The most common thyroid issues are Hypothyroidism and Hyperthyroidism, with Hypothyroidism being much more common. Hypo- and hyperthyroidism are how thyroid dysfunction manifests, and there are several underlying causes of each.
Hypothyroidism occurs when you have too little thyroid hormone. Symptoms include but are not limited to: feeling cold (especially cold hands and cold feet), weight gain or the inability to lose weight, brain fog, memory lapses or difficulty concentrating, feeling unmotivated, fatigued, sleeping much more than normal, depression and/or mood swings, loss of hair, dry skin, high cholesterol, hormone irregularities, constipation, and feeling not like yourself. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is the autoimmune version of Hypothyroidism.
Hyperthyroidism happens when you have too much thyroid hormone. Symptoms include feeling warm, increased perspiration, feeling anxious, wired or having mood swings, panic attacks, diarrhea or loose stools, irregular periods, muscle weakness, weight loss without trying, loss of hair, irregular periods and insomnia. Graves’ disease is the autoimmune version of hyperthyroidism.
You may in fact have symptoms from both lists. You can be hyperthyroid but have symptoms of hypothyroid and vice versa. Which is why a running a full thyroid panel is extremely important. Thyroid conditions can be complicated, and they deserved to be treated with a high level of importance. The thyroid has a very significant role in the body, which you can read more about here.
When things go wrong with the thyroid they manifest as hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism, but how exactly do they go wrong? There are several ways:
· The pituitary is responsible for releasing TSH to the thyroid. The pituitary can release too much or too little TSH.
· You can have too much TBG (thyroxine-binding globulin) in your bloodstream. This will cause too much T4 and T3 to be bound and not enough to be free. Too much TBG in the blood can be caused by excess estrogen in the body. TBG levels can also be affected by corticosteroid levels, which are frequently prescribed to those with autoimmune conditions.
· Your thyroid can release too much or little T4.
· Your thyroid can release too much or too little T3.
· Your body can have a lack of free active T3 due to difficulty converting T4 to T3. The body needs an enzyme called deiodinase to convert T4 to T3, and deiodinase needs selenium, iron and zinc to function properly, so if you have a lack of any of those nutrients it may cause conversion issues.
· You can have thyroid resistance, which is when your cells have difficulty receiving T3. The cells may be getting enough T3 but not able to properly use it. T3 needs cortisol in order to pass through the membrane of each cell. If you have adrenal dysfunction your adrenals may not be able to produce the amount of cortisol T3 needs to pass through the cells. The health of your cell walls is also important in this process. Healthy fat in your diet is essential for the health of your cells.
· Your body may be converting too much T4 into reverse T3, causing the excess amount of reverse T3 to block the effectiveness of free T3. Your body will produce more Reverse T3 due to overexercise, extremely low-calorie diets, stress and heavy metal toxicity.
The underlying causes of all of the above can be due to several factors:
· Insufficient nutrients
o Tyrosine and iodine are needed to create thyroid hormone
o Selenium, zinc, vitamin A and iron are needed for the conversion of T4 to T3
· Chronic stress leading to adrenal dysfunction – chronic stress causes your adrenals to constantly produce cortisol. Eventually your adrenals cannot keep up with the demand. When there is not enough cortisol in the body T3 cannot properly pass through the cells.
· Intestinal permeability, also known as leaky gut – Leaky gut is when there is damage to the lining of the small intestine. The lining of the small intestine protects your immune system from “foreign invaders” – chemicals, parasites, viruses, etc. When there is damage the foreign invaders, along with unbroken down food particles, pass through the stomach lining into general circulation causing an immune response. In order to have a healthy immune system you must have a healthy, properly functioning gut.
· Immune system – Your immune system responds to toxins, bacteria, and viruses with inflammation. The innate immune system immediately works to defend the body against the invader and uses acute inflammation in the process. The adaptive immune system remembers the foreign invaders (bacteria, viruses, toxins, parasites, etc.) in order to properly protect your body and attack against the invaders again in the future. The adaptive immune system uses acute inflammation as well. If your immune system is constantly on high alert chronic inflammation develops. Since your immune system is constantly being attacked and having to attack back it may begin to attack against you, which is when an autoimmune condition develops.
o This chronic inflammation can be caused by leaky gut, constant infections, high toxic burden in the body, over exercising and chronic stress to name a few.
In order to heal your thyroid for good and for it to return to normal function it’s not enough to just take medication. You have to find the underlying cause(s). Fix the underlying cause and you will fix the problem and eliminate the symptoms.
If you have any more questions about thyroid health or running functional lab work to see how your thyroid is functioning please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org