Hair loss and neck pain may seem like two completely separate issues, but there is a very important connection – the thyroid gland. Just look at the picture below to see the position of the thyroid gland in the neck.
When problems occur with your thyroid gland – and we’re talking about low thyroid function (hypothyroidism symptoms – the most common problem)… lots of strange health issues begin to appear, including:
- Trouble concentrating
- Memory Issues
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Sensitivity to cold
- Increase in appetite… usually with weight gain
- Dry skin
- Brittle nails and hair
- Thinning hair
- Loss of the outer ⅓ of the eyebrows
- Chronic neck pain usually due to the thyroid swelling (goiter)
- Depression, anxiety and mood swings
- Bruising easily and taking a long time to heal
- Increased cholesterol
- Menstrual problems
WHAT THE THYROID GLAND DOES…
The thyroid gland regulates your body’s metabolism – keeping a balance of energy and regulating many bodily functions. It secretes three main hormones: tetraiodothyronine (usually called T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). The T4 hormone is not very active in the body and must be converted to T3, which is responsible for about 90% of the functions carried out by the thyroid gland. The third hormone is thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) – which is the gas pedal that regulates thyroid function. If thyroid output is too low, your body cranks out TSH to boost the gland’s function.
Underactivity of the thyroid gland usually develops over a long period of time. That means those afflicted by hypothyroidism may feel unwell for quite some time – but not realize how badly they feel until symptoms become fairly severe. A simple blood thyroid panel can diagnose the problem.
Basically, the thyroid gland is a vital part of the body’s endocrine system… and as you can see from the list of problems above… regulates many bodily processes.
HOW DO THYROID GLAND PROBLEMS DEVELOP?
Proper diet is essential for the thyroid to function normally. Long-time readers will remember that we have discussed the typical Standard American Diet (SAD) many times – full of highly processed convenience foods with little actual nutrition. Eating junk like this will definitely sabotage your health.
Certain minerals are needed for the gland to function:
- Iodine: the T4 and T3 use iodine as a central building block. The usual dietary requirement is about 150 micrograms daily – but this can vary greatly from person to person. In fact, some individuals may need up to 12 grams daily – especially if they are suffering from severe hypothyroidism. It has been found in Dr. David Brownstein’s clinic that over 90% of patients tested were deficient. Iodized salt was thought to be a solution, but in reality only about 10% of the iodine is absorbed from this kind of salt. Some good sources of iodine include seaweed products, wild-caught fish, shellfish, yogurt, cow’s milk, eggs, strawberries and mozzarella cheese. An excellent supplement for iodine is Lugol’s solution – which is dropped into your favorite beverage and is readily absorbed.
- Zinc: a mineral that helps enzymes function normally. It is also responsible for the production of Superoxide Dismutase (SOD) – which captures the very destructive free radicals roaming your body and escorts them out. Many medications drain zinc from your body, including acid blocking drugs for heartburn and gastric reflux. It is also needed for healthy hair production. Good food sources are red meat, wild-caught seafood, oysters, nuts and eggs. One of the better supplements to boost your zinc level is zinc picolinate at a dose of 25 to 50 milligrams daily.
- Selenium: this is a lesser-known mineral that is critical to proper thyroid function. It also acts as an anti-inflammatory, improves heart function, reduces the likelihood of getting cancer – and helps prevent the spread of malignancies if this should happen. The thyroid stores more selenium than any other tissue in the body. Infants need 15 micrograms daily. Pregnant women may require as much as 60 mcg each day. Good food sources are: brazil nuts, numerous fish including wild-caught salmon and sardines, barley and mushrooms – especially shitake. It is also available in supplement form if desired.
Please don’t go hog-wild loading up on these minerals. Too much of them will cause even more problems. For example, too much iodine can concentrate in the thyroid and trigger an autoimmune response known as Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. Also, excessive amounts of selenium may cause major hair loss.
An often overlooked source of thyroid problems is the water you drink. We purposely add chlorine and fluoride to tap water – both of which the thyroid gland will uptake just as easily as the iodine it really needs. All three (iodine, chlorine, fluoride) belong to a chemical group known as Halogens… and your thyroid can’t tell the difference between them. What this really means is that you should NEVER drink tap water. A reverse osmosis water filter will remove over 90% of these chemicals. A Brita filter will take out a good portion of chlorine, but not fluoride… still much better than tap water.
THYROID DISEASE AND NECK PAIN
The connection between thyroid dysfunction and neck pain is very complicated – it’s much more than pain simply caused by swelling of the thyroid and pressing on other neck structures.
Patients with low levels of T3 and T4 may have a higher risk of problems with bone mineralization, production of proteins (and, thus problems with healing and growth), production of the myelin sheath around nerves (possibly causing ALS and Parkinson’s) and development of the nervous system. Musculoskeletal issues can develop as well as neurological issues… which can cause pain simply by the swelling of the thyroid itself as the gland enlarges to try to boost its output.
Up to this point, we’ve looked at hypothyroidism symptoms and issues. The other side of the coin is hyperthyroidism (overactivity of the thyroid…often known as Grave’s Disease). A smaller number of patients have neck pain due to this condition. Some symptoms include muscle weakness, anxiety, tremors, weight loss and neck pain, among others. The diagnosis is sometimes quite confusing, since this condition will sometimes lead to autoimmune hypothyroidism. Treatment may sometimes include surgery to remove part of the thyroid – but more typically radiation treatments destroy excess tissue or medications block thyroid hormone overproduction.
CONCLUSION: If you notice excessive hair loss while showering or combing your hair and have chronic neck pain, you may want to discuss this with your doctor. It could be a sign of thyroid problems. If treated, you’ll have less pain and feel better overall. Treatment of thyroid issues with natural medicine will often result in a better result than traditional allopathic practices.
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