Hypothyroidism Solved The Natural Way
An estimated 13 million Americans are affected by thyroid disease and more than half are undiagnosed. It affects eight times as many women as men, perhaps because women need higher levels of thyroid hormone than men. The risk of hypothyroidism also increases with age so that by age 60, 17% of women have symptoms of thyroid disease. The essence of hypothyroidism is tied in with the thyroid hormones T3 and T4 which are the only major biochemical molecules known to include iodine, making iodine deficiency the leading cause of hypothyroidism followed by autoimmune thyroid disease. In developed countries, autoimmune issues are a leading aspect of illness and are predominantly female, accounting for such high hypothyroid numbers in women. Iodine not only needs to be included in the diet, but there are dietary foods which block iodine absorption, such as non-fermented soy and walnuts which increase elimination of thyroxin, corn, and brassicas which contain large amounts of sulfur (more effect in raw vs. cooked). Also large amounts of dietary iodine consumption such as in seaweed can cause inhibition of endogenous thyroid hormone synthesis, evident in coastal villages in Japan. In autoimmune thyroid disease, the ability of the thyroid to store iodine becomes compromised, leading to less iodine availability. The immune system generates inflammatory mediators called cytokines, the presence of which can cause hypothyroidism.
T4 is the inactive form of thyroid hormone which then converts into the active version T3. It has a circulation half-life of 7 days in its free form, meaning it is available as a resource pool for cellular use. Once bound, hormones will circulate without activity. In fact the more insulin resistance that is present, the higher the amount of bound hormone, meaning less free hormone for cellular use, and a lower thyroid function. T3 is converted from T4 in the thyroid, brain, liver, bloodstream and other body tissues. 90% of circulating T3 is produced by peripheral conversion and it has a circulating half-life of 1 day.
Minerals are another important consideration. The mineral selenium combined with proteins provide the regulator for the conversion of T4 to active T3. The combining of selenium with proteins occurs in the liver, kidneys, brain, pituitary and brown adipose tissue. It is crucial in the human body to be able to convert inactive T4 into active T3, a process that is regulated by negative feedback to the hypothalamus. Tests for T4 indicate how healthy the gland is.
Notice that circulation is the common denominator in all of the physiology of thyroid hormone availability. It really is an unrecognized crucial component here, meaning that if you have poor peripheral circulation, your thyroid function may actually be under-functioning just because your blood isn’t carrying enough of the hormone to target tissues. Simply adding FAR Infrared Sauna into your weekly routine, increasing excercise routines and getting in the habit of hot soaking baths, can all make the difference even before considering any medication, natural or pharmaceutical.
The thyroid hormones are of vital importance in the body because the thyroid regulates intercellular metabolism. T3 directly boosts energy metabolism in mitochondria and triggers rapid protein synthesis. It also influences mitochondrial gene transcription by influencing the formation of mRNA, the reading of genes and the synthesis of proteins from genetic information. In this way, thyroid hormone can facilitate the copying of some genes while blocking others from being copied, simply by which thyroid receptors are activated. These functions cause an increase in free fatty acids and increased oxygen use. In this way the thyroid gland increases the heart rate to meet the increased oxygen need. Thyroid hormone stimulates brown adipose tissue, a mitochondria-rich tissue, to boost heat production without muscle activity.
Thyroid hormone is sensitive to the levels of estrogen which can partially block the efficiency of thyroid hormone. Growth hormone also partially blocks thyroid hormone, but it also complements thyroid hormone in its effects on growth, development and metabolism. We live in an estrogen-dominant environment which causes women to have physiologically a larger thyroid than men. Also, many drugs can suppress glandular function. For instance, SSI’s or anti-depressants typically suppress most pituitary hormones including Thyroid Stimulating Hormone, causing low thyroid function. T3 in the brain acts as a neurotransmitter, but if thyroid function is low, then T3 levels will be low, and so depression can develop, and addiction can be a solution by inhibiting the breakdown of T3.
Then there’s cortisol. The adrenal hormone cortisol is strongly affected by stress, creating a rapid rise in blood cortisol levels which can then depress thyroid function and immunity. The result can be the presence of large amounts of auto-antibodies, bringing on an autoimmune issue.
Everyone knows the common symptoms of hypothyroidism, but I have more often than not see more unusual symptoms that demonstrate low thyroid. Dull facial expression, hoarse voice with slow speech, drooping eyelid, tinnitus, puffy face, loss of outer third of eyebrows, and carpal tunnel are just a few things that have cleared up when the thyroid was adequately treated. Hyperlipidemia occurs as thyroid hormone levels drop because the liver no longer functions properly without proper thyroid hormone levels, producing excess cholesterol, fatty acids and triglycerides. In fact, hypothyroidism is the second leading cause of high cholesterol, after diet because of the drop in liver function. Treating the liver is vital with herbs such as Milk Thistle, Schisandra, Globe Artichoke and Dandelion. This is because at this point, the liver can no longer store Vitamin A precursors causing yellowing skin from carotenoid deposits in the palms of the hands. Hypothyroid people sleep easily and do not feel refreshed after sleeping. While awake, they experience brain fog, fatigue and apathy.
Down’s Syndrome may even be related to low thyroid function in the mother during pregnancy. Addiction can definitely be linked to thyroid function, particularly T3 and T4. T3 influences the levels of serotonin which is the neurotransmitter integral to moods and behavior. In addicts, alcohol or opiates can actually increase T3 levels by inhibiting the breakdown of T3 in the brain, causing elevated mood. Essential components of working with addiction are Standard Process Cataplex E, Selenium, Zinc and Tyrosine. Food sources that can really help are raw eggs, beef, chicken, fish, almonds and cheese.
Whenever using herbal options for treatment it is important to remember that herbs work only through the target tissues, so if the thyroid tissue is non-functioning, herbs will not work and only replacement hormone therapy will make a difference.
So my favorite place to begin is with iodine. Often, an iodine test is necessary in order to get a sense of how much iodine will be needed, but once that is accomplished, my basic treatment plan includes Bladderwrack, Coleus, Bacopa, Withania and possibly organic iodine tablets. Coleus is amazing to optimize the Kreb’s cycle by catalyzing the production of cAMP which is an intracellular messenger. In fact, this is the reason that Coleus is the basis of treatment for psoriasis as well. Withania will boost T4 levels and improve the conversion of T4 to T3. Bacopa is another great option for T4 levels, but has no effect on T3, which is why the Withania is important.
If there is any immune aspect, such as in Hashimoto’s then St. John’s Wort and a Gut Flora Dysbiosis regimen becomes key. Ribonucleic Acid is great to help transport thyroid hormone from the blood to the cells and T3 from the cytosol of the cell to the nucleus. So if blood levels are high, but function is low, this may be the solution.
So explore your natural options now, because every day that you delay, you risk the health of many body tissues. Often herbal solutions, iodine and healthy eating can make all the difference.