We will continue to look at what causes thyroid problems in our bodies. Once we understand what the underlying cause of the problem is then we are able to create a treatment plan to address and correct the imbalance.
In the last blog I talked about how thyroid symptoms -- particularly lack of thyroid or hypothyroidism -- can be missed or misdiagnosed. Even when the hypothyroidism is diagnosed, there are a variety of reasons that a person might be experiencing hypothyroidism. Whenever we -- in naturopathic medicine -- are able to correctly identify and treat the underlying cause of the hypothyroidism it becomes possible to reduce or eliminate medication the patients has to take for it. This time we will talk about many of the problems that can prevent the thyroid hormone from being active in the body.
Let’s start with the production of thyroid hormones from the thyroid gland. Last time we talked about how the brain sends a message to the thyroid gland to produce thyroid hormone. The thyroid gland needs precursors to create thyroid hormones including iodine and a catalysis called thyroid peroxidase. The most frequent thyroid hormone deficiency is a disease known as Hashimoto’s disease. This is a type of hypothyroidism that is caused when immune system attacks the thyroid gland tissue and prevents the body from producing the thyroid hormones thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). Hashimoto’s is actually an autoimmune disease where the body attacks the thyroid gland and preventing it from creating normal levels of T4 and T3. Over time the lower levels create symptoms in the body consistent with hypothyroid disease. In many cases these antibodies can also attach other organs causing decreased function of other organs or create other autoimmune diseases as well. The standard treatment for Hashimoto’s is to give natural or synthethic thyroid hormone. This normally reduces or eliminates symptoms but it does not correct the autoimmune irregularities in the body. To confirm Hashimoto’s thyroiditis in addition to the TSH blood test a thyroid peroxidase (TPO) antibody test should be conducted as well.