Natural Thyroid Treatment Methods
Graves' Disease & Hyperthyroidism
Hashimoto's & Hypothyroidism
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The Challenge Of Finding The “Thyroid Triggers”

As many people reading this already know, most so-called “thyroid conditions” are not directly caused by malfunctioning of the thyroid gland.  Most of the time other compromised areas of the body are responsible for the hypothyroid or hyperthyroid condition.  This of course is the case with Graves’ Disease and Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, as it is the immune system which is responsible for the thyroid malfunction.  But other areas of the body can directly or indirectly cause the thyroid gland to malfunction, and in many cases it can be a challenge to detect these “thyroid triggers”.

This is one of the reasons why it is unwise for people to self-treat their condition.  At times it can be difficult enough for a competent natural healthcare professional to detect the cause of the problem.  It is usually even more challenging for someone without much experience to detect and correct the cause or causes of their condition.

What I’d like to do now is to discuss some of the common “thyroid triggers”.

Thyroid Trigger #1: The Immune System. 90% of all thyroid conditions are autoimmune in nature.  So for most people, the immune system is going to be the primary factor which caused the person’s thyroid condition.  With Graves’ Disease, there are TSH receptor antibodies which attack the TSH receptors, thus causing the thyroid gland to produce an excess of thyroid hormone.  Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis is associated with TPO antibodies, and frequently also involves thyroglobulin antibodies.  These both cause destruction of the thyroid gland, which leads to the reduced secretion of thyroid hormone by the thyroid gland.

But while we know the immune system is responsible for the production of thyroid antibodies which characterizes Graves’ Disease and Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, what in turn triggers the autoimmune response?  There are numerous factors which can trigger an autoimmune response.  Some examples include stress, leaky gut, a virus or infection, heavy metals, a mineral imbalance, adrenal problems, candida, mold, etc.  These are just a few of the common factors which can trigger an autoimmune response and thus lead to Graves’ Disease or Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis.

Thyroid Trigger #2: Adrenal Glands. Many people have compromised adrenal glands, and this can have a direct or indirect affect on the thyroid gland.  High cortisol levels can affect the conversion of T4 to T3, and thus can be a cause of hypothyroidism.  But compromised adrenal glands will affect immunity, and so problems with the adrenals can potentially trigger an autoimmune condition. When someone has depressed cortisol levels, lymphocytes circulate in excess and inflammation will be more prominent.   High cortisol levels will also modulate the immune system, which is fine with an acute stress situation, but over a prolonged period of time can cause problems.  So it is possible for stress to trigger an autoimmune response, as if someone has high or low cortisol levels then this can help set the stage for an autoimmune condition.

Thyroid Trigger #3: Digestive System. Due primarily to poor eating habits over a prolonged period of time, many people have problems with their digestive system.  Typically poor digestion isn’t going to directly cause a hypothyroid or hyperthyroid condition, although keep in mind that if someone has problems with digestion and absorption, then this can cause mineral deficiencies, which in turn can affect thyroid function.  Problems with intestinal permeability not only can affect absorption, but this can also trigger an autoimmune response, thus leading to a condition such as Graves’ Disease or Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis.

Thyroid Trigger #4: The Sex Hormones. Many people with thyroid and autoimmune thyroid conditions have imbalances in the sex hormones.  These include estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone, although it can also involve some of the other male and female sex hormones.  Estrogen is known to directly inhibit thyroid function, and so a condition such as estrogen dominance can potentially lead to a hypothyroid condition.  However, some of my patients with hyperthyroidism and Graves’ Disease also have estrogen dominance.  There is also some evidence that high levels of estrogen itself can trigger an autoimmune response, and exposure to xenoestrogens can potentially have this effect as well.  Some healthcare professionals will look at the ratio of 2-hydroxyestrone and 16-hydroxyestrone, as there is some evidence that higher levels of 16-hydroxyestrone may be related to an overactive immune system, although this is controversial.

Thyroid Trigger #5: Mineral Imbalances. I briefly mentioned mineral imbalances earlier when talking about the digestive system.  After all, while it’s important to correct any mineral imbalances, if someone is having problems digesting and absorbing these minerals then this without question needs to be addressed.  So if someone has multiple mineral deficiencies, one needs to be certain that the digestive system is working properly.  This doesn’t mean that taking certain minerals might not be necessary, as if someone has a moderate to severe mineral deficiency then they most likely will need to supplement with specific minerals.  But they will never correct these deficiencies if they aren’t properly digesting and absorbing the food they eat and/or supplements they’re taking.

Some of the minerals which can have a direct effect on thyroid function include selenium, zinc, and iodine.  Selenium is important for the conversion of T4 to T3, while zinc and iodine are important in the formation of thyroid hormone.  Iodine of course is always a controversial mineral to talk about with regards to thyroid and autoimmune thyroid conditions, as a deficiency can lead to a hypothyroid condition, yet there is controversy over whether people with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis should take iodine…even if they are deficient in this mineral.  The same can be said about hyperthyroid conditions, as most endocrinologists advise their patients to avoid iodine, even though Lugols solution was commonly used to treat hyperthyroidism before radioactive iodine treatment was developed.

Thyroid Trigger #6: Liver Problems. When I say “liver problems”, I’m not suggesting a disease state such as hepatitis.  But problems with the detoxifying ability of the liver can affect thyroid health.  For example, the liver is one of the main areas where T4 is converted into T3.  So problems with the liver can potentially contribute to a hypothyroid condition.  There are also some theories that if the liver has problems detoxifying, then the thyroid gland will increase the secretion of thyroid hormone as an adaptive mechanism, which can help with the detoxification process.  Thus according to this theory a liver problem can also potentially lead to a hyperthyroid condition, although I think it’s safe to say that most cases of hyperthyroidism aren’t caused by problems with the liver.  With that being said, the liver is one of the most overworked organs in the body, and since we’re constantly being bombarded by toxins on a daily basis you do want to make sure your liver is functioning properly.  It’s the actual toxins which can trigger an autoimmune response, and if there are problems with the detoxifying ability of the liver then these toxins will have a greater impact on the immune system.  This is one of the reasons why I commonly recommend for my patients to go through a liver detoxification program.

There are of course other factors which can directly or indirectly cause malfunctioning of the thyroid gland, but these are some of the most common ones.  But how can you tell which one of these is causing the thyroid or autoimmune thyroid condition?  Once again, it can be challenging to determine the exact cause, and there are times when numerous factors can be causing or contributing to one’s condition.  So it usually does take some detective work, as the natural healthcare professional needs to order the correct tests and then evaluate them properly, and of course has to consider the person’s symptoms and case history.  All of these factors are important when trying to determine the underlying cause of the problem.


 

15 Comments

  1. Lina says:

    Hi Dr. Eric

    I had my copper iud inserted in September 2012, and ever since then my thyroid level was off. Although my endocrinologist said it has nothing to do with the iud, I had it removed about a month ago. So could I be deficient in zinc? Since copper and zinc balance each other? I have been taking mineral drops, and most of my symptoms have disappeared, but I still have brain fog, my TSH level is 0.01. What else could I be lacking in my diet. My endocrinologist won’t suggest any vitamins.

    • Dr. Eric says:

      Hi Lina,

      You didn’t have the copper IUD for too long, and so even if it did affect the zinc levels it probably didn’t impact the levels too much. But it probably was good that you took the minerals. Here is an article I wrote about copper IUDs:

      http://www.naturalendocrinesolutions.com/archives/can-having-a-copper-iud-affect-ones-thyroid-health/

      As for what else you can be lacking, it really is hard to tell. Plus just looking at the TSH alone doesn’t tell us much. Are the thyroid hormone levels high? Were you tested for thyroid antibodies? While nutritional deficiencies are definitely something to look into, other factors can be playing a role in your symptoms such as an imbalanced immune system, problems with the adrenals, leaky gut, etc.

  2. Murphy says:

    Every time I “detox” my liver, it pulls my natural thyroid medicine “Nature-throid” out of my liver, and I get hypothyroid (it’s like Armour thyroid medicine, but different brand). This hypothyroid condition then lasts for about 6 weeks after I stop detoxifying, until my medicine has time to “build back up” in my liver, and start functioning properly again. I have done this many times, unintentionally. Even drinking hot lemon water first thing in the morning for 2 weeks to “clean my liver” left my Hypo for 6 weeks until my medicine built up again. How can I prevent that from happening? Would increasing my Nature-throid medicine while detoxing my liver help?

    • Dr. Eric says:

      Hello,

      I have had numerous patients take either synthetic or natural thyroid hormone who went through a liver detoxification without a problem, although everyone is of course different. I can’t tell you to increase your medication, although if you are having this problem then it seems like this might be a good option. There’s nothing else I can think of which will offset the effects the liver detoxification is having on the Nature-Throid.

  3. Bobbi Haskins says:

    I have been diagnosed with hyperthyroid Graves Disease, plus Graves eye disease (ophthalmology) is there any information that can help my eyes beside surgery?

    • Dr. Eric says:

      Hello Bobbi,

      It really depends on how severe the eye problem is. This is due to the antibodies attacking the tissues of the eyes, and while surgery might be necessary, this won’t do anything to help with the autoimmune response. And so I would recommend working with a local natural healthcare professional who will address the autoimmune component of your condition, which in turn should help with the thyroid eye disease.

  4. Stephanie Kaylor says:

    My tsh is low so I am on 5mg of methimazole 1 x a day for the last 2 months. I was on this medication before for 2 years and was briefly off of it for 6 months since my levels were normal. 2 months ago I started feeling tired and like my throat was tight and just difficult to get a full breath. Since being on the medicine for 2 months my symptom have not subsided. Is this normal for Graves’ disease? What recommendations do you have to help relieve these symptoms?

    • Dr. Eric says:

      Hi Stephanie,

      Although I can’t tell you to increase the dosage of Methimazole, I will say that 5mg is a low dosage, and it might not be enough to help manage your hyperthyroid symptoms. Another option is to consider adding some Bugleweed or L-carnitine. Of course neither the medication or the herbs/supplements will address the actual cause of the condition, and so I would recommend finding a local natural healthcare professional to work with who will try to find the underlying cause of your condition.

  5. suma says:

    Hi,

    my tsh levels are showing high, even though the T3 and T4 are in the normal range. I have not experienced any symptoms related to hypothyrodism in terms of having periods,weakness,weight gain etc.

    what tests needs to be done..to determine actual cause of high TSH..??
    do i need to take thyroxine ?

    • Dr. Eric says:

      Hi Suma,

      The first thing I would do is to have the thyroid antibodies tested, specifically the thyroid peroxidase antibodies and the thyroglobulin antibodies. I can’t tell you whether or not you should take thyroxine, as this ultimately is your decision, but if the T3 and T4 are well within the reference range they you might not need it at this point, especially since you aren’t experiencing any symptoms. On the other hand, if the thyroid hormone levels are on the low end of the reference range then this would be more of a concern, especially if the thyroid antibodies are elevated.

  6. Natalie says:

    I have hyperthyroiditis with Graves for two years, lately was maintaining it with 2,5 mg of methimazole, but also have several (6) nodules, one of which is 12 mm, biopsy showed it is benign. Should I think of the operation due to nodules or just continue managing symptoms and look into natural remedies? Can nodules be reduced by natural approach?

  7. suma says:

    Hi Eric,

    I got the Anti TPO tested with FT4 also, the FT4 is within the range but the Anti TPO anti bodies are over the range in hundreds,
    I am on thyroxine as am 2 months pregnant and doctor advised that it needs to be taken now..

    Can you please let know what can be done to bring down the Anti TPO to normal range.. does taking thyroxine correct it..?

    • Dr. Eric says:

      Hi Suma,

      Taking thyroxine isn’t going to do anything for the autoimmune response. The goal should be to find the autoimmune trigger, which can be challenging, and is why I almost always recommend to work with a competent natural healthcare professional. For now I would definitely make sure you are eating a clean diet, work on your stress handling skills, etc. Avoiding common allergens such as gluten, dairy, and corn might also help. If toxins happen to be a primary trigger then you might need to wait until after you give birth to get this addressed (and perhaps even later than this if you breastfeed your baby), but other areas such as the adrenals and gut can be addressed during pregnancy, and for many people this can lead to some great changes in their health.

  8. ruth says:

    Hi Dr Eric, I recently tested my TSh (3.2), free T4 (16.0 pmol/L) but High Anitbodies TPO (44kU/L) and High Thyrogloulin Ab (62 IU/mL). Thyroglobulin (<1.0 ug/L)and TSH receptor antibodies (<0.3 IU/L)

    Do you know how to reduce the antibodies level naturally?

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Get Your Free Guide Entitled
“The 6 Steps On How To Reverse Graves' Disease & Hashimoto's Through Natural Methods”
You will also receive email
updates on any future webinars
on natural thyroid health.
 

"We respect your privacy"
 
Free Webinars on
Natural Thyroid Health


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Natural Treatment Methods:
Graves Disease Treatment
Hypothyroidism Treatment
Hyperthyroidism Treatment
Natural Thyroid treatment


Conventional Treatment
Methods:
Radioactive Iodine
Thyroid Hormone