Hypothyroidism Left
Hypothyroidism Right

Hypothyroidism Defined

Etymology: Gk, hypo + thyreos, shield, eidos, form

Hypothyroidism, or underactive thyroid, develops when the thyroid gland fails to produce or secrete as much thyroxine (T4) as the body needs. Because T4 regulates such essential functions as heart rate, digestion, physical growth, and mental development, an insufficient supply of this hormone can slow life-sustaining processes, damage organs and tissues in every part of the body, and lead to life-threatening complications. Hypothyroidism may be caused by surgical removal of all or part of the gland, overdosage with antithyroid medication, decreased effect of thyroid-releasing hormone secreted by the hypothalamus, decreased secretion of thyroid-stimulating hormone by the pituitary gland, atrophy of the thyroid gland itself, or peripheral resistance to thyroid hormone.

Hypothyroidism Described

In vertebrate anatomy, the thyroid gland or simply, the thyroid, is one of the largest endocrine glands in the body, and is not to be confused with the "parathyroid glands" (a completely different set of glands). The thyroid gland is found in the neck, inferior to (below) the thyroid cartilage (also known as the 'Adam's Apple') and at approximately the same level as the cricoid cartilage. The thyroid controls how quickly the body uses energy, makes proteins, and controls how sensitive the body should be to other hormones.

The thyroid gland participates in these processes by producing thyroid hormones, principally triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxin (T4). These hormones regulate the rate of metabolism and affect the growth and rate of function of many other systems in the body. T3 and T4 are synthesized utilizing both iodine and tyrosine. The thyroid gland also produces a hormone called 'calcitonin', which plays a role in calcium homeostasis.

The thyroid gland is controlled by the hypothalamus and pituitary (specifically, the anterior pituitary). The thyroid gland gets its name from the Greek word for "shield", after the shape of the related thyroid cartilage. The most common problems of the thyroid gland consist of an over-active thyroid gland, referred to as 'hyperthyroidism', and an under-active thyroid gland, referred to as 'hypothyroidism'.

Hypothyroidism is one of the most common chronic diseases in the United States. Symptoms may not appear until years after the thyroid has stopped functioning and they are often mistaken for signs of other illnesses, menopause, or aging. Although this condition is believed to affect as many as 11 million adults and children, as many as two of every three people with hypothyroidism may not know they have the disease.

Thyroid Gland Nicknamed "Gland Central" because it influences almost every organ, tissue, and cell in the body. The thyroid is located just below the Adam's apple and is shaped like a butterfly. The thyroid stores iodine the body gets from food and uses this mineral to create T4. Low T4 levels can alter weight, appetite, sleep patterns, body temperature, sex drive, and a variety of other physical, mental, and emotional characteristics. When thyroid hormone levels are too low, the body’s cells can’t get enough thyroid hormone and the body’s processes start slowing down. As the body slows, you may notice that you feel colder, you tire more easily, your skin is getting drier, you’re becoming forgetful and depressed, and you’ve started getting constipated.

There are three types of hypothyroidism. The most common is primary hypothyroidism, in which the thyroid doesn't produce an adequate amount of T4. Secondary hypothyroidism develops when the pituitary gland does not release enough of the thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) that prompts the thyroid to manufacture T4. Tertiary hypothyroidism results from a malfunction of the hypothalamus, the part of the brain that controls the endocrine system. Drug-induced hypothyroidism, an adverse reaction to medication, occurs in two of every 10,000 people, but rarely causes severe hypothyroidism.

Hypothyroidism is at least twice as common in women as it is in men. Although hypothyroidism is most common in women who are middle-aged or older, the disease can occur at any age. Newborn infants are tested for congenital thyroid deficiency (cretinism) using a test that measures the levels of thyroxine in the infant's blood. Treatment within the first few months of life can prevent mental retardation and physical abnormalities. Older children who develop hypothyroidism suddenly stop growing.

Factors that increase a person's risk of developing hypothyroidism include age, weight, and medical history. Women are more likely to develop the disease after age 50; men, after age 60. Obesity also increases risk. A family history of thyroid problems or a personal history of high cholesterol levels or such autoimmune diseases as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, or diabetes can make an individual more susceptible to hypothyroidism.

What Causes Hypothyroidism?

Autoimmune disease
The immune system normally protects the body against bacterial and viral “invaders.” In autoimmune hypothyroidism, the immune system attacks cells in the thyroid gland. This interferes with their ability to make thyroid hormone. Autoimmune thyroiditis can begin suddenly, but more commonly develops slowly over years. The most common forms are Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and atrophic thyroiditis.

Surgical removal of part or all of the thyroid gland
If the whole thyroid is removed hypothyroidism is a definite possibility. However if only part of the thyroid is removed, the remaining part may work well enough to keep thyroid hormone blood levels normal. Alternatively the remaining part of the thyroid may not make enough thyroid hormone to keep blood levels normal which could lead to hypothyroidism.

Viruses and bacteria.
Infections that depress thyroid hormone production usually cause hypothyroidism.

Congenital hypothyroidism
A small percentage of babies are born without a thyroid or with a partly formed thyroid. In some babies, the thyroid cells or their enzymes don’t work properly. Babies with any of these problems may be hypothyroid from birth. In some, the thyroid may make enough hormone early in life, so the person becomes hypothyroid as an older child or even as an adult.

Thyroiditis is an inflammation of the thyroid gland, usually caused by an autoimmune attack (in postpartum thyroiditis or silent thyroiditis) or by a viral infection. Thyroiditis can make the thyroid release its whole supply of stored thyroid hormone into the blood at once, causing brief HYPERthyroidism (an overactive thyroid); once all of the stored hormone has been released, the thyroid becomes underactive. Almost all patients with viral thyroiditis recover their thyroid function, but about one-fourth of patients with autoimmune thyroiditis have permanent hypothyroidism.

Medicines like amiodarone, lithium, interferon alpha, interleukin-2, and radioactive iodine can interfere with the thyroid gland’s ability to make thyroid hormone. These drugs are most likely to trigger hypothyroidism in patients who have a genetic tendency to autoimmune thyroid disease. It’s also possible that treatment with thalidomide for multiple myeloma can cause hypothyroidism.

Too little or too much iodine
The thyroid gland must have iodine to produce the thyroid hormone. Keeping thyroid hormone production in balance requires the right amount of iodine. Worldwide, iodine deficiency is the most common cause of hypothyroidism. Taking in too much iodine can also cause or worsen hypothyroidism. Proper thyroid hormone production is optimal with a balanced iodine intake.

Damage to the pituitary gland
The pituitary tells the thyroid how much hormone to make. If the pituitary is damaged, it may no longer be able to give the thyroid the right signal instructions, and the thyroid may stop producing enough hormone.

Environmental contaminants.
Certain man-made chemicals (such as PCBs) found in the local environment at high levels may also cause hypothyroidism.


Hypothyroidism Symptoms

Physical Symptoms
   •  Fatigue
   •  Dry skin
   •  Weight gain (fluid retention)
   •  Yellow skin
   •  Hair loss - including the eyebrows
   •  Swollen face, hands, legs, ankles or feet
   •  Extreme sensitivity to cold
   •  Aches and pains in muscles or joints
   •  Hoarse or raspy voice
   •  Constipation
   •  Heavy menstrual bleeding or irregular periods
   •  Decreased heart rate
   •  Progressive hearing loss
   •  Goiter (enlarged thyroid gland)
   •  Muscle pain or weakness
   •  Numb, tingling hands
   •  Swollen eyelids
   •  Changes in cholesterol
   •  Infertility
   •  Dryness or premature graying of hair

Mental and Cognitive Symptoms
   •  Slower movements
   •  Feeling Down
   •  Depressed
   •  Slower thinking
   •  Loss of interest in sex
   •  Slower speech
   •  Trouble remembering
Hypothyroidism sometimes referred to as a "silent" disease, because early symptoms may be so mild that a person does not realize anything is wrong. If hypothyroidism remains untreated the symptoms may become more noticeable and severe. This can lead to confusion and mental disorders, breathing difficulties, heart problems, fluctuations in body temperature, and death.

Environmental Toxins that Impair Thyroid Function

Fluoride - Found in municipal water supplies and toothpastes. Flouride blocks iodine uptake and damages enzymes involved in thyroid hormone production and function. It also upregulates a cell protein called Gq/11 which desensitizes the thyroid to stimulation by thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) resulting in reduced production of thyroid hormones. Gq/11 also blocks the action of T3 within the cells.

Aluminium, Silica, Beryllium - All activate the Gq11 protein.

Heavy Metals - Block the uptake and use of selenium to convert T4 to T3. These include mercury, lead and cadmium which are produced by industry, contaminate the food chain and are found in cigarette smoke and some vaccines.

Dioxins - Produced in combustive processes, they have historically been produced in large amounts by heavy industries. Dioxins are highly toxic chemicals that interfere with the uptake of iodine and its processing into thyroid hormones.

Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) - PCBs were used in many electrical products, plasticizers, surface coatings, inks, adhesives, flame-retardants, and paints. PCBs affect thyroid function in the same way as dioxins and can remain in the fatty tissues of the body for many years.


Natural Dietary Supplements for Low Thyroid Function

Vitamin B-12 (as cyanocobalamin)

In 2001 Tufts University came out with a study found that as many as 40% of men and women have low levels of B-12, based on the B-12 blood levels of 3,000 adults. Vitamin B-12 also known as cyanocobalamine or cobalmin, is an essential vitamin that is required for the development of red blood cells. It is also used to make the protective coating surrounding nerves. B-12 is found mainly in animal based foods such as meat, poultry, milk products, eggs and fish.

In the study, they found that low B-12 levels were common in the entire population, but of those tested 39% had levels on the boarder or slightly below the cutoff, 17% had very low levels and 9% had levels so low that they are clinically deficient. When a person is deficient in B-12 it can cause a type of anemia that is characterized by fewer but larger red blood cells. Other effects of a B-12 deficiency are walking and balance disturbances, a loss of vibration sensation, confusion and in advance cases dementia.

Iodine (from kelp)

Iodine makes up less than a hundred thousandth of a percent of your body weight, but your thyroid cannot function without this trace mineral. If you have too little iodine in your diet, hypothyroidism and weight gain will occur. "I believe that an insufficient intake of organic iodine in today's modern diet has led to a serious and chronic form of low-grade hypothyroidism," writes Donald R. Yance, Jr. in Herbal Medicine, Healing and Cancer. Increasing your iodine level will allow your thyroid function and metabolic rate to return to normal.

Zinc (oxide) and Copper (as oxide)

Thyroid diseases caused due to unbalanced levels of copper and zinc are:


Copper and zinc work together in the body as important antioxidants. Deficiency of zinc causes a deficiency of the antioxidant enzyme Superoxide dismutase (SOD), and leads to oxidative stress and ant oxidative response in the patients of hyperthyroidism. Deficiency of copper also causes hyperthyroidism because the thyroid gland produces excessive hormone when the body is copper deficient.


An imbalance of zinc and copper ratio in the body causes hypothyroidism, which is a thyroid disease that causes the thyroid gland. Research has shown that supplementation of the diet with first zinc, then copper, helps in hypothyroidism treatment and increases thyroid function. Zinc deficiency also causes low metabolic rate, which often results in immune dysfunction, so this is why it is important to get the right levels of zinc first.

Selenium (amino acid chelate)

Along with iodine, selenium is a critical mineral for maintaining proper function of the thyroid gland. For the thyroid gland to produce the most active form of the thyroid hormone T3, selenium is essential but also helps regulate the amount of hormone that is produced.

Manganese (amino acid chelate)

Manganese deficiency can reduce thyroid activity. Manganese is required for T4 production. Manganese deficiency or biounavailability are very common today.

Deficiency is associated with a hair manganese level less than 0.04 mg%, although the hair is not a very reliable indicator. Dr. Eck felt that most people are manganese deficient today, and I agree. A level greater than 0.07 mg% often indicates biounavailability of manganese, another problem that might be related to thyroid imbalances.

Adrenal exhaustion causes manganese to become biounavailable as the binding protein, transmanganin, is not produced in sufficient quantity.

Hair calcium and magnesium levels are associated with cell permeability. Biounavailable calcium and magnesium stabilize cell membranes. This causes reduced cell membrane permeability that decreases thyroid hormone uptake into the cells. This might contribute to a cellular thyroid hormone deficiency even when the level of circulating hormones in the blood is normal or even high. This may account for the common finding that a person’s serum T3 and T4 levels are normal, but the person has many symptoms of hypothyroidism.

This fact led Dr. Broda Barnes, MD and others to use the person’s morning temperature to assess thyroid activity.

Molybdenum (amino acid chelate)

Trace mineral closely tied to proper thyroid function.

L-Tyrosine 300 mg*

An amino acid which like iodine is a component of thyroid hormones and is therefore essential to their production. ND recommended for depression and fatigue.

Schizandra (herb powder)

Schizandra--a Chinese herb that is used for fatigue.

Ashwagandha Root (herb powder)

"...These findings reveal that the Ashwagandha root extract stimulates thyroid activity and 'that Ashwagandha extract] also enhances the anti-peroxidation* of 'liver] tissue." Emphasis added.

*Peroxidation can destroy tissue. Therefore, Ashwagandaha is somewhat protective to the liver.

Ashwagandha and Under-Active Thyroid Bibliography
Journal of Pharm. Pharmacol., vol. 9, 1998. By: Drs. Panda & Kar, School of Life Sciences, D.A. University, Indor, India.

Bladderwrack (powder)

I believe that an insufficient intake of organic iodine (kelp and bladderwrack) in today's modern diet has led to a serious and chronic form of low-grade hypothyroidism, a major contributing factor to breast and ovarian cancers. Even a mild low thyroid function can cause an imbalance of other hormones, such as estrogen, progesterone, and androgen, hormones that play a pivotal role in reproductive health as well as in the prevention of cancerous and noncancerous tumors, such as fibroids and fibrocystic breast disease. Low thyroid function frequently coincides with low adrenal function—what I call a "hypo-overall endocrine system"; it's just not working up to speed. This condition manifests itself in many ways, including fatigue, low energy during the day, insomnia, low body temperature, very low blood pressure, low-grade depression, dry skin, dry hair, pear-shaped figure, weight gain, infertility, PMS, sensitivity to cold (particularly the extremities), calcification buildup, hardening of the arteries, cystic breasts and/or ovaries, and cancers of the breast and ovaries.

Herbal Medicine Healing Cancer by Donald R Yance Jr, page 161, 85

Cayenne Pepper (powder)

One of the most remarkable qualities of Cayenne is its ability to act as a catalyst. Cayenne intensifies the beneficial effects of other herbs by ensuring speedy and thorough distribution of the herb’s active components to the important functional centers of the body such as those responsible for metabolism, data transmission, cellular respiration and neural hormonal activity.

The herb itself contains many nutrients essential to the health of the circulatory system including alpha-tocopherols, vitamin C and minerals. Cayenne also contains a high amount of vitamin A (beta-carotene) which aids in healing ulcers... Cayenne’s high mineral content, including sulphur, iron, calcium, magnesium and phosphorus, makes it an effective treatment for diabetes, gas, arthritis, pancreatic and throat disorders.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food And Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.



American Thyroid Association, Hypothyroidism Brochure , www.thyroid.org
Jack DeRuiter (2002) Thyroid Pathology
MedlinePlus Encyclopedia Hypothyroidism
Herbal Medicine Healing Cancer by Donald R Yance Jr, page 161, 85
Ashwagandha and Under-Active Thyroid Bibliography
Journal of Pharm. Pharmacol., vol. 9, 1998. By: Drs. Panda & Kar, School of Life Sciences, D.A. University, Indor, India.

Total Thyroid Health
Total Thyroid Health
Supplement Facts
Serving Size: 2 Capsules
Amount Per Serving
% Daily
Vitamin B-12 (Cyanocobalamin)
100 mcg
Iodine (from kelp)
150 mcg
Magnesium (oxide)
200 mg
Zinc (oxide)
8 mg
Selenium (amino acid chelate)
200 mcg
Copper (oxide)
200 mcg
Manganese (amino acid chelate)
2 mg
Molybdenum (amino acid chelate)
50 mcg
300 mg
Schizandra (herb powder)
160 mg
Coleus Forskohii (herb powder)
160 mg
Ashwagandha Root (herb powder)
120 mg
Bladderwrack (herb powder)
50 mg
Cayenne Pepper (herb powder)
30 mg
* Daily value not established.
OTHER INGREDIENTS: Gelatin, cellulose, magnesium sterate, silicon dioxide.