Thyroid Disease

FUNCTIONAL MEDICINE APPROACH

The vast majority of patients seen in our Functional Medicine clinic have dysfunctional thyroids. At first I was surprised when many of these patients had been diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease by their medical doctor. These patients were informed that this is an autoimmune disease, that is, their immune system was producing antibodies to their thyroid gland. Their thyroid was being attacked and destroyed by their own immune system. They were also told that Hashimoto’s was incurable. These patients were condemned to a life of misery and suffering.

Has this autoimmune disease reached epidemic proportions? Studies indicate that 90% of cases diagnosed as being hypoactive, or under functioning, are due to Hashimoto’s disease. According to the American Thyroid Association, 20 million Americans have thyroid disease. Unfortunately, some 60% of this population are unaware of their condition. One in eight females will develop thyroid disease. As of 2014 the highest selling drug in the United States is Levothyroxine, a synthetic thyroid hormone. The vast majority of patients on this thyroid hormone will never be able to get off this medication.

The conventional medical approach to thyroid disease leaves much to be desired. To begin with, an accurate diagnosis is crucial to ensure the best treatment. The wrong diagnosis is ineffective and can cause harm. If a patient presents with thyroid symptoms they are routinely prescribed synthetic thyroid hormone without ever addressing the cause. Another common scenario: the patient presents with thyroid symptoms but the lab tests are considered “normal”. Sadly this often results in the patient being labeled as neurotic and antidepressant drugs are prescribed.

You are driving down the road and the engine light comes on and keeps flashing.
There are several approaches you can take. The first one is to simply ignore the engine light and hopefully your engine will not be damaged. Secondly, you may find a way to turn off the flashing light. The correct approach is to take your car to a mechanic in order to investigate and correct the cause. Functional Medicine is NOT about giving you a drug to simply manage the symptoms but looks to finding and correcting the cause.

Functional Medicine researchers have determined several causes of thyroid disease. These include: infections with fungal organisms and viruses, chemicals, nutrient deficiencies due to allergies, and goitrogens or foods that inhibit Iodine uptake.

The minerals Iodine, Selenium, and Zinc are essential for proper thyroid function. These minerals are required for synthesis of thyroid hormones. All patients diagnosed with thyroid disease and seen in our clinic have tested positive for allergies to these essential minerals. Until the allergies are resolved, the body cannot metabolize these minerals and the result is a nutritional deficiency.

Chemicals that interfere with thyroid metabolism are are called Thyroid Disrupting Chemicals or “TDC’s”. These include PetroChemicals and pthalates found in plastics. Flouride and chlorine found in our drinking water are well known thyroid disruptors. Bromide found in breads also competes with Iodine resulting in hypothyroidism.

Infections with Epstein Barr virus and H pylori are found in the vast majority of patients with thyroid disease. Epstein Barr or EBV causes “mono” and many patients have chronic EBV infections. H pylori is a bacteria found in the stomach and small intestines that erodes the stomach layers and eventually results in ulcers. As long as these infections are present they disrupt the immune system and the endocrine glands, especially the thyroid.

My holistic approach to thyroid disease centers on determining the cause and addressing the cause. This includes spinal manipulation, allergy elimination, laser therapy, MORA therapy, herbs, and homeopathy.