What are thyroid conditions?

Thyroid ConditionsIs your child sleeping more than normal or not sleeping at all? These may be symptoms of a thyroid condition which may not be as rare as parents think. The thyroid gland located in the front of the neck, is responsible for all metabolic and chemical processes in the body and is a primary factor in how children grow.

There are always symptoms that children experience when the thyroid is involved. When a child is more nervous, agitated or emotional more than usual, is eating but loses weight, experiencing heart palpitations, has excessive sweating, diarrhea, bulging eyes and trouble sleeping; then the child has too much thyroid hormone and the condition is called hyperthyroidism(overactive thyroid). When the child is sluggish, low energy, depressed and gaining weight when there is no change in diet or exercise, a slow heartbeat, feels the cold, has brittle hair, dry skin and constipation; then the child has too little thyroid hormone and the condition is called hypothyroidism(underactive thyroid). An enlarged thyroid is called a goiter which sometimes leads to Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, an autoimmune thyroid condition that is more common in girls. If your child has a lump in their neck and their voice changes, this may be thyroid nodules or thyroid cancer which can cause the lymph nodes in the neck to enlarge. An autoimmune disorder called Grave’s Disease seems to be the underlying cause of hyperthyroidism in children especially at the onset of adolescence. A child with Grave’s disease may have extreme restlessness and short attention span which can negatively affect the child’s school performance.

Ultimately, all thyroid conditions have been found to affect the growth and development of a child.

What your doctor will tell you about thyroid conditions?

Your child’s pediatrician will tell you that in some cases thyroid conditions may be hereditary; however, many children do not get enough of the mineral iodine in their diet which can contribute to thyroid problems and to make sure you use salt with iodine on your child’s food. Initially the doctor will want to do a physical exam on your child and blood tests on the major hormones that the thyroid makes, which are T3 or Triiodothyronine and T4 or Thyroxine. Depending on the thyroid condition, the doctor may also decide to do an ultrasound or a thyroid scan if necessary. If your child shows a hyperthyroidism condition, the doctor will prescribe medication to regulate the thyroid. If the problem does not resolve itself after two years, then the doctor may decide to permanently keep the thyroid from producing too much hormone by using a medication that destroys it; or he or she might decide to surgically remove it. Either way the doctor will tell you that hyperthyroidism must be controlled so that symptoms will subside.

In the case of hypothyroidism, your child’s pediatrician will tell you that it is much easier to treat hypothyroidism than hyperthyroidism. For this condition your child will take medication for the rest of their life to make sure that their body has enough thyroid hormone to grow and develop normally so that all symptoms will subside. Your child’s pediatrician will also tell you that your child will need yearly blood tests and monitoring; this way the thyroid condition is essentially managed and kept under control with daily medication so that the child feels like normal again. For any other more complicated thyroid conditions that do not regulate with medication, will most likely be treated with surgery.

Another way to think about thyroid conditions:

According to Dr. Raffael Kellman, MD, a pioneer in functional medicine specializing in microbiome, there is a surprising amount of overlap between the symptoms of low thyroid in neurotypical children and the symptoms of developmental disorders in children with learning disabilities, ADHD, developmental delays and autism. Speech and developmental delays, cognitive dysfunction, hyperactivity or lethargy, hypotonia/fine motor dysfunction, attention disorders, repetitive motions, social and communication dysfunction, fear, anxiety, depression, GI abnormalities, constipation, feeding and eating problems are also all symptoms of low thyroid. Dr. Kellman’s findings show that 75% of low thyroid function is actually missed with children with autism and other developmental delays when doctor’s only do routine testing. Dr. Kellman recommends a comprehensive evaluation and a full thyroid panel which includes levels of TSH as produced through the TRH challenge, free T3 and T4, total T3 and T4, Reverse T3, and levels of thyroid antibodies TgAb and TPOAb.

In some cases mothers pass on their hypothyroidism condition to their unborn babies without realizing this is possible (congenital hypothyroidism). According to Dr. Kellman, the thyroid gland is the master regulator and catalyst for brain development so both the brain and thyroid are very susceptible to all environmental toxins, pesticides, heavy metals and in particular endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCS) that interfere with the production and function of endocrine hormones (thyroid). Gluten intolerance has also been linked to thyroid conditions, in particular the autoimmune condition called Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. Gluten-free diets have proven to stop the attack on the thyroid that occurs with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis and other thyroid autoimmune conditions where elevated thyroid-related autoantibodies are involved.

How Does Microbiome Affect the Thyroid?

  • Too many bad bacteria in the microbiome can lead to low thyroid functioning.
  • The leaky gut condition can trigger a production of antibodies that create an autoimmune condition such as Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, the number one cause of low thyroid today in the USA.
  • When the microbiome is compromised by gut dysbiosis, imbalances, and inflammation, the adrenal glands will begin to produce the stress hormone cortisol and elevated cortisol levels can lower thyroid functioning.
  • H.Pylori is the bacteria found in stomach ulcers and other digestive disorders. Researchers are now linking this bacterial infection to autoimmune conditions such as Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis.

A low functioning thyroid can also impact the microbiome negatively by compromising the gut/brain connection; reducing stomach acids (hydrochloric acid) which increases intestinal permeability such as the (Leaky Gut Syndrome), SIBO (small intestine bacterial overgrowth), gut dysbiosis and inflammation that directly impacts proper functioning of the immune system. Therefore, healing the microbiome is the first step towards healing any thyroid condition.

Thyroid conditions checklist to start:

  • Make dietary changes. Eat whole foods; buy organic. Remove all GMO, fast and processed foods and those with colors, artificial ingredients, preservatives, phenols, salicylates and inflammatory foods such as casein, gluten, soy. Strictly limit sugars, salt, and white refined carbohydrates. Join the Feingold Association www.Feingold.org to learn more.
  • Include plenty of good quality fats, such as coconut and olive oil, avocados, wild salmon, organic chicken and turkey, ghee, eggs, etc.
  • Heal the gut with GAPS, PALEO, or (GF/CF) Gluten Free/Casein Free, Body Ecology Diet, Modified Atkins Diet (replaces the Ketogenic Diet) are all possible diets depending on the needs of the child.
  • Clean up your environment. Remove animals (both live and stuffed!), carpets. Use non-toxic cleaners, building materials. Green your home!
  • Ask your pediatrician to run some laboratory tests that give information about possible food sensitivities and allergies, Test for Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA) IgG,IgA,IgE and IgM. Other testing could show deficiencies in vitamins and minerals, bacterial overgrowth and gluten and casein sensitivities.
  • Use homeopathy specific for thyroid conditions (Bromium, Thyroidnum, Iodum, Calcarea Carbonica, Sepia Officinalis, Lycopodium Clavatum, Graphites, Nux Vomica, Spongia, Lapis Alb, Lycopus) Consider using Schueller’s cell tissue salts which can be effective as well. Sequential Homeopathy can also be specific for gastrointestinal symptoms if needed.
  • Add fermented foods and probiotics daily to keep the gastrointestinal system and microbiome healthy and strong which in turn will keep the immune system strong. Eat keifer yogurts and fermented vegetables, umeboshi plums (very alkalizing) and miso soup. Some good probiotics are VSL#3, Gut Pro, Dr. Ohirra’s Live Cultured Probiotics, Garden of Life, and Culturelle.
  • Use herbs, essential oils and natural supplements such as zinc, selenium, L-tyrosine, fish oils, evening primrose oil, flaxseed oil, trace minerals, Vit. A, Vit. B12, riboflavin, magnesium, MCT oil (coconut), kelp, seaweed, vitamin B complex, Lugol’s iodine, lithium orotate, clove, myrrh, myrtle and spruce essential oils, bladderwhack, ginger, echinacea, nettles, and black walnut.
  • Avoid giving your child chlorine, fluoride, and bromine because all three are in the same family as iodine, and can displace iodine in your thyroid gland.
  • Digestive Enzymes such as betaine hydrochloric acid, Vitalzyme Complete with DPPIV for gluten and casein intolerances, proteolytic enzyme, BiCarb, bromelain and papaya.
  • Take Vitamin D3, Vitamin C and sulphur – N’acetylcysteine (NAC) (sulphur) helps with detoxification process and healing of the G.I. tract, MSM transdermal cream and Epsom Salt Bath.
  • See a well-trained Traditional Chinese Medicine doctor and acupuncturist to treat the various thyroid conditions. 
  • See a NAET or Bioset practitioner for an allergy elimination treatment to eliminate food allergies.
  • See a Chiropractor for musculoskeletal complaints, lifestyle, nutrition and diet related to thyroid conditions.
  • See a CranioSacral practitioner to help regulate the thyroid gland and treat thyroid conditions.

If you’ve addressed these issues and are still dealing with thyroid conditions:

  • Test OAT (Organic Acid Test) by Great Plains Laboratory for yeast overgrowth and Candida, oxalates, and other microbial infections
  • NutrEval by Genova Diagnostics Labs covers the following areas: malabsorption & dysbiosis; cellular energy & mitochondrial metabolism; neurotransmitter metabolism; vitamin deficiencies; and toxin exposure & detoxification need.
  • Homeopathic or Naturopathic physicians can diagnose and treat thyroid conditions naturally so that the child’s immune, sensory, neurological and nervous systems develop without being compromised.

Still looking for answers? 

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For further references:

Watt T, Hegedus L, Bjorner JB, Groenvold M, Bonnema SJ, Rasmussen AK, et al. Is Thyroid Autoimmunity per se a Determinant of Quality of Life in Patients with Autoimmune Hypothyroidism? Eur Thyroid J. 2012;1(3):186-92 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24783018