Do You Have Brain Fog? It might be from Low Thyroid, or Low Testosterone!

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Do you have trouble remembering names of things and places?

One of the questions I ask my patients about when they first come in for Estradiol and Testosterone pellet replacement is whether they have trouble remembering names of things and places, or if they have difficulty remembering how to get somewhere or if they are just having difficulty thinking through problems that they haven’t had in the past.

The reason I ask this to my new patients is primarily to find out if they have symptoms of low testosterone and low estrogen (in women). It is widely known that replacing testosterone in both sexes and replacing T and estradiol in women can improve recall and speed of mental tasks.  If taken in the first 10 years of loss of these two hormones Taking Testosterone plus or minus Estradiol delay the onset of dementia, especially Alzheimer’s disease.

A new study in Clinical Endocrine News 6/2021 shows that a lack of enough thyroid hormone.

Can also cause brain fog.  I always treat low thyroid in my patients as well to make sure they become completely hormonally replaced, to improve their symptoms and prevent future disease.

Just a little information about the thyroid gland.  The thyroid gland is located in the neck right above the collar bone at the base of the neck. It extends a few inches laterally , and is shaped like a butterfly.  When the gland is having difficulty making enough thyroid hormone it enlarges and looks like a thickening of the lower neck or like the neck is getting “fat”.  This is called a “goiter”.

The hormones made by the thyroid gland are distributed to every cell in the body and are the primary determinant of how many calories you can burn.  Thyroid hormone stimulates the production of heat in the body and that indicates the burning of calories.  The thyroid hormones, T3 and T4, not only make burning calories and making heat possible, but they also make hair and nails grow, and assist in cell turnover (exchanging new cells for old).

Patients with low thyroid may or may not have a goiter, but generally they are very fatigued, and their hair breaks off and falls out, their skin is extremely dry and they feel cold all the time.

The list of all of the symptoms that can occur from low thyroid are below.

The following are symptoms of hypothyroidism:

  • Fatigue, loss of energy, lethargy
  • Weight gain
  • Decreased appetite
  • Cold intolerance
  • Dry skin
  • Hair loss
  • Sleepiness
  • Muscle pain, joint pain, weakness in the extremities
  • Depression
  • Emotional lability, mental impairment
  • Forgetfulness, impaired memory, inability to concentrate
  • Constipation
  • Menstrual disturbances, impaired fertility
  • Decreased perspiration
  • Paresthesias = nerve entrapment syndromes
  • Blurred vision
  • Decreased hearing
  • Fullness in the throat, hoarseness
  • Generalized swelling and bloating

The treatment for hypothyroidism is relatively easy…patients are given an oral thyroid medicine.  The reason many people are walking around with hypothyroidism is partially the fault of the government and the medical community.  40 years ago, the primary necessary component to make thyroid hormone is Iodine, and we used to supplement our foods like bread with iodine.  This kept many Americans who don’t live near the coast (where there is plenty of iodine in the soil and air) supplied with iodine and prevented thyroid disease.  Ever since the government stopped requiring foods to have added iodine, the number of patients with hypothyroidism has rapidly grown and they either don’t get treated because the lab numbers are adjusted to cause fewer people get a diagnosis of hypothyroidism even when they need it, or doctors don’t follow the method of determining dose of Synthroid. Doctors are trained to give the very lowest dose of thyroid possible and not to check the real thyroid hormones (T3 and T4) but to check the TSH which doesn’t tell a doctor the real thyroid hormone level and doesn’t parallel the symptoms a patient is experiencing.

Back to how thyroid hormones affect the memory and thought process. Many people are evaluated for dementia every day because they have memory problems and difficulty thinking, however their doctors do not evaluate the thyroid hormones when evaluating these patients.  It is well known that low thyroid hormones and low Testosterone can cause problems with mentation, but these hormones are not tested.   The patients who do not have traditional dementia or Alzheimer’s disease are told that they don’t have those devastating diseases by their neurologist however the cause of the problem is not looked for in the levels of thyroid and testosterone.  Most people live in fear of having Alzheimer’s because they can’t think anymore but are never treated for the real causes which are hormonal!  Other people are given too little thyroid, which is like not treating them, but doctors act like they are giving a narcotic and must be worried about addiction, when this hormone is necessary for life, and quality of life!

One of my hormone patients was the best example of the damage that doctors who are stingy about giving thyroid medication.  Judy, 49-year-old came to me for many symptoms, only a few of which were related to low thyroid, however she was most concerned about her ability to think!  I explained that she had three reasons she couldn’t recall names of friends and restaurant or street names. She immediately started to cry, “You mean I’m not crazy and I‘m not imagining my symptoms, and I don’t have dementia?”  I have been to 5 doctors asking about my thyroid function because I had a lot of the symptoms and they all told me I was normal, and maybe imagining my symptoms!  My GYN told me he doesn’t “believe” in replacing hormones after menopause, so he refused to give me any hormone replacement after my total hysterectomy!  Do you mean I can get better?”

I treated Judy’s thyroid deficiency by the weight based formula= weight in pound/2.2, times 1.75.  That gave me the dose in micrograms of levothyroxine.  Her number was 150 of levothyroxine, however I use Armour Thyroid for women.  The formula to convert the mcgs of levothyroxine to Armour thyroid is 100 mcg= 60 mg of AT.  I wrote her a script for 90 of Armour Thyroid and in 4 weeks her symptoms were gone! This formula is not a secret or hard to is on the insert the pharmacist gives you when you pick up your prescription!  Sadly, most doctors don’t know how to prescribe thyroid properly.  The key to adequate thyroid prescribing is when your patient’s symptoms are gone, they are usually at the right dose!

I also replaced Judy’s estradiol and testosterone with pellets which took care of her other menopausal symptoms, and other causes of memory problems.  She is back to normal, thinking clearly, not living in fear of having dementia and happily living her life again.

Brain fog can be from any or all of the three hormones estradiol and testosterone in women and testosterone in men, and thyroid in both sexes.  Don’t give up.  Find a doctor who will treat your thyroid with enough thyroid and remind them that the dose isn’t right if your symptoms of low thyroid aren’t gone.

There is a multitude of effective and safe treatments that mainstream medicine has not accepted yet, and I hope they change how they view the thyroid and thyroid deficiency. However, our patients are suffering now, and can’t wait for mainstream medicine to come to the realization that patients should feel better and have their symptoms treated, it is not just the numbers on a lab sheet that need treatment!

It seems to take decades for medical guidelines to catch up with medical research and curative hormone replacement.  “MEDICINE” will not arrive at these answers for years.  Patients can’t wait for the leviathan of medical practice figures this out.  Your knowledge should help you negotiate treatment with your doctor, so you can live a full and productive life!

This Health cast was written and presented by Dr. Kathy Maupin, M.D., Bio-identical Hormone Replacement Expert and Author. 993-0963.

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