Thyroid Health and Your Microbiome

The Thyroid Secret Summit 2017

These are my notes from this summit, for further information please visit the speakers web pages linked below.

Healing From Within

Dr. Izabella Wentz ParmD, FASCP
web page

Did you know thyroid cells and gut cells have the same cell origin? This means that the things that effect your gut whether good or bad can also effect your thyroid. When thinking about the root cause of thyroid disease all roads lead back to the gut and the role of microbes within our bodies. The exciting thing is that when we address the health of our gut our overall health as well as our thyroid health improves. Gut health and microbial balance is key to reversing your thyroid condition.

Who would have thought that the health of our gut directly impacts the health of our thyroid. Essentially we’re tackling this issue from the bottom up, the problem really does centralize in the gut. If you can understand what’s causing the disruption in your gut and how to create the optimal healthy environment you can see some incredible things happen within your body. Have you ever heard of intestinal permeability, also known as leaky gut? This used to be something that was only brought up by alternative medicine practitioners until very recently when scientists discovered that leaky gut does in fact exist and it’s present in every single autoimmune condition. Once more leaky gut is a trigger for autoimmune disease.

Say you have an unwanted fire in your house what do you do to remedy the problem? Start putting gasoline on the fire, of course not, no one in their right mind would do that. When you have a leaky gut some foods are like throwing gas on the fire they can make the problem worse. I didn’t realize I was putting gas on the fire until I went gluten and dairy free, at that point I was surprised that I wasn’t bloated anymore and I didn’t have stomach aches on a daily basis. Those things were part of my life for so long that I just thought it was normal to feel bad after I ate, that it was normal to be bloated and have a stomach ache. I really encourage you to give it a try, try some of these interventions that support your gut to see if they make a difference in your life.

We know that every person with Hashimoto’s is going to have intestinal permeability or leaky gut. Whenever we have intestinal permeability it’s going to make us sensitive to a variety of different foods . The most common foods that we’re going to be sensitive to are going to be the very big proteins, these include gluten, dairy and soy. Whenever we eat these foods antibodies are going to be produced to them. What’s interesting is that the same type of antibodies that are produced to these foods are also produced to the thyroid gland. So whenever we have a person with a leaky gut that eats hard to digest protein foods they’re inadvertently accelerating the damage on their thyroid gland.

Let’s take a step back, why does the gut get leaky in the first place and why do so many people have autoimmune thyroid disease. We know that this is a huge problem and in order to solve the problem we must first understand what’s causing it. It’s what’s inside of our gut, did you know that we have more bacterial cells in our bodies than we do of our own cells. These microscopic organisms can determine the function of our immune cells.

When our microbiome is out of balance our whole immune system and are whole body can become out of balance as well. The good news is once we restore balance within our microbiome we can restore balance within our health. When you hear the word infection you start thinking of maybe having a cold, flu or perhaps an infected cut on your skin. Maybe you’ve had infections that require antibiotics, in general when we think of infections their pretty obvious and short lived. But the kind of infections I’m talking about are much more sinister, they’re chronic, low grade infections that go undetected for years but their presence is definitely felt. Today many people live with chronic infections and have no idea of the assault that these infections are taking on their bodies. There are three ways that infections can trigger autoimmune disease, one of the first ways is molecular mimicry when an infectious agent looks like the thyroid gland. Whenever the immune system is fighting the infection it looks for a certain protein sequence and whenever it see’s that protein sequence it will attack. In some cases some infections like borrelia, H-pylori, have different protein sequences on them that look like the thyroid gland. It’s a case of mistaken identity because the immune system tries to go after an infection and also goes after whatever looks like an infection.

The second mechanism is known as the bystander effect, in this case there is an infection usually inside of the thyroid gland. Most commonly it’s a viral infection that causes inflammation and what happens is the immune system begins to attack the infection in it’s home. So the immune system attacks the thyroid gland to get rid of the infection. The third way in which an infection can trigger Hashimoto’s is through intestinal permeability. We know it’s an important factor in every autoimmune condition so some infections cause us to have a leaky gut and that results in us having an attack on the thyroid gland and a breakdown of our immune tolerance. There are various types of infections that can take residence in our body, make our intestines leaky and confuse our immune system. They could be bacteria, viruses, fungi and even parasites. Not many of us in the western world would ever think that we would be infected with parasites, but let me tell you intestinal parasites are some of the most common type of infections that I’ve seen in my practice in people with autoimmune thyroid disease.

The question we should all be asking right now is what can I do to heal my gut. If you want to answer this question and are willing to implement the protocols that will turn around your gut issues then you’re in for a treat. Sadly conventional medicine have used leaky gut as an enigma, a code that they just can’t crack because they believe they don’t have enough information on it. The truth is the information and solid evidence has been glaring us right in the face, we can take control of our health.

This is where we get real, what are the actual things you can do today to see your health turn around for the better. How are you going to make a stand for your health and actively heal your gut from the triggers that you’ve been exposed to.

One of the really common conditions with Hashimoto’s and Hypothyroidism is acid reflux. Often times you will see a person with Hashimoto’s with a prescription for Levothyroxine and Synthroid as well as a prescription for a proton pump inhibitor like Nexium or Prilosec or one of the other purple pills. Here’s the thing, acid reflux is often not due to excess acid, in fact studies have shown acid reflux can occur when you don’t have enough stomach acid. Researches have shown that people with Hashimoto’s, the majority of them do not produce enough stomach acid or don’t produce any stomach acid at all. So taking acid blocking medications can even worsen the problem and prevent us from absorbing nutrients. This can also put us at risk for additional infections because stomach acid acts as a barrier to prevent us from getting infections and this can also create more food sensitivities because we need stomach acid to properly break down our foods. One of the things that I found really helpful in people with Hashimoto’s is supporting their stomach acid.

One of the ways to do this is by a supplement called butane with pepsin, this is a supplement taken with protein containing foods and you can take it at the end of the meal and this will help you digest your proteins. It supports your stomach acid production, what’s amazing is it can turn around a persons fatigue and energy levels and pain symptoms. A lot of these things that people have lived with for many years within 24-48 hours. I personally was sleeping 12-14 hours and didn’t realize this was because I had low stomach acid until I started taking butane with pepsin. Within 24 hours instead of waking up at nine and crawling out of bed, I woke up at six am bright eyed and bushy tailed and I had a ton of energy and felt great. This is what could happen when you actually start digesting your foods because digestion is one of the body’s biggest jobs. If you’re not properly digesting you’re going to be tired all the time because you’re going to be using up your body’s precious energy. There are some supplements that can actually reduce the autoimmune attack on the thyroid gland, these include selenium, systemic enzymes, and wobenzym. When taken over the course of 2-3 months people start seeing a reduction in their autoimmune symptoms as well as their autoimmune markers.

And the forth step is balancing stomach acid, we know that people with Hashimoto’s, with graves disease, with any kind of autoimmune thyroid disorder, the majority of them are actually going to have low stomach acid. Sometimes that can manifest as acid reflux and other symptoms but what they don’t realize is they actually don’t have enough stomach acid. This happens in a lot of people with gut issues and a lot of people with autoimmune disease .

What are the supplements that you could use today to heal your gut. As a pharmacist I can tell you that not all supplement are created equally, many can be completely ineffective while others may be downright harmful. If you could understand what to look for and what to avoid like the plague you can have the assurance that you’re going to take something that will heal and not hurt you. The probiotic question, are they really important for aiding gut health, megaspore probiotics is a unique solution to healing the gut.

You talk about protozoa that’s associated with thyroid disease, protozoa is called Blastocystosis Hominis. It’s a really interesting bug, it effects the gut and isn’t recognized by some doctors that it causes any harm. Other researchers found that it does cause harm, that it could be associated with chronic hives (uticaria), and IBS – irritable bowel syndrome. In some cases when treated people’s uticaria will go into remission and their IBS will go into remission. Everybody is going to be a little different so one person may have a complete remission with their thyroid antibodies go into normal and then their TSH goes into normal, their symptoms are gone. Other people have a lessoning of their food sensitivities, blasto is especially known to make people sensitive to grains. People are going to be sensitive to sugars whenever they have blasto so getting rid of it it will make a person less sensitive to a variety of foods. Obviously IBS and uticaria goes away.

I’ve also had some case reports of some people had their thyroid nodules have gone away after treating the Blastocystosis Hominis, which I wasn’t expecting watching people over the last few years with this pathogen. I know generally if we find it I get happy because we know that it’s a trigger that we can get rid of it and eliminating it we’ll find a person will feel better and we’ll always see a reduction in antibodies. One thing to note is it’s resistant, so Metronide is a medication commonly used for it, it’s about 50 strains and the strains that are thought to be pathogenic are going to be potentially resistant to it. Alinia is a different medication and I also like herbal protocols that may utilize oil of oregano, berberine, wormwood, although that requires liver monitoring. Things of that nature can help as well as saccharomyces boulardii to help get rid of the pathogen. There was one study that suggested 80% eradication with just saccharomyces boulardii. Another interesting connection is that some people with Epstein Barr Virus it tends to go hand in hand with blasto. People who have had EBV then go on to have Hashimoto’s and they just can’t get better, often times they have blasto as the root cause.

Getting off the inflammatory foods, addressing the health of your microbiome with fermented foods and probiotics clear out infections inside and outside the gut. Supporting your guts healing capacity can help people recover from the most severe thyroid symptoms and the most challenging mystery illnesses.

I know what you’re thinking some of the methods may sound extreme but I encourage you to pause for a moment. What do you consider more extreme feeling sick, overweight, tired and overwhelmed while taking numerous medications that are giving you side effects and not making you any better. Or feeling fit, happy, healthy and calm while eating a diet that’s different from your peers. What’s it going to be for you and what happens when you do heal your gut what will life look like after, is this a lifelong thing.

Chris Kresser MS, LAc
web page

We now know of course that the gut microbiota play an incredibly important in all aspects of health. Not just digestive health but everything from your endocrine glands or thyroid functions, your adrenals, your brain, through the gut-brain axis. Your skin health is directly connected to your gut, your immune function, both your ability to fight off infections and also the susceptibility to autoimmune disease. We have Hippocrates over 2000 years ago said all disease begins in the gut, even they knew that a long time ago, we are now rediscovering that in western medicine.

Something that’s important to understand is that about 30% of people with various gut conditions don’t actually have gut symptoms. If you have a thyroid condition and your gut doesn’t bother you that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s not contributing to the problem.

Donna Gates M Ed, ABAAHP
web page

Where the gut plays a very important role in having a healthy thyroid, first of all 20% of thyroid hormone is actually made in the gut. And the other thing is if you have bad bacteria in the gut, the bacteria have this substance in their cell wall called LPS, lypopolycaccaride. When they die, when the good bacteria have killed the bad bacteria, whenever they die they release this substance into the gut lining and it’s very, very toxic. It can do a lot of bad things in the body including causing inflammation in the gut but it also drags down the thyroid. The stomach for example, the whole digestive tract is effected by thyroid hormone and when your thyroid is underactive it slows down the function of the stomach. The stomach when you eat it’s supposed to empty the food into the small intestine, especially the beginning of the small intestine called the duodenum. So if you’re hypothyroid and have Hashimoto’s for example, the stomach empties very slowly, too slowly, so it stays in the stomach, ferments, not good. It also causes the entire digestive tract to become basically constipated, it slows down, tends to swell up and become distended. Food doesn’t leave the body it becomes impacted in the colon and basically becomes more and more toxic.

Candiasis is a systemic infection it can be in the gut, you can have a problem with yeast growing in the gut. But it can also grow throughout the entire body. This infection is kind of on the spectrum, it can be mild it can be very severe. It can be so severe, lets say you have cancer going through radiation and chemo your yeast infection becomes very severe and you die from it. Aides patients die from it because their immune system is so weak. The immune system is what is holding these into place, basically. The yeast secrete toxins, over 79 different toxins, one of those is acetaldehyde and it has a huge effect on the entire body but including the thyroid too. Acetaldehyde keeps T4 from converting to T3 so you have no energy. What I have recommended for the last 20 years is you have to go gluten free, sugar free, dairy free diet. Maybe later on you can introduce dairy, never introduce gluten into your diet for a whole bunch of reasons. If you want to introduce sugar into your diet you pay the price for it. I know that at 70 years old I’m not aging like other people in my generation and it even surprises me. I don’t eat sugar, I never touch bad oils like vegetable oils, I won’t eat out, I’ll eat in a restaurant but if they have vegetable oils I won’t eat that food. I’m really strick about those two things.

Steve Wright
web page

Every cell in the body needs thyroid hormone to work properly, that means all the cells that are in our guts need the proper amount of thyroid hormone to do what they’re supposed to do. And every cell in our body needs nutrition and the only way to get that nutrition is through the digestion of absorption through the gut. They are forever intertwined in that if you have a problem in the gut eventually it’s going to lead to a problem in the thyroid which will then feedback into the gut. It’s sort of this feedback mechanism that’s really common but the health professionals don’t think about a lot, which is why they have all those different specialties. T4 to T3 conversion part of it happens in the gut, that’s really important you want to have a working gut to have that happen properly.

Let’s describe the gut as sort of the TSA of the airport, they are checking everybody, verifying everything that goes into the airport, that’s essentially an analogy for what your guts doing. In a way how the gut works when it’s breaking down things, it’s diligently checking for what should and shouldn’t enter the body. Let’s say something goes wrong at the airport, a fire, everybody can exit, the same thing can happen in the gut. The gut is actually able to flush things back out of the gut and become permeable if it wants to. Except for in leaky gut or sustained chronic intestinal permeability, what’s happened is the TSA didn’t show up today. The lanes are open, nobody needs to go through the body scanner because the guard dogs aren’t present so anything can get in unchecked. That’s what happens in leaky gut syndrome is essentially your guard dogs have left the duty and now anything can slip between the gut cells, it could be ok stuff, but a lot of times it isn’t ok stuff and that causes a whole bunch of issues. If you have autoimmunity chances are high you have leaky gut, no one has done a research study yet so we don’t really know. There are going to be a percentage that don’t but it’s a really high chance and you take this very seriously.

If you are eating something, I don’t like to label foods good or bad anymore it’s just like a range of inflammatoryness and nutrient density. It comes down to the individual, what can you eat and absorb and not react to. If you’re currently eating corn and you’re reacting to it now’s just not the right time for your body to be eating that because you developed that food sensitivity through leaky. Every time you eat corn after that and you react to it your immune system is going nuts right outside your gut wall. The gut wall is only one cell thick, which is surprising our skin is seven layers. Lets say you had a hundred immune sells, a hundred soldiers inside your body, eighty of them would be stationed in the gut just waiting in case something happened. If you’re allergic to corn or you currently can’t process corn, you have an intolerance to it, those soldiers are just standing guard, corn comes into the body and twenty of them start going nuts. A byproduct of them saving your life from corn in this moment is destruction to the tissue that’s healthy around it. That perpetuates the leaky gut and perpetuates and any hormone disturbances, slowly you’re malabsorbing, hormones are out of whack and you just keep going down.

Dr. Kellyann Petrucci MS, ND
web page

This in my opinion is the number one reason why people have thyroid issues, why they get thyroid issues, and why they don’t know how to heal their thyroid because often times it stems from the gut. A sick gut makes a sick thyroid, even if you don’t have symptoms your thyroid I can assure you is not running full throttle when you don’t have a healthy gut. They go hand in hand it’s so important so if you think about your gut 15 feet of intestinal area, picture your intestine and it’s 15 feet long. Throughout that whole tube you’ve got microbes, really bugs is what they are, we’re literally bags of bugs. It’s so important for that population through that tube to be healthy, to be up-building, to have all of that surface area layered with these healthy microbes. I believe that the gut is the common underpinning between so many of the problems that we have, heart disease is a really big problem with the gut. And we have diabetes that’s also an autoimmune problem, all these things that you don’t think about, even obesity, thyroid, autoimmune thyroid, their all linked, the common underpinning is the gut. And when in practice we heal the gut we heal the patient, we heal the thyroid.

Here we have butyrate, super important for one of the fuels for the gut microbe and probiotics those are kind of the basics because often you can crowd out bad guys by giving them good guys. I’m of the mindset that you don’t want to just overdo one strain of probiotic because you can actually create a monoculture so rotating them is important.

Dr. Tom O’Bryan DC, CCN, DACBN
web page

If you have an autoimmune disease there’s no question that you have intestinal damage, you have tears in the cheesecloth. Until you get all of your markers for that autoimmune condition down, gluten free, dairy free, sugar free.

It’s a shift, so the first shift is recognizing that there’s no magic pill for thyroid autoimmune disease. The second shift is recognizing it’s going to take time to reverse the damage that’s accrued, and if you can accept that and just look for the small wins regularly. The third is, my recommendation to people is one hour a week, can you give one hour a week to just doing some research on this topic.

Dr. Raphael Kellman MD
web page

There is absolutely an epidemic of thyroid disease in our modern day for three main reasons, one is autoimmunity. There is a growing incidence of autoimmune disease for a number of reasons and the name for the autoimmune disease as it applies to the thyroid is Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. Let’s talk a little bit about Hashimoto’s, it is an autoimmune disease, all autoimmune diseases are rising in incidence for a number of reasons. You know that an immune system that’s supposed to guard and protect our own cells from antigens, from toxins, from bacteria, or microbes that are not part of our integrated ecosystem, instead for many reasons attacking our own tissue. When it comes to the thyroid they’re attacking the thyroid, they’re misfiring and the inflammatory response is here against the thyroid and these autoimmune diseases are growing significantly. To a large degree it’s because of our inner ecology, the microbiome, the trillions of bacteria that outnumber our own cells ten to one, and their genetics outnumber our genes one hundred and fifty to one.

The microbiome and us are an ancient primordial ally, in fact the microbiome plays probably the most significant roll in our overall health. I look at the microbiome as the software of our physiology, it has deep reaches into our physiology, it plays a significant roll in keeping the gut healthy, an incredible roll in immunological function. In fact the microbiome and the immune system are opposite sides of the same coin. It plays a significant roll in brain function, it modulates the immune system, that is one reason we’re experiencing autoimmunity today because if the microbiome is not healthy the immune system is not going to healthy. When the immune system is not healthy the body is going to be in an inflammatory state associated with so  many diseases and it is much more prone to autoimmune diseases. Whether it’s Hashimoto’s, Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis, the mechanism is the same. All roads of health and disease leads to the microbiome, when the microbiome’s not healthy the gut wall begins to break down. Now partially digested foods begin to leak through the intestinal wall, the immune system is further aggravated and this becomes an endless cycle and cascade, this is one of the main reasons.

Dr. Jill Carnahan MD, ABFM, ABIHM, IFMCP
web page

When those imbalances within the microbiome the immune system senses there’s something not right and something that’s food related too. It’s food plus the microbiome and for some people gluten can be the trigger or other food allergens. All of these triggers and signals and the gut send these to the immune system and the immune system starts to attack cells and of course that’s a problem. So you go back to the microbiome and start to find balance and you either heal and treat. Say there’s a parasitic infection, a fungal overgrowth, or things like SIBO, small intestine bacterial overgrowth, or even just a blatant infection like klebsiella. Treating those then you stop that signaling to the immune system and you can actually reverse the autoimmunity.

The information contained on this site is for educational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for diagnosis or treatment from a licensed physician. It is essential that you discuss with your doctor any symptoms or medical problems you may be experiencing.

M. Scherker medical researcher