If left untreated, thyroid disorders can lead to osteoporosis, infertility and elevated cholesterol. According to the American Thyroid Association, an estimated 20 million Americans have some form of thyroid disease. What is responsible for the epidemic of thyroid dysfunction? Research indicates that exposure to environmental toxins is a key piece of the thyroid disease puzzle.
As thyroid health is so important to our overall health, the following is a review of the impact and connection with other parts of the body. First, the nervous system.
Damage or misalignment of vertebra C7 can come from all types of conditions. That being said, there is a connection between C7 and the thyroid as studies have indicated. It has been determined thyroid autoimmunity is linked to degenerative disc disease. The nerves linked to the thyroid gland can be mapped down the spine specifically to C7. C7 is right at the base of the back of the neck and the thyroid gland is right at the base of the front of the neck.
Misalignment of your C7 vertebra, and all of your vertebrae really, can present with symptoms in completely different parts of your body. It makes sense that damage or misalignment of any kind of the C7 vertebra would affect your thyroid gland, but the reverse makes sense too.
The cervical spine is intertwined with not just nerves but also blood vessels. C7 disruption can pinch the nerves as well as the blood vessels including the blood vessels to your thyroid gland. In order to function properly, your thyroid gland requires proper blood flow to carry oxygen-rich blood via arteries to the thyroid gland and take the waste products away via veins.
Thyroid and gut diseases often coexist. Autoimmune thyroid disease and celiac disease often show up together. Gut dysbiosis is often found in those with thyroid diseases, like Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and Graves’ disease.
It is impossible to have a healthy body without a healthy gut. The gut houses nearly 70 percent of our immune system. When leaky gut is not addressed and this pattern continues for long periods of time, there is tremendous stress put on your immune system.
Ongoing inflammation in the gut can cause things like iron deficiency anemia, B12 deficiencies, as well as a number of different mineral deficiencies. When the body is deficient in vitamins and minerals and particularly things like iron and selenium, thyroid hormone balance can be thrown off. The gut also regulates how much iodine you use and how it is broken down and circulated in the body. Iodine is essential to thyroid health.
One of the causes of leaky gut happens to be inflammation. If the inflammation is triggered in the thyroid, then Hashimoto’s or other thyroid diseases could occur. Many believe it is important to remove gluten from their diet, especially those who have leaky gut or a thyroid condition.
Gluten can certainly lead to leaky gut and can cause inflammation. Gluten is also a major issue for anyone who suffers from a thyroid disease as gluten closely resembles your own body tissues including the thyroid. The immune system may also end up attacking the thyroid as the immune system may mistake your thyroid for gluten molecules.
Studies have shown that cell walls of intestinal bacteria called lipopolysaccharides (LPS) negatively affect thyroid metabolism in several ways: Reduce thyroid hormone levels; dull thyroid hormone receptor sites; increase amounts of inactive T3; decrease TSH; and promote autoimmune thyroid disease (ATTD).
Your gall bladder is a bit of an unsung hero as it stores bile, which regulates metabolism through changes in thyroid hormones and helps you digest and absorb fats. Research has shown those with hypothyroidism, bile acid levels were reduced. This can impair how well you digest and absorb nutrients and how well your body deals with hormones and toxins that it needs to get rid of. Also, low thyroid function can lead to constipation.
When we are stressed, we produce more cortisol. Inflammation in your gut, whether through dysbiosis, immune response or gastrointestinal disease, will increase circulating cortisol, which if prolonged can have a negative effect on your T3.
Environmental toxins that mirror thyroid hormone structure and invade the thyroid gland can be categorized as: Heavy metals; household toxins; industrial chemicals; and agricultural agents (pesticides and herbicides).
There are four heavy metals that do the most damage to the thyroid. They are aluminum (found in toiletries like deodorant, over-the-counter medications like antacids, food additives, cookware and vaccines), cadmium (found in mining and smelting, in phosphate fertilizers, sewage sludge, batteries, pigments and plastics), lead (used in old housing paint, some metal jewelry, children’s toys and mining) and mercury (found in seafood, dental amalgams and produced by coal-burning power plants).
Modern-day homes can contain a plethora of toxins, some of which have a significant impact on the thyroid. They can be found in items such as computer and TV screens, furniture, carpet padding and synthetic textiles. Flame retardants disrupt thyroid function as do many plasticizers, antibacterial chemical triclosan (found in liquid hand soap) and PFOA, used in non-stick cookware and stain-resistant fabrics. Fluoride and nitrates can also mess with your thyroid.
Industrial chemicals like dioxin, perchlorate, perfluorinated chemicals or PFCs and polychlorinated biphenyls or PCBs, all negatively affect thyroid function.
Perchlorate occurs in small amounts in the soil of arid environments, but the man-made type is widely used in military applications, including rocket fuel and explosives, as well as in the production of leather, rubber, paint and batteries. The thyroid gland is the primary target of perchlorate toxicity.
Agricultural agents wreck thyroid function by altering thyroid hormone gene expression, preventing the uptake of iodine into the thyroid, blocking thyroid hormones from binding to its transport proteins, lowering the absorption of thyroid hormone into thyroid cells and promoting thyroid hormone removal from the body.
There are ways to protect your thyroid. Whether you are experiencing hypo- or hyperthyroidism, rest-assured that chiropractic care can aid in improving thyroid function. Limit your toxic exposure to heavy metals, household toxins and environmental toxins. Eat an anti-inflammatory diet by avoiding refined products and instead eat plenty of greens, vegetables, herbs, spices and low-glycemic index fruits. Nourish your gut by consuming probiotics, sprouted seeds and digestive enzymes. Be sure to include glutamine, licorice root and quercetin in your diet to improve gut barrier function.