What Causes Thyroid Disease Part 1 of 3October 15, 2014
What Causes Thyroid Disease Part 3 of 3October 29, 2014
Hi there. Dr. Alan Christianson here with you again and this is “What Causes Thyroid disease number two of three.” So, in the last episode we talked about the main three elements that come together: the genes, the environment and the immune system and we got into some depth about the genetic part of that. Why it is that women get more Thyroid disease then men? Why it is that it clusters within families? The relevance of iodine intake and the relevance of how a male family history is even more relevant then a female family history. The second part of that was the environment.
So, we discussed how the environmental factors are the second step. They are relevant because the thyroid is pulling iodine in, but it is also pulling in wastes – for some people more then others. Some are more susceptible and some have more exposure to wastes. Those are the two biggest variables that drive this. The wastes that are around are things that exposure can be inevitable or they can be controlled, and there is also differences in how well things go out. So what do I mean by all that?
I think about it kind of like a bathtub. So our toxic load is like a bathtub…and in the analogy, you’ve got a really nice hardwood floor in the base of the bathtub and we do not want it to overflow and ruin the floor. So the bathtub has water coming in and it has a drain. So now the water here is the waste that we are all exposed to. In this analogy, you can not turn off the faucet. So what do I mean by that?
Being alive in the modern world…breathing air, eating food and drinking water, we are exposed to pollutants and we can be conscious about that. We can reduce our exposure, but we can not eliminate our exposure. We can not shut off the water coming into the tub completely. You know a mile deep in Antarctica there is measurable levels of DDT. There have been about three million new chemicals released since 1906 that did not exist in our environment before. So we are all exposed. So, the variables that are relevant are how much exposure we got and how good we detox.
For how much exposure we get there are controlled factors. We want to certainly minimize anything that has a high load of metals, pesticides or solvents. Some people have more inevitable exposure from things even early in life, like lots of vaccinations, lots of dental amalgams, being around lead-based paint when you were younger or having certain procedures like x-rays or radiation done for sore throats back in the day, and to some extent, these represent exposure we can not control. So you can imagine that there are all these things coming in, but also all of those things going out. That is the drain of the tub. So how good does that drain work? Is that drain open? Is it closed? Is it clogged?
So the paradox is that people that are prone to Thyroid disease also have almost universally a defect in one of the genes that allows them to detox. That is an MTHFR gene that allows the body to activate Folic acid and make it into a helpful compound that makes our detox work better. There is nearly a 100% overlap between one of those defects and Thyroid disease, awfully close to a 100%. So with Thyroid disease the stuff that is coming in, that little drain in the tub that we can not shut off all the way… it is hard to keep up with all that is going out. The drain in the tub is clogged. It is more closed. It is closer to being closed. So that little bit of water coming in from the faucet is more apt to build up.
The other factor is that once you cross a certain level of exposure…once you get a certain amount of waste in your body, your rate of detox becomes much slower. We can think about the ratio of what comes into what goes out. Say you ingest 1 microgram of mercury per day and maybe 1 microgram leaves your body. Once you get to where your detox gets impaired because maybe you have got some lead that has built up. That 1 microgram exposure might only lead to a 1/10th of a microgram of elimination and so you’ve got 9/10th of a microgram building up each day. So the rate of exposure to the rate of accumulation becomes very different once you get somewhat toxic.
So because of variances in genes and because of the nature of that drain getting clogged in the tub making that outflow even slower, it’s not uncommon to see a build up of many wastes, even without weird exposures -just being alive in the modern world. Some of them are more apt to affect the Thyroid than others. To date, there are about 300 chemicals that are documented to disrupt our Thyroid function. There are some that are much more common than others and frankly, some that are more measurable than others. There are some that we do not have good tools to measure within the body. You know many of these wastes migrate deep into our tissues, to our Thyroid or our brain or our visceral fat. That is the problem. They get stuck inside of there. They are not out in circulation where they can readily leave the body. That is when they build up and cause problems. So that is why they are dangerous but it’s also why they are hard to measure. We can not just do a blood measurement of your mercury because it does not stay in the blood very long. It goes deeper into your tissues. So for evaluating for wastes, there are tests that will show levels of certain metals and the best way to gauge what is deeper in your stores. like your Thyroid or your brain, is to do a challenge. It is to actually push some waste out and collect that urine and see how much comes out after that challenge. Short of large tissue biopsy, which is not practical, that is the best way to gauge what is there.
So action steps: Keep your burden of wastes low. I have talked about rice bran fiber and chlorophyll as a couple of really good tricks. Rice bran fiber you can get anywhere. A tablespoon or two per day in your smoothie does a great job. A lot of the wastes that we are exposed to get in our colon and migrate back to our bloodstream but by having rice bran fiber more of those things stay trapped in the colon and leave in the stool which is what we want. The more chlorophyll, the better. The more your stool is green, the more you will be clean! That is spinach. That is collard greens, kale, and broccoli. So put some education into avoiding environmental toxins.
Do not use pesticide sprays indoors. Outdoors it’s probably better to avoid, but indoors – certainly good to avoid. Keep your toxic load as low as possible. Pick up dry cleaning items and take them outside and let them get some fresh air for a day or so, so that they can off-gas. So that they are not coming into your body across the skin. Really avoid new plastic smells, like new shower curtains, new vehicles, carpet fabrics, and anything like that – let it have outside exposure or use ion purifiers to break down the load. So that is the environmental link.
You want to keep your body clean. This is good for avoiding Thyroid disease but it is also critical to managing Thyroid disease. That is what we will talk about through this sequence. The same things that cause the disease to happen these are the processes that help maximize the recovery and help maximize response to treatment and maximize the chances and the time frame to get back to your optimal health. Thanks for tuning into this one and we will be back real soon. Take care.
Dr. Alan Glen Christianson (Dr. C) is a Naturopathic Endocrinologist and the author of The NY Times bestselling Adrenal Reset Diet.
Dr. C’s gift for figuring out what really works has helped hundreds of thousands of people reverse thyroid disease, lose weight, and regain energy. Learn more about the surprising story that started his quest.