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Cayce Health Database

OVERVIEW OF HYPOTHYROIDISM

Definition

Medically speaking, hypothyroidism refers to a decreased secretion of hormones from the thyroid gland. The principal thyroid hormones are triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4). These hormones are manufactured in the thyroid gland from iodine and the amino acid tyrosine.

The major function of thyroid hormones is control of metabolic rate.

Lack of thyroxine in children results in mental retardation and dwarfism. In adults, hypothyroidism causes a condition called myxedema. The symptoms of myxedema range from weakness, lethargy, headache and cold intolerance to slow speech, angina (heart pain), shortness of breath and a characteristic "moon face" (puffiness caused by water retention).

The above symptoms occur when there is a significant lack of thyroid hormone. Milder states of thyroid deficiency can cause a broad range of symptoms including cold intolerance, anemia, infertility, constipation, fatigue, easy weight gain, menstrual disorders, memory and concentration difficulties, decreased muscular activity, low blood pressure and goiter (enlarged thyroid gland).

Thyroid Manufacture and Release

The thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland located in the front of the neck below the larynx, or voice box. The thyroid gland makes two thyroid hormones, triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4), which circulate in the bloodstream and act on virtually every tissue and cell in the body.

Thyroid hormones affect metabolism, brain development, breathing, heart and nervous system functions, body temperature, muscle strength, skin dryness, menstrual cycles, weight, cholesterol levels, and more.

Thyroid hormone production is regulated by another hormone called thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH). TSH is made by the pituitary gland, which is located in the brain. From the pituitary gland, TSH travels to the thyroid where it stimulates the production of T3 and T4 and their release into the bloodstream. The TSH >>> thyroid hormone cascade works as a feedback loop.

When thyroid output of hormone is low, TSH levels increase in order to "instruct" the thyroid to produce more hormones. When thyroid levels are high, TSH levels drop low so that the thyroid gland is "instructed" not to manufacture as much hormone.

Hypothyrodism

How Thyroid Hormones Do Their Work

T4 and T3 are the two major hormones produced and released by the thyroid gland.

Both T3 and T4 are synthesized and released from the thyroid gland, but more T4 is produced and released than T3. However, T3 is 3-5 times more biologically active than T4.

In the peripheral tissues, T4 is converted into T3. T4 can also be converted into reverse T3 (rT3), a hormone which is not biologically active.

Diagnosis

Conventional medicine typically uses the TSH test (thyroid stimulating hormone) to diagnose thyroid function. TSH is a pituitary hormone that "instructs" the thyroid gland to make and secrete thyroid hormones.

A high TSH usually indicates low thyroid hormone output. This is because the pituitary is trying to "tell" the thyroid gland to make more hormones. When blood levels of thyroxine drop too low, the pituitary will send MORE thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) to the thyroid gland, in an effort to cause the thyroid to increase its production of thyroxine.

In reverse order, when TSH is low, thyroid hormones are often elevated. The pituitary "turns down" it's stimulation of the thyroid gland in an attempt to decrease thyroid hormone output.

Problems with this method of diagnosis arise when a person has symptoms suggestive of hypothyroidism but a TSH within the normal range. In our current, conventional medical thinking, this means that there is no deficiency of thyroid hormone and therefore no condition of hypothyroidism. There is an incompleteness in this thinking, however, and it may be causing us to miss the diagnosis of hypothyroid in many cases.

Subclinical Hypothyroidism: An Overlooked Diagnosis

Factors Affecting T4 to T3 Conversion:

Excesses:

  • Hormones (estrogen, cortisol)
  • trace minerals (lithium, iodine, copper)
  • goitrogens (soy, brassicas vegetables)
  • toxic metals (lead, aluminum, mercury, cadmium, arsenic, antimony)
  • High glycemic index diet

Deficiencies:

  • Minerals (selenium, iodine, iron, zinc),
  • Vitamins (Riboflavin)
  • Amino acids (tyrosine)

Strong evidence exists to suggest that there may be a number of undiagnosed hypothyroid cases. A growing number of physicians and researchers share this opinion. This information is also consistent with much information from the Edgar Cayce readings. To assist the reader, and perhaps the attending physician, understand this problem, an additional bit of biochemical explanation is in order.

First, thyroid hormones (T4 and T3) can be low or high in the presence of a normal TSH. This means that performing the TSH test alone as a means of diagnosis will miss finding thyroid hormone imbalances some of the time.

Some physicians may also order a free T4 test which tells how much T4 hormone is being made and released by the thyroid gland. Remember, however, that T4 must be converted in the tissues of the body to T3 in order to be fully active. In some individuals, the conversion of T4 to T3 is impaired. This can result in a normal TSH and free T4 blood test but a sluggish (hypothyroid) condition in the tissues.

It important to measure free T3 directly, because some people produce adequate T4 but do not convert it to T3 in a normal way. Since T3 is the most active form of thyroid hormone, a deficiency of T3 can result in a low thyroid condition. The T3 deficiency is not typically "seen" by a TSH or free T4 test.

TSH Free T4 Free T3 Interpretation
High Normal Normal mild (subclinical) hypothyroid
High Low Low or normal hypothyroid
Normal Low Low or normal sick euthyroid syndrome; possible hypothyroid
Normal or Low Low or Normal Low or Noraml non-thyroid illness; T4 to T3 conversion problem
Low Normal Normal  mild (subclinical) hyperthyroid
Low High or Normal High or Normal non-thyroidal illness; rare pituitary (secondary) hypothyroidism
Ref: Dayan, C. Interpretation of Thyroid Function Tests. THE LANCET, Vol 357, February 24, 2001.

Another hormone, called reverse T3 (rT3), can be manufactured from the conversion of T4 in peripheral tissues. Reverse T3 is not biologically active but binds to the T3 receptor and can decrease T3 activity. High rT3 levels are another potential cause of low thyroid activity even in the presence of normal thyroid hormone levels.

How is Subclinical Hypothyroidism Diagnosed?

There are many physical symptoms, as outlined above, which suggest subclinical hypothyroidism. A low basal body temperature has been used historically for diagnosis — the "Broda Barnes" technique — but this has been called into question with recent findings that normal body temperatures can vary more widely than previously thought.

The most accurate means of evaluating thyroid function may be a screening panel including TSH, free T3 and free T4, not merely the TSH test as popularly used. Additional testing for antibodies and reverse T3 can be performed if patient symptoms warrant.

Cayce on Hypothyroidism

A total of 10 readings were given specifically for hypothyroidism. A number of additional readings appear to refer to thyroid "imbalance" – variously called "incoordination of the glands."

In some 121 readings, thyroid function is discussed along with methods of correction. The importance of normal thyroid function to the total bodily function is apparent in the readings.

What is not entirely clear, although it is suggested, is that Cayce may have been describing the above-mentioned phenomenon of "hidden hypothyroidism."

Many symptoms described in the readings that relate to "incoordination of the glands" are the same symptoms used today to diagnose subclinical hypothyroidism. In cases of true hypothyroidism as well as "incoordination of the glands," a variety of causes were mentioned. As happens in the readings, treatments depended on the individual circumstance and the causes of each case.

Causes of Hypothyroidism

The causes of hypothyroidism were varied, and appear from the readings to relate both to true hypothyroidism as well as "incoordination" of the glandular system. Commonly, a spinal imbalance was suggested as the cause. A nutritional deficiency, usually caused by dietary lack, but sometimes caused by improper assimilation, was also suggested.

Mental excitement, acting on the sympathetic nervous system, was causative in some cases and contributory in others. Lack of normal circulation through the gland itself was also mentioned as a cause for certain individuals. This lack of circulation was often related to the aforementioned spinal imbalance.

Finally, improper eliminations, or incoordination between assimilation and elimination, was suggested as a cause of hypothyroidism for some people.

Medically speaking, we know only a few of the causes of hypothyroidism. Lack of dietary iodine or an excess of inorganic iodine can each cause a decrease in thyroid function. Certain anti-thyroid substances, such as the drug thiocyanate and the herb bugelweed, will decrease thyroid function. There are many other cases of hypothyroidism and subclinical hypothyroidism for which a cause cannot be identified.

Treatment Recommendations from the Cayce Readings

Treatments in the Cayce readings were always based upon the cause, and therefore they differed from person to person. The recommendations will be discussed in the order of frequency with which they appeared in the readings.

Diet was mentioned most often. A reduction of meats and fats was frequently suggested. All carbonated drinks, fried foods and alcohol were to be eliminated. Often, citrus fruits or their juices were suggested. On occasion, additional calcium was suggested, usually in dietary form but sometimes as a supplement called Calcios. On one occasion, a decrease in calcium was recommended, underscoring the individuality of the readings. In general, the basic diet was favored for glandular imbalances, including hypothyroidism. For example:

Keep the better diets; that is, keep a more universal diet, and this will aid. fruits, vegetables, nuts; little meats but fish and fowl do take. (2072-9)

Spinal manipulation (osteopathic) and massages were mentioned with similar frequency. Often, they were to be given in combination with each other. The exact areas of the spine that needed correction were different in each patient. Here is one example:

As we find, then, there are certain centers in the spinal system that indicate lesions. These are preventing a coordination between the superficial circulation and the central circulation. Hence correction osteopathically should be made... (3385-1)

Atomidine and thyroid extract were both recommended 25% of the time for true hypothyroid conditions. In many other cases of "incoordination of the glands," atomidine was recommended almost exclusively. It appears that thyroid extract was sometimes needed when the gland was underproducing thyroid.

Thyroid replacement by means of thyroid extract requires medical supervision. Thyroid extract (U.S.P. thyroid) is a prescription medication. Self-prescribed thyroid medication can be dangerous. An overdose of thyroid medication can cause heart irregularities and other problems such as osteoporosis.

Even Atomidine must be used with care. It is probably best used under the advice of a sympathetic physician. Small doses of iodine can stimulate (and, according to Cayce, normalize) thyroid function. Large doses of iodine can suppress thyroid function. This is why bottles of Atomidine caution not to take internally except under the advice of a physician.

According to the Cayce readings, Atomidine and thyroid extract were not to be used together. The combination could result in excess stimulation and worsen a glandular imbalance.

Attitudes and emotions needed to be constructive according to the Cayce readings, or else an imbalance in the nervous system would result in a glandular imbalance. Correction of attitude was also recommended some 25% of the cases. Here's the way Cayce put it to one person suffering from this disorder:

In the metabolism disturbance we find there are the effects through the nervous system, through worry, through over anxiety here or there, that bring on the greater disturbance...that other disturbances become exaggerated in their activity. (669-1)

Other remedies mentioned in the Cayce readings include hydrotherapy (4 cases), Kaldak (2), Tonicine (2), Calcios (1), the Violet Ray (3), castor oil packs (2), herbal tincture (1), colonics (2), radioactive appliance (2), fume baths (2), Wet Cell Appliance (1), medicated ash (1), powdered elm (1), yeast (1), and Glyco-thymoline (l), homeopathic thyroid (1).

Conclusion

While the number of differing therapies recommended in the readings may seem formidable, certain conclusions can be made regarding the Cayce strategy for treatment of hypothyroidism.

First, it appears that the basics of treatment include a balanced, alkaline diet accompanied by spinal manipulation and massage if indicated. The addition of certain substances such as Atomidine and thyroid hormone were a necessary part of the treatment nearly one-quarter of the time.

Correct thoughts were held to be important in restoring normalcy to the glandular system. Second, a variety of other treatments can be used on an "as-indicated" basis. The necessity of any of these will depend on the individual.

Finally, it must be pointed out that the Cayce readings more often referred to a "glandular incoordination" rather than overt low thyroid production. Was Cayce referring to what is now beginning to be recognized as subclinical hypothyroidism? Perhaps he was. Symptoms of low thyroid function can be addressed, and probably should be addressed, before there is a diagnosable disease.

Basic principles of good health, as outlined in the readings, may very well allow a person to correct a "glandular imbalance," including hypothyroidism, even before the condition is diagnosable by conventional, Western diagnostic means.

Bibliography

Chapter 48, "SYNTHESIS OF THYROID HORMONES" in: Walter F., PhD. Boron (2003). Medical Physiology: A Cellular And Molecular Approaoch. Elsevier/Saunders. pp. 1300.

Dayan, C. Interpretation of Thyroid Function Tests. THE LANCET, Vol 357, February 24, 2001.

Sund-Levander M, Forsberg C, Wahren L, et al. Normal oral, rectal, tympanic and axillary body temperature in adult men and women: a systematic literature review. Scand J Caring Sci. 2002;16(2):122-128.

AACE Thyroid Task Force. American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists medical guidelines for clinical practice for the evaluation and treatment of hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism. Endocr Pract. 2002;8(6):457-469.

[NOTE: The above commentary was written by Dana Myatt, N.M.D. and is included in the Circulating File for Hypothyroidism.]


Note: The above information is not intended for self-diagnosis or self-treatment.  Please consult a qualified health care professional for assistance in applying the information contained in the Cayce Health Database.

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