Reverse T3 dominance is a low thyroid disorder. The main feature is high circulating levels of 'reverse T3' (rT3) which slows the metabolic rate leading to symptoms of hypothyroidism.
Triiodothyronine (T3) is the active thyroid hormone and every cell in the body has a molecular docking station for T3. Normally thyroxine (T4) converts to active T3 and a small amount of 'reverse T3' is also produced at the same time. Reverse T3 has the opposite effect of T3.
T4 usually converts through to T3 with no trouble. T3 is produced in response to the body’s demand to increase metabolism.
When too much reverse T3 is produced this thyroid hormone slows metabolism. This leads to weight gain, and triggers the typical symptoms of hypothyroidism. A greater amount of reverse T3 is produced during periods of stress.
T3 and reverse T3 have a similar molecular structure.
Reverse T3 is a mirror image of T3 and can therefore fit into the T3 cell receptor. This prevents the active T3 from binding and activating an appropriate thyroid response.
While thyroid disorders are becoming more widely recoginised reverse T3 dominance is often overlooked. A reverse T3 problem can be missed if the standard thyroid tests appear to be within normal limits.
A single tets of reverse T3 is rarely ordered. But this is the only method to determine if high circulating levels of reverse T3 are causing low thyroid symptoms such as hair loss, fatigue, weight gain and a slow pulse rate.
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