Case Study: Autoimmune Thyroid
At our clinics we see a great deal of women and men with thyroid problems. Many of these people have already been diagnosed with a thyroid problem years ago by their own doctor and they are taking medication for it. Unfortunately most doctors don’t do the necessary background blood tests to determine why the patient developed a thyroid problem in the first place. This usually means the patient is taking thyroid hormones every morning but still feeling very unwell. I’d like to share one case study of a patient who saw me recently with this particular dilemma.
Karen is a 36 year old lady who had been diagnosed with an underactive thyroid gland two years ago by her doctor. Specifically she was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, meaning she has an autoimmune condition. Her immune system is producing antibodies that attack and destroy her thyroid gland, eventually leaving it unable to manufacture sufficient hormones. Karen’s doctor ordered a blood test to check for thyroid antibodies and they were found to be very high: anti-thyroglobulin antibodies were 360 U/mL and anti-thyroid peroxidase antibodies were 6200 U/mL. Karen’s TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) level was 3.7 U/L. This is considered to be early, mild hypothyroidism. An ideal TSH level is between 0.5 and 2 U/L. Many doctors do not prescribe any remedies for early hypothyroidism, which is a shame because the patient is already experiencing unpleasant symptoms.
The main symptoms Karen experienced due to her thyroid were fatigue, fluid retention and constipation. She is an extremely busy person; she works full time and is also studying at university. She became increasingly exhausted and found it really hard to be alert and awake in the evenings while studying. Karen had always been a slim person, mainly because she always did a lot of exercise. She mainly used exercise as a way to unwind mentally and keep depression at bay. Depression ran through her family and she learned long ago that if she exercised regularly, she could maintain a stable and happy mood. However, when her thyroid gland became underactive Karen gained ten pounds that no amount of exercise could shift. She was forcing herself to exercise, because her energy was so low, but she could not shift the excess weight.
Karen read our book called Your Thyroid Problems Solved and that prompted her to make some diet changes. She read about the importance of following a dairy and gluten free diet, therefore had stopped eating those foods for a month before visiting our clinic. The main motivation for Karen visiting our clinic was her unrelenting fatigue. She was sick and tired of feeling exhausted all the time. Karen was also worried about her high level of thyroid antibodies. She had read in our book that thyroid antibodies are an indicator of damage occurring to the thyroid gland, and she was worried about her thyroid becoming worse if this was not halted.
My recommendations for Karen
- Serum vitamin D blood test – her level was only 15 ng/dL (37 nmol/L), indicating that Karen was very vitamin D deficient. I asked her to take 5000 IU of vitamin D in capsule form each day to correct this. Vitamin D deficiency is a major trigger of autoimmune disease and it promotes auto-antibody production. Correcting a vitamin D deficiency is one of the most important ways to reduce her thyroid antibody levels.
- Urinary spot iodine test. I wanted to check Karen’s iodine level as iodine deficiency is extremely common and can lead to fatigue and a sluggish metabolism. Karen was mildly deficient; her level was 84 U/L and it should be above 100. I asked Karen to include more seafood in her diet.
- Karen had been taking fish oil but only two capsules per day. I asked her to increase this to 2 capsules with every meal. Fish oil is a powerful natural anti-inflammatory and that’s exactly what her immune system needed.
- Karen desperately needed selenium. Many parts of the world have selenium deficient soils, and therefore few foods are a good source of this mineral. Selenium is anti-inflammatory and it helps the liver to manufacture glutathione peroxidase. This is your body’s own powerful antioxidant and a natural detoxifier. Selenium helps to reduce thyroid antibodies. One capsule per day of Selenomune Designer Energy capsules would provide Karen with 200 mcg of selenium.
- Karen needed a small dose of thyroid hormones in order to bring her TSH level into the optimal range. I gave her my Thyroid Hormone Cream and asked her to use one pump twice daily. This cream contains balanced levels of both T4 and T3 thyroid hormones and would help to alleviate the symptoms of hypothyroidism Karen experienced.
So far I have seen Karen for three consultations and she is feeling much more energetic. She is finding it much easier to be more productive at work and in her studies because she no longer has to drag herself through the day. She easily lost eight pounds without even trying and while doing less exercise than usual. I plan to arrange a blood test to check her levels of thyroid antibodies in two months time, but judging by the way Karen feels, I expect they are coming down.
This case illustrates how important it is to get to the bottom of a thyroid problem. It is important to find out exactly why the thyroid gland is malfunctioning and address the cause. In Karen’s case the cause was autoimmune disease and that is the issue in many cases.
The above statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease.