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Sluggish Thyroid Syndrome

Sluggish Thyroid Syndrome, in which the body lacks sufficient thyroid hormone, plagues over five million Americans.  In fact, as many as ten percent of the female population may have some degree of thyroid hormone deficiency.  Hypothyroid disease is more common than you would believe and millions of people currently experience STS and are not aware of it, because laboratory tests are not sensitive enough to reveal this condition.  Sluggish Thyroid Syndrome is one of the most commonly occurring hormonal disturbances.  It can have a disturbing effect in young children of slow growth and general lack of mental and physical development. A.S. Jackson, MD, who specializes in disorders of the thyroid gland, states that low thyroid function is the most common ailment entering the doctor's office and the diagnosis most missed.

The thyroid is a small gland that produces hormones, which are believed to speed metabolism (thyroxine) and affect levels of calcium (calcitonin).  The thyroid gland controls the metabolic activity of the body and is most commonly known as the "Master of Metabolism."  According to Dr. George Goodheart the thymus and spleen work synergistically and are a support system for the thyroid.  As one of the primary glands of the body, the thyroid exerts control over several critical functions, including maintaining body temperature, digestive enzyme synthesis, stomach acid production, fat and protein synthesis, white blood cell synthesis and activity, blood flow and even synthesis and activity of sex hormones.

Interference with thyroid hormone is often an underlying cause of sluggish thyroid syndrome, which is responsible for more than 100 different symptoms. The following questionnaire affords you an opportunity to determine if your situation is suspicious for sluggish thyroid.  A troubling percentage of people that are being treated for this condition and continue to have thyroid related symptoms that will require additional treatment.

The ramifications of a low functioning thyroid affects every tissue, organ and cell in the body, i.e., STS is associated with slow nutritional absorption, decreased libido and lack of motivation (see symptom list below).  In a study conducted by J. H. Means, L.J. DeGroot & J.B. Stanbury they reported the following manifestations in under functioning thyroid cases in varying frequencies.

Symptoms

Fatigue

Weight Gain

Constipation

Slow Pulse Rate

Menstrual Disorders

Muscle Cramps

Sleep Disorders

Heart Palpitations

Forgetfulness

Cold Intolerance

Lethargy

Poor Circulation

Arthritis

Obesity

Irritability

PMS

Back Problems

Mood Swings

Depression

Skin Problems

Edema

Heart Disease

Temp Below 97.8

Decreased Libido

Digestive Problem

Slow Movements

Bruises easily

If you answered yes to four or more of these symptoms, you could be one of millions with Sluggish Thyroid Syndrome, which has been undetectable through standardized blood tests.

The above only constitutes a few of the problems that become obvious with the state of low functioning thyroid.  The energy level of the body is directly related to the level of thyroxin in the system.

Food and Drugs that Suppress

Certain foods, most notably soy, have been linked to the development of hypothyroid problems, but this controversy remains unresolved.  I suspect the soy-hypothyroid link is quite strong when large amounts of soy have been consumed on a prolonged basis.  Certain foods, i.e., cabbage, kale, kohlrabi, rutabaga, cauliflower, mustard greens, radishes, broccoli, brussel sprouts, corn, peas, lima beans, sweet potatoes, cassava, sorghum, apricots, prunes, walnuts, cherries, almonds and bamboo shoots contain goitrogens (thyroid suppressants) and/or pro-goitrogens (thyroid stimulants) which, though they probably do not adversely affect those with optimal thyroid function, it may affect those that have been diagnosed with thyroid disease if they are habitually consumed, therefore, it is vitally important to rotate your food choices on a daily basis.

Drugs and chemicals can also suppress the thyroid gland: sulfa drugs, anti-diabetic medications, prednisone and estrogen in large doses. (birth control pills)  The above also interfere with the thyroid gland in the uptake of iodine.

Two other very important factors that reduce thyroid efficiency are thyocyanide in cigarette smoke and fluorides in municipal water supplies.

Final Thought…

…in his book, Eat right or Die Young, Dr. Cass Ingram explains that high sugar intake can indeed adversely affect the thyroid.

At a high level of sugar intake, there is a risk of damaging or even destroying the adrenal and thyroid gland.  These delicate glands must work overtime to help the body deal with excess sugar .  After awhile under the pressure of constant bombardment of refined sugar, these glands literally burn out.  To be sure, the glands are capable of regenerating and their function can return if you make the appropriate dietary changes and get off the sugar.  There is a risk for permanent damage if you continue your sugar consumption.  The more sugar consumed over the years the more likely it is that you will have burned out a portion of your adrenal and thyroid glands.

Natural Nutrition

According to Judith DeCava, CCN, LNC "If not severe, the imbalance of an under-active thyroid gland may be corrected through natural means."  Simply replacing the availability of iodine  (primary source) and other nutrients can often improve thyroid function dramatically.

Whole, natural foods and whole food concentrate supplements can do much for "restoration" of a relatively normal functioning thyroid.  Food sources such as natural kelp, and other seaweed, fish, dark green and yellow vegetables, whole grains, raw nuts and seeds are excellent. Clinical reports indicated that nutritional support alone is all that is required.

A Nutrition-based approach may be the key to improving the health of those who suffer from nutritionally deficient thyroid glands.  The American Thyroid Association recommends that all people have their thyroid hormone levels checked every five years beginning at the age of 35.

References: 

 Journals

  • Duncan, AM, et al., J of Endoc Metab, 1999.
  • DeCava, JA, Nutri News & Views, 1999.
  • Robinson J, Rall JE, Gordon P, Ducan  Aes Diseases of Metabolism, Phil:  WB Saunders, 1974.
  • Guyton AC, Hall JE. Textbook of Medical Physiology. Phil: WB Saunders, 1996.
  • Barnes, BO, Hypothyroidism: The Unsuspected Illness, NY: Crowell, 1976.
  • Means JH, DeGroot, LJ & Stanbury, JB. Thyroid and its Diseases. NY: McGraw-Hill, 1963.
  • Jabar, MA, Larrea J, Shaw, RA, J Am Coll Nutr, 1997.
  • Thiel, Robert J, PhD, ND, Ameri Nat Med Assoc, Nutritional Interventions for the Thyroid, Pt1 & Pt2, 2000.

Books

  • Ballantine, R. Diet and Nutrition, Himalaya Int'l Inst., 1978.
  • Schwarz, E., PhD.  Endocrines Organs and Their Impact, WI; 1985.
  • Couey, Dick, PhD, Fuller, DicQie, PhD. Living Longer. TX: Serendipity Com., 1996.
  • Whitney, Eleanor Noss. PhD & Rolfes, Sharon Rady, MS. Understanding Nutrition. (NY: Thomson Publishing Co., 1999).
  • Barnes, BO. Hypothyroidism: The Unsuspected Illness, NY: Crowell, 1976

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