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End of Endo, Endometriosis and Thyroid health
June 01, 2004
Hi everyone,

Thyroid Problems, Endometriosis and Tiredness - undeniable links!

Welcome to this months issue of Endo of Endo - the monthly newsletter to help and assist you on your path to healing of endometriosis. This month we are going to cover the subject of Thyroid health in relation to endometriosis. This is because I am reading over and over again of many women who are being diagnosed with problems of their thyroid. This problem appears to be so common that I felt the subject needed looking into further.

Maybe some of the symptoms of endometriosis are in actual fact symptoms of a thyroid disorder. The most common thyroid illness among women with endometriosis is diagnosed as hypothyroidism. This illness is also becoming very common among the general population as well.

More than 10 million Americans have been diagnosed with thyroid disease, and another 13 million people are estimated to have undiagnosed thyroid problems in the US alone. This problem is frequently misunderstood, and far too often overlooked and misdiagnosed. Thyroid disease can affect almost every aspect of health.

Women are at greater risk of developing thyroid problems - seven times more often than men. This difference would appear to relate directly to the different hormonal make-up of women. The risk of developing thyroid disease increases with age and for those with a family history of thyroid problems.

Where is the Thyroid and What does it do?

The thyroid is a small butterfly-shaped gland, located in your neck, wrapped around the windpipe, and is located behind and below the Adam’s Apple area. The thyroid produces several hormones, of which two are key: triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4). These hormones help oxygen get into cells, and make your thyroid the master gland of metabolism.

The thyroid has cells that are the only cells in the body capable of absorbing iodine. The thyroid takes in the iodine, obtained through food or supplements, and combines that iodine with the amino acid tyrosine. The thyroid then coverts the iodine/tyrosine combination into the hormones T3 and T4. The ‘3’ and the ‘4’ refer to the number of iodine molecules in each thyroid hormone molecule. These hormones then act as engines, ensuring that cells get the energy they need to function.

The thyroid does not work in isolation, it is part of a comprehensive hormonal feedback process, which goes like this ….. The hypothalamus in the brain releases something called Thyrotropin-releasing Hormone (TRH). The release of TRH tells the pituitary gland to release something called Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (THS). This THS, circulating in your bloodstream, is what tells the thyroid to make thyroid hormones and release them into your bloodstream.

Once released by the thyroid, the T3 and T4 hormones travel through the bloodstream. The purpose is to help cells convert oxygen and calories into energy. So when the thyroid is not functioning properly, then insufficient levels of these active hormones are released into the bloodstream, which in turn leads to poor conversion in the cells into energy. This is what causes the lethargy and tiredness associated with hypothyroidism, along with other symptoms.

This subject of converting oxygen and calories (from food) into energy, links into the subject we have recently covered in Endo of Endo, about the vital importance of having sufficient oxygen in the body to maintain optimum health. As we are gradually being depleted of vital oxygen levels in the atmosphere, and oxygen levels in the body, and added to this the growing numbers of people suffering from thyroid imbalances, serious ill-health is destined to follow. Oxygen intake and oxygen synthesis in the body is paramount for good health.

Causes of Thyroid Disease

There are various factors that can contribute to the development of thyroid problems:

  • Radiation treatment
  • certain drugs, such as lithium and the heart drug cordarone, can cause hypothroidism
  • exposure to certain chemicals
  • living near a nuclear plant
  • iodine deficiency - poor diet
  • heavy smoking
  • being female/ over 60/ other family members have thyroid problems
  • near menopause

Hypothyroidism - what is it?

Hypothyroidism is commonly known as having an under-active thyroid. Hyperthyroidism (note the tiny change in spelling) is an overactive thyroid, and is not as common as an under-active thyroid. In hypothyroidism, the thyroid is not producing enough thyroid hormone. This may be due to auto-immune disease which makes it under-active, radiation or drugs that have partially or fully disabled the thyroid, or surgical removal of all or part of the thyroid. The most common cause of hypothyroidism is an auto-immune condition known as Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, in which antibodies begin to attack the thyroid and gradually make it inactive.

There is much speculation that endometriosis could be an auto-immune disease, and the added development of certain thyroid diseases in women with endometriosis seems to make sense of both conditions developing - as both conditions relate to the immune system, and both relate to delicate hormonal balancing acts!

Symptoms of Hypothyroidism

The symptoms of hypothyroid depend on how severe the imbalance is in the thyroid, your age, your general level of health (enter endometriosis into the equation!), and how hypothyroidism affects you uniquely. In general the common symptoms are:

  • fatigue
  • weight gain
  • low motivation
  • heat and or cold intolerance
  • headaches and migraines
  • dry skin, hair and brittle nails
  • irritability, anxiety, and panic attacks
  • decreased memory and concentration (poor oxygen levels in the cells)
  • constipation, irritable bowel
  • low sex drive, insomnia
  • allergies, slow healing, acne

Of course, the big problem here is that many of these symptoms are the same or similar to the symptoms associated with endometriosis. The best course of action, in the first place, is to get tests to check the levels of hormones being produced by your thyroid. If they are low and caused by an iodine deficiency, you can increase your intake of iodine through diet or natural supplements, like kelp.

If test reveal that your thyroid problem is more serious then further treatment will be needed. If your thyroid problem is due to hormonal imbalances then it is possible to get your hormones in check through alternative therapies. For more serious problems, like cancer, then radical treatment may be called for, which is usually surgery to remove the thyroid. But even these cases are not beyond the reach of help through alternative therapies.

Endometriosis and the Thyroid

In one particular medical survey, 42% of women with endometriosis had an under-active thyroid gland. This figure is usually 5% in the general population. It also appears that thyroid antibodies are higher in women with endometriosis, which is an indication of hypothyroidism.

Dr. Lee (the pioneer of Natural Progesterone Cream treatments) reasoned that thyroid and estrogen oppose one another. Estrogen causes your food intake to be stored as fat in the body. Thyroid hormone causes fat to be burned as energy. When a woman is estrogen dominant this will encourage further development of fat build-up. This constant opposition between the two hormones would lead to symptoms of hypothyroidism for women with estrogen dominance.

When Dr. Lee treated women with Natural Progesterone Cream for PMS, who also had suspected hypothyroidism, he found that their hypothyroid symptoms disappeared. This success was due to correcting the levels of estrogen by the use of progesterone cream. This implies that too much estrogen in the body interferes with thyroid hormone action.

The significance of this imbalance in hormones (between the thyroid hormone and estrogen) for women with endometriosis, is that if the estrogen dominance is addressed through treatment to increase progesterone (with natural progesterone cream), then many symptoms can be alleviated. This is especially relevant of the draining symptom of constant tiredness, that nearly all women with endometriosis seem to suffer from. In essence, it appears that women with endometriosis do not have hypothyroidism - what they are suffering from is probably a disturbance of the activity of their thyroid caused by estrogen dominance.

But, do not forget that iodine shortage in your diet can also cause malfunction of the thyroid. If your diet is dairy free (which it should be), you are not using iodised salt (which is not good for you), your diet is mainly vegetarian, or your diet does not include fish (which unfortunately contains high levels of PCBs and other toxins like mercury), then your iodine intake will probably be low.

As well as supplements like Kelp tablets, you can include seaweeds and sea vegetables into your diet, which will provide you with excellent sources of natural iodine as well as a power-house of other vitamins and minerals. Nori seaweed can be added to your diet, and the levels of iodine in kombu or hijki are so high, that half an ounce should last you about a year. ( The recommended intake of iodine for adults is 150mcg a day.) You can obtain these sea foods at most health food outlets. There are plenty of resources on the internet - for buying sea vegetables, and for recipes.

Iodine deficiency and the Thyroid

Your thyroid cannot function without iodine. Without it you will suffer from what is know as "Primary hypothyroisism". A simple folk medicine test will reveal your body's ability to absorb iodine. Dab a one inch diameter spot of iodine on your belly. If it is still there 24 hours later, your body is not absorbing iodine. This can be caused by a deficiency of vitamin A. A Danish study deprived pigs of vitamin A for two weeks. Their thyroid secretion fell by 45%.

Vitamins needed for Thyroid Hormone Health

Thyroid hormone (TH) production can be compromised by a deficiency of vitamins B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin) and B-6. Another problem with low TH is that vitamin B-12 cannot be absorbed unless one has sufficient production of TH. A severe B-12 deficiency could result in anaemia (possibly fatal), mental illness, neurological disorders, neuralgia, neuritis, or bursitis- all symptoms which may be confused with the :normal ageing process. B-12 cannot be produced by your system, you must ingest in your diet or in vitamin supplements. Without adequate TH levels, your body cannot absorb this essential vitamin, no matter how much you ingest.

-Vitamin C and E are also essential for your TH production. 1,000-3,000 mg. of vitamin C and 400 IU of vitamin E are recommended.

To sum up

To improve the health and function of your thyroid -

  • Get your levels of Thyroid hormone checked and your levels of iodine
  • If you have an iodine shortage increase your intake of natural iodine through diet or supplements and ensure your vitamin balance is correct for iodine synthesis
  • Redress your estrogen dominance with the use of Natural Progesterone Cream

    Till next time

    Yours with healing thoughts

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