The Cure for Hypothyroidism

This is a an excerpt from my book, Fuck Portion Control, which contains references to other chapters. This information is provided to help those suffering from hypothyroidism but cannot afford my book. For other health issues my book provides a great deal of helpful information. I am also always available to chat with those needing help with this condition.

–––––––––––Chapter 15: The Cure for Hypothyroidism

I come from good stock. Part of the reason I was the favorite grandchild, apart from being the first male heir was an obvious good score in the game of genetic mash-up, reassuring both sets of grandparents that their genes were truly a success and would persist long after they pass (the bubbly, gay personality probably charmed them as well, though kind of threw a wrench in later). Thanks to the internet I found a clip of my mother from the mid 1970's in her role on an episode of CHiPs. Her scene was one in which Eric Estrada and Larry Wilcox chase down two bikers whom they assume are male bandits, surprised when my mother and the other actress remove their helmets and shake out their feathered, Farah Fawcett hair like models in an expensive shampoo commercial. My mother is a beautiful woman, inside and out, but it was her physical health and beauty which enabled her brief career as model and beauty queen. My father too has always had a washboard stomach and broad construction-worker shoulders and a head of hair that never quit. They are the kind of couple everyone gawks at and remarks about how beautiful their children are, and I was constantly praised for my appearance when growing up. In fact, a great deal of our family’s energy was spent on appearance. We were handsome or pretty when we were happy. But ugly when sad or angry. Physical appearance was used as a weapon to cajole and coerce, but at the end of the day I knew I had something good, and as I began to grow into manhood the heads which turned when I entered a room gave me a sense of power over others.

So you can perhaps see my frustration when around the age of eighteen, instead of growing into an impressive specimen of a man I found myself riddled with acne, depressed, and spilling out of my jeans. Other young men were developing muscles, maturing, and going out into the world with an excess of virility where I could barely get myself out of bed in the morning, let alone develop an impressive set of abdominals. 

Having been a promising athlete I tried to muster myself into exercise routines, keeping gym schedules faithfully or engaging in the sports I so loved, until eventually fatigue would return and sabotage my efforts to stay fit. Muscle-building was frustrating, slow, and quick to disappear, and staying lean became a herculean task, never mind my awful skin and constantly tired appearance, and struggling to find happiness in a homophobic and hateful community.

Sadly, many young people are sent into the world with this misplaced sense of responsibility—ill prepared to deal with life on life's terms we are instructed to forge it instead, control biology and manipulate humanity to make our success. My Dad often crowed over his genetics, how rarely he got sick, or his talent for putting away a bowl of ice cream every night without getting fat while he, like many fathers, criticized my mother's persistent weight gain or my failure to thrive as if we merely lacked the willpower to alter life.

The reality is we wield control over very little, and that is perfectly fine. But it is plain, even to those who deny it, that biology is one of those things we really do not control, though Men strive to do so with astounding effort. Sometimes they appear to have success, but more often reality is merely that of delayed consequences of the abuse and desecration of the human body. 

 Most of us are actually dealt great cards when it comes to genetics—Two arms, two legs, ten fingers and toes, a nose, a mouth and lungs, a heart and brain. That we are alive despite eons of natural disaster, predation, and competition is testament to superior genetics, not whether skin is this color or that, or hair, eyes, stature, intellect, or any other attribute which become fodder for prejudice. That we are alive as a species is the real quality of superior genetics, not the aesthetic appearance nor socially developmental traits. People with no understanding of even simple biology hail genes as the end-all to life's lottery, because they’ve heard it in the news or saw it on Facebook and consider themselves “smart,” and then proceed to destroy their body and relationships with contempt for our physical form and prejudice for their fellow humans, blaming everyone else for problems which we all suffer. 

In the early nineteen-hundreds the disease tuberculosis killed 1 in 7 of every person living. It was a massive plague which had been living along side humans since before the time of the Greeks. But since the concept of germs and microorganisms were not known, the disease was commonly attributed, without evidence mind you, to one of inheritance. The bigoted doctrines of race, class, of divinely anointed inheritance infected even medical institutions which were supposed to be objective. Because of this no one decided to investigate why some people get this disease and others not. If they had, someone like Dr. Robert Koch, who discovered the disease was caused by bacteria, might have occurred centuries earlier and saved many millions of people from death. Even after the discovery no one ever thought to ask why the disease doesn’t effect everyone, because most people, now as then, continue to believe in the false doctrine of genetic superiority, in one form or another.

Of course, we adopt these delusions because we want to believe we have no limits and may fall into the category of superior, which is not to say superior to other people, though it has that effect, but less susceptible to death. We push our bodies until it breaks because we want to be immortal, yet we know we are not and so wonder in disbelief why he could have had a heart attack or she could have gotten cancer when “they were so healthy.” It must be genetics. No more fretting needed. 

Our biology is not mistaken about the parameters for health. Your mind is. We don't want to be sick, and we don't want those we love to be sick, so we condemn others for their suffering, their disease, and blame the result on character or genetic inheritance, or the unfathomable mysteries of God, none of which are actually true but which are mere scapegoats for fear when faced with confirmation of the uncertainty of life. Biology can create morals, but morals do not create biology. Neither discipline, nor deprivation, nor self flagellation will synthesize testosterone or induce sleep, or ensure we have enough calcium in our diet or heal the tumor which is dangerously close to becoming cancer. Unfortunately neither will kindness, patience, nor long-suffering. Biology runs on chemistry, the laws of which are finite and absolute, immutable and indiscriminate. Every time citric acid encounters sodium bicarbonate there will be a chemical reaction that can be mathematically measured. That is how precise chemistry is. The formation of fat cells, cancer, or infections from natural-born viruses such as the flu and herpes and ebola are not the fault of promiscuity, laziness, or gluttony. Our ex did not invent the herpes virus nor are they the reason you caught it. You caught the herpes virus because of biochemistry. You are fat or have cancer because of chemistry. You lost your attractiveness because of biochemistry.

Biology has no morals. It does not care if we are born in the United States to Christian parents or Iran to Muslims or in Poland to Atheists. That's why all demographics of humans suffer the same diseases, the same maladies, and why you were devastated by the loss of your wife to ovarian cancer, even though she did everything she was supposed to, loved God, and ate a ‘healthy diet.’ It is why metabolic disease ravages the citizens of the United States, because biology does not respond to faith and good will but does so to glyphosate, dioxin, and BPA.

Genes guide the function of an organism much the way blueprints guide the construction of a home. But blueprints do not dictate the quality of the lumber nor what to do if the plumbing subcontractor doesn't show up again for the fourth time. Genes can only work inasmuch as they have the expected and appropriate materials to work with. That anyone should expect genes to function exactly the same in an absence of sugar or an excess of iron is willfully ignorant. Even basic medical textbooks point out the necessity for certain conditions to be true for life to survive. What about thrive? Luckily our progenitors have been around for billions of years, and our biology has inherited many abilities to deal with uncertainties. 

We torment our physiology with starvation, deprivation, insufficiency, toxins and poisons and purposefully inflict stress and yet we stay alive, in spite of our best efforts, for long stretches of abuse. The fact that I am still alive after the events of the past twenty years is a testament to the engineering passed down unwittingly through countless generations and the robustness of living organisms. Our bodies do not trend toward death and decay. They trend toward life, or did you not notice the other eight-billion people on the planet? The ease with which health can be restored constantly astounds me. It happens fast. Most cells in the body turn over very quickly. Skin heals in a matter of days. Bones repair in weeks. Nerve cells heal in a few months. Of course, the conditions need to be favorable for this to happen, but all that requires is the accurate knowledge of how and why, not what I want and wish.

Though some organs might have a specialized function, they are exposed to and exert influence on and from every other organ in the body. Discussing organs and their functions without considering the others runs the risk of missing how they are reliant upon and influence the whole. The thyroid gland directly communicates with with the brain, the pituitary, the parathyroid (which is actually a part of the thyroid) the liver, and the adrenal glands but is also influenced by the intestinal system, the pancreas, the blood, etc. The condition of hypothyroidism is defined as an insufficiency of thyroid hormones, which in turn regulate the oxidative energy production of the rest of the body. But practical hypothyroidism, meaning any kind of hypothyroid state which leads to an insufficiency in energy felt by the individual, is not always obvious nor measurable by laboratory tests, nor is the condition actually cured by administering thyroid medication. Hypothyroid states develop when the body either won't or cannot produce enough normal oxidative energy from carbohydrate. I say won't, because most systems in the human body have rate-limiting fail-safes which prevent the exhaustion of certain limited resources.

Thyroid production is also cyclical. It rises and falls with the time of day and the time of year, not because our body wants us to suffer but because certain conditions would make the production of thyroid hormone dangerous to the long-term survival of the individual, because some seasons result in the reduced availability of certain nutritional or environmental resources. Thyroid rises when there is enough carbohydrate, vitamins, and sunlight to oxidize sugar at the robust level it requires, otherwise it slows, or even stops. Thyroid drops in the wintertime to prevent the overuse of certain resources which are traditionally scarcer during the wintertime, like vitamin D, vitamin C, and light (yes, light is a resource for our biology, or what did you think the point was in going outside to play?). 

Hypothyroidism almost always develops initially during the wintertime, when thyroid is low, because thyroid also helps prevent the accumulation of some of the more virulent oxidizers like iron and unstable elements like bad fats. Since thyroid is low, the body has less resistance to unstable influences and sometimes acquires enough of them to cause a chronic depression of thyroid function, though most people don't initially recognize it as a hypothyroid state and probably assume they just have low-energy or a temporary lull in health and will soon improve. Concern starts when they realize their energy to be chronically depressed, and by that time is beyond an easy intervention. In the initial hypothyroid state doctors are likely to be unhelpful because test ranges and the impersonal nature of statistics have such a broad definition of acceptable that unless the disease is so serious that symptoms become unignorable, medical assistance is highly unlikely.

The good news is that hypothyroidism can be fixed, and pretty easily now that I understand the cause. My own thyroid disease advanced to cancer, but I have since recovered of all the symptoms of cancer (hair loss, severely low body temperatures, elevated white blood cells, extreme fatigue and insomnia, severe histamine intolerance, etc) and the symptoms of hypothyroidism. My energy is constant, lacking the unpleasant oscillation that occurred for so many years while suffering hypothyroidism, the surprise moments of sweating, even when cold, the body aches, the stiff limbs. My sleep is perfect (as long as I’m away from wifi signals) with no occurrence of insomnia. My libido is neither overcharged nor lacking and completely reliable, my emotional state sound and joyful, and the most obvious is the departure of fatigue, especially during exertion, which for the last four years occurred with as little as walking groceries in from the car or cleaning my bathroom. I am finally able to engage in physical activity without tiring. My muscles firmed up too without additional exercise, where before my posture sagged and strained I now stand strong and upright, no longer even noticing the weight of my own body which at times felt like two or three people dragging around on one teetering frame. 

To be clear, all disease is not hypothyroidism, and some people have the idea that curing hypothyroidism will cure them of all disease. Usually hypothyroidism presents with other conditions, such as SIBO or diabetes, and while all disease is intertwined and will benefit from improving thyroid function, there will likely be other conditions that must be addressed as well, and using therapies as discussed in the chapter on SIBO and metabolic disease can support recovery from hypothyroidism, and will be necessary in anyone also suffering from gut problems.

I suspected my particular thyroid condition to be directly related to iron, specifically an inappropriate elevation of it in tissues. Iron accumulates more dramatically during alcohol use or metabolic impairment, and it also coincides with the development of many disease states, especially hypothyroidism and cancer, when the body shows evidence of reduced antioxidant activity, and iron is one of the most virulent oxidizers. Reduced antioxidant activity means that the body cannot prevent the inappropriate destruction of valuable vitamins, minerals, and fats, so enzymes, reactions, catalysts, hormones, and protein structures are either destroyed, not made in sufficient quantities, or are of a lesser quality which then compromises the robustness of the health state. Iron is suspect because no other element in the body is as likely an oxidizer than it, save for copper and zinc, but both of which are easier for the body to control than iron. Iron in excess or in its unreduced state is a severe oxidative burden on the body. In all degenerative disease states such as Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, dementia, diabetes, hypothyroidism, etc., iron is always elevated. Blood tests for iron rarely reflect the tissue levels of it because the body takes great care to sequester, confine, and limit iron's access to the general body, especially in disease states to prevent its access to pathogenic bacteria and viruses. Even iron deficiency anemia is usually not caused by insufficient exposure to iron, as can easily be estimated by diet, but rather a deficiency of the vitamins which normally control it like vitamins A and D, or riboflavin.

Considering that iron is so active in disease states, the next question would be why and what to do about it. The most basic factor against iron oxidative capacity is vitamin C. I had used vitamin C in the past, but not being very experienced yet I didn't know what to look for and didn't recognize a specific effect on my health, especially since I was also using a wide array of other supplements and medications, but also because vitamin C is so ubiquitous in the general medical lexicon that it has gathered a rather mundane reputation. But vitamin C is the primary nutritional antioxidant, especially where iron is involved. When vitamin C is taken or eaten with iron, the body absorbs more of that iron. This is because vitamin C complexes with iron, and thus makes it more absorbable. For this reason a lot of people who are concerned with iron overload avoid ingesting vitamin C and iron at the same time (as they should). But vitamin C has this effect on iron whenever it comes into contact with it, which includes inside the body, after iron has already entered the body. In this way, high levels of vitamin C work to protect us from reactive iron by keeping it bound, which prevents iron from taking electrons from other molecules such as the sensitive thiamine or aromatase-inhibiting vitamin E, and thus preventing the destruction of other vitamins and lessening the oxidative burden on the body.

You may or may not be familiar with the disease called scurvy, which is a severe depletion of vitamin C. Because vitamin C is so necessary for antioxidant control, when the body has absolutely none it begins to actually disintegrate without it, and tissues fall apart and decay and eventually lead to death. Hypothyroidism and similar diseases are related to scurvy, where there is not enough vitamin C to prevent tissue destruction from oxidative damage, and thus lead to malfunctioning of organs to preventing regeneration. The adrenal glands concentrate more vitamin C than any other organ in the body. It also happens that adrenaline can easily be destroyed by oxidation. Vitamin C prevents the excessive oxidation of adrenaline, which in turn allows the adrenal glands to secrete less hormones, and this in turn lets the thyroid gland function (as the thyroid can be shut down by excessive stress hormones). Without high levels of vitamin C, the adrenal glands have to work in overdrive to have the same effect, which in turn can shut down thyroid function. This can either be caused by insufficient amounts of vitamin C or insufficient for what is required to overcome an oxidative burden increased by bad fats, excess stress, iron, or environmental contaminants. Part of the reason my health declined so early in life was due to excessive exposure to chlorine as a competitive swimmer (and drinking water). Chlorine destroys vitamin C, and as I also didn’t have much in my diet it eviscerated my health. Chlorine also removes iodine from the body which is needed to make thyroid hormone, which further compounds the ability of the thyroid to function properly, to protect against metabolic decline.

Taking thyroid hormone can be very helpful for overcoming the symptoms caused by thyroid disease. But taking extra thyroid does not heal hypothyroid disease itself, because the underlying problems are not necessarily remedied. Sufferers must continue taking the hormone constantly to avoid symptoms, and so no cure is caused by the medicinal therapy. I was first able to stop using thyroid medications when I changed my diet to include copious amounts of good fats (butter, cocoa butter, coconut oil) because those fats, less susceptible to inappropriate oxidation, help to stabilize cellular function. Being less stable, poor fats make the body more susceptible to oxidative burden and thus contribute to thyroid and other diseases. But my thyroid function wasn't fully restored until I began getting 1000 mg of vitamin C every day. Other vitamins are necessary for thyroid production, such as the all important iodine, but most can be obtained from a good diet.

Vitamin C is also involved in the formation of good cholesterol, without which the body cannot form many helpful steroids. In a deficiency of vitamin C the body forms the types of cholesterol associated with disease, but it also cannot efficiently use cholesterol anyway and the body begins to accumulate unused cholesterol which can block arteries and cause other, more serious health issues.

There is some thought that synthetic vitamin C is allergenic. I recommend that vitamin C come from foods as much as possible,  everyday, by taking a large amount of high vitamin C foods. There are also natural forms of vitamin C supplement which can help increase dosage and thus the therapeutic nature of vitamin C. Some brands use label and branding tactics to make their product appear natural when it is not. Read labels. Some signs of allergy to synthetic vitamin C are restlessness and agitation. If this occurs it will be more helpful to use natural vitamin C, and a supplement should be in no way a replacement for food sourced vitamin C.

The body will reduce iron naturally if high levels of vitamin C are maintained, as studies show an increased elimination of iron in urine with vitamin C. But in hypothyroidism there is always an accumulation of iron, and it is important to help address this problem by avoiding foods which are fortified with extra iron. Iron storage is largely a function of hormones, so improving the overall metabolic rate will naturally help reduce excess iron levels, but the chapter on iron and disease discusses more on the specifics of iron and its dangers. But don't be afraid of foods which naturally contain iron. If you are getting enough vitamin C generally our body will be able to deal with the current excess anyway, and it is important to get all the other vitamins and minerals that a good diet provides.

B vitamins are necessary for proper thyroid function. Really, ALL vitamins are important, but it's not necessary to supplement them all and in fact most B complexes are either poorly made, contain toxic or allergenic compounds, or don't contain certain vitamins in the levels needed or without accidentally overdosing on the ones which are bad to have in excess. Normally our B vitamins are made by healthy gut bacteria, but in many disease states the populations of gut bacteria species become compromised, especially in such conditions as SIBO and metabolic disease. Species which cause these conditions feed on the B vitamins for their own growth, thus preventing their absorption and contributing to disease. It is important to address gut function when dealing with hypothyroidism, as these other underlying conditions can still bring down the metabolic rate and prevent healing, even with a working thyroid. Taking 500-1000 mg of thiamine (B1) with vitamin C produces a pleasant, light-headed feeling very similar to smoking a cigarette, because it helps raise the metabolism so well. Thiamine aids in the proper use of carbohydrates, the elevation of CO2 and the reduction of lactic acid, which is a metabolic wet-towel, suppressing proper carbohydrate metabolism. Riboflavin (B2) also helps restrain iron but it also helps in the storage of glucose as glycogen instead of fat which can help fuel metabolic function stimulated by thyroid activity, and biotin (B7) aids in the proper use of branched chain amino acids which without biotin actually cause diabetic and hypothyroid conditions. Good fats are especially important, and necessary, as the increased adrenal and thyroid function will begin to cause the body to remodel tissues. Cells need good fats, not only for fuel but for structural components. Without good fats our cells won't rebuild properly, and will be as vulnerable to damage as before. Examples of good fats are butter, especially grass fed butter, ice cream, cheese, cocoa butter, coconut oil, grass fed tallow, and shea butter. Coconut oil especially raises the function of the thyroid, by stimulating the production of the master hormone pregnenolone, and whenever I feel cold or have a low pulse I use the coconut oil swish to deliver its fatty acids quickly into the blood stream to rapidly increase pulse and body temperature. Lauric acid in coconut oil can lower the production of the active form of testosterone, dihydrotestosterone if there is not enough vitamin A in the diet. In men this can have the effect of reducing libido. It is not an unhealthy effect, as coconut oil promotes health overall and can support recovery from many metabolic diseases, it just is annoying and something to be aware of, and adequate intake of natural vitamin A or related carotenes is necessary to meet the energetic demand of coconut oil. The proactive use of coconut oil (or pregnenolone) with plenty of carotene and vitamin A can be a therapeutic support for invigorating thyroid and thyroid function.

Generous protein intake is also important for recovery from thyroid disease. The body synthesizes many hormones from protein, and a deficiency will also cause stress and prevent adequate healing. The branched chain amino acids like leucine and valine require biotin sufficiency to be properly metabolized by the body, otherwise they actually cause metabolic disease, contributing and even causing some of the symptoms of hypothyroidism, specifically the diabetic ones. The body also needs adequate and plentiful carbohydrate to generate thyroid hormone. Starvation, even for a few hours, will work against our attempts to heal by stopping thyroid production or releasing stress hormones such as cortisol which tears down the thyroid, adrenals, and other endocrine glands. Keeping snacks handy, fruit, healthy candy, sweetened protein shakes, and eating regular meals is important to keeping thyroid function optimal. Fructose, which is easily metabolized by many cells in the body and also replenishes glycogen more efficiently than glucose can be used to raise metabolic rate and clear out certain metabolic byproducts, especially when paired with vitamin B1. Sodas are an easy source of fructose (avoid those with additives), but fruit and other sources of fructose are important to have daily.

Our primate relatives are reported to consume upwards of 900 mg of vitamin C a day, yet our recommend dose is a measly 120 mg. Considering the prevalence of metabolic diseases it seems more apparent that we as primates, who cannot synthesize our own vitamin C, do not ingest adequate amounts of vitamin C each day to remain healthy, let alone recover from metabolic illness. Most studies on vitamin C have been done on rats and other animals which actually synthesize their own vitamin C. They do not always respond to it the same way we do. In rats, when excess vitamin C is present it has a rate limiting effect on rat metabolism. But in humans the rate limiting effect comes from an inadequacy of it, not excess. From my experience I feel that 1000 mg a day of vitamin C is enough to provide a therapeutic effect, and nothing less than 600 mg a day will probably do much to help repair thyroid disease. 800mg to 2g are probably the therapeutic ranges, and anything above that is probably unnecessary. Vitamin C should come from the diet as much as possible, and then supplementing after that to achieve therapeutic amounts. Heat, drying, and processing destroys vitamin C though, so fresh sources are necessary, and many supplements add natural ingredients or use deceptive labels to trick consumers into believing their product is natural. The back label should indicate if it is 100% natural and from what source.

It is also common knowledge that the thyroid needs iodine to produce thyroid hormone. The recommended dose at 150 mcg is abysmally low, meant merely to prevent the development of goiter rather than support the full functioning of every organ which requires iodine. In fact, the body cycles through 20 milligrams of iodine a day, if it even has that much, since chemicals like chlorine and bromide can remove iodine from the body. Unsaturated fat also dilutes iodine, because iodine saturates unsaturated fatty acids, and one of the ways in which a diet high in unsaturated fat contributes to the decline in metabolic rate is exactly because it dilutes iodine. The hypothalamus and pituitary, which regulate the activity of the thyroid gland, each need 2 mg of iodine a day to function, not to mention the immune system, liver, and other organs which need it, without which they lower the metabolic rate. I found iodine loading to help immediately detoxify the unsaturated fat burden in my body. It also had the benefit of improving skin hydration. Doctors used to give patients a full gram of iodine to treat common diseases. I don’t recommend quite that much (toxicity only occurs at many grams), but taking a large dose of 200 mg a day for a week, and maintaining a dose of 20 mg a day after can help guaranteed the active benefit of iodine.

Consistent with my observation of the body trending toward health, this is not something we wait for months and months and wonder if it is working. Things should feel different within a few days, and start experiencing rapid improvement within a month, especially if it is in the warmer months of the year. If you don't, double check your diet and strictly question whether certain behaviors, medications, or substances might be interfering with the functions of your hormones and vitamins. 

Lastly, the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland function in relation to the time of day and the time of year, and thus regulate the thyroid in the same manner. Thyroid function naturally wanes during the wintertime, when the amount and composition of sunlight changes, or during excessive sequestration indoors. This is sensed by light exposure to the head, not just through the eyes but also because light actually penetrates quite deep into the body. One study showed activity in the center of the brain where serotonin is regulated when light was directed toward the back and sides of the head, independent of eye function. A deficiency of sunlight will naturally down-regulate thyroid function, and while vitamin C can still help improve health a full recovery should not be expected during a deficiency of sunlight. A minimum of two hours of unobstructed sunlight (not even through glass) is necessary for the full functioning of the hypothalamus-pituitary-thyroid axis. If this is not being achieved it is possible to supplement light by using a bright artificial light, where red and infrared light helps especially during the wintertime. Niacinamide can also be used reliably to raise the body temperature when taken with good food. Thyroid medication can also be supplemented during the winter or in advanced age in order to guarantee thyroid function, and is often helpful to reverse some symptoms associated with aging, or to more quickly recover from the conditions caused by hypothyroidism. Just don’t expect to make a permanent recovery without generous intake of vitamin C. We need it to have a properly functioning metabolism, and since it’s easy to get from delicious foods there is no reason anyone cannot make a full recovery from hypothyroidism.