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In Thyroid Theory (click on Hyperthyroidism Theory to the left.) you can read an outline of my theory of the causes of thyroid disease. This section is an elaboration of those ideas and a description of the deficiencies that lead to hyperthyroidism.
Here is a list of what I believe are the possible causes of hyperthyroidism (Graves' disease), in my "best-guess" rank order:
In hyperthyroidism, many nutrients are depleted. Most of the minerals become depleted because the high levels of thyroid hormone cause a hyper-metabolic state in which nutrients are used up at a high rate. Hyperthyroidism causes a catabolic state which is basically a process in which the body consumes its muscles and tissues to get raw materials to maintain life. People with hyperthyroidism can lose 20-40 pounds and a significant percentage of their muscle mass in a few weeks.
I believe that only a few nutrients are deficient which begins the process of hyperthyroidism and catabolism, but the disease itself causes the depletion of many more nutrients. All the nutrients, causal and consequential, need to be replenished.
The problem in correcting hyperthyroidism is that replenishing many of these deficient nutrients will worsen the condition. This may sound strange, but I've experienced it and seen it in many others. Once a key nutrient gets extremely deficient, taking other nutrients which work with that key nutrient cause that key nutrient to get used up and become even more deficient.
Using a shotgun approach to hyperthyroidism, in which nutrients are taken at random will most likely make the condition worse. Supplementation has to begin with the key nutrient to prevent it from getting even more deficient. This is the reason I call hyperthyroidism the "backward disease." Just about everything makes it worse, causing the person pursuing any of the commonly used nutritional correction strategies extreme frustration.
The two main minerals that seem to regulate not only the functioning of the thyroid but also the immune system are copper and zinc. Zinc acts as the stimulator to the thyroid and immune system and copper as the suppressor. It appears that when copper becomes deficient, both the thyroid and immune system will run out of control.
I believe that the main deficiency in hyperthyroidism is a copper deficiency. I've held this belief for two years since I recovered from hyperthyroidism by supplementing with copper and many other nutrients. I have been studying hyperthyroidism since that time and observing many people with hyperthyroidism improve once they have begun supplementing with copper. There have been no observations in those two years that have caused me to doubt this.
However, this copper deficiency can be the result of many different factors. Basically there seem to be three main ways to a copper deficiency to cause hyperthyroidism:
To correct hyperthyroidism, since copper is usually the most deficient nutrient, starting the supplementation program with copper is usually the best approach. However, it's important to understand that it's possible to have hyperthyroidism even though there is adequate copper in the body. In this situation it appears that there are deficiencies of nutrients which assist copper metabolism.
Sometimes there is adequate copper in the body or even too much copper. At times there may be an excessive amount of copper seen in the hair and there is probably a buildup of copper in the liver and other organs. In some copper toxicity diseases such as Wilson's disease there is seen a buildup of copper in the cornea of the eye causing copper pigmented rings to be observable at the outer margin of the cornea. These rings are called Kayser-Fleischer rings.
When copper builds up in bodily tissues like this, it appears that there is some reason that copper is not being utilized properly by the body. The reason might be that there is some genetic defect as it appears is the case in Wilson's disease, or it could be from a deficiency of some nutrients that are essential for copper metabolism.
Generally people with hyperthyroidism who have this inability to utilize copper have some schizophrenic characteristics to a lesser or greater degree. Several studies have shown that a relatively high percentage of patients diagnosed with manic-depressive schizophrenia also have hyperthyroidism. It seems that these two diseases share many of the same nutrient deficiencies.
While many people perceive schizophrenics as some type of strange people to be avoided, I consider schizophrenia as a disease condition that is probably the result of correctable nutritional deficiencies. It's just a symptom that is a clue to what is going wrong in the body.
However, these psychological problems can be an obstacle to correcting the disease. Mineral balances can cause disturbed cognitive processes and paranoia. These factors can prevent the person from perceiving a correct approach and taking steps toward solving the problem.
Unfortunately many health professionals will perceive these mental disturbances and inaccurately diagnose the disease. Many people who have these schizophrenic characteristics may perceive themselves to be a little different or even perceive that they have experienced a mental or emotional change. Consequently they may be primed to accept a misdiagnosis.
Typically when these people go to a doctor, the doctor will perceive these psychological problems and send them off to a psychiatrist who usually will wind up prescribing anti-psychotic drugs, rather than exploring the nutritional deficiencies that might have led to the condition. Many of these people continue to have hyperthyroidism, but a blood test to determine this is never done. Occasionally these people go online in an attempt to determine the source of their problems and will run into someone who will suggest that they get tested for hyperthyroidism. This is how they might find their way to this site.
I can usually see people of this type by their writing in emails. Usually they will not use any capital letters and write everything in the lower case, even using i when speaking of themselves. Sometimes the person will say "we" instead of "I" as if she were perceiving multiple personalities. Other times I see the emails written in all capital letters or other unusual styles.
If you perceive in yourself or you get feedback from others that you may have marginal or significant schizophrenic or manic-depressive behavior, and this is something that has not always been a part of you, then you should suspect that you have these problems because of nutrient deficiencies or imbalances. You are probably not deficient in copper, but are rather deficient in some other nutrients which are critical for copper metabolism. It's important to get a hair test to determine if you have high copper and if so, to proceed to a different nutritional correction program. See Copper Overload.
Now let's look into the details of the list above of the most likely causes of hyperthyroidism:
At this point, I see that the most likely list of possible deficient nutrients in this case are: biotin, PABA, pantothenic acid (B-5), thiamine (B-1), riboflavin (B-2), and niacin (B-3). It's possible that there are toxic metals influencing this condition also, such as aluminum or cadmium (from smoking).
Copper metabolism is extremely complex. Copper performs many functions in the body and is therefore involved with many other nutrients to perform these functions. For copper metabolism to proceed correctly, many nutrients are needed. Deficiencies of any of a number of nutrients could result in a functional copper deficiency. Detailed information about how copper is involved in thyroidal and immune system functioning can be found under copper in the Nutrients and Toxics section under Minerals.
(To be continued.)