Last month I spent one of my precious summer weekends sitting in the basement of an underwhelming midtown hotel for 9 hours per day, 3 consecutive days. Why would anyone do that you ask? It was for a seminar by Apex Energetics on the topic of Functional Medicine for the treatment of thyroid disorders. This topic could not be missed! Why is it important and why detox? Thyroid disorders, especially hypothyroidism, are insanely prevalent and will greatly affect your quality of life and long term health. In the short term it could be fatigue, anxiety, weight issues, depression, brain fog, infertility etc. Long term we are looking at more severe mental health issues, heart problems, infertility, birth defects, peripheral neuropathy, goiter and so on.
The American Thyroid Association says 20 million Americans suffer from this. Interesting that it’s more prevalent in women – your chances are 1 in 8. I would imagine you know at least one friend or family member who takes Synthroid or some other thyroid medication. Why is this the case? There are indeed many reasons but I will turn my focus here to two areas: Low T3 and autoimmune thyroiditis. The reason for my raising awareness is, of course, because I find it incredibly interesting but also because these are less commonly discussed topics. These are situations where giving a standard drug like Synthroid is not all that helpful. Later we discuss detox techniques to help.
Back to the topic at hand…. Low T3 often results from a poor conversion of T4 into the more active form of T3. There are a myriad of pathways where this happens but for the sake of simplicity we are going to focus on the main one: liver and guts. The great news about this is that it’s within our control to improve the conversion and therefore boost active T3. This is where liver and gut health come in. The initial conversion takes place for the most part in the liver. This means that our liver needs to be functioning well. Since we tend to be all bunged up in this day and age through booze, bad food, excess food, pollution, pesticides and emotional toxicities, it’s important to have regular detoxification protocols to clean out our processing plant (the liver). I suggest doing a full dietary overhaul with cleansing products a minimum of 2x per year and to consume a liver protecting herb such as milk thistle on a regular basis with the addition of daily dandelion tea. Foods of the brassica family are also helpful for the liver. The health of the digestive system is also relevant as the microflora influence the activation of T3. Diet becomes very important here as does the right probiotic strains. Full description of this area is beyond the scope of this article but just keep in mind to make your gut happy. We will address a bit more in the next topic on immune related thyroid issues.
Next up is the autoimmune picture. Thyroid health both affects the strength of the immune system directly and conversely may be attacked by the immune system directly. We are going to skip the pathways again for simplicity’s sake and jump right to intestinal permeability and systemic inflammation – AKA “leaky gut” (please see one of our previous blog posts on this topic). Poor gut health will send out inflammatory markers that attack thyroid tissue. What’s worse is that low thyroid hormones will then create worse leaky gut issues by causing increased gut permeability! How to calm this picture? Detox, repair the gut and include a bunch of antioxidants to calm down the inflammatory/immune response. Think things like glutamine and turmeric and eliminating gluten, dairy, sugar and booze.
If you feel like there might be a chance you have a thyroid disorder that has yet to be diagnosed, then ask for a full thyroid panel including immune markers in addition to the standard TSH (Thyroid stimulating hormone) and T4. Why? Because standard tests do not cover poor conversion issues (T4 into T3) or immune issues (hashimotos) and do not give a complete picture of thyroid health. Some other tests to consider:
TT4 (Total T4)
TT3 (Total T3)
Free thyroxine index
Thyroid Binding Globulin
Thyroid Peroxidase Antibody
For more information on Naturna’s approach to treating thyroid health or to book a consult for a comprehensive assessment and game plan, please contact us.
And for more information on this topic, check out the Center for Health Science, ‘Thyroid Disorders’ article and Alternative Health Report, ‘Reversing Hypothyroidism Naturally’.