THYROID DISEASE AND ITS HEALING
by Lawrence Wilson, MD
© July 2013, The Center For Development
The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped gland that sits in the throat area at the level of the Adam’s apple. It is a very unique gland that is absolutely required for life.
The thyroid hormones. The thyroid gland produces several very important hormones. The major one is called thyroxine. Other names for the same hormone are tetra-iodothyronine or T4. The thyroid also seems to produce a little tri-iodothyronine or T3. Most of this hormone, however, is made elsewhere in the body. It also produces a hormone called calcitonin that helps regulate calcium in the body. It tends to reduce serum calcium levels.
Functions of the thyroid hormones. My mentor, Dr. Paul Eck, used to say that the thyroid hormones are like the spark plugs of the body. They ignite the “fuel” in the mitochondria of each cell and this is necessary to produce biochemical energy with which the body performs all of its functions. For this reason, any problem with the thyroid gland causes energy problems and usually fatigue, at the very least.
These amazing hormones increase the metabolic rate, also speeding up the oxidation rate, a slightly different concept used in nutritional balancing science. The metabolic rate, in turn, impacts every area of body functioning. This includes digestion, cardiovascular health, and the metabolism of fats, carbohydrates and proteins. It affects DNA and protein synthesis, body weight, heart rate, blood pressure, respiration, muscle strength, sleep and sexual functioning, among other things.
Thyroid cretinism. Thyroid hormones also give a certain brightness and lightness to the personality. Low levels during gestation or the development of a fetus cause a type of mental slowness or retardation called cretinism. This is the origin of the slang expression calling a stupid person a “cretin”.
Thyroid depression. Low levels in childhood cause reduced mental activity, and often depression.
Hyper personality type. Too much thyroid hormone causes extreme irritability and nervousness. The slang phrase in which one describes a person as “hyper” comes from the word hyperthyroid.
Expression and creativity. The thyroid hormones are also concerned with creativity and expression in the world. They are needed to reach out to the world and participate in it. Those with very low thyroid functioning are often withdrawn and depressed for this reason. In contrast, many famous people who are “out in the world” have higher levels of thyroid hormones.
The thyroid body type. Some doctors recognize a “thyroid glandular body type”. These individuals generally have stronger thyroid glands and weaker adrenal glands. They are generally tall, slender and have a more linear, and often a wiry type of build. They are often mentally sharp, often in a “heady” and intellectual or “brainy” way. The women have smaller breasts and appear somewhat wispy, at times, although they are strong mentally and emotionally.
Some have been traumatized emotionally and are not as comfortable in their bodies, so they tend to go “up and out”. This means they are “up in their heads” too much. They have a great need for grounding and centering, and relaxation. When they burn out, they go into sympathetic dominance pattern and develop weaker digestion and constipation in many cases.
In contrast, the adrenal body type is shorter, stockier or fatter, and often more earthy and grounded. They are often not as intellectual, though they can be very smart. They are often physically stronger have a faster oxidation rate, and often have better digestion if they are at all healthy. The body types are generalizations, but they may help us understand some effects of the thyroid and the adrenal glands upon the body.
COMMON THYROID PROBLEMS
Thyroid imbalance and/or disease is one of the most common conditions in the Western world today. The problems tend to be worse in women, and worse in adults than in children.
Common types of thyroid imbalances include:
1. Underactive thyroid or hypothyroidism.
2. Myxedema (very low thyroid activity)
3. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, a mild infection of the thyroid gland.
4. Grave’s disease or hyperthyroidism.
5. Thyroid nodules.
7. Thyroid cancer.
In my experience, all of the conditions above can usually be handled much better with natural methods of care than with regular medical treatments. This is based on more than 30 years of experience. The only time that hormone therapy is needed is if one has absolutely no thyroid gland left due to surgery or radioactive iodine treatments or RAI.
In almost all cases, thyroid hormone replacement therapy may give symptomatic relief, but it will impair deeper healing. If a person has Grave’s disease or hyperthyroidism, irradiating the thyroid or cutting it out I find is never needed and is a very barbaric and harmful way of taking care of this relatively simple condition.
Instead of this approach, this article discusses a more fundamental and much more effective way to handle most thyroid conditions through nutritional balancing science. The correction may be slower, but it is permanent, and it builds health instead of destroying it.
WHY IS THYROID DISEASE SO COMMON TODAY?
Thyroid problems are epidemic around the world, especially in the Western world, for the following reasons:
1. Stress. Stress can cause many cases of thyroid imbalance. The stress can be physical, emotional, financial, structural or other. Any of these weakens the thyroid gland. To read more about this, read Stress on this website.
2. Iodine antagonists in the environment. This is a very serious problem that few talk about. However, the water and food supply is loaded with halogens, which are elements that can replace iodine in the thyroid gland. They mainly include fluorides, chlorides, and bromides. These elements compete with iodine for absorption and utilization in our bodies. When they replace iodine, the thyroid gland simply stops working properly. To read more about this, read Iodine And Iodine Antagonists on this website.
3. Copper and mercury toxicity in almost everyone. According to the research of Dr. Paul Eck and many others, copper and mercury can easily interfere with the functioning of the thyroid gland. They may do this by antagonizing or opposing the action of zinc, manganese and selenium, or perhaps by other mechanisms. Unfortunately, copper and mercury toxicity are almost universal today. Mercury gets into our bodies due to mercury in dental fillings, mercury in all fish except perhaps very small fish like sardines, and in some cases other sources of mercury. To read more about this, read Mercury Toxicity on this site.
Copper imabalance is due to many factors. Among the most important are adrenal insufficiency, vegetarian-type diets, zinc deficiency, stress and a few others. To learn about this, read Copper Toxicity Syndrome.
4. Nutrient deficiencies. These include low levels in our food of bioavailable zinc, selenium, iodine, manganese and others that are needed for proper thyroid functioning.
5. Autonomic system imbalances. This cause is related to stress of a certain type. To read about it, read Autonomic Nervous System Evaluation And Imbalances.
6. Other. Infections, cancers and other things occasionally arise in the thyroid gland. This is the case with Hashimoto’s disease. I find it goes away easily and one should not take hormones for it.
However, in most cases, these causes are secondary to the first five causes listed above. If those are taken care of, the infections and even cancers go away on their own.
Before discussing how to help most thyroid conditions, here is a brief review of how the thyroid gland works.
Thyroid gland metabolism involves many steps, all of which must work properly. Most doctors do not take into account the ones that are tissue thyroid problems, post-glandular problems or peripheral thyroid imbalances. All these terms mean the same thing, namely what happens to the thyroid hormones once they leave the thyroid gland. Here are the basic steps of thyroid hormone metabolism:
1. The hypothalamus must signal the pituitary gland to produce TSH. The hypothalamus produces a substance called TRH, that in turn signals the pituitary gland to produce TSH or thyroid-stimulating hormone.
2. The pituitary gland must secrete the right amount of TSH or thyroid stimulating hormone. TSH cause the thyroid to secrete thyroxine. Anything that upsets the delicate feedback system of the body, such as taking thyroid replacement medication, for example, or some other drugs, perhaps, can upset the hypothalamic and pituitary regulation of thyroid activity.
3. The thyroid gland must produce adequate T4. T4, also called tetraiodothyronine or thyroxine, is the hormone made in the thyroid gland. To make it requires manganese, iodine, selenium, tyrosine, cyclic AMP, vitamins C and B-complex, and many other micronutrients that are low in our food today. If you eat poor quality food, too much raw food except dairy products, refined foods, or a vegetarian diet, you will not get enough nutrients to supply the thyroid with all its nutritional needs.
Hormone production also requires adequate circulation to the thyroid gland. This is needed so that all the required nutrients and enough TSH can find their way to the gland. One problem in some women, in particular, is that tension in the neck area can impair the circulation to the thyroid area. Chiropractic, postural work, Rolfing, and other types of body therapies can be helpful to correct this. Nutritional balancing science will cause muscles relaxation that is often needed as well. Stress reduction is also most helpful.
Tension in the neck can overstimulate or irritate the nerves going to the thyroid gland. This leads to excessive hormone production for a short while, and then the gland begins to ‘burn out’ of nutrients, eventually causing a sluggish thyroid. Just giving nutrients does not really fix this problem, though it will help, of course. One must also release the tension on the nerves leading to the thyroid that are in the neck and cervical spine area. Otherwise, the gland will not function properly.
What often blocks hormone synthesis? Excessive oxidant stress, nutrient deficiencies or toxic metals or chemicals that find their way to the thyroid can block hormone synthesis.
Mercury and copper toxicity may sometimes stimulate hormone synthesis, but in other cases these and other toxic metals may inhibit or interfere with hormone synthesis. Among the worst offenders are fluorides, chlorine compounds and bromides found in breads. These directly antagonize or compete with iodine uptake, preventing proper hormone synthesis. This is a terrible problem today because we are all exposed to these chemicals.
4. Hormone release. Secretion of thyroid hormones requires some sympathetic nervous stimulation. Some people have imbalances affecting the autonomic nervous system that may block the secretion of thyroid hormone.
5. Absorption into the cells. Once released into the blood, T4 must be absorbed into the body cells. For this to occur, the cell membranes must function properly. Too little or too much cell membrane permeability will affect the uptake of T4 into the cells. This is a very common problem.
Problems with cell permeability can be due to accumulation of biounavailable calcium and magnesium in the cell membranes. This excessively stabilizes the cell membranes and reduces cell permeability. Deficient calcium and magnesium cause excessive cell permeability.
Oxidant stress or impaired fatty acid metabolism such as a deficiency of omega-3 fatty acids or other damage to cell membranes can also block the absorption of thyroxine.
Copper affects absorption by altering calcium and potassium levels. Cadmium or nickel toxicity affect hormone absorption by affecting the levels of calcium, sodium and other critical minerals.
6. Conversion to T3. Once inside the cells, thyroxine must be converted to T3 or tri-iodothyronine, the more active form of the hormone. This conversion requires selenium, magnesium and other nutrients. Fully 60% of this conversion occurs in the liver, so problem in the liver can interfere with T4 to T3 conversion.
Some people produce a hormone called reverse T3, which has a blocking effect on T3. In my experience, this is due to toxic metal poisoning. If a person eats correctly on the oxidation type diets described on this website, and removes his toxic metals, especially mercury, this is not a concern and goes away on its own.
7. Thyroid receptor problems inside the cells. According to my teacher, Dr. Paul Eck, adequate potassium helps sensitize the cells to thyroid hormone. Potassium imbalances, which are common, may therefore interfere with thyroid hormone utilization. Other problems could also interfere with the thyroid hormone receptors on the cells, as well.
8. Utilization in the Mitochondria. The mitochondria must respond to T3 by making ATP or adenosine triphosphate in the glycolysis and carboxylic acid cycles. This require many nutrients such as B-complex vitamins, iron, copper and a few others. This amazing process produces the substance, ATP, that is like the refined gasoline, as opposed to crude oil, that our bodies actually use for fuel
Once ATP is formed in the mitochonidria, the body cells must also be able to use it properly. Basically, the ATP is converted to another chemical called ADP, which must then be recycled back to ATP. Here again, many nutrients are needed to utilize ATP properly and recycle it properly. If any of the nutritional factors are deficient, or if any toxins block these critical steps in the energy pathways, thyroid hormones will be ineffective in increasing energy production.
9. Elimination of excess T3 by the kidneys. Finally, T3 must be eliminated from the cells and be removed by the kidneys from the body, or it will build up and cause a type of thyrotoxicosis. For this to occur proplerly, T3 must be able to pass out of the cell nuclei, then out of the cell through the cell membrane, and one must also have adequate kidney activity. Problems with weakness of the kidneys are very common, especially in older people, and problems with the cell membrane have been mentioned earlier.
Resulting thyroid imbalances. Problems can occur at any stage of the production, release, conversion, utilization or elimination of thyroid hormone. Current concepts of hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism are incomplete and often misleading as they only relate to hormone production and release.
For example, one may have inadequate hormone production due to radiation damage. Another person may produce enough hormone, but has an autonomic imbalance preventing its release.
Another cannot transport enough hormones into the cells due to low cell permeability. Still another person might have adequate hormone production but be unable to utilize the hormones in the cells due to manganese deficiency or fluoride toxicity.
Another may have excess hormone production due to copper or mercury toxicity and at the same time have inadequate cell permeability, causing a mixture of hypo- and hyperthyroid symptoms.
MEDICAL APPROACHES TO THYROID DISEASE
The prevalence of thyroid disease and the failure of the medical profession to handle it correctly is one of the most important failures of allopathic or conventional medical care. Modern naturopathic and holistic care is little better but may include dietary and nutritional correction, at least.
We find that thyroid replacement hormones are rarely needed, and in almost all cases harmful. Problems with taking thyroid replacement hormones of any kind, natural or synthetic, include:
1. Hormone replacement does nothing to improve the conversion of T4 to T3. One can give T3, and this is better for this reason.
2. Hormone replacement does nothing to assist passage of thyroid hormone through the cell membranes.
3. Hormone replacement does nothing to assist the absorption of T3 into the mitochondria.
4. Hormone replacement does nothing to assist the normal production of ATP in the mitochondria, which requires many nutrients.
5. Hormone replacement does nothing to assist the body to “burn” or utilize the ATP, convert it to ADP, and then recycle it back to ATP.
6. Hormone replacement completely mixes up the delicate cybernetic feedback system that normally regulates pituitary TSH production, thyroid hormone synthesis, and all other steps in this complex process that is essential for life and health.
Medical thyroid testing. Thyroid physiology is very complex, as explained above. Just measuring the serum levels of T3, T4 and TSH, and perhaps thyroid antibodies, which is what most endocrinologists and doctors do, is just touching the surface of the problem and wholly inadequate.
I recommend the method of thyroid assessment developed by Dr. Paul C. Eck as a far better way to evaluate and correct all thyroid problems. How this is done is explained below.
Now let us discuss common thyroid conditions and their correction with nutritional balancing science.
MAJOR THYROID IMBALANCES
This is defined medically as a low T4 and perhaps a low T3 level. This is a common health condition, especially in women over the age of about 30.
The real cause in most cases, we find, often involves low iodine, and the buildup of bromine, fluorine and chlorine compounds that damage the functioning of the thyroid gland, perhaps by an oxidant mechanism. Other toxic metals or nutrient deficiencies such as low selenium, low zinc, low manganese and others may also contribute to the problem. In some cases, the thyroid is fine, but the transport, conversion and utilization of thyroid hormone are abnormal. This is common, in fact.
When viewed this way, one can see why the accepted medical method of just giving more thyroid hormones to those with low circulating levels of T3 or T4 is inadequate and often stupid. They may address the symptom, but they do nothing for the cause of the problem. It is at best a partial and artificial solution.
Symptoms of hypothyroidism. Common symptoms include fatigue, dry skin and hair, brittle hair, hair loss, split ends of the hair, splitting, brittle or broken fingernails, weight gain (though in some cases one is very thin), cold intolerance, a pasty skin color, often some depression or apathy, and perhaps feelings of depression.
If the condition persists for years, more serious symptoms develop. According to researchers such as Broda Barnes, MD and others, these include heart palpitations, heart attacks, cancers, diabetes and many other serious health problems.
Myxedema. This is a more severe form of hypothyroidism. Usually the person is obese, and the skin of the face and the body takes on a dough-like appearance and hangs off the face like pizza dough. One usually feels tired, depressed, and will develop more serious symptoms if the conditions persists, which it usually does for years. Medical treatment with thyroid hormone replacement therapy helps a little, but is not enough by itself to correct the condition.
Blood test results. T3 and/or T4 are low and TSH is often elevated.
Hair analysis findings. A properly performed hair mineral analysis will usually reveal a slow oxidation rate. Rarely, a three highs or four highs pattern is present. About 80% or more of the American, European and most Asian populations have a slow oxidation rate, and millions have a very slow oxidation rate, indicating hidden thyroid problems. A slow oxidation rate means the hair calcium and magnesium levels are high relative to the sodium and potassium levels.
In a few cases, fast oxidation is present, but will generally shift to slow oxidation within a few months on a nutritional balancing program. The problem of fast oxidation with hypothyroid symptoms or low Te and T4 levels is discussed near the end of this article.
Autonomic nervous system imbalances and hypothyroidism. A hair analysis pattern called sympathetic dominance is commonly seen with hypothyroidism and with Grave’s disease as well. Sympathetic dominance is a personality tendency, as well as a pattern that is fed by biochemical imbalances such as copper and mercury toxicity. Individuals with this autonomic imbalance need to relax more, slow down and rest more. For more on this interesting autonomic imbalance, read Sympathetic Dominance Pattern on this website.
This is the name given to a condition in which the T3 and T4 levels are within normal limits, but the TSH level is elevated. Many doctors prefer not to treat this condition with hormone replacement, while others think of it as simply an early stage of hypothyroidism and recommend therapy with hormone replacement for it.
Correction. Nutritional balancing is usually completely successful in restoring normal thyroid activity in almost all cases of hypothyroidism. Correcting myxedema can also be done, but takes longer.
Most people with hypothyroidism start to feel better in a few weeks of less. However, it can take months to a few years, or even longer to remove all of the chlorine, bromine and fluorine compounds from the thyroid gland, replenish a dozen or more nutrients, and balance the body chemistry.
Daily near infrared lamp sauna therapy, and daily coffee enemas, along with the rest of a nutritional balancing program, will usually speed up this process significantly.
For fast progress, do not take thyroid replacement hormones. We find that stopping the use of synthetic or natural thyroid hormones will also significantly speed up deeper healing. This is almost always easy to do, although one will have a drug rebound effect that causes fatigue, irritability and other symptoms for a few days. We handle this by temporarily increasing the amount of adrenal glandular, thyroid glandular, B-complex vitamins, selenium and other supportive nutrients for a few days to a few weeks until it passes.
For a shorter article about elevated TSH and the correction of hypothyroidism, read High TSH And Its Correction on this site.
HYPERTHYROIDISM OR GRAVE’S DISEASE
An overactive thyroid is quite common today, and seen more in younger adult women, and in some men as well. It is not found in children that I am aware of. Serum levels of T3 and T4 are often elevated. TSH is often low, but not necessarily.
Symptoms. Mild cases may show few symptoms except elevated serum T3 and T4 levels. More severe symptoms may include anxiety, irritability, trouble sleeping, excessive hunger or thirst, heart palpitations, tachycardia and extreme nervousness. In some cases, the eyes bulge out, a condition called exothalmos. Along with these symptoms, the person is often easily fatigued. A very serious and fortunately rare complication is called a thyroid storm. The heart races out of control and shock or death may occur.
Possible causes. These may be several, and include:
1. A TSH-secreting pituitary tumor. This is rare, but is could occur.
2. A hormone-secreting thyroid tumor. This is also uncommon.
3. An infection. This could irritates the gland or somehow increases hormone production. This is also rare.
4. Elevated soft tissue calcium. This appears to be a contributing factor in all cases, as revealed on hair mineral analyses. High hair calcium 1) reduces cell permeability, 2) is always associated with hidden copper toxicity, and 3) is associated with adrenal exhaustion. All of these are discussed below.
5. Impaired cell permeability. If thyroid hormone passage through the cell membranes is impaired, the body may compensate, especially when under a lot of stress, by secreting more thyroid hormones. This would account for the odd symptom picture often seen in Grave’s disease of a combination of excessive thyroid hormones and fatigue.
6. Copper or mercury toxicity. This is often found on hair mineral analyses in cases of Grave’s disease. It is known that copper and mercury can stimulate thyroid hormone production in some circumstances.
7. Adrenal exhaustion. This is also seen on most hair analyses in cases of Grave’s disease. Reasons why adrenal insufficiency or burnout may be able to give rise to hyperthyroidism include:
a. A low tissue potassium level may impair the sensitivity of the tissues to thyroid hormone. In response, the body may elevate T4 and/or T3 production as a compensation.
b. The condition may actually be a type of failed stress response. The thyroid gland tries to respond, but the adrenal glands do not join in, so to speak, and the result is a failed response and the symptoms of hyperthyroidism.
8. Possibly a pinched nerve due to tension or subluxation of a cervical vertebrae in the neck. I believe this can stress the thyroid gland, and it should be investigated in any case of hyperthyroidism.
9. Stress as a cause or as a trigger. Very often, extreme stress is the trigger that causes Grave’s disease. The person may push hard in some way, causing an incomplete stress reaction. The presence of toxic metals, nutrient deficiencies and a mental tendency to be very willful all seem to combine to cause the symptoms.
Hair analysis findings. In most cases, a hair analysis performed by not washing the hair at the laboratory and interpreted by the method of Dr. Paul C. Eck reveals:
1. A slow oxidation rate.
2. Hair and soft tissue calcium is often very high. I do not recall a case where it was not at least somewhat elevated. This may be a key to understanding this condition.
3. Sympathetic dominance pattern is often present. This is an autonomic nervous system imbalance in which a person places much more stress on the thyroid and adrenal glands and often due to a personality or mental tendency or imbalance.
4. Often the sodium and potassium levels are very low.
5. The sodium/potassium ratio is normal or even elevated.
In a few cases, however, fast oxidation or four highs pattern is present, and rarely the sodium/potassium ratio is low.
Correction. Grave’s disease responds excellently to nutritional balancing in most cases. In difficult cases, anti-thyroid drugs may be needed for a few months to control symptoms, and then they can be discontinued as the condition goes away.
Surgery and RAI (radioactive iodine treatment to destroy the thyroid gland) are never needed in my experience, so far, with probably over 100 cases. These are both barbaric treatments for a disorder that the medical doctors simply do not understand.
Cautions with Grave’s disease.
1. Stress, if present, must often be reduced a lot for full correction to occur. Then metabolic correction often works well and rapidly to correct this imbalance. Avoid all extra stress, including even exercise until the condition stabilizes.
2. You must modify nutritional balancing programs for Grave’s disease, as follows: Do not give much Megapan, Hi-B, Thyro-complex or Endo-dren. Also, give more Paramin (calcium and magnesium) if needed to calm the person down. GB-3 in high doses of 2-2-2 or more is excellent if possible without diarrhea. Limcomin, Endopan or Zinc should be okay.
The person should drink 3 quarts of spring water daily, and rest and sleep are most important.
3. Sauna therapy with a near infrared lamp sauna only appears to be very safe, and an excellent therapy. Perhaps it is because it can reduce the stress response of the autonomic nervous system that is driving the thyroid. It also helps to remove toxic metals such as copper, mercury, chlorine and others. It is also just very relaxing.
GOITER, HASHIMOTO’S THYROIDITIS, CYSTS, TUMORS AND OTHER THYROID CONDITIONS
Goiter. Goiter is an older medical term that simply means an enlarged or hypertrophied thyroid gland. This used to be common in certain parts of America and elsewhere in the world, usually due to iodine deficiency in the diet. Today it is relatively rare, but may occur due to a problem with the absorption or utilization of iodine, and rarely for other reasons such as an infection in the thyroid gland. I do not see the condition very often. However, it usually responds well to nutritional balancing science.
Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is another common thyroid condition. We find that it is an opportunistic infection in the thyroid that causes reduced thyroid hormone secretion. It almost always clears up easily when one follows a nutritional balancing program. I do not recommend hormone replacement therapy for this simple disorder, and hormone replacement will slow one’s progress, in all cases.
Medical science calls thyroiditis an auto-immune disorder because thyroid antibodies show up in the blood. However, it does not seem to matter what the disease is called. It still clears up quite easily with a properly designed nutritional balancing program. This requires working ONLY with one of the Approved Practitioners listed on this website. Click here to view the practitioner referral page.
Other rarer conditions. Other thyroid conditions are less common. They include various types of cysts, nodules, infections and tumors. Thyroid cysts and nodules may be cancerous and should be checked.
Non-cancerous lesions often respond well to a nutritional balancing program. Cancerous lesions will usually respond well to a natural cancer therapy, and surgical removal of the thyroid should not be needed. For more on natural cancer alternatives, read Introduction To Cancer on this website.
THYROID TESTING ISSUES
One of the reasons for such poor medical treatment of thyroid conditions is that doctors relay upon the circulating serum levels of thyroid hormones, such as T3 and T4. Some doctors also measure reverse T3, TSH, thyroid antibiodies or other tests.
None of these address the issues of thyroid toxicity with fluorine, chlorine and bromine compounds. Also, none address iodine deficiency, which I find to be almost universal, even in those who eat seafood. The reason is that the thyroid antagonists mentioned above compete with iodine for absorption and utilization, so less dietary iodine is absorbed. The blood tests also do not address the serious issue of deficiencies of other minerals or other nutrients needed for adequate thyroid functioning such as protein, selenium, manganese and others.
Dr. Barnes and the temperature test for thyroid assessment. Dr. Broda Barnes, MD suggested taking one’s morning temperature to assess thyroid activity. If it is low, thyroid activity is often low. This method is crude, and not too accurate. Other factors can cause a low body temperature, especially reduced adrenal glandular activity, and even low blood sugar. So I do not recommend it. However, it is a simple test that anyone can do.
HAIR MINERAL ANALYSIS FOR THYROID ASSESSMENT
Dr. Paul C. Eck found a way to assess the thyroid using a properly performed hair analysis in which the hair is not washed at the laboratory. Unfortunately, only two labs in America and none around the world that I know of do not wash the hair at the lab.
Hair analysis assessment very different than serum hormone testing. Hair mineral assessment of the thyroid by the method of Dr. Paul Eck is totally different from serum hormone testing, often causing confusion. The hair analysis measures a metabolic or cellular effect of the thyroid hormones upon the metabolic or oxidation rate. It can also measure the levels of certain trace minerals and toxic metals that affect the thyroid. It does not measure the levels of circulating serum hormones.
For this reason, hair and blood tests for thyroid activity often do not match. I find that that hair assessment is often far more accurate, though not always.
Here are some of the most important thyroid assessment indicators found on a hair mineral analysis:
1. Hair calcium. The higher the level of hair calcium, in general, the lower the effective activity of the thyroid gland. This occurs because one of the effects of T3 and T4 is to lower calcium levels in the tissues and at times, in the blood. For example, it is known that hyperthyroidism can cause tetany, or muscle contractions that are due to low serum calcium.
Lower calcium is also associated with increased cell permeability. This may allow more thyroid hormone to enter the cells, increasing the cellular effect of the same amount of circulating serum thyroid hormones.
2. Hair potassium. A lower hair potassium is associated with reduced cellular effects of thyroid hormones. Dr. Eck felt this occurs because it is known that low potassium is associated with reduced sensitivity of the mitochondrial receptors to thyroid hormone. Also, low potassium and sodium are associated with reduced cell permeability to thyroid hormones.
This means that even if the serum thyroid hormone levels are normal, when tissue potassium is low they may not be utilized, resulting in a low thyroid effect. This commonly contributes to thyroid problems in slow oxidizers.
3. The calcium/potassium ratio is called the thyroid ratio. Dr. Eck felt that ratios were often better ways to assess body functioning. For the reasons given in 1 and 2 above, Dr. Eck decided upon the calcium/potassium ratio as the thyroid ratio. It is the primary way he used to assess overall thyroid activity.
Dr. Eck may have taken this idea from the fascinating work of Dr. Louis Kervan. He, too, believed that the thyroid hormones regulate the ratio of calcium to potassium in the body.
Other possible hair indicators are:
1. Manganese deficiency or biounavailability. Manganese is required for energy production in the mitochondria of the cells. Manganese deficiency or biounavailability are very common today. This may be indicated on a properly performed hair analysis by a manganese level of less than about 0.016 mg% or more than about 0.04 mg%.
Dr. Eck felt that most people are manganese deficient today. Adrenal exhaustion may contribute to manganese deficiency if the binding protein, transmanganin, is not produced in sufficient quantity.
2. Copper toxicity. Copper imbalance can stimulate the thyroid in an unnatural way. It may play a role in hypothyroidism and in Grave’s disease or hyperthyroidism.
Copper assessment is tricky using hair mineral analysis. One must not use the copper level, as it is often unreliable. Instead, one must look for hidden copper indicators. For more on this, read Copper Toxicity Syndrome on this site. However, copper imbalance appears to be very important in some thyroid conditions.
3. Selenium. Selenium is required to produce thyroid hormone and to convert T4 to T3. It is also required to detoxify and remove most heavy metals and toxic chemicals from the body. Hair analysis can provide some information about selenium status. Most people, however, need more selenium today.
4. Mercury. Mercury can also accumulate in the thyroid gland, altering its functioning. Hair analysis is excellent to asses mercury, provided one realizes that mercury toxicity is epidemic and affects most people. A very low level is no guarantee that it is not present and simply not being eliminated at the time of the test. Hair mercury should be about 0.025 to 0.04 mg%. Anything higher or lower is usually indicative of toxicity. Lower levels indicate a Poor Eliminator tendency, explained in another article on this site.
5. Other. In a few cases, other indicators are important to assess the thyroid. These include the oxidation rate, the sodium/potassium ratio, sympathetic dominance pattern and others.
THYROID HORMONES DANGEROUS WHEN FAST OXIDATION IS PRESENT
When hair tissue calcium and magnesium are low, as in fast oxidizers, cell membranes are more permeable. This may cause a more rapid uptake of thyroid hormone into the cells. As a result, the serum T3 and T4 may actually be a little low.
In this situation, a person may experience fatigue for many possible reasons such as toxic metal poisoning. Physicians who depend upon serum hormone levels (T3 and T4) or TSH levels to assess the thyroid often then conclude that the patient needs thyroid hormone replacement therapy.
While this may give symptomatic relief, this will make the patient's condition much worse by moving the patient even further into fast oxidation. This is very dangerous and may lead to cancer and death.
We do not advise going against the orders of your doctor. However, anyone who is taking thyroid hormones whose hair mineral analysis reveals a fast oxidation rate should seriously reconsider taking these hormones.
NATURAL AND SYNTHETIC THYROID GLANDULAR PRODUCTS
Thyroid glandular products. These are natural thyroid glandular products from animals in which the hormones have been squeezed out, or somehow removed. Most are freeze-dried products, although other preparations are available, too, including liquids, homeopathics, herbal blends and salt-extracted products.
I use a freeze-dried whole thyroid glandular product on most people with underactive thyroid activity or slow oxidation with wonderful success.
Exactly how or why the glandular products work is not well understood, but they are quite effective to help rebuild their target organ or gland. They definitely contain many micro-nutrients for the gland, some of which we may not have even identified. They also seem to have a resonance effect, meaning that they vibrate or pulse or resonate at a frequency that somehow encourages the restoration of the target gland.
Thyroid replacement hormones. If one must take thyroid hormones, the naturally-derived ones should work better. This is not always the case, but often they are less toxic and basically more nutritious. The natural products contain many other nutrients that may be needed for the thyroid. For example, they all contain some iodine, selenium and other minerals vital for thyroid activity. They may also have a resonance, or energetic, or homeopathic type of effect that may increase their effectiveness. This is the same as with the thyroid glandular nutritional products discussed above.
Having said this, I find that taking any thyroid hormones at all of any type generally slows the healing of the thyroid gland at the deepest level. This may be because all hormone products upset the delicate feedback loop system of thyroid regulation. They all tend to “fixate” the system, preventing the normal ebb and flow of hormone secretion that takes place moment by moment, day and night, in all of us. Some are also toxic to varying degrees.
Armour thyroid is the most potent of the natural products, while Naturethroid, Westhroid and others tend to be less potent.
DIET AND ITS EFFECTS ON THYROID ACTIVITY
Today, a very important cause of thyroid problems is the diet. This cannot be overstated or repeated often enough. There is much confusion on this subject, but we find consistently that some foods help the thyroid while others inhibit or damage it.
Among the best foods for the thyroid gland are any that contain iodine. The problem of the iodine antagonists has been explained earlier in this article and in the article entitled The Iodine Antgonists. Iodine-rish would include all fish, all sea vegetables and perhaps a few land- based foods that have a little iodine. Land-based foods vary greatly in their iodine content, however, depending on where they are grown and how they are fertilized.
For this reason, the best source is usually sea products. However, most are loaded with mercury, so we don’t recommend them.
Kelp is my favorite source of iodine, by far. (See below for a discussion of other iodine products). Kelp is a natural food, has a very good balance of trace minerals, and has a high alginate content that binds and removes any toxic metals that are in the product such as mercury, cadmium, lead, arsenic and others found in all sea products today.
Kelp is often sold in capsules. I can only recommend Nature’s Way, Solaray, Norwegian Kelp, and perhaps a few other brands. Many other brands are not as good and in fact, are toxic. They are often different species of kelp that have a higher mercury content or perhaps a lower alginate content. For more on this subject, read Kelp on this website.
Other sea vegetables have much more mercury and less alginates, and should be strictly limited or avoided. These include most dulse, nori, hijiki, wakame and others.
Sardines are another good source of iodine. Everyone can eat up to 3 or 4 cans per week. For more on this amazing food, read Sardines on this site. Please avoid consuming all larger fish, however. they all contain some iodine, but their level of toxic metals is too high, and as a result they are no longer healthful foods for regular consumption. This is very unfortunate, but true in our experience. Anyone who eats larger fish than sardines begins to accumulate toxic metals on their hair analysis within a few weeks in most cases.
The worst foods for the thyroid. For thyroid health, it is most helpful to avoid certain foods. Among these are:
1.Sugars, including even fruit sugars, fruit juices and many others. The reason is that sugars often cause a sympathetic nervous system reaction in the body. This is not helpful for the thyroid and adrenal glands at all.
2. Most soy products. These contain thyroid inhibitors in many cases. Especially avoid all unfermented soy such as soy protein powders, Hamburger Helper, and many others. Tofu and tempeh are not quite as bad, but not highly recommended foods, either. They are lower quality protein foods that are fine once in a while, but not as staples.
3. Tap water. Drinking tap water, even carbon filtered tap water, will increase your intake of toxic fluorides and chlorine compounds as well. This is why I recommend spring water only.
Do not drink reverse osmosis water in your effort to obtain clean water. Reverse osmosis water does not seem to hydrate the body well in most cases, and makes the body more yin. It is also seriously deficient in trace minerals. For a much more complete discussion on water, read Water For Drinking on this site.
4. Foods made with tap water. These tend to contain chlorides and usually fluorides in America that are direct thyroid (iodine) antagonists. They include hundreds of prepared items such as breads, beverages like teas and coffees in restaurants, soda pop and many other prepared foods.
5. Commercial breads. These may contain bromides. Pepperidge Farm claims not to use bromine in their flour. Most breads also contain bleaches that may contain chlorides and they contain water that contains chlorides and often fluorides. Breads have many other problems as well, such as added iron and the fact that they contain wheat in most cases. Wheat is an irritating food. For more on this subject, read Bread And Why Avoid Most Of It.
6. All refined and processed foods. These are low in many vital nutrients needed by the thyroid gland.
7. Raw cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and broccoli. These have a mild thyroid inhibitor in them. However, cooking these foods destroys this chemical and then they are superb foods.. I recommend cooking most vegetables, anyway, for many reasons that are explained in an article entitled Raw Foods.
Warning: Do not take thyroid replacement hormones, or thyroid glandular nutritional products, thyroid stimulating herbs or vitamins and minerals that increase thyroid activity if one is in a four lows mineral pattern. In fact, this is one of the worst things to do, and always makes the four lows pattern worse.
OTHER APPROACHES TO THYROID THERAPY
1. Iodine therapy. This has become very popular. Most holistic doctors are using Iodoral, Lugol’s solution, or other iodine preparations. I think they are on the right track giving iodine to many clients. I prefer kelp for the reasons discussed above and also because I find that many other iodine products can build up in the liver. In other words, they are slightly toxic. I have not seen this with kelp, however, which is, after all, a totally natural food eaten by human beings for thousands of years.
Some object to kelp because it contains mercury and other toxic metals from the sea. This is a valid concern. However, I have not seen toxicity from Nature’s Way and Solaray Kelp, and few other brands. This may be due to their very high alginate content that binds and removes toxic metals found in the kelp.
2. Relaxation therapies such as meditation. This is an excellent adjunctive approach to help the thyroid. Part of nutritional balancing science is a mental exercise taught by Mr. Roy Masters. It is extremely relaxing when done properly. For more on this, read Meditation on this site.
3. Chiropractic and perhaps other body work such as rolfing. This can be very helpful to relieve tension in the neck area that can put pressure on the cervical spinal nerves leading to the thyroid gland. Quality chiropractic, therapeutic massage and Rolfing or structural integration, and cranio-sacral therapies are all excellent and highly recommended.
4. Foot and hand reflexology. This is also excellent to relax the body and mind, and for some types of thyroid imbalances. It is very simple and can be done at home by yourself or by a friend or partner or a professional reflexologist. For more, read Reflexology on this site.
5. Yoga. Some yoga practices for the thyroid involve twisting the neck or bending the head forward to put certain pressures on the thyroid area. These I would avoid. We find that too many people are injured with yoga, and other problems develop as well. For more on this, read Yoga, Its Benefits And Problems.
6. Acupuncture and herbal cures. Acupuncture needling may be helpful in some cases. Please avoid all Oriental herbal therapies, however. Oriental berbs are too toxic today for long-term use. This is very unfortunate, but is reflected on hair mineral tests all the time.
Herbal approaches for the thyroid often contain stimulant or other toxins such as toxic metals. The only “herb” for the thyroid that I recommend is kelp for everyone. More on these sciences if found in the articles entitled Acupuncture and Herbs.
SPIRITUAL AND ESOTERIC ASPECTS OF THYROID CONDITIONS
The thyroid gland is located right at the level of the fifth energy center called the throat chakra in Oriental spiritual books. This center has to do with expression and creativity. Thyroid problems are sometimes more severe in individuals who are having difficulty expressing themselves, or who feel suppressed or shut down in their creative endeavors. This may include many women, for example.
Releasing emotional traumas and correcting all lifestyle imbalances is thus helpful for some thyroid conditions. This may be essential, for example, in some cases of Grave’s disease, in which stress is playing a key role in causing the condition.