Thyroid disorders are conditions that affect the thyroid gland, a butterfly-shaped gland in the front of the neck. The thyroid has important roles to regulate numerous metabolic processes throughout the body.
As all glands, the thyroid produces hormones which are secreted into the body and help it use energy so that it maintains the brain, heart, muscles and other organs and keep them working properly. The poor thyroid function brings about a wide array of serious health conditions from fibromyalgia and irritable bowel syndrome to infertility, autoimmune diseases and thyroid cancer.
Different types of thyroid disorders affect either its structure or function.
Latest research shows that 1 in 8 women aged to 65 have some form of thyroid disease, and about ¼ of women in peri-menopause are diagnosed with hypothyroidism when insufficient amounts of thyroid hormones are produced.
The growth and development of children is dependent on thyroid hormones. They send signals for the production of all growth factors in your body, including: epidermal growth factor, nerve growth factor, somatomedins (skeletal tissue growth) and erythropoietin (involved in the development of red blood cells).
This gland produces three types of hormones:
- Diiodothyronine (T2)
- Triiodothyronine (T3)
- Thyroxin (T4)
There is an interaction between these hormones and others, such as insulin, cortisol and sex hormones such as testosterone, estrogen and progesterone.
In order to intervene successfully in cases of thyroid malfunctioning, one needs to work on certain changes in the lifestyle to avoid hormone disrupting chemicals, as well as to do regular detoxification procedures.
The dysfunction of the thyroid gland is a complex issue with many variables and many potential underlying causes, as the following:
Endocrine-disrupting chemicals – These have been linked to early menopause and thyroid problems and include lead, mercury, phthalates and bisphenol – A (BPA).
Estrogen dominance – Mid- life hypothyroidism can be related to some underlying estrogen dominance and then taking thyroid hormone fails to address the root of the problem.
Medications – Certain medications can disrupt your thyroid functions when the most appropriate remedy may not be to add thyroid hormone. These include barbiturates, beta-blockers, steroids and cholesterol – lowering drugs.
Bromine exposure – These contain brominated vegetable oils (BVOs) and flame retardants which also have a harmful effect on the thyroid function and can be found in pesticides, plastics, bakery goods, beverages.
Bromine, fluoride and chlorine can displace iodine in your thyroid gland, which is quite logical since they are all in the same family as iodine.
Fluoride –Back in the 1970s, fluoride was used in Europe to reduce thyroid activity in hyperthyroid patients. However, it is still routinely added to water supplies.
Altered thyroid function is associated with fluoride intakes as low as 0.05 to 0.1 mg fluoride per kilogram body weight per day (mg/kg/day) or 0,3 mg/kg/day with iodine deficiency.
A report by the National Research Council of the National Academies from 2006 states that fluoride is “an endocrine disruptor in the broad sense of altering normal endocrine function.”
This kind of an altered function can involve your thyroid, parathyroid and pineal glands, as well as your adrenals, pancreas and pituitary.
Fluoride can cause several damages to the thyroid function:
- Damage the cells of your thyroid gland
- Disrupt conversion from the inactive form of the thyroid hormone (T4) to the active form (T3).
- Mimic thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH)
- These are the signs of hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid):
- Decreased sweating
- Weight gain
- Muscle and/or joint pain
- Decreased appetite
- Coarse or dry skin and hair
- Hair loss
- Emotional instability
- Bradycardia (reduced heart rate)
- Mental impairment
- Forgetfulness, impaired memory and inability to concentrate
- Blurred vision
- Decreased hearing
- Sleep apnea
- Loss of energy, fatigue and general lethargy
Diagnosing thyroid dysfunction
Thyroid dysfunction is diagnosed by measuring the amount of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) excreted by your pituitary gland. When your thyroid doesn’t produce sufficient levels of thyroid hormone, your pituitary sends out THS to encourage the thyroid to increase production.
The following laboratory tests are recommended in case you need to examine your thyroid health:
1. Thyroid Antibody Testing – It includes the thyroid peroxidase antibodies and anti-thyroglobulin antibodies, which help you to determine if your body is attacking your thyroid or overreacting to its own tissues (i.e. autoimmune reactions). Unfortunately, in most cases, conventional physicians avoid this test, but you can still do it upon your request.
2. Basal Body Temperature – The most commonly used protocol about this test is the Broda Barnes System, which measures your body temperature at rest.
3. TSH Test – The ideal TSH level is between 1 and 1.5 milli-international units per liter. The higher your level of TSH, the higher the possibility that you have hypothyroidism.
4. TRH Stimulation Test for more difficult cases – TRH can be measured using the TRH stimulation test, and helps identify hypothyroidism that’s caused by inadequacy of the pituitary gland.
5. Reverse T3 – While reverse T3 (RT3) is metabolically inactive, elevated levels may indicate that heavy metal toxicity is affecting your thyroid function.
6. Free T4 and Free T3 – The normal level of free T3 is between 240 and 450 picograms per deciliter, while T4 should be between 0.9 and 1.8 nanograms per deciliter.
Recommended medications for thyroid hormone replacement
Finding the ideal dose when replacing thyroid hormones is a quite difficult task. Namely, it requires a typical fine-tuning over a period of time with regular blood testing to see how the dose is affecting your thyroid hormone levels and keeping track of your symptoms.
In such cases, the most common medications used for thyroid hormone replacement are:
— Synthetic hormones, like Synthroid (generic brand: Levothyroxine) which only contains T4.
— Bioidentical thyroid hormones – they are made from desiccated pig thyroid glands and contain the full spectrum of thyroid hormones: T4, T3, T2 and T1. Nature-Thyroid and Westhroid are most recommended.
In case you are getting too much thyroid and you certainly need to cut back on the dose, you will experience two key signals, excessive sweating and rapid heartbeat, as well as heart palpitations.
Recognizing and treating thyroid issues is critical for optimum health and preventing long-term health problems.