Caring for a Loved One With Cancer

Caring for a Loved One

With Cancer

Article by Scott Sanders

Every year in the United States, 12.7 million people are diagnosed with cancer. Among the most prevalent diseases in the U.S., cancer is second only to heart disease. In 2017, there were 591,699 cancer-related deaths nationwide, and the percentage of total deaths that result from a cancer diagnosis is 22.5 percent. If you are currently one of the 2.8 million people serving as a caregiver for a loved one who’s going through cancer treatment, here are a few tips to help.

Types of Cancer

Cancer is a condition in which cells divide uncontrollably, breaking down your tissue. Some common forms of cancer include non-melanoma skin cancer, lung, breast, prostate, colorectal, bladder, melanoma, kidney, and leukemia. These are all prevalent. Skin cancer, for instance, affects more than 1 million people per year. Even lesser-known forms of cancer like thyroid are diagnosed at an alarming rate. In 2018, an estimated 53,990 new cases of thyroid cancer were diagnosed. The number of deaths that occurred was 0.5 per 100,000 men and women per year. Approximately 1.2 percent of people will be diagnosed with thyroid cancer at some point in their lives.

The Role of Caregiver

A cancer caregiver provides mental, physical, and emotional assistance to a person with cancer. That person might be your child, spouse, sister, neighbor, favorite cousin, or anyone else. Your role is a composite of different roles bundled together. For instance, you might act as that person’s medical advocate, making appointments or finishing paperwork on his behalf. Or you act as a domestic nurse, which means preparing meals and feeding that person, or making sure the medication dosages are correct. Many times, too, you’re his counselor, making sure he doesn’t feel overwhelmed or succumb to despair. Or you might step in as the household’s office manager, paying the bills, doing the laundry, and caring for pets or children.

Making Your Own Space

Patients with cancer need to attend to physical ailments but also should take steps to calm their mind. As a caregiver, you might prepare a quiet space within that person’s home where he can meditate. Set your sights on the attic, basement, or an enclosed outside patio. Every day, make sure that person spends at least some time in that room. While meditation is not a clinical method of treating cancer, its benefits are timeless. Easing pain, reducing stress, curbing memory loss, enlarging attention span, and boosting emotional wellness are all benefits of meditation. If they help the person you’re caring for, encourage him to meditate every day.

Caring for Yourself

Being a caregiver is a full-time job, and also frequently an unpaid family obligation. That means many caregivers have to still work 40 hours a week in addition to caring for someone. The scale of that responsibility can be overwhelming. So you need to take care of yourself, too. Practice self-care by getting enough sleep, taking up a hobby, and being around people who make you laugh (which has been shown to improve self-esteem and make people feel younger). In between all your duties, carve out at least some time during the day to relax so that you don’t burn out.

To combat cancer, seek the expertise of an oncologist to run tests, draw blood, and prescribe medicine or chemotherapy. But as a cancer caregiver, you can also supplement that medical attention and assist your loved one on the path toward recovery.

Scott Sanders is the creator of, which provides resources and support for anyone who has been affected by any form of cancer. He is also the author of the book Put Yourself First: A Guide to Self-care and Spiritual Wellness During and After Cancer Treatment.

Image via Unsplash



Rosmarinic acid and thyroid autoimmunity


Rosmarinic acid and thyroid autoimmunity

Rosmarinic acid is a molecule, first extracted from rosemary herb (since the similarity of the name) which is caffeic acid derivative, present in a number of herbs of mint (family Lamiaceae) such as Mentha spp (garden mint, spearmint), Origanum vulgare (oregano), Melissa officinalis (lemon balm), Rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary), Prunella vulgaris, Coleus spp, Ocimum spp (basil, holy basil), Origanum majorana (marjoram), thyme, Salvia officinalis (sage) and even small amounts in Lavandula angustifolia (English lavender). It is also present in some members of Boraginaceae family, including Lithospermum. Rosemarinic acid acts as a protective molecule in these plants. In a comparative study Mentha spicata (garden mint), Salvia officinalis and Melissa officinalis were shown to contain highest amounts of rosmarinic acid. The content of rosmarinic acid in rosemary was much lower but may vary in plants in different countries (12).

I will talk about studies regarding rosmarinic acid for thyroid autoimmunity and the herbs which contain it. Some herbs containing rosmarinic acid are beneficial for Graves’ disease (GD) and others for Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (HT) and hypothyroidism as they contain other different active components which may affect thyroid hormone levels and how they work in body cells.

The majority of studies on rosmarinic acid are in vitro (in the lab). There are some positive human studies on herbs containing rosmarinic acid for Graves’ disease (see my previous blogs). Melissa officinalis and Lycopus virginicus bugleweed (Lamiaceae) have been used in treatment of mild hyperthyroidism and GD. Generally herbs of the mint family (but not all) are thyro-suppressive possibly due to phenolic and cinnamic acid-flavonoid-type plant components. Bugleweed extract was found to reduce peripheral T4 to T3 conversion and thus it may lower the levels of T3 thyroid hormone levels in rat liver (23).  

There is no specific scientific human research (that I could find) in regards to rosmarinic acid molecule and HT. However, there are laboratory studies  indicating that it can indeed be a beneficial anti-inflammatory agent for thyroid autoimmunity (both GD and HT) as I will discuss in this blog.

The herbs containing rosmarinic acid, such as rosemary and sage may be beneficial for HT and hypothyroidism. They contain rosmarinic acid but also high amounts of carnosic acid, among other components, which improve thyroid hormone sensitivity within body cells. They have many minerals and vitamins. It has been shown in laboratory studies that carnosic acid in rosemary improves thyroid hormone action on DNA level by improving the signalling of thyroid receptor. Carnosic acid helps to promote the function of Retinoid-X- receptors and improve thyroid receptor coupling and expression of target genes thus increasing sensitivity to thyroid hormones. Another component of rosemary herb, carnosol, supports thyroid hormone metabolism and production of active thyroid hormone T3. Rosemary also improves learning and memory. Sage is believed to “heal” a memory.

Generally, many thyroid support supplements contain rosemary herb extracts and powders as it has been observed by naturopaths and herbalists that they improve thyroid function.

Let’s then discuss rosmarinic acid. It is a natural molecule which may be helpful in pharmaceutical therapy for some autoimmune disorders (rheumatoid arthritis, SLE, MS) and thyroid autoimmunity.

Here is why:

It is a potent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory agent, antimicrobial, anti-carcinogenic agent with tissue healing and protective abilities. It may help with allergies.

Rosmarinic acid is anti-inflammatory and helps with balancing of the immune system. There are a number of laboratory studies indicating that rosmarinic acid may disrupt the cascade of thyroid damage in thyroid autoimmunity by interfering with complement molecules of the immune system.

When too much free radicals are produced in the thyroid (for example when selenium levels are too low), they affect the TPO enzyme which is the enzyme involved in thyroid hormone synthesis. TPO enzyme was found to bind specific molecules of immune system called complement C4 (11). This then may start inflammatory responses cascade, formation of complement C5 and other complement components resulting in thyroid tissue destruction. A study (11) reported over-expression of C4 and all the subsequent components in the complement cascade by Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (HT) tissue thyrocytes.

Rosmarinic acid has been found (10) to inhibit a molecule called Complement 5 convertase which generates complement component C5. This molecule is a dominant inflammatory mediator in the development of many inflammatory and some organ specific autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, SLE and thyroid autoimmune disease. It is involved in generation of other complement molecules and eventual tissue damage. Study on complement expression in GD disease and HT showed that C5 and C6 complements were over expressed in thyroid tissue from people with Graves’ disease compared to normal tissue. People with HT over expressed all complement components. In a study (10) Rosmarinic acid inhibited C5 convertase and covalent attachment of C3b to cells which indicated that it may stop the formation of complement cascade molecules in the thyroid that damage thyroid in autoimmunity.

Rosmarinic acid also has other actions (1). It promotes death of aberrant T lymphocytes and balances the immune system by inhibiting a nuclear factor in these cells. It thus reduces autoimmune antibodies. Studies of herbs (3,4) containing rosmarinic such as Melissa officinalis showed that it inhibits the binding of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) and TSH specific antibodies to TSH receptors in Graves’ disease (3,4) thus blocking thyroid overstimulation and lowering the formation of excessive thyroid hormones Lithospermum officiale and Melissa inhibit Graves’ IgG (antibody) and the long-acting thyroid stimulator (LATS) response. In studies, the relative potency of the inhibition was greatest for Melissa which seem to help with the actions of anti-thyroid medications.

The Journal of Restorative Medicine (1) states: Rosmarinic acid also reduces gamma interferon driven T cell responses and reduces interleukin production following T cell stimulation. Furthermore, rosmarinic acid affects signal transduction inside T cells by affecting specific tyrosine kinase enzymes inside the cell. By direct effects on T cells as well as other anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, rosmarinic acid may be a safe and valuable tool for reducing autoimmune inflammation. It may also be safe and advantageous to use in tandem with pharmaceutical treatment of autoimmune diseases.”

Rosmarinic acid also modulates neuro- endocrine function. It has calming properties. Rosmarinic acid is helpful against hair loss (massaging scalp with rosemary oil or rinsing with rosemary tea) may be beneficial.

There are rosmarinic acid containing supplements on the market (extracted from rosemary). I have not seen human studies in regards to rosmarinic acid and thyroid autoimmunity although laboratory studies, as described above, look very promising for rosmarinic acid. I believe it is too early at the present time to take rosmarinic extract supplements for thyroid autoimmunity. It would be great to see more studies and human trials. Rosmarinic acid from rosemary is considered safe but you need to consult your doctor before considering using rosmarinic acid extracts or if you suffer any side effects while taking them.

Rosmarinic acid or rosemary extract powders extracts should not be used by children, pregnant, breastfeeding women and people taking specific med (heart or diabetic medications importantly), with specific medical conditions or if allergic to herbs from Lamiaceae family.

It is important to consult your doctor regarding any herbs containing rosmarinic acid.

Herbal teas can provide rosmarinic acid which it is water soluble. Since I have had my thyroid removed, I no longer have GD but there are still some autoimmunity markers in my body (ANA antibodies- the antinuclear antibodies) which are common in people who have had autoimmune issues. I try to reduce my ANA antibodies in a number of ways but one of them is by the use of rosemary and sage cooking herbs. I drink sage tea very often. I use rosemary and sage in cooking as much as possible. I like sage tea and it seems to make me feel better. Rosemary tea is more of an acquired taste for me but I have it occasionally. I find that adding some lemon slices and bit of honey to my rosemary leaf or sage in hot water infusion helps. I use fresh herbs or dried herbs. I grow rosemary in a pot and I have had the same plant for years now. I have roughly calculated that 2tbl of dried rosemary leaves would roughly contain standard daily dose of rosmarinic acid but do not quote me on that calculation…

This blog is for educational purposes only.



  1. Stansbury, Jill; Saunders, Paul; Winston, David; Zampieron, Eugene R. Rosmarinic acid as a novel agent in the treatment of autoimmune disease. Journal of Restorative Medicine. 2012(1):115, pp. 112-116(5).
  2. Kennedy DO, LittleW, Schley AB. Attenuation of laboratory-induced stress in humans after acute administration of Melissa officinalis (Lemon Balm). Psychosom Med. 2004 Jul-Aug; 66(4):607-13.
  3. Francis Brinker. Inhibition of Endocrine Function by Botanical Agents. I Boraginaceae and Labiatae. Journal of Naturopathic Medicine. 1990 (1):10-19.
  4. Auf’mkolk, M. Ingbar, J.C., Kubota, K., Amir, S.M., Ingbar, S.H. Extracts and auto-oxidized constituents of certain plants inhibit the receptor-binding and biological activity of Graves’ disease Immunoglobulins. Endocrinology. 1985 May; 116(5):1687-93.
  5. Kang MA, Yun SY, Won J. Rosmarinic acid inhibits Ca2+-dependent pathways of T-cell antigen receptor-mediated signaling by inhibiting the PLC-gamma 1 and Itk activity: M.A. Kang, et al.; Blood 2003:101(9): 3534-42.
  6. Won J, Hur YG, Hur EM. Park SH, Kang MA,Choi Y,Park C, Lee KH, Yun Y. Rosmarinic acid inhibits TCR-induced T cell activation and proliferation in an Lck-dependent  European Journal Immunol. 2003 Apr 33(4): 870–9.
  7. Anshita Gupta, Suchita Wamankar, Bina Gidwani, Chanchal Deep Kaur. Herbal drugs for thyroid treatment. Shri Rawatpura Sarkar Institute of Pharmacy. India. 2016 Jan-Mar; 6(1):62-70. URL:
  8. Peake PW, Pussell BA, Martyn P, Timmermans V, Charlesworth JA. The inhibitory effect of rosmarinic acid on complement involves the C5 convertase. Int. J Immunopharmacol. 1991. 13 (7):853-7.
  9. Potluková E1, Limanová Z. [The role of complement in autoimmune thyroid disorders]. [Article in Czech]. Cas Lek Cesk. 2007; 146(3):210-4.
  10. Sahu A, Rawal N, Pangburn MK. Inhibition of complement by covalent attachment of rosmarinic acid to activated C3b. Biochem Pharmacol. 1999 Jun 15; 57(12):1439-46.
  11. Stephanie Blanchin, Valerie Estienne, Josee-Martine Durand-Gorde, Pierre Carayon, Jean Ruf. Complement activation by direct C4 binding to thyroperoxidase in Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Endocrinology. 2003 Dec. 144(12). Url:
  12. Maryam Shekarchi, Homa Hajimehdipoor, Soodabeh Saeidnia, Ahmad Reza Gohari and Morteza Pirali Hamedani. Comparative study of rosmarinic acid content in some plants of Labiatae family. Pharmacogn Mag. 2012 Jan-Mar; 8(29): 37–41.
  13. Auf’mkolk M, Amir S, Kubota K, Ingbar S. The active principles of plant extracts with antithyrotropic activity: oxidation products of derivatives of 3,4-dihydroxycinnamic acid. Endocrinology. 1985; 116(5):1677-1686.
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  19. Farr SA, Niehoff ML, Ceddia MA, Herrlinger KA, Lewis BJ, Feng S, Welleford A, Butterfield DA, Morley JE. Effect of botanical extracts containing carnosic acid or rosmarinic acid on learning and memory in SAMP8 mice. Physiol Behav. 2016 Oct 15; 165:328-38.
  20. Panahi Y, Taghizadeh M, Marzony ET, Sahebkar A. Rosemary oil vs minoxidil 2% for the treatment of androgenetic alopecia: a randomized comparative trial. Skinmed. 2015 Jan-Feb; 13(1):15-21.
  21. Steiner M, Priel I, Giat J, Levy J, Sharoni Y, Danilenko M. Carnosic acid inhibits proliferation and augments differentiation of human leukemic cells induced by 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 and retinoic acid. Nutr Cancer. 2001; 41(1-2):135-44. [PMID: 12094616]
  22. Danilenko M, Wang X, Studzinski GP. Carnosic acid and promotion of monocytic differentiation of HL60-G cells initiated by other agents. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2001 Aug 15; 93(16):1224-33.
  23. Aufmkolk M, Köhrle J, Gumbinger H, et al. Antihormonal effects of plant extracts: iodothyronine deiodinase of rat liver is inhibited by extracts and secondary metabolites of plants. Horm Metab Res. 1984; 16(4):188-92.
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New formulations of thyroxine for treatment of hypothyroidism

New formulations of thyroxine available in Australia

A new brand of thyroxine is now available in Australia. The Therapeutic Goods Administration has approved a new generic and new strength brand of thyroxine under product names of Eltroxin, Aspen thyroxine and Thyroxine Aspen in 2014, sponsored by Aspen Pharma Pty Ltd. This brand of throxine has been widely used in Europe and other countries. Previously we only had two brands of thyroxine in Australia, Oroxine and Eutroxsig.

Eltroxin tablets come in a plastic bottle in new strengths of thyroxine sodium – 25, 50, 75, 88, 100, 112, 125, 137, 150 or 200mcg tablets. They also do not need refrigeration (not above 25 degrees C) which may be useful when traveling for example or for finer adjustment of hormones. Eltroxin might be an easier option for some people who are taking two doses of Eutroxsig at different days of a week (like myself). When changing from on brand of thyroxine to another, it is important to note that dosing may not be interchangeable due to different fillers present in tablets as they may change the bio-availability of thyroxine in individuals. It is important to monitor hormonal levels when changing from Eutroxsig/Oroxine to Eltroxin, which may be slightly less bio-available when compared to Oroxine (you might need to take a slightly higher dose). I have not tried Eltroxin but would be very interested in any comments from people who take it or switched from one brand to another.

New liquid thyroxine (not available in Australia just yet)

SERB company in France has developed a liquid formulation of thyroxine, levothyroxine in drops. One drop contains 5 mcg of thyroxine. This formulation might be beneficial for young children and older people who have problems swallowing tablets.

FDA in USA has also approved a liquid formulation-Tirosint-SOL (levothyroxine sodium oral solution; IBSA). It is supplied in unit gel capsule containing following strengths (mcg/mL): 13, 25, 50, 75, 88, 100, 112, 125, 137, 150, 175, 200 (colour labelled). It contains only levothyroxine, gelatin, glycerin, and water.  It has been developed by Italian Swiss Company IBSA and it has been available in Italy since 2012.


    1. URL:
    2. URL:
    3. Salvatore Benvenga, Giovanni Capodicasa and Sarah Perelli. Thyroxine in an oral liquid or softgel formulation ensures more normal serum levels of Free T4 in patients with central hypothyroidism. Front Endocrinol (Lausanne). 2017; 8: 321.
    4. URL:
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    6. URL:


Hypothyroidism and a low resistance to colds and flu- natural remedies

Hypothyroidism and a low resistance to colds and flu- natural remedies

This blog will only discuss scientific research on natural remedies which may help to fight off a respiratory infection during the flu season. The flu and the common cold are caused by different viruses with flu being generally more severe than a cold and harder to overcome.

My experience with sub-optimal thyroid hormonal replacement made me aware that my risk of getting common colds and flu increases when I was hypothyroid. In fact, I used to have a constant cold during winter which lasted for months when I was hypothyroid. The flu was also more severe and hard to overcome. Number one resistance from colds and flu in thyroid patients is to have optimal levels of thyroid hormones (TSH, T4 and T3) in my opinion. This is important as sub-optimal hormonal replacement affects all body systems negatively, including the immune and digestive systems.

Nutritional deficiencies are common with hypothyroidism which affect cause a lowered resistance to viruses. Common deficiency with thyroid autoimmunity are iron, B vitamins and vitamin C, D and vitamin A with hypothyroidism. It is also important to have adequate vitamin D levels. Vitamin D is a steroid hormone that balances the immune system obtained from the sun, therefore a reasonable sun exposure is beneficial. I personally supplement with vitamin D during winter months to have optimal levels. It is common do have low levels of vitamin D with thyroid autoimmunity.

The winter season is approaching in the southern hemisphere and so too here in Australia. However I feel that the warmer months are the time to boost the immune system. Vitamin D from the sun, fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables, swimming in the ocean, outdoor walks, relaxing summer holiday, all these enjoyable things leave healthy deposits in our body so that we are stronger during the colder months and are more able to fight off colds and flu virus faster. We need strong adrenals to overcome winter illnesses. Certainly when we are stressed, our immune system is not strong enough to be effective in fighting viruses. When we are hypothyroid we are severely weakened, we have lowered immunity and other hormonal imbalances. Therefore resistance to flu viruses involves a whole body approach.

Viruses are tiny (much smaller than bacteria) and they only replicate inside of a host cell. They can attach and then invade a human cell. Viruses are like tiny protein robots which carry genetic material that instructs the host cell to make more viruses, destroying the host cell in the process. Respiratory viruses like the Influenza virus are spread by coughing and sneezing. They can be breathed in but viruses can survive on surfaces for up to 24 hours so touching a contaminated surface and then touching your nose, mouth or face can cause an infection. Really, our immune system is our best defense against a viral infection.

Viruses can be ‘killed’ by heat (75-100 degrees C) and by some cleaners, detergents, soaps or hand gels. Hand gels and sanitizes are mainly antibacterial but also work for viruses given sufficient time of contact so it is good idea to rub the gel until hands feel dry.

Viruses are not really killed as they are not alive to start with but their protein and genetic material becomes damaged so they become are unable to invade a host cell. Antibiotics work only on bacteria and do not work on viruses and there are limited antiviral medications. Antibiotics are given for secondary bacterial infections as  mucous membranes damaged by viruses are easily invaded by opportunistic bacteria.

Here I would like talk about some of the current research into natural remedies for overcoming colds/flu much easier.

It is beneficial to have lots of colorful vegetables in a diet, mainly because they can alkalize body cells which then become are more resistant to invasion by viruses. Anthocyanins (a type of flavonoid) is a group of compounds with amazing antioxidant effects. A scientific study (3) has discovered that certain gut bacteria called Clostridium orbiscindens, degrades flavonoids to produce a metabolite called desaminotyrosine which boosts the immune system and prevents influenza-related lung damage in the mice.

Colostrum may also be an effective supplement for flu prevention. Italian researches have stated in their study (20) on Colostrum: “Colostrum, both in healthy subjects and high-risk cardiovascular patients, is at least 3 times more effective than vaccination to prevent flu and is very cost-effective.”

We all know benefits of garlic for combating colds. A study (21) of one hundred forty-six volunteers investigated allicin containing garlic supplement for flue prevention. It has  concluded that: “An allicin-containing supplement can prevent attack by the common cold virus.”

Raw apple cider vinegar is believed to be great for the immune system as it improves the balance of gut bacteria. It also stimulates absorption of nutrients from food.

A prominent physician in 1925 has made an observation that Bicarbonate of Soda had some protective effects on fighting influenza while working for U. S. Public Health Service during 1918- 1919 flu epidemic. Some people believe that small amount of baking soda in water can help to resolve colds, taken on onset by alkalizing the body. I have not tried this myself and have not found any current research in support of this remedy but for those interested, there are a number of interesting websites which discuss it, I include some (15, 16 and 17).

A great alkalizing fruits are lemons, even though they taste acidic, they change in the body to alkalizing substances.

People with autoimmunity need more antioxidants in their diet. One amazing vegetable with incredible amount of anthocyanins is red cabbage. It is a worthwhile vegetable to include in your diet in winter. Fruits such as blueberries also contain lots of anthocyanins and if you can have these in winter months, it might be beneficial. Fermented foods and probiotics might also help.

Adrenal support might be important especially if you are stressed or overworked. Good sleep is important for the immune system. Adrenal glands need lots of vitamin C and B to function well. Adequate levels of zinc and magnesium are also important. Zinc tablets and lozenges are beneficial for sore throats. Epsom salt baths or rubbing with magnesium gels may be beneficial to increase magnesium levels as it gets absorbed through skin. Very warm Epsom salt feet soak is wonderful when you have a chill. It is beneficial to keep your feet warm. Last winter I found that if I had a teaspoon of vitamin C powder 3 times a day in some water, it helped with my cold and muscular aches.

Everybody has their own cold remedies passed through generations. The goal is to get over a virus as soon as possible without getting a secondary infection which would require antibiotics. Having an appropriate rest is important.

A study has found that some essential oils attenuate influenza virus infections. These oils are: wild orange peel, clove, cinnamon, eucalyptus, thyme and rosemary. A scientific study (5) has shown that several oil blends such as On Guard™ have antiviral activities.

Few drops of these oils may be added to some vodka in a small spray bottle and used to spray in the house. The oils may be used in diffuses or vaporizers.

Good old chicken soup or bone broths provide many glutathione building nutrients. Glutathione molecule is important for the immune system to function well. Most of us know the benefits of garlic, black elderberry, cinnamon, ginger, raw honey in fighting of colds. A hot toast with butter, honey and sprinkled with cinnamon is soothing as well as garlic and butter toast. My friends swears by a smoothie containing lemon juice, ginger, garlic and parsley. Some people like the benefits of Echinacea extract. It was found to stop the virus binding to cells in an in vitro study (6). However some people with ragweed or pollen allergy might be allergic to Echinacea as their molecules are similar. Ragweed or pollen allergy are quite common in people with thyroid autoimmunity. Lots of warm drinks with lemon, ginger and honey helps to soothe a sore throat. Green, black and liquorice teas have some antiviral activity. Polyphenols in black tea called theaflavins have antiviral activities (7). Coffee components (such as caffeic acid and natural flavonoids) have also been shown to have anti influenza virus activities. Resveratrol in grapes is also known for antiviral properties. Guava leaf tea was shown to have a stronger anti-virus activity than green tea in a study, probably due to the presence of flavonoids (8). Olive leaf extract has also shown to have anti influenza effects (11). Gurgling a sore throat with olive leaf tea may bring some relief. Hibiscus tea may help as it is rich in vitamin C.

A study (1) on mice has shown that extract from leaves of wild black currants (500 micrograms) given to mice through nose stopped the replication of the human influenza A virus in lungs by 85% when compared to other mice. The extract was also effective in cell cultures infected with influenza virus. The scientist believe that this extract may also be beneficial to humans. The leaves are rich in phenolic compounds in particular flavonoids and tannins which are believed to be responsible for the antiviral effects.

Cistus incanus tea may also be beneficial for influenza. A scientific study (2) has shown that Cistus inacus extract has anti influenza virus activity in cell cultures study blocking the virus entry into the cells.

Herbs known for its antiviral properties include rosemary, thyme, sage, fennel seeds and oregano. Marshmallow root and black elderberry extract (Sambucol) can soothe inflamed membranes. Inhalers with tea tree oil, rosemary, eucalyptus, lemon, thyme, oregano or lavender may be beneficial. The oils can be used in steam breathing, vaporizers, baths, compresses and for rubs in massage carrier oils.

Andrographis paniculata (King of bitters) study (18) has shown Kan Jang tablets containing this herb had a preventive effect against common colds during the winter period.  Astragalus root is also known for the anti-viral and immune boosting properties.

Let’s not forget about iodine, a potent killer of viruses. Iodine is used to make a thyroid hormones in the thyroid gland. Some people with hypothyroidism may be iodine deficient. Iodine should be used carefully by people with Grave’s disease as it may aggravate the symptoms in some cases.

Aerosol sprays with iodine can kill viruses, iodine gargling preparation from your local chemist may also be effective. Scientists, Burnet and Stone had experimented with iodine and influenza viruses on mice in Melbourne laboratories in 1945 and had found out that putting iodine on mice snouts prevented the mice from being infected with live influenza virus from 10 min exposure in high concentration virus mists.

I always make sure that I have my own herbal remedies for winter (recipe below) for winter coughs and colds. This tea is helpful for coughs, irritated throat and it makes sleeping easier.


Soothing tea for colds and coughs:

4tbl spoons dry marshmallow root

2tbl spoons thyme dried

2tbl spoons dried fennel seeds

2tbl spoons dried sage.

Please note: this blog is for educational purposes only, please speak to your doctor first before using natural remedies mentioned here.


  1. Emanuel Haasbach, Carmen Hartmayer, Alice Hettler, Alicja Sarnecka, Ulrich Wulle, Christina Ehrhardt, Stephan Ludwig and Oliver Planz. Antiviral activity of Ladania067, an extract from wild black currant leaves against influenza A virus in vitro and in vivo. Front Microbiol. 2014; 5: 171.
  2. Ehrhardt C., Hrincius E. R., Korte V., Mazur I., Droebner K., Poetter A., et al. (2007). A polyphenol rich plant extract, CYSTUS052, exerts anti influenza virus activity in cell culture without toxic side effects or the tendency to induce viral resistance. Antiviral Res. 76 38–47.
  3. Ashley L. Steed, George P. Christophi, Gerard E. Kaiko, Lulu Sun, Victoria M. Goodwin, Umang Jain, Ekaterina Esaulova, Maxim N. Artyomov, David J. Morales, Michael J. Holtzman, Adrianus C. M. Boon, Deborah J. Lenschow, Thaddeus S. Stappenbeck. The microbial metabolite desaminotyrosine protects from influenza through type I interferon. Science, 2017; 357 (6350).
  4. Wolkerstorfer A., Kurz H., Bachhofner N., Szolar O. H. Glycyrrhizin inhibits influenza A virus uptake into the cell. Antiviral Res. 2009. 83 171–178.
  5. Shuhua Wu, Krupa B Patel, Leland J Booth, Jordan P Metcalf, Hsueh-Kung Lin and Wenxin Wu. Protective essential oil attenuates influenza virus infection: An in vitro study in MDCK cells. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2010; 10: 69. URL:
  6. Pleschka S, Stein M, Schoop R, Hudson JB. Anti-viral properties and mode of action of standardized Echinacea purpurea extract against highly pathogenic avian influenza virus (H5N1, H7N7) and swine-origin H1N1 (S-OIV). Virol J. 2009 Nov 13; 6:197.
  7. Nakayama M, Suzuki K, Toda M, Okubo S, Hara Y, Shimamura T. Inhibition of the infectivity of influenza virus by tea polyphenols. Antiviral Res. 1993 Aug; 21(4):289-99.
  8. Sriwilaijaroen N, Fukumoto S, Kumagai K, Hiramatsu H, Odagiri T, Tashiro M, Suzuki Y. Antiviral effects of Psidium guajava Linn. (guava) tea on the growth of clinical isolated H1N1 viruses: its role in viral hemagglutination and neuraminidase inhibition. Antiviral Res. 2012 May; 94(2):139-46.
  9. Zakay-Rones Z, Varsano N, Zlotnik M, Manor O, Regev L, Schlesinger M, Mumcuoglu M. Inhibition of several strains of influenza virus in vitro and reduction of symptoms by an elderberry extract (Sambucus nigra L.) during an outbreak of influenza B Panama. J Altern Complement Med. 1995 Winter; 1(4):361-9.
  10. Hulisz D. Efficacy of zinc against common cold viruses: an overview. J Am PharmAssoc, 2004 Sep-Oct;44(5):594-603.
  11. Renis HE. In vitro antiviral activity of calcium elenolate. Antimicrob Agents Chemother (Bethesda). 1969; 9:167-72.
  12. David Derry, MD, PhD. Iodine: the Forgotten Weapon against Influenza Viruses. Thyroid Science 4(9):R1-5, 2009. URL:
  13. Burnet, F.M., Holden, H.F., and Stone. J.D. Action of iodine vapour on influenza virus in droplet suspension. Austral. J. Sci.1945; 7:125-126.
  16. Dr Sircus. Sodium Bicarbonate (Baking Soda) for Cold And Flu. URL:
  18. Cáceres DD, Hancke JL, Burgos RA, Wikman GK. Prevention of common colds with Andrographis paniculata dried extract. A Pilot double blind trial. Phytomedicine. 1997 Jun;4(2):101-4
  19. URL:
  20. Cesarone MR, Belcaro G, Di Renzo A, Dugall M, Cacchio M, Ruffini I, Pellegrini L, Del Boccio G, Fano F, Ledda A, Bottari A, Ricci A, Stuard S, Vinciguerra G. Prevention of influenza episodes with colostrum compared with vaccination in healthy and high-risk cardiovascular subjects: the epidemiologic study in San Valentino. Clin Appl Thromb Hemost. 2007 Apr; 13(2):130-6.
  21. Josling P. Preventing the common cold with a garlic supplement: a double-blind, placebo-controlled survey. Adv Ther. 2001 Jul-Aug; 18(4):189-93.

Thyroid dysfunction and lungs


Thyroid dysfunction and lungs

Thyroid dysfunction affects the way the lungs work. It is not surprising as thyroid hormones have receptors in every tissue and drive the energy formation in every cell including the lung tissue.

I remember way back when I was on suboptimal thyroid hormonal replacement (levothyroxine only), I was short of breath often. I remember that once I was not able to catch a breath for few minutes, I was trying to breathe and no air was getting in my lungs. It was a very scary experience and I made an appointment to see a doctor the same day. I explained my symptoms to the doctor but since I was better, the doctor was clueless to a cause of my problem. Looking back, I now know what my respiratory distress was caused by. It was caused by thyroid hormonal imbalance and insufficiency of T3 hormone. My T4 hormone then was truly up in the top range but my T3 was just low borderline in the reference range. My TSH was swinging up and down, which is quite common even with minimal T3 insufficiency.

Lung function is compromised with thyroid dysfunction, both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism. Both of these conditions may result in respiratory muscle weakness and a compromised lung function and capacity.

Respiratory distress and hyperthyroidism is more evident on physical exertion. Shallow, faster breathing may be a feature of hyperthyroidism. Sometimes, the breathing can be difficult or labored even at rest. I remember when I had active Graves’ disease I tried to breathe in a shallow way sometimes when I had experienced a sharp pain in my chest. People with Grave’s disease may also feel like having a tight collar around their neck due to a compression of trachea by an enlarged thyroid which makes breathing more strenuous. This can also occur with nodular goiter and thyroid cancers. I remember when as a student I was testing my lung capacity as a part of our studies. I was surprised then that it was much lower than my fellow classmates.

In hypothyroidism, that is when the thyroid function is low, respiratory symptoms are more common. Respiratory distress can be seen with exertion or at rest but can also be seen as sleep apnoea, air hunger, constant colds and dry coughs. The range of symptoms varies according to the degree of severity of hypothyroidism, from mild difficulties in breathing up to respiratory failure.

A study (1) on interstitial lung disease (when lung tissue is damaged and scarred) associated with autoimmune thyroiditis (ILD-AT) suggest that “Patients with interstitial lung disease of unknown origin should be tested for AT.”

The respiratory muscles are weaker and lungs have reduced capacity with thyroid dysfunction. In a study (2) it was shown that “Patients with idiopathic chronic cough and unexplained airflow obstruction in non-smokers have been shown to have an increased prevalence of hypothyroidism and other organ specific autoimmune disorders.”

The respiratory problems in people with hypothyroidism are much more common than in general population. Hypothyroid person may have asthma like symptoms at times and feel like trying to breathe through a straw. This is also common when adrenal dysfunction is lowered, which often co- occurs with thyroid problems. Hypothyroidism may cause some changes to pulmonary tissue and fluid retention. Additionally, people with autoimmune thyroiditis may have problems with low iron levels which may also contribute to a respiratory distress causing breath shortness. It is not easy climbing high stairs with hypothyroidism and low iron…

People with hypothyroidism can improve their lung function with levothyroxine (10). However, it was noted in a study (4) that hypothyroid patients under levothyroxine treatment had impaired exercise capacity. Therefore it might be important to look at optimizing the hormonal replacement by adding T3 hormone or natural desiccated thyroid which many patients consider a superior hormonal replacement. The respiratory problems can be reversed with optimal thyroid hormonal changes although some changes might not be reversible depending on a duration/ severity of hypothyroidism and the age of a person.

Also, a study revealed that females on levothyroxine only hormonal replacement have a higher chance of getting a lung cancer (11) due to an increased oxidative stress. The study had found no correlation of levothyroxine only hormonal replacement with breast, colorectal and gastric cancer.

On a personal note, my respiratory distress went away with optimal thyroid hormonal replacement (combined levothyroxine and natural desiccated thyroid hormonal replacement).

Weight reduction (though not easy with thyroid issues), gentle exercise (like walking), breathing exercises and essential fatty acids (omega 3) help lung function get better. Selenium, magnesium and potassium minerals are important for healthy lungs and for people with thyroid autoimmunity. Diet rich in organic leafy greens may help. Eating small variety of fish (such as sardines) 2-3 times a week may provide the omega 3.

Please see your doctor if you have shortness of breath and difficulties in breathing.

This blog is for educational purposes only.


  1. Igor Stepanyan, Marina Kovalevskaya, Evgenij Shmelev. Interstitial lung disease associated with autoimmune thyroiditis (ILD-AT). European Respiratory Journal. 2014. URL:
  2. S. Birring, A J Morgan, B Prudon, T M McKeever, S A Lewis, J F Falconer Smith, R J Robinson, J R Britton, I D Pavord. Respiratory symptoms in patients with treated hypothyroidism and inflammatory bowel disease. BMJ. URL:
  3. Samiaa Hamdy Sadek, Walaa Anwar Khalifa, and Ahmad Metwally Azoz. Pulmonary consequences of hypothyroidism. Ann Thorac Med. 2017 Jul-Sep; 12(3): 204–208. URL:
  4. Biondi B, Fazio S, Cuocolo A, Sabatini D, Nicolai E, Lombardi G, et al. Impaired cardiac reserve and exercise capacity in patients receiving long-term thyrotropin suppressive therapy with levothyroxine. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1996; 81:4224–8.
  5. Caraccio N, Natali A, Sironi A, Baldi S, Frascerra S, Dardano A, et al. Muscle metabolism and exercise tolerance in subclinical hypothyroidism: A controlled trial of levothyroxine. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2005; 90:4057–62.
  6. Cakmak G, Saler T, Saglam ZA, Yenigun M, Ataoglu E, Demir T, Temiz LU. Pulmonary functions in patients with subclinical hypothyroidism. 2011 Oct; 61(10):951-3.
  7. Seethalakshmi Krishna Iyer, Sunil K Menon, and Biju Bahuleyan. An Analysis of Dynamic Pulmonary Functions of Hypothyroid Patients. J Clin Diagn Res. 2017 Mar; 11(3): CC10–CC12. URL:
  8. Bassi R, Dhillon SK, Sharma S, Sharma A, Tapdiya M. Effect of thyroid hormone replacement on respiratory function tests in hypothyroid women. Pak J Physiol. 2012; 8(2):20–23.
  9. Hellermann J, Kahaly G. Cardiopulmonary involvement in thyroid gland diseases]. [Article in German] 1996 May;50(5):375-80.
  10. Akha O, Kashi Z, Poor AS, Zadeh ZT, Zakeri HR. Evaluation of levothyroxine effect on pulmonary function in hypothyroidism. J Mazandaran Univ Med Sci. 2008;18:1–6.
  11. Umberto Cornelli, Gianni Belcaro, Martino Recchia and Annarosa Finco. Levothyroxine and lung cancer in females: the importance of oxidative stress. Cornelli et al. Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology 2013, 11:75 URL:

Thyroid dysfunction and how it affects your liver

Thyroid dysfunction and how it affects your liver

Thyroid hormone imbalance affects liver structure and function. Thyroid health depends on liver and vice versa. Liver is the largest body organ which has many function. It is a processing, manufacturing, detoxifying and storage plant. Liver relies on thyroid hormones and it is a major user of them. Liver converts about 60% of T4 hormone into active T3 hormone and also plays a role in processing of excessive thyroid hormones. The D1 enzyme which does this conversion is mainly found in the liver and kidneys and is stipulated to determine T4:T3 serum ratio. This enzyme is completely inhibited by the antithyroid drug propylthiouracil (PTU) used in treatment of Grave’s disease. A good liver function is important for thyroid health. Thyroid hormone binding proteins have to be produced optimally in the liver as a smaller reservoir of bound T4 may result in greater fluctuations in the thyroid hormone levels.

Everything we absorb in our intestines is first delivered to liver via portal vein to be processed. Toxic molecules are processed into less harmful forms and go back to intestines through bile duct or through blood to be excreted in urine. Unhealthy gut will affect liver negatively. For example if you have microbial imbalance in your gut, you will have lots more toxic metabolites from these ‘bad microorganisms’. Regular bowl movement is also important for detoxifying the body. Thyroid hormonal imbalance affects the liver negatively as it does many organs in the body and as everything is connected, the burden on each organ increases. Liver may also struggle to detoxify the body, especially in any illness, when the load of toxic molecules increases.

Liver function tests to determine liver health:

Alkaline phosphatase (ALP)

Alanine transaminase (ATP)

Aspartate aminotransferase (AST)

Blood bilirubin

Liver detoxification profile, which measures how caffeine, paracetamol and aspirin are excreted from the body in saliva (usually ordered by integrative medical doctors).

Others: albumin, total protein, gamma-glutamyl transferase (GGT), lactate dehydrogenase, and prothrombin time.

Hypothyroidism and liver

Low T3 levels = sluggish liver= many negative health effects. Some people with hypothyroidism may have liver problems over time. Hypothyroidism can cause liver disease like symptoms. The symptoms connected to a poor liver function can be sore muscles, fatigue, muscle cramps, dull right-upper-quadrant abdominal discomfort. Other symptoms may include abdominal swelling, fluid retention, raised blood pressure, irritation and allergies. Sometimes there are no liver related symptoms at all until the liver disease progresses.

Liver function tests results commonly seen in hypothyroidism

Liver injuries or biochemical test abnormalities can be seen in hypothyroidism.

Decreased levels of alkaline phosphatase ALP test (enzyme in liver) usually due to lack of specific nutrients connected with hypothyroidism

Elevated aspartate aminotransferase (AST)

Elevated alanine transaminase (ALT) – less so than AST (commonly seen with fatty liver disease)

The ALT and AST are enzymes in the liver and the tests measure them in blood. Liver releases them in response to albumin and increased levels are indicative of liver damage.

Bilirubin – (product of breakdown of old red blood cells) may be reduced due to reduced bile flow and a reduced activity of an enzyme which directs bilirubin excretion. This can be rarely associated with cholestatic jaundice (symptoms are Itchiness, jaundice, pale stool and dark urine).

Biological changes and symptoms of hypothyroidism and liver connection

  1. Lipid metabolism is affected, higher total cholesterol levels seen and other lipids like LDL and triglycerides.
  2. Metabolism of cholesterol into bile salts lowered and consequently fat is not properly digested. Fat soluble vitamins (A, K, D and E) and the essential fatty acids are not properly absorbed.
  3. Problems with detoxifying hormones such as excessive oestrogens and other toxic molecules which may increase the risk of cancer and increases inflammation in the body
  4. Poor sugar control. Hypothyroid people store less glucose in the liver as glycogen and are more prone to hypoglycaemia and insulin resistance (see my previous blog). Insulin growth factor (similar to insulin and secreted by liver) is reduced.
  5. Not efficient production of copper binding proteins in liver causing metabolic syndrome problems (obesity, oestrogen dominance, insulin resistance)
  6. The liver plays a part in maintaining normal iron levels and when it is sluggish due to hypothyroidism, levels of iron become low. Dark circles under the eyes and tiredness may indicate low iron levels in the body.
  7. Non- alcoholic ‘Fatty liver’ (not necessary in an overweight person or person who drinks alcohol) represented by a reduced hepatic clearance and elevations in the amino transaminases. It is seen as build-up of fat and scarring in the liver. Nutrients such as choline, inositol, SAMe and betaine may help with fatty liver. Fatty liver may progress to liver scarring, damage and liver cirrhosis. There is a correlation of non- alcoholic liver disease and hypothyroidism, it was seen in 26 – 36% of patients with hypothyroidism in a study (5).
  8. Production of SAMe is reduced in liver which is linked to depression, high histamine (lots of allergies), insulin resistance, lowered glutathione levels and poor detoxification in liver, especially of excessive oestrogen.
  9. Hyperammonaemia (increased ammonia load) can be seen in severe untreated hypothyroidism as liver changes ammonia (a toxic by-product of protein metabolism) into urea, which is then excreted in urine.
  10. Poor detoxification of toxic molecules resulting in muscle pain, headaches, migraines and feeling tired

Detoxification processes in liver and hypothyroidism

Phase one of liver detoxification may be low with hypothyroidism, that is toxic substances in the body will not be properly processed into less toxic, more water soluble molecules so that they can be farther processed in phase II. The liver processes metabolic body products (such as body steroid hormones), microorganisms, contaminants, insecticides, pesticides, food additives, medications, heavy metals and other toxins in the 1st phase. If the phase I is low, the body will have a higher toxic load, one can feel unwell, sluggish, tired, itchy, have allergies, headaches, migraines, etc. Cytochrome P450 enzymes are involved in this phase of detoxification and they do not work properly if you have a low thyroid or iron deficiency (these commonly co-exist).  Also, if you are sensitive to coffee for example and it keeps you awake and hyper, your phase I of detoxification might not be working properly.

Phase II will be affected as a consequence of poorly functioning phase I and hypothyroidism, especially glycination (vitamin B2 and magnesium are important for glycination) which can make a person less tolerant to aspirin, nuts and preservatives such as benzoic acid. Phase II is sluggish if one has a low protein diet. Alkaline diet may also help (lots of vegetables). Bone broth with lots of vegetables may provide lots of glycine. Glycine is found in many meats with highest content in gelatins. Having meat and broth from pigs or chicken feet /drumsticks contains high amounts of glycine.

One indicator of sluggish phase II might be strong smell of urine after eating asparagus.

Remedy for improving your liver detoxification: optimal hormonal replacement (hormonal replacement with levothyroxine- T4 only may is not be optimal for many people), avoidance of toxins, alcohol and remedies to keep the gut and liver healthy.

Remedies: Apart from optimal hormonal replacement and good anti-inflammatory diet, B vitamins (including vitamin B12), natural vitamin C, glutathione (and precursors- selenium, vitamin E, glycine, glutamine and cysteine) and magnesium may help. Since absorption of all vitamins and minerals is lowered with hypothyroidism, this also have an impact on detoxification processes. Improving stomach acid and home remedies such as apple cider vinegar might help. Cruciferous vegetables, bitter vegetables (mustard greens), Swedish bitters, red beets and green tea may also be beneficial. Also, if you are low in iron (also common with thyroid conditions), the detoxification will not work properly. Phase I of detoxification is inhibited by grapefruit juice so if your detoxification is low in phase I, as commonly seen with hypothyroidism, grapefruit juice is not recommended (but oranges and lemons are fine). Grapefruit juice is only recommended for people whose phase I is too fast (like in people who are sensitive to chemicals). Phase I and II work together and need to be optimal and in balance.

Healthy, anti-inflammatory diet is important for people with thyroid autoimmunity. It might be important to avoid toxins and certain medications as well as alcohol. There are products on the market, which integrative doctors can prescribe for the improvement of liver detoxification phases, such as P2 Detox powders. However they only are prescribed if liver struggles with optimal thyroid function due to other reasons other than thyroid problems.


Let’s examine the other spectrum of thyroid dysfunction-hyperthyroidism:

Liver and Hyperthyroidism

Some liver injury is relatively common with hyperthyroidism. Untreated hyperthyroidism can lead to fatty change to cirrhosis of liver (scarred and enlarged) and in few cases even liver failure. Excessive T3 can cause death of liver cells. People with untreated Graves’ disease may have heart problems due to congested liver.

The problem with Graves’ disease and hyperthyroidism is that the antithyroid medications can be toxic to the liver. Sometimes jaundice may result as a consequence of antithyroid medications and there might be some mild liver injury due to the antithyroid therapy. This is especially important for children. PTU is mainly known for its possible higher toxicity to liver as in about 30% liver enzymes are elevated with PTU-(15). Rarely, PTU has been associated with a severe liver disease and liver failure. The signs of a liver toxicity can be: loss of the appetite, severe fatigue, urine turning dark and brown, pale stools, yellowing of skin and eyes (jaundice), abdominal pain, nausea and general itching. Contact your doctor immediately if you have any negative symptoms with antithyroid meds as early identification of clinical signs of liver troubles is important. Medication is discontinued if liver function is affected and liver health monitored.

Regular liver functions should be done while on antithyroid medications to monitor liver function within 3 months after starting on antithyroid medications, especially important with PTU. Liver function test before starting the therapy would also be beneficial to monitor for changes.

Liver function test commonly seen in hyperthyroidism:

– Elevated levels of alkaline phosphatase (in 64% of cases (14)). Alkaline phosphatases act by splitting off phosphorus (an acidic mineral) from many molecules to try to create an alkaline (basic) pH in the body. An increased level of alkaline phosphatase may be due to hyperthyroidism, and decreased level to hypothyroidism.

-Increase in the enzymes-aspartate aminotransferase (AST) and alanine aminotransferase (ALT) levels (in about 27- 37% 0f cases) (13). They are markers of liver health, may be elevated during antithyroid medication therapy, also indicate thyroid dysfunction as thyroid hormones modulate liver function.

-Elevated bilirubin (due to the thyroid hormone effects on liver) -jaundice can be seen due secretion of bilirubin

– Elevation of γ‐glutamyl transpeptidase GGT, gamma-GT (elevated levels are seen in liver injury)

 -A low cholesterol level is seen in hyperthyroidism. It is related to changes in the expression of certain genes and regulation of certain cell receptors. Cholesterol is needed for making many hormones (such as progesterone, cortisol), formation of vitamin D, formation and health of cell membranes and production of bile salts. Thus low cholesterol leads to many health problems.

– Iron levels become abnormal due to changes in liver functioning.

-Abnormal sugar control due to increased release of glucose form liver and other thyroid hormone effects on hormones and pancreas function

-The by-products of protein breakdown are toxic (such as ammonia) and need to be detoxified by liver which can become overwhelmed. They increase in blood and urine, causing headaches and nausea.

Detoxification process in liver is impaired due to hyperthyroidism and increased toxic load in the body.

Things which may help: healthy, organic food. Fish is high in methionine which is needed for detoxification of excessive thyroid hormones in the liver. L-carnitine, known as acetyl-L-carnitine or carnitine, is synthesised in the liver, kidney, and brain and actively transported to other areas of the body. In order for carnitine to be made in the body, essential amino acids, such as lysine, methionine, vitamins: B3 (niacin), B6 and iron are required. L- carnitine may help with Graves’ disease as shown in some studies. Glutathione is synthesised in many parts of the body but the main side of production is in the liver. It is a molecule consisting of three amino acids:  L-cysteine, L-glutamic acid and glycine. Boosting natural N-Acetyl-Cysteine (NAC) levels might be helpful for people with autoimmune disorders as it believed to be a rate limiting amino acids for the formation of glutathione. Curcumin, an active ingredient of the Indian spice turmeric might help as it is anti-inflammatory and helps with detoxification process in liver. However how curcumin works in individuals with GD may vary depending on cytokine profile of an individual. Chlorophyll, the green pigment in plants contains high amounts of magnesium. Having green drinks every day can detoxify the liver and provide this mineral. Magnesium is also available in oil and gel forms that can be put on skin. Vitamin C helps to displace toxic halogens from the body in place of iodine. It also has positive effects on liver detoxification. It works in synergy with copper mineral. Vitamins B help with detoxification of the liver. Brewer’s or nutritional yeast has glutathione building nutrients. Beet juice is a great liver detoxifier; it also helps to remove bad form of estrogen from the liver and oxygenates the blood. Beets are important as they provide body with lots of methyl groups. Cruciferous vegetables help in many detoxification processes in the liver and are very important for glutathione function and removal of many toxins from the body, including heavy metals. Sulfation is the main pathway, which detoxifies steroid hormones, thyroid hormones, neurotransmitters, paracetamol, xenobiotics and phenolic molecules. Nutrients, which are needed for this step, are cysteine, methionine, molybdenum, glycine and taurine. Taurine is found in meats, seafood and eggs. Turkey meat is very high in cysteine. The process of sulfation can be increased by increasing sulfur containing foods (onion, garlic). Those foods contain sulfur amino acids, such as cysteine. After the final phase of detoxification, the molecules are released in urine, stool and sweat. Infra-red sauna may assist in releasing those molecules from the body as well as a good hydration and enough fibre in the diet. Dandelion root tea might also benefit the liver. Milk thistle is another beneficial herb but some people with Graves’ disease might be sensitive to milk thistle.

Link of thyroid autoimmunity with autoimmune liver diseases

There is a rare association between thyroid autoimmunity and liver autoimmunity such as primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC) as a part of autoimmune polyglandular syndrome and it is due to common genetic factors with the presence of high titre of antinuclear antibody (ANA) and presence of anti-mitochondrial antibodies (AMA). Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is more frequently associated with PBC than Grave’s disease. A case study reported association of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, primary biliary cirrhosis, and myasthenia gravis (16). However, the most common autoimmune illness associated with PBC is Sjögren’s syndrome.

Please note this blog is for educational purposes only. Consult your health care practitioner regarding any problems and before trying any remedies and supplements mentioned in this blog.


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  2. Doron Rimar, MD,  Eti Kruzel-Davila, MD, Guy Dori, MD, PhD, Elzbieta Baron, MD and Haim Bitterman, MD. Hyperammonemic Coma—Barking Up the Wrong Tree. J Gen Intern Med. 2007 Apr; 22(4): 549–552.
  3. Iglesias P, Bayón C, Méndez J, Gancedo PG, Grande C, Diez JJ. Serum insulin-like growth factor type 1, insulin-like growth factor-binding protein-1, and insulin-like growth factor-binding protein-3 concentrations in patients with thyroid dysfunction. Thyroid. 2001 Nov; 11(11):1043-8.
  4. Miell JP, Taylor AM, Zini M, Maheshwari HG, Ross RJ, Valcavi R.Effects of hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism on insulin-like growth factors (IGFs) and growth hormone- and IGF-binding proteins. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1993 Apr; 76(4):950-5.
  5. Chung GE, Kim D, Kim W, Yim JY, Park MJ, Kim YJ, Yoon JH, Lee HS. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease across the spectrum of hypothyroidism. J Hepatol. 2012 Jul; 57(1):150-6.
  6. Dr.G.Deepika, N.Veeraiah, Dr.P.N.Rao, Dr.D. Nageshwar Reddy. Prevalence of hypothyroidism in Liver Cirrhosis among Indian patients. Journal of Pharmaceutical and Medical Research. 2015 June (3). URL:
  7. Huang MJ, Liaw YF. Clinical associations between thyroid and liver diseases. J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 1995 May-Jun; 10(3):344-50.
  8. R. Malik H. Hodgson. The relationship between the thyroid gland and the liver. QJM: An International Journal of Medicine. 2002 Sep; 95 (9): 559–569.
  9. Biscoveanu M, Hasinski S. Abnormal results of liver function tests in patients with Graves’ disease. Endocr Pract. 2000 Sep-Oct; 6(5):367-9
  10. Saro Khemichian, MD and Tse-Ling Fong, Hepatic Dysfunction in Hyperthyroidism. Gastroenterol Hepatol (N Y). 2011 May; 7(5): 337–339.
  11. Kubota S, Amino N, Matsumoto Y, et al. Serial changes in liver function tests in patients with thyrotoxicosis induced by Graves’ disease and painless thyroiditis. Thyroid. 2008; 18:283–287.
  12. Baethge BA, Levine SN, Wolf RE. Antibodies to nuclear antigens in Graves’ disease. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1988; 66:485–488. 13. Morita S, Arima T, Matsuda M. Prevalence of nonthyroid-specific auto-antibodies in autoimmune thyroid diseases. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1995;80:1203–1206. [PubMed]
  13. Thompson P, Strum D, Boehm T, Wartofsky L. Abnormalities of liver function tests in tyrotoxicosis. Mil Med 1978; 143:548–51.
  14. Doran GR. Serum enzyme disturbances in thyrotoxicosis and myxoedema. J R Soc Med 1978; 71:189–94.
  15. Williams KV, Nayak S, Becker D, Reyes J, Burmeister LA. Fifty years of experience with propylthiouracil‐associated hepatotoxicity: what have we learned? J Clin Endocrinol Metab 1997; 82:1727–33.
  16. Rajaraman S, Deodhar SD, Carey WD, Salanga VD. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, primary biliary cirrhosis, and myasthenia gravis. Am J Clin Pathol. 1980 Dec; 74(6):831-4
  17. Toru Shizuma. A Literature Review of Concomitant Primary Biliary Cirrhosis and Graves’ disease. Department of Physiology, School of Medicine, Tokai University, Japan. Journal of Gastrointestinal & Digestive System. URL:
  18. Liver phases 1 and 2 detoxification pathways. URL:


Supplements I take to feel better

Supplements I take to feel better

I had a subtotal thyroidectomy due to Grave’s disease. The supplements in the picture above help me feel better while on optimal thyroid hormonal replacement. They are suggestions you might consider. However as we are all individuals, speak to your own health care practitioner before taking them, as always.

Brewer’s yeast or nutritional yeast

I find it a very calming remedy. I feel better when I take it, usually a teaspoon per day in the morning. I use it as my source of vitamins B as I do not tolerate synthetic vitamins well. I prefer Brewer’s yeast over nutritional yeast (they are grown and processed slightly differently). I put Brewer’s yeast directly into your food, I like it on scrambled eggs but I also put it into sauces or soups before serving. It is slightly bitter in tasting so I like to mask the taste a little.

Brewer’s and nutritional yeast is are made from yeast called Saccharomyces cerevisiae (used in baking, beer making process) which is grown and then deactivated (it is no longer alive) for nutritional supplement. It is a very rich source of natural vitamins B, chromium, potassium and selenium. It can help to improve insulin sensitivity (as it contains B1 and chromium), it helps the immune system function properly (rich in selenium) and also supports the adrenal glands (so important for thyroid patients) with vitamins B. Brewer’s yeast and nutritional yeast generally to not contain vitamin B12 unless it is fortified with it so if you are deficient in B12 you need to supplement with it separately. Also some products are not gluten free is you are sensitive to gluten.

Aussie favorite Vegemite is also a yeast spread (not gluten free), rich in vitamins B.

Brewer’s yeast can interact with some medications such as monoamine oxidase inhibitors (for treatment of depression), meperidine (pain medication) and diabetic medication. It is also on advisable in certain conditions. Some people may be allergic or sensitive to Brewer’s /nutritional yeast.

Vitamin C

My favorite supplement is natural Vitamin C powder from organic acerola cherries. Firstly because it is a complete vitamin C not just ascorbic acid. It is a powerful antioxidant, detoxifying vitamin and support for adrenal glands. I dissolve a teaspoon in some water and drink it few times a week. I had noticed it gave me an energy boost so I take it before midday. I see benefits of vitamin C powder for my general well being but as with any supplements, it is advisable to ask your doctor before taking it.

Rhodiola rosea (Arctic root, golden root)

It is a great herb to take for adrenal support. It is helpful for the first stage of adrenal exhaustions but not for later stages when cortisol is low. Basically, it is useful during stressful times. It is an adaptogen, a buffer for all endocrine organs involved in stress reactions. However, when a person feels chronically stressed for a long time, exhausted most of the time and has difficulties getting out of bed, it usually indicates later stages of adrenal exhaustion and low cortisol. Rhodiola may not be as effective as it reduces the secretion of cortisol in stressful situations thus balancing the output of adrenals.

Rhiodiola can be useful in Grave’s disease sometimes cases but it is specifically used and recommended in hypothyroidism. Rhodiola influences beta-endorphin and can lift mood. It can also enhance thyroid function, thymus gland function and improve adrenal gland reserves.

I take it for few weeks when I feel stressed but not exhausted. It is considered safe in recommended doses and is wildly used in Russia and Scandinavian countries. It is not recommended in people with bipolar disorder and for pregnant/breastfeeding women.

Licorice root

Licorice has been approved by The German Commission E for ulcer treatments. It also has other important effects. Licorice is useful for exhausted adrenal glands, which is very common with hypothyroidism. Licorice root contains plant components mimicking the effects of cortisol. Therefore it might be useful when you feel ran down, tired and stressed and when cortisol is low (in the later stages of adrenal exhaustion).

I take licorice supplement when I feel ran down, stressed and tired. I usually take it for about 3 weeks at a recommended dose and then take a break.

Licorice is considered safe in low doses. People with cardiovascular, renal and liver problems should take caution. Licorice may interact with warfarin, corticosteroids and oestrogen therapies. Not to be taken with bipolar disorders, in those taking hypertensive and hypoglycemic medications. It can raise blood pressure after prolonged use. Pregnant and breastfeeding women are not advised to use it as the safety in pregnancy has not been established. Apart from these cases, it is recommended in literature to take it sporadically at recommended doses and to have a break after 4-6 weeks of use.




Thyroid, kidneys and autoimmune disease connection

Thyroid affects function of many organs. Thyroid and kidneys have a close relationship. Thyroid hormones, T3 predominantly, but also T4 regulate the renal blood flow and the glomerular filtration rate (GFR). T3 thyroid hormone is important in the production of many kidney regulating molecules such as renin. Sub-optimal thyroid hormonal replacement can affect the health of kidneys negatively. Kidneys can eventually decrease in size in hypothyroidism or increase in size in hyperthyroidism (although prolonged, severe and untreated hyperthyroidism may eventually result in deterioration of kidneys). Thyroid hormone have effects on cardiovascular system and the flow of blood into the kidneys. Hypothyroidism can result in abnormalities in renin release. This can cause constriction of blood vessels and fluid retention. This situation is very bad for the heart. In hypothyroidism, the glomerular filtration rate (GFR) can decrease substantially. Opposite goes for hyperthyroidism. Untreated hyperthyroidism can cause kidney damage or make chronic kidney disease worse.

On the other hand, people with renal diseases can have worsening of their symptoms of hypothyroidism as protein bound thyroid hormones may be lost by ‘leaky’ kidneys. People on thyroid hormonal therapy and renal problems may need to take higher doses of hormones.

However thyroid hormones are not the only thyroid related molecules which can affect the kidneys. Thyroid Stimulating hormone produced by pituitary gland in our brain to stimulate thyroid hormonal production in the thyroid also has effects on kidneys. Thyroglobulin molecule produced in thyroid may also affect kidneys in autoimmune thyroid disease. Therefore, optimal and normal levels of these two molecules are also important.

Thyroid autoimmune disease can also affect kidneys. When I was six years old I was diagnosed with kidney problems and spend three months in a hospital. I was on a strict gluten free diet in a hospital, I had to spend most of my time in bed and had daily injections of antibiotics and some others. I remembered my kidneys feeling ’heavy”, my urine was dark brown, I felt very weak and had nausea. I had cravings for bread and bread rolls and one breakfast I attempted to steal one bread roll from the breakfast table I shared with my hospital friends. Unfortunately, despite hiding it, I was discovered by a nurse and the bread roll was taken from me. Looking back I believe my kidneys problems were directly related to my thyroid autoimmunity problems. Fortunately, I have recovered without farther problems.

Thyroid autoimmune disease may be connected to immune complex glomerulonephritis (inflammation and swelling of the tiny filters called glomeruli in kidneys) which causes the kidneys to stop working properly. Generally people with glomerulonephritis recover completely with medical care. It is very rare for it to cause complication such as renal failure.

 It is interesting that it was found that the kidneys can express thyroid hormone stimulating receptor (TSHR) (4, 8). Perhaps it serves as a boost system/ protective back up system for kidneys when thyroid hormonal level is low and thyroid stimulating hormone levels are high as seen in hypothyroidism. It was found in a study (9) that exogenous thyroid stimulating hormone improves renal function in patients with normal healthy thyroid hormonal levels. Also it was shown in a study that injecting recombinant human TSH improved estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) in kidneys in patients with thyroid replacement therapy, which means their kidney function was improved.

Therefore it is possible that kidneys can be a target of thyroid autoimmunity as TSHR is expressed in thyroid but also in other organs such as kidneys. It is the main molecule to which antibodies are produced in Grave’s disease.

Another molecule to which antibodies are produced in thyroid autoimmunity (more so in Hashimoto’s thyroiditis) is thyroglobulin, a molecule present in thyroid. Increased levels of thyroglobulin, a molecule which is the building block of thyroid hormones, secreted by thyroid into blood, indicate thyroid damage. Higher levels are seen in thyroid autoimmunity or thyroid cancer. Kidneys were also found to express a protein which is very similar to thyroglobulin (4,10). The function of this similar protein in kidneys is stipulated to be on the DNA level in regulating kidney cell growth. The anti-thyroglobulin antibodies found in autoimmune thyroid disease complex with this similar protein and also with thyroid thyroglobulin (secreted from thyroid into blood) to form immune complexes and produce inflammatory processes in the kidneys. Another issue with immune complex glomerulonephritis is that another molecule called megalin (a receptor that binds thyroglobulin in kidneys), Megalin is regulated by thyroid stimulating hormone. Thyroid stimulating hormone binds to TSH receptors (as mentioned previously thyroid stimulating hormone receptor was found to be expressed in kidneys). The immune system has lower tolerance for this molecule in kidneys in thyroid autoimmunity, especially Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.  Megalin is also important for uptake of other molecules by kidneys such as albumin and vitamin D-binding protein. This might be connected to lowered vitamin D level in people with thyroid autoimmunity.

Immune complex glomerulonephritis can occur with Grave’s disease (as it was in my case), especially in children and it is possible that it may be triggered by an infection or gluten/casein sensitivity. However it can also occur in older people as discussed in a study of a 60 year old hyperthyroid woman with long-standing Graves’ disease treated with methimazole (6).

The rates of kidney involvement in people with thyroid autoimmunity can be as high as in 10–30% of cases (2) and it is much higher in the case of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis when compared with Grave’s disease. Around half of people with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis have a moderate increase in the level of urine albumin due to abnormal permeability of kidneys which is associated with renal damage. It might be therefore advisable (as suggested in scientific study (1) for kidney function to be monitored with thyroid autoimmunity, especially for Hashimoto’s thyroiditis patients.

Basically if your thyroid is off, the kidneys will not function optimally and vice versa. The renal blood flow, glomerular filtration rate, electrolytes and kidney structure and size will be affected. Kidney function test: eGFR and serum creatinine levels can be an indicator of thyroid function for people with thyroid problems. Serum creatinine levels are decreased in hyperthyroidism and increased in hypothyroidism. GFR is increased in hyperthyroidism and decreased in hypothyroidism. Kidney stones can be connected to hypothyroidism. It may relate to the altered kidney filtration rates and imbalances between calcium and magnesium with possible magnesium deficiency.

It is important to have normal blood pressure for kidney health which can also be a reflection of a thyroid function. Cranberry juice has a positive effect on kidney health in general.


  1. Domenico Santoro, Carmela Vadalà, Rossella Siligato, Michele Buemi, and Salvatore Benvenga. Autoimmune Thyroiditis and Glomerulopathies. Front Endocrinol (Lausanne). 2017; 8: 119.
  2. Ronco P, Debiec H. Pathophysiological lessons from rare associations of immunological disorders. Pediatr Nephrol (2009) 24(1):3–8.
  3. Yuqian Luo, Yuko Ishido, Naoki Hiroi, Norihisa Ishii, and Koichi Suzuki.The Emerging Roles of Thyroglobulin. Advances in Endocrinology. Volume 2014 (2014), Article ID 189194.URL:
  4. Sellitti DF, Akamizu T, Doi SQ, Kim GH, Kariyil JT, Kopchik JJ, Koshiyama H. Renal expression of two ‘thyroid-specific’ genes: thyrotropin receptor and thyroglobulin. Exp Nephrol. 2000 Jul-Oct; 8(4-5):235-43.
  5. Zheng G, Marino’ M, Zhao J, McCluskey RT. Megalin (gp330): a putative endocytic receptor for thyroglobulin (Tg). Endocrinology. 1998 Mar; 139(3):1462-5.
  6. Horvath F Jr, Teague P, Gaffney EF, Mars DR, Fuller TJ. Thyroid antigen associated immune complex glomerulonephritis in Graves’ disease. Am J Med. 1979 Nov; 67(5):901-4.
  7. Michele Marinò, Gang Zheng and Robert T. McCluskey. Megalin (gp330) Is an Endocytic Receptor for Thyroglobulin on Cultured Fisher Rat Thyroid Cells. Journal of Biological Chemistry. URL:
  8. Dutton CM, Joba W, Spitzweg C, Heufelder AE, Bahn RS. Thyrotropin receptor expression in adrenal, kidney, and thymus. Thyroid 1997 Dec; 7(6):879-84.
  9. Flore Duranton, Anouchka Lacoste, Patrick Faurous, Emmanuel Deshayes, Jean Ribstein, Antoine Avignon, Georges Mourad and Àngel Argilés. Exogenous thyrotropin improves renal function in euthyroid patients, while serum creatinine levels are increased in hypothyroidism. Clinical Kidney Journal, Volume 6, Issue 5, 1 October 2013, Pages 478–483. URL:
  10. Wu H, Suzuki S, Sellitti DF, Doi SQ, Tanigawa K, Aizawa S, Akama T, Kawashima A, Mishima M, Ishii N, Yoshida A, Hisatome I, Koles NL, Katoh R, Suzuki K. Expression of a thyroglobulin (Tg) variant in mouse kidney glomerulus. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2009 Nov 13;389(2):269-7.
  11. Gopal Basu and Anjali Mohapatra. Interactions between thyroid disorders and kidney disease. Indian J Endocrinol Metab. 2012 Mar-Apr; 16(2): 204–213.





Mercury and thyroid

Mercury and thyroid

Mercury stops thyroid hormone T4 conversion into its active form T3. Mercury also reduces thyroid hormone production in the thyroid gland by interfering with iodine binding. It also inhibits thyroid hormone action. Mercury is toxic to all body systems including the immune system. It tends to accumulate in endocrine glands such thyroid. It disrupts the energy houses of cells and affects the balance of minerals in the body, especially zinc, copper, magnesium, calcium and lithium. The reason is the binding of mercury to sulphur groups on Metalloprotein (MT) which is involved in metals transport and detoxification.  Zinc mineral in some ways counteracts the effect of mercury while copper tends to accumulate in the body with mercury. Lithium might be low with mercury toxicity. Mercury can cause the major body detoxifying molecule- glutathione to be depleted by binding to and inactivating sulphur components of the system.

Mercury toxicity has been connected to thyroid autoimmunity and autoimmunity in general. Not all studies (5) have found the correlation of thyroid autoimmunity to mercury exposure. However some did. A study (1) has found that Methylmercury, at low levels generally considered safe, was associated with subclinical autoimmunity and antinuclear antibodies among reproductive-age females. Another study (2) has found that the removal of dental amalgam decreases anti-TPO and anti-Tg autoantibodies in patients with autoimmune thyroiditis.

Mercury can be found in amalgam, dental fillings. Most can contain as much as 50% mercury which is mixed with other metals. They are those dark, silvery grey dental fillings. Even though amalgam dental fillings are considered relatively safe, there is a controversy regarding their safety. Mercury particles may be released from amalgam fillings and provide a small dose of this toxic metal daily. Having MRI scans may release more mercury from dental fillings (5). The higher number of amalgam dental fillings, there greater possibility of getting more mercury into the system. Some people have an immune system which is very sensitive to mercury. Perhaps those who are stressed, have low selenium level or low iodine levels, lowered zinc levels, heavier toxic load and disturbance of healthy gut bacteria (which help to remove heavy metals) might be more sensitive to lower levels of mercury.

In recent years the mercury containing amalgams are not as frequently used, being replaced by white resin composite fillings. One of the ways mercury can get into our body is through ingestion of contaminated fish and shellfish especially large fish such as Bluefin tuna, swordfish, mackerel, marlin or shark. Fish tend to accumulate mercury and cannot dispose of it properly. Environmental mercury pollutes our oceans. Mercury can get to the environment from many industrial processes as well as volcanic eruptions. It is also present in clay minerals. There are still some products containing mercury such as mercury containing lamps, thermostats or fluorescent tubes and bulbs.

Thimerosal is a mercury containing antifungal and antibacterial compound used to preserve some medical preparations. Some people are allergic to thimerosal. Thimerosal has been taken out of childhood vaccinations but there are still multi -dose influenza vaccine preparations containing thimerosal. The presence of mercury in vaccines is controversial.

Some red tattoo inks also contain mercury and cadmium, another toxic metal. Mercury has been banned from cosmetics. However, some unregulated make up products, skin lightening creams may possibly contain mercury so make sure you buy products from reputable companies. Look for ingredients containing mercury or calomel (mercury chloride mineral).

Mercury testing may be done through urine, blood, stool test, and hair mineral analysis.

One of important minerals which helps to remove mercury from your body is selenium which is a part of the glutathione system. People with thyroid autoimmunity may be deficient in selenium. It might be also more important mineral for people with mercury containing fillings in their teeth to have optimal selenium levels.

Mercury is very difficult to remove from the body naturally and takes a long time. Green leafy vegetables, sulphur rich foods (garlic, onions), vitamin C, coriander, cruciferous vegetables (such as wasabi) and fermented foods support the body in removal of toxic metals. Having adequate levels of selenium and vitamin E are important. Brazil nuts are quite rich in selenium and you can consume 2 daily to get enough selenium (if you are not allergic or sensitive to nuts). Glutathione helps to remove heavy metals and glutathione enhancing nutrition/supplements were discussed previously. Brewer’s or nutritional yeast has glutathione building nutrients.

Stress reduction and adequate rest are also important. There are quite a few liver detoxification products on the market. Milk thistle has long been used in liver disease and helps boost glutathione levels. Milk Thistle and coriander (Cilantro) have mercury and other detoxifying properties. However ragweed (common in Graves’ disease) allergy has been connected to milk thistle allergy. Therefore it might not be suitable for all. Lipoic acid may also help to remove mercury.

Infrared sauna may help with Hg removal through sweat.

Medical treatments for mercury toxicity involve the use of metal chelating drugs such as DMSA (used in children), DMPS, DPCN, or BAL compounds. 

You might consider removal of mercury amalgam teeth fillings. However, it might be more dangerous than having undisturbed fillings. It needs to be done by highly competent and experienced dentist (such as Biological dentist) as vapors created during removal might make things worse. Avoid eating large fish and choose smaller varieties. Eating smaller varieties of fish two times a week should not be a problem.

Speak to your doctor if you have concerns regarding mercury.


    1. Somers EC, Ganser MA, Warren JS, Basu N, Wang L, Zick SM, Park SK. Mercury Exposure and Antinuclear Antibodies among Females of Reproductive Age in the United States: NHANES. Environ Health Perspect. 2015 Aug; 123(8):792-8.
    2. Sterzl I, Prochazkova J, Hrda P, Matucha P, Bartova J, Stejskal V. Removal of dental amalgam decreases anti-TPO and anti-Tg autoantibodies in patients with autoimmune thyroiditis. Neuro Endocrinol Lett. 2006 Dec; 27 Suppl 1:25-30.
    3. Yorita Christensen KL. Metals in blood and urine, and thyroid function among adults in the United States 2007-2008. Int J Hyg Environ Health. 2013 Nov; 216(6):624-32.
    4. Monika Rathore, Archana Singh and Vandana A. Pant. The Dental Amalgam Toxicity Fear: A Myth or Actuality. Toxicol Int. 2012 May-Aug; 19(2): 81–88.
    5. Mortazavi SM, Neghab M, Anoosheh SM, Bahaeddini N, Mortazavi G, Neghab P, Rajaeifard AHigh-field MRI and mercury release from dental amalgam fillings. Int J Occup Environ Med. 2014 Apr; 5(2):101-5.



Effects of Cadmium on thyroid gland

Effects of Cadmium on thyroid gland

What is the connection between cadmium metal and thyroid?

Cadmium (Cd) is a silvery metal sitting next to zinc on a periodic table. The metals often appear together in nature. Unfortunately, unlike zinc, cadmium is a toxic and carcinogenic. Even though cadmium release into environment is closely controlled by government legislation, cadmium is impossible to avoid. More and more people are getting closer to reaching toxic levels, especially with increased age and those who had occupations exposing them to cadmium or exposed to cigarette smoke. Cadmium accumulates in the body and is difficult to excrete. Cadmium is found in soils (especially those industrially polluted), artists’ paints (orange, yellow and red), pigments, bake ware, nickel cadmium batteries, phosphorous fertilizers, plastics stabilizers, corrosion-resistant metal plating, metal alloys, brake lining of cars, pollution from power plants, mining and smelting and from production of some foods like margarine. Cd may be present in some plants (especially grown on soils contaminated with industrial pollution, green leafy plants tend to uptake it more easily), some organ meats (liver and kidneys), molluscs and other shellfish in some areas (as they tend to accumulate it) and large ocean fish. Some plants such as tobacco, marijuana and rice tend to uptake Cd more readily. Coffee and black tea may also contain some cadmium. Cigarettes are a significant source of cadmium exposure as lungs take up cadmium more readily than the digestive system. It is considered a substantial source of cadmium toxicity in humans. It generally doubles the cadmium intake. We also have to remember that cigarette smoke also contains other substances including thiocyanate that inhibits iodine uptake by the thyroid gland. Nicotine in cigarettes increases the synthesis of T3 from T4 in the brain, which might explain the difficulty in quitting smoking as higher T3 levels correspond to higher serotonin (feel good chemical) levels in the brain. However since cadmium is such a toxic metal, its influence on thyroid cannot be overlooked. Thyroid is one of organs that tends to accumulate cadmium.

What is the relationship between cadmium, thyroid and autoimmunity?

Cadmium and other toxins present in cigarettes interfere with thyroid gland function and thyroid hormone T4 to T3 conversion; they may cause damage to the thyroid resulting in the generation of autoantibodies. Cadmium exposure is associated with thyroid autoimmunity (both Graves’ disease and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis) in genetically predisposed people. A study of 132 pairs of twins showed that cigarette smoke exposure was connected with thyroid autoimmunity with higher rates (about 2.5X higher) for Graves’ disease than Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. It was also less significantly associated with non-autoimmune thyroid diseases (simple goiter and nodular toxic goiter) (17).

There is some suggestions in literature that Hashimoto’s thyroiditis may be triggered by cadmium especially when iodine and selenium levels are low. People with Graves’ disease may have adequate iodine levels (although not always) but are also usually low in selenium.

Graves’ disease is strongly connected to cadmium toxicity. It is especially connected to Graves’ disease with TED (eye involvement). Smoking has been connected with higher incidence of GD in females (26). It is believed that cigarette smoke may increase the risk of GD as much as two fold. Acropachy association with TED tends to represent the most severe form of autoimmune thyroid disease, with patients having very high levels of thyroid stimulating antibody. Cigarette smoking rates were found to be high in these individuals. Cd disrupts the ratio of copper and zinc which are vital for thyroid function. It contributes to copper deficiency, condition which accelerates thyroid function. Copper deficiency can occur when the body uses copper very fast (perhaps when children and teens get Graves’ disease) or when it cannot use copper efficiently and stores it in unusable form. Cadmium also interferes with zinc metabolism and competes with copper and zinc for binding on a transport protein called metallothionein. Also, in the cause of adrenal exhaustion, due to chronic stress for example, metallothonein is not produced in sufficient quantities. When this happens, copper is not metabolized properly. Copper deficiency affects the immune system and can also result in hyperactivity, high blood pressure and overuse of the sympathetic nervous system. According to Dr. Willson (9) cadmium toxicity may contribute to violent human behavior. Cd exposure may cause GABA imbalances (calming molecule in the brain). Cd also interferes with metabolism of vitamin D which is important for the balance of the immune system. It also decreases magnesium levels (common deficiency with autoimmune thyroid conditions). Cadmium can also induce iron deficiency anaemia. Cadmium damages mitochondria, organelles where energy is produced. Dysfunctional mitochondria are connected to autoimmunity. Cd toxicity has also been connected to rheumatoid arthritis and Multiple sclerosis. Cadmium may also bind to glutathione making it ineffective. Glutathione is a free radical scavenger, important for the health of the thyroid gland.

Reducing Cadmium levels may be important for some people in achieving a remission from thyroid autoimmunity.

Do some people absorb Cd more easily?

This predisposition to accumulate those specific metals might be connected to individual’s genetics. It is also relates to a poor stress management. Females tend to absorb Cd more easily due to higher levels of oestrogen hormone (necessary for ovulation and pregnancy). Oestrogen may act as an accelerator of mineral uptake into the body; it may act to enhance cadmium absorption. Women who have insufficient levels of progesterone to balance oestrogen may accumulate Cd more easily. People with low iron stores are especially vulnerable to the adverse effects of cadmium. As cadmium tends to accumulate with age (it is difficult to get rid of), it causes lowered levels of zinc which is needed for thyroid hormonal binding to their receptors. This may explain higher risks of hypothyroidism in older people, especially women. Also, older cells have a reduced capacity to produce Metallothioneins (MTs) which is are protective against Cd toxicity and proper levels of zinc and copper. Adrenals glands need to strong for sufficient production of this molecule.

Stress and cigarette smoke exposure can induce Graves’ disease as it lowers production of metallothioneins and increased Cd exposure. This trigger might be especially powerful in younger people as they tend to use copper fast. Copper deficiency accelerates thyroid function and damages the energy producing mitochondria. It was found to interfere with Coenzyme A, which helps to transport free fatty acids to mitochondria for energy production.

What Cadmium does in the body?

Cadmium tends to accumulate in the thyroid gland and therefore may cause thyroid damage due to its toxicity. It is one of the triggers for thyroid autoimmunity in individuals who are genetically predisposed to autoimmunity. In significant levels, it depletes selenium mineral which is extremely important for the health of the thyroid gland as it important for the glutathione peroxidase system which removes free radicals from the thyroid gland. In the thyroid gland, free radicals are produced continuously due to oxidation of iodine by hydrogen peroxide for the production of thyroid hormones. If free radicals are not properly controlled by glutathione peroxidase in the thyroid, they damage the thyroid cells and the lipid membranes. Cadmium toxicity increases free radicals in the body overall. Cd was shown to inhibit superoxide dismutase (copper, zinc based), two antioxidant enzymes. Cd toxicity may therefore play a role in other autoimmune disorders.

Cd was found to decrease T4 levels and increase T3 levels in a Japanese study comparing residents of the Cd-polluted Kakehashi River basin with residents of a nonpolluted area (1). Therefore Cd can induce T3 thyrotoxicosis and hyperthyroidism which was also demonstrated in animal studies (5). In people predisposed to autoimmunity, it can cause thyroid autoimmunity. High levels of cadmium exposure were associated with changes to thyroid hormonal levels. A large human study (29) showed that blood Cd was positively associated with FT3 and urinary Cd was positively associated with FT4.

It may also lower levels of both T4 and T3 (perhaps if iodine and selenium are low) which was shown in animal studies. Obviously as Cd levels accumulate, eventually T3 levels will be decreased due to lowered levels of T4 and selenium resulting in hypothyroidism. A study in children demonstrated that Cd increases TSH levels and decreases thyroid hormone T4 (15).

People who had a thyroidectomy might be more vulnerable to lung damage by exposure to Cd (11). Smoking would not be recommended.

Other thyroid changes and thyroid cancer (22) may also be seen with cadmium toxicity. Cancer may also be more advanced with cadmium toxicity.

“The accumulation of cadmium in thyroid tissue may be one of important etiologic factors for the thyroid cancer progression and aggravation in Korean women.”(21)

“Colloid cystic goiter, adenomatoid follicular hyperplasia with low-grade dysplasia and thyroglobulin hypo- and asecretion, and parafollicular cell diffuse and nodular hyperplasia and hypertrophy are often found in chronic cadmium toxicity.” (20)

Test for Cadmium:

Comprehensive Urine Profile (better for detection of long time Cd exposure), serum Cadmium and mineral hair analysis

How to reduce Cadmium in the body:

The medical system uses chelators such as DMPA for cadmium removal from the body in case of detected toxicity.

However, there are ways to decrease Cd uptake and increase removal in the body and they are:

  • Consider stopping smoking, avoid secondary cigarette smoke
  • Limit occupational/environmental exposure
  • Support glutathione production in the body (glutathione requires selenium and precursors such as glycine, glutamine, cysteine).
  • Support glutathione conjugation in liver which detoxifies body from heavy metals. The nutrients required for this step are methionine, amino acids cysteine and taurine, glycine, vitamin C and vitamin B6. Brassica vegetables, such as cabbage, cauliflower, kale, and broccoli and allium vegetables, such as onions, garlic, shallots also help. Vitamin E, N-acetyl cysteine (NAC), bioflavonoids supplementation and fermented vegetables may also be helpful to improve glutathione conjugation. Brewers’ yeast has glutathione building nutrients. One of the best ways is to consume fermented vegetables with liver cleansing herbs. Dandelion root, milk thistle, coriander herb, horseradish and wasabi may also be helpful. Probiotics may also help.
  • Avoid environmental exposure in food (organic diet, increasing fibre, detoxifying vegetables, herbs, avoiding refined food). Fibre removes toxins by binding to them.
  • Chlorella, sea algae may help but since it is high in iodine, it can aggravate Graves’ disease but may help people with low iodine. Selenium levels needs to be adequate. MetalAway is one of the products a holistic doctor may prescribe in case of metal toxicity.
  • Hormone balancing (for example, insufficiency of thyroid hormones compromises liver function and detoxification).
  • Adrenal support, stress reduction and better stress management may help.
  • Coenzyme Q10 may play a positive role as an agent for treatment of CD poisoning (6)
  • Carotenoids were found to increase Cd excretion from the body in study in rats (7), (present in red and orange vegetables, if you use carrots for carotenoids source, use organic carrots and peel them before use)
  • Diet which includes selenium and glutathione producing nutrients.
  • Vitamin C (28)
  • Vitamin D
  • Correcting iron deficiency
  • Checking zinc and copper levels
  • Reducing alcohol consumption as alcohol can increase cadmium uptake
  • Alpha-lipoic acid
  • Fruit pectin (soluble fibre), psyllium
  • Olive leaf supplement
  • Willson recommends near infrared sauna for cadmium removal
  • Milk consumption may increase Cd uptake (as it is rich in hormones), especially with iron deficiency.


This post is for educational purposes only. Consult your doctor in regards to cadmium and before taking any supplements and dietary changes.


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