Did you know...?
Thyroid medications are among the top 10 medications prescribed each year.
Thyroid disorders are now more common now than ever before!
The thyroid is an endocrine gland found in the neck. As an endocrine gland, it plays an important role in the hormonal system along with other endocrine glands such as the pituitary, which is located in the brain, and the ovaries or the testes.
The thyroid produces two hormones, T3 (triiodothyronine) and T4 (thyroxine).
- Most of the thyroid hormone that is active in the body is T4.
- The thyroid synthesizes thyroid hormones from the mineral iodine and the amino acid tyrosine.
Did you know that thyroid disorders are more common than ever before? Thyroid dysfunction could be caused by a weak immune system, environmental toxins, and even hormonal imbalances.
TSH is something that doctors often look at when diagnosing a thyroid disorder. TSH, also called thyroid-stimulating hormone, is a signal produced by the pituitary gland in the brain. It sends out the message: “Hey, make more thyroid hormones!” When TSH is elevated, this can indicate a thyroid disorder.
The most common thyroid disorders are:
- Hypothyroidism, the underproduction of thyroid hormones.
- Hyperthyroidism, the overproduction of thyroid hormones.
- Goiter, the enlargement of the thyroid gland.
Several mechanisms play a role in the genesis of thyroid dysfunction. These range from environmental toxins to immune and hormonal imbalances.
There are two common mistakes made in diagnosis and in the treatment of thyroid disorders.
Common Mistake #1: Supplement with Iodine
How many times have we heard that any thyroid disorder can be helped with iodine?
How many of us believe that the only cause of goiter, which is an enlarged thyroid, is iodine deficiency?
Why do so many practitioners in alternative health, such chiropractors, acupuncturists, and naturopaths, suggest iodine for thyroid health?
This is because iodine is important for thyroid function and the production of thyroid hormones. However, most of us in the United States get the iodine that we need to avoid hypothyroidism, or an underactive thyroid. While high doses of iodine can be useful, such as when working with fibrocystic breasts, taking supplemental iodine can make some cases of hypothyroidism worse1!
In cases of hypothyroidism that are autoimmune, meaning the body’s immune system is attacking its own tissue, supplemental or high dietary iodine can actually cause what is known as a flare-up.
In any autoimmune condition, when a flare-up occurs, tissue destruction is at an all-time high.
The only time you would want to supplement with iodine is if there is a true iodine deficiency, or if you are certain that your hypothyroidism is not autoimmune.
If you have hypothyroidism and you are certain it is not autoimmune hypothyroidism, read on...
Common Mistake #2: Thyroid Hormone Replacement Can Fix Hypothyroidism
When doctors diagnose hypothyroidism, they see that thyroid hormones are low and that TSH is high.
In cases of non-autoimmune and autoimmune hypothyroidism, hormones replacement may be necessary. But if you have an immune disorder, like autoimmunity, wouldn’t you also want to treat that as well?
The problem is diagnosis.
Doctors often do not run antibody tests when looking at TSH and thyroid hormone levels. Antibodies are what the immune system produces against invaders, a sort of tagging system.
In autoimmune hypothyroidism, there can be antibodies, or tags, that are made against certain enzymes or proteins involved in thyroid hormone production.
- Running the right antibody tests is a good first step towards the diagnosis autoimmune hypothyroidism.
- Even if an antibody test comes back negative, this does not exclude autoimmunity. Sometimes, the body is too weak to produce antibodies.
- Even if your thyroid has been removed, you can still have autoimmune hypothyroidism.
- Autoimmune hypothyroidism is the leading cause of hypothyroidism in the United States, and it is grossly misdiagnosed.
Why don’t doctors test for thyroid antibodies?
Doctors do not routinely test for thyroid antibodies because low thyroid hormone in the body essentially means the same thing: you need more thyroid hormone.
Once labs come back and verify that the pituitary gland is pumping out extra hormones (TSH) to stimulate the production of more thyroid hormone, then a prescription for Synthroid or Armour is written. Both Synthroid and Armour are thyroid hormone replacement medications.
In order to treat autoimmune hypothyroidism, which is the most common form of hypothyroidism, it is absolutely necessary to address the immune system. If autoimmune hypothyroidism is not fully addressed, the patient never feels better, and the condition will continue to advance.
Whatever form of hypothyroidism you have, it may be in your best interest to take thyroid hormone medication. However, if TSH levels continue to rise, it is time to consider autoimmune hypothyroidism.
In order to support thyroid health in cases of autoimmunity, heal the gut.
Achieving a healthy digestive tract and stable blood sugar levels are both essential when healing an autoimmune hypothyroid condition.
An effective program that supports the healing of autoimmune hypothyroidism will include:
- Regulation of blood sugar.
- Gut support and leaky gut repair.
- Reduction of stress and inflammation.
The seven principles laid out in The Body Ecology Diet give us the tools to do this.
- When we remove food toxins from the diet, such as sugar, grains, and processed oils, we begin to take the steps that will heal an imbalanced immune response.
- When we practice harmonious food combination and listen to the messages from our body, we no longer overburden our system with inflammatory agents.
The Core Program, which contains Vitality SuperGreen, InnergyBiotic, Assist Full Spectrum Enzymes, and Stevia Liquid Concentrate, supports the repair of the intestinal wall and the restoration of a robust inner ecology.
When treating the thyroid, ask more questions and, if necessary, go beyond iodine supplementation or thyroid hormone replacement.
What to Remember Most About This Article:
Thyroid disorders are more common than they have ever been before. The most common disorders include hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, and goiter. The thyroid can be negatively affected by environmental toxins, an unhealthy immune system, and hormonal imbalances.
When it comes to diagnosing and treating thyroid disorders, there are two big mistakes that are often made:
1. Supplementing with iodine. While iodine is important for thyroid function, most of us get all of the iodine we need to prevent hypothyroidism. The only time that it is necessary to supplement with iodine is if you are suffering from a true iodine deficiency or if you have hypothyroidism that is not autoimmune.
2. Using thyroid hormone replacement to treat hypothyroidism. In some cases, hormone replacement may be necessary, but autoimmune hypothyroidism is often misdiagnosed. It is also the leading cause of hypothyroidism in the US. To treat autoimmune hypothyroidism, the immune system must be addressed, which starts with healing the digestive tract. Removing toxins from the diet can help to heal the immune system and release the toxic burden on your system.
- Kharrazian, Datis. Why Do I Still Have THYROID Symptoms? New York: Morgan James, 2010.