Cardiovascular abnormalities are associated with both hyper AND hypo thyroid states, and especially where there is already a risk of coronary complications, altered blood pressure or palpitations from other causes of poor health. Strenuous exercise and caffeine intake are also contributing factors in these patients, and permanent changes to cardio health are unlikely once the Thyroid hormones are treated.[i]
So despite what you may have heard it’s not just hyperthyroid patients who run this risk. Even a borderline or subclinical Thyroid imbalance may be associated with a higher incidence of heart disease.[ii] [iii] Since the WHO list cardiovascular disease as responsible for 30% of deaths this is something patients need to address under the guidance of their practitioners. [iv] But the below is a good starting point and some considerations to discuss with them.
For treatment of heart and blood pressure, blood glucose problems or cholesterol one of the primary foods is garlic. It also regulates the immune system (highly beneficial for any autoimmune thyroid patients), clotting and healthy blood, enhances detoxification and helps fight off infections. There is no one super food cure-all for any condition or symptoms, but it has been used since 2600 BC. Like most foods, it is strongest when raw, and we recommend leaving it at room temperature, then crushing your cloves with the flat of a knife several minutes before adding to foods. It is heat sensitive like many foods, so adding at the end of a meal will maintain the most therapeutic value. [v] Cautions for using garlic include FODMAPS sensitivity, inflamed reflux or GORD, and some blood thinning medications such as Warfarin.
The herb Hawthorn may be administered as a concentrate by your health practitioner but like garlic will also have therapeutic value in a dietary dose. It is beneficial for all cardiovascular conditions from maintaining healthy blood pressure to ischemic heart disease. Hawthorn is very safe, there is an extremely low rate and frequency of interference or negative reactions to adjuvant therapies. [vi]
It is also recommended to use Hawthorn as a preventative measure, but there are a range of “Crataegus” plants and species so check the packet of anything you buy for the botanical names such as Crataegus oxyacanthafor the leaves or Crataegus monogyna for the berries. [vii] Recipes online or at the local library abound, but be careful to pick them yourself where you know they have not been chemically sprayed, and look out for those thorns! They do not taste sweet like other berries, more like a bland apple. May be drunk several times daily as a tea, or used in preserves or jellies( even added to second stage fermentation of probiotic drinks like Kombucha!) Other herbs to consider in a tea with your Hawthorn may include, Buchu, Hibiscus, green or black tea (practice caution with caffeine intake please), cats claw, coleus, ginger or lavender. It is not recommended for hyper or hypo thyroid patients to have soy, though technically Soybean may be of assistance to lower higher blood pressure. [ix]
For Thyroid patients who not only wish to support cardiovascular health but also reduce inflammation and of regulate their autoimmunity it’s important to include healthy fats in the diet. “Among the fatty acids, it is the omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) which possess the most potent immunomodulatory activities, and among the omega-3 PUFA, those from fish oil-eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)–are more biologically potent than alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)… Many of the placebo-controlled trials of fish oil in chronic inflammatory diseases reveal significant benefit, including decreased disease activity and a lowered use of anti-inflammatory drugs.”[x]
Increasing dietary sea foods from clean Australian sources not only will increase these essential fats, but also provide iodine and proteins for Thyroid function. It is essential fr anybody taking fish oil to get their heavy metals tested (we recommend an Oligoscan) any heavy metal exposure avoid all over the counter fish oils in favour of a premium grade heavy metal free option. Or read here Anna’s recipes for increasing dietary seafood with yummy fresh sardines.
LIFESTYLE, ELECTROLYTES & HYDRATION
Some of the primary contributing factors for poor blood pressure and cardiovascular health may be addressed by focusing on non-pharmacological measures in over 100 randomized trials: management of stress, reducing excess weight, increasing fruits and vegetables in the diet, engaging in regular exercise (note it doesn’t even have to be extremely intense) and well as lowering alcohol consumption[xi]. Other lifestyle elements to consider include reducing smoking or smoke exposure, your family history or the treatment of other medical conditions[xii].
In conjunction with healthy lifestyle the adequate intake of salt and water, and the quality of what is consumed may be large contributing factors for any conditions linked to muscular or fluid related bodily tissues. There is a vast difference at the chemical level when we compare natural alkaline water to ‘tap’ water, and the good salt bad salt argument very much comes down to not the H2O or Na/Cl, so much as everything else being added. All patients are recommended to avoid tap water in favour of filtered or spring water, ask your practitioner for more info on water intake.
Refined sodium, white table salt, MSG are all a ‘salt’ but it is recommended to avoid these due to their links to poor health. There are often heated, chemically treated or whitened, with additives such as aluminium or other anticaking agents added none of which hold therapeutic values for our hearts or hormones and can increase our blood pressure [xiii]. Natural salt such as Celtic sea salt, or pink Himalayan salt have a range of minerals and trace elements[xiv]. We need these electrolytes like sodium and potassium and magnesium and calcium for correct pH and all cells, but particularly the nervous system and our muscles[xv]. Fluid cannot move around our bodies without salt, the process of osmosis is the movement of the salt, and then water will follow[xvi]. When is hospital we are given saline, when sweating or suffering gastro we are given electrolyte drinks to rehydrate.
The fact is we cannot get iodine into the follicles of Thyroid cells without sodium, a protein in the cell membranes called a sodium-iodide symporter (NIS) is required to get enough nutrition to build and regulate Thyroid hormones. Our cells require 2x sodium to get 1x iodine molecule across our membranes. Similar NIS sites in the body include the gut mucosa and breasts so all will be affected if salt intake is inadequate[xvii]. The other chemical often found in refined and processed salts, and also sometimes in tap water may block this process so while salt intake is important having primarily the refined
salts in our diet will not have a beneficial effect[xviii]. Iodine deficiency is the number one cause of goiter and nodules of the Thyroid. In studies looking at ultrasounds of Thyroid nodules and goiter there was a significant relationship involving hyper tension, poor blood cholesterol poor blood glucose and poor Thyroid health. It showed the medical management of high blood pressure was affected significantly by the prevalence of Thyroid nodules[xix].
If you wish to read more information about why salt is very important for maintaining optimal health, we cannot recommend this resource enough: Salt Your Way to Health: Book by Dr David Brownstein “For years, we have heard the following: A low-salt diet is healthy. There is no difference between table salt and sea salt. Low-salt products are better for you. These are the myths of salt. Dr. Brownstein will present the research on salt that will change the way you look at this vital substance”[xxii]
DON’T JUST RELY ON THE TSH, MORE TESTING IS NEEDED
“Although treated thyroid disease does not appear to be associated with an increased risk of mortality, both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism may, under some circumstances, place a patient at increased risk for the development of heart problems”. TSH is not only a poor stand-alone marker for Thyroid metabolism, it also shows very small associations to the cardiovascular and blood pressure issues experienced by many people and is insufficient for proper health assessment. Testing should look at the whole person, and more extensive pathology, not just basic thyroid test results. Raised cholesterol and/or triglycerides are common in the hypothyroid state, but there are also links to raised homocysteine in Hypothyroidism and the acute inflammatory marker CRP may be elevated in both subclinical and overtly hypo patients. [xxiii]
Having a slow thyroid metabolism will reduce the liver enzymes which help in methylation and management of healthy homocysteine, but as folate and folate metabolism are not only associated with poor thyroid function but also managing hyperhomocysteinemia these nutritional tests are just as essential and the inflammatory risk markers. [xxiv]
Vitamin D3 is not just for healthy hormones, it’s essential for optimal heart health, kidney regulation of blood pressure and glycemic control (blood glucose) as well as bone mineral mass. It is more of a hormonal precursor in its own right than a fat soluble vitamin and is best tested in the blood. This testing should be done for every Thyroid patient as both Vitamin D3 supplementation and UVB (sunlight exposure) have both been shown to have positive health effects but lower dose supplements where not always associated with improved clinical results. [xxv]
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Head Naturopath Kimberly Orbons is passionate about encouraging and empowering each person to facilitate their own good health with Nutrition, Herbal Medicine and preventative lifestyle management. Using a combination of diagnostics and symptomatology to identify the different metabolic processes contributing to disease allows her to treat the root or cause of poor health, providing relief of symptoms and long term recovery. Kimberly believes it is extremely important to build a personalized healing plan, taking all the complexities of a patient’s health and illness into consideration. Her consults have a strong focus on client care and treating each patient as an individual, and may therefore be co-ordinated with other medical treatments. The goal is to establish each patient’s ability to live in the best possible state of health, naturally.
Modern environments have made it increasingly difficult for most people to lead a healthy, balanced lifestyle. The combination of traditional treatment and evidence based medicine provide an excellence of treatment for the body and mind.Complementary medicine is the practice of natural healing,stimulating the body’s own ability to regenerate using powerful natural medicines.
Kimberly started using herbal teas and aromatherapy in her teens, and after achieving her qualifications has had five years’ experience in clinical and pharmacy based health management. As well as a Naturopath and Iridologist, Kimberly is a Bush Flower Essences practitioner. These beautiful essences may be used as a highly safe and effective treatment for mental and emotional support of adults and children. Other areas of specialty include immune disorders, weight management, stress management and pain management. She is a registered practising member of the Complementary Medicine Association (CMA).
References & Recommended Reading:
[i] The Heart and the Thyroid Gland J. Malcolm O. Arnold, Cardiologist, Victoria Hospital, London, Assistant Professor of Medicine, University of Western Ontario Copyright ©Thyroid Foundation of Canada/La Fondation canadienne de la Thyroïde. Reprinted from thyrobulletin, Vol. 8, No. 2. Reviewed 2000 http://www.thyroid.ca/e6a.php
[ii] Subclinical thyroid dysfunction as a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Arch Intern Med. 2005 Nov 28;165(21):2467-72. Walsh JP1, Bremner AP, Bulsara MK, O’Leary P, Leedman PJ, Feddema P, Michelangeli V. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16314542?dopt=Abstract
[iii] ‘HYPOTHYROIDISM AND THE HEART’ By Glenda Fauntleroy Sep 2013 http://endocrinenews.endocrine.org/hypothyroidism-and-the-heart/
[iv] Hawthorn (Crataegus spp.) in the treatment of cardiovascular disease Mary C. Tassell, Rosari Kingston,1 Deirdre Gilroy,2 Mary Lehane,3 and Ambrose Furey Pharmacogn Rev. 2010 Jan-Jun; 4(7): 32–41. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3249900/
[v] Effect of garlic on cardiovascular disorders: a review Sanjay K Banerjee1 and Subir K Maulik1 Published online 2002 Nov 19. doi: 10.1186/1475-2891-1-4 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC139960/
[vi] Hawthorn (Crataegus spp.) in the treatment of cardiovascular disease Mary C. Tassell, Rosari Kingston, Deirdre Gilroy, Mary Lehane, and Ambrose Furey Pharmacogn Rev. 2010 Jan-Jun; 4(7): 32–41. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3249900/
[vii] ‘Effect of Crataegus Usage in Cardiovascular Disease Prevention: An Evidence-Based Approach’ Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2013; 2013: 149363. Jie Wang, Xingjiang Xiong, and Bo Feng https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3891531/
[viii]‘Hawthorn (Crataegus oxyacantha) Information about the herb Hawthorn’ https://www.globalherbalsupplies.com/herb_information/hawthorn.htm
[ix] ‘Role of natural herbs in the treatment of hypertension’ Nahida Tabassum and Feroz Ahmad Pharmacogn Rev. 2011 Jan-Jun; 5(9): 30–40. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3210006/
[xi] ‘Effect of psychological stress on blood pressure increase: a meta-analysis of cohort studies’ On-line version ISSN 1678-4464 Cad. Saúde Pública vol.25 no.4 Rio de Janeiro Apr. 2009
[xii] ‘Cardiovascular disease’ Australian Government Department of health, http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/content/chronic-cardio
[xiii] ‘The Health Dangers of Table Salt’ by Dr. Edward Group DC, NP, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM
Published on September 1, 2010, Last Updated on January 24, 2017 https://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/dangers-of-salt/
[xiv] ‘Minerals in Himalayan Pink Salt: Spectral Analysis’ accessed July 2017 https://themeadow.com/pages/minerals-in-himalayan-pink-salt-spectral-analysis
[xv] Video: Benefits of Sea Salt https://draxe.com/10-benefits-celtic-sea-salt-himalayan-salt/
[xvii] ‘The Sodium-Iodide Symporter NIS and Pendrin in Iodide Homeostasis of the Thyroid’ Aigerim Bizhanova and Peter Kopp, Endocrinology. 2009 Mar; 150(3): 1084–1090. Published online 2009 Feb 5. doi: 10.1210/en.2008-1437 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2654752/
Published online 2015 Jul 15. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4565336/
[xx] ‘Dietary Sodium Intake in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus’ Mi-Kyung Kim Diabetes Metab J. 2016 Aug; 40(4): 280–282. Published online 2016 Aug 18. doi: 10.4093/dmj.2016.40.4.280 PMCID: PMC4995182 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4995182/
[xxi] ‘Dietary Salt Intake and Mortality in Patients With Type 2 Diabetes’ Elif I. Ekinci, MBBS, Sophie Clarke, MBBS, Merlin C. Thomas, PHD, John L. Moran, MD, Karey Cheong, BSCI, Richard J. MacIsaac, PHD, and George Jerums, MD Diabetes Care. 2011 Mar; 34(3): 703–709. Published online 2011 Feb 17. doi: 10.2337/dc10-1723 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3041211/
[xxii] Salt Your Way to Health: Book by Dr David Brownstein “For years, we have heard the following: A low-salt diet is healthy. There is no difference between table salt and sea salt. Low-salt products are better for you. These are the myths of salt. Dr. Brownstein will present the research on salt that will change the way you look at this vital substance”
[xxiv] “Homocysteine, hypothyroidism, and effect of thyroid hormone replacement.” Thyroid 1999 Dec;9(12):1163-6. Department of Endocrinology, University Hospital of Bordeaux, France. Authors Catargi B1, Parrot-Roulaud F, Cochet C, Ducassou D, Roger P, Tabarin A. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10646653?dopt=Abstract
[xxv] “Vitamin D Deficiency and Risk for Cardiovascular Disease” Suzanne E. Judd, MPH, PhD and Vin Tangpricha, MD, PhD Presented, in part, as a State-of-the-Art Lecture at the Joint Meeting of the Southern Society for Clinical Investigation and International Academy of Cardiovascular Sciences North America, February 12–14, 2009. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2851242/