Expert Guidance From Louise O’Connor - The Thyroid Naturopath { Discover More! }

Do You Suspect You Suffer High Reverse T3 Symptoms?

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high reverse T3 symptomsThis article discusses high reverse T3 symptoms. But before you read further, here’s a little more about triiodothyronine (T3), and reverse T3 (RT3).

What Does High Reverse T3 Mean?

You may already know that your body is supposed to produce an optimal amount of T3 and thyroxine (T4) to help regulate energy metabolism.

Furthermore, T4 acts as a pro-hormone and is converted through to T3, your biologically active thyroid hormone as required.

What you may not know is, T3 is bound less tightly than T4 in the bloodstream, and is therefore able to bind more easily to the thyroid hormone receptors that are found in virtually all cells of your body.

In simple terms, T3 easily attaches to the thyroid receptors as it’s your key metabolic driver.

In contrast, reverse T3 is an inactive form of T3. It’s normal for your body to produce a certain amount of this thyroid hormone to help balance your metabolic rate. In fact, your body works hard to maintain a healthy balance of T3, and reverse T3. However, problems arise when there’s a shift in this balance.

When your body pools excess reverse T3 this inactive thyroid hormone clogs up the T3 receptors.

Reverse T3 has a similar structure to T3 so it easily locks into the T3 cell receptor. For this reason, a high level of reverse T3 blocks T3 from doing its job.

  • High reverse T3 has a powerful effect on slowing your metabolism.  As a consequence, excess reverse T3 pushes your body into a hypothyroid state which triggers a long list of high reverse T3 symptoms.
  • Higher amounts of reverse T3 are produced during periods of illness, severe calorie restriction, and extreme stress. Under these circumstances conversion of T4 to T3 is inhibited, and far greater amounts of T4 are diverted towards production of reverse T3.

Your High Reverse T3 Symptoms Checklist

Take a few moments to review my symptoms checklist:

+ You are constantly fatigued
+ Your hair is thin, or falls out excessively
+ You feel cold all the time
+ You have problems losing weight, or gain weight easily
+ You have low blood pressure, and heart palpitations
+ You have mood swings that range from mild to severe
+ You feel down-in-the-dumps, even depressed
+ You have swelling around your throat
+ You are easily irritated, and get stressed out
+ Your muscles ache, or you suffer joint pain
+ You are experiencing menstrual problems, or irregular periods
+ You are sensitive to cold weather, or feel cold all the time
+ Your skin is dry and pale
+ You have sluggish digestion, and constipation
+ Your face, hands and/or feet become swollen or puffy
+ You have lost your mojo!

If you answered YES to many of these symptoms you may be wondering how to check your reverse T3.

How to Measure Reverse T3 (RT3)

One of the biggest hurdles to uncovering a potential reverse T3 issue is getting proper testing. For this reason, if you suspect you have a T3/reverse T3 imbalance it’s critical to get both the free T3, and reverse T3 blood test.

In fact, these two tests should be done a part of a complete thyroid panel. A complete thyroid panel tests TSH, free T4, free T3, reverse T3 (RT3), and thyroid antibodies.

Did you know?

When only the single Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) test is done you will not uncover a problem with excess reverse T3.

You can learn more about comprehensive thyroid testing here: What You Need To Know About Thyroid Testing To Gain The Most Valuable Insights

You can also learn how to calculate your reverse T3/T3 ratio here: Learn How to Calculate Your Reverse T3 Ratio

What You Need To Know About Holistic Treatment of High Reverse T3

+ Targeted nutrients designed to support optimal thyroid function can make a big difference. For example, zinc and selenium support immune function and assist proper conversion of T4 to T3.

+ Doctors who practice functional medicine usually prescribe single T3 medication as this type of thyroid medication is more beneficial than standard levothyroxine therapy.

+ From a holistic view point it’s vital to uncover the root causes of excess reverse T3. In fact, this is the key to recovery. I discuss the main triggers here on this blog post: What Causes High Reverse T3 (RT3)? {There Are 5 Key Reasons}

Was this article titled ‘Do You Suspect You Suffer High Reverse T3 Symptoms?’ interesting? If so, I’d really like your perspective on this. Please leave a comment or question below. You can also share this blog post with the world. Simply click on one of the social media icons on the left of your screen. Thank you for helping raise thyroid health awareness.


  1. The doctors keep telling me my levels are in the normal range yet i have gain 40lbs in 1 year! The bottom of the range is .80 and i am .88 the top of the range is 5.00 seems clear to me there is a problem but they just kepp saying the same things over and over again. Also I have nodules on my thyroid and a enlarged goiter but still the same answers give me a break I need help I am getting so sad and flustered and depressed.

    • Louise O'Connor says:

      Hi Kim, it’s very important to get more than TSH tested as this can tell you so much more about what is happening with your thyroid health. A complete thyroid panel includes TSH, free T4, free T3, reverse T3, and thyroid antibodies. Consider checking thyroid antibodies as it’s common to have a co-existing autoimmune thyroid disorder when you have nodules and a goitre. If your doctor is unwilling to test more than TSH you could get a second opinion from a doctor who offers the complete thyroid panel. Best wishes, Louise O’Connor

  2. This was a good article and I will next read about causes of high reverse T3. I have not researched this or had the causes explained by my practitioner. When I went to her I had some of the symptoms of high RT3 and labs showed a little elevation along with somewhat low T3. I was also smoking 1-3 cigarettes at that time & daily for a couple years. I suspect this was the main reason for the high RT3 since this is involved with putting breaks on metabolism which I believe is altered somehow from the smoking. My practitioner who is a hormone specialist did all the right tests but later put me on Cytomel (T3). I’ve taken it for around 9 months, but am now weaning myself off as I began feeling not well, and I have now quit smoking plus done some detox for last few months. I expect that I can get back to normal thyroid levels following a slow weaning off the thyroid pills, and the support of your diet & information including on the adrenals. But, I am navigating this myself & while it’s “so far, so good”, I am a bit nervous about how my thyroid will do during this process. Going with what I think I need to do, also supporting adrenals and I have been feeling better. I figure if the tests don’t look good in June I can always get back on the med. But, I prefer to address the cause directly and stay off it.

  3. Michelle says:

    Thank you for such a straightforward explanation. I am having real problems over here ( I live in the UK ) , where the standard test for hypothyroid problems is the TSH test, and only T4 – Levothyroxine, tends to be prescribed. My results have been within the reference range for most of that time, since 2014, but recently the T4 is off the top of the scale, and free T3 has crashed… no where seems to do a reverse T3 test. A combined T4/T3 tablet is also not prescribed over here. Any suggestions greatly appreciated. ( I eat paleo, plus some dairy, to try and stop the weight gain, with some success ). Thank you

    • Louise O'Connor says:

      Hi Michelle, from what you have told me it sounds like you really need to get a complete thyroid panel done. This will test TSH, freeT3, free T4 along with reverse T3 (RT3) and your thyroid antibodies. This will give you a much clearer picture of overall thyroid hormone activity. Do you use Thyroid UK as an information resource? They have information on private testing in the UK. Best wishes, Louise O’Connor.

  4. Jayne prescott says:

    Can I please have your credentials? I’d like to know what kind of a medical education you have. Thanks

  5. Melissa k says:

    I work out all of the time. I eat clean and admittedly yo yo dieted practically my whole adult life. (Always trying to get leaner). The past year or so I feel like there is nothing I can do to get weight off. Eating less than 1500 calories and in some cases less than 1200 going to spin classes few times week, Pilates 3-5 days week and nothing. My doctors did my thyroid, cortisol, hormones all normal. It was a doctor friend said you need Free T3 and Reverse T3. My doctors said you don’t need that. So I went out of the system, paid cash for lab work and sure enough I have High Reverse T3 and my free T3 is not normal. Go figure. We know our bodies and when they are not functioning. Finally my doctor after seeing these results is referring me to endocrinologist. My friend doctor said I need t3 and she can order me compound cream that gives me T3. She said it’s reversible, thank goodness! I know mine coming from stress and caloric restricted lifestyle. I just can’t wait to see results. I tell my trainer, imagine how great I would look if I didn’t have this problem. Keep the faith. Take your health into your own hands and go elsewhere if your not getting the answers. So high Reverse T3 is a condition called Euthyroid Sick Syndrome and it has similar symptons as those w hypothyroid.

    • Louise O'Connor says:

      Hi Melissa, I totally agree – we know our bodies the best and can tell me when things are not running smoothly. Good for you for getting the RT3 done. Wishing you all the best, Louise O’Connor

  6. Gayl Durie says:

    I have been tested for thyroid levels and the t3 and t4 are normal. I was tested with I-screen for rt3 and it came back 675. I went to an Endocrinologist and he boo hooed the rt3. Saying they dont know what effect a high reading has. I am always tired cant loose weight, continually cold, my skin is flacking. Very down hearted after visiting the specialist as I thought he might have helped with my health

    • Louise O'Connor says:

      Hi Gayle, if RT3 is above normal this can trigger hypothyroid symptoms, even when your T4 and T3 test results appear normal. You may find a Naturopath or functional medicine doctor will take your concerns seriously. Testing and treating excess RT3 is considered an important strategy for anyone with hypothyroid symptoms. Thanks for the heads up about I-Screen! Best wishes, Louise O’Connor

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