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.
The Paleo Diet is a popular diet that can work well for many chronic diseases, especially autoimmune diseases like Hashimoto’s disease. However, the Paleo Diet can be somewhat restrictive which can result in deficiencies if the dieter doesn’t carefully review their food and micronutrient intake. Iodine is one important micronutrient that may become depleted on a Paleo Diet. The Autoimmune Paleo Diet is an even more restrictive diet so the same deficiency may happen.
Human herpesvirus 6 or HHV-6, is a herpes virus just like Epstein-Barr Virus, Cytomegalovirus, Chicken pox (varicella zoster), HHV-7, HHV-8 and Herpes simplex 1 and 2. There are two types of this virus including HHV-6A and HHV-6B. 100% of human beings get infected with HHV-6B by the age of three which results in fever, diarrhea and a rash called roseola. In rare cases it can cause seizures and encephalitis. There are many infection connections to autoimmune diseases like Hashimoto’s disease and in this article I’ll cover the connection between HHV-6 and Hashimoto’s disease.
The connection between iodine and Hashimoto’s disease has been one of the most requested topics that I cover, so I’d like to present the research on this topic, so we can set the record straight. Please be aware that none of this is my opinion but rather a detailed analysis of what the scientific literature currently presents.
Your body has about 15 to 20 mg of iodine and 70 to 80% of it resides in the thyroid gland. Iodine is transported into the thyroid gland through the sodium-iodine symporter or NIS. The thyroid peroxidase enzyme oxidizes iodine which is then integrated into thyroglobulin resulting in the production of thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). Thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) regulates this process.
Your thyroid only needs 150 to 250 micrograms a day of iodine to function properly. Once iodine intake exceeds this range, hypothyroidism and autoimmune thyroid disease may occur in some individuals.
“All disease begins in the gut.” –Hippocrates
Was Hippocrates right over 2,000 years ago? I would have to agree with him a majority of the time when it comes to chronic diseases. A healthy digestive system begins with excellent digestion so let’s go over some tips to help you improve your digestion naturally. Firstly, I’d like to briefly cover the reason why your digestion may be out of balance.
What causes bad digestion?
Eating very quickly while on the run and not completely focusing on your meal will result in poor digestion. You must be in a parasympathetic dominant state which is your “rest and digest” branch of your nervous system. Many people are sympathetic dominant when they eat which is the “fight or flight” branch of your nervous system.
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.
Ashwagandha is one of my favorite supplements for Hashimoto’s disease and hypothyroidism and we have some excellent studies to support using it for these conditions.
The main study I’ll cover in this research review is entitled, “Efficacy and Safety of Ashwagandha Root Extract in Subclinical Hypothyroid Patients: A Double-Blind, Randomized Placebo-Controlled Trial” published in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. We’re already off to a good start just by reading the title which indicates that it is a double-blind, randomized placebo-controlled study so we know it is of the highest standard.
Is there a connection among Hashimoto’s disease, hypothyroidism, and small intestinal bacterial overgrowth also known as SIBO? Does Hashimoto’s disease cause SIBO or does SIBO cause Hashimoto’s? I’ll answer these questions in my latest research review below.
There isn’t a lot of research, only two papers actually, on the specific connection between Hashimoto’s disease and SIBO which I’ll cover in this article. There are more papers on the connection between hypothyroidism and SIBO without mention of Hashimoto’s and the basic conclusion of those papers is that hypothyroidism is connected to SIBO because gastric motility is decreased in hypothyroidism. Decreased gastric motility basically means the food you eat is moving through the bowels to slowly so bacteria can build-up in the small intestine.
Our discussion today revolves around a microscopic parasite called Blastocystis hominis, a case of hives and Hashimoto’s disease!
The case report was published in 2015 in The Journal of Infection in Developing Countries. The report was entitled, “Eradication of Blastocystis hominis prevents the development of symptomatic Hashimoto’s thyroiditis: a case report. The case involved a singular subject who was suffering from chronic urticaria (hives), angioedema (skin swelling) and overly soft stools who also showed signs of Hashimoto’s disease.
But before we delve into more details, let me provide you with some basic background information.
In this episode of The Dr. Hedberg Show, I interview Dr. Izabella Wentz about her new book, “Hashimoto’s Food Pharmacology.” We had a great talk about Hashimoto’s disease, Dr. Wentz’s Hashimoto’s healing journey, foods that can help heal Hashimoto’s disease, green smoothies, bone broth, and some recipes that can help heal Hashimoto’s disease.
I highly recommend all of Dr. Wentz’s books and her new book will help you make food easier and healthier so you can heal your Hashimoto’s disease.
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.
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.
In this article I cover Hashimoto’s thyroiditis natural treatment including some basic supplements that can help heal Hashimoto’s disease and hypothyroidism as well as some dietary strategies.
The thyroid gland, like any gland in your body, requires a number of basic nutrients to function properly. Every day your thyroid gland produces a certain amount of thyroid hormone that requires specific building blocks. If any of those building blocks are missing, your thyroid may not make enough thyroid hormone and you may suffer from common symptoms of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and hypothyroidism such as:
- Weight Gain
- Hair Loss
- Cold hands and feet
- Brain fog
- Dry brittle nails and hair
- Muscle pain
Let’s talk about each nutrient that your thyroid needs and how to find out if you are deficient. It may be that you would benefit from some simple supplements for Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and hypothyroidism.
Is There a Connection Between Vitamin D and Hashimoto’s Disease? Does Vitamin D Supplementation Help Heal Hashimoto’s Disease?
Vitamin D has long been established in literature as a highly essential nutrient with benefit to the musculoskeletal system and bone density. It also functions in the body as an immunomodulator, facilitating normal immune system function and improving resistance against certain diseases.
Given this background, one has to wonder if a deficiency in vitamin D would be prevalent among individuals with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and if so, would supplementation with vitamin D help patients manage the disease or perhaps even prevent it?
I was pleasantly surprised to learn about some recent research on the positive effects of black cumin seed oil and Hashimoto’s disease. I’m always searching for compounds that can help my patients with Hashimoto’s disease and black cumin seed oil looks like a real winner. In this article I break down two promising studies on black cumin seed oil and how it can help autoimmune thyroiditis.
Aloe vera is one of the oldest medicinal plants we know of that was used by the ancient Egyptians who called it “the plant of immortality.” And 200 years ago Greek scientists considered Aloe vera a “universal panacea.” Aloe vera is technically named Aloe barbadensis and you most likely have heard of using Aloe topically for burns or internally for soothing an inflamed gut.
I’ve used Aloe vera over the years as one of the compounds in a gut-healing supplement I use for leaky gut, inflammatory bowel, SIBO, constipation, and irritable bowel syndrome. It works extremely well at reducing inflammation and repairing inflamed and damaged mucus membranes in the gut and the urinary tract. I have also used it quite successfully with the bladder pain caused by interstitial cystitis.
The ketogenic diet is currently sweeping the internet and the diet book world as the best thing since sliced bread for everything under the sun. Unfortunately, you can’t eat bread on the ketogenic diet and it really can be difficult to follow for some people.
Since I work with many patients who have Hashimoto’s disease and hypothyroidism, I wanted to investigate whether the ketogenic diet can cause hypothyroidism or decrease thyroid function. Let’s jump into the research and see what it has to say.
Did you know that the thyroid gland has the highest concentration of selenium compared to any organ in your body? Selenium is a powerful and essential trace mineral actually first discovered by the Swedish chemist Berzelius in 1817. Selenium mainly acts as an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and it is involved in the production and activation of thyroid hormone.
Selenium protects the thyroid from oxidative damage but a deficiency can lead to an increase in the weight of your thyroid which can be compounded by an iodine deficiency. When you’re deficient in selenium, you actually lose iodine more quickly so these two substances must work in perfect balance.
Sometimes very simple tests provide a significant amount of valuable information when it comes to Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. One simple blood test is the red blood cell distribution width or RDW test which is included in the complete blood count (CBC). A recent study found that patients with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis have higher levels of RDW.
In this episode of The Dr. Hedberg Show, I interviewed writer and thyroid advocate Rachel Hill of The Invisible Hypothyroidism. We discussed Hashimoto’s disease, hypothyroidism, and many connections to these illnesses.
Rachel suffers from thyroid issues herself so we can learn a lot from her about her personal experiences. I urge everyone to listen or read and connect with her through her website and social media which I have linked to at the end of the transcript.
Discovered in 1982 in those with gastritis and ulcers, Helicobacter pylori or “H. pylori” is one of the most common infections connected to Hashimoto’s disease and also Graves’ disease for that matter. Like Yersinia enterocolitica and Epstein-Barr Virus infections, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis can be triggered by H. pylori through a process called molecular mimicry which basically means that the infection looks similar to your thyroid tissue so the immune system attacks the infection and the thyroid gland.
In this podcast episode I interview Dana Trentini, the founder of the well-known Hypothyroid Mom blog. I really enjoyed our talk, in particular discussing thyroid issues with someone who is so passionate about thyroid health.
Dana Trentini created the thyroid advocacy blog Hypothyroid Mom. Dana launched her blog on October 1st, 2012, in memory of the unborn baby she lost due to hypothyroidism. She set out on a mission to learn all she could about hypothyroidism and to share her discoveries with people around the globe. Dana has since been featured in The Wall Street Journal and The Atlantic.
The thyroid is a small gland that lies in the neck about the level of the Adam’s apple and weighs approximately one ounce. It produces thyroid hormone and calcitonin. The parathyroid glands are very small and lie on the outside portion of the thyroid gland and secrete parathyroid hormone. Thyroid hormone ignites your metabolism so you can burn fat and produce energy. We will be focusing on thyroid hormone.
The thyroid gland is stimulated to make thyroid hormone by thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) which is produced in the pituitary gland located in the brain. The pituitary is controlled by the hypothalamus in the brain which monitors the amount of circulating thyroid hormone. Iodine must enter the thyroid gland through a transport system that is repaired with the intake of vitamin C. There is usually about 20-30 mg of iodine in the body and 75 percent of it is stored in the thyroid. In addition to iodine, iron, tyrosine, selenium, vitamin E, vitamin C, vitamin D, magnesium, zinc, copper, and vitamins B2, B3, and B6 are required for thyroid hormone production.
The gut-thyroid connection is one of the most important and overlooked aspects of healthy thyroid function. Did you know that many diseases can be traced to a breakdown in the gastrointestinal tract? 70 percent of your immune system resides in this area – your gut, and the GI tract has many important functions for your health including digestion, nutrient absorption, elimination, detoxification, hormone metabolism and energy production. 99% of the neurotransmitters in your body are actually created in the intestine (part of your GI tract), and every brain chemical known as a neurotransmitter is found there. This means the GI tract, or gut, plays a very important role in achieving optimal thyroid health.
The ferritin test may be the most important blood test you ever get, especially if you have a thyroid problem.
When I began my training in the diagnosis and management of internal disorders immediately after graduation, one of the first things we studied heavily was blood chemistry analysis. My teachers always stressed the importance of taking a careful look at iron levels in the blood and a rare test known as the ferritin test.
What is ferritin?
Ferritin is an iron-containing protein and is the primary form of iron stored inside your cells. Even though there is a small amount of ferritin released into your bloodstream, it is an accurate marker of how much iron is actually stored in your body. Iron is primarily stored in your liver, muscles, spleen and bone marrow but if you have too much it can accumulate in your organs and the brain.
The thyroid-adrenal-pancreas axis is one of the most important connections in understanding and healing your thyroid. In addition to gastrointestinal and blood sugar disorders, adrenal gland dysfunction is one of the most commonly seen imbalance in today’s society. Adrenal gland imbalances are also one of the major factors that cause thyroid hormone imbalance. Stress from work, relationships, electronics, poor diet choices such as consumption of refined carbohydrates and trans fats, infections, and environmental toxins all contribute to adrenal disorders. Let’s discuss the thyroid-adrenal-pancreas axis in detail so you can understand this complex connection
Low Thyroid Symptoms in Women are Widespread
Thyroid symptoms in women are sadly prevalent today. In general, women are more vulnerable to thyroid disorders than men for a variety of reasons. It is estimated that as many as ten percent of women suffer harmful effects from underactive thyroid, a condition also known as hypothyroidism.
Thyroid symptoms in women are more frequently caused by the autoimmune disease Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. Up to ninety percent of all cases of hypothyroidism are caused by Hashimoto’s Disease, an autoimmune disorder that is about seven times more likely to affect women than men.
Have you ever wondered what causes hypothyroidism?
Are you suffering from any of the following symptoms?
- Weight Gain and difficulty losing weight
- Hair Loss
- Cold Hands & Feet
- Dry Brittle Nails
- Lack of Motivation
- Muscle pain
Your thyroid could be a major contributing factor to these symptoms. Your thyroid may have been checked by your physician, but were you evaluated for autoimmune thyroid disease? What causes hypothyroidism? The number one cause of hypothyroidism in the world is Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. This is a condition in which the body produces antibodies that attack the thyroid gland. This results in slow destruction of the thyroid gland leading to hypothyroidism.
We all have favorites and my favorite mineral may very well be the mighty Zinc. Sometimes I go back and forth between magnesium and zinc but I always tend to lean towards “Heavy-Z”.
It is estimated that zinc is involved in 300 enzymatic reactions in the body most of which involve the immune system and repair of body tissues. In order to simply burn fat, carbohydrates and metabolize protein you need healthy zinc levels. Zinc is important for chemical detoxification, growth, development, immune function and sexual function. Healing cannot take place without adequate zinc. Having problems with brain function such as memory and learning? Well zinc is involved in every enzymatic reaction in the brain. Zinc is found in it’s highest concentrations in the ear and the eye so any problems with vision or hearing can be a zinc deficiency.
I was recently interviewed by Diana Bowman on Thyroid Nation in a discussion about Hashimoto’s disease and hypothyroidism
Diana : Hi everybody! Welcome to the third week, episode three, of Thyroid Nation Radio Talk Show Live and Podcast. I’m Diana Bowman, founder of thyroidnation.com.
Tiffany: And I’m Tiffany Mladinich [SP] of gratefulgarden.biz.
Diana: Also known as Diana and Tiffany, bringing you the voices of thyroid advocates, clinicians, bloggers and thyroid thrivers everywhere. In just a few minutes, we’ll be talking live with Dr. Nikolas Hedberg [SP]. I know that, I for one, am really excited. We’ve had kind of a working relationship, Dr. Hedberg and I, over the last, I don’t know, seven or eight months. I have lots of articles of his on my site, which are fabulous. Tiffany, I’m excited. Are you excited?
The connection between the thyroid and hair loss may not be immediately clear. But hair loss, sometimes known as alopecia, is one of the classic symptoms of low thyroid or hypothyroidism, along with fatigue, weight gain, constipation, depression, muscle or joint pain, sensitivity to cold and a number of other problems.
The link between a low functioning thyroid and hair loss, and all the other symptoms named above, is that they are all related to a decrease in energy production or metabolism. The thyroid gland produces hormones that control metabolism. When your thyroid gland is damaged, either by an autoimmune disorder such as Hashimoto’s Disease or any of the other many causes of hypothyroidism, it does not produce an adequate supply of the hormones your body needs to produce energy necessary for normal bodily functions.
Below is a transcript of the video on Herbal Medicines for Thyroid Disorders:
I want to welcome everyone. This is Dr. Nikolas Hedberg and tonight we’re talking about herbal medicines for thyroid disorders. Let’s go ahead and bring out that slide show.
Thank you everyone for coming. We just started doing these webinars a few months ago and I’m going to be doing more and more of them. I think that these are great way to educate everyone on different topics.
Okay. Well, welcome, everyone to this Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis Webinar. This is Dr. Nik Hedberg, and tonight we’re talking about Hashimoto’s Thyroid. Like I was saying previously, last year I did a lot of teleconferences, but I wanted to open it up, so you could have some visuals as well so you could see some PowerPoint slides. I’m going to talk a little bit and go through the slides and then we’ll do some questions at the end. You can do that by just typing your questions into the chat window on the little Start Meeting screen that you’ll see on the right, and then I’ll be able to answer your questions that way.
Are You Aware of Thyroid Disrupting Chemicals?
With approximately 100,000 chemicals in commercial use today and approximately 4,000-6,000 new chemicals produced each year, it is no wonder we are becoming so sick. Eighty percent of these chemicals have never been tested for human safety or their effects on the unborn. There are many chemicals known as thyroid-disrupting chemicals (TDCs) that can also be classified as endocrine-disrupting chemicals.
These chemicals can affect normal production of thyroid hormone, its circulating levels in the blood and can harm hormone receptors preventing hormones from binding and doing their job. These chemicals have received more press as of late due to their effect on the developing brain leading to impaired cognitive function and behavioral problems. Thyroid hormone directly affects genetic expression requiring proper communication within each cell. It is thus hypothesized that TDCs can alter gene expression.
What’s the connection between your hormones and your thyroid? Learn more about the Hormone-Thyroid connection.
Testosterone is made in the testes and adrenal glands in a male, and in a woman, the ovaries and adrenal glands. Testosterone is very important for metabolism. It has been shown that low thyroid states result in low testosterone levels. When the thyroid gland returns to optimal function in individuals with challenged thyroids, their testosterone levels also return to normal. Testosterone replacement can help many conditions including thyroid and autoimmune diseases but simply giving these patients testosterone without correcting the reason why their testosterone is low in the first place does a great disservice to these patients in the long run.