The following sections are descriptions of my symptoms and how TH and Iodine affected them. Over time, I was able to somewhat control these symptoms by using what I had learned about T3/T4 and Iodine.
Any rapid change in TH and/or Iodine – both increases and decreases – made my symptoms worse. This is because of the homeostasis issue I talked about earlier. For the purposes of this document, I will mostly focus on the symptoms caused by INCREASES of TH and/or Iodine. This is because it was simply much easier to monitor the effects of increasing TH/Iodine with meds and supplementation. My flox symptoms became worse or progressed under the following conditions:
- Rapid increases in T3. This could occur with dose increases in T3 meds, or via “flares”, presumably autoimmune in nature but potentially due to toxic insults affecting the HPT axis as well.
- Much higher ratio of T3:T4. The greater the disparity between T4 and T3 (ie, the lower the T4, and the higher the T3 at the same time), the worse the symptoms. This could occur with dose increases of T3, (alone or in combination with drops in T4), with autoimmune flares or toxic insults, or with taking the “natural” meds. This is why I could not tolerate the “natural” TH meds such as Armour or Naturethroid.
- Increase in ingested iodine, anything greater than a few micrograms (that’s MICRO grams) when I was NOT on TH meds. Taking Iodine was equivalent to taking T3 symptomatically, clinically, and metabolically for me. In other words, iodine functioned just like T3 in my cells; it was like they were one and the same.
- Rapid increases in T4. This could also occur with dose increases of T4 meds, or via persistent longer term flares or toxic insults. However, because of the much longer half life and less metabolic action of T4, symptoms were delayed and somewhat “muted” in effect.
Many symptoms of being “too high” versus “too low” are similar enough that they are hard to describe on paper. However, I grew to feel and understand these subtle differences over time. Additionally, I also grew to understand how my most devastating and debilitating symptoms, which caused a tremendous amount of suffering, were caused by being both “high” and “low” at the same time. This was often because T4 might be a little too low while T3 was too high relative to it. It’s also because of that “tightrope” analogy I’ve talked about. It didn’t take much for me to get on either one side or the other of that tightrope, in particular with T3 or Iodine. They were changing more rapidly, always “crossing that line”, whereas T4 was more stable and static in comparison. There were always the “dosage cycles” going on with both T3 and T4, and in addition to that, there were “accumulation cycles” going on. It felt like I could “accumulate” T3 and Iodine over time if I increased the frequency or dosage of either. This is why I had to take the right amounts, spread out at the right times, in order to try and maintain homeostasis. T3 and Iodine were fairly easy enough to control because of their short half lives. If I was getting a little “high”, I could lower the dosage a microgram or so, or stretch out the dosing schedule, until I hit the “sweet spot” again. But T4 has a much longer half-life – about 7-10 days for most people, including me. Understanding the difference in the half lives of T3 and T4 is the key to understanding a longer, underlying “cycle” going on with T4. If it sounds difficult to keep all this straight – it was. But I had no choice but to attempt to learn this if I wanted to ameliorate my most devastating symptoms and feel some semblance of control in what was going on within me.