July 2012

Dr. Chris Heimlich, DC, DACNB Comments:

Now before I start getting the hate mail, hear me out.  I just had another patient come in and tell me that her doctor had said that to her.

If you are suffering with any of the symptoms of Hashimoto’s, you know that it is a BIG DEAL.

Some of the symptoms of Hashimoto’s include:

  • hair loss
  • hair thinning
  • constipation
  • fatigue
  • cold hands and feet
  • sleep excessively to function
  • brain fog, slow thinking
  • dry skin, flaky skin
  • occasional HYPERthyroid symptoms

In America the number one cause for low thyroid is an autoimmune condition called Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis.

This means that the number one cause for low thyroid n America is an autoimmune attack.  Here are some examples of other autoimmune conditions:  MS, rheumatoid arthritis, Lupus.

Meaning—your immune system has turned on you and is targeting your thyroid…and is killing it…. and that’s what’s causing you to be low thyroid.

And taking thyroid hormones will NOT do anything for this attack. You will continue to lose more and more of your thyroid.

But the standard of care for that is giving you thyroid hormones.  I think you probably understand now that this not a thyroid hormone problem.  That’s not the battle.  The battle is an immune system battle; an autoimmune battle.

Here is a good way to think about the autoimmune attack on the body.  It would be like coming into my office in shorts.  You bring along your dog or cat.  And it is just starts biting and scratching your legs, just really attacking you.  I look at you and say “Gee, you have a leg problem.  Here are some band-aids.  Take these and put them on your legs.  Here is a script of band-aids for the rest of your life for that leg problem.  You may need more or less of them as you go through life.  We will check on them every 3 to 6 months.

If I told you this, you would probably look at me like I had two heads.  It wouldn’t make any sense.  The animal attacking your legs is the problem, not the legs.  It is the same thing with Hashimoto’s.  The immune system attacking the thyroid is the problem, not the thyroid.

What most doctors are going to do for Hashimoto’s is monitor your TSH–thyroid stimulating hormone –level.  They’re going to try to make it stay within a certain numerical range,—but that’s going to fluctuate all over the place and it’s not really getting to the problem.

The immune system will NOT only attack the thyroid, but it will start attacking the cells in the lining of your stomach that help you to be able to absorb B-12.  When this happens you’ll end up getting pernicious anemia.  Since 80% of neurotransmitters are created in the stomach, you can also get brain fog, memory loss, and other neurological symptoms.

The brain is also targeted by the immune system.  It likes to attack the cerebellum.  You can end up having vertigo, dizziness, and balance problems.

The immune system also attacks your pancreas and can make you start having diabetic symptoms, insulin problems, and adrenal issues.

Since every cell in the body has a thyroid receptor site, any part of your body can be attacked when the immune system no longer can tell what is friend and what it foe.

When most patients suffering from low thyroid symptoms learn about the autoimmune attack on the body, it makes perfect sense to them.  It makes sense because that is how they feel.  Like their body is being attacked.

Focusing the clinical management on slowing and modulating the autoimmune attack is crucial in Hashimoto’s Disease. How can you have a properly functioning thyroid if the body is continually attacking and killing it?

A functional approach to naturally supporting and modulating the immune system in autoimmune cases is the best way to help the body slow down or stop the attack on itself.  Natural management of autoimmune conditions is complex. Support that is specific to the individual immune system is essential if you truly want to help Hashimoto’s Disease.

You have to find out how their immune system has shifted.  Our immune systems have two parts:  TH-1 and a TH-2.  They are supposed to be balanced.  If they are not, then we have a problem.

You have to find out which one of those has become abnormally dominant and why.

Is it because of an antigen? –something that the immune system has been trying to kill for so long that it’s increased its immune attack on this antigen and then it flipped the scales and now we have an autoimmune condition.

Or has the immune system become imbalanced because of disregulation.  Hormonal surges can do this.  Stress can do this.  Blood sugar problems.  Inflammation can do this.

So if you know someone that’s suffering with Hashimoto’s, or with low thyroid, and they don’t feel any better – even with thyroid medication – it is time to get them some help.

It’s time to find someone who can investigate this further.

There are millions of you out there right now that have this problem and you don’t know it.

It’s why you still have thyroid symptoms even though you’re taking medication–you have an autoimmune condition (whether diagnosed correctly or not).

And yes, it is A VERY BIG DEAL.


Dr. Chris Heimlich, DC, DACNB Comments

We all know stress is bad for us.  There are thousands of books on the subject.  But how does it relate to the way you are feeling when you have low thyroid symptoms?

First of all, when you are stressed, you release interleukin 17, or IL 17 for short.  They are pro-inflammatory cytokines.  That means they are highly inflammatory in nature.    More inflammation means more symptoms and suffering.

As I have talked about in many other posts, the majority of people suffering with low thyroid symptoms in the United States have an autoimmune condition called Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis.  It is a condition where your thyroid tissue is attacked and destroyed by your own body.  As you can imagine, when the body attacks itself, there is a large amount of inflammation produced.  So when you release these other chemicals in the body that cause more inflammation, it only makes your symptoms worse.

Symptoms that are commonly associated with low thyroid or high TSH are:

  • Often feeling cold
  • Cold hands and feet
  • High or rising cholesterol
  • Constipation
  • No eyebrows or thinning outer eyebrows
  • Exhaustion in every dimension–physical, mental, spiritual, emotional
  • Dry Hair
  • Sore feet
  • colitis
  • irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • painful bladder
  • Heart disease
  • Hair Loss
  • Requires naps in the afternoon
  • Depression
  • Raised temperature
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Joint pain
  • Major anxiety/worry
  • Acne on face and in hair
  • Breakout on chest and arms
  • Hives
  • Bizarre and Debilitating reaction to exercise
  • Hard stools
  • Less stamina than others
  • Less energy than others
  • Long recovery period after any activity
  • Chronic Low Grade Depression
  • Palpitations
  • Hard stools
  • Dry cracking skin
  • Insomnia
  • Brain Fog
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Nausea
  • Aching muscles
  • Lack of motivation
  • Swollen ankle
  • Inability to lose weight (even with exercise and low calorie diet)
  • Sleep Apnea
  • Inability to get pregnant; miscarriages

So when you have any of these symptoms, and you get stressed out, it is like throwing gasoline on the fire.

Another reason that stress is bad for low thyroid sufferers is because the pituitary gland gets suppressed secondary to elevation of cortisol.  Cortisol is produce by your adrenal glands and is released when you have stress.  The adrenal glands are part of you autonomic nervous system.  It is the system that has to do with fight or flight and with all the organs in the body, including the heart, lungs, stomach, GI system, pancreas, etc.  What controls the autonomic nervous system?  Your brain controls the autonomic nervous system, and the brain doesn’t like large fluctuations in the cortisol either.

Chronic stress can cause elevation in the cortisol which causes suppression of the pituitary and reduces the amount of Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) released.   I won’t get into all the pathways associated with the brain, thyroid, and adrenal glands because you don’t have to know them.  But your doctor does.

Don’t go run out and buy supplements to support your adrenals.  That mentality could just rob Peter to pay Paul.  You have to look at how all of the body is functioning before you ever start thinking about supporting the adrenals.

The easy answer is to not get stressed out. ….but that is unrealistic.

The key to stress is finding a way to deal with it in an appropriate manner.

Find something that you enjoy and that relaxes you, and then do it on a daily basis.  Some of you reading this are probably saying that you love to exercise, but can’t due to fatigue, pain, etc.  I understand.  There is another key to stress.

The other key to stress is finding out why you are not feeling the way you should.  It is not normal to have symptoms.

You need to find a doctor that understands what we have talked about and who can look over your lab results, sit down and listen to your symptoms, examine you, and come up with a way to get your body to heal itself back up, the way it was designed to do.  You need a doctor that will look at everything happening in your body- not just your thyroid or adrenals.