Thyroid Function



The thyroid is an endocrine gland that is located in the neck. This gland produces hormones that are essential for metabolism and growth, and affect nearly every organ system. Disorders that affect the thyroid, such as hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism, can produce many symptoms and long-term damage to the body.

 
  • Overview
  • Ask The Doctor
  • Related Info
  • Success Stories

Overview


There has been an increase in the prevalence rates of thyroid disorders in the U.S. In developing countries, iodine deficiency is the most common cause of thyroid dysfunction, as iodine is essential in the production of thyroid hormone. In the U.S., autoimmunity and thyroid nodules are the most common cause of abnormal thyroid function. Poor nutrition and environmental exposures contribute to inflammation, tumor growths, and the development of autoimmunity. A Nutritarian diet, which supplies a rich source of phytochemicals, is essential to the health and function of the thyroid gland.

Women appear to be more sensitive to the environmental and toxic exposures that negatively impact the thyroid gland. Thyroid hormone replacement may become necessary long-term when a patient suffers from thyroid disease over an extended period of time. Prevention is key, however, when addressed early, there can be potential reversal of thyroid dysfunction. A Nutritarian diet that maximizes cell function, reduces inflammation, facilitates the removal of toxins, and improves gut health has the potential to improve thyroid function and quality of life.

 

Ask The Doctor


The following are sample questions from the Ask the Doctor Community Platinum and higher members can post their health questions directly to Dr. Fuhrman. (All members can browse questions and answers.)

Q.

I just got diagnosed with hypothyroidism. I want to know if I can cure this naturally, without Synthroid or other medications. Here are my results:

Free T3: 3.30 PG/ML
Total T4: 5.5 uG/DL
TSH 3rd Generation: 11.25 mIU/L

Are there other things I can investigate to find out why I have elevated TSH and how to fix it? Blood tests for iodine or other nutrients? I should mention, I do not always remember to take my multivitamins. With a TSH level that high, is it something that could go away if I take the two Women‘s Daily vitamins with 150 mcg iodine daily? Or is it too high to be solved so simply? Thank you.

A.

It is unlikely that you can fix your thyroid gland, but it won‘t hurt to try, and make sure you take iodine regularly and see if it improves. Your TSH will continue to climb in spite of the extra iodine if it is not that. Other than that, none of the other things you mentioned can help.

So, it won't hurt to wait another 6-8 weeks with the supplement and recheck. It also won't hurt to take the lowest dose of Synthroid. Remember, you are just replacing a bit of something your body is not making enough of. It is not like taking medication.

 
Q.

Are there any exceptions for people who have hypothyroidism, or should they follow a strict Nutritarian diet? Would you advise them to go gluten free/avoid wheat?

A.

There are no exceptions for thyroid disease, except just like everyone else, I recommend a regular supply of iodine in the diet, and the multi I recommend here has 150 mcg of iodine.

Also, eat but do not juice raw green cruciferous vegetables. There are studies showing the intake of cruciferous vegetables is good for the health of the thyroid and prevents cysts and thyroid cancer, however, avoid juicing because some people can over consume. Blending them is fine. The main issue is making sure you have an adequate intake of iodine, and do not decrease your consumption of green cruciferous vegetables.

There is no advantage to avoiding gluten or wheat except in rare cases. Hypothyroidism is unique and typically results from chemical or toxic exposure, not food sensitivity.

 
Q.

I have seen conflicting research on whether people with hyperthyroidism should take or avoid iodine. I have primarily read that foods and supplements with iodine should be avoided, but then, I recently saw an article claiming taking it would actually heal or improve the condition.

What is your understanding and recommendation on this? I follow a Nutritarian diet about 90% of the time and have hyperthyroidism, Grave’s disease, and thyroid eye disease.

A.

Hyperthyroidism is an autoimmune disease. That means the immune system attacks the thyroid gland. Iodine deficiency is rare. Both too little and too much iodine is harmful, but that has nothing to do with your thyroid disease. You should follow my high green diet, which is explained more in the November 2004 newsletter. It is the total program and the high amount of nutrient-rich produce that make this program so beneficial for hyperthyroidism.

 
Q.

Is hyperthyroidism always an autoimmune disorder?

Should someone with a thyroid disorder be tested for celiac disease?

Is it better to avoid gluten altogether (even without an intolerance)?

A.

Grave‘s disease is the most common cause of hyperthyroidism and is an autoimmune disease. One can also get hyperthyroidism from multinodular goiter, benign adenomas (growths that produce thyroid hormone on their own), and thyroid cancers. Various forms of thyroiditis (inflammation of the thyroid) can produce temporary hyperthyroidism. Since the autoimmune kind is most common (but you should follow up with your endocrinologist to determine the cause of your hyperthyroidism), following the autoimmune protocol in the November 2004 newsletter would be beneficial, and yes, it involves avoiding gluten.

 
Q.

I just had lab tests done which showed a TSH of 0.01. I definitely have the symptoms that go along with a thyroid problem, fatigue and weakness being the greatest complaints. How should I proceed? How much can diet do for this problem? Free T3 and free T4 were not done. Do they need to be?

A.

Make an appointment with your doctor. You don‘t want to wait, as the symptoms related to hyperthyroidism can be debilitating. Hyperthyroidism can cause serious problems, including heart arrhythmias.

You should have more tests, including the other thyroid tests.

I have treated patients with the early phases of autoimmune hyperthyroidism and seen complete recoveries, enabling them to avoid thyroid radiation and surgery.

In other words, besides measuring the disease activity and getting more tests done, you should begin the strictest version of the autoimmune protocol (November 2004 newsletter) immediately.