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One of the fastest rising health conditions in the US is hypothyroidism. The most common symptoms experienced are lethargy, depression and weight gain. Some of the newest reports are estimating that 15-30% of the population may have thyroid problems. An anti-inflammatory diet and lifestyle provide natural solutions to boost thyroid function.
80% of hypothyroid conditions in the US are thought to be auto-immune conditions (1). Few doctors test for thyroid anti-bodies and so most do not ever get the proper diagnosis. In the medical system, an auto-immune condition and a sluggish thyroid are treated the same, with synthetic T4.
The Sensitive Thyroid Gland:
The thyroid gland has a vital role in overall physiology and its coordinated control over thyroid hormone production and excreted is incredibly important. Dysfunctional thyroid activity dramatically alters someone’s quality of life and can be devastating and even fatal to the body.
The thyroid is a very sensitive gland that is delicate in nature. The two major threats to thyroid function include environmental toxins and our own anti-body production. Either of these can damage the thyroid and create a physiological state of hypo or hyperthyroidism.
There is an intimate connection between the thyroid gland, the liver, adrenals and the gut. This connection plays an enormous role in the ability of activated thyroid hormone (T3) getting into the cells of the body to produce its required function. Without adequate T3 activity the individual becomes hypothyroid.
Hypothalamic – Pituitary- Adrenal-Thyroid Axis:
The body works through a series of feedback loops. One of the major chemical sensory regions of the body is the hypothalamus of the brain. This region is constantly monitoring the blood stream for the presence of adequate thyroid hormone among other things.
The hypothalamus sends chemical signals to the pituitary gland which then carries out certain actions. The pituitary glands sends out varying amounts of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) to direct the thyroid gland to produce and secrete thyroid hormone (T4). Additionally, the pituitary signals the adrenals to secrete cortisol when blood sugar goes down and/or the body is under stress.
Much of thyroid health is about regulating the HPT and HPA loops. This depends upon a healthy, anti-inflammatory lifestyle and often may include specific supplements that support the hypothalamus, pituitary, thyroid and adrenal glands.
The Adrenal - Liver-Gut-Thyroid Connection:
The gut plays a role in about 20% of the conversion of T4 (inactivated thyroid) to T3 through the enzyme intestinal sulfatase. If one has a leaky gut they are going to struggle with this conversion process which would manifest on lab work as normal T4 and low T3. Additionally, a leaky or irritated gut lining increases the risk for auto-immunity which could manifest as Hashimoto’s or Graves disease (2, 3).
The liver also plays a role in 20% of the conversion of T4-T3. If the liver is backlogged or not functioning well than there will often be a poor T4-T3 conversion as well. A poor functioning liver will also be unable to process environmental toxins at an effective rate which predisposes the thyroid to greater toxic assault. This could also elevate the risk of developing thyroid auto-immunity (4).
The adrenal glands are also critical players in thyroid hormone production. When one is in a state of adrenal fatigue it reduces pituitary function which hampers TSH and reduces the conversion of T4-T3 (5). High stress hormone and in particular cortisol, can raise up TSH causing more stress on the thyroid gland (6). Chronically imbalanced cortisol levels also increase the production of rT3 and reduce T4-T3 conversion (7).
Introducing Thyro-Liver Protect:
There are many health and lifestyle components involved in protecting and enhancing thyroid function. Addressing the health of the liver, gut and adrenals is imperative to this process. One product I like to use clinically with virtually all cases of Hypothyroidism is Thyro-Liver Protect.
Thyro-Liver Protect contains the amino acid N-acetyl-L-cysteine, a key component of glutathione—a tripeptide that plays a significant role in detoxification and antioxidant support. This product also contains a combination of alpha-lipoic acid, silymarin from milk thistle, and selenium for support of antioxidant activity, regeneration of other antioxidants and promotion of healthy immune function.*
N-Acetyl L Cysteine: (NAC)
This is a precursor to glutathione which is the body’s primary anti-oxidant that neutralizes free radicals and detoxifies harmful substances. A powerful anti-oxidant found within every cell in your body, glutathione has many key functions. One of glutathione’s most important roles is to defend the cell against wastes and toxins (8).
NAC has been shown to improve blood flow and blood vessel integrity in individuals with hyperglycemia (9). It has also been shown to improve insulin sensitivity and create more stable post meal blood sugar responses (10). NAC supplementation has additionally been able to reduce oxidative stress and the negative effects of glycation in the body (11).
The overall effect of this is that it stabilizes blood sugar, improves adrenal output, helps the liver to detoxify effectively and supports the integrity of the gut lining. This also helps to reduce inflammation and balance the immune system which reduces auto-immune tendencies.
Alpha Lipoic Acid: (ALA)
This is a unique and powerful anti-oxidant that has both water and fat soluble properties. This unique characteristic allows it to be absorbed and transported into many organs and systems such as the brain, liver and nerves.
Lipoic acid is able to regenerate vitamins C and E and other major anti-oxidants such as glutathione and CoQ10. Lipoic acid protects the mitochondria, the energy producing factories of cells, from being damaged by oxidative stress so they can produce energy more efficiently (12).
There is overwhelming evidence that ALA is critical for maintaining insulin sensitivity, optimal blood sugar levels and blood vessel integrity (13, 14). The overall effect of this is that it stabilizes blood sugar, improves adrenal output, helps the liver to detoxify effectively and supports the integrity of the gut lining. This also helps to reduce inflammation and balance the immune system which reduces auto-immune tendencies (15, 16)
The active antioxidant compound within milk thistle is the flavonoid complex called Silymarin. This anti-oxidant is one of the most powerful liver detoxifying agents. It helps to boost glutathione and superoxide dismutase which are two the bodies master super anti-oxidants (17). One study found that silymarin increased glutathione content in the intestines and liver by up to 50% (18). Boosting glutathione helps protect the intestines from inflammatory damage that leads to ulcers and colitis.
Silymarin helps to protect the bodies enzymatic systems, the liver, thyroid and the immune system from radiation stress. Gamma radiation is a major risk factor for the development of thyroid problems and various cancers. Silymarin consumption may be one of the best defenses against the harmful effects of radiation stress (19)
Selenium is incorporated into key enzymes involved in several metabolic pathways implicated in thyroid hormone metabolism; additionally, it plays an antioxidant role in the regulation of the immune system. There are strong links between selenium deficiencies and auto-immune thyroid problems (20, 21).
It has been hypothesized that these compounds activate a complex defense system that maintains normal thyroid function by protecting the gland from both hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), produced by thyrocytes and oxidative stress.
This is the major cofactor for the key thyroid enzyme 5’deiodinase which is what converts T4 into T3. 5’deoidinase also degrades the inactive rT3. Studies have indicated that individuals with lower selenium levels are at higher risk for low T3 (22). Selenium has been shown to reduce rT3 levels and improve active T3 status (23). It also reduces anti-thyroid anti-body formation (24, 25)
Who Needs This Product:
I recommend anyone struggling with hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism to utilize this product. It is great for both auto-immunity as well as those with elevated stress hormone production or sluggish liver/gut function. Additionally, those who have liver and kidney conditions, diabetes or other blood sugar signaling problems can benefit greatly from this product.