In our last podcast episode #165, we discussed adrenal fatigue. When the adrenals are taxed then the thyroid is directly affected. 


Low levels of iodine, and other nutritional deficiencies, as well as certain drugs can cause the conversion of T4 (thyroxin), the lesser active thyroid hormone, into T3 (triiodothyronine), the necessary active form, to become blocked. T3 is about three times more potent than T4. Clinical symptoms, the entire endocrine system, and nutrition all need to be evaluated. It is possible to have a subclinical condition, which is difficult to detect.

Nutrient deficiencies, medications, including birth control pills, and diet all play a role in an inability for thyroid hormones to convert to their active states. Pesticides, fluoride, mercury, and lead are among the strong factors. Certain foods can be contributing factors to the alteration of T4, to T3 conversion. Soy is a food that is associated with blocking this conversion and reduces the ability of the thyroid to function. The artificial sweeteners sucralose (Splenda) and aspartame also create weaknesses in organs such as the liver that diminish nutrients needed by the thyroid.

Internal stressors, such as inflammation, also contribute to thyroid disorders. If the adrenal glands are imbalanced, there may be an imbalance in Cortisol levels. T3 only gets into the cells if there’s enough Cortisol. Hyperthyroidism, or an overactive thyroid, can cause symptoms such as nervousness, anxiety, rapid heart rate, sweating, fatigue, heat intolerance, hyperactivity, increased appetite, eye disorders, tremors, and weight loss. For this reason, the high quality lab Diagnos-Techs includes Gliadin testing (a derivative of gluten), in the saliva/adrenal test. Most natural practitioners carry these take-home tests in their offices.

Thyroid disorders are commonly found in those with autoimmune diseases. In one study 14% of those with celiac disease (severe gluten allergies), were also found to have autoimmune thyroid disease, 10.3% with hypothyroid, and 3.7 with hyperthyroid (C.E. Counsell, et al, Celiac Disease and Autoimmune Thyroid Disease, Gut 35:844-846, 2005).
Inflammation lowers the body’s ability to convert T4 to T3. The solution is to be sure the patient is getting T3 along with T4 (see below under “balancing the thyroid”).

The genetic mutation of the MTHFr gene can cause the thyroid to become hypothyroid. Testing for this may be helpful. Environmental toxins also affect the thyroid.

A weak or congested liver will cause hormone imbalances that affect the glands, including the thyroid and the parathyroid. Additionally, if the adrenals are weak then the thyroid will begin to suffer.


The three needed elements to convert T4 to the active form T3 are selenium, iodine, and L-tyrosine. There must be a sufficient amount of each in the body to enable the conversion process to take place properly. Iodine is one of the most needed nutrients for the thyroid.  Zinc, vitamins A, C, D, E, B12, B5, B6, and alpha lipoic acid are all crucial components as well, and Omega-3 fatty acids increase thyroid hormone transfer to the brain.

In the case of Hashimoto’s, iodine levels may be too high.


Hashimoto’s Disease is the term used when there is an autoimmune reaction causing the immune system to attack the thyroid. It causes hypothyroid or low thyroid function but it has the addition of the autoimmune reaction.

Every autoimmune illness has three necessary triggers:

  1. Genes
  2. An environmental gene trigger, including stress. When the adrenal glands sense stress they weaken the thyroid. They cause the thyroid to slow down by reversing T3. Gluten can be a trigger too.
  3. Intestinal permeability-leaky gut (gluten causes intestinal

In the case of Hashimoto’s, adding iodine can make the problem worse, not better. It is important to do an iodine test to know that you are low before supplementing with it.  Iodine testing is important.

Hashimoto’s is known to have a connection with celiac and gluten sensitivities. Going gluten free can actually reverse thyroid problems. People with Hashimotos also have low stomach acid. GERD or acid reflux is a common symptom as is loss of hair and fatigue. Contrary to common belief those with acid reflux are actually in need of more hydrochloric acid (HCL). Too little HCL can inhibit the absorption of vital nutrients such as B vitamins and iron causing additional fatigue. The toxic alcohol, acetaldehyde, released from candida prevents T4 from becoming T3.

Cleaning up the gut and being gluten free are great ways to assist balancing the thyroid. The supplement Metagest from Metagenics or any quality product containing betaine and pepsin will assist in building HCL. This will also help reduce fatigue and dizziness after meals. Betaine with pepsin can be found at most health food stores and on many online sites.

 In a past episode we talked about the liver and the gallbladder needing to work properly to convert the needed essential fatty acids and alpha lipoic acid as a key component in detoxification. When these are affected the body cannot utilize these nutrients and it trickles down to the thyroid. There are also many things that prevent the necessary hormone conversions to take place.

To help the body with the conversion of T4, one of the most helpful prescriptions is called natural, desiccated thyroid hormone. This is a swine thyroid glandular derivative. It is the closest known human glandular form. It naturally contains both T4 and T3. Be sure not to get generic forms of this natural medication because the results are not consistent. Dosages in any form must be correct with the help of a qualified professional. One of the most common synthetic prescription medications is Synthroid, which is only T4, so avoid it.

There are many steps to take to balance the thyroid and the adrenal glands such as detoxification and clearing pathogens from the body, but it begins with healing up the gut to help balance the immune system.

Diet is the first place to start. Get your copy of my free food guide to the top 7 highest inflammatory foods to begin reducing them from your diet today. Get the guide here.

Also listen to my interview with Dr, Anju Singh, How to Calm The Stress Response: HPA and the Effects of Cortisol on Health and Behavior [Podcast Episode 40


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