight easily
Those are those low thyroid symptoms.
Now, if you had those PLUS dopamine sypmptoms, the two could be directly related because what dopamine seems to do to thyroid hormones.
Research seems to say that Dopamine controls the rate of conversion of T4 into T3.
That's a very big deal because T4 is inactive. T3 is the active thyroid hormone. 97% of what your thyroid gland makes is T4-- and so a lot of that has got to get converted to T3 in order for you to have enough T3 for your body to work correctly.
That process is conversion. And dopamine seems to influence how well you can convert T4 into T3. When you don’t have enough dopamine peripherally (outside the central nervous system) you may not convert very well...
You may develop those low thyroid symptoms. The problem is when you walk into a doctor’s office in saying, “Hey, I can’t focus. I’m distractible. I can’t follow through on things.” Bonk! You're going to get labeled ADHD and offered a prescription.
But the dopamine medication is going to work mainly CENTRALLY and not work peripherally. You might have an improvement of some of your distractibility and your focus problems, but your low thyroid symptoms may stay exactly the same.
The key is finding a doctor that understands that dopamine has an impact on how thyroid works.
You could be taking thyroid medication. You could have lab tests that look totally normal because when this situation happens your T4 and your T3 don’t really necessarily change a lot to be outside of the lab range, but they can change enough to affect how you feel.
And it becomes very difficult for most doctors to do because they want to treat the labs.
I think a really good doctor/good clinician doesn’t treat the lab. They treat YOU.
They use the lab for guidance.
So if you have dopamine symptoms plus low thyroid symptoms, then your doctor really should have that on the radar and think: what could cause dopamine deficiencies?
The two things that cause low dopamine activity/deficiency: blood sugar irregularity and iron deficiencies.
And that makes you go down another rabbit hole because...
..."why would you be iron deficient?"
...Do you have a parasite?
Do you have an H. pylori infection?
What’s up with your blood sugar? Are you eating? Are you not eating?
There’s a ton of factors to start investigating and thinking about....
And that’s another thing that a lot of doctors just don’t want to do. They just don’t want to think. They’d much rather you come in with your ADHD signs, give you medication for that and hope everything works out.
And when you come back six months later and it’s not working out... it’s YOUR fault, the patient.
Find someone that understands the complexity of that situation and understands that dopamine can be a hidden cause of why you still have low thyroid symptoms.
© 2014 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.