This is a guest post by Dr. Laura Thompson.
Ahh – the great, enigmatic thyroid gland helps regulate metabolism, energy production, digestive, heart and brain function, and bone metabolism. Like all glands it is responsible for opposites, making diagnosis potentially difficult.
You could be hot-cold, dry-moist, anxious-depressed, tired or wired. Your practitioner has to be very astute and the testing has to be very specific to really know what’s going on.
Unfortunately, that’s usually not the case.
Many people who have thyroid imbalance don’t even know it because the blood tests they take are not complete. Most doctors only run a TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone). That’s a pituitary hormone, not even a thyroid hormone. Sometimes they run a T4 or T3, but these often come out normal even if a person has a thyroid or metabolic imbalance.
Now, I’m not itching for everyone to be diagnosed, nor to take meds, but it would be great to know if your thyroid is under or over-functioning so you can treat it naturally. That’s why we suggest more specific, sensitive thyroid blood tests. A complete blood panel would include: TSH, Total T3 & T4, Free T3 & T4, Reverse T3, T3 uptake plus TPO and TAA antibodies.
Autoimmune Thyroid Provoked by Viruses
Doing the complete thyroid blood testing helps ascertain if you have an autoimmune condition such as Hashimoto’s (hypo) or Graves disease (hyper). These are really not thyroid problems to begin with, but immune problems that can become thyroid problems. The immune system reacts to allergens, toxins or infection and attacks the thyroid tissue.
Viruses such as those that follow have been found to elicit autoimmune thyroid responses: (Virology Journal 2009, 6:5 doi:10.1186/1743-422X-6-5)
- Herpes virus 1 or 2 – oral or genital is found in the nervous system. Once there, it can break out in a multitude of areas in the body, including the thyroid. Can also lead to lymph gland swelling in the neck, thyroiditis or multi-nodules.
- Epstein-Barr Virus – leads to CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome), swollen glands, exhaustion, fevers, brain fog and is akin to mononucleosis. Can be one cause of thyroid growths.
- Cocksackie virus – an enterovirus, which enters the body via the fecal-oral route. Can cause sore throat, rashes, blisters, skeletal system problems and can even lead to Sjogren’s Syndrome, an auto-immune condition.
- Hepatitis C – generally resides in the liver but can infect the thyroid and cause high thyroid antibody levels or thyroid inflammation.
- Parvovirus B19 – causes “fifths disease” in children and can cause Hashimoto’s thyroiditis in adults.
- Influenza B – The classic “flu” virus can cause sore throat, swollen lymph glands under the arms, in the neck, and potentially inflamed thyroid gland.
I have seen many people with thyroid conditions that have a viral component. Using Electro Acupuncture (EAV) computerized assessment can also be revelatory in this area. It helps customize a natural program for you that nourishes and detoxifies the thyroid, builds immune function and inactivates potential viruses.
So remember – if you’re experiencing:
- Weight problems
- Memory loss
- Hair Loss
- Difficulty regulating body temperature
- Auto-immune low thyroid – Hashimoto’s
- Auto-immune hyper thyroid – Grave’s Disease
- Goiter or swelling at the throat
- Gluten sensitivities …
… or if you take prescription thyroid hormones, yet still experience any of these symptoms, the information from specialized testing could be extremely useful in solving your problems.
May you thrive with a healthy, balanced metabolism. May you live, understanding your body better than most of your doctors do!
Dr. Laura Thompson is a family nutritionist and naturopathic endocrinologist with a local and long distance practice at the Southern California Institute of Clinical Nutrition in Carlsbad, CA.