Thyroid - Low Function page 2 - Nenah Sylver

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The Thyroid Gland:
Low Function and Remedies - page 2

© 2005 by Nenah Sylver, PhD


Hypothyroidism: Possible and Precipitating Causes, and Remedies

The tendency toward hypothyroidism is believed to be genetic, but various stressors—such as life traumas, chemical insults, low body temperature, and dietary and nutritional deficiencies—can generate a malfunction of the gland.

1. Possible (or Precipitating) Cause: Life Traumas and Stressors. Major traumas and stress-related incidents can cover a wide range, including childhood abuse, loss of a job, divorce, an accident, a death—and also overwork, a change of job, or moving from one dwelling to another. Even positive experiences such as marriage can take its toll on the system. One huge stress is not getting enough sleep, or sleeping at irregular hours.

Corrective Measures to Life Traumas and Stressors: Psychotherapy. We humans are social creatures. Especially during times of stress or trauma, having someone to talk to about difficult issues can make a world of difference in how we feel. Whether that confidant is a therapist or peer, a lover or a good friend, or a priest/rabbi/shaman—it’s important to have a loving, accepting space provided by someone who is present. Sometimes it’s helpful to get advice, sometimes not. Dealing with stress is critical to helping your entire body-mind system function properly. Many other modalities—such as meditation and exercise—help reduce stress too. However, I mention sharing the burden particularly because sometimes, people forget that it’s okay to need other people.

2. Possible (or Precipitating) Cause: Chemical Insults. These can range from environmental pollution (such as pesticides) to radiation poisoning. Pesticides, artificial chemical fertilizers, and household chemicals are known for their ability to negatively affect thyroid function. Nuclear “testing” also causes major damage to the gland. During nuclear “testing,” radioactive iodine in the air displaces the normal (non-radioactive) iodine in the gland. The radioactive kind of iodine is poisonous to the system; so in addition to blocking out the beneficial kind, it directly causes the thyroid to shut down.

Corrective Measures to Chemical Insults: Detoxification Protocols. Remedies can include chelation, sauna therapy, ozone therapy, and nutritional modifications. Be aware that the liver, which plays a major part in detoxifying the system, cannot do its job without the necessary nutrients. This includes a balanced protein/carbohydrate ratio. Many people do not get adequate protein and instead load up on carbohydrates. For more information on sauna therapy, see my book The Holistic Handbook of Sauna Therapy. You can read excerpts from the book and cover quotes, and order the book by clicking on its cover on the left-hand menu. You can also find links to holistic websites that feature detoxification themes at the end of this article.

3. Possible (or Precipitating) Cause: Low Body Temperature. Body temperature plays a major role in thyroid function. The body uses an enzyme called 5’-deiodinase to convert T4 into the absorbable T3. However, the T4 cannot be converted into T3 if the body temperature is chronically too much below normal (98.6°F or 37°C). The shape of an enzyme depends on its temperature. Too much continual heat makes the enzyme too tight, and too much continual cold makes the enzyme too loose. People with Wilson’s Syndrome are in a vicious cycle. If the body temperature is too low, the enzyme becomes too loose and the body cannot readily convert T4 into T3. This in turn makes the body temperature too low, which in turn makes the enzyme even more misshapen and unable to perform the proper conversion of T4 into T3!

Corrective Measures to Low Body Temperature (besides T3 medication, which you can obtain only with a doctor’s prescription): Sauna therapy with far infrared (FIR) as the heat source. Studies on heat therapy are not totally conclusive, but another possible, and adjunctive (to T3 therapy), treatment for thyroid disorders—particularly Wilson’s Syndrome—may be sauna therapy. Taking FIR saunas on a regular basis could help raise the body temperature because with more necessary heat in the system, the 5’-deiodinase enzyme can convert T4 into T3. FIR not only penetrates more deeply into the body than heat from conventional electric heaters, but it is biologically very compatible with living tissue. My book, The Holistic Handbook of Sauna Therapy, discusses this in depth. You can order this book online; click onto the book cover at the left hand menu.

4. Possible (or Precipitating) Cause: Dietary and Nutritional Deficiencies.

  • Too many carbohydrates (starches and sugars) and not enough protein daily can stress the thyroid gland.

  • Skipping meals and eating at irregular hours can cause hormonal imbalances and blood sugar problems.

  • Certain vegetables called goitrogens—especially when eaten raw and in large amounts—may interfere with thyroxin production. Thyroid-inhibiting vegetables include the brassica family (Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower and mustard greens), rutabagas, radishes, and turnips.

  • Another food that has been definitively shown to inhibit thyroid function is the soybean because of its excessive estrogen-mimicking compounds. The phytochemicals from soy latch onto the estrogen receptor sites in human tissue and act like powerful hormones in the body.

  • In order for the thyroid gland to function, it needs lots of nutrients. The thyroid’s function is also dependent on other glands—especially the adrenal gland, which backs up the thyroid and can get exhausted and depleted if it’s trying to take over some of the functions of the thyroid.

  • Although iodine is clearly a nutrient, it is so important that it is being listed separately. The thyroid needs iodine to manufacture its hormones properly. If there is not enough iodine in the diet, the thyroid gland cannot make enough thyroid hormone. (T4 carries 4 iodine molecules, and T3 carries 3 iodine molecules.) By the way, sufficient iodine can also help prevent the enlargement of the thyroid gland. As mentioned earlier, when the pituitary gland senses a drop in thyroid hormone levels in the blood, it releases more TSH to stimulate the thyroid to produce more thyroid hormone. But if there is not enough iodine in the diet, no matter how much TSH is released, the thyroid still cannot produce enough hormone. Without sufficient dietary iodine, the pituitary’s continued production of TSH in its attempt to raise thyroid hormone levels can cause the thyroid to grow unnaturally. This is goiter. The fact that goiter is not as prevalent in populations living at or near a seacoast suggests that goiter may well be the result of iodine deficiency.

Corrective Measures to Dietary and Nutritional Deficiencies: Proper diet and nutritional supplementation.

  • Eat protein at every meal. This means animal protein: red meat, fish, poultry, game, or cheese—produced naturally, without antibiotics or hormones.

  • Eat at regular hours. If your blood sugar levels have a tendency to drop, eat 4, 5 or 6 smaller meals a day.

  • If you don’t want to eliminate goitrogenous vegetables from your diet, boil them in water first (that’s right, boil them!), and then discard the water. Heat destroys the thyroid-inhibiting compounds. Even though some of the vitamin and mineral content is lost, you will still obtain some nutrients, as well as the fiber. Alternatively, you could ferment them. For example, turning raw cabbage into sauerkraut makes it safe for the thyroid and provides a delicious and safe source of hydrochloric acid, which aids in the digestion of protein.

  • Eliminate soy products such as tofu, and fake soy “foods” such as soy “ice cream,” soy “cheese,” and soy “milk.” Soy protein powder isolate isn’t a great food, either. Think what isolate means: it’s isolated, meaning processed and out-of-its-matrix. If you must have soy products, eat small amounts of the fermentated ones—soy sauce, miso, and tempeh. These don’t negatively affect the body because the fermentation has eliminated their thyroid-inhibition properties.

  • According to Dr. Michael Schachter, who treats people for hypothyroidism, proper function of the thyroid gland and the ability of the body to convert T4 to T3 requires sufficient amounts of the following nutrients: the adrenal hormone cortisol; coenzyme Q10; minerals such as magnesium, iron, zinc, copper, and selenium; protein, especially the amino acid tyrosine; vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5; and of course iodine (see below). Numerous herbs can provide adrenal support; and many people can still obtain supplements containing the required nutrients.

  • Seafood and seaweed (such as kelp) have always been considered good sources of iodine. However, unless you’re eating massive amounts, these do not have enough iodine to thoroughly saturate the body’s tissues. This is when an iodine supplement is critical.

The Importance of Iodine for Thyroid Support

According to Dr. Kae Thompson-Liu, of the four possible fundamental building blocks to health—water, salt, soda and iodine—iodine seems to be the least understood and most neglected. The main purpose of iodine is to help in the synthesis, storage, and secretion of thyroid hormone.

Iodine has many important functions. To name just a few: it coats incoming allergenic proteins to make them non-allergenic. It is an anti-cancer and anti-autoimmune disease agent. Most importantly, iodine is an antiseptic. In the stomach, iodine deactivates all biological, and most chemical, poisons. “Its antiseptic potency and safety has never been equaled or surpassed,” Thompson-Liu remarks. “Dilute iodine solutions kill all single celled organisms such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, protozoa and even staphylococcus, with few side effects and no development of bacterial resistance.”

The systems of tadpoles are flushed with iodine at the point they become air-breathing frogs. It is hypothesized that in infants, their bodies are similarly flushed with iodine as they are born. This would make iodine critical for fetal development. Autopsies of healthy people who die of so-called natural causes showed trace amounts of iodine in almost all tissues and organs. These few examples illustrate the importance of iodine. They also help us understand the array and intensity of symptoms possible when people are deprived of iodine.  

Drs. David Derry, David Brownstein, and others discuss the importance of iodine in depth. Please see their work for more information.


The thyroid, though tiny, is extraordinarily powerful. A properly functioning thyroid can make a huge difference in one’s quality of life. Hypothyroidism is widespread—but it can be treated. Remember to see a doctor if you think you have thyroid problems!!!

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See a doctor if you think you might have thyroid problems!!!

For more information, go to. . .

Dr. Richard Loyd's GREAT site on other aspects of thyroid function:

Also see. . .


The Rife Handbook of Frequency Therapy
by this author
contains a wealth of information,
not only on the care of the thyroid gland,
but on many other aspects of
getting well and staying well.

Also read the Thyroid Section excerpt
from Chapter 5 (the Frequency Directory).



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