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Environmental Factors Behind Thyroid Disease | Wellness Clinic

The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped organ located in the base of the neck. It's in charge of releasing essential thyroid hormones which control the body's metabolism, the way the body uses energy. The thyroid gland's hormones regulate vital body functions, such as breathing, heart rate, central and peripheral nervous systems, body temperature and more.

What causes autoimmune thyroid disease?
As essential as the thyroid gland is, however, the body's own immune system can sometimes malfunction and attack this important endocrine organ, ultimately affecting its function. Autoimmune thyroid diseases, like Hashimoto's thyroid disease and Graves' disease, have been on the rise in the United States. While the diagnosis of thyroid disease has increased, many doctors still don't know the cause of the issue, but these have been linked to several factors.

Environmental Factors for AITD
A number of environmental factors have been associated with the development an…

Treating the Underlying Cause of Thyroid Disease | Wellness Clinic

Treating the Underlying Cause of Thyroid Disease | Wellness Clinic


Thyroid disease is a common problem that can cause symptoms because of over- or under-function of the thyroid gland. The thyroid gland is located in the front of the neck below the Adam's apple. The thyroid gland is an essential organ for producing thyroid hormones, which maintain are body metabolism.

Do I have a thyroid disease?


This is the common question many individuals ask, seeking for an answer from a healthcare professional. Grave's disease, a sort of thyroid autoimmunity disease, has been illustrated to be caused by the following factors. Please note not all of these factors are treatable. From those, the factors that are treatable and most important are:

  • Selenium deficiencies
  • Infections
  • Stress
  • Gluten
  • Vitamin Deficiencies
  • Vitamin D, omega-3, folate
  • Gut Microflora
  • Leaky gut

Infections


Many different viruses and bacteria have been associated with autoimmunity. Some of the very researched are:

Bacteria:

  • Yersinia enterocolitis
  • Helicobacter pylori

Viruses:

  • Epstein Barr
  • Cytomegalovirus
  • Herpes Simplex Virus

This has caused researchers to recognize those infections as one of the contributors to developing autoimmunity. A number of studies have even shown as disease activity increases, so does the severity of the autoimmune process.

A meta analysis examining the association of H. Pylori infections and thyroid autoimmunity concluded, "Overall, H. pylori infection was associated with autoimmune thyroid disease; the association was significant for Graves' disease. These findings indicate that H. pylori infection potentially plays a part in the progression of ATDs." ATD signifies autoimmune thyroid disease (Hashimoto's thyroid disease and Graves' disease being the most common forms).

Three case studies were published showing that all three women with Graves' had concurrent Epstein Barr virus reactivation. Note severe Epstein Barr is also known as mononucleosis.

"Though the etiology of Graves' disease is still not clear, it is generally implied that environmental factors such as infections contribute to the growth of Graves' disease. We report here three cases of Graves' disease which presented simultaneously with infectious mononucleosis due to primary EBV infection."

Some researchers're theorizing the reason why Epstein Barr virus might lead to autoimmunity is essentially because the virus really gets inside the thyroid gland thus stimulating your immune cells to attack the gland.

While there are great studies demonstrating the correlation between infections and autoimmunity; and there is a suggested causal connection, researchers are still lacking further information. Released studies demonstrating a decrease of activity are impressive although sparse.

A study was conducted in Italy that exemplified how effective treatment of infections can be in halting the autoimmune procedure. Ten patients that had Hashimoto's thyroid disease and also had an H. Pylori infection were chosen. Five failed treatment procedures and five responded well to the treatment procedures.

Again, the patients all had thyroid disorder and a H. Pylori bacterial disease. All of the patients' levels were elevated to begin with, however. Treating a disease helped to stop the autoimmune process that damages the thyroid gland.

How important are the anti-body amounts?


A large study, known as meta-analyses, revealed that high antibodies levels are predictive of Graves' relapse; so whatever we can do to lower these antibodies will be a good idea.

While there may not yet be some substantial scale randomized control trials looking at this, there are various clinicians in the area, that report that screening for and treating such infections seems to contribute greatly to halting the autoimmune procedure. It is a very simple inference to draw that removing a pathogenic bacteria overgrowth like Helicobacter Pylori, can be beneficial. Remember Graves and Hashimoto's' are immune disorders, infections trigger activation of the immune system allows the immune system to relax.

The H. Pylori Infection was shown to cause stomach burning, inflammation and nausea. Luckily, H. Pylori and many of these other infections can be safely eradicated with a class of antibiotic herbs. So there is great reason to screen for and treat those infections especially when we know for certain they have a strong connection. Most every infection will cause fatigue and treating an infection will help with sufferers energy levels.

Leaky Gut


The topic of infections ties in with that of gut health. Why is this? Well, a number of these infections can dwell therefore that they act not only as an infection which stimulated the immune systems but also damages your gut. H. Pylori and Yersinia are just two examples of these.

Why is gut health connected to my thyroid gland? Some researchers have stated that it is not even possible to develop autoimmunity unless the gut is first damaged. But why exactly is that?

This is because the gut is the barrier between you and the outside world. Remember 'stuff' from the external world increases entry therefore we need to have plenty of border patrol bronchial cells. When you have 'leaky gut' that the intestine or boarder barrier is compromised and also much 'stuff' is permitted in. This stuff may be viruses, bacteria, fungus, food particles, chemicals, etc.. Therefore, if you've got an underlying predisposition to autoimmunity and you then create leaky gut, the point may be set for you to develop autoimmunity, or specifically Graves'.

Gut Microflora


Here is a very simplified overview of a very exciting and complex subject. Good bacteria and fungus live in your intestines, more so on your colon. They are essential to help crowd out the bad bacteria, fungus and other infections. They are needed to prevent gut issues. Additionally they help increase nutrient absorption and breakdown nutrients. As though this isn't sufficient, the microflora has been shown to have a direct effect on particular types of autoimmunity.

At a 2012 review published in the International Journal of Immunopathology and Pharmacology the authors remarked, "Alterations in both the structure and function of intestinal microbiota could be one of the typical causative triggers of esophageal or autoinflammatory disorders."

Dr. David Brady, ND, DC recorded a very well referenced lecture going into great detail about the gut microflora-autoimmune connection. Brady does a great job covering the way the medical literature shows a strong association between autoimmunity and gut flora. This is mentioned in practice.

Stress


Stress in known to provocate almost any health complication. The consequences of stress are far reaching, but stress can impact Graves' via two mechanisms. Stress can weaken your immune system, which can cause an illness you already have to become much more debatable or may make you more susceptible to acquiring an infection. Second, we also understand that stress modulates what's called the balance in the immune system. Among the theories of autoimmunity indicates that a change in this balance is a predisposing factor to growing.

Gluten


Gluten intolerance might be connected to pancreatic gland, and especially Graves' disease by way of a gene or genes. There is known as the CLTA-4 gene, a gene known to be related to Graves'.

A study printed in 2012 revealed that 60 percent of those with AIT (autoimmune thyroid) disorder had this gene, while just 25 percent of healthy controls had this gene. How can this link to gluten intolerance? In 2013 that a meta-analysis was published showing a link between the CTLA-4 receptor as well as celiac disease, celiac disease being the maximum level of gluten intolerance one can have. These finding are confirmed in other reviews too.

Other studies, in Hashimoto's patients, have shown that a gluten free diet can decrease the need for drugs and interrupts the gastrointestinal attack. Irrespective of the specific gene or genes involvement, observational data is fairly clear that people who have celiac disease have a higher prevalence of autoimmune thyroid disease (Graves' and Hashimoto's). Now it is important to mention that there's an increasing subset of our population that doesn't have full blown celiac disease but does have what is known as 'gluten intolerance'. Current clinical studies support the idea that those with 'gluten intolerance' may also derive health benefit from a gluten free diet.

Vitamin Deficiencies


Vitamin D


It's becoming increasingly more agreed upon that vitamin D helps fight autoimmunity to a lesser or greater degree. Lets look at a few information. A 2012 study published in the journal Endocrine revealed that individuals who relapse after Graves' therapy have lower vitamin D levels, while those who do not snore have high levels of vitamin D.

Interestingly other studies are suggesting that autoimmunity may be because of defects in the vitamin D receptor consequently producing the vitamin D in your body less powerful. A 2013 study performed in Turkey showed that a specific flaw in the vitamin D receptor left patients at greater risk for Hashimoto's thyroid autoimmunity. Along these very same lines, certain viral diseases might actually block the vitamin D receptor, which might be another mechanism whereby chronic infections lead to autoimmunity.

Omega 3's


Omega 3 fatty acids have become a significant dietary and supplemental factors since they've become deficient in the diet in industrialized nations. Omega 3's serve numerous functions, regarding the function they confer is their impact on inflammation.

Every cell of your body has a coating around it know as a cell membrane. The cell membrane is comprised of fatty acids. If the cell membrane is composed of a lot of omega 6 and not enough omega 3 fats, then the cell is prone in inflammation. Increasing consumption of omega 3s can help make you susceptible to autoimmunity and inflammation and also restore balance to your cell membranes. But how can inflammation tie in with autoimmunity? Remember among the hallmarks of autoimmunity is to overzealous immune reaction. Your entire body mounts an immune response by sending out white blood cells which shoot inflammation at 'guys' to destroy them. This is great when it is controlled, but out of control the procedure rages also in people with autoimmunity. Restoring levels of omega 3s is like taking bullets from your systems guns preventing your system. Please remember its all about balance and over consumption of omega 3s may cause difficulties like a intake.

There's a wealth of data available on the health benefits of omega 3s. Merely to quote 1 study regarding omega 3s effect on autoimmunity, the available evidence reveal that increased daily consumption of dietary n-3 FA reduces the severity of autoimmune disorders."

Folate/MTHFR


Some individuals have a gene mutation referred to as the MTHFR mutation. Basically this mutation reduces one's ability to break down acid. Folic acid is a synthetic form of the vitamin. Because food processing hurts folate, the synthetic form (folic acid), is added back to our meals. Patients with this gene mutation cannot absorb folic acid plus they become deficient in this vitamin.

Data on this subject is sparse and I wonder if treating this particular gene mutation will have any significant impact on thyroid autoimmunity. Some studies show an association for this mutation and autoimmune thyroid; one study showed that 30 percent of autoimmune thyroid patients had the MTHFR gene mutation.

Yet other studies show no correlation for this particular gene mutation and thyroid autoimmunity. Curing this gene polymorphism is safe and inexpensive as the treatment is through vitamin and diet treatment. If your functional medicine practitioner is up to date on this subject, even though this might not be the first item it may be worthwhile to explore this with your health care provider to achieve overall health and wellness.
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The scope of our information is limited to chiropractic and spinal injuries and conditions. To discuss options on the subject matter, please feel free to ask Dr. Jimenez or contact us at 915-850-0900 .

By Dr. Alex Jimenez

Additional Topics: Wellness


Overall health and wellness are essential towards maintaining the proper mental and physical balance in the body. From eating a balanced nutrition as well as exercising and participating in physical activities, to sleeping a healthy amount of time on a regular basis, following the best health and wellness tips can ultimately help maintain overall well-being. Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables can go a long way towards helping people become healthy.

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