By David Blyweiss, M.D., Advanced Natural Wellness
March 28, 2016
- Thinning hair may mean thyroid problems
- Don’t let a misdiagnosis leave you hanging
- Boost thyroid function and thicker hair will follow
There’s a butterfly-shaped gland in your neck that I’ll bet you never think about. But just like your heart, lungs, liver and other organs, it’s something that you should be taking good care of.
This little gland – the thyroid – pretty much rules your body. And when it slows down, so does everything else.
Your metabolism flies out the window… right along with your ability to burn calories. Your memory, libido and energy levels might take a holiday, too. It’s not unusual to feel fatigued, depressed and listless if you have an underactive thyroid. At the same time, sleep may elude you.
Now, it’s easy to put all of these symptoms off to aging. But there’s one more thing that frequently starts to disappear when thyroid problems set in. And surprisingly, it’s one that often sends many patients to my office in a panic.
It’s something that may have happened to you…
Is Your Hair Loss Thyroid Related?
Have you experienced that startling moment when you look in the mirror and notice your hair is thinning? Where you can actually see your scalp through your hair!
If so – and if you’re experiencing some of the symptoms I mentioned above – it could be a big red flag that you have an underactive thyroid. This is especially common in women. But even if you’re a man, it doesn’t mean you’re immune.
Now, here’s the problem. More than half of the 20 million Americans who have thyroid issues don’t even know it… even if their doctor has checked for it.
That’s because the test most often used to check your thyroid is insufficient. It’s called TSH, which tests for thyroid stimulating hormone.
The problem is, TSH isn’t actually a thyroid hormone. It comes from the hypothalamus, and its job is to alert the thyroid to produce thyroid hormones. So this isn’t an adequate measure when it comes to thyroid testing.
Instead, what you need is a full thyroid panel. This includes testing T3, T4 and TPO (not just TSH). A reverse T3 (rT3) test can also solve a few mysteries if you think you may have a thyroid problem.
Now, standard thyroid treatments include Synthroid and Armour. But there’s a problem with them. Many people taking these drugs experience even further hair loss… and that’s the last thing you want.
This makes it especially important to take steps to naturally restore thyroid function. This, in turn, will lead to normal hair growth.
The Driving Force behind Hypothyroidism
Iodine is the most important mineral involved in making thyroid hormone. But today there are a lot of environmental factors that knock the iodine right out of you.
You see, certain compounds compete with iodine receptors. When you’re exposed to them, they displace the iodine… your body just can’t hold onto it.
Some of these culprits include:
- The fluoride in your toothpaste, mouthwash, Teflon pans, fluorinated medications and public water supply. Tip: Opt for non-fluoride dental products; drink distilled water.
- Chloride, which is also found in your public water system… and any pool that you swim in. Tip: Add a filter to your tap water; find natural alternatives to clean your pool.
- Bromine – an additive found in many citrus-flavored drinks, baked goods and non-organic produce (especially strawberries).
The best way to get a handle on your iodine levels is to have your doctor take a test that measures how much iodine is excreted in your urine. If you’re low, I recommend supplementing with 6.25 mg of iodine daily, then retest as below.
There’s also a simple trick you can use to test levels at home. It’s not quite as accurate, but it can be useful.
Before bedtime, swab about a 3 inch square of iodine tincture (the orange kind) onto the inside of your thigh, inner forearm or your abdomen and allow it to dry. Monitor the color over the next 24 hours. The faster the color disappears, the more likely it is that you may have a deficiency.
Getting a solid diagnosis is important. But in the meantime, there are still plenty of steps you can take strengthen your thyroid and get your hair growing again.
Here’s the protocol I recommend to my patients …
- Iodine 6.25 mg daily (if levels are low)
- Tyrosine 500 mg daily
- Zinc 25 mg daily
- Copper 1-2 mg daily (there is a generally accepted 15-to-1 zinc-to-copper ratio needed)
- Selenium 100 mcg daily
- Vitamin B6 50 mg daily
- Retest your full thyroid panel in three months
Drutel A, et al. Selenium and the thyroid gland: more good news for clinicians. Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). 2013 Feb;78(2):155-64.
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Ertek S, et al. Relationship between serum zinc levels, thyroid hormones and thyroid volume following successful iodine supplementation. Hormones (Athens). 2010 Jul-Sep;9(3):263-8.