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- Greater than 12% of Americans will have a thyroid condition during their lifetime.
- Women are much five to eight times more likely to develop thyroid disease than men.
- One in every eight women will develop a thyroid disorder in their lifetime.
- The thyroid gland is a small, butterfly-shaped gland located in the neck.
- Thyroid hormones regulate metabolism and influence every cell, tissue, and organ in the body.
- In hyperthyroidism, the thyroid gland produces too much thyroid hormone.
- In hypothyroidism, the thyroid gland produces too little thyroid hormone.
- It is likely that 60% of people with thyroid dysfunction are unaware of it.
- Conventional medical testing often falls short of a complete thyroid diagnosis.
- The standard TSH thyroid test has a wide range of what is considered to be normal.
- Medical testing for thyroid dysfunction should include a full thyroid panel and several other lab tests as well.
- There is a well-established connection between chronic infection and thyroid problems.
- In autoimmune thyroiditis, such as Hashimoto’s disease, the immune system mistakenly attacks the thyroid while trying to eradicate pathogens within the gland.
- There is a direct correlation between gut health and thyroid health.
- The absorption of essential nutrients is diminished in an unhealthy gut.
- Environmental toxins, molds, EMR/EMFs, and heavy metals endanger the thyroid.
- Stress adversely affects thyroid function.
- Clean, healthy nutrition positively impacts the thyroid.
- For thyroid health, eliminate toxic and inflammatory foods, including gluten and dairy.
- Iodine, tyrosine, selenium, zinc, omega-3 fatty acids, and antioxidant vitamins (like C and E) promote a healthy thyroid.
- Other natural thyroid-healing options are building healthy mitochondria, optimizing drainage and detoxification, using an infrared sauna, and applying essential oils.
According to the American Thyroid Association, more than 12% of Americans will have a thyroid condition during their lifetime.1 Women are much more prone to thyroid dysfunction than men. Five to eight times more likely, in fact. One in every eight women will develop a thyroid disorder in their lifetime.
If you’re one of the many people who suffer from thyroid disease, or even if you only have symptoms of thyroid dysfunction, you know how challenging it can be. If your diagnosis is an autoimmune thyroid disorder, such as Hashimoto’s or Graves’ disease, you may believe that you’re stuck with a life sentence of medication and ever-worsening disease.
Think again. There’s likely more to uncover about your disease. For instance, the root cause of your disorder may be an underlying chronic infection that triggered an autoimmune attack on your thyroid. Fortunately, there are steps you can take that eradicate the root cause and heal your body. While thyroid symptoms may make you feel annoyed (to say the least), you can move past them toward a renewed emotional state: feeling overjoyed.
Natural Thyroid Hacks to Take You from Annoyed to Overjoyed
Facts about the Thyroid Gland and Thyroid Disease
- The thyroid gland is a small, butterfly-shaped gland located in the middle of the lower neck.
- The thyroid gland produces a hormone that influences every cell, tissue, and organ in the body.
- In the condition called hyperthyroidism, the thyroid gland produces too much thyroid hormone.
- Conversely, hypothyroidism is a condition where the gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone.
The Failings of Conventional Thyroid Testing
It is likely that 60% of people with thyroid dysfunction are unaware of it.2 Although it may seem hard to believe, it makes sense considering the pitfalls of conventional medical thyroid testing. Medical doctors typically evaluate thyroid function by testing levels of Thyroid-Stimulating Hormone (TSH). Sometimes they’ll test T4 (Thyroxine) levels as well.
The standard TSH thyroid test has a wide range of what is considered to be normal. And even though the TSH may test within this wide normal range, individuals can have ever-changing TSH levels. This leads to symptoms in many people, even when thyroid tests are considered normal.
Additionally, levels of TSH and T4 don’t give a complete picture of thyroid function. Many other components are involved in thyroid health. A full thyroid panel includes:
- TSH (Thyroid-Stimulating Hormone)
- T4 (Thyroxine)
- T3 (Triiodothyronine)
- Free T4
- Free T3
- Reverse T3
- Thyroid Binding Globulin
- Thyroglobulin (TG) Antibodies
- Thyroid Peroxidase (TPO) Antibodies
Even a full thyroid panel can be deceptive. As mentioned above, even when levels fall within a wide range of “normal” values, a patient can still have thyroid symptoms. Other lab tests helpful in analyzing thyroid function include:
- Vitamin D (25-OH)
- C Reactive Protein
- Iron and Ferritin
- CBC and Liver Enzymes
- Fasting insulin
The Connection Between Chronic Infection and Thyroid Disorders
For people infected with Lyme disease, there’s the possibility of a combination of the direct toxic effect to the thyroid from the infection, plus a secondary autoimmune event that can lead to autoimmune thyroiditis. Borrelia burgdorferi can directly attack the thyroid and cause infectious issues in its tissue. The bacteria is a corkscrew-shaped spirochete that drills down into the tissue of the thyroid and causes problems.
Yet, the bigger problem is a triggering of autoimmune thyroiditis, as in Hashimoto’s disease. The Lyme disease-causing pathogen, Borrelia burgdorferi, can mimic the thyroid tissue and fool the body’s immune system. The immune system will then become hyperfunctioning, working overtime to eliminate the infection. As it does this, it mistakenly attacks thyroid cells that it “sees” as an infection. The resulting condition is called autoimmune thyroiditis.
The immune system is not really attacking the thyroid gland, it’s attacking the bacteria within the thyroid gland with thyroid tissue taking collateral damage. As the thyroid becomes damaged, it makes fewer hormones. Without adequate thyroid hormone, the body enters a hypothyroid state. A doctor may recommend pharmaceutical or bioidentical thyroid hormones, which can provide support. But thyroid meds won’t address the root cause, which is the bacteria in the thyroid causing the immune system to attack it.
Other infectious viruses and bacteria are known to trigger thyroid dysfunction, including:
- Helicobacter pylori, the same bacteria that causes ulcers
- Yersinia enterocolitica
- Herpes viruses
- Epstein-Barr virus
- Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO)
- Blastocystis hominis
Supporting the immune system is a crucial step in preventing these pathogens from triggering thyroid dysfunction or causing a thyroid condition.
Incidentally, this same kind of autoimmune event can also occur in the joint tissue. Bacteria in the joint spaces trigger the immune system to attack the joint tissue, resulting in autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis. If the same happens to nerve tissue, it can lead to nervous system dysfunctions, like multiple sclerosis.
A Healthy Gut Promotes a Healthy Thyroid
There is a direct correlation between the gut microbiome and thyroid function. In addition to the thyroid gland, the liver and the gut are major players in the breakdown of T4 into T3. The storage form of thyroid hormone (T4) can be converted to the active form (T3) by healthy bacteria in the digestive tract. Breakdowns in the conversion of T4 to T3 can occur in an unhealthy gut. The result is decreased levels of active T3, which can lead to hypothyroid symptoms.3
One of the most common sources of inflammation is intestinal hyperpermeability, or “leaky gut.” Gut impairment eventually leads to autoimmune conditions. There is direct communication between the proteins and hormones in the gut and the hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid axis (HPT), exerting an effect on thyroid homeostasis.
Additionally, nutrient absorption is diminished in an unhealthy gut. Many of the nutrients needed for optimal thyroid function may not be available when the gut is compromised. Measures including healing a leaky gut, restoring healthy levels of beneficial bacteria, and eliminating the overgrowth of harmful bacteria, yeasts, and parasites can all help restore a healthy gut microbiome.
Environmental Toxins Endanger the Thyroid
Environmental toxins have a serious impact on thyroid health. Toxic chemicals are everywhere, in our food, air, and water. Many chemical compounds have not had their toxic effects thoroughly evaluated. There is evidence that exposure to environmentally-occurring chemicals including polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), dioxins, perchlorate, furans, and certain pesticides can cause hypothyroidism and affect thyroid homeostasis.4 Flame retardant chemicals (Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers, or PBDEs) have been shown to reduce peripheral thyroid hormone.5 Bisphenol-A (BPA) and phthalates have thyroid-disruptive properties. It is clear that a variety of mechanisms lead to chemical-induced thyroid disruption.
Heavy metals commonly found in our environment, and consequently in our bodies, can lead to thyroid dysfunction. Mercury, which is common in seafood and dental amalgams in our teeth, is especially problematic. It is chemically similar to iodine, which is necessary for making thyroid hormone. As a result, the thyroid tends to absorb and store mercury as it would iodine. So, the thyroid may not have enough iodine due to mercury storage. Furthermore, heavy metals like mercury have been linked to autoimmune thyroid disorders.6
Toxic mold exposure and digital toxicity occur in our homes, schools, and workplaces. Mold and fungi emit poisonous substances called mycotoxins which challenge the immune system. Digital toxicity, in the form of EMFs and EMR from Wifi, Bluetooth, cell phones, etc. can make pathogens, like the Lyme disease bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi and its co-infections, more active and more destructive.
Of further note regarding mold mycotoxins and heavy metals–they tend to hide within parasites. Although parasites are typically thought of as a third world problem, they are everywhere. We can acquire them from food and water. Animal to human transmission is common, especially when our pets live so close to us. Parasites can even be transmitted through organ transplants and blood transfusions!7 All of these pathogens and toxins can affect the health of your thyroid.
Stress Adversely Impacts the Adrenals and the Thyroid
Stress affects thyroid function by retarding thyroid hormone production and ramping up resistance to thyroid hormones. Stress impacting the adrenals impedes the conversion of thyroid hormones from inactive (T4) to the active form (T3). Furthermore, stress interferes with the hypothalamic-pituitary axis (HPA) which monitors and regulates the thyroid gland.
Healthy Foods and Nutrients Help Heal the Thyroid
An optimal diet for thyroid health includes getting plenty of the nutrients needed for proper thyroid function. It’s also essential to eliminate toxic and inflammatory foods. Gluten and dairy foods, for instance, are both damaging to thyroid patients. This is classically from parasites, which could be a big clue that those that suffer from thyroid dysfunction also have parasite infections. 50% of people who are gluten intolerant are also intolerant to the milk protein, casein.8 Gluten and dairy contain chemically similar proteins that wreak havoc on the gut, increase inflammation, and can cause the immune system to attack the thyroid. Eliminating gluten and dairy from the diet can go a long way toward healing the thyroid.
Iodine: The thyroid gland uses iodine to create thyroid hormones thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). Thyroid hormones regulate the metabolism of every cell in the body. The balance of iodine in the body is critical because thyroid dysfunction can develop from both a deficiency and excess of iodine. Be careful with iodine if you have been diagnosed with Hashimoto’s, however. Rich sources of dietary iodine include:
- Sea vegetables such as kelp, dulse, kombu, nori, and wakame
- Egg yolks
- Lima beans
- Seafood, particularly shrimp, tuna, and cod
Tyrosine. L-Tyrosine is an amino acid essential for making thyroid hormones. The thyroid gland combines tyrosine and iodine to produce the hormones. Note: If you are taking prescription thyroid medication, you should take this amino acid supplement under the direction of your healthcare professional. Dietary sources of tyrosine include:
- Soy foods (choose organic to avoid GMOs and glyphosate)
- Grass-fed beef, pork, and lamb
- Fish and seafood (wild-caught)
- Pastured chicken and turkey
- Pumpkin seeds
- Beans and lentils
Selenium is an essential nutrient for the thyroid. It is needed for the conversion of T4 (stored) to T3 (active). It also provides critical support for the enzyme 5-deiodinase which converts T4 to T3, degrades the inactive reverse T3 (rT3), and reduces thyroid antibody formation.9
Furthermore, in the form of selenoproteins, it’s a potent antioxidant. It plays a role in inflammation and the regulation of the immune system.10 There is a close relationship between selenium deficiencies and autoimmune thyroid issues.11
Sources of selenium in food include:
- Brazil nuts (Just two nuts fulfill the RDA for selenium)
- Pasture-raised poultry and eggs
- Seafood, especially oysters and tuna
- Sunflower seeds
- Grass-fed beef
- Pinto beans
Zinc. Most people with hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s have a zinc deficiency. It’s also vital for the conversion of T4 (stored) to T3 (active) and the production of TSH. It plays a role in immune function, tissue healing, and gut health as well. Food sources of zinc include:
- Grass-fed beef, liver, and pork
- Pastured chicken
- Beans and legumes
- Nuts and seeds
Some foods can deplete zinc and are best avoided including alcohol, processed foods, white flour, refined sugar, and soy protein. A chemical called phytic acid is found in soy and other legume proteins and in many grains as well. Phytic acid interferes with the absorption of zinc and other trace minerals.12
My top recommended supplement for minerals including selenium and zinc is BioActive Carbon Minerals. It is good to be cautious with mega dosing a single mineral as it can potentially through the balance of other minerals in the body off.
Vitamins C and E are potent antioxidants. People with thyroid disease are known to have low antioxidant levels. Antioxidant vitamins can help protect the thyroid from oxidative stress and free radical damage.13
Foods sources high in Vitamin C include:
- Yellow bell pepper
Foods sources high in Vitamin E include:
- Sunflower seeds
- Pine nuts
- Leafy greens
- Butternut squash
Omega-3 fatty acids, especially the long-chain variety (EPA and DHA), are critical players in blood sugar stabilization, inflammation reduction, and immune system function. To promote thyroid health, consume foods high in Omega-3s, including:
- Grass-fed meat
- Grass-fed butter
- Wild-caught fish and seafood
- Flax and chia seeds
Natural Remedies for Thyroid Health
Build Healthy Mitochondria
The mitochondria are the energy-producing machinery of cells. When someone is chronically ill, their mitochondria become compromised. If a thyroid disorder is present, especially Hashimoto’s, it is a sign that there is some dysfunction in the mitochondria. Support your mitochondria with supplements such as:
- N-acetyl cysteine
- Lipoic acid
- BioActive Carbon
Healing the mitochondria is often overlooked in chronic illness. Their job is to power and energize the cell, and this is a critical function to support well-being. Building mitochondrial health is just one of many focuses I cover in my At-Home Program for chronic illness. Plus, when you sign up for the program, you’ll receive a FREE Bioactive carbon supplement. Also, if you’d like personalized guidance and support, one of the doctors in my 1-on-1 Coaching Program can help you by designing a path to wellness.
Optimize Drainage and Detoxification
As mentioned above, the liver has a significant function when it comes to processing thyroid hormones. It helps break down T4 into T3. The liver also functions as the detoxification lifeline of the body. It handles the onslaught of toxins we acquire from our environment. The liver/bile duct must be draining properly to prevent toxins from being reabsorbed when the bile is recycled. One of the best ways I’ve found to open this vital drainage pathway is with coffee enemas. They increase bile volume, secretion, and flow. For further information, including information and helpful hacks, check out my Ultimate Coffee Enema Program.
TUDCA (tauroursodeoxycholic acid) is a water-soluble bile acid that can cleanse the liver, counteract the toxicity of regular bile, and aid in cellular protection.14 Supplements and homeopathic remedies are also helpful for opening up the liver/bile duct and other drainage pathways in the body. A guide to these and other natural remedies to optimize drainage can be found here.
Sweat It Out in a Sauna
Sweating is an ideal way to rid the body of stressful toxic overload. People with Hashimoto’s and hypothyroidism often experience a reduction in sweating which can lead to even more toxic buildup in an already overburdened body. In addition to clearing toxins, saunas can be used to promote fat burning and relieve soreness.
Breathe in Essential Oils
Essential oils can help to promote well-being and reduce the harmful effects of inflammation throughout the body. Dab lightly or diffuse some of these oils to calm stress and inflammation:
- Rose Geranium
A Life Sentence of Thyroid Disease: Overturned
Thyroid disease and chronic illness don’t have to define your life. Don’t give up hope, as you can heal from autoimmune conditions with the right protocol and guidance. Clearing out the pathogens, toxins, heavy metals, parasites, and other issues that are triggering your immune system to malfunction can help, as well as fine-tuning your environment to maximize healing potential. The, once your immune system is working optimally, you’ll be on your way to a life free of the restraints of chronic illness.
- ”General Information/Press Room.” thyroid.org, The American Thyroid Association. n.d. Web
- ”General Information/Press Room.” thyroid.org, The American Thyroid Association. n.d. Web
- Hays, MT. “Thyroid Hormone and the Gut.” Endocrine Research, vol. 14, no. 2-3, 1988. Web
- Boas, M et al. Environmental Chemicals and Thyroid Function.” Eur J Endocrinol, vol. 154, no. 5, May 2006. Web
- Calsolaro, Valeria et al. “Thyroid Disrupting Chemicals.” International journal of molecular sciences, vol. 18, no. 12, 1 Dec 2017. Web
- Kisakol, G. “Dental Amalgam Implantation and Thyroid Autoimmunity.” Bratisl Lek Listy, vol. 115, no. 1, 2014. Web
- ”Are You At Risk Of Parasitic Infection? (What Can You Do About It?)” DrJayDavidson.com, Dr. Jay Davison, n.d. Web
- Kristjánsson, G et al. “Mucosal Reactivity to Cow’s Milk Protein in Coeliac Disease” Clinical and experimental immunology, vol. 147, no. 3, Mar 2007. Web
- Gereben, Balázs et al. “Cellular and Molecular Basis of Deiodinase-Regulated Thyroid Hormone Signaling.” Endocrine Reviews, vol. 29, no. 7, 24 Sept 2008. Web
- Duntas, LH. “Selenium and Inflammation: Underlying Anti-Inflammatory Mechanisms.” Horm Metab Res, vol. 41, no. 6, Jun 2009. Web
- Fan, Y, et al. Selenium Supplementation for Autoimmune Thyroiditis: a Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.” Int J Endocrinol, 2014. Web
- Couzy, F et al. “Effect of Dietary Phytic Acid on Zinc Absorption in the Healthy Elderly, as Assessed by Serum Concentration Curve Tests.” Br J Nutr, vol. 80, no. 2, Aug 1988. Web
- Sworczak, K and Wisniewski, P. The Role of Vitamins in the Prevention and Treatment of Thyroid Disorders.” Pol J Endocrinol, vol. 62, no. 4, 2011. Web
- Vang, S et al. “The Unexpected Uses of Urso- and Tauroursodeoxycholic Acid in the Treatment of Non-Liver Diseases.” Global Advances in Health and Medicine, vol. 3, no. 3, May 2014. Web