The National Institutes of Health (NIH) states that five out of every 100 Americans over the age of 12 have hypothyroidism. The prevalence of this disease increases with age.(1) This makes hypothyroidism the most common disease arising from a hormonal insufficiency.(2) Gender is an influencing factor, as women are three to seven times more likely to develop hypothyroidism than men.(1) Known risk factors that increase the likelihood of developing this disease include having a family history of hypothyroidism and pregnancy.(1) Recent research by the British Medical Journal (2021) suggests that taking birth control pills, or oral contraceptives (OCs), may also increase the odds of developing hypothyroidism.(3)
In this episode of Functional Medicine Research, I interview Sally Norton in a discussion about how oxalates affect your thyroid and your health. We covered what oxalates are and how they can damage the body. We also discussed how oxalates affect gut health, liver health, thyroid health as well as all the symptoms and associated conditions connected to oxalates.
If you’re really struggling to get well, but your diet appears to be healthy, oxalates may be the missing link.
Inflammation is at the core of most chronic illnesses including hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s disease. But how exactly does inflammation cause hypothyroidism? Nonthyroidal illness syndrome (NTIS) is the state in which inflammation causes negative changes to thyroid hormone including low T3 and increased reverse T3 (rT3). T3 is the most active form of thyroid hormone and rT3 actually blocks T3 receptors so inflammation can really knock out thyroid function. TSH levels however stay relatively “normal” in NTIS thus leaving many patients with the symptoms of hypothyroidism but no diagnosis since no one is checking their T3 or rT3 levels.
In this article I’ll be referencing a paper entitled, “IL-6 promotes nonthyroidal illness syndrome by blocking thyroxine activation while promoting thyroid hormone inactivation in human cells.”
TSH is the current gold standard for diagnosis of hypothyroidism but are the current TSH levels optimal and how do they relate to Hashimoto’s disease? An excellent paper out of China entitled, “Using Hashimoto thyroiditis as gold standard to determine the upper limit value of thyroid stimulating hormone in a Chinese cohort” has shed some light on this important question which looked at the upper limit of TSH levels in relation to Hashimoto’s disease and hypothyroidism.
The authors begin by stating that subclinical hypothyroidism is characterized by “normal” T4, T3, Free T4, and Free T3 with an elevated TSH. And these patients have an increased risk of cholesterol abnormalities, heart disease, mental illness, and pregnancy complications even though their symptoms are relatively mild.
Your gut microbiota has an intimate connection with your thyroid including connections with hypothyroidism, Hashimoto’s disease and Graves’ disease. In this research review I’d like to cover a recent paper entitled, “Microbiota and Thyroid Interaction in Health and Disease” published in the journal Trends in Endocrinology and Metabolism by Eleonare Frohlich and Richard Wahl.
The authors begin by stating that the gut microbiota can act on thyroid function due to the region of where someones lives, their diet including iodine intake, obesity, age, sex hormones, and how autoimmunity can impact the microbiota. I was impressed to see them state that the gut microbiota is linked to autoimmune disease, estrogen, iodine, and obesity. Estrogen can be a key factor in Hashimoto’s disease and a healthy gut is required for optimal estrogen metabolism and excretion through the feces.
They also mention the connection between the gut and the liver in relation to thyroid hormone metabolism in both these organ systems. Your gut is key to properly absorbing and utilizing the thyroid medication that you’re taking and they mention this as well.
In this post I’ll cover everything you need to know about ferritin and hypothyroidism. The ferritin test is a simple blood test and it is one of the most important tests you should have if you have Hashimoto’s disease, Graves’ disease, and hypothyroidism. Ferritin is a storage form of iron and the ferritin level test can tell you if your iron stores are low and need to be increased. The ferritin test is rarely ordered by conventional doctors so many patients are left with the signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism when it is actually their low ferritin levels that are causing their health problems. The first issue with iron is that iron deficiency may be quite severe but blood markers such as hemoglobin and the red blood cell count may be normal. This leaves many patients, especially women, misdiagnosed as not having anemia.
The Therapeutic Effect of Cordyceps on Hashimomoto’s Disease and Graves’ Disease
In 2016, a clinical trial was conducted in China that aimed to investigate the therapeutic effect of cordyceps on Hashimoto’s disease and Graves’ disease.
The research paper was entitled, “Dual-Directional Effects of Corbrin Capsule on Autoimmune Thyroid Diseases” and was published in the journal Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine.
Let’s find out what this research paper showed if cordyceps could help Hashimoto’s disease and Graves’ disease.
Can Genistein Help Heal Hashimoto’s Disease and Hypothyroidism?
In the fall of 2016, a study was conducted in China and published in the medical journal Immunobiology. The researchers looked at the compound genistein and Hashimoto’s disease to see if it affected thyroid function in patients with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. The research paper was entitled, “Genistein improves thyroid function in Hashimoto’s thyroiditis patients through regulating Th1 cytokines.” To clarify, “Th1 cytokines” refer to a type of thyroid-helper cells that indicate how much inflammation there might be in the thyroid gland. In other words, they are markers of inflammation.
The results of this study were very exciting so you might want to pay close attention.
What is the Best Diet for Hashimoto’s disease?
Does a low-carbohydrate diet work best for Hashimoto’s disease? What about a gluten-free diet? There are a number of diets out there claiming to be the best for Hashimoto’s thyroiditis but as with any condition, there is no single best diet for everyone. I’ll cover two research papers that look into two specific diets for Hashimoto’s disease.