“Hormone replacement therapy is not the naturopathic pathway to healing, it’s the allopathic way. Treatment must be holistic towards endocrine balance, including the treatment of the liver, and in conjunction with lifestyle changes.”
We are in different kinds of relationships. In some of them we are better understood, while in those others much less. With relationships the family comes along with all the other bonds we create—that’s the way of life. When it comes to our relationship with our health and how one disease can influence another might be a different story, along the lines of the unwanted in-laws. The question of your thyroid function is no exception.
Clinical research in internal medicine has repeatedly proven the association between thyroid dysfunction and diabetes mellitus. The findings are very evident. The thyroid dysfunction mainly comprises both hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) and hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid), the entity belongs to the same organ only with vast difference in pathophysiology (a convergence of pathology with physiology) as well as clinical picture, the signs and symptoms. The interface between thyroid malfunction owing to diabetes is a matter of investigation.
For example, underactive adrenals in addition to underactive pituitary exhibit a strong connection with underactive thyroidism and as a result diabetes mellitus type 1 and 2 may be formed. These findings show the bond between subclinical hypothyroidism and diabetes mellitus that may contribute to increase complications such as retinopathy (damage to the retina of the eyes) and neuropathy (peripheral nerve damage, causing weakness, numbness and pain in your extremities, mainly in your hands and feet). 
Let’s recap what we know:
- normal thyroid function is essential to regulate energy metabolism,
- abnormal thyroid function may have profound effects on blood glucose control in diabetes,
- both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism can affect the course of diabetes, yet their effects are somewhat different.
The thyroid disorder needs medical treatment consisting of chemicals drugs with the potential side effects—we would never suspect that the treatment for thyroid disease could be creating a chemical imbalance to cause diabetes. We are now faced with two diseases and two treatments with side effects, and the possible drug interactions. The question that should come to mind is if the first disease and treatment caused the second disease, what would happen by treating both diseases? The answer is: perhaps an aggravated diabetic heart condition. Scary picture, isn’t it?
A study performed at the Erasmus Medical Center in the Netherlands in 2016 examined unattended, low thyroid function and showed that the risk doubles, progressing to type 2 diabetes. 8,492 adults (ages 54 to 74) were followed for nearly eight years. “At the start, 1,338 had prediabetes and 7,114 had normal blood sugar levels. After 7.9 years, 798 participants had developed type 2 diabetes (T2D). Overall, low thyroid function—even in the low-normal range—increased the risk for diabetes by 13%. But among those with prediabetes, the risk of progressing to type 2 diabetes ranged from 15% for those with normal thyroid function to 35% for those with signs of low function. Even »low normal« thyroid functioning increased risk.”
We now know that hypothyroidism needs to be treated with thyroid hormone therapy, especially if we want to avoid diabetes. But a study showed that “among non-pregnant adults with subclinical hypothyroidism, the use of thyroid hormone therapy was not associated with improvements in general quality of life or thyroid-related symptoms. These findings do not support the routine use of thyroid hormone therapy in adults with subclinical hypothyroidism.” If this is the case, how can the 123 million prescriptions written in the US for Synthroid in 2016 be justified, what is the relevance and what is the harm?
Let’s take a look at Synthroid’s side effects summarized for all patients taking Synthroid (levothyroxine tablets). As you can see from the whole list, side effects include a rise in blood sugar, weak bones (osteoporosis) or affected fertility. Taking this medication requires frequent blood checks and special consideration whether you have diabetes, take other medication, are pregnant, breast feeding, in menopause or older than 65. Sounds like a lot to worry about.
Thyroid disease facts from the American Thyroid Association
- More than 12 percent of the U.S. population will develop a thyroid condition.
- An estimated 20 million Americans have some form of thyroid disease.
- Up to 60 percent (12 million) of those with thyroid disease are unaware of their condition.
- Women are five to eight times more likely than men to have thyroid problems.
- One in eight women will develop a thyroid disorder during her lifetime.
- Undiagnosed thyroid disease may put patients at risk for certain serious conditions, such as cardiovascular diseases, osteoporosis and infertility.
- Most thyroid diseases are life-long conditions that can be managed with medical attention
Nature always has a better solution. Hormone replacement therapy is not the naturopathic pathway to healing, it’s the allopathic way. Treatment must be holistic towards endocrine balance, including the treatment of the liver, and in conjunction with lifestyle changes. What pathway is right for you?
Naturopathic solutions from Doctor’s Choice:
- Wang, Chaoxun. 2013. The Relationship between Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus and Related Thyroid Diseases. In. Journal of Diabetes Research. 2013: 390534, April 4
- Harrar, Sari. 2019. Low Thyroid Hormone Raises Risk for Type 2 Diabetes.
- Chaker, Layal et al. 2016. Thyroid function and risk of type 2 diabetes: a population-based prospective cohort study. BMC Medicine. 2016:14:150
- Feller, Martin, MD, MSc et al. 2018. Association of Thyroid Hormone Therapy With Quality of Life and Thyroid-Related Symptoms in Patients With Subclinical Hypothyroidism. A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. In. JAMA. 2018;320(13):1349-1359. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/2705188
 Wang, 2013.
 Harrar, 2019.
 Feller et al. 2018.