Heart disease and its
associated complications are the most serious side effects of an underactive
thyroid. However, hypothyroidism has important implications throughout the body.
Here are some of the more common effects of an under-producing thyroid gland.
This plague remains the number one
killer in this country, and there are no signs of that changing anytime soon. If
you asked most people on the street which they fear more, cancer or heart
disease, they'd probably say cancer. But for every person you know
who has died of cancer, you can probably think of another 20 who are on
cholesterol or blood pressure medication, have had bypass surgery or
angioplasty, or have died from cardiovascular problems.
Furthermore, while cancer has perhaps hundreds of causes, many of which we
don't know, we know most of the major factors link to heart disease. Diets high
in fried foods and sugar, smoking, lack of exercise, and obesity are all firmly
established risk factors for heart disease. The antidote to each of these is
evident. But research over the past decade has identified another risk factor
that seems to be even more telling than diet and lifestyle, one whose antidote
has until recently been less apparent. That risk factor is high blood levels of
homocysteine. This word is likely not new to you as it's been mentioned
in the mainstream press. To quickly review, homocysteine is created when the
amino acid methionine, found in red meat, milk, and milk products, is broken
down in the body. Under ideal circumstances, the body breaks down homocysteine
with the help of vitamins B6, B12, and folic acid.
Studies continue to establish stronger links between even moderately elevated
blood levels of homocysteine and heart disease. In the 1992 Physicians'
Health Study, men with very high homocysteine levels had a risk of heart
attack three times that of men with normal homocysteine levels. In fact, an
elevated homocysteine level was such a dominant factor that it indicated
increased risk even in the men who had no other cardiovascular risk factors.
Because of the importance of homocysteine levels as a heart attack risk
factor, efforts have thus far concentrated on lowering high levels through any
means possible. And up until now, the only consistently successful approach has
been to increase the intake of the previously mentioned B vitamins. However, new
research indicates that simply lowering homocysteine levels in this manner may
be masking a more serious underlying problem, the one that's causing the
elevated levels in the first place. This bigger problem is an underactive thyroid.
Researchers at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation in Ohio have released new
findings showing that correcting an underactive thyroid gland normalizes
elevated homocysteine levels in the blood. Even more amazing is that the
researchers were able to normalize homocysteine levels without having to
administer any of the B vitamins. In other words, correcting the thyroid problem
in turn corrected the vitamin deficiency. (Ann Intern Med 99;131(5):348-51)
This newly discovered link between hypothyroidism and heart disease supports
the decades-old research of Dr. Broda Barnes. Dr. Barnes published the book, Solved:
The Riddle of Heart Attacks, back in 1976. Based on his research and
clinical experience, Dr. Barnes strongly suggested that heart disease was caused
by hypothyroidism. Although we didn't know about homocysteine at the time, there
were plenty of indications that the thyroid gland was involved in cardiovascular
disease. Results of studies conducted as far back as the early 1900s showed the
strong relationship between thyroid activity and fat metabolism: Blood-fat
levels (and cholesterol) increase with an underactive thyroid and decrease with
an overactive thyroid.
Thanks to the research team in Ohio, we now have a much more detailed
understanding of this relationship, one that shows a clear therapeutic
application. In other words, we can use the thyroid to monitor and even correct
heart problems. Any imbalances that may exist can be
corrected, not only to stop heart disease, but to
improve dozens of seemingly unrelated problems that have a common origin.
Obviously, as heart disease
progresses, it decreases blood circulation to the heart muscle and other organs.
But circulation problems also cause some of the less dramatic complaints of
hypothyroid sufferers, including dry, flaky, or cracked skin and chronically
cold hands and feet. In cases of hypothyroidism, the skin may receive as
little as 20 to 40% of its normal blood supply. This shortfall interferes
with the body's ability to warm the extremities, such as the hands and feet. It
also impedes the delivery of various essential fatty acids and nutrients, which
are necessary for keeping the skin soft, supple, and healthy. Fortunately, these
problems resolve themselves once the thyroid is back to normal.
Increased Susceptibility to Infection
Though rarely thought of as part of
the immune system, the thyroid gland plays a crucial role in maintaining the
body's defenses. Hormones produced by the thyroid help regulate the metabolic
rate within each cell and directly influence over 100 different cellular
enzymes. With hypothyroidism, individuals routinely become more susceptible to
viral and bacterial infections, especially those of the respiratory and urinary
Sinus problems, sore throats, middle-ear infections, tonsillitis, pneumonia,
and other respiratory problems have gone from relatively rare conditions to
common and recurring complaints. Business is booming for allergists and
respiratory therapists all over the country, no longer just in
"allergy-prone" regions. Middle-ear infections top the list of reasons
for children's medical visits, and asthma has become so common among adults that
it is no longer considered a childhood disease. I have little doubt that a
nationwide drop in thyroid function is partly responsible for the increase in
these respiratory problems, yet antibiotics remain the treatment of choice for
most of them.
In terms of urinary infections, kidney dysfunction and failure can in many
cases be linked to chronic infections of the urinary tract that were originally
caused by an underactive
No doubt there are several other factors that can and do compromise our
immune systems, and we're now having to contend with mutated forms of certain
bacteria and viral strains that require stronger immune systems than ever
before. This may help explain the recent popularity of supplements designed to
boost the immune system. What many people don't understand, however, is that all
the immune-boosting supplements in the world won't help if the thyroid isn't
If you've tried supplements to strengthen immunity and haven't experienced
the expected results, it's highly likely that your thyroid is underactive. After
a month or two of proper treatment which follows later in this article, you can expect a much stronger immune system as well as greater results
from any immune boosting supplements you take.
Depression and Mental Confusion
While a precious few medical
professionals will admit it, many of today's common social problems can be
traced back to widespread hypothyroidism. Not only does hypothyroidism escape
notice in these cases, but the drugs currently being used to treat its symptoms
are making matters infinitely worse.
Nowhere is this more apparent than with the treatment of depression. In the
last 20 years, we've seen a phenomenal increase in the incidence of depression,
one of the most common side effects of hypothyroidism. We've also seen a
corresponding increase in the use of prescription antidepressants (e.g., Prozac,
Paxil, Luvox, Zoloft, Serzone). These drugs
are designed to alter brain chemistry, which can trigger outbursts of violence
toward oneself or others. Not surprisingly, we've seen a significant increase in
suicide and violence during this same period of time. The new
book by Dr. Ann Tracy called Prozac: Panacea or Pandora takes
the discussion of prescription antidepressants to a new level. (The book is
available from Cassia Publications at 800-280-0730.
Dr. Tracy has been looking into the connection between the use of
prescription medications and the wave of seemingly unexplainable violence we've
been seeing over the last few years. She's discovered that many of the shooting
incidents we see on the news are initiated by people taking these drugs. She's
linked dozens of cases, like those of Mr. and Mrs. Phil Hartman, the school
shootings in Littleton, Colorado and Atlanta, Georgia, and dozens of others,
with the use of prescription antidepressants. The complete list will astound
you, but for anyone who has experienced the severe depression and mental
confusion associated with these drugs, I'm sure her findings will come as no
It's easy to blame gun owners or manufacturers for these problems, but guns
have been around for a long time and the type of violence we're seeing now is
unlike anything we've seen in the past. We need to look beyond the symptoms of
the problem to see what is causing this dramatic change in behavior. When we do,
we'll see an alarming fact: The increase in the misguided use of antidepressant
drugs to combat the symptoms of hypothyroidism has paralleled an alarming
increase in violent behavior.
The public could easily accept this fact if we were talking about illegal
drugs. But government-approved, legally prescribed drugs are a totally different
situation. No one contributes more campaign money or has more political
influence than the pharmaceutical industry, and you can bet that the drug
companies don't want this information going public. They know the problems these
drugs can cause, but
the profits these medications produce obviously overshadow any inclination to
take them off the market. (Their actions remind me of what the cigarette
industry has been doing for years.) It's much easier for the pharmaceutical
companies to hide in the bushes, count their money, and point the finger at the
A far safer solution to many of the problems now being treated by
antidepressant drugs is to balance the body chemistry naturally. The logical
starting point is to check for and treat hypothyroidism. After doing so, most
individuals find that the "fog" they've been living in seems to clear
away. They also find that they have more energy and less fatigue.
Other Thyroid-Related Problems
Sales of the new wonder drug Viagra
wouldn't be quite so brisk if doctors paid more attention to thyroid imbalances.
Normal sexual function requires normal thyroid function. In males, too little
thyroid hormone depresses libido, while too much causes impotence. In females,
too little thyroid hormone depresses libido and results in irregular periods
with excessive and frequent menstrual bleeding (including miscarriages in
extreme cases). Too much can reduce menstrual bleeding and even stop the
menstrual cycle. Additional symptoms that can be associated with hypothyroidism
Decreased heart rate and cardiac
Increased weight (pot belly)
Pain where the ribs meet the
Morning headaches and dizziness
Loss of hair, especially outside of
Ringing in the ears
A frog-like husky voice
Muscular sluggishness and weakness
Many of these problems stem from hypothyroidism's effect at the cellular
level, where it causes the accumulation of gel-like sacs called
mucopolysaccharides. Mucopolysaccharides are a normal structural component of
the body, but if they accumulate in this manner problems can develop. This
accumulation explains why individuals with severe hypothyroidism develop
bagginess under the eyes and puffy, swollen faces and bodies. When tissues swell
and fluid pressures within the body elevate, migraine headaches are often the
result. The only way to relieve these migraines is to loosen or remove all
restrictive clothing and rest in bed until the pain subsides. The ultimate
solution is to prevent them from happening in the first place by restoring
balance to the thyroid.
There are basically two methods of
improving a hypothyroid condition. One method involves the use of supplemental
thyroid hormones. These hormones can be either synthetic, such as Synthroid, or
natural hormones extracted from pigs, such as Armour. Another method involves
supplying the thyroid gland with all the raw materials necessary for an increase
in hormone production. These raw materials include specific iodine and
non-hormone glandular supplements.
I prefer the second method as long as the thyroid gland is still at
least partially working. Hormones are very powerful substances that must work in
conjunction with each other. Because of this fact, the body has a very
sophisticated system of checks and balances to help regulate hormone levels
throughout the tissues. When a hormone (such as Synthroid or Armour) is
artificially introduced into the body, this delicate balance can be upset.
Further, when you supply a hormone that a given gland would normally make on its
own, you risk causing the gland to quit making that hormone. If that occurs, you
will be forced to supplement the hormone daily for the rest of your life. On the
other hand, if you can revitalize a depressed gland through the use of glandular
supplements, the gland will naturally resume hormone production and you won't
need indefinite treatment.
One of the most effective ways to rebalance the thyroid gland is
to take a liquid iodine product called losol. Take four drops of losol in water
each day for the first two weeks, and then reduce the dosage to two drops per
day. (Note: Under no circumstances should you ingest antiseptic or topical
iodine. losol is the only form of iodine recommend for internal usage.) You
can often find losol, made by TPCS Distributors, in larger health food stores.
If you can't find it locally, you can order losol from Mountain Home
Nutritionals at 800-888-1415, ext. 9265.
If the losol alone does not seem to alleviate the symptoms of hypothyroidism,
take three tablets of a glandular product called Thytrophin along
with just one drop of losol per day. You can often take Thytrophin in place of
prescription thyroid medications. Three tablets of Thytrophin are roughly
equivalent to one grain of hormone. Thytrophin is made by a highly reputable and
reliable company called
In addition to using losol and Thytrophin, make sure that you're also using a
good multi-vitamin and mineral product. Doing so will ensure that you're getting
important trace minerals such as selenium (200 mcg per day) and other components
necessary for the production and conversion of thyroid hormones.
Finally, take steps to reduce your exposure to estrogen-like compounds. Use
organic cleansers, pesticides and other household products. And make the switch
once and for all to distilled water.
The length of time needed to obtain results from treating hypothyroidism will
vary from individual to individual. Most people begin to see a marked difference
in their energy levels and mood within just a few days, but other problems may
take longer to resolve. And while correcting an underactive thyroid won't
reverse heart disease, it will stop its progression and most likely prevent a
future heart attack or heart failure. Once you've stopped the progress, you can
begin reversing the problem through the use of high quality cardiovascular
supplements, lecithin, fresh unsaturated fatty acids, and diet.