Did you know that endocrine issues like hypo and hyper thyroid problems and adrenal insufficiency (click for symptoms) can actually be autoimmune related? Did you know that many people with thyroid and adrenal problems don’t realize they have them? Sometimes it’s because their doctors tell them it’s normal to feel tired, have loss of libido, etc and that it’s just normal aging. Often doctors won’t test for thyroid problems (symptoms) especially if you are male or they just don’t do the right tests or enough of them. So what can you do if you are having symptoms like these…indigestion, heartburn, can’t get pregnant, constipation, diarrhea, anxiety and panic attacks, cold hands and feet, trembling hands, flaky skin, cracking skin on feet and hands, unexplained weight loss or gain, brain fog, unexplained shoulder blade pain, hair loss, fatigue, depression, swelling in the neck (goiter) etc. Well there are a number of things that need to be addressed but the first thing is the gut. I’ll bet you didn’t know that thyroid/adrenal problems and autoimmune diseases start in the gut. Yep…Just like Hippocrates said…
“All Disease Begins In The Gut.” -Hippocrates
There are 2 ways your thyroid can malfunction. Most commonly hypothyroidism which is when the thyroid is not performing up to standards. Hypothyroid conditions can be autoimmune in nature although not always. The most common form of hypothyroidism is autoimmune in nature and is called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. The other side of the coin is hyperthyroidism which is when the thyroid is over working. If autoimmune in nature, it is called Grave’s disease. This is the hardest type to handle as current medical practices are pretty brutal. Generally the treatment for this type of thyroid problem is to use radioactive iodine (ablation) on the thyroid or remove it. This of course leaves you with no thyroid hormone at all and you will be put on a synthetic form of thyroid hormone. There are natural prescription thyroid meds available (Armour and Nature-Thryoid are a couple of them) that you can ask for. I use nutraceutical glandulars that are pharmaceutical grade but this may not be enough in some cases when thyroxine is needed. Taking a synthetic or even a natural thyroid med does not mean you will feel much better. You might initially but may begin experiencing symptoms again after a few months. The thing is that if you don’t correct the problem that started the ball rolling down the slippery slope, how can you ever get better? As mentioned, leaky gut is at the root of most endocrine and autoimmune problems.
You will need to consult your doctor for tests to determine your situation and you may find that this is a difficult process to get what you want. Most doctors will only test TSH but it’s not enough. I’ve seen so many people who think they are fine because they’ve been tested for TSH and it’s in normal range. They still feel crappy but they are fine??? This does NOT mean you are fine…to the contrary…there are several tests that need to be done to determine thyroid health. Another easy way to get some idea of your thyroid function is the temperature test. You get a basal thermometer and BEFORE arising in the morning, place it under your armpit and let it warm up for a few minutes before turning it on. After you turn it on it will beep in about 30 seconds then record the temperature on your Thyroid Temperature Chart. The grayed out area is normal…if you are below normal consistently, you have some form of hypothyroidism and above is hyper. You can do this again in the afternoon between 2:00 and 4:00 but stick with the same time and see if you have at least come into normal range as the day has progressed. This is a simple way to get an idea if you should be following up with your doctor and asking for the RIGHT tests. If your medical doctor won’t do it, a naturopath may but again ask for the right tests and be insistent. A functional medicine doctor may be the best choice if you aren’t getting anywhere otherwise. So here’s what you need to ask for…TSH, Free T4, Free T3, Reverse T3, Thyroid perodoxidase antibody (TPO) and Thyroglobulin antibody (TgAb). Here are the normal ranges…TSH 1.0 to 2.0 uIU/mL or lower (desiccated thyroid or compounded T3 can artificially suppress TSH). Pregnant women <2.5 uIU/mL; FT4 > 1.1 ng/dL; FT3 >3.2 pg/mL; RT3 < than a 10:1 ratio of RT3 to FT3; Thyroxine peroxidase antibodies < 9 IU/mL or negative; Thyroglobulin antibodies < 4 IU/mL or negative.
There’s other blood work necessary to see what specific nutrients are needed. Once you know, I can help with that. Iron/ferritin (serum) normal 12-150 ng/ml ; optimal 75-100 ng/ml, Vitamin D (serum) normal 30-100 ng/ml ; optimal 50-70 ng/ml, Vitamin A (serum) normal 0.30 mg/L ; optimal 0.8-1 mg/L, Homocysteine (serum) normal 4-15 mmol/L optimal 7-8 mmol/L ; Selenium (RBC) 120-300 mcg/L optimal 200-250 mch/L ; Zinc (RBC) normal 790-1500 mcg/dL optimal 1000-1200 mcg/dL ; Magnesium (RBC) normal 1.5-3.1 mmol/L optimal 2.5-3.0 mmol/L. Iodine is also necessary but there isn’t a good test for that. I just take a dropperful of Liquid Iodine Forte (Biotics) every morning. With an online assessment called the NutriQ and possibly a remote Zyto scan if it can be arranged for you, I can make some educated guesses as to what to supplement with while going through the testing process etc.
Once we have established your condition and needs, you will need to use the basal thermometer test to monitor your progress. Adjustments to supplementation will need to be made as you carry on with your program.
So what does your gut have to do with all this? What can we do about your gut so that you stay healthy and happy?
Leaky gut (intestinal permeability) happens when the gut, mostly the small intestine, becomes permeable which means small particles are leaking into your bloodstream. Now we start to have a meeting of the gut and immune system. The gut lining walls (epithelium) are only one cell thick. On the other side of this very thin barrier is about 80% of your immune system. When everything is hunky dory, there’s no problem but when the gut wall is leaky, the small particles of undigested food alarm the immune system. To make things simple, due to a phenomenon known as molecular mimicry, the immune can’t distinguish between the food/gluten and bacteria/virus or some other foreign invader. The immune then develops antibodies to target the invading hordes. So this is how food sensitivities develop…we aren’t full on autoimmune yet…that’s still to come. Every time you eat something like gluten or dairy the immune will kick in and start giving all it’s fire power to fight the invaders despite the fact that the invaders aren’t anything the immune can do anything about. That’s why diet is very important in this kind of situation. No gluten or dairy. Why eliminate dairy too? Long story short…50 percent of people with gluten sensitivity also have molecular mimicry with casein a protein found in dairy products. Some researchers believe this percentage could be much higher. The more of the gluten and dairy you eat, the closer you will get to autoimmune disease. Thyroid tissue can’t be regenerated so once it’s gone, it’s gone. That’s why eliminating gluten and dairy is so important as the further down this dangerous road you go, the closer you get to full on autoimmune disease which is next to impossible to completely turn around. The key to turning it around is to keep inflammation at bay and that is done primarily with eliminating triggers like gluten and dairy. You may have other triggers too so that’s another thing to keep in mind. Some people have underlying infections and/or infestations (parasites/fungus) so those too must be addressed.
I’m going to leave things here for now but next week, I’ll talk about diet and supplementation and how to help turn things around. Your job now is to get the tests you need if you suspect any of this information might point to your issues.
Oh yes, you are probably wondering how your gut becomes leaky? Food poisoning (bacteria), parasites, fungus (candida), antibiotics and other pharmaceuticals, stress and other pathogens…Hence the need to get rid of any underlying infections/infestations.