Come a little closer and listen up. This is the well-hidden “Ultimate Strategy” for dealing with thyroid disorder symptoms, you’ve been waiting to hear about. Although there is no agreement on exactly ‘HOW’ it happens, top researchers now agree that there is absolutely NO DOUBT the major CAUSE, if not THE primary cause of your Thyroid disorders in the United Stated is… autoimmune attack of the thyroid. As I have stated, research points to the immune system mounting an attack on the thyroid gland – causing it to be destroyed over time as a major cause – of thyroid disorder symptoms.
In most cases, since the actual autoimmune response is ignored, over time you will continue to lose more thyroid cells, and the requirements for your thyroid replacement hormone continue to rise. Even more importantly, despite the fact that “TSH is considered managed” with replacement thyroid hormones, autoimmune thyroid patients will continue to have all the symptoms of low thyroid function. But worse yet is the fact that your immune system will continue the unrelenting attack on OTHER areas of your body.
So in a nutshell, you are guaranteed to fail with replacement hormones alone, because 90% of the time the primary mechanism is an autoimmune attack against the thyroid gland, and the thyroid replacement hormone does nothing to stop, slow down, or modulate this immune attack.
Since the autoimmune mechanism is the most common cause of hypothyroidism in the United States, you would think that it is commonly screened for. In reality, rarely is it ever checked. This is mostly because the treatment would still be thyroid replacement hormones only. Why run extra tests if you are not going to alter the treatment based off the test results? This is considered “waste” in the HMO insurance model that has become so prevalent in this country.
The “Ultimate Strategy” is to determine what metabolic and neurologic “weaknesses” exist in the individual with thyroid symptoms. There are at least 24 different patterns of causes of thyroid symptoms. It is quite the puzzle to unlock. Fortunately, Dr. Datis Kharrazian, DC has trained me in the methods used to solve the puzzle. Dr. Kharrazian wrote the book entitled; “Why Do I Still Have Thyroid Symptoms? When My Labs Are Normal”. He has a specialized testing and treatment approach that helps solve the riddle of why you still have thyroid symptoms. I have received training from Dr. Kharrazian.
When the thyroid gland begins to malfunction, many doctors neglect to ask the very important question of why. Adrenal problems, hormonal imbalances, poor blood sugar metabolism, irregular immune function and gut infections are all signals that the thyroid might be depressed. Many times replacement hormones are used in an effort to wipe out symptoms without understanding what has caused the thyroid to malfunction in the fist place. More often than not the relief these drugs provide is short-lived, or never really works, because in order to really address the health of the very important thyroid gland, the systems of the entire body must be taken into account. So even though you are taking medications for thyroid dysfunction you may still have problems with your thyroid (even though your TSH levels are in the normal range). For example you can have problems with how the thyroid hormones are transported in the body or how inactive T4 hormone is converted to active T3 hormone. You may have issues with the end effect the thyroid hormone is intended to have at the cell level.
There are six major thyroid patterns that can be tested for with thyroid blood tests. When I say thyroid blood tests, I don’t just mean testing TSH and T4. To really evaluate for these 6 major patterns a full thyroid blood panel needs to be ordered. I’ll list those tests later in this article. To further complicate things there are 24 known patterns of low thyroid function (many of which need testing other than thyroid blood tests to find). Only one thyroid pattern is effectively treated with medication. Once you understand why this is true, you will be begin to see the folly of considering medication for any other pattern without also working to correct the underlying reason for the pattern. Unfortunately the concept of using thyroid medication and only monitoring two blood indices (TSH and T4) is a 1960’s version of treatment. The modern approach is to be aware of the various abnormal body function patterns (and the underlying physiological mechanisms) that can cause the other 5 major patterns of thyroid trouble.
The first major pattern is primary hypothyroidism. In this case the thyroid gland gets sort of lazy and the pituitary gland rushes in by pumping extra TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone). Primary hypothyroidism affects the entire body. A person may begin to feel sluggish, though there are various symptoms that can occur.
In the second pattern the TSH will be low but not as low as with primary hypothyroidism. This pattern is termed hypothyroid symptoms secondary to pituitary hypo-function. The pituitary gland, through various mechanisms fails to produce proper quantities of TSH and therefore the thyroid gland is not stimulated adequately to produce T4 and T3. One common way that this occurs is from chronic stress.
Sampling of Stressors That Negative Impact The Thyroid Gland Include:
- Chronic stress fatigues the pituitary gland
- Hormone pills including Synthroid & estrogen creams
- Liver dysfunction
- Inadequate sleep
- Inflammation & Infection
- Toxicity (mercury, gluten, casein, flu shot)
- Poor nutrition (Standard American Diet = S.A.D.)
- Postpartum depression; pregnancy can fatigue the pituitary gland
- Fluctuating insulin/glucose levels (adrenal gland fatigue)
How do we know this second pathway is malfunctioning? Blood testing reveals TSH is less that 1.8 and T4 is less than 6.
The third pattern is thyroid under conversion. This is when the gland is making enough quantity of T4 but the conversion to T3 is inadequate and therefore there is low T3. The reason for this reduced conversion can be due to chronic infection or inflammation. Increased cortisol produced by the adrenal gland that is responding to stress from a chronic infection or otherwise may also cause this. High cortisol levels are also toxic to the temporal lobe of the brain causing poor memory and mental fogginess. This pattern is often missed because low T3 doesn’t affect TSH levels (only T4 does) and T3 is rarely checked for with the standard blood tests performed by medical physicians. A clue to this pattern is that all other thyroid tests are normal except T3 is low (300-450 is normal).
The fourth pattern to cause low thyroid symptoms is thyroid over conversion of T4 to T3. This can be due to decreased Thyroid Binding Globulin (TBG). This pattern occurs when too much T3 is made and it is overwhelming the cells. The number one cause of this pattern (especially in women) is high blood sugar (glucose) due to a resistance to insulin (the hormone produced by the pancreas whose job is to usher sugar into our body cells for energy processes). Glucose will typically be found in the 100-126 and higher range. Increased glucose causes increases testosterone levels in females resulting in too much free T3 and too little TBG. Insulin resistance due to over consumption of carbohydrates is also a very common cause of polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and subsequent difficulty getting pregnant (infertility).
The fifth pattern is Thyroid Binding Globulin (TBG) elevation. This is when there is too much TBG in the blood and too little T3. When TBG is too high, it is like having too many taxis for T3 hormone and the taxis won’t let out their passengers, because they are concerned they won’t get other passengers. This is mainly caused by oral contraceptives. Oral contraceptives or estrogen replacement therapy causes an increase in estrogen, which leads to increases in TBG.
The sixth pattern is thyroid resistance. With thyroid resistance chronic stress is a root cause. Chronic stress stimulates the adrenal glands, which, in turn, produces far too much cortisol. High levels of cortisol from the adrenal gland cause cells throughout the body to be resistant to thyroid hormones. The pituitary and thyroid are OK but the hormones are not getting into the cells.
Many parts of the body become involved when thyroid function is interfered with including bone metabolism, the immune system, the nervous system, the endocrine system, gastrointestinal function, liver and gallbladder, growth and sex hormones, fat burning, insulin and glucose metabolism, healthy cholesterol levels and proper stomach acid. Sometimes the thyroid gland will not produce enough hormones and this is called hypo-secretion. On the other hand, it can produce too many and this is called hyper-secretion. There is a normal level of secretion and a delicate balance that must be kept. If, for example, there is a hypo-secretion of the thyroid gland the nervous system will be affected and people will have mental dulling, depression and memory impairment. If there is a hyper-secretion of the thyroid gland then a person will experience irritability, restlessness and moodiness. In the cardiovascular system hypo-secretion will cause low heart rate and blood pressure and hyper-secretion will cause rapid heart rate and possible palpitations. The thyroid is so important that when it malfunctions you will find that many of your body systems are affected.
The bottom line is that poor testing leads to improper treatment, which in turn leads to poor results. If the diagnosis is incorrect then the treatment will be ineffective. More often than not a TSH test is ordered to evaluate thyroid function but there are many other tests to consider when understanding the condition of your thyroid. For example, the list below is a list of tests that can produce a much more accurate reflection of thyroid hormone function.
- Total T4: Thyroxine (inactive thyroid hormone)
- Total T3: Triiodothyroxine (the active thyroid hormone)
- FTI: Free Thyroxine index (amount of T4 available)
- FT4: Free Thyroxine (non-protein bound inactive thyroid hormones)
- TBG levels: Thyroid Binding Globulin (the protein “taxi” that shuttles T4 and T3 around the body)
- T3 Uptake: (how much of T3 is taken up by TBG)
- FT3: Free Triodothyroxine (non-protein bound active thyroid hormones)
- rT3: Reverse T3 (the body cannot use this variation of T3)
- TPO Antibodies (TPO Ab) and TBG Antibodies (TBG Ab): (Indicator of Hashimoto’s)
- TSH antibodies: (Indicator of Graves’ disease)
In order to know the underlying cause of your thyroid malfunction one must run the proper tests. It is unwise to just treat the symptoms (that’s reserved for medical treatment). A very important note: If you have an autoimmune attack on your thyroid gland – then this immune system challenge becomes the HIGHEST PRIORITY of testing and treatment. To handle this immune system imbalance requires specialized testing and treatment by a doctor who has been thoroughly trained in the proper protocols. The first thing we have to do is run a complete metabolic profile. This includes a complete thyroid profile. Also we must test for vitamin D levels (both active and storage form), anemia, liver and kidney function. The second thing we must do is check for immune imbalance. We must give you an adrenal stress index test. A food sensitivity test must also be given testing for immune reaction to gluten, milk, soy, yeast and eggs as well as testing for gluten sensitivity genes and celiac genes.
Recent advancement in testing allows us to test the gluten sensitive individual to 24 foods that can cross react with the gluten (gliadin) antibody. If you are avoiding gluten, but are still creating an immune response to one of these other common foods, then you will not get better. So this cross reaction test is very important. We must also check for gut infections and if you are harboring parasites and/or yeast overgrowth. Other factors related to digestive system health must be measured as well (20 percent of T4 to T3 conversion occurs in the gut). Without a healthy digestive tract you can miss out on as much as 20% of your intended thyroid hormone function! The main point to keep in mind with this thorough testing is the thyroid gland influences many bodily functions AND many systems of the body impact the thyroid gland function. This two-way street is often referred to as thyroid cross-talk. Taking a whole body approach to testing for why you have thyroid symptom is the only way to fully evaluate this disorder so a resolution can come about.
Another very important point is that your specific lab tests need to be evaluated and analyzed as a group. Once analyzed from this all-inclusive perspective a Neuro-Metabolic Treatment (NMT) plan should be geared around four key elements:
1. Dietary changes to eliminate those foods that may be contributing to your condition. Certain herbs and foods can have a negative effect on the balance of your immune system. Specific dietary advice should be given so that your immune system regains balance.
2. Lifestyle changes are necessary to reduce stress on various body systems and glands. For example; eating 5 meals per day to maintain steady blood sugar levels so your adrenal glands have a chance to heal. One of the jobs the adrenal glands have is to balance blood sugar between meals and when under stress. Taking this job away by eating 5-6 smaller meals lets the adrenals rest up and rebuild.
3. Along with diet and lifestyle changes there are specific nutritional supplements that must be taken in order to facilitate healing and recovery. The consumption of these nutritional supplements will ensure that the repair process goes smoothly and that the immune system is brought back into balance.
4. Finally a customized and carefully monitored Brain Based Therapy protocol, designed especially for the thyroid disorder patient, based on a functional neurological examination is in order.
This 4 prong approach provides the foundation for assisting the malfunctioning body to bring itself back into balance so it can heal the cause(s) of your thyroid symptoms. Hopefully now you understand what it takes to really get to the bottom of your various thyroid malfunction symptoms (sleep problems, fatigue, pain, ill health, cold hands and feet, brain fog, depression, anxiety, muscle weakness, etc.) and finally get you feeling more like you used to feel!
 Autoimmunity and hypothyroidism. Baillieres Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1988 Aug;2(3):591-617.
 Am. J. Med. Volume 123, Issue 2, Pages 183.e1-183.e9
 Multiple common variants for celiac disease influencing immune gene expression. Nature Genetics 42, 295 – 302(2010) Published online: 28 February 2010 | Corrected online: 12 March 2010 | doi:10.1038/ng.543
Dr. Karl R.O.S. Johnson is a chiropractic physician and medical writer in Shelby Township, Michigan. Dr. Johnson’s areas of expertise include chiropractic, functional medicine, functional neurology and spinal rehabilitation. He is the author of the “Ultimate Strategy” series of eBooks on the topics of; fibromyalgia, balance disorders, migraine and other debilitating headaches and well as unresolved thyroid symptoms. For more information and to receive my FREE informative thyroid answers DVD, free report and eBook entitled: “The Ultimate Strategy for Ending Your Thyroid Symptoms so You Increase The Zest in Your Life” please visit ShelbyThyroidAnswers.com or call 586-731-8840.