Hypothyroidism is an under-active or low performing thyroid, meaning it isn’t naturally producing enough thyroid hormone for your body to metabolise properly. The most common causes of hypothyroidism include the autoimmune condition Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, and iodine deficiency.
Hypothyroidism occurs more commonly in people, women specifically, over the age of fifty. Initially, you may not even notice any symptoms because they are similar to many of those unwelcome but inevitable symptoms of the natural aging process. After a while, however, we begin to realise that there is only so many symptoms that we can brush off as ‘natural aging’.
Hypothyroidism is normally not too serious in the early stages of the condition, but if left untreated or unrecognised altogether, you can end up dealing with some serious and irreversible health issues down the road. This is why it is so very important to have yourself examined thoroughly, and that you understand all the symptoms and treatment options for this disease.
What conditions can trigger hypothyroid disease?
- Hashimoto’s thyroiditis: This is an autoimmune condition and one of the most common causes of hypothyroidism.
- Thyroiditis: The thyroid gland is swollen and which can lower hormone production.
- Dysfunctional Thyroid Gland: This appears in thousands of newborns. If it isn’t corrected immediately, severe retardation can occur.
- Postpartum Thyroiditis: This is a temporary condition that occurs in less than 10% of pregnancies after birth.
- Hyperthyroid Medication: When hyperthyroid medication is incorrectly dosed it can result in temporary hypothyroidism.
Lower levels of thyroid hormones can affect the production of neurotransmitters and how well they are used in the brain and other parts of the body – this can lead to common low thyroid symptoms like depression, anxiety, poor memory, and insomnia. In this respect, it can also affect digestion because enzymes, just like neurotransmitters, do not function as they should when the body temperature is lowered – this can result in poor digestion of food, which can be manifested as gas, an upset stomach, heartburn or constipation.
The hormone insulin (responsible for regulating the level of sugar in the blood) is equally affected by lower temperatures in the body and explains why many patients with low thyroid often experience fluctuations in their blood sugar like the yo-yoing effect of hypoglycemia. Some of these symptoms may need to be treated along with the underactive thyroid.
The 7 causes of hypothyroidism
- Poor dietary habits – missing meals, high carbohydrate/low protein diets/poor vegetable intake
- Nutritional deficiencies –zinc, selenium, iodine, Vitamin D, Vitamin A
- Toxicity from halides (fluoride, bromide, chloride) and heavy metals
- Gluten intolerance and other food intolerances
- Hereditary factors
- Adrenal fatigue/stress
- Poor methylation pathways/detox pathways
Diagnosis of hypothyroidism is so important not just because of the disease itself, but because of some of the other consequences a malfunctioning thyroid can create. Having an under-active thyroid often leads to excessive weight gain, which triggers diabetes, cardiovascular disease, stroke, elevated blood cholesterol and high blood pressure. Statistics suggest that close to sixty-five percent of the developed world is obese or overweight, part of which could be the result of undiagnosed thyroid conditions.
Studies also show that up to fifty percent of depression is attributed to an undiagnosed thyroid condition. If left untreated thyroid issues can cause serious mental conditions, including depression, anxiety and even resulting in mood swing resembling bipolar disorder.
A patient had been following the paeliolithic diet and, for the past 5 years, she had been going to boot camps at least 3 times per week and waling for an hour every other day. Despite this, she was 15kgs overweight and not losing anything.
We treated her with nutrients for two months and she lost some weight (around 3 kg) but she still wasn’t seeing the results she should have been, although she was improving for the first time in five years. We checked her reflex speeds and they were still too slow, indicating low thyroid function, so it was decided we would start her on whole thyroid extract to lift her thyroid function. Within a month she had shed 4 kg and is now at her ideal weight. She still eats very well and exercises, but no longer needs to thrash herself at boot camps, and she feels fabulous!
The thyroid can behave like a tap, it can be gushing (Hyper), or dripping (Hypo), but what we need is a steady flow of hormone. Adjusting the tap isn’t always easy, but it is so important and the improvements that occur when corrected are astounding.