The number one cause of low thyroid function worldwide is iodine deficiency, but it is NOT the number one cause in the United States. In the United States, the number one cause of low thyroid function is Hashimoto’s Autoimmune Thyroid. Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune attack against thyroid cells, meaning your body’s immune system is targeting and killing your own thyroid tissue.
Although Hashimoto’s can cause symptoms of hyperthyroidism, in most cases, there is a slow, gradual attack against the thyroid. This eventually leads to the loss of enough thyroid cells and function that it presents as primary hypothyroidism. When the thyroid does not work adequately, in this case because the cells are being destroyed, the pituitary gland (in your brain) increases the production of TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) as an attempt to increase thyroid gland activity.
Over time, people with Autoimmune Thyroid’s start to develop the symptoms of low thyroid function, which will prompt them to have their thyroid checked by their medical doctor. When the TSH is measured, it will usually be found to be elevated, representing low thyroid function, and they are typically diagnosed as having primary hypothyroidism. They are then placed on thyroid replacement hormone for the rest of their lives without considering how the other factors in their bodies could be making the problem worse over time but, if changed, could allow them to feel better.
Yet the question is never really asked, “Why did they become hypothyroid?”
The issue of the autoimmune attack is not addressed. Instead, hypothyroid suffers are considered to be managed properly when the TSH normalizes with the replacement hormones. In a sense, the patient is having their TSH managed but not the REAL underlying mechanism for their loss of thyroid function, which is the autoimmune attack against their thyroid.
In the replacement model, when the TSH is “normalized” from taking the thyroid replacement hormone, any symptoms that remain after the normalization of the TSH are attributed to something else.
For example, if your thyroid condition is causing depression, which it commonly does, the doctor will give you antidepressants. Why? Because if the thyroid TSH level is now in the “normal” range, your doctor will say, “Your depression symptoms are not coming from the thyroid because your lab test is normal”.
On the surface, it seems logical, but I will show you why the symptoms could still be coming from poor thyroid function.
If you have not had this experience yet, you probably will. You will go into your doctor’s office because you STILL suffer with the same symptoms, and in an attempt to move you out of the office in the allotted 10 minutes the doctor has been given for your visit, he or she is going to prescribe an anti-depressant medication for you and tell you that it will help some of the symptoms.
Do you suffer from depression? Maybe… as a result of your thyroid problem not being managed properly, or maybe you’re depressed because you have a chronic problem that no one is taking seriously and just wanting to shove pills at you so you will go away. Either way, an anti-depressant is not the FIX.
In most cases, since the actual autoimmune attack is ignored, over time, you will continue to lose more thyroid cells, and the requirements for your thyroid replacement hormone will 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.
So in a nutshell, if you fail to look at factors affecting your GI system, blood sugar regulation, hormone balance, along with taking your thyroid replacement hormone, you could be making your autoimmune condition worse every day.
Since the autoimmune mechanism is the most common cause of hypothyroidism in the United States, you would think that it is commonly screened for, but in reality, it is rarely 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 insurance model, which has become prevalent in this country.
What About “Natural Thyroid Support?”
You may have been to an alternative health doctor or nutritionist looking for some relief from your thyroid symptoms. They may have given you some supplements that contained iodine, B Vitamins, and thyroid glandulars to try to improve your thyroid function.
There is a big problem with this approach. Clinically, when a patient presents with an autoimmune thyroid pattern, neither nutritional support specific for the gland, thyroid glandular therapy, nor thyroid hormone replacement does very little to improve the individual’s response and physiology. Remember, it is an autoimmune battle.
At Envsion Wellness Center we focus on this crucial factor, which is why many patients choose us to help naturally manage their thyroid problem.
We know we are fighting an immune battle. If we make progress in that battle, YOU will begin to feel normal again. If we fail to consider and address the immune system… it’s “game over!”