Below I will present 10 reasons why hypothyroidism is the worst thing for Lyme Disease.

Without addressing the thyroid, detoxification is undermined, estrogen dominance and anemia can occur, and inflammation and infection can take over our bodies. With a hypothyroid, other things can be affected like the hypothalamus, the pituitary gland, the thymus gland, liver, heart, nerves, muscles and enzymes. Continue reading for more details.

Hypothyroid affects more than your thyroid
Hypothyroidism affects more than your thyroid

But first, how does the thyroid work?

  1. The hypothalamus sends Thyroid Releasing Hormone (TRH) to the pituitary gland.
  2. The pituitary gland releases TSH to the thymus gland.
  3. TSH stimulates TPO activity to use iodine and hydrogen peroxide to create (mostly) T4 and (very little) T3. T4 is unusable so it has to be converted into more T3 elsewhere.
  4. The thyroid hormones hop on thyroid-binding proteins to catch a ride through the blood stream before jumping off to find cells (hence they become “free” hormones).
  5. The liver converts T4 into T3. The thyroid only produces 7% of T3, so the liver converts more via conjugation pathways. The heart, your muscles, and your nerves convert T4 to T3 in lesser quantities. The cells in these organs convert T4 to T3 using the enzyme, tetraidothyronine 5’ deiodinase, which removes 1 molecule of iodine from T4 (T4 minus 1 = T3…woah).
  6. 20% of T3 becomes active in the intestines, if the gut is healthy. (Thus, antibiotics dampen thyroid function…just another reason they suck).
  7. T3 enters the nucleus of each cell where it turns genes on or off, influencing their destiny (i.e. such as generating heat).

Now let’s look more closely at why hypothyroidism is the worst thing for Lyme Disease.

Reason 1: Gastrointestinal function

Hypothyroidism slows the time it takes for food to move through the GI tract, increasing infections, inflammation, nutrient deficiency and food intolerances. We already talked about why inflammation is worse than the infection itself here, and we talked about why nutrient deficiency stunts recovery in Lyme Disease here.

Reason 2: Liver Function

Hypothyroidism makes the liver sluggish. We need a healthy liver for metabolizing T4, sex hormones and all sorts of hormones, for filtering toxins like infectious disease by-products and toxic antibiotics, and for cleaning the blood. Once our liver becomes sluggish, it makes hypothyroidism worse, which makes the liver more sluggish, which makes hypothyroidism worse, which…you get the picture. It’s an endless cycle.

Without a healthy liver, your efforts at detoxifying can be pointless until the thyroid is addressed.

Hypothyroidism also elevates homocysteine by compromising the liver’s ability to manage this amino acid. Too much homocysteine increases heart disease, dementia and neurogenerative diseases.

Reason 3: Growth Hormone production

We need a healthy amount of thyroid hormones to make Growth Hormones (GH) in order to regenerate cells.  And the liver aids in this process, as well. Good luck building muscles when GH is low.

Reason 4: Fat burning abilities

Hypothyroidism slows the metabolism. It shuts down sites on the cells that respond to lipase, an enzyme that metabolizes fat. We ought to be able to burn fat for energy. But if we cannot, then we can only rely on sugar for energy, so we crave sweets. Fat does not get burned no matter how much you exercise and it accumulates making you, for lack of a better word, fat.

Reason 5: Insulin and glucose metabolism

Your brain uses most of your body’s glucose, so when glucose metabolism sucks, your brain function sucks, too.

With hypothyroidism, two things happen: glucose is absorbed more slowly; and glucose is harder to eliminate. Too little sugar becomes available for energy. And to compensate for the resulting low energy, the adrenals pump out stress hormones to activate the release of (oh, crap!) more glucose into the blood stream. This glucose is no easier to eliminate or absorb than the other glucose you have floating around in your blood, so you end up with a busload of glucose that is not being used properly. The stress hormones keep activating the release of glucose from your liver in their confusion, and your adrenals soon become exhausted. The problem isn’t too little glucose in your blood, but that glucose isn’t getting into your cells.

I have to wonder if the overload of blood glucose is feeding the infection, despite your efforts to eat sugar free.

Reason 6: Cholesterol

With hypothyroidism, you can produce fat quicker than you can burn it, driving up your cholesterol levels. Paired with a weak liver that can’t metabolize the fat, LDL accumulates in the blood.

Reason 7: Estrogen production

Estrogen must be rendered water soluble in the liver, but with hypothyroidism, the liver may be too weak to eliminate excess estrogen. Too much estrogen contributes to ovarian, breast, and prostate cancer. It also creates too many thyroid-binding proteins, so the T4 and T3 never get out of their thyroid-binding taxi-cabs. Here is yet another example of two problems that constantly worsen each other.

Reason 8: Progesterone production

The thyroid and progesterone are a team. Progesterone improves the signalling of thyroid receptors and stimulates TPO production. This is why temperature normalizes when women are ovulating. However, when estrogen stagnates in the body due to poor liver function, estrogen dominance occurs, reducing the progesterone in the body. A sluggish pituitary gland, birth control, menopause, or adrenal fatigue due to Lyme or co-infections can also create estrogen dominance.

A healthy thyroid can sensitize your cells to progesterone so that they can readily take it up. But when progesterone receptors on cells are not exposed to thyroid hormones enough, progesterone loses its ability to enter cells, even with lots in the blood stream.

A shortage of progesterone throws off the thyroid. Then, a shortage of thyroid hormones throws off progesterone and a vicious cycle (not to mention estrogen dominance) begins.

Reason 9: Low stomach acid

The hormone gastrin increases stomach acidity and stimulates the gallbladder and pancreas to aid digestion. Gastrin depends on the thyroid. Expect low stomach acidity with hypothyroidism, which can result in hindered absorption of nutrients, inflammation and infection.

Reason 10: Anemia

Hypothyroidism creates anemia from B12, folic acid and iron deficiencies because when stomach acidity is low, so is absorption of valuable nutrients.

These are 10 reasons why hypothyroidism is the worst thing for Lyme Disease. Do you have any more? Extensive thyroid info and forums can be found at stopthethyroindmadness.

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