Thyroid Function and Disease
By: Dr. Kris Sargent; DC, MS-ACP
Thyroid issues are one of the most misdiagnosed and misunderstood health concerns. Kris Sargent, DC, Functional Medicine expert, and trained by Izabela Wentz and Datis Kharrazian’s work, says her patients tell her they “feel like crap” and often there is an underlying thyroid condition. Dr. Sargent understands what the thyroid is and what it does; how to test for actual thyroid function, and how to improve thyroid function whether the patient is on medication or not.
Thyroid Disease plagues up to 27 million people per year, or up to one in eight people who have thyroid disease, and 13 million will go undiagnosed. Thyroid disease is on the rise. Our toxic environment, poor food choices, lack of exercise, and mental and emotional stress contribute to the sick thyroid.
What is the thyroid and what does it do? The thyroid gland is a butterfly shaped gland located around your Adam’s apple. It secretes thyroid hormones, T4 (80%) and T3 (20%) as directed by the Pituitary gland which secretes TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone).
So, how does the Thyroid Work?
Common Thyroid Conditions and Symptoms
- Low and Slow (Hyperthyroid): Fatigue, dry skin and hair, hair loss, constipation, menstrual and menopausal irregularities, depression, cold hands, and feet, lower body temperature, weight gain, non-restful sleep, memory and concentration issues, infertility, muscle aches, high cholesterol and enlarged gland.
- Fast and Furious (Hyperthyroid): Nervous, irritable, sleepless nights, heat intolerance, weight loss, high heart rate, diarrhea or increased frequency of bowel movements and enlarged gland.
- Hashimoto’s: An autoimmune condition, your immune system is attacking you instead of invaders, causing the Hypothyroid condition.
- Grave’s: An autoimmune condition causing Hyperthyroidism.
Here’s the rub…
Thyroid TestingMost Doctors only test TSH or Thyroid Stimulating Hormone. This is a hormone secreted by the Pituitary, which is a small gland in the brain. TSH tells the Thyroid to produce Thyroid Hormones, T3 and T4, mostly T4. Therefore, Doctors MUST test total T3, Free and Total T4, and possibly Reverse T3 in certain circumstances. Also, Thyroid antibodies need to be tested to check for autoimmune issues and to monitor the progression of the autoimmune disease. T3, the most active thyroid hormone, is primarily made in the tissues where it is converted from T4. All of these are NUTRIENT DEPENDENT processes.
The Thyroid functions similar to the thermostat in a home. The pituitary and the hypothalamus sense how much T4 is circulating in the blood. When the level of T4 gets too low, the pituitary makes Thyroid Stimulating Hormone to “turn up” the production of T4. When the Thyroid is functioning normally, it increases production of T4 (80%) and T3 (20%). T3 is the most active form of the thyroid hormones. It is produced out in the body by converting T4 and T3. When the thyroid is sick, T4 is not produced properly. There are five common areas of dysfunction:
- At the Pituitary Level – the Pituitary may be sluggish in responding to low T4 levels.
- At the Thyroid Level – the Pituitary makes TSH but the Thyroid doesn’t respond by making T4.
- Autoimmune issues are probably if TSH is high and T4 is normal.
- THS and T4 are normal but signs and symptoms are indicating hypothyroid, there is probably a conversion issue of T4 or T3.
- If all numbers are normal, but symptoms still exist, there may be a receptor issue at the tissue level.
All of these processes are nutrient dependent. If the patient does not have the proper digestive function, continues to eat a poor diet, and lives a high-stress lifestyle, the thyroid will not function properly. Never underestimate the power of stress and poor nutrition on the body’s ability to function. Without proper nutrients, the body will not function properly.
Nutrients Necessary for Proper Thyroid Function
- T4 Manufacturing requires: Iodine, Zinc, Vitamins A, B-2,3, and 6, C.
- T4 to T3 Conversion: Zinc and Selenium
Hashimoto’s and Grave’s Autoimmune diseases are regulated by Vitamin D. Proper levels of Vitamin D help “turn off” the dysfunctional immune response.
Gluten is an issue for all autoimmune diseases!
Patients with autoimmune issues should be gluten free. Gluten looks like “selfie” tissues to the immune system, and so, the immune system “kicks in” when it sees gluten, thereby creating more destruction of the already sick tissue.
Dr. Sargent knows how to test and correct Thyroid issues. Her Functional Health Panel includes ALL of the Thyroid Tests along with about 40 other tests to get to the ROOT CAUSE of your health issues.