Thyroid Function: Cure, Cause, Symptom?
Hypothyroidism doesn’t exist in a vacuum. So, what is the cause?
Hypothyroidism doesn’t have to be a life-long illness. You can improve how you feel, starting today.
Let’s Establish Fundamentals, Eliminate Big Mistakes, & Find What’s Holding You Back
The thyroid slows down in response to a threat. What is in your life that could be slowing your thyroid down?
What The Thyroid Does
Thyroid Regulates Metabolism
The thyroid creates thyroid hormone, which signals the body to maintain the metabolism.
- A fast metabolism keeps digestion fast, uses nutrients faster, and extracts more energy from food.
- When the metabolism is moving too fast, it is called hyperthyroidism. Hyper– means “too much.”
- When the metabolism is too slow, it is called hypothyroidism. Hypo– means “not enough.”
In healthy thyroid function, the correct amount of thyroid hormones are produced, and this will be observable by testing that the body has healthy blood levels of thyroid hormones.
Both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism have serious risks to long-term health outcomes.
Hypothyroidism; Not Enough Thyroid Hormone
A slow metabolism is a protective measure, protecting the body from the potential dangers of using up scarce nutrients too quickly.
Hypothyroidism appears to happen in these common scenarios:
- In times of famine (when nutrients are scarce)
- When gut health is poor (nutrients also are scarce)
Thyroid function will slow when the body is under significant attack from pathogens (viruses, fungi, and bacteria).
Immunodeficiency allows pathogenic activity to increase. A suppressed immune system has many causes: nutritional, digestive, circadian, infectious, and stress-related. When the immune system is impaired, the metabolism slows.
Gut health is almost always lacking in immunodeficiency, both as a potential cause and typical symptom. The gut is — and should be — home to countless species of microbial life — and these microbes become more pathogenic when the immune system is weakened.
Treating hypothyroidism without addressing the root causes may result in inferior outcomes, especially when compared to treating the problem holistically.
To over-focus on thyroid performance while ignoring potential root causes of hypothyroidism is to miss an opportunity for a more full recovery.
What does it feel like to be “hypothyroid?”
Hypothyroidism presents with a litany of common symptoms that are incredibly recognizable.
Body temperature is a key indicator of thyroid function.
In hypothyroidism, the body — and especially extremities — will feel noticeably cold. Everyone else feels warm in a room, but someone with hypothyroidism will feel cold. By contrast, in hyperthyroidism, one will feel warmer than others in a room.
Persistent fatigue that does not improve with adequate rest is a clear symptom of hypothyroidism.
Brain fog is incredibly common in hypothyroidism, as chronically elevated cortisol and inflammation work against brain function.
Insomnia is pervasive when the thyroid slows. Sleep and rest both require adequate energy supply. In hypothyroidism, energy metabolism is weakened and sleep, therefore, suffers.
Depression is also a tell-tale signal that the thyroid is depressed. For the mind to work optimally, it needs adequate thyroid function to help recruit and deliver energy to the brain. Without adequate energy, the brain struggles to balance its neurochemistry. Insomnia always worsens brain function.
Gut health, too, plays a major role in negative mental health outcomes during chronic illness.
The Thyroid Slows Down For A Reason
There Is Always A Cause
Hypothyroidism is often discussed as if the thyroid slows down for no reason at all.
It’s important to realize that the thyroid always slows down for a reason. There is always a cause for every effect.
Let’s examine the causes of hypothyroidism.
Stress Suppresses Thyroid Function
Ray Peat talks about “stress” as a suppressor of the thyroid, and it clearly is.
However, it’s not acute stress that causes hypothyroidism in a healthy person, but when the stress is permanent.
When the body perceives ongoing stress, it understands there’s a threat.
The stress response to acute threats is to release energy to optimize performance — so the temporary threat can be escaped.
When stress becomes persistent, however, the body has overextended itself, releasing its stores of energy for too long.
Over time, the body knows it must begin to conserve energy — prioritizing long-term survival over optimum performance.
This means the body adapts to chronic stress by becoming hypothyroid and lowering its energy metabolism to preserve energy and nutrients.
The stress response quickly uses up nutrients, hormones, and caloric energy. Gut health is harmed by persistent stress, and this makes it more difficult to absorb needed nutrients and calories for future challenges. As gut health falls, immunity worsens with stress, as well, leading to elevated pathogenic activity in the body. Nutrient depletion develops as a result of high energy demands and poor digestion.
In hypothyroidism, the body is dealing with all these concepts at once.
Stress, A Concept
The term “stress,” can sometimes be used too broadly, too generally.
For instance, biological stress can be classified in the following ways:
It’s wise to individually identify each source of stress rather than trying to generally combat “stress” with food and relaxation, as is popular.
Identify the precise problems in play — in order to understand the right way to fix them.
Thinking of stress as a homogenous entity and then attempting to lower stress with diet (and/or hormones) can lead to subpar results, as well as years of focusing in the wrong direction for healing.
There very well may be more going on in the body, and other things that need to be addressed, rather than combatting stress as a nameless, faceless entity.
Stress is accumulative. Various types of stress can build up, adding to one another’s negative effect on the body.
Are pathogens behind most hypothyroidism?
The body’s “pathogenic load” is an important component of chronic illness, and this is also true in hypothyroidism.
The body can harbor various viruses, fungi, and bacteria throughout the body in levels undetectable by current tests, yet high enough to cause ongoing problems.
When immunity is low, the body only partially fends off invaders, but not well enough to keep the pathogen at bay. The chronic inflammation and immune response (thyroid hormone antibodies) can make cells resistant to nutrients and even thyroid-stimulating hormones, themselves.
Pathogens also impair the absorption of thyroid hormone from the gut.
In addressing thyroid function, it’s important to continually work to restore immunity against these pathogens — whether they be viral, fungal, or bacterial.
The Low-Grade Infection
Let’s explore the difference between acute bronchitis and chronic bronchitis.
Bronchitis is merely inflammation of the throat as a result of an infection.
When acute, it resolves itself within days, possibly a couple of weeks. When chronic, it persists for months or even years — the body is unable to fend off the invader in the throat.
Sufferers may have a persistent cough or sore throat that they “just can’t kick.”
Unfortunately, this type of low-grade infection can happen anywhere in the body — with symptoms that don’t always present as clearly as a cough.
Read more about pathogens & your health…
In chronic infections like this, doctors are often unable to identify the strain of bacteria, virus, or fungus causing the issue. They may struggle to identify where in the body the problem is located, even with ample testing.
The gut is a main hub for microbial activity, as are other moist surfaces: the mouth, nose, skin, and vagina.
Your Body’s Microbiome
It’s important to understand the body’s entire microbiome — located in the gut, mouth, nose, ears, skin, vagina, and more — in order to combat ongoing infections.
The body can have multiple low-grade infections (or “co-infections”) that don’t clearly produce medical symptoms — until they manifest as autoimmune disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, sluggish digestion, hypothyroidism, et al.
As the immune system slows down, the rate of infection rises — as does the rate of hypothyroidism (which, in return, lowers immune function further and further).
The pernicious cycle of depressed immunity and suppressed thyroid function often worsens while either is left unaddressed.
Poor gut health is ubiquitous in hypothyroidism.
Often referred to as “the seat of health,” the gut is responsible for:
Stress directly harms the gut microbiome. The populations of microbes in the gut change quickly in response to stress.
Chronic, mild stress has the ability to more permanently alter species in the gut.
Stress also activates mast cells in the gut, causing “leaky gut” syndrome, a histamine/immune response, and a runaway stress response. Mast cell activation seems to be directly linked to thyroid function.
When the microbiome becomes less healthy, the body will also commonly begin to develop nutritional deficiencies. Toxins will begin to build up in the body. Immunity is compromised over time when the microbiome suffers. Brain chemistry becomes altered.
For a very select few, improving gut health is as simple as taking thyroid hormone and possibly eating a less irritating, pro-thyroid diet. Unfortunately, this is rare. Improving gut health usually involves more than taking thyroid hormones and eating a pro-thyroid diet (some of which can make gut health worse).
The thyroid needs high nutrient supply, low toxicity, low inflammation, and low pathogenic load to function properly.
When gut health is strong, acute stress does not suppress thyroid function very much, if at all. The gut is able to absorb nutrients, toxins are easily removed, and hormones are produced.
When the aforementioned four gut functions aren’t working properly, the thyroid will slow down the metabolism to preserve precious energy and nutrients. When gut health is poor, even the smallest of stressors can present a serious challenge for the body to overcome.
A Common Cause Of Hypothyroidism
When the body grows accustomed to receiving too-little food, it may enter “starvation mode.”
Starvation mode becomes more likely under periods of high stress, when the body needs extra fuel to combat the stress.
This established fact has led many to argue that simply “eating more” (or “eating a lot”) will rekindle the metabolic flame. While there is truth to the frequent necessity to increase caloric intake — sometimes by a lot — it may not always be possible or simple to “eat your way” back to health, especially if undereating was accompanied by other problems (like a moldy house, nutritional imbalances, or emotional distress).
So… How Do We Recover?
To heal the thyroid means, first, to get the basics down. When the big mistakes are gone, chances of recovery improve dramatically.
First, correct any deficiencies in the diet. Balance macros, eat enough calories, and choose mostly pro-thyroid foods.
Second, start working on habits: Sleep, light cycles, movement, hygiene.
Gut + NUTRIENTS
Third, start focusing on gut health and nutritional balance. Make sure both are improving every day.
Finally, get clear of excessive environmental toxins, whether mold or EMF, chemicals or air pollution, or family and interpersonal drama.
Thyroid Hormones. Are They Necessary?
As mentioned, in hypothyroidism the thyroid is frequently responding to low-grade infection, gut health problems, circadian rhythm issues, and other correctable impediments.
Therefore, it’s only logical to attempt to address these matters prior to (or in conjunction with) taking other steps like, for instance, thyroid hormone supplementation.
I have personally worked with many folks who were able to entirely go off prescription thyroid medication while following these steps.
Further, I was able to improve all of my hypothyroid symptoms via these natural methods without the use of thyroid medication.
Already on thyroid medication? Don’t stop right away. Have a conversation with your doctor, and develop a plan to address the root causes of your hypothyroidism.
Thyroid Health: Areas Of Emphasis
Infrared light and sunlight directly stimulate the thyroid naturally. Getting lots of infrared light can replace some or all of thyroid medication’s effect, while giving you more benefits than the medication alone.
If gut health is poor, boosting the metabolism may not be the best approach — the gut won’t be able to absorb the nutrients you need. On the other hand, improved gut health can directly improvement the health of your thyroid.
Speeding the metabolism may be a questionable approach if you spend time in a sick building, due to the serious negative effects a sick building can have on gut health, hormones, inflammation, and poor sleep.
Proper nutrition (and balance) over the course of several months can do wonders for thyroid function (and gut health, sleep, and immunity).
Conversely — mistakes made through unbalanced nutritional supplementation can dramatically force you into a “sick” state, hypo- or otherwise.
Your location can greatly impact your thyroid — the quality of sunlight you get, the health of your buildings, local industry and waste-processing plants, and radio or wireless towers all can play a role in the health of your home or work. The health of your bedroom and living areas are also important, here.
A consistently great night’s sleep is critical to restoring thyroid health. It’s virtually impossible to make big steps toward healing while going to bed late — or making other big mistakes that bring down your sleep quality.
Failing to cover your bases can leave your hard work and focus fruitless. These fundamentals are as important as anything else you’ll do to help your thyroid — possibly more important.
No Big Mistakes
Big mistakes can keep you in a rut — searching for other solutions that may not be the answer — possibly even extreme solutions that will push you further from success.
Discover What’s Holding You Back
It’s common to focus on hypothyroidism for many years without realizing a bigger, more complex story is occurring behind the illness.
In fact, this is what happened to me.
Discovering unknown big issues that are impeding progress may save you a ton of time, effort & money.
This could also be the only way to achieve a true recovery.