Do you medicate appropriately and have normal test results but still struggle with hypothyroid symptoms? You’re not alone. Over 20 million Americans struggle with an unresovled thyroid… but you don’t have to. There is another option. Functional medicine begins where traditional medicine ends. Watch the videos below to find out more.
- Fatigue/Low Energy
- Unexplained Weight Gain
- Thinning Brittle Hair
- Difficulty Losing Weight
- Always Feeling Cold
- Night Sweats
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Still Have Symptoms Despite Normal Blood Work?
How PEMF Therapy Reverses Chronic Conditions
Dr. Robert Gilliland explains how the NRG Pro PEMF machine works.
Up to 60 percent of those with thyroid disease are not aware of their condition. Women are five to eight times more likely than men to develop thyroid problems. 80% of hypothyroid conditions in the US are thought to be auto-immune conditions.
The Importance of the Thyroid:
The thyroid is a central player in the complex web of human metabolism and is very sensitive to even minor imbalances in other areas of physiology. The thyroid gland is the most common site for the development of an autoimmune disease. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, is an autoimmune condition of the thyroid that is considered the most prevalent auto-immune condition.
Hashimoto’s is said to account for up to 80% of all cases of hypothyroidism in the US. Often times, this condition is misdiagnosed and improperly treated. This results in a continual worsening of the thyroid gland as it gets destroyed by the immune system. Overtime, these individuals decline in their basal metabolic rate and lose energy, mental function, mood and gastrointestinal motility.
When the hypothalmus decides we need more thyroid hormone in circulation (cold weather or increased activity level for example) it sends a chemical messenger called thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH) which goes to the pituitary gland. The pituitary than sends thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) over to the thyroid. TSH activates the production of a protein called thyroglobulin.
TSH also activates an enzyme called thyroid peroxidase (TPO). This enzyme combines thyroglobulin, iodine and hydrogen peroxide to create both T3 and T4. About 93% of the hormone made in the thyroid gland is T4 with 7% being T3.
T4 circulates through to the liver where 60% of it is converted into T3 through the glucoronination and sulfation pathways. If the liver is sluggish it will cause a problem in T4-T3 conversion. Another 20% is converted into reverse T3 which is permanentely inactive. The final 20% is converted into T3 sulfate and T3 acetic acid which can then be further metabolized by healthy gut bacteria to produce more active T3.
Problems with T4-T3 Conversion:
1. Liver Problems: If the liver is sluggish than it will not be able to convert the normal 60% of T4-T3 by the 5’deiodinase enzymes. This will result in lower T3 levels. A sluggish liver could be due to a liver disease, an infection like Hep C, a toxic body, nutrient deficiencies, methylation and glutathione problems, etc.
One common problem is estrogen dominance where the individual has taken into too many exogenous estrogen compounds from the environment through food, plastics, cosmetics, etc. This can cause the liver to become sluggish and unable to perform its role effectively.
Low selenium and zinc can also drive up rT3 levels. Other causes of high rT3 may include iron-deficiency anemia and low B12.
3. Gut Dysbiosis: 20% of the active T3 is formed in the gut. If the individual struggles with small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) or Candida and they have an overpopulation of bad microbes it can result in lowered T3 formation.
On a lab test this sort of a problem can show up with TSH being normal or high, T4 is normal but T3 is low and T3 uptake is low. If you are testing for rT3, that can often be elevated in cases of low T3 uptake.
Free & Bound Thyroid Hormone:
It is only the free form hormone that is biologically available or active. When the hormone is bound to a protein it is restrained from interacting with a cell’s receptor site. Most of the hormone is bound to proteins (TBG, albumin and pre-albumin). Albumin has the lowest affinity and the fastest release at tissue sites. TBG has the highest affinity and the slowest release.
It is important to differentiate and look at both Total T3 & T4 as well as free T4 & T3 to understand how well these hormones are interacting.
Auto-Immunity and Low Thyroid:
It is absolutely critical for any physician who is treating someone with a thyroid disorder to test for thyroid antibodies. Unfortunately, few mainstream medical doctors test for thyroid anti-bodies and so most do not ever get the proper diagnosis.
In the medical system, an auto-immune condition, a sluggish thyroid, a burned out pituitary gland and a T4-T3 conversion problem are all treated the same way, with synthetic T4 such as synthroid or a T3 medication like levothyroxin. Because the treatment is the same, most doctors do not concern themselves with testing for thyroid anti-bodies.
From a natural health perspective it is especially important to understand if it is a sluggish thyroid, a sluggish liver or pituitary gland, elevated sex hormones or if it is an auto-immune condition.
Functional Lab Testing:
Total T4: Reflects the total amount of T4 present in the blood, i.e., the protein bound (unavailable) T4 and the Free T4. Estrogen dominance can create an effect where you have high total T4 even though you may have low free T4. This could be inaccurately diagnosed as hyperthyroidism.
Total T3: Reflects the total amount of T3 present in the blood, i.e., the protein bound (unavailable) T3 as well as the Free T3. Again, estrogen dominance creates the same effect as mentioned in relationship to T4 above.
RT3: Reflects the level of Reverse T3. As discussed above, this is inactive and raises during times of stress, fasting and trauma. This shouldn’t be over 30.
Free Thyroxine Index: This test looks at total T4 and T3 uptake to measure the activity of free or unbound T4. If TT4 is low than T3 uptake should be high and if TT4 is high than T3 uptake should be low. Functional range is between 1.2-4.9 mg/dl.
Antibodies: Autoimmune thyroid disease falls into two main categories: Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis and Grave’s Disease. Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis is typically identified by checking antibodies that attach the thyroid tissue. We find Antithyroglobulin Antibody (TG Antibodies) in 70% of the cases and Thyroid Peroxidase (TPO) antibodies are found in 95% of the cases.
Grave’s Disease is typically diagnosed using Thyroid-Stimulating Immunoglobulin (TSI) and TSH-Binding Inhibiting Immunoglobulin (TBII). These are different names for the same test.
1. Poor Blood Sugar Stability: Blood sugar imbalances cause immune dysfunction and malcoordination. Stable blood sugar is critical for a healthy immune response.
3. Gut Dysbiosis: Poor microbial balance in the gut microbiome leads to leaky gut syndrome and chronic inflammation. The gut must be addressed in order to get well.
4. Mitochondrial Dysfunction: The mitochondria are the energy producing organelles in each cell of the body. They are extremely key in the bodies ability to handle oxidative stress. Dysfunction in the mitochondria leads to increased free radical and oxidative stress which creates immune alterations. This is a classic sign in Hashimoto’s autoimmune pathophysiology.
6. Poor Omega 6:3 ratio: The average person has significantly more omega 6 fats than omega 3 fats. The increased omega 6 stimulate the release of pro-inflammatory mediating prostaglandin molecules. This is a key factor in the development of chronic inflammation and auto-immunity.
8. Environmental Toxins: Exposure to high levels of infectious microbes, environmental chemicals such as plasticizers, pesticides, herbicides, personal care products, heavy metals and biotoxins such as mold wear down the bodies glutathione levels, alter the gut microflora and increase inflammatory activity in the body.
9. High Stress and Poor Breathing Habits: High mental and emotional stress increases stress hormone production which induces inflammatory activity within the body. Short and shallow breathing habits can simulate chronic mental and emotional stressors on the physiological level.
10. Lack of Sleep: Poor sleep promotes immune dysfunction and increased inflammation. Good sleeping habits and optimal melatonin secretion reduce inflammation and promote improved tissue healing.
11. Methylation: Methylation is a key process that protects DNA, turns on and off genetic traits and helps to detoxify environmental chemicals. Many individuals have certain genetic polymorphisms that limit their ability to appropriately methylate.Methylation plays a very important role in T cell function and poor methylation status is associated with the development of auto-immunity.
12. High Frequency EMF Exposure: High frequency electromagnetic frequency exposure has been shown to alter the function of the immune system and increase one’s susceptibility to developing an auto-immune condition. High intensity EMF exposure is not to be confused with PEMF (pulsed electromagnetic field) therapy, which uses low frequencies (1-10 Hz), which is very beneficial for overall health and wellness.
Environmental Toxins and Thyroid:
1) Industrial Pollutants: This includes the various pollutants we find in our air, food and water that negatively effect the immune system and thyroid function. These come from our vehicle emissions, industrial chemical waste and chlorine in our water supply. Pesticides, herbicides and artificial chemicals in our food supply.
2) Ionizing Radiation: We are exposed to these through medical devices such as CT scans and mammograms, microwaves and cell phones. We also are exposed to ionizing radiation when we fly in an airplane. There is also thought to be nuclear radiation from power-plant explosions that is around us in varying amounts depending upon our geography. All ionizing radiation has a negative effect on thyroid function.
3) Heavy Metals: This includes mercury, lead and aluminum. We find these in vaccines, fish and water supply, old paints, amalgam fillings, aluminum cans, etc.
4) Perfluorooctanoate (PFOA) These are dangerous chemicals found in non-stick style pans. Be sure to avoid all non-stick pans and especially those that are not labeled as PFOA free.
5) Fluoride: Fluoride is a halogen that competes with iodine uptake in the thyroid gland. Iodine is needed for the production of thyroid hormones. Fluoride is found in tap water, toothpaste, & many processed foods.
6) Bromide: Like fluoride, bromide is a halogen that competes for iodine uptake in the thyroid gland. Bromide is found in soft drinks and baked goods.
7) Inflammatory Foods: This includes industrial vegetable oils, high omega-6 fatty acids, GMO’s, added sugar and artificial sweeteners, preservatives, gluten and soy containing foods.
Key Nutrients Needed:
I have my clients get their iodine from a tsp of high quality sea vegetable each day in the form of kelp, dulse, nori and dulse. Kelp is the richest source of iodine, so if the client is very iodine deficient, kelp usage gets the levels up the quickest.
Selenium: Selenium is one the MOST IMPORTANT when it comes to healthy thyroid function! It is incorporated into key enzymes involved in several metabolic pathways implicated in thyroid hormone metabolism; additionally, it plays an antioxidant role in the regulation of the immune system. There are strong links between selenium deficiencies and auto-immune thyroid problems.
It has been hypothesized that these compounds activate a complex defense system that maintains normal thyroid function by protecting the gland from both hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), produced by thyrocytes and oxidative stress.
Zinc: Low zinc status has been shown to compromise T3 production. Zinc plays an important role in immune modulation which may reduce thyroid anti-bodies. Additionally, it is a key player in 5’deiodinase activity.
Riboflavin – B2: Hypothyroidism induces the symptoms of riboflavin deficiency. This is because thyroid hormone is needed for production of the enzyme flavin kinase, which is in turn needed to generate flavin adenine dinucleotide (FAD). Riboflavin deficiency and thyroid hormone deficiency lead to the same low FAD levels in both rats and humans.
Vitamin B6: Pyrodixal 5’phosphate is a co-enzyme participating in more than 100 enzymatic reactions in the human body. The activity of the hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid axis in the setting of vitamin B6 deficiency has been studied in rats.
Well-conducted experiments have shown that vitamin B6 deficiency leads to hypothyroidism. B6 supplementation also helps quite an overactive immune system which is helpful in cases of auto-immune thyroid disorders.
Vitamin C & E: These are both key anti-oxidants that protect the thyroid gland from oxidative stress and improve immune regulation.
Blood Sugar Balance:
The AGEs destroy cell membrane function and damage insulin receptor activity creating a vicious cycle of elevated blood sugar and inflammatory stress. AGEs cause massive destruction throughout the body and have an affinity for thyroid tissue. Elevated HgA1C (a measure of glycation) is correlated with increased TSH and decreased free T3 & T4.
In addition, elevated cortisol will cause thyroid hormone receptor insensitivity meaning that even if T3 levels are high enough, they may not be able to bind normally to receptor sites. And when this happens it doesn’t get into the cells. Cortisol will also increase the production of reverse T3 (rT3), which is inactive.
The MicroBiome and Thyroid Disease:
Certain bacteria of the gram negative classification are known to release a potent inflammatory mediator called lipopolysaccharide (LPS).
Individuals with thyroid problems and Hashimoto’s are known to have dysfunctional characteristics involved in their microbiome. Elevated levels of LPS have been shown to affect pituitary TSH stimulation, T4 production and TBG production.
Gluten and Thyroid Disorders:
Gluten intolerance is highly associated with inflammatory disorders of all kinds. It is also a contributing factor in many autoimmune diseases such as celiac disease, rheumatoid arthritis, type I diabetes, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, autoimmune cardiomyopathy, lymphoma and dermatitis herpetiformis (skin disease) among others.
This nutrition plan is rich in phytonutrient dense vegetables, healthy fat and clean protein sources. Non-starchy vegetables, herbs, & teas are great sources of anti-oxidants. Healthy fat sources include coconut products, grass-fed ghee, avocados, olive oil, nuts, seeds, & purified omega-3 fish oil supplements.
Our 90-Day Thyroid Recovery Program:
Our goal, using Functional medicine, is to find the underlying cause(s) of your problem and then develop a remedy to correct those underlying issues. Functional medicine doesn’t just mask the symptoms – it addresses the root cause of the problem.
Functional medicine is, in my opinion, the best form of medicine to deal with an unresolved thyroid because it uses the best of both worlds; the testing from the medicine side and the ‘treatment’ from the alternative side.
PEMF therapy is a HUGE part of our thyroid recovery program so please take a few minutes to watch the video on PEMF therapy.
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