Hypothyroidism and thyroid problems are very common in today’s society. The definition of hypothyroidism is the inability of the thyroid gland in your neck to produce adequate thyroid hormone. Hypothyroidism symptoms include fatigue, hair loss, weight gain, coarse dry hair, constipation, irritability, anxiety, cold intolerance, memory loss, brain fog, abnormal menstrual cycles and more. In addition, individual patient can have a lot of these symptoms, or just one or two. Moreover, conventional treatment of hypothyroid is often inadequate to relieve symptoms, even after levels of hormone have returned to normal.
Tests for thyroid
Hypothyroidism is diagnosed with a blood test that measures several biomarkers. These include:
T3: This is called triiodothyronine. It has two forms, free T3 and T3. Free T3 is in a usable form by the body. T3 is more potent than T4.
T4: This is called thyroxine. In addition, it also has two forms, Free T4 and T4. 99% of thyroxine is bond to a protein. T4 can be converted to T3.
TSH: Thyroid stimulating hormone. This hormone is produced by the pituitary and tells the thyroid – produce more thyroid hormone!
Thyroglobulin antibodies: This can help track progress.
Thyroid peridodoxidase antibodies: This biomarker measures an enzyme that helps produce thyroid hormone. An increase means the presence of autoimmune thyroid disease.
Selenium: Necessary for production of thyroid hormone.
Iodine: Necessary for production of thyroid hormone.
Normal thyroid metabolism works like a feedback mechanism. If the levels of your thyroid drop below normal your pituitary gland will secrete TSH to stimulate the thyroid to produce more. On the other hand, if the thyroid is producing too much thyroid hormone, the pituitary will reduce TSH which should bring down thyroid hormone. But, things can go wrong! As a functional medicine practitioner, I want to know what went wrong. Moreover, why did your thyroid suddenly (or slowly) stop producing as much thyroid hormone?
Your thyroid needs iodine to produce thyroid hormone. So a deficiency of iodine can cause hypothyroid. But this is rare. Only 3% of hypothyroid patients have an iodine deficiency.
90% of hypothyroid is an autoimmune condition. This means your body can view your thyroid as a foreign substance and produce antibodies against it. As a result of this, your thyroid will slowly lose function. It is estimated it takes 10 years for TSH to start elevating after antibodies start causing damage to the thyroid. But back to the question. More importantly, what makes your thyroid start to produce antibodies against your thyroid?
Causes of Hypothyroidism Symptoms
Hashimoto’s Disease (autoimmune thyroid) is usually not a single nutrient or single cause problem. Below are some of the causes of hypothyroidism.
Food sensitivities: Food allergies cause immune responses to foods you eat. Some of these antibodies cause tisse damage in the colon. This can lead to the next cause.
Intestinal Permeability: (Leaky gut) For instance, your gut lining is like a coffee filter. It will let the water through but not the larger pieces of coffee. If the filter holes get larger due to inflammation, bigger particles will flow through. This triggers food allergies and inflammation.
Toxins: Modern processed foods contain additives and chemicals that can irritate your gut wall and put more stress on your liver.
Chronic infection: We often find low grade gut infections. Yeast, clostridia and other infections are common. Certainly, a balance of good bacteria is also important.
Poor stress response: Stress affects everything!
Nutrient depletion: Selenium and iodine are most important for the thyroid. However vitamin B6 and other vitamins and minerals affect thyroid health.
A Plan Forward
In conclusion, if you are experiencing hypothyroidism symptoms while your hormone levels are normal, develop a plan. Most importantly, comprehensive testing on the areas above is necessary. A holistic approach including food allergies, comprehensive stool analysis, and organic acids test gives us a good start to develop a plan. Certainly, dietary changes, lifestyle and mindset changes are very important. These changes are with the invaluable help of a health coach. Call our office at 309 663-2423 or fill out the new patient application.