About the Thyroid
What is the thyroid?
The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped endocrine gland that is normally located in the lower front of the neck. The thyroid’s job is to make thyroid hormone, which is secreted into the blood and then carried to every tissue in the body. Thyroid hormone helps the body use energy, stay warm and keep the brain, heart, muscles, and other organs working as they should.
The thyroid is probably the most ignored and poorly treated gland in the body. Yet it is one of the most important areas to look at to improve energy and overall health.
When the thyroid is not functioning properly, a chain reaction of hormonal events takes place that involves several glands and hormones of the endocrine system and the bodily systems they regulate. The end result is one of two primary types of health conditions: hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism.
Hormones produced by the thyroid
The thyroid produces two major hormones: triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4).
- Thyroxine or T4 is produced by the thyroid gland under regulation from the hypothalamus and pituitary gland. The feedback loop signals to the hypothalamus to release thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH), which then stimulates the pituitary gland to release the thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). The 4 stands for 4 iodine molecules that are attached to it. To activate T4 it is converted to T3. We have enzymes that remove one of the iodine molecules and make T3.
- T3 is a second thyroid hormone that is produced by the thyroid gland, but also in other tissues through deiodination (enzymatic conversion) of T4. T3 helps maintain muscle control, brain function and development, heart and digestive functions. It also plays a role in the body’s metabolic rate and the maintenance of bone health.
Although these are the two main hormones produced by the thyroid, when investigating the health and function of the thyroid gland at your GP surgery or hospital, your doctor would normally test one (possibly two) hormone, called TSH, to diagnose thyroid dysfunction. At our clinic we take a system wide approach to identify the root cause of disease and will run a more comprehensive panel to get a better picture of the function of your thyroid. Find out more on how we test for thyroid disease here.
Causes of thyroid problems
In order to successfully treat conditions that are directly linked to the thyroid, we need to understand what triggers the cascade of dysfunction. Only then can we begin to mitigate these triggers to start a path to healing.
Stress has a significant impact on your thyroid hormone function. This may be due to the effect of cortisol, which can block the conversion of T4 to the active thyroid hormone T3 and can also increase the unusable reverse T3 (rT3), further confusing the delicate balance of thyroid hormones that are so essential for optimal health.
If you are predisposed to an autoimmune condition, certain foods can cause your immune system to overreact. Specific foods such as grains, gluten, soy, and dairy can contribute  to inflammation which can further perpetuate symptoms and autoimmune flare-ups.
We run comprehensive food intolerance panels to help you determine which foods are an issue for you.
Your body relies on a certain amount of specific nutrients for your immune system to function optimally. Deficiencies in selenium  and vitamin D  have been linked to poor immune function in people with autoimmune thyroid conditions.
At the London Clinic of Nutrition, we can investigate if nutrient deficiencies could be part of your underlying health problems.
Close to 80% of your immune system is located in your gut microbiome. Research suggests that poor gut health such as leaky gut syndrome and dysbiosis will contribute  to poor immune health. Also, 20 percent of your T4 is converted to the active thyroid hormone T3 in the gut, and an imbalanced, unhealthy microbiome can inhibit this process.
Gut health testing can determine your level of gut dysfunction to see if this is a factor in your case. In almost all cases, we will investigate our patients’ gut health during their appointment.
This is becoming more and more prevalent as our world has become increasingly toxic. Studies have shown that chemicals and heavy metals can cause an autoimmune response  against the thyroid.
At our specialist clinic in London, we use a range of tests to measure your toxicity levels through labs such as a urine heavy metal panel.
Bacterial and viral infections are associated  with just about every autoimmune condition. This could be due to the fact that the majority of our immune system is produced from the gut microbiome, so when infections enter the gut, they can alter immune activity.
While iodine is necessary to make thyroid hormones, excess amounts can actually exacerbate a thyroid condition called Hashimoto’s .
Other possible causes may include oestrogen imbalances, blood sugar dysregulation, insulin resistance and diabetes, use of artificial sweeteners, smoking, too much goitrogens and low levels of vitamin A, iron, copper.
Symptoms of Hypothyroidism
Hypothyroidism stems from an underproduction of thyroid hormones. The signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism vary from person to person. The severity of the condition also affects which signs and symptoms appear and when. Because many of the symptoms are so common and linked with other diseases, they can be difficult to identify.
The most common signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism include:
- Thinning hair or hair loss
- Puffy and sensitive face
- High cholesterol
- Mental fogginess and poor memory
- Poor vision
- Weight gain
- Poor circulation and numbness in the hands and feet
- Feeling cold
- Chronic digestive problems
- Dry/brittle hair and skin
- Morning headaches
- Muscle stiffness, aches and tenderness
- Fertility difficulties and menstrual changes
- Decreased sweating
Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism
Hyperthyroidism is most commonly caused by Graves Disease and occurs when the thyroid makes too much T4, T3, or both.
The most common signs and symptoms of hyperthyroidism include:
- Fine brittle hair
- Bulging eyes
- Increased perspiration
- Cardiac arrhythmia
- Enlarged thyroid also known as goiter
- Weight loss
- Irregular menstrual cycle
- Difficulty sleeping
- Inability to concentrate.
- Hair loss
- Restlessness and anxiety
- Increased sweating
- Intolerance to heat
As the biggest functional medicine clinic in London, we have specialists in the field of endocrinology.
Our experienced practitioners would always look beyond the symptoms and work upstream to find the root cause.
If indicated, we will implement an extremely useful tool called ‘aggressive case finding’ which allows us to recognise early disease state for patients with genetic and lifestyle predisposition of thyroid disease:
- Autoimmune disease, such as type 1 diabetes.
- Pernicious anaemia.
- First-degree relative with autoimmune thyroid disease.
- History of neck radiation to the thyroid gland including radioactive iodine therapy for hyperthyroidism and external beam radiotherapy for head and neck malignancies.
- Prior history of thyroid surgery or dysfunction.
- Abnormal thyroid examination.
- Psychiatric disorders.
- Patients taking amiodarone or lithium.
Who specialises in the thyroid problems?
Here at the London Clinic of Nutrition, our functional medicine approach aims to help patients to address the root cause of thyroid disease.
A comprehensive panel including free T3, free T4, TSH, total T4, total T3, thyroid antibodies and T3 uptake will be required , alongside adrenal hormone testing and iodine loading. We also use the Barnes Temperature Test to measure the auxiliary temperature of the underarms first thing in the morning five days in a row.
When we look at thyroid function, with functional medicine in mind, we would consider the following key factors:
- Factors that inhibit proper production of thyroid hormones: stress, infection, trauma, radiation, medication, fluoride (antagonist to iodine), toxins such as pesticides, mercury, cadmium, lead; autoimmune disease (celiac).
- Factors that increase conversion of T4 to RT3: stress, trauma, low calorie diet, inflammation, toxins, infections, liver and kidney dysfunction and medications.
- Factors that contribute to proper production of thyroid hormones: Vitamin E, B2, B3, B6 and C, iron, iodine, zinc and selenium, tyrosine.
- Factors that can increase the conversion of T4 (non-active) to T3 (active thyroid hormone): Selenium and zinc.
- Factors that improve cellular sensitivity to thyroid hormones: Vitamin A, zinc and exercise.
Considering how multifactorial and complex thyroid disease is, we may use additional tests that involve immune markers, toxicity panels and different hormones to get a clear representation of your health. Once the tests have been processed, you will receive a personalised treatment plan tailored to you, your lifestyle and your body’s needs.
Our top priority is to address the root cause of your health challenges. By focusing on the foundation of your imbalance, we’ll be able to ease your symptoms and support the healing process, which will steadily bring your body into balance.
How much is a private thyroid consultation?
We offer a range of consultations and packages for clients depending on the level of support required. Get in touch with a member of the team today or schedule a complimentary discovery call to discuss your health concerns and be best matched with a thyroid specialist practitioner.
Our thyroid reviews
You can read a selection of reviews from our thyroid clients below.
" After a few private lab tests and 3 months of working together I am surprised and delighted In the way that I feel. The symptoms have gone and I have Oliver’s dedication to thank for this. "
" After working with the clinic for 4 months, I had no signs of antibodies, no fatigue, brain fog, or constipation. I feel like I now have my life back after 7 years of battling with my health."
" After 3 months of working together I am surprised and delighted In the way that I feel. The symptoms have gone and I have Oliver’s dedication to thank for this. "