Do you feel sluggish? … The cause may be low thyroid metabolism, heavy metals or some health factor not considered.
The BodyMindLink series by Dr Ray Pataracchia ND provides insight on nutritional and naturopathic approaches that matter most and have the potential to benefit both your physical and mental health. In this series we look at the treatment approaches and body-mind-links of aging, tiredness, mental performance, work performance, digestive upset, food intolerances, stress, cardiovascular health, insomnia, weight problems, cancer and chronic disease prevention. Fall 2014 blog themes will rotate between the topics of sleep, tiredness, and stress. Clinical approaches discussed are implemented by the Naturopathic Medical Research Clinic in Toronto, Ontario.
The Fatigue Series
Fatigue strikes a good portion of society. We have divided ‘Why am I so Tired?’ blogs into three subtopics: i) energy nutrients and food intolerances, ii) sluggish thyroid function and heavy metals, and iii) adrenal exhaustion and protein breakdown. The human body has about 15 top syndromes associated with fatigue and, physical and mental health.
Low Thyroid Function as a Cause of Fatigue
Low thyroid function is so common today.
I often see people who have been on thyroid medication for years but still suffer from fatigue and a global array of symptoms and sensitivities common in low thyroid states.
Many mention that their blood levels are good without knowing that the upper limit for thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) is not firmly established. The ‘American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists set the upper limit at 3 mIU/L, and other groups went as low as 2.5 mIU/L‘.
New reports on thyroid blood levels suggest that low normal TSH levels are high enough to support the presence of low thyroid metabolism. On further investigation (body temperature, other lab tests) it is not uncommon to find low thyroid metabolism. Low thyroid states occur in adults and kids.
Thyroid hormone is the green light at the DNA level of all cells to initiate cell machinery to do what that cell is destined to do. For example, brain cells needs to make neurotransmitters for mood, thinking, and perception; liver cells needs to make glutathione and substances to detoxify, transport minerals, and breakdown fat; the kidney needs to rid inorganic mercury if it is present in the blood, control blood pressure, and eliminate nitrogen. The efficiency of these cells at the organ level is important to the health of the entire body. To be healthy we need not only an adequate supply of thyroid hormone, but also all the cofactors (sex hormones, zinc, vitamin D, etcetera) in its metabolic pathway.
Iron is a component of thyroid hormone and therefore associated with fatigue. Iron as a component of hemoglobin is also involved in the transport of oxygen to all cells of the body, and without oxygen energy production comes to a standstill.
The thyroid gland also works with the adrenal gland and if the adrenal is depleted the thyroid gland will be under-supported. Adrenal exhaustion and burnout are common in society.
Low Thyroid Function: The BodyMindLink
Low thyroid function causes a slow metabolism where we see fatigue, poor stamina, and often exhaustion. Physical symptoms of low thyroid metabolism include constipation, slow speech, cold intolerance, delayed reflexes, weight gain, pale skin (poor blood flow), dry/rough skin, brittle/coarse hair, water retention, enlarged tongue, hoarseness, shortness of breath, high cholesterol, and high or low blood pressure. Mental symptoms of low thyroid metabolism include inattention, emotional fluctuations, poor concentration, ‘brain fog’, poor memory, dementia (especially the functional and cognitive deficits of dementia), depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, OCD, and ADD.
Heavy Metal Retention in Low Thyroid States
As if a low thyroid state was not bad enough, here we must tell you that cases get worse when metabolism slows down to the point where heavy metals accumulate. Heavy metals such as mercury, copper, and lead accumulate in low thyroid states because the organs that normally eliminate these metals (the liver, bowel, or kidneys) become so sluggish that they fail to keep metals at bay. Then, to add insult to injury, many heavy metals also prevent the conversion of inactive hormone to active hormone which creates a secondary type of thyroid hormone ‘deficiency’.
Heavy Metals: The BodyMindLink
Heavy metals are associated with the waxing and waning of a global array of symptoms; this occurs when metals attempt to come out but are stopped due to poor elimination. Here we describe specific mercury and copper excess symptoms, two very common metals in society today. Copper, mercury and other heavy metal toxicity aspects are discussed in detail in my mood/behavior disorder review and in my orthomolecular treatment response case series.
Mercury Excess: Physical symptoms associated with mercury excess include rapid/premature fatigue, headaches, migraines, nausea, stomach aches, weight loss, susceptibility to allergies or infections, and general decline in well-being. Mental health symptoms associated with mercury excess include nervousness, irritability, anxiety, depression, poor memory, visual disturbances, and hallucinations.
Copper Excess: Physical symptoms associated with copper excess include liver sluggishness, viral infection (mononucleosis, hepatitis), fungal infection (yeast), gall bladder blockage, poor libido (men and women), miscarriage, infertility, and cancer. Mental health symptoms associated with copper excess include hormonal depression, post-partum depression, aggression, PMS, paranoia, psychosis, and ADHD symptoms including restlessness, poor concentration, inattention, impulsiveness, and poor academic performance.