Issue #300 April 23, 2015
Welcome to KnowYourThyroid.
Today, Dr. Isaac Eliaz explains a new study linking low thyroid hormone to the increase in autism. Plus he cites the link between low thyroid disorders and autism with pesticides and other toxins such as heavy metals. He also has suggestions for improving your thyroid health.
Natural protection for your thyroid
By Dr. Isaac Eliaz
Even though we don’t think about it often, the thyroid gland plays numerous critical roles in health and illness. Thyroid hormones influence metabolism, growth and development, hormone balance, body temperature, protein synthesis, calcium absorption and more. Furthermore, new research suggests that thyroid problems may play a role in the development of autism.
When scientists from the Houston Methodist Neurological Institute and Erasmus Medical Centre studied more than 4,000 Dutch mothers and children, they found that mothers with low maternal thyroid hormone were four times more likely to have an autistic child. This correlation highlights the crucial role of thyroid hormones in brain development, but it’s also thought-provoking because of the links between pesticides, toxins and both low thyroid disorders and autism.
And we’re seeing a sharp rise in both conditions.
Nearly 60 million Americans, mostly women, suffer some type of thyroid problem. Anxiety, achiness, fatigue, slow wound healing, unexplained weight fluctuations, hair loss and hormone imbalances are common symptoms. But since these are mostly non-specific, many people don’t even realize they have a problem. However, it’s important to be alert to signs of a thyroid imbalance, which can increase the risk for heart disease, infertility, depression and other serious conditions, as this research suggests.
The rise of thyroid problems
Think about what a thyroid does: It regulates metabolism. Now, think of all the demands we make on metabolism. Our lifestyles are so frenetic, we hardly ever stop. This is especially true for young women, who balance job, family and other interests. As a result, we are seeing a lot of hypothyroidism in women under 40. Too many metabolic demands are made, and the gland simply burns out.
So the first step in rejuvenating the thyroid is simply slowing down. This isn’t just good for the thyroid. Consider what’s going on with your brain, cardiovascular system and immunity. Give yourself the gift of rest.
The role of toxins
Toxins also impair the thyroid, which is particularly sensitive to pesticides and heavy metals. So avoiding — and removing — pesticides, mercury, lead, cadmium, arsenic and other toxins should definitely be part of your health regimen. The same is true when addressing or working to prevent autism.
Iodine plays a role in thyroid health. It’s both an important element for thyroid hormones and a detoxifier. Toxins like bromine in pesticides can mimic iodine, tricking the thyroid into absorbing it. So when we get natural iodine from sources like kelp, it can help by supporting the excretion of bromine and other toxins from the thyroid and body. Be careful, though, too much iodine can also be an issue. Be sure to test your thyroid with an experienced healthcare practitioner before undergoing natural iodine supplementation. It’s also important avoid iodine if you have Hashimoto’s or hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid); it can stimulate further imbalances.
Support a healthy thyroid
There are a variety of minerals that contribute to thyroid health. I particularly recommend magnesium, calcium, zinc and selenium. Herbs can be very helpful as well. Because many thyroid conditions are associated with inflammation, cooling herbs are recommended. Try Prunella vulgaris, Radix scrophulariae ningpoenis, bugle weed (in small amounts) lemon balm and coleus forskohlii.
One of the main culprits in thyroid problems and other chronic conditions is a protein called galectin-3, which is closely linked with inflammation. Galectin-3 is an important protein, but sometimes gets overproduced and needs to be blocked from the body. Controlling excess galectin-3 does more than bolster thyroid health: Too much galectin-3 has been associated with cancer, heart disease, kidney fibrosis and other conditions. In fact, the Food and Drug Administration has approved a galectin-3 test for cardiovascular disease.
One of the best ways to address the harmful effects of elevated galectin-3 is with the supplement modified citrus pectin (MCP). Multiple studies have shown that MCP binds and blocks excess galectin-3 throughout the body. MCP also binds to and removes heavy metals and other toxins, which is especially useful for thyroid health and the numerous other conditions associated with toxic and heavy metal body burden. For more information about this unique ingredient, I recommend the new book by Karolyn Gazella, New Twist on Health: Modified Citrus Pectin for Cancer, Heart Disease and More.
The big picture
If you think you might have a thyroid issue, see your doctor as soon as possible. However, it’s important to note that the diagnostic tests for low thyroid are not always accurate. The thyroid may be producing enough hormones, but the body is somehow canceling them out. An experienced, integrative physician can help sort through these issues. The problem may be toxins, so detoxification becomes a useful adjunct. In general, the holistic methods used to support thyroid health, including anti-inflammatory approaches, can help to balance overall health as well.
For more health and wellness information, visit www.dreliaz.org.
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