Hypothyroidism and Natural Cures

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Over 45 million people suffer from vague symptoms that they think are a normal part of life and are actually caused by subclinical hypothyroidism, a condition that goes undiagnosed in half the people who have it. (1)

Symptoms such as chronic fatigue, feeling sluggish in the morning, and memory or concentration difficulties are common symptoms of subclinical hypothyroidism. Obviously, these symptoms can occur from other deficiencies as well, but this statement from Dr. Mark Hyman, M.D. of UltraWellness explains why it is such a commonly undiagnosed problem:

Subclinical hypothyroidism may trigger many low-grade symptoms, such as chronic fatigue, trouble losing weight, mild depression, constipation, and more, yet it causes just slight changes in your blood tests. In fact, it often only shows up in tests that most conventional medical doctors never perform, leaving most people to accept the symptoms as a normal part of their lives. (1)

The purpose of this article is not to cause panic or unnecessary concern, but I am living proof of such a situation, with my under active thyroid and lack of iodine absorption never being diagnosed until in my 40’s. After researching the subject, in retrospect, many of the symptoms (more than listed here) I have had my entire life. My kinesiologist was the first doctor to make any improvements in this area.

I recently came across an article about coconut oil as a possible nature help for hypothyroidism.

There are doctors on both sides of this issue, partially due to the fact that the symptoms can come from other deficiencies and doctors do not like patients to self-diagnose. Some doctors also downplay it because they feel coconut oil is being pushed as a cure all for the deficiency, when there is a wide variety of causes of hypothyroidism, some of which would not be affected by coconut oil. Since I prefer natural “cures” or remedies, and there are many people who have seen very quick and definite reduction of their symptoms, I will not “throw out the baby with the bath water” and ignore what has given people positive results. It is a valid point as well to mention that not all coconut oils are processed into a form that is healthy. We’ll discuss that later in this article. For the sake of balance, here is a quote and reference to an opposing point of view. Dr. Kenneth Woliner lists certain causes of hypothyroidism that he feels would be unaffected by coconut oil: “Deficiencies of minerals such as selenium, zinc, and iodine are common… A relative deficiency of tyrosine caused by low iron, tetrahydrobiopterin, or NAD inhibiting its conversion from phenylalanine is another cause. A patient could be exposed to the toxicity of heavy metals such as cadmium and mercury; fatty acids such as oleic acid and transfats; stress; infections; autoimmune disease; radiation; and trauma.”

Some doctors and their patients have seen significant thyroid improvement and other health benefits from coconut oil.

Dr. Joseph Mercola explains that coconut oil is a needed form of healthy fat, called medium chain triglycerides, “MCT’s have many health benefits, including raising your body’s metabolism and fighting off pathogens such as viruses, bacteria and fungi.” He is also one of the advocates of coconut oil for thyroid health. You can follow this reference at the end of the post to an article in his newsletter if you would like a rather technical discussion of the topic oils and thyroid health.(3)

Dr. Ray Peat, PhD, is the doctor whose studies are most quoted in this subject of coconut oil. By following his suggestion of eliminating all oils from the diet other than coconut, olive oil, and butter, and taking 3 T. of a healthy brand of coconut oil per day, numerous hypothyroidism sufferers have seen a reversal of such symptoms such as body temperature not going above 97 degrees, cold hands and feet, inability to lose weight, fatigue, slow heart rate, insomnia, and dry skin. Body temperatures returned to normal, sleep patterns were improved, metabolism increased, hormones were more balanced, and energy levels were higher.(4)

An important factor in overall health and the improvement of hypothyroidism is the removal of polyunsaturated oils from one’s diet.

Dr. Ray Peat, PhD, who has done extensive work oils and their effects on hormones writes:

Their [polyunsaturated oils] best understood effect is their interference with the function of the thyroid gland. Unsaturated oils block thyroid hormone secretion, its movement in the circulatory system, and the response of tissues to the hormone. When the thyroid hormone is deficient, the body is generally exposed to increased levels of estrogen. The thyroid hormone is essential for making the ‘protective hormones’ progesterone and pregnenolone, so these hormones are lowered when anything interferes with the function of the thyroid. The thyroid hormone is required for using and eliminating cholesterol, so cholesterol is likely to be raised by anything which blocks the thyroid function.(5)

Another reason most vegetable oils are so harmful to the thyroid is that they quickly become rancid. We all know how quickly those cheap vegetable oils get a stale taste and bad smell. Dr. Peat also explains how these quick, oxidizing oils cause a wide variety of health issues, even keeping people who are strictly eating healthy diets from absorbing necessary nutrients. This is another symptom which I have personally experienced. Dr. Ray Peat says:

When the oils are stored in our tissues…their tendency to oxidize is very great. These oxidative processes can damage enzymes and other parts of cells, and especially their ability to produce energy…These enzymes are needed not only for digestion, but also for production of thyroid hormones, clot removal, immunity, and the general adaptability of cells. The risks of abnormal blood clotting, inflammation, immune deficiency, shock, aging, obesity, and cancer are increased. Thyroid [hormones] and progesterone are decreased. Since the unsaturated oils block protein digestion in the stomach, we can be malnourished even while eating well…Unsaturated oils block thyroid hormone secretion, its movement in the circulatory system, and the response of tissues to the hormone.(5)

In my opinion, a simple change of substituting a good quality coconut oil in one’s diet is well worth a try for the possibility of seeing a reversal in hypothyroid symptoms.

As with buying olive oil, you need to find a coconut oil that is not processed with heat. The poorer quality commercial coconut oils are made from the copra, the dried meat of the coconut, and then heated and bleached to purify it. Neither do you want ones that have been hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated, as they will contain trans fatty acids. A true virgin coconut oil will either be from quick dried coconut meat that was mechanically pressed or from wet-milled coconut meat. 6)

Feel free to follow the links below if you desire more detailed reading from the articles referenced in this post. Here’s to better health!

(1) http://www.reuters.com/article/pressRelease/idUS219718+13-Mar-2008+MW20080313

(2) http://thyroid.about.com/cs/dietweightloss/a/coconutoil_3.htm

(3) http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2003/11/08/thyroid-health-part-two.aspx

(4) http://www.coconutdiet.com/thyroid_health.htm?gad&gclid=CPWDvsDLvZUCFR0RnQodjySBRA

(5) Raymond Peat Newsletter “Unsaturated Vegetable Oils Toxic” 1996

(6) http://www.coconutdiet.com/what_is_virgin_coconut_oil.htm

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