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Low Thyroid Function by Dr. Barbara Gordon-Cohen

Many people suffer from fatigue, feel cold all the time, experience muscle aches, hair loss, weight gain, chipping nails, depression, constipation, frequent infections and poor healing. People experiencing these symptoms may have been to their doctor and had labs done and were sent home with “a clean bill of health,” but still feeling lousy as well as confused.

The first thing you should do if you have these symptoms is to check your body temperature under your armpit. It should read 97.8-98.2. If you do suffer from the above symptoms and have low body temperatures the chances are that you suffer from a hypometabolic state or the thyroid hormone is not reaching your cells. Think of it like this: In chemistry, when you do an experiment, the temperature has to be just right for a reaction to take place; so, too, in your body. If your body temperature is low, enzymes and proteins cannot function optimally.

Thyroid hormone is produced in the thyroid gland as T4 and has to be converted to T3 in order to enter the cell. If one is under stress or has had a series of stressful events, T4 may stop converting to the active T3 and, thus, physical symptoms appear. The proper labs that must be done are:


• T4 free and T3 free.
• TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone). TSH is the control hormone from the pituitary to release thyroid hormone T4.
• Reverse T3, which is a hormone that is produced under stress which blocks the active T3 from getting into the cell
• Thyroid antibodies.

Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis occurs when antibodies attack the thyroid gland and symptoms of an underactive thyroid are present. Fortunately, this autoimmune disease, which often occurs during or sometimes long after pregnancy, is easy to treat. Stress can encourage this disorder. Many physicians do not treat Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis unless the TSH from the pituitary is high. However, since a person will eventually develop a high TSH, it is a good idea to go ahead and treat the symptoms.


Hypometabolic state or low thyroid function can be treated with armour thyroid which simulates one’s own thyroid. It is made of T3 and T4 from a pig; however, those that do not want to take any animal products can request that a compounding pharmacist compound T3 and T4 synthetically. While some people do well on T3 only, it is advised that they are closely monitored for signs of palpitations, anxiety or a fast pulse. Starting out slowly is a good way to avoid any issues. Once the right dosage is found, you are well on your way to being hormonally back in balance.

Barbara Gordon-Cohen D.O. is board certified in Family Medicine and Neuromuscular Medicine. Her office is on 4 Boar Court in Suffern. She can be reached by calling 354-4507 or visiting

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