Odds are you know someone with a thyroid problem – the number one endocrine disorder in the US – and you probably don’t know exactly what that means. Here’s the skinny – and how Hansen Health Solutions can help.
Your thyroid is a gland in your neck that secretes a number of different hormones affecting important things like brain development. Produce too much of these hormones, and you have “hyper” thyroidism. Too little, and it’s called “hypo” thyroidism. The latter is most common, typically occurs in women – and is serious.
The most known thyroid hormones are triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4). T3 and T4 work together to regulate things like body temperature, metabolism, and heart rate.
Thyroid Issues Are Common But Sneaky
27 million Americans have thyroid disease, but only half of them have been diagnosed. 90% of women over the age of 40 have a thyroid issue that is developing but isn’t severe enough to show up on lab work. In the meantime, you’re stuck dealing with unexplained symptoms. Weight gain (despite diet and exercise), sleep problems, fatigue, cold hands or feet, depression, thinning hair, loss of the outer third of the eyebrow, brain fog, dry skin, brittle nails, infertility, constipation – these things can plague you for 10-20 years before blood work will reveal a thyroid issue.
“This is one of the most frustrating parts of healthcare,” Dr. Hansen sympathizes. “You know there’s something wrong, but they tell you the blood work is clear.”
Thyroid issues can even show up as something else. In fact, 50-80% of depression cases are undiagnosed thyroid problems – and the majority of hormone issues are thyroid-related.
Thyroid Issues Are Serious
Thyroid disease predisposes you to a variety of illnesses, including obesity, heart attack, depression, psychosis, seizures, memory loss, mood changes, and early transition to menopause. This predisposition means you are more likely to experience these issues even if you are medicating.
The Cure Is Elusive
Is it just genetics? Age? Did your body evolve to live to 85 but your thyroid only to 40? Is it just a lack of hormones?
Medicating a thyroid that is dysfunctioning because of an autoimmune condition will not relieve symptoms and does nothing to correct the issue. Doctors used to treat thyroid based on symptoms only, but a landmark study in 1971 switched it to lab numbers. Most now rely on Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) levels, but no studies have shown that your thyroid function is healthy if your TSH is “normal.” Furthermore, many may use “standard” ranges instead of optimal ranges – leaving you just as sick as everyone else.
Did you know…
…you can have blunted T3 receptors? Your T3 level would show as “normal,” but none of it can get into the cell and do anything for you.
…T4 can sometimes not convert into T3? This is another dysfunction not revealed by blood work.
…stressors produce “reverse T3,” which blocks T3 receptors?
Inflammation and Toxicity Are Part of the Cause
“The cause is the cure,” Dr. Hansen explains. “There is a cause and when you correct that, the body can heal and restore healthy thyroid function.”
You may have heard inflammation leads to autoimmune conditions, gut problems, and more. What’s worse is your cells can’t heal without eliminating or reducing cellular inflammation. At a high level, the main causes of cellular inflammation break down to sugar, bad fats, and toxins:
- Sugar interferes with T4 converting to T3, especially in the liver.
- Bad fats change the fluidity of the cell membrane and mitochondria, which makes it hard for thyroid hormone to interact properly with the cell.
- Toxins are the #1 cause of inflammation. They damage cells and sabotage everything.
Toxicity is a complicated issue in its own right. You might detox well, but have an active source of toxic exposure nullifying your gains. You could have had a toxic encounter long ago that is lingering. And you may even experience “retox,” where toxins are on their way out of the body but are then reabsorbed. (This is typically why people feel worse with a detox program.)
Some common toxins linked to thyroid issues include:
PCBs and dioxins
Found mainly in non-organic meat and dairy products, these alter enzymes in the liver that convert thyroid hormones. They also directly attach the thyroid gland.
Women married to men with pesticide exposure have almost a two-fold increase in thyroid disease. Many times the pesticide is an endocrine disruptor.
Mercury, lead, aluminum, and cadmium are the worst for your thyroid. The top source is amalgam fillings in your teeth or in utero from your mom. Be sure to do the right heavy metal toxicity test. (Hansen Health Solutions can help here!)
Mercury will deplete selenium and cause autoimmune problems – and fillings are especially threatening to your hypothalamus, pituitary gland, and optic nerve due to their proximity to your brain. Even silver fillings are 50% mercury.
Lead was in widespread use in the past and is stored in your bones. When a woman is pregnant, her bones demineralize naturally and release lead in the process – which is then absorbed by the fetus. Your bones also demineralize as you age, which is why many people become symptomatic of metal toxicity as they get older even if they haven’t had a recent exposure. Lead depletes methylation.
Usually found in plastics and cosmetics. Studies have shown even low doses have a negative effect on the thyroid. If you wouldn’t eat it, don’t put it on your skin!
Fluoride, bromine, and chlorine all compete with iodine on cell receptors. Iodine is required for T3 to lock onto a receptor and enter the cell. Bromine, common in pesticides, has a very high affinity for thyroid. The most current science shows the body can handle large amounts of iodine – as long as you address any autoimmune condition first. Iodine kicks halogens off the cell receptors to allow the T3 to work – and the need for it has gone way up in the last 20 years as halogen exposure has increased.
Where to start?
Do the following without delay:
- Reduce pesticide exposure.
- Find green pesticide alternatives.
- Swap out plastic for glass or stainless steel. (Water bottles are a good place to start.)
- Switch to a fluoride-free toothpaste.
- Limit chlorine exposure in swimming pools.
Hansen Health Solutions Can Help
“Although 80% of hypothyroid situations have an autoimmune component to them which will have to be addressed,” Dr. Hansen advises, “it’s usually a conglomeration of causes that land a woman in hypothyroid territory. Expect to work on a variety of things for a real solution.”
The first step is typically bioidentical hormone supplementation as it has no downside and will dramatically improve quality of life while working on things. There is still hope if that isn’t an option, but Dr. Hansen cautions, “As we age our hormone levels decline, so most women eventually will reach a point where they want to supplement.”
From there, the clinic looks at all the different links in the chain from the brain, communicating through the thyroid, and eventually landing at a cellular level. Each link can break and some are pretty common. Luckily, Dr. Hansen reassures, “it’s not terribly difficult to figure out where we need to fix things.” A typical game plan might look like this:
Step One: Comprehensive Wellness Evaluation
We will determine the RIGHT tests to run. (Most people have never even had a comprehensive test of their thyroid.) This helps us evaluate the entire chain of events needed for healthy thyroid function and locate any broken links or likely problem spots. It also uncovers if there is an autoimmune component to address.
We then order the proper testing and get you started on nutritional changes and thyroid support. (Sneak peek: The first steps will include eating organic meat and dairy and eliminating inflammatory foods.)
Step Two: Address Autoimmune, Inflammation, and Energy Issues
The specifics will depend on the results from step one, but they will fall under the umbrellas of beginning to eliminate inflammation, correct any autoimmune condition (which includes fixing the gut), and supporting energy production.
You will probably have to change your lifestyle and take supplements. Our comprehensive nutritional outline will get you on track for selenium, magnesium, and iodine sufficiency – but keep in mind: No iodine until autoimmune issues are resolved. We will heal cells and mitochondria and establish a fatty acid balance. All of this will prepare you for the next step: detoxification.
Step Three: Deep Cleaning
Deep cleaning (or detox) will support your liver and will safely and gently remove toxicity (commonly heavy metals or mold) from your body.
Seeing an HHS-recommended dentist to investigate removing amalgam fillings is also key.
Hansen Health Solutions will help you look into these and consider other important factors. Dr. Hansen and his staff have a functional medicine background, which brings the expertise and perspective needed to stay focused on the real goals when dealing with hypothyroidism.