Maguire G Justin, July 2022.
Time for another word picture that hopefully leads to some curiosity. Let’s say you, a friend, a family member or that co-worker Greg who won’t stop recommending their favourite book, is struggling with weight gain. However, it’s not just weight gain. They, or you, are just out of it. They are not as part of the conversation as they usually are. When asking if they are okay, or vice versa, they say everything is fine and they are just stressed. Of course, we all experience stress on this blue marble of ours, but surely that can’t be all? There seems to be this monkey on their shoulder, but it’s not their shoulder. It’s more like the jerk is hanging around their neck.
Weight gain is well known to have an association with a struggling underactive thyroid1; however, did you know that poor thyroid activity contributes to depression, infertility, anxiety and poor cognition2? If not, you’re in for a few knowledge bombs about the thyroid that will not only blow brain fog out of your mind but also improve the way you tolerate stress.
Thyroid function is fully appreciated when we appreciate the impact that stress and cortisol have on production, conversion, and release. Our Nervous systems are highly organized networks, providing feedback to either accelerate or halt the function of our metabolism, including that of brain function! Two major systems namely: The HPA axis and HPT axis work in concert with one another to monitor energy requirements for physiological function, essentially influencing the activity of our cell’s powerplants, the mitochondria3. Excessive stress caused by lifestyle and environmental factors compromises communication within both metabolic networks, setting off a cascade of metabolic dysfunction. Below are two diagrams that accurately depict how stressors negatively impact the function of both the HPA axis and HPT axis:
With poor feedback mechanisms of thyroid hormone and function, hypothyroidism develops. There are namely three classifications in which hypothyroidism can be identified4:
- Primary hypothyroidism – cases in which the brain is screaming at both the thyroid and liver to produce thyroid hormone, but little hormone is produced. In these cases, high levels of oxidative stress are often seen, decreasing the availability of vital precursors required for thyroid hormone production.
- Secondary hypothyroidism – cases in which the brain is not stressed but the thyroid and peripheral organs are unable to make thyroid hormone. In these cases, stress often impedes both the thyroid and peripheral organ’s ability to produce and convert thyroid hormone, often, due to the impact TDO (tryptophan 2, 3 dioxygenase) has on depleting a vital enzyme required for thyroid hormone conversion.
- Peripheral hypothyroidism – cases in which cortisol levels elevate to the point of which the liver uses the same enzyme required to convert thyroxine (T4) into triiodothyronine (T3) but instead converts thyroxine into rT3 (reverse T3). Reverse T3 has a higher binding effect on thyroid receptors and increased the ability to lower the availability and production of triiodothyronine.
Additionally, Autoimmune Hashimoto’s – in cases of autoimmune thyroid compromise the immune system has become increasingly dysregulated and as such our body’s own antibodies start to attack our thyroid gland. Often toxins and environmental pollutants are to blame, in which case cortisol is often flooded to contend with the stress of toxins, thus inhibiting innate immunity and increasing activity of adaptive immunity to recognize a perceived threat, that of our proteins being released by the thyroid gland.
Women seem to be at the highest risk of developing hypothyroidism, with 2-8 times the volume of hypothyroid cases reportedly being associated with women5. Additionally, poor thyroid activity impacts the fertility of women, due to the synergy thyroid hormone plays in the production of progesterone and regulation of prolactin. From painful periods to miscarriage, poor production of progesterone has been associated with multiple female endocrinological pathologies.
Increasing levels of prolactin do not only affect women but also have an impact on men too! Prolactin levels play an inhibitory role in the production and regulation of dopamine6, as such when thyroid levels decline and prolactin levels increase, the likelihood of impulsive and habit-forming actions is increased, increasing the development of not only cognitive impairment by psychological distress too. Mental health performance, therefore, is heavily reliant on healthy thyroid hormone function.
Below are a few lifestyles and dietary considerations one can implement to address poor thyroid function:
- Eating principles: low sugar, low fat (saturated animal proteins), high fibre, low cholesterol
- Calorie percentages: 70% complex carbohydrates, protein 12-15%, fat 15-18%
- Therapeutic foods: oats, kelp, seaweed, artichokes, onions, garlic, dulse, Swiss chard, turnip greens, egg yolks, wheat germ, cod roe, lecithin, sesame seed butter
- Fresh juices: carrot, celery, and/or spinach with powdered kelp or dulse
- Avoid goitrogens (which can reduce thyroid function) unless cooked: broccoli, turnips, cabbage, carrots, kale, rutabaga, soybean, spinach, peanuts, yams, radishes, millet, green peppers, beets, celery, lettuce, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, collards, kohlrabi, peaches, pears, strawberries, apples, apricots, blackberries, raspberries, prunes, cherries, honeydew, grapefruit, grapes, oranges, peas, sorghum, bamboo shoots
- Avoid known food sensitivities
- Short cold spray to thyroid after warm bath/shower Or
- Cold mitten friction to thyroid after bath/shower
- Alternating hot and cold compresses to thyroid gland daily: Hot compresses moulded to neck for 3 minutes hot followed by 30 seconds to 1 minute of cold compresses. Repeat 3-5 times
- Cold shower to middle and lower back to stimulate adrenals
- Constitutional hydrotherapy treatment to help stimulate digestion
- Do not use an electric blanket-the body’s metabolism will be slightly raised in the body must generate its own heat to keep warm
- Exercise daily to stimulate the thyroid gland and elevate the body’s metabolic rate
Struggling with ADHD, depression, infertility, and weight loss may all have an association in the way of which your thyroid is functioning. Before you commit to a series of anti-inflammatory drugs, anti-depressants, and even possibly harmful hormone fertility therapy, I would highly recommend you run a comprehensive thyroid hormone panel. For those reading this email-based in the UK, Omnos provide an affordable solution https://app.omnos.me/all-tests/blood/bloods-thyroid-complete and for those living in the United States of America I would suggest a panel offering through Ulta Lab tests https://www.ultalabtests.com/test/thyroid-complete
Analysis of findings can be illusive, as such I am offering a free analysis to the first 10 enquiries, based on their thyroid hormones findings provided through either Ulta labs or Omnos. In order to take advantage of this opportunity email the following to email@example.com
And complete these initial provisional symptoms exam https://www.autonomiccoaching.com/provisional-symptoms-diagnostic/
I look forward to helping anyone reading this article, struggling with the symptoms of a poor thyroid, which for those of you unaware include but not limited to the following symptoms:
- Abdominal cramps and bloating.
- Cold intolerance
- Muscle cramps and tenderness.
- Brain fog
- Weight gain
- Seasonal exacerbation of symptoms.
- Frequent cold and flus
- Low libido
- Absence of sweating
- Brittle nails
- Easy bruising
- Coarse, dry hair
- Dry skin and scalp
- Hair loss of the scalp,
- groin, outer eyebrows. YOUR
- Pale, cold, scaly, and wrinkled skin.
- Poor wound healing
- Swelling of the hands,
- face and eyelids.
- Yellow/ivory skin colour
- Itchy skin
- Immune system disruption
- Sanyal, D. and Raychaudhuri, M. Hypothyroidism and obesity an intriguing link. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4911848/
- Nippoldt B, T. can thyroid disease affect my mood?. Available at: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hyperthyroidism/expert-answers/thyroid-disease/faq-20058228#:~:text=Yes%2C%20thyroid%20disease%20can%20affect,Unusual%20nervousness
- Akil, H. Relation between the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Thyroid (HPT) Axis and the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal (HPA) Axis during Repeated Stress. Available at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/7723683_Relation_between_the_Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Thyroid_HPT_Axis_and_the_Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal_HPA_Axis_during_Repeated_Stress#:~:text=Previous%20work%20has%20indicated%20that,thyroid%20(HPT)%20axis%20regulation.
- Krucik, G. Hypothyroidism (Underactive Thyroid): Everything You Need to Know. Available at: https://www.healthline.com/health/hypothyroidism/symptoms-treatments-more#What-is-hypothyroidism?
- Orlander R, P. Is hypothyroidism more common in men than females? Available at: https://www.medscape.com/answers/122393-11271/is-hypothyroidism-more-common-in-males-or-females
- Fitzgerald, P. and Dinan G, T. Prolactin and dopamine: what is the connection? A review article. Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18477617/