For 90% of Americans, hypothyroidism is caused by Hashimoto’s disease, an autoimmune thyroid disease. Considering most of the immune system is situated in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, poor gut health may play a significant role in triggering and exacerbating autoimmune diseases including Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.
Why Gastrointestinal or Gut Flora Affects Thyroid Hormones
Our digestive tracts contain an array of good bacteria that contribute to our overall health in a number of ways. One way is in the production of active thyroid hormones. A staggering 20% of thyroid function depends on a sufficient supply of healthy gut bacteria to convert inactive T4 to active T3 hormone.
Poor diet, antibiotics, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), antacids, and other drugs can initiate dysbiosis, an overabundance of bad bacteria. This bad bacteria will crowd out the beneficial or “good” bacteria, hampering the production of active thyroid hormone.
Studies show that bacterial gut infections reduce thyroid hormone levels, dull thyroid hormone receptor sites, increase the amount of inactive T3 hormone, decrease thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), and promote autoimmune thyroid disorders. Maintaining healthy gut flora and addressing bacterial overgrowth is an important component of good thyroid function.
Being tested for gluten intolerance and avoiding gluten can be helpful to improve gut health. Taking probiotics on a daily basis can also aid restoring a healthy gut.
Our bodies and systems are all connected. You can’t treat only one part of the body (system) and ignore the rest. A holistic approach is always best the method.
The excerpt taken from my new 5th edition book, “Treating and Beating Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome” highlights common hypothyroidism symptoms. The book is also available in bookstores including Barnes and Noble and Amazon.com and online here.
Do you battle low energy, brain fog, anxiety, depression, tingling in your hands or feet, cold hands and feet, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, headaches, hair loss, constipation, weight gain, or low sex drive? These are just some of the many symptoms associated with low thyroid, a condition often missed by conventional medical lab tests.
Though weighing less than one ounce, the thyroid gland (and the hormones it produces) are involved in nearly every bodily function. Your thyroid controls cellular energy, maintains body temperature, regulates growth, affects brain function, moods, and emotions. The thyroid hormones, which control your metabolism (your energy), are internally secreted and then transported through the bloodstream to various organs. The thyroid’s main purpose is to produce, store, and release these two important hormones: triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4).
I routinely have new fibro and CFS/ME patients who present with all the symptoms of hypothyroid. The symptoms are, after all, very similar to those of fibromyalgia and CFS/ME. And in fact, up to 63 percent of patients with fibromyalgia and/or CFS/ME have been shown to have hypothyroid. I estimate the same for as many as 70% of my patients.
Under active Thyroid Contribution to Fibromyalgia
Research continues to suggest that thyroid hormone deficiency may be a key feature in FMS etiology. Researchers have observed that FMS patients respond best to treatment with thyroid hormone as part of a comprehensive regimen to optimize the patient’s metabolism. The Journal of Myofascial Therapy stated that, “virtually all FMS patients dramatically improve or completely recover from the symptoms with this regimen. As long as the patient does not take excessive amounts of thyroid hormone, there are no adverse side effects.” In fact, T4 with T3 has improved or eliminated depression, brain fog, feeling of cold, constipation, chronic fatigue, headaches, insomnia, muscle and joint pain, and chronic sinus infections. For some people it has helped them finally lose weight.
It’s not unusual for these patients to tell me that they have been tested over and over again for hypothyroidism but their tests are normal and their doctor tells them they’re fine. Well, the doctors should realize that you aren’t “normal.” I would tell them that normal blood work doesn’t decide anything; it is only the beginning of the investigation. Those with fibro and/or CFS are different, strange, weird. OK, special! Their biochemistry is different. It is no wonder they often have “low normal” or “high normal” blood work, which in their case, suggests they are in fact positive for that test. Blood tests are based on samples from the normal population. FMS and CFS/ME patients are special, and their blood work needs to be scrutinized for any clues; otherwise they fall through the cracks.
What Most Doctors Do Wrong
The herd-mentality, lazy doctor is all too happy to recommend a mood-elevating antidepressant, stimulating amphetamine like Ritalin, pain pill, or cholesterol-lowering medication for the symptoms of low thyroid, while missing the real problem of hypothyroid itself. I believe the “art” of doctoring is taking the time to do the appropriate detective work to figure out the cause or causes, and not merely treat the symptoms. Patients are more than an insurance code. They are real, live human beings, as unique and different on the inside as they are on the outside.
The first step is getting the appropriate blood work done, a step often neglected by most doctors. Uncovering and then appropriately treating low thyroid conditions requires thinking outside the box and good old detective work.
I’ve developed, over the past 16 years of specializing in low thyroid and fibromyalgia, a proven, step-by-step protocol for reversing low thyroid conditions. If you related to anything in this article, I encourage you to reach out! You CAN feel better with the right help.