An estimated 27 million Americans suffer from thyroid-related illnesses, the majority of them women. Yet thyroid diseases are often ill diagnosed, and there is much about their treatment that bears greater clarification and study.
While addressing a thyroid dysfunction, it’s essential to consider the interconnected web of other imbalances, toxicities, and nutritional deficiencies that are always at play.
Your thyroid gland is like the body’s energy factory. Every cell in the body requires thyroid hormones. When it’s operating effectively, you feel energetic, healthy, and in control. But it takes the right amount of thyroid hormones, in a careful balance, for the body to function properly. Too little thyroid hormone, and the body slows down. Too much thyroid hormone, and everything speeds up.
When talking about thyroid dysfunctions and thyroid diseases, most people only think of hypothyroidism, but in reality there are many more thyroid conditions that can arise.
It’s estimated that between 3 and 10 million people actually suffer from an overactive thyroid, or hyperthyroidism. Hyperthyroidism is a condition that occurs when the thyroid is overactive and produces too much of one or both of the two important thyroid hormones: Triiodothyronine (T3) and Thyroxine (T4). When thyroid hormones are too high, energy metabolism will speed up, causing the body to burn through nutrients too quickly. This can result in malnutrition, leading to a wide range of problems.
A form of hyperthyroidism is toxic multi-nodular goiter, which involves the growth of independently functioning nodules on the thyroid gland itself. These nodules are able to stimulate the thyroid without the use of TSH, thereby overriding the system and causing an overactive thyroid.
Hyperthyroidism can be caused by a number of conditions, including thyroiditis, Graves’ disease, Plummer’s disease, thyroid nodules, benign thyroid tumors, and even some medications. Other causes of hyperthyroidism include: dysregulation of the HPA/HPT axis, liver dysfunction, heavy metal toxicity, nutrient deficiencies and gastrointestinal dysbiosis.
When the thyroid is in a hyper state, it causes the metabolism to speed up that leads to restlessness and nervousness in many individuals. This over stimulation can eventually lead to a crash where the individual experiences extreme fatigue/exhaustion.
Most common symptoms of hyperthyroidism are: anxiety, panic, insomnia, can’t gain weight or sudden and rapid weight loss, no appetite, or extreme appetite, blood sugar roller coaster, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, persistent diarrhea, irritability, hair falling out in handfuls, constant sweating, extreme muscle fatigue, increased sweating, difficulty concentrating, irregular menstrual periods (or none at all), vision changes, including protruding eyes, etc.
Graves’ Disease Autoimmune Hyperthyroidism
Graves’ disease is an autoimmune condition in which the body produces an antibody known as thyrotropin receptor antibody (TRAb) against the thyroid receptors called TSI (Thyroid Stimulating Immunoglobulin). When this auto-antibody binds to the thyroid receptors, the thyroid gland is stimulating to release more T4 hormone than it’s needed. Graves’ disease is the most common cause of hyperthyroidism, and often is genetically related.
Thyroiditis, or inflammation of the thyroid gland, can also lead to the release of excess thyroid hormone. Thyroiditis is often caused by an autoimmune reaction, or a bacterial or viral infection in the thyroid, but it is not always known what causes thyroiditis.
While radioactive iodine treatment and antithyroid medications are the treatments doctors use most often, at Holtorf we use cutting-edge therapies, which include the addition of important nutritional supplements that can regulate thyroid balance, reduce inflammation, and improve immune system functions, all of which can be helpful in hyperthyroidism and Graves’ disease.
In a hypothyroid state, the thyroid gland is releasing inadequate amounts of thyroid hormones T4 and T3 to meet the body’s metabolic demands, and the metabolic rate is therefore reduced.
If you experience non-autoimmune hypothyroidism, there are a lot more dysfunctions happening in your body besides low thyroid activity. A number of health conditions are shown to be caused or associated with low tissue thyroid levels, including diabetes, insulin resistance, depression, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, PMS, autoimmune disease, iron deficiency, chronic stress, and chronic pain.
Symptoms of hypothyroidism include: low basal body temperature, can’t lose weight or sudden weight gain, goiter, extreme fatigue, startled by loud noise, persistent headaches, poor digestion, constipation, low blood sugar episodes, depression, sensitivity to cold, muscle or joint aches, brain fog, brittle hair and nails, shortness of breath (often called “air hunger”), thinning hair, PMS, significantly calloused heels, chronic yeast infections, low libido, infertility, etc.
Hashimoto’s Autoimmune Hypothyroidism
Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is a common form of hypothyroidism and its numbers are rising annually. It’s an autoimmune disease that results in the immune system damaging the thyroid. With this condition, the antibodies are found to thyroglobulin (in 80%) and thyroid peroxidase (TPO) enzyme (in 95% of people).