The number of people suffering with thyroid symptoms is truly reaching an epidemic proportion. I want to be clear that the bulk of these thyroid disorders are not actually a thyroid issue. Let’s look at some simple statistics first.
- More than 12 percent of the U.S. population will develop a thyroid condition during their lifetime.
- An estimated 20 million Americans have some form of thyroid disease.
- Up to 60 percent of those with thyroid disease are unaware of their condition.
- Women are five to eight times more likely than men to have thyroid problems.
- One woman in eight will develop a thyroid disorder during her lifetime.
- 80% of all Thyroid Disease cases are diagnosed as Hypothyroidism and 20% Hyperthyroidism.
Based on these statistics we are talking about a significant amount of people here. Understand that so many people are diagnosed with a thyroid disorder, placed on thyroid medications, told their levels are fine yet there is still on major issue. They are still suffering with symptoms.
To understand the challenges with the current model of thyroid testing I would recommend visiting a past article written called “Thyroid Treatment…Ridiculous!“, where we discuss the lack of comprehensive testing that often leads to poor diagnosis and treatment.
You may ask yourself, why do the numbers on my blood test show that my thyroid hormones are fine, yet symptoms remain unchanged? Actually there are many possibilities to look at here.
To help understand this we’ll first look at thyroid metabolism. Here’s the breakdown of thyroid hormone production and conversion.
- The hypothalamus sends thyroid releasing hormone (TRH) to the pituitary gland
- The pituitary gland releases thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) to the thyroid gland
- TSH stimulates he production of thyroid peroxidase (TPO) activity to use iodine to create T4 and T3
- 93% of the thyroid hormone is T4 while 7% is T3
- 60% of the T4 is converted into T3 in the liver
- The remaining T4 is converted to T3 in the tissue of your body
Now from here the 60% of the T3 converted in the liver actually takes a few different pathways as noted below.
- 20% converts to reverse T3
- 20% converts to T3S and T3AC
- T3S and T3AC are then converted to active form in the gastrointestinal tract
So what do you think? Looks confusing right?
Thankfully this is all simple for your body but you likely already recognize some areas that need to be attended to if you want increase your opportunity of walking away from your thyroid symptoms.
First remember that a thyroid issue is most likely not a thyroid problem. There are other glands that play a role here and you could actually have a hypo hypothalamus or hypo pituitary condition. While those are possibilities they are not highly likely. The gland that often creates some big challenges for your thyroid hormone production is actually your adrenal glands. When cortisol production is low, which is the case for those with adrenal insufficiency, this will hider T3 production. I say that the adrenal glands play a much more substantial role because they are most directly affected by stress in your life, whether this is mental/emotional, food sensitivity, inflammation, injury, chemical and/or environmental stress. So if you are suffering with thyroid symptoms, it would be a good idea to check your adrenals. Feel free to take our complimentary adrenal stress profile assessment.
Another very logical area to assess is your liver. Since 60% of your T3 is converted in the liver, it would make sense that a sluggish liver is going to leave you in the dark with your thyroid hormones. We often see clients in our office with liver congestion and it not only creates challenges with thyroid hormone conversion but also conversion of estrogens. One easy way you can assess your likelihood of living with a congested liver is to view the under side of your tongue. If you were to put the tip of the tongue at the roof of your mouth and open wide, you’ll get a good view of this area. If all is healthy, you would simply see to singular veins that are light to medium blue in color, no branching of these veins and not much protrusion either. If you see dark blue to purple veins, that are protruding and there is branching out from the main veins, this could potentially be a sign of liver congestion. If this is the case, addressing liver function with a qualified natural health practitioner would be recommended. Before you jump into a liver detox program read this past article for and education that may save you some headaches, literally.
Here is a list of health challenges that also tie into liver function.
- Acne and unhealthy skin
- Excessive hair loss
- Overall sense of bloating
- Bodily swelling for no reason
- Hormone imbalances
- Weight gain
- Poor bowel function
- Excessively foul-smelling sweat
Another key area is with your gastrointestinal system. Recall that post liver conversion, you have some forms of T3 that are actually inactive. These inactive forms are then converted to active forms of T3 based on a health digestive system. The problem here is that this is most often overlooked, yet very common. Digestive dysfunction affects at least 70 million Americans and regardless of how this shows up for you; constipation, GERD, food sensitivity, pathogens, diarrhea, bloating, etc., this is an essential problem to address for thyroid health.
The most important factor is to balance your gut flora with healthy beneficial bacteria. This is due to the fact that this “good” bacteria is necessary for the conversion of inactive forms of T3 into active forms. You can increase your good bacteria by taking a high quality prebiotic/probiotic formula or you can consume naturally fermented raw foods. Don’t be tricked by store bought yogurts though because these are pasteurized, which is a heating process that destroys the bacteria and dead bacteria actually does us no good.
I also want to mention that tied into the gut is the importance of proper elimination or bowel movements. Typically when one is challenged with a hypothyroid condition, this makes the colon sluggish. A sluggish colon tends to build up unused estrogen hormones and these estrogen hormones will then bind with thyroid transport hormones, thus leading to further thyroid symptoms.
Last but not least we need to discuss autoimmunity and specifically Hashimoto’s disease. Unfortunately the most common conventional treatment for Hashimoto’s is the use of thyroid medications. I say unfortunately because this is another instance where the thyroid is not the problem. Autoimmunity is!
Thankfully you can assess and address the triggers for autoimmunity by working with a qualified natural health practitioner. We have witnessed first hand clients that have understood their personal autoimmune triggers and actually escape autoimmunity. Here is a list of areas to address is Hashimoto’s disease is your diagnosis.
- Fundamentals of health
- Adrenal insufficiency
- Food sensitivity
- Blood sugar stability
- Gut pathogens
- Gut/brain connection
- Immune system regulation
- Chronic inflammation
I want to also note that the direction of care is actually listed in a priority. I would not recommend jumping ahead of yourself here. You may find that this actually slows your progress.
Hopefully you can see some light at the end of the tunnel with this information here to assist you in finding your health and happiness while leaving your thyroid symptoms behind you.
If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave these below and we will address them personally.