The Gut and Thyroid Connection

By: Carrie Dennie, ND, RAc

Did you know that the gut and the thyroid are connected?

This connection has actually been studied and is backed by current research which shows that treating gut condition can improve thyroid function and health. (

The gut is responsible for converting about 20% of the primarily inactive thyroid hormone T4, into the active T3. T3 functions to increase your energy, metabolism, heart rate, blood pressure, etc. The gut flora plays a role in ensuring that the body has enough T3 available in circulation. This relationship is one reason that gut dysfunction and hypothyroidism can have similar symptoms.

The gut microbiome has a profound effect on our immune system because about 70% of the immune tissue is present in the gut. Certain strains of the gut bacteria can affect the permeability of the gut and disrupts the absorption function of the intestines. This allows food particles and other proteins to make their way through the lining of the gut into the blood stream. Exposure to these foreign particles can stimulate the immune system to produce antibodies.

This immune response is a good thing normally, we want the body to flag foreign proteins so that they can be eliminated. However, there is a phenomenon called “molecular mimicry” that can complicate things. There are only so many amino acid sequences possible in nature and often the body can have difficulty differentiating foreign particles from “self proteins” if they are similar in composition. If this occurs your immune system can mistakenly mount an autoimmune inflammatory response and start attacking its own tissues. Over time this can cause the destruction of organs like the thyroid, which can result in Hashimoto’s or Grave’s disease, the two autoimmune diseases of the thyroid. Also, inflammation stimulates the adrenal gland to secrete cortisol, the stress hormone, which down regulates they thyroid and reduces the conversion of T4 to T3. (

As a Naturopathic Doctors, we assess the whole body to identify the underlying cause of disease. To learn more about Naturopathic approaches to thyroid disease schedule a FREE 15-minute call with one of our experts to discuss your concerns.

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