Friday, July 21, 2017

Organs Affected by the Thyroid

Because the thyroid gland affects multiple system, organs and parts of the body; and, because some of those systems affect the thyroid, this can make it difficult for your doctor to provide a proper medical diagnosis.
Systems and organs of the body that are affected by the thyroid include the following.
Adrenal Glands
Thyroid function is intricately tied to our adrenal health. Part of a comprehensive, functional medicine thyroid treatment plan usually involves adrenal gland support for the following reasons:
  • Adrenal fatigue causes the thyroid receptors on cells to lose their sensitivity to thyroid hormones
  • Adrenal fatigue can decrease the conversion of T4 to T3 to a usable form
  • Adrenal fatigue decreases the efficiency of the immune system barriers in the gut, lungs and the blood/brain barrier
  • Adrenal fatigue inhibits absorption of thyroid hormone into cells
  • Adrenal fatigue disrupts the interchange between the hypothalamus and pituitary gland with the thyroid gland

Blood Glucose
Blood glucose (or blood sugar) is controlled by the pancreas. The pancreas and thyroid are both part of the endocrine system. The endocrine system is made of many feedback loops and their various hormones all “talk” to one another and make changes to the body to try and keep things in balance.
These systems also work in both directions. They influence each other. In the case of sugar, insulin is released by the pancreas to help the cells of the body absorb sugar so that it can be used. And the adrenals release cortisol to help sugar get absorbed by the cells of the body.
A hypothyroid state leads to a slow absorption of glucose, a slower breakdown of insulin, a decrease of the speed at which glucose is absorbed in the gut, a lower glucose to insulin response and, finally, less glucose in the cells for the body to use. All of this means less energy to power your cells and brain and more fatigue.
To make matters worse, all of this affects the adrenal glands and the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA axis). In order to try and fix the problem of not having enough sugar, the adrenal glands release the stress hormone cortisol to increase glucose in the cells.
Every Hashimoto’s patient has some degree of the sugar imbalance described above. If you are skinny, its probably hypoglycemia. If you are overweight it may be insulin resistance or metabolic syndrome. If you feel better after you eat, you are hypoglycemic. If you are tired after you eat, you have insulin resistance.
All of this creates a vicious cycle that can really stop you from getting better. All Hashimoto’s patients must take blood sugar problems seriously.
Brain
Thyroid hormones are very important for healthy brains. In the adult brain, thyroid hormones have shown the ability to help the brain grow and change and to help the brain age in a healthy way.
Hashimoto’s patients know about “brain fog”. There are many reasons for this, the principle ones being inflammation of the brain and a breakdown of the blood brain barrier. The proteins that protect the brain (called zonulin) are the very same proteins that protect the gut. So if you have leaky gut, there is a good chance that you also have leaky brain.
When your brain is inflamed you get brain fog and it degenerates.  There are 2 primary symptoms:
1. Depression
2. Fatigue
It is no surprise that the most common drugs prescribed with Hashimoto’s are anti-depressants. You absolutely must support your brain if you have these symptoms.
Brain fog is a brain cell activated immune response. The immune system in the brain is not specialized and sophisticated like the immune system in the rest of the body. Brain immune cells (called microglia) are kind of like paranoid chihuahuas with automatic rifles. They tend to over react quickly and when they do you get lots of inflammation (brain fog).
In some patients, thyroid hormone may improve brain fog. In others it won’t. You have to reduce inflammation in the brain in a different way. In my 6 week course you learn how to do this and what herbs and supplements can really help with this. One important herb that is used is turmeric.
Cardiovascular System (Circulatory)
Thyroid hormones have a big impact on many functions of the arteries and veins in the body. Low T3 levels have been linked to  diseases of the blood vessels. One of the most common problems that Hashimoto’s patients have is cold hands and feet. Hair loss and fungal nail growth can also be signs of poor blood flow.
Hypothyroidism is characterized by the reverse- a lowed heart rate and lower blood pressure. With lowered thyroid hormones in circulation there is an increased risk of atherosclerosis and myocardial infarction (heart attack).
Low thyroid function means less nitric oxide is available in the blood vessels, this can lead to a break down of the vessels themselves.  When you add in the problems with cholesterol and you have a recipe for plaque clogging the arteries.
Hyperthyroidism induces a hyper-dynamic cardiovascular state which manifests by a faster heart rate, higher systolic and diastolic function i.e. higher blood pressure, atrial fibrillation, and reduced exercise performance.
Insomnia is often associated with hyperthyroidism. Some of the symptoms and signs of hyperthyroidism can make sleep difficult. The stress of having a "racing" heart or palpitations, rapid pulse (above 100 beats per minute is considered tachycardia), and higher blood pressure can cause lack of sleep. 
Insomnia can also be related to a decreased amount of serotonin production that is linked to gut issues which are often seen with thyroid problems.
Cholesterol
In hypothyroid conditions, both the breakdown and the use of cholesterol by the body are depressed. But the breakdown is much slower, so the net result is higher cholesterol, triglycerides and LDL. This may be slower because of a decrease in the breakdown of fats once they leave the liver or in a decline of LDL receptors.
This is why some Hashimoto’s patients also have high cholesterol, triglycerides and LDL (and sometimes low HDL). Once they get their thyroid under control, it is not unusual to see their cholesterol, LDL and triglycerides return to normal as well.
Digestive System
Chronic constipation is associated with hypothyroidism while diarrhea or frequent bowel movements are linked with hyperthyroidism. These symptoms are partly due to altered metabolism but also are created by faulty digestion beginning in the stomach. 
Hypothyroidism can reduce the production of stomach acid by its effect on the hormone, gastrin. When too little gastrin is produced, this reduces the amount of stomach acid (HC1). Bloating, G.E.R.D., heartburn, intestinal inflammation, decreased food digestion and more can result from the lack of normal HC1 levels.
Food allergies are consistently seen in those presenting with thyroid problems. Beyond gluten sensitivity, which most people are aware of, there are other food allergens to which patients will test positive.
Gall Bladder
Gall bladder function is also adversely affected in hypothyroid conditions. Studies have shown that the gall bladder gets larger and doesn’t contract normally.
Studies also report an increase in the number of gallstones and stones in the common bile duct. One reason they think this might be happening is because the thyroid hormone thyroxine relaxes the gall bladder's opening (called the sphincter of Oddi). This makes bile not flow normally, and makes the possibility of stones forming in the bile duct more likely.
Bile also helps to break down cholesterol so when there is less bile, less bile flow and gall bladder is slow and sluggish you have the perfect situation for stone formation.
Metabolism
Damage to the thyroid gland affects the body's metabolic rate. As a result, weight can be easily gained (hypothyroidism) or lost (hyperthyroidism). Hashimoto's disease can cause both weight loss and gain depending on the phase of autoimmune destruction of the thyroid gland.
Cold hands and feet are related to a low metabolism caused by hypothyroidism while sensitivity to heat is linked to hyperthyroidism.
Nervous System
The central nervous system (CNS) can be greatly affected by a thyroid disorder. The CNS reacts to both too little and too much thyroid hormone. Too little hormone causes mental sluggishness or "brain fog" while too much hormone induces anxiety and nervousness. Depression is commonly associated with thyroid conditions.
Recent studies have linked hypothyroidism and Hashimoto's disease with accelerated brain degeneration and development of Parkinson's, Alzheimer's and Huntington's disease.
Red Blood Cells (Anemia)
Anemia is a condition that develops when your blood lacks enough healthy red blood cells or hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is a main part of red blood cells and binds oxygen. If you have too few or abnormal red blood cells, or your hemoglobin is abnormal or low, the cells in your body will not get enough oxygen.
Anemia is diagnosed in 20-60% of patients with hypothyroidism and is often the first sign of hypothyroidism. Anemia caused by an iron or B12 deficiency begins in the stomach and stems from low stomach acid also known as hydrochloric acid or HCl. Hypothyroidism causes the hormone, gastrin, to decrease.
The production of stomach acid, HCl, depends on the hormone gastrin. So when gastrin is diminished there is less stomach acid. Less stomach acid hinders the absorption of such vital nutrients as B12, iron, and calcium.
The most common symptom of anemia is fatigue which is also the hallmark symptom of hypothyroidism.
Reproductive System
Hypothyroidism can be related to heavy menstrual flow, miscarriage, and infertility in women. Hypothyroidism can decrease the absorption of the sex hormone, progesterone, by the body's cells which can upset the menstrual cycle.
Hypothyroidism can also cause constipation which can delay the body's normal elimination of another sex hormone, estrogen.
Skeletal System
Low TSH or a hyperthyroid state can lead to an increased lifetime risk for fractures, even after TSH has become normal again.
In children, a lack of thyroid hormones will affect normal growth. Adults tend to have higher than normal bone density. But, this higher density does not necessarily mean good bone quality: there may be issues with collagen, bone turnover, the size of mineral crystals and bone structure. So, even though the bones are more dense, these people may still be at risk for fractures because the bone quality is really poor.
Summary

Given the many systems and parts of the body that are affected by your thyroid, that means there is a very good reason why you are experiencing the symptoms that you have. There are very clear reasons why your body is experiencing what it is going through. 
The goal of this information is to help you to understand how all this works in simple layman terms, so that you can discover how to get control of your health without having to rely on a lot of drugs.
Note: For more details, get the author's DTD Autoimmune Diseases & Natural Treatment Strategies ebook, which includes nutritional, herbal and lifestyle strategies for optimizing the health of your thyroid and rebalancing your immune system.

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