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Olwen Anderson's Blog

What interferes with thyroid function

Saturday, January 13, 2018

What can go wrong with the thyroid process? Lots, as it turns out. Here are some of the most likely: 

1. Lack of raw materials: If your thyroid doesn't have enough of the raw materials it needs to create thyroid hormone production won't happen, no matter how much thyroid stimulating hormone is pushed towards it by the pituitary gland. The most important raw materials are iodine, zinc, selenium and vitamin B12, but there are others too. A word of warning, though, lest you were about to reach for an iodine or selenium supplement: If your thyroid gland suddenly encounters a large dose of iodine it can actually slow down temporarily. Also, selenium is toxic in large doses. Allow your health practitioner to choose the right supplements and dose for you.

2. Autoimmunity: If your immune system becomes unbalanced it can begin to attack particular organs as if they were enemy invaders. That attack stops thyroid hormone production by the gland because the immune system destroys the hormone producing cells. Thyroid antibodies (the indicator that your thyroid gland is under attack from your immune system) can be measured with a blood test, and may be diagnosed as 'Hashimotos thyroiditis' or 'Graves’ Disease'. I've noticed that women seem most susceptible to autoimmune thyroid problems when they've been under sustained high levels of stress for quite some time. When you’re under stress high levels of circulating cortisol upsets your immune system function.

3. Thyroid nodules are simply lumps on your thyroid gland; and like any odd lump, needs to be checked by a medical practitioner. Some nodules are benign, harmless and have no effect; others could be interfering with your thyroid function, over-producing thyroid hormones or growing in a way that begins to squeeze surrounding tissues. Or the nodules could contain malignant cells. Your doctor may palpate (feel) your thyroid gland for the presence of these nodules, but they’re more likely to be assessed via ultrasound, and potentially a biopsy.

4. An unhealthy liver: Since it's in your liver that the prohormone T4 is converted to its active T3 form, a sluggish liver function or a fatty liver is going to interfere with this process. ('Fatty liver', by the way, is the term bestowed upon an unhealthy liver where the functional cells have been replaced by fat deposits.)

5. Stress: Nothing in your body works well under sustained high levels of stress, and your thyroid function is no exception. Chronically elevated levels of cortisol (stress hormone) prompts your liver to produce too much reverse T3, the non-productive thyroid hormone. Sustained stress also makes you more vulnerable to autoimmune thyroid problems.

6. Low iron stores. You need iron (as serum ferritin) to create thyroid hormone, so anaemia makes your thyroid problem worse. Look at your iron study blood test results: you'll see 'serum iron' and 'serum ferritin' listed. If your serum ferritin is low, the biochemical reaction involving the enzyme thyroperoxidase which creates thyroid hormone might be hindered.

7. Illness: Your body’s response to illness can interfere with thyroid hormone function by altering thyroid hormone production. This is known as ‘non thyroidal illness syndrome’, sometimes called ‘sick euthyroid’. This means is your thyroid gland is OK, but its function is hindered, often by illness. 

8. Medications: Some medications adversely affect your thyroid function.

9. Fluoride Often part of municipal water supplies and fluoridated toothpaste, fluoride is suspected to compete with Iodine for absorption. Also it is suspected to interfere with hypothalamus hormone TRH (thyrotropin releasing hormone) binding to the pituitary gland, which can result in the thyroid not receiving enough instructions through TSH to produce more thyroid hormone. Fluoride is also suspected to interfere with the on/off switch for the cell’s response to T3, or even to displace iodine in thyroid hormones, rendering them ineffective.

10. Viral infections can sometimes interfere with thyroid gland activity.

11. Environmental toxins including plastics and artificial fragrances are suspected to interfere with hormones.

This is an extract from "The Empowered Thyroid" , a free e-book by Olwen Anderson available for download from  

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