Dr Lowe Q&A – Diabetes
October 15, 2008
Question: I am hypothyroid and my doctor is treating me with Nature-Throid. I feel better using the Nuture-Throid. My nurse practitioner says my dose above 1 grain is right for me, but I still have symptoms like sluggishness and a bad memory, dry skin, and Im too cold all the time. My testing just came back and she said I also have type I diabetes. She told me that my symptoms are from the diabetes. Is there any way to tell whether my hypothyroidism or diabetes is the cause of my symptoms?
Dr. Lowe: Im sorry you have two hormonal disorders to deal with. Some symptoms of hypothyroidism overlap with some of diabetes. The overlap can confuse the patient and his or her clinician. It may not be clear at all which of the two conditions they need to address to relieve the patients symptoms. Sometimes, of course, they must address both conditions.
You said your doctor just recently diagnosed your diabetes. Because of this, I assume your diabetes is uncontrolled. If so, you may have symptoms attributable to the diabetes.
Despite that, some of your symptoms are most likely caused by under-treatment for your hypothyroidism. I say this because the 1 grain of Nature-Throid youre taking is too low to provide optimal benefits to most hypothyroid patients. Endocrinologists long ago made the TSH the be-all-and-end-all for deciding hypothyroid patients thyroid hormone dosages. Before this costly mistake of the endocrinology specialty, patients used higher – and more effective – dosages of thyroid hormone. When they used desiccated thyroid, as you are, effective doses for most patients ranged from 2 grains up to 4 grains.
If youre like most patients, then, your effective daily dose will be higher than the 1 grain you’re now taking. That will also be your safe dose. I say this emphatically for one reasonit is not safe for clinicians to under-treat hypothyroid patients with thyroid hormone, as most conventional clinicians do nowadays.
Of course, its important for you to control your diabetes. You hopefully have surviving insulin-secreting beta cells in your pancreas. If so, you stand a good chance of safely controlling your diabetes by avoiding anti-diabetic drugs. You can mostly likely do this through diet, exercise, and natural medicine treatments. (Comprehensive information on the natural medicine approach to diabetes is in the 3rd edition of the Textbook of Natural Medicine. I highly recommend this book to all diabetic patients and clinicians who treat them.) It will serve you well to go all out in using these methods. If using them controls you diabetes, you can, as I said, avoid anti-diabetic drugs, all of which risk giving you other medical problems.
In general with diabetes, the aim is to maintain a normal blood sugar curve. Its especially important to control the height of your blood sugar rise after eating. This is important because the peak level, if too high, appears to be associate with the most damaging general effects of diabetes. You should monitor your peak sugar levels with what must become (as my wife, Tammy, tells our diabetic patients) your new friend, a glucometer. If money is a concern, Walgreens TrueTrack glucometer kit is the least expensive on the market; using it and its test strips can save you a great deal of money.
You’ll also need to systematically monitor to find your effective dosage of Nature-Throid. At minimum, you should aim at four targets: (1) a basal body temperature between 97.8 and 98.2F (36.56 and 36.78C); (2) a basal heartrate in the 70s; (3) freedom from your hypothyroid symptoms and signs; and (4) a sense of well being.
When I say systematically monitor in the above paragraph, I mean posting to line graphs at least two sets of measures: (1) your measurements of temperature and heart rate, and (2) the estimated intensity of your symptoms with symptoms severity scales twice each week. You can print free of charge both symptoms severity scales and line graphs from our page of evaluation forms; you should use the forms in set 3. (To learn about how to properly monitor, please read chapters 4.3 and 5.2 in The Metabolic Treatment of Fibromyalgia.)
With a high degree of probability, you can control both your hypothyroidism and your diabetes. To maximize your chances, I urge you to maintain an unyielding commitment to optimal health, insist on truly effective clinical care, and tweak your treatment at intervals based on systematic monitoring. I sincerely wish you the best.
1. Hutton, J.H.: Practical Endocrinology. Springfield, Charles C. Thomas Publisher. 1966.
2. Pearce, C.J. and Himsworth, R.L.: Total and free thyroid hormone concentrations in patients receiving maintenance replacement treatment with thyroxine. Br. Med. J., 288: 693, 1984.
3. Textbook of Natural Medicine, 3rd edition, vol.2. Edited by J.E. Pizzorno, Jr.and M.T. Murray. St. Louis, Churchill-Livingston-Elsevier, 2006.
4. Lowe, J.C.: The Metabolic Treatment of Fibromyalgia. Boulder, McDowell Publishing Co., 2000.