Thursday 18 May 2017

Underactive Thyroid Protocol

The underactive thyroid is a problem which receives too little attention within the healthcare sector. Nevertheless, the WHO states that approximately one third of the global population suffers from an iodine deficiency and therefore has thyroid-related problems. And that isn’t only in countries with low levels of iodine in the soil.


Globally, an iodine deficiency is the main cause of primary hypothyroidism – an underactive thyroid and, depending on the age, this can lead to various disorders. One of the main risk groups is pregnant women; this group has a greater requirement for iodine to ensure good brain development of the foetus.


Today’s diet

An iodine deficiency doesn’t only occur in countries with low levels of iodine in the soil; today’s Western diet contains relatively little iodine, except for what is added to bread (iodised salt). Mussels are a rich natural source of iodine, but 900 grams a day would then have to be eaten to meet the reference intake.


Furthermore, in adults it can take many years before there is any evidence of an iodine deficiency as the body will first deplete the iodine stores in the thyroid. A slightly underactive thyroid is often associated with non-specific symptoms. If this hypothyroidism is not treated, a large range of symptoms can occur.


Symptoms that can occur include:

•    Tiredness, inertia, lethargy

•    Cold intolerance

•    Constipation

•    Increase in weight

•    Problems with concentration, memory loss

•    Hair loss, dry skin

•    Muscle cramps, joint problems

•    Oedema

•    Struma

•    (Intra-uterine) growth and developmental delay

•    Intra-uterine death

•    Pregnancy-related complications

•    Cretinism

•    Mental retardation


Physiological function of iodine

The physiological function of iodine comprises the elements required for the formation of thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3) in the thyroid. These hormones regulate the energy release of the cells by influencing permeability of the cell membranes, and they influence the resting metabolism. Thyroxine has a significant effect on growth, because it stimulates the activity of enzymes involved in building up protein in the body. Iodine increases the production of Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) in the hypophysis. In turn, this hormone is responsible for the production of the thyroid hormones Thyroxine, Triiodothyronine and Tetraiodothyronine, using the amino acid tyrosine. These regulate the body’s metabolic activity and heat regulation.


Symptoms of deficiency 

In the event of an iodine deficiency, the thyroid tries to retain more iodine for the synthesis of thyroid hormones and therefore becomes larger (goitre). The iodine level in the blood and urine is very low. A pregnant woman suffering from an iodine deficiency can give birth to a child with a poorly developed brain as a result of iodine deficiency. This disorder is called congenital hypothyroidism (cretinism).


Adults have a slow metabolism, resulting in delayed reactions and the tissues retain fluid (myxoedema). The production of the hormone renin is inhibited by iodine. Under the influence of this, the antidiuretic hormone (ADH) is formed, resulting in the kidneys excreting less fluid. This lowers blood pressure.


The Underactive Thyroid Protocol

If an underactive thyroid is caused by a lack of iodine, it may be sufficient to increase iodine intake, for example, with kelp tablets. But be aware that if the patient suffers from auto-immune thyroid disorders, such as Hashimoto’s disease and Graves’ disease, supplementation with iodine should be avoided. Nevertheless, if the iodine intake is too high, this can cause hyperthyroidism. That is why it is recommended that approximately 150-200 mcg of iodine a day is supplemented, including within nutritional practice.


The knowledge in this article originates from our Nutritional Therapy in accordance with clinical PNI course. This course enables you to create a basis of essential knowledge in relation to diet, exercise and supplementation in relation to chronic disorders within today’s Western society.

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