Health Column: Dealing with thyroid issues
Free Press Health Columnist
I have a good number of patients who come in to my office describing some flavor or another of feeling tired, overweight and depressed. They often wonder if they have an issue with their thyroid.
Most of the time, they are right; their butterfly-shaped gland at the throat is feeling a wee bit stressed out. The trouble is, getting better is not as simple as taking a prescription of Synthroid or porcine-derived Armour thyroid, as frequently after an initial success it just doesn’t seem to work as well.
You probably already know someone who is going through this story, maybe even you. The good news is if the cause(s) of that January post-holiday weariness can be successfully identified (possibly a vitamin B-12 or iron deficiency), you can start feeling better quickly, even if this has been going on for many years.
When a thyroid issue is present, it is most typically either classical hypothyroidism (fatigue, dry skin, loss of hair, a foggy mind and more) or Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (the body attacking the thyroid gland directly). When seeking the cause, the usual suspects include an inflammatory issue influenced by not-so-healthy eating, by-products of toxins in the body (like formaldehyde-laden conventional cigarettes, pesticides and lead) or a specific nutrient deficiency like tyrosine, selenium or iodine (the latter which can be identified with reasonable accuracy in my office using an iodine paint test.)
In Hashimoto’s, it begins with an overactive thyroid gland that eventually swings back to the same hypothyroid set of symptoms I just described. According to Sarah A. Lobisco, N.D., other diseases commonly present in people with Hashimoto’s include celiac disease, rheumatoid arthritis, vitiligo, diabetes mellitus, Addison’s disease, and pernicious anemia, making it important to look at the big picture of health.
We know from very recent and interesting Japanese and European studies that food allergies such as gluten and intestinal pathogens like Yersinia enterocolitica can cause a reaction in the thyroid. In fact, people with celiac disease have a 10 times greater risk of developing Hashimoto’s.
My colleague in Denver — Jacob Schor, N.D. — recently conveyed new research linking all autoimmune thyroid issues to Vitamin B-12 and iron deficiencies. Essentially, food allergies and helicobacter pylori infections can cause a stomach degradation known as atrophic gastritis, which often looks like hypochlorhydria (too little acid) and can lead to both of these deficiencies. Therefore, Dr. Schor noticed that his patients with hypothyroidism often benefit from taking the supplement betaine HCL, which I use prevalently in my practice.
Sometimes people with thyroid issues will recover when they remove obvious “obstacles to cure,” like smoking or home chemical use and clean up their food choices after identifying pesky food allergies. It also never hurts to look at the “issues in the tissues,” such as a chronic stress pattern or an inability for someone to speak their truth.
In my experience, patients recover most successfully and completely when a custom treatment plan is created that supports their body’s ability to heal itself.
Dr. Christopher Lepisto, a GJ Free Press health columnist, graduated as a naturopathic doctor (N.D.) from Bastyr University in Seattle, Wash. He is a native of Grand Junction and opened his practice here in 2004. Previously, Lepisto lived and worked in New Zealand, where he developed a special interest in indigenous herbal medicines. For more information, visit http://www.grandjunctionnaturopath.com or call 970-250-4104.
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