Low thyroid problems abound in today's society.
The poor thyroid gland is vulnerable to many destructive forces that include environmental disruptors like mercury, nitrates, pesticides and plastic compounds.
The thyroid gland is also susceptible to cross reactions with medications. The medications that disrupt thyroid physiology unfortunately, are very common. They include anti- inflammatory agents, diabetic and hypertensive meds,anti-acids, cholesterol lowering drugs and pain medications.
Imbalances in the rest of the hormonal systems of your body can also profoundly negatively influence thyroid physiology. Hormones such as estrogens, testosterone and cortisol, for example, can alter how thyroid hormones are made, bound, transported and how thyroid receptors work.
Sometimes, I think it's a wonder we all do not have thyroid dysfunction!
The most common reason for hypothyroidism where your thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone is a disease called Hashimoto's. Some experts conclude that up to 90% of all low functioning thyroid glands in the United States is because of this disease.
What is Hashimoto's?
It is an auto-immune disease where your body mistakenly identifies the thyroid gland as a foreign substance, and attacks and destroys it, slowly. One study found that 7-8% of the US population have antibodies against their thyroid gland. Another study found thyroid antibodies to a good marker for the future thyroid disease.
Unfortunately, these people slowly lose their thyroid tissue until enough has been lost to be formally diagnosed as hypothyroid. As they lose their thyroid tissue, they also decline in their energy, mental acuity, mood, temperature, gastro- intestinal motility etc.
As a final insult, when they do get diagnosed as hypothyroid, their treatment options are limited solely to thyroid hormone replacement. Nothing is done for the autoimmune attack which continues the loss of thyroid tissue as the person continues to decline or feels no improvement with thyroid hormone replacement.
It is common in traditional medical practices to replace the levels of a hormone without asking why the hormone is low in the first place. In the case of hypothyroid, this approach can lead to a person being treated for low thyroid with synthetic thyroid hormone while having every symptom of thyroid dysfunction treated as a new entity that requires a drug.
For instance, a common hypothyroid symptom is depression. When thyroid hormone replacement does not resolve the depression, an anti -depressant medication is used. This approach leads to laundry list of medications that could be eliminated if the autoimmune nature of the problem was addressed.
How do you address the overzealous immune system?
Stay tuned for that in a future article.