IS YOUR THYROID IN DISTRESS?
Over twenty-five percent (25%) of Americans have Hashimoto’s Disease, which triggers the immune system to attack the thyroid gland, sending the endocrine system into chaos. The inflammation (or chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis) caused by this attack on the thyroid will typically cause hypothyroidism (an under-active thyroid) and slow the production of thyroid hormone and essential body functions (i.e., metabolism). You may not be at the full-blown disease state yet, but you may be experiencing early, unpleasant symptoms.
Are you female, between 30-50 years old? The Mayo Clinic reports that Hashimoto’s Disease typically strikes this group the most frequently. Of course, it can affect anyone at any age. It is a much under-recognized health issue in our nation–often misdiagnosed or ignored by medical professionals–and it is considered the most common cause of hypothyroidism in America. For descriptions of the various thyroid conditions, see the end of this article.
As this disease begins to take hold, people may start noticing symptoms associated with a decrease in thyroid hormone and an underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism)—including puffiness in the face, unexplained weight gain, cold sensitivity, unexplained fatigue, constipation brittle nails and hair, loss of eyebrows and eyelashes, muscle weakness or pain, loss of memory, enlarged tongue, dry skin, constipation, joint and muscle pain, serious skin issues, lengthy periods (and heavy bleeding), hearing loss (mostly in seniors), and mood changes (i.e., depression).
Learning about the signs and symptoms of thyroid disease–and accessing the right level of testing to find it early– is critical. And one of the foundational components to the healing will be to turn around a potential out-of-balance gut bacteria landscape which may be at the bottom of the problem.
From Marc Ryan, L.Ac.
How Does Thyroid Hormone Work in The Body?
Before we look at how most people are treated, it’s important to understand how thyroid hormone works in the body. I’m taking this directly from the online article of Marc Ryan, an Acupuncturist in California who treats ONLY Hashimoto’s, and who also uses Functional Medicine in his practice.
TSH is thyroid stimulating hormone. This is released by the pituitary gland to stimulate the thyroid so that more thyroid peroxidase (an enzyme) is made. This enzyme combines with iodine to make thyroid hormone, T4 and T3. About 97% is T4 and 3% is T3.
The body can’t really use T4, so it has to convert this into T3 which is the form that the cells of the body can use to do stuff. 60% of T4 is converted by cells in the liver, another 20% by cells in the gut and the remaining 20 or so % is converted by cells in the peripheral tissues of the body (muscles, fat, etc.)
TESTING: THE BAD & THE GOOD
The disease process takes time. That means, if caught early, you can more easily prevent & reverse it. The problem for many people is that, despite being tested under the guidance of an M.D., their underlying condition may remain undetected. Why? Because the gold standard in these tests for many years has been primarily only the TSH Test. This test is a very high-level look, and it is akin to flying at the 50,000 feet and looking out the window to see a specific boulder on a hillside. While this is paradigm is changing in our Western Medicine system, there are still layers of testing that may or may not be used, based on the doctor’s knowledge of these tests. If he or she hasn’t read up on this subject of thyroid panel possibilities in 5-6 years, their knowledge may be outdated. They may misdiagnose…or completely miss what’s really going on, if they don’t use the full range of tests now available.
The following tests are used in Functional Medicine, and Acupuncture Physicians such as Dr. David Martin–as well as M.D.’s in Florida–can write the script for these simple blood tests to be performed. Not all tests may be required in each case, of course, but these are the primary tests being used today.
TSH Free – Tells how much T4 (raw material) is being requested by the Pituitary Gland for its own use. (Has nothing to do with the rest of the body’s T3 hormone needs)
Free T4 How hard is the Pituitary “kicking” the Thyroid to make more Hormones?
Total T4 Theoretically counts both the Free T4 and the T4 that get hijacked (bound) by proteins.
Free T3 How much is circulating in the body (available to use)
T3 Total – Helps discern how much T3 is in use.
Reverse T3 – measurement of the “inactive” form of T3 (Are imposters taking up active thyroid hormone receptor cell positions?)
Anti-Thyroid Antibodies – these numbers will provide assessment as to whether or not the thyroid is under attack by the immune system.
Thyroglobulin – Normally used with thyroid cancer patients, post surgery.
Here are likely interpretations for test results:
|TSH||FREE T4||FREE OR TOTAL T3||PROBABLE INTERPRETATION|
|High||Normal||Normal||Mild (subclinical) hypothyroidism|
|High||Low||Low or normal||Hypothyroidism|
|Low||Normal||Normal||Mild (subclinical) hyperthyroidism|
|Low||High or normal||High or normal||Hyperthyroidism|
|Low||Low or normal||Low or normal||Non-thyroidal illness; rare pituitary (secondary) hypothyroidism|
|Normal||High||High||Thyroid hormone resistance syndrome (a mutation in the thyroid hormone receptor decreases thyroid hormone function)|
Thanks to LabTestsOnline.org
BIG NOTE: The medical community is grappling with what’s considered “normal”. At the risk of this seeming like another cholesterol-number-lowering move by the pharmaceutical companies, it appears that more natural doctors are also in general agreement. The old standard, the “TSH” test, which often was the ONLY test run, used to rate a 5.3 to a 5.5 as the top of the “normal” range. That is now being dropped to 3.5 by many medical professionals. At this new standard of 3.5, your next level of investigation involves the other tests listed above. You need that finer microscope to see what’s really occurring with a TSH of 3.5….and/or if you have the symptoms of Thyroid conditions, and nothing else is making sense. For example: Is there an underlying condition, such as the thyroid being attacked by the immune system? And if so, Natural Medicine Practitioners will ask “WHY?”
WHY IS THE THYROID BEING ATTACKED?
Many things can be causative agents for Thyroid Disease. Environmental toxins (e.g. ingested poisons in your food, mercury in the air from coal-fired plants, chemicals all ‘round us) are often major elements. Medications can cause it. Stress is Huge too, etc.
While there is more than one potential reason that the body may be attacking itself, the first thing to discard in the diet would be Wheat and all forms of Gluten. This may be even more important to do in Thyroid Disease than any other autoimmune condition. The WHY here has to do with a component of gluten called “Gliadin”. Because the Gliadin can break thru the intestinal lining and dump undigested, “foreign” proteins into the blood (in some people worse than others), the immune system begins attacking it as a foreign invader that is not supposed to be there. That’s a correct action…normally.
However, in the case of Thyroid Disease, in this case the most common one called Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, the thyroid becomes Collateral Damage. A compound in Gliadin (in Gluten) happens to look identical to thyroid tissue. The immune army can’t tell the difference and is now programmed to kill that invader. So it attacks the thyroid too. The solution to this particular part of the thyroid’s problem is to Stop Eating Wheat (and all gluten sources), and Heal the Gut. Guiding people down this path is a common part of our Food as Medicine Consultations at Lotus Blossom Clinic, and we have watched as so many people have regained their health and once again have lives to live!
DO YOU NEED HELP? ANSWER THESE FOR YOURSELF.
(Or ask your loved one who may be suffering):
- Are you on medication and still feeling horrible?
- Are you Converting your T4 (raw material) to T3 (needed/usable) hormone?
- Are you effectively dealing with your stress? (this is VERY important)
If you said “Yes” to the 1st question, “I don’t know” to the 2nd, and “No” to the 3rd, there is definitely still hope for you! You’ll want to begin working with a practitioner who uses the full scope of testing, along with other knowledge of the foods & supplements required, and other treatments such as acupuncture for stress. Stress and Anxiety are the 2nd highest reason people come to get acupuncture. It’s highly effectively and quick. You may also need your Western Medical practitioner to write you a prescription if test results show the need.
Since more than 25% of our population has this particular disease, for which Synthroid and other T4-only-based medications are typically prescribed—and which is usually Not effective– let’s take a look at a Functional Medicine Practitioner’s overall approach to reversing this disease.
MAKING USABLE HORMONES, (Converting T4 to T3)
In order to give your body what it needs, you must create the hormones it needs, in this case T3 to give you energy and assist with other processes in the body such as your happy brain chemistry and bowel movements. These are the areas of treatment that Marc Ryan has successfully used for the last 13 years in his practice. (See full article here: https://www.hashimotoshealing.com/5-keys-improving-thyroid-hormone-conversion/)
- Liver Detoxification and Other Metabolic Pathways
- Increasing T3 and Lowering Reverse T3 Levels
- The Gut and Thyroid Hormone Conversion
- Adrenal Stress Can Cause Lower T3 and Higher Reverse T3
- Systemic Inflammation Lowers T3, so Anti-Inflame Your Body!
AN OVERVIEW OF REVERSING DISEASE
Get the correct Diagnosis. As I stated in the beginning, too many medical professionals still do not use the full complement of tests that are necessary to correctly determine the underlying condition which needs treatment.
Clean up the Liver. It produces 60% of the T3 hormone your whole body needs. There are many ways to detoxify, but you will likely want some guidance from a trained professional. Each person is different. Each case is unique.
Heal the Gut. Clear up any intestinal problems, leakages, and microbial imbalances. In our toxic and highly-stressed world, this is a key step in almost ANY serious healing journey. Traditional bone broth and Probiotics are mainstays and we have a highly-successful 3-part start-up kit for the gut. We even carry a custom probiotic for Women which includes the L. reuteri bacteria known to help convert T4 to T3 in the gut. And we’ll teach you to make fermented foods to continue the healing and feed your good gut microbes to help them thrive so that you will too!
Supplement certain Critical Nutrients (or get them in your Food):
- Selenium. Taking 200 mcg per day reduces antibodies by as much as half within 3 months. It is one of the most critical minerals needed and found to be deficient in thyroid sufferers. It can be found in pill form, of course, but why not eat 1-2 Brazil Nuts each day? Perhaps get your gut in better health while taking the pill form, then switch to the Brazil Nuts, which is a lot more fun.
- B1 – Thiamine. Take up to 600mg per day. In some cases, this returns energy in as little as 3 days! And, for heaven’s sake, make sure you’ve got the REAL stuff. (Did you see the posting on facebook.com/LotusBlossomClinic this week on the major retailers like Walmart, Target and Walgreens’ products on their shelves which were found to contain NONE of the advertised herbs? Pure Encapsulations makes a good one.
- Vitamin D. This is an essential vitamin for our immune system. We carry a time-tested, trusted brand at the clinic. Be sure to get 30 minutes of unprotected sun each day. No sunglasses allowed either. Take a morning walk with a brim on and “let the light in”! Consume cod liver oil, fatty fish like wild salmon, and egg yolks.
- Vitamin B12. It’s a building block for energy production. We stock a trusted brand at the clinic. And, hey, eat some lentils, organic meat, eggs and mushrooms! Put it in your smoothies or cook with nutritional yeast. Makes any soup heartier!
- Magnesium and Manganese. These minerals–crucial for over 300 processes in our body to function property–are often low in Americans. In most cases, the food just doesn’t have the level of these nutrients that we need. Eat the dark, leafy greens, nuts and seeds, beans, fish, avocados, prunes and blueberries… and raw cacao to acquire these nutrients. Or get a highly-absorbable version of the pills. (Note, there is always something new in the research on the “type” of mineral supplements to use. It seems we can’t top the co-nutrients and co-enzymes that Nature built into the foods for proper absorption.)
Lower the Stress. We live in a fast-paced world. We expect a lot of ourselves. We are bombarded by technology. Make a decision or two which will lower your stress. Of course, come for a super-relaxing acupuncture session. Your parasympathetic system will thank you! Have a massage or a Reiki session (we have practitioners)! If you live near the beach, take a barefoot stroll in the sand, or just walk around your block adoring all the plants and nature. Do yoga, Qigong, TaiChi. Or simply take a minute to focus on BREATHING, and FEEL the gratitude for each breath.
You May Still Need an Rx Medication. Certainly, talk with us about some of the more natural prescriptions available. You’ll need to work with your M.D. to get the prescription. Define and use your own team to get well.
THE THYROID SECRET: A VIDEO SERIES…and more Resources
For those of you wishing to get a major education on this subject, I encourage you to sink yourself into some websites on the Internet such as the American Thyroid Association’s website (and a bunch of them you’ll see listed below in the “Resources Section”).
And, we found a 9-part video series which contains incredible information. It includes many experts in both Allopathic and Natural medicine, many whose lives were horribly sideswiped by Hashimoto’s or Grave’s Disease, and they found mostly natural ways to reverse their thyroid diseases. They now live normal lives and help others recover from these debilitating conditions. The website that offers this series is www.TheThyroidSecret.com
Thyroid Conditions List
AS PROMISED….and Thanks to Web MD… for these Thyroid Condition Descriptions:
- Goiter: A general term for thyroid swelling. Goiters can be harmless, or can represent iodine deficiency or a condition associated with thyroid inflammation called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.
- Thyroiditis: Inflammation of the thyroid, usually from a viral infection or autoimmune condition. Thyroiditis can be painful, or have no symptoms at all.
- Hyperthyroidism: Excessive thyroid hormone production. Hyperthyroidism is most often caused by Graves disease or an overactive thyroid nodule.
- Hypothyroidism: Low production of thyroid hormone. Thyroid damage caused by autoimmune disease is the most common cause of hypothyroidism .
- Graves disease: An autoimmune condition in which the thyroid is overstimulated, causing hyperthyroidism.
- Thyroid cancer: A form of cancer becoming more common, thyroid cancer is usually curable. Surgery, radiation, and hormone treatments may be used to treat thyroid cancer.
- Thyroid nodule: A small abnormal mass or lump in the thyroid gland. Thyroid nodules are extremely common. Few are cancerous. They may secrete excess hormones, causing hyperthyroidism, or cause no problems.
- Thyroid storm: A rare form of hyperthyroidism in which extremely high thyroid hormone levels cause severe illness.
Healing Energies to you,
Dr. David and Deb Martin
And all the Providers at Lotus Blossom Clinic
Serving the Greater Fort Myers area with Chinese Medicine, Food Healing Science, Energy Healing, Natural Esthetics/Facials, Emotional Breakthrough Coaching and more.
Conquering Any Disease, The Ultimate High Phytochemical Food Healing System; Jeff Primack, 2015 edition.
Picture of Thyroid http://www.webmd.com/women/picture-of-the-thyroid#1