How to know if one of these 4 structures could be causing your hypothyroidism

Hypothyroid symptoms are the most common symptoms that come into my office. Namely, fatigue, brain fog, difficulty losing weight, sleep disturbance, infertility, pain and stiffness. More often than not, it’s not the actual thyroid causing the symptoms. This is why a proper diagnosis and solution often gets missed. You really need your body to be working well in many facets in order for the “thyroid” to be healthy. What are they?

4 Components of Healthy Thyroid Function

  1. The thyroid gland
  2. The liver 
  3. The gut
  4. The brain

How the thyroid gland affects “thyroid” function

The thyroid gland manufactures thyroid hormones. T3 and T4. These bind to thyroid receptors in every cell in the body. It also manufactures calcitonin which works to regulate blood calcium levels.  The thyroid needs to have enough ingredients in order to manufacture T3 and T4. Iodine is the most important nutrient in this case.

How the liver affects “thyroid” function

A poorly functioning liver can be the cause of hypothyroid symptoms in 2 ways. Normally, about 60% of T4 is converted to T3 in the liver. T3 is known as the active thyroid hormone. About 20% of T4 gets converted in the liver to Reverse T3 – an inactive form of T3. The problem comes in when there are nutrient deficiencies causing a higher percentage of T4 to be converted to reverse T3. These deficiencies commonly are iron, selenium and zinc. The result is hypothyroid symptoms.

The liver also manufactures proteins that bind thyroid hormones making them less available to bind to receptors. Overproduction of these proteins can happen when there is illness, inflammation or an increase in estrogen production. In all of these cases “hypothyroid” symptoms would appear.

How the gut flora affects “thyroid” function

The remaining 20% of T4 is converted to T3 in the gut. Healthy flora and cellular integrity is important for this conversion to happen properly. GI infections can also affect the conversion. So again, this  under conversion can look like hypothyroidism.

One common infection that affects “thyroid” function is candida, a fungal overgrowth that is common in our population due to stress, over consumption of sugar, alcohol, processed foods and the use of antibiotics. Candida overgrowth can cause cellular inflammation that does not allow the thyroid hormones to speak to the cell. This also causes what looks like hypothyroidism. 

How the brain affects “thyroid” function

The hypothalamus and anterior pituitary (parts of the brain), are part of a negative feedback loop that controls how much thyroid hormone is manufactured by the thyroid. Sometimes this feedback loop is faulty and can give improper signaling to the thyroid either increasing or decreasing the amount of thyroid hormone it puts out. The hypothalamus releases TRH (thyroid releasing hormone) to the anterior pituitary, which releases TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) telling the thyroid to make T4 and T3. The hypothalamus and the anterior pituitary decrease their secretion of TRH and TSH in response to higher levels of T3 and T4. Some studies show the use of SSRIs result in lowered TSH output – essentially antidepressants could contribute to hypothyroidism.

In essence, the term hypothyroid is really a global term and does not just apply to the thyroid. In order for it all to work, you need:

  1. Essential nutrients to manufacture and convert thyroid hormones
  2. A healthy balanced liver that converts T4 to T3 in the right proportions
  3. A healthy gut for thyroid hormone conversion
  4. A brain in balance to give proper signals to the thyroid 
  5. To be free of infections that could stop your cells from getting thyroid hormone stimulation 

So! If you think you have hypothyroidism but the doctor tells you your labs are normal, now you know that it’s not just about those numbers. You need to dive deeper to uncover all the nuances that cause hypothyroid symptoms. You need to check all 9 different lab markers (discussed in another blog) to get a baseline and see which of these things need to be addressed! If you are told you just need to tolerate your symptoms because they don’t have a drug for it – you need someone who will keep looking. I will be so bold as to say there is almost ALWAYS a solution. Too many people are suffering needlessly. If you are or know someone who is, just know that all you need to do is find the right doctor.

Here is a video on hypothyroidism from a few years ago but still relevant today.

If you missed our blog on thyroid symptoms last week, Here it is:

How to know if your thyroid is causing your symptoms – Wellness Architecture