Thyroid Dysfunction and What You Need to Know About It
Hi. It’s Dr. Connie Jeon.
A couple of you have reached out to me about issues with thyroid dysfunction recently.
The thyroid is a small, butterfly shaped gland located at the base of your neck. It’s part of a complex network of hormonal glands, collectively called the endocrine system.
Our endocrine system is responsible for coordinating many of our body’s activities, including our metabolism.
Common disorders occur when the thyroid produces too much thyroid, which is hyperthyroidism, or not enough, which is hypothyroidism.
I wrote a previous blog on hyper and hypothyroidism. Click here to read more.
There are four common forms of thyroid dysfunctions.
This is the most common cause of hypothyroidism in the United States, affecting approximately 14 million Americans.
It can occur at any age, but most often affects middle aged women.
Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune condition where the body’s immune system malfunctions to attack the thyroid gland and its ability to produce hormones.
Some individuals can have this condition for years with no obvious symptoms.
But in other individuals, it can cause a host of symptoms. These symptoms can include fatigue, depression, constipation, mild weight gain, dry skin, intolerance to cold, etc.
Dr. Robert James Graves first described this disease more than 150 years ago.
It’s the most common cause of hyperthyroidism in the United States, affecting about 1 in 200 people.
Graves is also an autoimmune condition that affects the thyroid gland.
This is a non cancerous enlargement of the thyroid gland.
The most common cause of goiter is iodine deficiency. Goiter affects approximately 200 million people.
Such nodules are growths that form on or in the thyroid gland. The cause of nodules is unknown, but iodine deficiency and Hashimoto’s are suspects.
Most nodules are benign, but they can also be cancerous in small cases.
Nodules don’t usually cause any symptoms. However, if they grow large enough, they can cause swelling on the neck and lead to breathing and swallowing difficulties, pain, and goiter.
The Adrenal Glands
Adrenal glands produce adrenaline and manage our fight or flight response.
Also, they produce hormones that impact your metabolism, much like your thyroid.
The hormones produced by the adrenals help the body regulate blood pressure, electrolyte balance, blood sugar, immune response, digestion, and much more.
How Stress Affects the Adrenals and Thyroid
Stress is often hard to measure.
When we are stressed, our hypothalamus sends signals to our pituitary gland, which in turn triggers a signal to our adrenal glands to produce and release a series of stress hormones, including cortisol.
The problem with this is when stress hormones are released, the body’s priorities shift in such a way to deal with the stress.
As a result, various body functions, such as digestion, immune response, and thyroid hormone production are put on hold until the stress is stabilized.
In our connected world, stress is with us all the time, from work, relationships, and TV shows to news updates and social media feeds.
In most of us, the stress manifests as stress eating or adrenal fatigue.
Thyroid Hormone Disruption
When stress is experienced, the surge in cortisol results in a negative feedback from the hypothalamus and pituitary gland to slow function, and in the process, slow the thyroid gland as well.
This results in decreased thyroid hormone production.
T4 – T3 Conversion
Stress hormones negatively affect the enzymes that convert thyroid hormones T4 to T3.
This is important because free T3 (FT3) is the active form of the hormone and reverse T3 (RT3) is the inactive form.
When stress is high, we convert more T3 into RT3 rather than FT3. This results in slowing all metabolic systems, causing hypothyroidism.
Additionally, prolonged cortisol increase causes excess estrogen to pool in the body.
This excess estrogen increases the levels of thyroid binding globulin (TBG) which is the protein that helps thyroid hormones circulate in our blood.
When thyroid hormones are bound to TBG they remain inactive, which in turn creates elevation of T4 because it can’t be converted to free T3.
Immune System Suppression
When stressed, our immune system is suppressed to focus its effort on overcoming the stress, as well as to decrease the inflammation.
It’s this cascade of events that suppresses the immune system that can potentially trigger dormant infections, some of which can trigger autoimmune diseases.
Gut Permeability (Leaky Gut)
As mentioned, the cortisol surge suppresses our immune system and also weakens our body’s main barriers to toxins, the blood-brain barrier and the gut barrier.
Weakened gut barrier can cause gut permeability (leaky gut), which also can perpetuate or trigger an autoimmune condition.
This leakiness can release various food particles, like gluten and dairy, as well as bacteria and toxins into our blood. This also can cause an attack on your thyroid.
So What Can You Do?
It’s obvious how our body is intricately connected and how our adrenal glands play a huge role in thyroid health.
Typical treatment for thyroid dysfunction is thyroid medication without consideration of the adrenals.
Because the conventional medical system relies on a blood test for thyroid and adrenal levels, it’s easy to miss this imbalance.
Because our hormones fluctuate throughout the day and are highly individual.
If testing your adrenals, it’s highly recommended that you test via the saliva test along with a symptoms checklist to get the most accurate measurement.
If you’re interested in testing at Alkaline, we can send you the saliva kit and have the results within a few days. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to request.
How to Relieve Stress and Support the Adrenal Glands
Managing stress is the best way to relieve stress. We have tried and true tools and techniques to help you keep your stress under control.
Our Nutrition Therapist – Yoga Therapist – Heart Math Practitioner can help you to get a handle on your stress by helping you with your breath, mind, and heart rate.
She can help you create a calm and zen state, utilizing our biofeedback device to measure your heart rate variability, which can show you that you are making an impact on your health.
We know the benefits of infrared sauna, including stress relief and detox.
But add yoga movements to it, and it truly is an amazing experience to help you get stronger, stable, calm, and more flexible.
Just 5-10 minutes of quiet meditation time will do wonders for your stress level and overall sense of calm.
Keeping a journal of all things that bother you and noting what you’re grateful for is the secret to having the most fulfilling, happy life.
Some herbs and adaptogens can help the body become more resilient to stress.
I’ve used them in my healing regimen and have helped thousands of patients do the same. Please email email@example.com for recommendations.
A good quality multivitamin and probiotic will help to keep your body in good health, and in turn, improve your adrenal health.
Good quality Omega 3 fatty acids, magnesium, and methylated B vitamins are essential to help your body recover or prevent adrenal fatigue.
The Alkaline Method® for Thyroid Health
I do hope this was beneficial. Too often, patients come to me with thyroid medications and continue to struggle long term with effects that further get the body off balance.
Supporting your body takes knowledge, understanding, and guidance.
It boils down to:
- Food as Medicine
- Movement as Medicine
- Mindfulness as Medicine
Collectively, the Alkaline Method®.
Any above symptoms or dysfunctions would benefit from our Alkaline Detox Protocol. Please click here for more information.
We’ve got Hot Yoga, Pilates, Barre, Aerial Yoga, Physical Therapy, Nutrition Therapy, and Functional Medicine to help you to look and feel your best.
Thanks so much! See you next week.
About the Author
Dr. Connie has suffered from Lupus for the last 16 years. As a result, she discovered that a holistic minded approach to health was most beneficial for herself in battling Lupus and for her patients, who battle everything from Autoimmune Disease to Weight Loss. Dr. Connie holds a Doctorate in Physical Therapy and a Masters in Public Health (Nutrition) from the renowned Loma Linda University School of Allied Health Professions. She is also a Registered and Licensed Dietitian in the State of Georgia. Additionally, Dr. Connie is a Functional Medicine Practitioner (Certification Pending 2017), a Registered RYT-200 Yoga Teacher & School (Yoga Alliance) and Certified Pilates Teacher (Pilates Method Alliance).