Hypothyroid and Hashimoto’s Disease
Thyroid Health – Hypothyroid, Hashimoto’s and Functional Medicine
According to the American Thyroid Association, more than 20 million Americans suffer from thyroid disease, and up to 60% of them are unaware of their condition. For women, the statistics are even more alarming as women are 5-8x’s more likely than men to develop thyroid disease.
What Is Hypothyroidism?
Hypothyroidism is when there an under production and/or an under conversion of thyroid hormones. This will result in lowered energy levels and many other symptoms.
Symptoms of Hypothyroidism:
- brain fog
- weight gain or Inability to lose weight
- cold hands or feet
- hair loss
- poor concentration
- low libido
- decreased heart rate
- decreased body temperature
- cold intolerance
- swelling of the feet, legs and hands
- muscle and joint pain
- high cholesterol
Types of Thyroid Hormones
- T3 – T3 is the active thyroid hormone. It affects all of the aforementioned symptoms and the functions related to them.
- T4 – The T4 hormone is the inactive thyroid hormone. It doesn’t do anything on its own; it waits to be turned into a T3 hormone.
- Reverse T3 – Instead of being converted to T3, sometimes the body will convert the T4 hormone into a reverse T3 hormone. This hormone will not do any of what the regular T3 hormone does, and in fact, not only limits the conversion of T4 to T3, it also inhibits T3 from working.
- Free and bound – When T3 or T4 hormones are being circulated, they can be considered either free or bound. A free hormone means that it is active and able to do whatever it needs to do, such as deliver oxygen and energy in the case of T3, or convert itself to T3 in the case of T4. If a hormone is bound, it’s unable to perform those functions.
Causes of Hypothyroidism
We now know the mechanics that cause leaky gut. It is one of the primary triggers for all autoimmune disease, including autoimmune thyroid disease. Leaky gut occurs when your gut (specifically your small intestine) becomes too permeable and allows particles to leak from your digestive tract into your bloodstream.
Gluten is one of the main causes of leaky gut, and not just among Celiac patients. When someone with gluten sensitivity eats gluten-containing foods, the gluten proteins cause the body to respond by producing zonulin, a chemical that signals the tight junctions of the intestinal walls to open up, creating permeability. Leaky gut can also be caused or exacerbated by gut infections (such as Candida overgrowth), medications like antibiotics or birth control pills, stress and glyphosate. Glyphosate is the active ingredient in the pesticide Round-up.
The process is a little complicated but in the end it causes a biological condition called molecular mimicry. When this happens you create antibodies to your own thyroid, a condition called Hashimoto’s. It is estimated that 95% of all hypothyroid conditions have a Hashimoto’s component.
3 Toxins that Threaten Your Thyroid:
Viral and Bacterial Infections that Can Trigger Autoimmune Disease:
- Yersinia enterocolitica
- Hepatitis C
- Heliobacter pylori
The Adrenal-Thyroid Connection
A special relationship exists between the adrenal glands and the thyroid. Your adrenal glands are your fight or flight mechanism. Once a stressor triggers a stress response, cortisol and your other stress hormones redirect your body’s normal functions to deprioritize anything that is not necessary for overcoming the stressor in front of you. This means that functions like digestion, immune response, and yes, thyroid hormone production and distribution, are temporarily put on hold or slowed down until the stress has passed.
Ideally the stress passes quickly, your body returns to normal, and everything runs smoothly. Unfortunately, in today’s society we often experience chronic stress, either because our stress does not end quickly or it is quickly followed by yet another stressor. This state of chronic stress puts your adrenals into overdrive for extended periods of time, continuously flooding your body with cortisol until your adrenals can no longer keep up with the constant demand for more and more stress hormones, leaving you in a state of adrenal fatigue.
Chronic adrenal stress causes:
- Decreased thyroid hormone production
- Reduced T4 – T3 conversion
- Thyroid hormone resistance
- Decreased Free thyroid hormone
- Suppression of the immune system
- Weakened gut barrier
“Functional Medicine is an innovative approach to medical care. It uses the latest medical research to develop personalized care for each patient based on his or her unique environment, lifestyle, and genes. The result is a dynamic, effective way to address chronic disease. And it really works.”
Catherine Guthrie,Experience Life, December 2013, The Institute for Functional Medicine