What if when taking T4 medication your body converts it to mainly reverse T3?
Have you thought that emotional distress and trauma can cause it?
Several hormones are secreted by the thyroid. The three most important hormones regarding thyroid disease and cellular function are:
- total thyroxine T4, known as the storage or inactive form of thyroid hormone, is the hormone most produced by the thyroid.
- total triiodothyronine T3, called the active form of thyroid hormone, is five times more active than T4.
- Reverse T3, the inactive mirrored form of T3, inhibits T3 function.
Before the body can fully utilize thyroid hormone, it must be converted from T4 into the active form T3. T4 is capable of being converted into either T3 or Reverse T3 depending on the removal of specific iodine atoms. By removing a certain iodine atom, T4 is converted into T3. Alternatively, if a different iodine atom is removed, the result is Reverse T3.
When thyroid is healthy and functioning properly daily about 40% of T4 is converted to T3 and about 20% transformed into reverse T3. Thought, there are situations when this is not happening and most of T4 is becoming reverse T3, for example when thyroid is malfunctioning and when the body needs to conserve energy and is under significant stress.
But what is causing this?
Certain conditions can contribute to increased reverse T3 levels as chronic disease and fatigue, chronic inflammation, increased cortisol (stress), low cortisol (adrenal fatigue), and Lyme disease.
An excess reverse T3 indicates how your body is activating thyroid hormone and reacting to inflammation in your body. Thyroid dysfunction is just one cause of increase reversed T3. Stress-related hormones play a havoc on the reverse T3 imbalance.
Much of what we know about hormone alterations after exposure to extreme stress has come from animal models of traumatic stress and studies of chronic posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD also is associated with unusual thyroid hormone levels: elevations (generally within normal limits) in levels of both free and T3 and T4 with no increases in levels of free T4. There is a second adaptive thyroid profile reported by researchers – suppression and not activation, reporting the relationships between thyroid hormones (i.e., free and total T3) and psychological symptoms (i.e., depression, general distress, and PTSD) – one of ‘shutting down’ (vs. ‘activation’=‘fight or flight’ response) in the face of trauma.
Unresolved trauma inhibits thyroid and causing reverse T3 to be made instead of T3.
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Haviland, M. G., Sonne, J. L., Anderson, D. L., Nelson, J. C., Sheridan-Matney, C., Nichols, J. G., . . . Murdoch, W. G. C. (2006). Thyroid hormone levels and psychological symptoms in sexually abused adolescent girls. Child Abuse & Neglect, 30(6), 589-598. doi:10.1016/j.chiabu.2005.11.011
Kirsch, V., Wilhelm, F. H., & Goldbeck, L. (2011). Psychophysiological characteristics of PTSD in children and adolescents: A review of the literature. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 24(2), 146-154. doi:10.1002/jts.20620
M. J. Friedman, D. S. Charney, & A. Y. Deutch (Eds.), Neurobiological and clinical consequences of stress: From normal adaptation to PTSD. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott-Raven.