Thyroid Disorders

The thyroid influences many body functions and when it is not working properly the effects can be fatigue, weight disorder, feeling cold and others. It is possible to find and treat the causes of thyroid disorders rather than rely on medication to mask the issues.

Where is the thyroid located and what purpose does it serve in the body?

Dr. Harry Schick: Good. Okay, so I love talking about the thyroid. The thyroid is located in the throat area, and the thing about it, the reason I love talking about it, is because it serves so many essential purposes in the body. So, the way hormones work in general, a hormone is a chemical messenger. So, for example, if a gland like the thyroid wants to send a message to other parts of the body, it will send out a chemical that goes throughout the whole body, kind of like a radio station which sends out a radio message that just goes everywhere, but the only people that will hear that radio message are people whose radios are turned on to that station. So, right now in whatever room you are sitting in, there are radio waves going from every station all over the place, but if your radio is not on, you don’t hear anything, and if it is on, you’re only going to hear the station that it listens to.

Well, the thyroid sends messages throughout the whole body, as does all organs that work with hormones. The difference with the thyroid is that virtually every cell of the body has a receptor for the thyroid hormone, so when that thyroid hormone goes throughout your whole body from head to toe, every single cell of your body can pick up the message, so the thyroid can therefore influence every part of the body.

What are some symptoms of a thyroid disorder?

Dr. Harry Schick: Well, because it influences every cell, almost anything can be connected either directly or indirectly to a thyroid disorder. However, there are some which we know much more than others, which are much more common. For example, if you think about your car, and if you still have one of those cars where you have a key to turn it on, and you turn the key, and the motor goes on, thyroid hormone is like the key that goes into the cell that turns on the energy of the cell. So, because of that, if there is a thyroid disorder, fatigue will often be a major symptom. Additionally, if that key is not being turned on in the cell, metabolism tends to be slow, so weight disorders, being overweight is a very common disorder.

There’s another side to a thyroid disorder, which is hyperthyroid where a person would be too jittery, too much energy, and too thin, but that’s rare.

The majority of thyroid disorders are what are called hypothyroid or low-functioning thyroid. Other disorders would be cold hands and cold feet, difficulty sleeping, whether you have a hard time falling asleep or you fall asleep and then wake up.

An interesting one, which people sometimes notice, and I had somebody yesterday came to me with this, a thinning of the outer third of the eyebrows is also an indication of a thyroid problem. Now, it may not be the biggest issue in the world, but when you have it, you notice something going on with your thyroid, and I had a gentleman come in, giving me a list of his symptoms, and that was one of them, so I knew immediately that his thyroid was most likely involved.

Losing hair is another unfortunate and popular one, where a person’s hair may be falling out when they comb it, or hair may become thinning, so it really can be almost anywhere.

What are the underlying causes of thyroid disorders and how do you find these causes?

Dr. Harry Schick: Okay, great. So, traditionally thyroid disorders were looked at as, if you want to know if there’s something with the thyroid, just look at the thyroid gland, itself. And that’s true, however, the problem is not always from the thyroid. I’ll give you a very common example. The thyroid, in terms of the discussion we’re having here, makes two main hormones. One is called T4 and one is called T3. And those are just based on the number of iodine molecules that accompany the hormone. So T4 has four iodine, T3 has three.

Now T4 is too big to fit into the cell and T4 cannot do anything. It just rides around your body doing nothing. Whereas T3, can actually get into the cell and turn the engine on. Interestingly, the body makes much more T4 than T3. So, in order for that T4 to be useful, it has to be changed to T3. Now I want to keep this simple and what I want to tell you is this. Just think about how you have inactive thyroid hormone going around your body, so the thyroid is making it okay, but it’s not usable.

Where does it become usable? Most of it in the liver. The thyroid hormone goes to the liver, and when it goes in the liver, it’s called T4, and when it comes out, it’s called T3. So just giving you one example. If a person has a sluggish liver, they will show up with thyroid symptoms even though the thyroid, itself, is doing its job. And there are many, many other examples. But that is the most common and the one that I see the most.

How is the nervous system related to the thyroid?

Dr. Harry Schick: Well, the nervous system relates to the thyroid because there is a nerve called the vagus nerve, V-A-G-U-S, which is the one nerve that comes from the brain and innervates or brings nerve energy to the organs of the body. And the vagus nerve goes to the thyroid. And if the vagus nerve is not firing properly, then there can be an imbalance in the thyroid, itself, because it’s not getting the right messages.

Additionally, there is nerve flow from the neck, which goes to the thyroid. And if there’s a problem there, again, there can be thyroid problems, subsequently.

What can be done naturally without medication to help the thyroid function properly?

Dr. Harry Schick: Well, there’s a lot that can be done. In fact, there are somewhere, depending on which studies you look at, anywhere between 7 and 21 different patterns of thyroid dysfunction, and medication only helps 1 or 2. So, the majority of thyroid dysfunction is not going to be helped with medication. The majority though can be helped with proper nutrient support and diet.

The most common example is probably something called Hashimoto’s Syndrome, which is hypothyroid caused by an autoimmune problem. If a person has this, and by the way, most hypothyroid patients, I don’t know if I can say most, but many, have this. And unfortunately, it’s not tested for. So, if a person has that, for example, then what has to be looked at are the types of foods, or parasites, or other things which may trigger the immune system to attack the thyroid.

Think of it like this. If you’ve got a baseball bat and you’re hitting somebody in the head, do you have really a head problem or a bat problem? You really have a bat problem. If you get the person to stop hitting him in them head, they’d be fine. So, it’s the same way with the thyroid. If you can get the immune system to stop attacking the thyroid, all goes well. And this is one of the many, many ways in which a non-medication intervention can be so helpful.

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