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Hypothyroidism: Symptoms, Treatment, Diet

Like Lyme disease, there is another hidden epidemic in our country that is also overlooked and misdiagnosed. It is hypothyroidism. Because the thyroid is an endocrine gland that controls our metabolism, its symptoms are widespread and varied.

Thyroid problems are often misdiagnosed because the test given for hypothyroidism today is inadequate.

I’ve read numerous books and articles that discuss this, including Solved: the Riddle of Illness by Stephen Langer, MD, What‘s wrong with my Hormones? By Gillian Ford, and The UltraMind Solution, by Dr. Mark Hyman, MD. Each of these books say the same thing about thyroid testing. On his video blog, Dr. Mark Hyman gives precise instructions for how to accurately test your thyroid. The test that is commonly given is a TSH blood test. Dr. Hyman states that you must also test for T3, T4, and Thyroid antibodies to get an accurate diagnosis (http://www.ultrawellness.com/blog).

Finding a doctor who will give you an accurate test is not easy, unfortunately. Even though my hair was falling out by the handful, my skin was dry, I was cold all the time, and I suffered from continuous migraine headaches, when I asked my doctor at the local clinic to give me this test after the TSH test came back normal, he flat out refused and acted insulted. If you’ve read the About Me page, you will know that when I was six weeks old, I had my thymus radiated numerous times. This was done to thousands upon thousands of newborns during a twenty year period for no other reason than that they had the sniffles. This insane procedure caused thousands of people, myself included, to experience autoimmune disease practically from birth. For many, this came in the form of numerous allergies. Some thirty years after they stopped radiating innocent infants, they discovered that this procedure also caused thyroid cancer later on in life. When I was thirty-two years old, I did develop a benign tumor on my thyroid, which I had removed, along with the right lobe of my thyroid. By the time I was 50, I was certain I had full-blown hypothyroidism, but I never could get a doctor to do anything about it. It took me years to actually find a healer who would help me. In the mean time, I suffered from numerous symptoms of low thyroid because I didn’t know what to do about it. Hopefully, your doctor will be more open-minded than mine was when it comes to giving you an accurate test.

The same thing happened to my father. One of the symptoms of low thyroid is that, when it is extreme, you lose the outer third of your eyebrows. It was quite obvious to me just by looking at him that his thyroid was really low. But he assured me that he’d been tested by his doctors at the Scripts Institute in San Diego and that his thyroid was normal. At the age of 85, my highly energetic father had slowed down considerably. He was also experiencing some mental confusion and forgetfulness. Because his doctors at the Scripts Institute were doing nothing for him, I sent him to the Holtorf Medical Center  where they do integrative medicine. They immediately gave him an accurate thyroid test. Low and behold, it was discovered to no one’s surprise but my father’s that he was extremely low in thyroid. He also began B12 injections for his memory issues. Both these things helped bring him back into normal ranges again.

Classically, someone with low thyroid is overweight and fatigued. But I am living proof that this is a very narrow indication of hypothyroidism.

At 5 foot 7 and 120 pounds, I have always been very energetic. I did, however, have many other symptoms of the disease. Here’s the full list of possibilities: allergies, arthritis, asthma, brittle and ridged nails, cold extremities, colitis or constipation, confusion, inability to think clearly, lack of concentration, poor memory, slowness in speech or movements, slurred speech, decreased sweating, depression and other emotional problems, including paranoia and psychosis, diabetes or hypoglycemia, dry, course, rough scaly skin, dry, course, brittle hair that falls out easily, or fine, thin, whispy hair, a tendency to wake up slowly, to crash around 3 p.m. and then to feel energized around 8 p.m., excessively high or low blood pressure, fatigue, listlessness, indolence, lack of endurance, muscle weakness,  crawling sensations on the skin, headaches, including migraines, heart irregularities, including high cholesterol, rapid or slow pulse, , palpitations, murmur, mitral valve prolapse, , family history of stroke or heart attack, hoarseness, inability to tolerate extremes of temperature, insomnia, irritability, low sex drive, menstrual cramps, excessive flow, irregular menstruation, infertility, habitual miscarriage, toxemia in pregnancy, endometriosis, peripheral neuropathy, carpal tunnel syndrome-like symptoms, recurrent colds, respiratory problems, including tonsillitis, sinusitis, ear and mastoid infections, skin problems such as boils, eczema, psoriasis, and acne, slowing down of the circulation which may cause fluid retention, and edema of the eyes and ankles. As you can see, being overweight and tired are only two of the possible indicators of this disease that can effect every area of your body.

Though I had no less than 15 of these symptoms, my TSH thyroid test, given me by a licensed MD, always came back as normal, despite the fact that I had half my thyroid removed when I was 32. Does it seem to you like there might be something wrong here? I’ve read that today’s test for hypothyroidism is probably inaccurate about 80 % of the time, similar to the tests given for Lyme disease. That’s a whole lot of missed diagnoses for a problem that can be easily remedied with a pro-thyroid diet and a few capsules of whole thyroid.

In addition, my basal body temperature was extremely low. Your basal temperature is the temperature taken under your arm first thing in the morning.

If youe basal temperature is consistently lower than 97.8 and you have many of the symptoms of low thyroid, your chances of being hypothyroid are very high.

Though mine varied, it was almost never higher than 97.0. It was not unusual for me to get readings as low as 96.0, which made me think my thermometer was broken.  You can also take your temperature by mouth using a digital thermometer. This can be taken in the morning just after waking and again around noon. Your morning temperature should read 98.0 and your afternoon temperature should be 98.6-99.  Also, your daytime resting pulse should be 85 beats per minute. If your temperature is low and your pulse is also slow, it indicates that there is a problem with your metabolism and that it should be reved up. When you have normal TSH but a low temperature, this is called Wilson’s Temperature Syndrome.

Once you’ve figured out that you are low in thyroid, you have to figure out what to do about it. If your doctor is no more enlightened than mine or my father’s was, you are on your own for figuring out how to heal it.  One thing that anyone can do without a doctor’s prescription is to eat a pro-thyroid diet. This is a radically different diet than I was used to eating.

A pro-thyroid diet consists of high levels of protein.

In fact, it is recommended that you eat 4 ounces of protein at every meal in the form of meat, fish, fowl, eggs, or cheese. Your three servings of protein should not include soy. The protein that comes from soy is estrogen producing, which harms the thyroid.

According to Lita Lee, PhD, estrogen suppresses the thyroid gland. It does this because its job is to help women create babies. By suppressing the thyroid and stimulating cell proliferation a fetus is encouraged to grow, The problem therefore, isn't estrogen per se, rather, it is the fact that we are being bombarded with too much of it, much of which comes from unnatural sources that we can't avoid. When someone has hypothyroidism, they need to avoid all external sources of estrogen, including synthetic estrogens from birth control pills or prescription hormone medication for menopause, bioidentical hormones from a compounding pharmacy, natural estrogens from herbs and foods like black cohosh, vitex, sage, penny royal, and soy, and xenoestrogens that come from car exhaust, herbicides, pesticides, flouride, and plastics. Obviously, estrogen is everywhere, which makes many people estrogen dominant.

This plentiful supply of estrogen is speculated to be one of the reasons why women are getting breast and uterine cancer and men are getting prostate cancer. 

In addition, since all the pork, chickens and turkeys in our country, and a lot of the beef are fed a high soy diet, their meat, eggs, milk, and cheese becomes estrogenic, as well. Since most people in America eat these foods, this is probably one of the reasons why hypothyroidism is an epidemic. You’ve probably heard the saying that you are what you eat. It turns out that other animals are what they eat too. Because these animals are estrogenic, they are another one of the causes behind our rise in breast and prostate cancer rates.

Besides soy, another cause of hypothyroidism is flouride, which comes from fluoridated drinking water, flouride tooth paste, numerous pharmaceuticals including Prozac, food such as fish, tea, baby formula, mechanically deboned meat, soda pop, any reconstituted beverage made with fluoridated water, air pollution from factories, and Teflon coating.

In addition, when we inhale the steam from showering in flouridated water, the disinfectant by-product that we inhale is 1000 times more poisonous than the flouride itself. Another sobering fact is that plants watered with flouridated water, incorporate flouride into their structure. Therefore, they become poisonous to us, as well. Not only does fluoridated water suppress the thyroid and poison the vital enzymes that keep our metabolism functioning, it also causes cancer. It is more toxic than lead and only slightly less toxic than arsenic. Because it does not metabolize, it accumulates in the brain and reduces IQ.

Lita Lee, PhD states that in 1981, Dean Burk, who was the Chief Chemist at the National Cancer Institute at the time, testified at a congressional hearing that over 40,000 cancer deaths a year are attributable to flouride poisoning.  Not only does flouride cause cancer, according to the http://www.cancertutor.com/and other sources, it dramatically increases the rate of speed that  cancer grows. It causes many bone problems, including bone cancer and osteoporosis. It also disrupts collagen, which causes premature aging and wrinkling. In addition, in less than 1 ppm, it damages our genes.

Another possible cause of hypothyroidism is artificial sweeteners in soda and other products. These chemicals both suppress your thyroid and increase appetite. In other words, your metabolism slows down while you are driven to eat more.

Mercury from fish and amalgam fillings is a major thyroid suppressant, for it inhibits the conversion of T4 to T3. Most heavy metals, including inorganic iron from supplements, are thyroid toxic, and I’ve read that one of the storage sites for both arsenic and mercury is the thyroid gland.

Most herbicides and pesticides are estrogenic, which means they are toxic to the thyroid. Because these chemicals don’t metabolize, they, too, accumulate in the body doing more and more damage as the years roll by. Pesticides are everywhere, not just on non-organic food. Airplanes, buses, restaurants, and even grocery stores routinely spray pesticides, not to mention individuals who spray insecticides around their home, and even on ant infested kitchen counter tops. One of the worst pesticides with estrogenic effects is called endosulfan, which is liberally sprayed on grapes, lettuce, cantaloupe, alfalfa, melon, cauliflower, broccoli, tomatoes, potatoes, walnuts, and pears.

Lyme disease also effects thyroid functioning.

Although the spirochetes do not damage the thyroid, they produce a toxin that covers the T3 receptor sites on the cells where the spirochetes are active, making it difficult for thyroid hormone to be absorbed. This is one of the reasons why Lyme disease sufferers are so tired all the time.

Another thing that Lita Lee, PhD says is poisonous to the thyroid is polyunsaturated fats, which function in a similar way as estrogen to suppress thyroid functioning and promote cancer. That’s all the fats that are liquid at room temperature, with the exception of olive oil. Because polyunsaturated fats are in all seeds and nuts, these aren’t good for the thyroid either. According to her Newsletter, there are three fats that are good for the thyroid: olive oil, butter, and coconut oil.

It seems that the thyroid loves all things coconut, including the flesh and the water, all of which can be eaten liberally.

That is because coconut actually stimulates the thyroid. If coconut were all you ate you could actually become hyperthyroid. Coconut oil has lauric acid in it, which is also in mother’s milk. Lauric acid turns into monolaurin, which protects infants from viral, bacterial and protozoan infections. I've read that adults who are sick with these kind of infections can take as much as 6 tablespoons a day. The best way I've found to take it is in a fruit smoothie. In addition, the water is very high in electrolytes and other nutrients, which are highly absorbable.

An excellent food that happens to be bad for the thyroid are all cruciferous vegetables unless well cooked.

Cruciferous vegetables are all the common one’s many people eat, including broccoli, cauliflower, kale, cabbage, brussel sprouts, kohlrabi, etc. If you enjoy cole slaw, this will be one of the foods you will have to give up if you go on a pro-thyroid diet. When you cook these vegetables, their harmful thyroid suppressive qualities are eliminated. Therefore, you should not give up these nutritious vegetables for two reasons. First, because these vegetables contain sulfur, they promote glutathione production. Since glutathione helps us detoxify our body, in our polluted world we need all of it that we can get. The second reason cruciferous vegetables should not be given up is that they have something in them called indole 3 carbonol and sulfuraphane that help the body neutralizes estrogen. The key for people with hypothyroidism is simply to remember to cook them well.

I make a great soup out of lots of kale and cabbage leaves, carrots, onion and potatoes.You can put soup or chicken stock in it, or just water and salt. After cooking it, I blend it in a blender. I reheat it and drink it all week long in a mug. This allows me to get plenty of indole 3 carbonol to fight breast cancer.

Another significant reason why hypothyroidism is an epidemic is because of radiation from all the nuclear testing that was done in the fifties and sixties.

Also, if you grew up near a nuclear power plant, this may have effected your thyroid, as well. And of course there were the countless thousands of us who were radiated routinely as infants and who may not even know that this occurred. In addition, the radiation that we are bathed in every time we use our computers or any other appliance, has significant impact, as well. That’s because radiation damages our cells, as do all magnetic fields. (See my webpage on EMF pollution for further details.) According to Lita Lee, PhD, any damaged or aging tissue can produce estrogen. Since estrogen suppresses the thyroid and stimulates cell proliferation, cancer can develop.

To improve the thyroid, it is recommended that you eat plenty of fruit and drink plenty of fruit juice.

 Lita Lee, PhD says the best juices are orange, pineapple, coconut, cherry, berry, and melon juice. In addition, raw carrots are full of fiber and are cleansing to the system and should be eaten whole, not juiced. They not only absorb toxins, they also absorb excess estrogen. I grate them and add them to my smoothies, which makes them delicious. Fresh salad with homemade dressing is also good. It has to be homemade because virtually all the commercial salad dressings on the market are made with soy or some other unhealthy-for-the-thyroid polyunsaturated oil. Food should be salted with natural sea salt, or Celtic salt, not Himalaya salt, as Lita Lee, PhD, says that the reddish component of Himalaya salt is inorganic iron, which the body can’t utilize and isn’t good for you. Another good food for the thyroid is gelatin, which is protein rich. Great Lakes Gelatin in a natural protein powder that can be added to smoothies to improve their protein content.

In addition to a pro-thyroid diet, you can also take whole thyroid pills, but the ones that still have active thyroid in them are practically impossible to find.

Whole thyroid glandular contains a balanced ratio of T4 and T3 colloidal protein precursors, both of which may be necessary in helping your body improve its thyroid metabolism. The best kinds are either Armour or Atrium. You won’t find these brands at the health food store, however, because the FDA has made them practically impossible to get. The health food store brands have had the active thyroid components removed. Therefore, though you get thyroid co-factors in them, which can be beneficial,  those supplements will do nothing to help you raise your levels of thyroid hormone. In addition, some people have thyroid resistance, and may need additional T3 in the form of Cytomel for complete conversion to occur. Unfortunately, if you are low in thyroid, I suggest you find a true healer who can help you recognize your symptoms and obtain the appropriate supplements.

In addition to whole thyroid, pregnenolone can be taken.

Pregnenolone is considered the master hormone that converts into every other hormone. Therefore, if your endocrine system is imbalanced but you don’t know why, you can sometimes rebalance it just by taking pregnenolone.  Pregnenolone also repairs enzyme activity. It has a particular effect on enzymes that produce detoxification. It may also restore impaired aging and protect against cortisol poisoning. Because it lowers cortisol, it may relieve hot flashes. It may also help with the relief of anxiety and panic attacks by preventing the secretion of a substance called endozepine, which triggers them. Because your thyroid gland is closely tied to your adrenals and pituitary, taking pregnenolone to balance them makes sense. According to William Regelson, MD, in his book The Super-Hormone Promise: Nature’s Antidote to Aging, pregnenolone is non-toxic, well tolerated and has no known side-effects.

Progesterone is another hormone you can add, as progesterone opposes all the toxic effects of estrogen and cortisol. Lita Lee, PhD. recommends Progest E, which is a formulation by Ray Peat, chemist and PhD. Three to four drops a day from mid cycle to menses is all you need. In his book What Your doctor May Not Tell You About Menopause, Dr. John Lee MD, states that natural progesterone may prevent both osteoporosis and breast cancer. He believes that many women should take it after menopause for its protective effects.

When you start using a pro-thyroid protocol, you must start out slowly. Some people are very sensitive to even the tiniest amounts of thyroid hormone. Because it speeds up the metabolism and improves the circulation, it may cause the heart to beat faster. If your symptoms of low thyroid are related to the heart, this can be scary, which is another reason to work with a professional. Taking additional high quality magnesium is reputed to help with heart palpitations, and will generally relax and calm your whole system. Since none of my symptoms of low thyroid were related to the heart, this did not happen to me when I began taking whole thyroid supplements.

Another thing that can happen when you start getting appropriate amounts of thyroid is that your blood glucose will raise, which will make it more available to the blood and muscles. This, too, can cause a relaxation effect and help with mental focus and concentration. Lita Lee, PhD says in her Newsletter that many hypothyroid people can’t relax. They are often hyperactive because they are high in adrenaline, which can cause difficulty sleeping.

Thyroid symptoms are often tied together with adrenal symptoms.

 In fact, because many of the symptoms are similar, it can be difficult to tell the difference between the two. Often, when one is out of balance, the other will be as well. Since these were some of my symptoms I did notice an immediate improvement in this area when I began taking a whole thyroid supplement. I also noticed improvements in my short term memory.

I have learned a great deal about the thyroid from Lita Lee’s Newsletters, much of which has been quoted here.  She is a chemist with over 30 years of clinical experience in not only aiding people in raising their thyroid hormone, but assessing their enzyme deficiencies. She is the person who helped me get back on track with both of these issues and can be reached at http://litalee.com/.

Dr. Mark Hyman’s blog is another great resource for people trying to improve their thyroid. He uses a slightly different protocol than Lita Lee’s, but does say to avoid soy, uncooked cruciferous vegetables, and flouride. In addition, he recommends that people avoid gluten, which is found in wheat, barley, rye, oats, and spelt. He says these are the most common dietary causes of thyroid problems. He also reiterates the importance of eating protein at every meal, and getting plenty of fiber. For further information about his recommendations, Dr. Hyman can be reached at http://www.ultrawellness.com/blog. He has many great videos on a variety of health topics, including how to diagnose and improve your thyroid condition. His book and workbook entitled The Ultramind Solution, and Six Weeks To An Ultramind have many great suggestions for balancing all of one’s hormones. I highly recommend both his books and his blog to anyone wanting to understand more about how to resolve their health issues.

Once you begin taking additional thyroid, it is important that you monitor your improvement by continuing to take your temperature. The routine is to take one quarter pill for breakfast, half for lunch, and one quarter for dinner. If that doesn’t raise your temperature, begin to increase the dose. As soon as your temperature is optimal, maintain this dose. Some people may only need one pill a day, others could need six. The only way you will know for sure which you are is to take your temperature regularly and monitor your progress. If you feel fine for several months and then crash, take your temperature again. As there are many things that effect thyroid levels, including stress, illness, nutrient deficiencies, and the seasons, checking your temperature periodically is a good idea.

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Disclaimer: I am a psychotherapist who believes that disease can be improved using natural methods of detoxification and rejuvenation. I do not diagnose, prescribe for, treat, or claim to prevent, mitigate or cure any human disease. I do not advise that people discontinue using their prescription drugs without the consent of their doctor. For all matters that relate to your physical health, please contact your physician. This cleanse is not intended for use by children, pregnant, or lactating women except under the care of a physician. Since herbs can interact with, and sometimes replace medications, check with your physician before using them. 

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