HYPOTHYROIDISM – Multiple Factors

In the last article in this series I explored various reasons why the thyroid gland does not produce the right amount of hormones and that factors such as sugar and stress hamper proper thyroid function. I will continue in this article to note other factors that influence thyroid function.

It is important to remember that there are checks and balances between all the hormones produced in our various glands. For example, the master gland sitting in the mid-deep of our brains is the pituitary gland. The pituitary function is suppressed with elevated cortisol from adrenal stress. I mentioned the adrenals before, and patterns of active infection (yeast/fungus infections too), sugar issues, over stress mentally/emotionally, and lack of movement/exercise are all implicated in adrenal and then thyroid weakness.

A hormone, prolactin, is found mostly in women. It is sensitive to shifts in dopamine, thyroid, progesterone, and serotonin. When prolactin is elevated the TSH (thyroid) is suppressed. In checking prolactin, progesterone also needs balancing. Increasing a low progesterone level by using a cream or using an herb like chaste berry or shepherd’s purse is helpful. In men checking and balancing testosterone is vital/ using herbs such as tribulus, ginseng and zinc may boost testosterone production. Again supporting normal levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine is essential. All this is necessary in checking and maintaining optimum thyroid function.

Other areas of possible thyroid disorder relate to autoimmune attacks on vital enzymes and substances that are produced in the thyroid. A comprehensive blood analysis would then include a TPO antibody test and a TGB antibody test. A positive finding in either indicated Hashimoto’s disease. Both are necessary in the production of thyroid hormones. Key nutritional support includes anti-oxidants such as pycnogenol, astragalis, licorice, green tea extract, NAC or liposomal glutathione. Key tests include many ways to discover what might be triggering the body to attack itself, such as gluten or dairy sensitivities. Possibly checking for heavy metal toxicity such as mercury poisoning from amalgam fillings, or other sources, would be helpful.

Women have far more thyroid issues than men. One reason is that the female hormone progesterone when low can lead to low thyroid hormone production. Progesterone production increases at ovulations which cause a surge in TPO production and therefore a surge in overall metabolism. A key here is that mainstream doctors may not notice this situation due to often normal range of TSH and T4, yet low progesterone levels. Again, over consumption of sugar and carbs/starch leads to low progesterone levels.

Mainstream doctors and endocrinologists are not often aware of the general nutritional health of their patients. It is well known in integrative medicine that a majority of American s are suffreing from malnutrition. If not taking a good multivitamin and multi-mineral, or consuming lots of organic vegetables and fruits, Americans are very deficient in basic co-factors that are needed to produce TPO and TGB and 5’deiodinase. Basic minerals such as selenium, zinc, magnesium, vitamin D and A are all vital co-factors. Of major importance is the ability for the body to convert T4 to T3, which cannot occur without these key nutrients.

Here is another example showing how a comprehensive intake and analysis of a new patient with “thyroid “issues is vital. If a woman is on estrogen such as Premarin, this may cause a depressed T3 uptake and low free thyroid hormones, despite a normal TSH reading.

This article illustrates the benefit of using a “functional medicine” or integrative/holistic doctor. Mainstream medicine remains for the most part, in a box; the box of accepted and medical school taught dogma. Looking outside the “box” for maximal health benefit to our patients requires continual education, open-mindedness, trial and error applications and a belief system in alternative remedies and life-style changes. One thing is for sure – relying on TSH and T4 levels for treatment is insufficient, and therefore there are thousands of people improperly being treated.