The previous article titled “Hypothyroidism” was written to allow for an understanding of the function of the thyroid gland; the symptoms of hypothyroidism; and the medical approach to treatment. In this article I will focus on what I see as the potential causes of hypothyroidism in the first place based on my experience. Remember, many people have the same “diagnosis” but for different reasons. That is why I focus on treating patients and not their diagnosis or blood tests. By the way, I have yet to see the cause as a deficiency of taking drugs.
OK, in the first article I mentioned 7 different possible reasons for clinical or sub-clinical hypothyroidism. Let’s begin.
1) Structural imbalances in the cranium or TMJ (possibly affecting the pituitary)
The pituitary is nestled in the brain and sits in a little “saddle” that’s part of the sphenoid bone. This bone happens to be the center of cranial bone motion. If there are muscular imbalances in the muscles of the neck and TMJ, you can be sure that undue stress will be placed on the pituitary. Remember, structure determines function, not the other way around. There is even a particular cranial fault, which is corrected via the “pituitary drive technique” in applied kinesiology. It targets sphenoid bone motion specifically. But you must correct the muscle(s) involved as well, as muscles move bones; the “heart” of applied kinesiology principles. Just like adjustments to the spine and extremities; if the muscles haven’t been balanced, you can be sure the joint problem will come right back. I unfortunately don’t have research on this topic, as I wouldn’t be surprised if the government or drug companies are NOT handing out grants to people interested in researching structural stress on the pituitary. I could be wrong though.
2) Weakened/stressed out adrenal glands
The adrenal glands are the “stress” glands. They produce the hormone cortisol (and others) and neurotransmitters adrenaline and noradrenaline. One quick mention about thyroid hormone first. T3 is a much more (perhaps 90-95%) metabolically active hormone than T4. T3 is “made” by a conversion of T4 into T3, by removing one of the iodine molecules on the T4 (hence 3 molecules instead of 4). This is enormously important for the thyroid hormone to ultimately do its job appropriately. High or low levels of cortisol can however inhibit that conversion of T4 to T3. As a result, the circulating thyroid hormone will not work very effectively, and often cause the symptoms of hypothyroidism. One more thing – high or low cortisol can cause the body to convert T4 into “reverse T3”. This is when the iodine is pulled off the wrong part of the T4 molecule. This will result in a metabolically inactive hormone, that may even get tallied into the total T3 reading on blood tests. So it may look like there is plenty, but much of it may be inactive “reverse T3”. Reverse T3 can be ordered on blood tests, but I’ve never seen it, unless I instructed the patient about it and they asked for it to be ordered. There are ranges of normal on the test results for reverse T3, but there is usually a clause saying it’s not been studied enough to determine it’s accuracy. I would still look to get it in normal ranges if this is the suspected cause (you’ll see how soon). By the way, the reasons for imbalances in cortisol levels are too plentiful to mention here; but poor blood sugar metabolism is of prime importance (this does not mean you need to be diagnosed with diabetes or hypoglycemia). Most people have faulty have blood sugar metabolism (and stressed adrenal glands) to some degree.
3) Heavy metal toxicity
By now you probably know that heavy (toxic) metals can cause a wide array of problems. Well, here’s one more. Just like high or low cortisol, heavy metals can cause an inhibition in the conversion of T4 to the more active T3. Especially consider mercury, cadmium, and lead; but I wouldn’t stop there. By the way I often say “toxic” metals because aluminum is not “heavy”, it is actually “light” in molecular weight – and I wouldn’t want to avoid including it, as it is certainly toxic. [aside: check those salt packets you get from the deli – you just may find an aluminum compound on the list of ingredients]
4) Imbalances in estrogen and progesterone (commonly thought of as female hormones) – however, males also produce these hormones
According to Janet Lang, DC, an imbalance in estrogen and progesterone can lead to thyroid hormone being inactive at the cellular level. I’m not sure of the exact mechanism she proposes, but I agree, as I’ve seen it in patients who have these imbalances (usually a condition known as “estrogen dominance”). Janet Lang has dedicated almost all of her research to (functional) hormone problems.
5) Vitamin, mineral, and amino acid deficiencies
First, the amino acid tyrosine and the mineral iodine are the raw material to make T4 and T3. The “T” stands for tyrosine and it is an essential (must be obtained from diet) amino acid we get from eating protein. The number “4” or “3” refers to the number of iodine atoms attached to the tyrosine. So these are obviously necessary. Next, the mineral selenium in necessary for the conversion of T4 into the more active T3. A deficiency in this mineral would not allow for that conversion. Additionally, there are a number of vitamins and minerals that are necessary for the thyroid hormone receptor (where it “docks” in to the cells) to function properly; and for the manufacturing of the hormone. These include, but are certainly not limited to: iron; zinc; potassium; manganese; vitamins A, B1, B2, and E. Don’t forget digestion and absorption of these nutrients.
6) Imbalances in the output of pituitary and/or hypothalamic hormones
I spoke about this above regarding cranial and TMJ imbalances. The hypothalamus, which “controls” the pituitary can also be a problem in hypothyroidism. In addition to cranial treatments, there are some specialized supplements that can help the function of these glands.
7) Liver toxicity or malfunction
The liver is one of the main sites where the conversion of T4 to T3 takes place. An imbalance in liver function, for any number of reasons (usually toxicity or a build up of fat) can impede this conversion. For these cases, detoxification through diet, lifestyle and targeted nutrition is usually necessary.
Notice how the list of 7 problems above, doesn’t even mention the thyroid! That’s because I’ve never encountered a problem with the thyroid directly that causes a problem. I suppose that makes sense because most problems that exist arise through lifestyle (nutrition, stress, etc.) complications. Even a liver, adrenal, nutrient deficiency or absorption, or structural problem isn’t THE problem – it is the result. There is usually a combination of the factors mentioned that contribute to thyroid problems; which of them is primary depends on the person.
By the way, there are many people taking thyroid hormone in the form of drugs, and they still exhibit the signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism. I find that this is usually a nutrient deficiency that presumably prevents the thyroid hormone receptors from working properly. Unfortunately, the conventional approach to this is usually to simply increase the dose, which may help temporarily.
Dr. Robert D’Aquila – NYC Chiropractor – Applied Kinesiology
i was diagnosed with hypothyroidism about 5 years ago. i was of course put on synthetic, i felt better but not the best. i still deal with extreme fatigue, achy body, fuzzy mind,inability to focus, learn and retain, depression (which i also take 1 med for that doesn’t work very well) low libido and weight gain. there is so much more but i’m sure you’ve heard it all.
i ran across an article where a lady changed her life by what she eliminated and added to her diet. i’m very interested in this because pills are not doing it. as far as being diagnosed with the other possible reasons for the way i feel i was wondering if you could point me in a direction to start this process. are they all simple blood tests or do i have to see a specialist? i’m just confused because i am definitely not getting it from my doctor. please help me because i am feeling desperate and lost. i’m close to giving up and just living out my life dealing with feeling this way.
Dr. Rob D'Aquila
Your situation is extremely common these days, extremely common. I see it very often. And I very often see it mismanaged.
There can be an array of issues as to why you’re having symptoms. Also, the most common cause of hypothyroidism in the US is Hashimoto’s (autoimmune) thyroid disorder. In these cases it is the immune system that has gone awry (again, which can be caused by an array of factors) and is resulting in hypothyroidism. Blood tests for the thyroid are great, if all the important ones are run and the interpretation of the tests (including using functional lab ranges) are accurate.
Additionally, there are many forms of thyroid hormone replacement, and some people need a particular kind in order to function best.
Again, it’s unfortunate that thyroid disorders are often mismanaged, but very common.
I hate to hear that you are considering giving up, but I know you how you feel based on what I’ve heard from your symptoms and what I’ve heard patients say.
I wish you the best and especially hope,