Thyroid Problems: Signs, Causes, and Solutions

In this video, Dr. Ekberg discusses the common signs and symptoms of thyroid problems. The thyroid gland is responsible for metabolism and acts like a thermostat in the body. When the thyroid slows down, everything in the body slows down. Hypothyroidism is more common and often caused by iodine deficiency or Hashimoto’s, an autoimmune disease. Hyperthyroidism, although rare, can be caused by Graves disease or tumors. Treatment options include iodine or hormone replacement for hypothyroidism, and anti-thyroid medication or radioactive iodine for hyperthyroidism. However, these treatments only address the symptoms and not the underlying autoimmune issue. Autoimmunity is often caused by leaky gut, which can be exacerbated by factors like allergies, antibiotics, stress, and processed foods. To heal leaky gut, it is important to eliminate these triggers and address overall health.

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Key Insights:

  • Thyroid problems are more common than people realize.
  • The thyroid gland is responsible for metabolism and acts like a thermostat in the body.
  • Thyroid problems are typically diagnosed based on TSH levels, with a range from 0.5 to 5.0 considered normal.
  • A more optimal TSH range is 1.8 to 3.5, with 2.5 being the sweet spot.
  • Functional hypothyroidism is when TSH levels are between 3 and 5, indicating reduced thyroid function.
  • Functional hyperthyroidism is when TSH levels are very low due to pituitary underperformance, often seen in insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome.
  • Hypothyroidism is more common, affecting 10-50% of the population, with iodine deficiency being a common cause.
  • Autoimmune diseases like Hashimoto’s and Graves‘ are common causes of hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism, respectively.
  • Symptoms of hypothyroidism include sensitivity to cold, weight gain, coarse hair, constipation, depression, swelling of the thyroid gland, and fatigue.
  • Symptoms of hyperthyroidism include sensitivity to heat, weight loss, fine brittle hair, frequent bowel movements, anxiety, bulging eyes, and racing heart rate.
  • Treatment for hypothyroidism involves iodine or hormone replacement therapy, but inadequate treatment of the underlying autoimmune issue can worsen the condition.
  • Treatment for hyperthyroidism involves anti-thyroid medication or radioactive iodine, but long-term use may lead to more pathological tissue and possibly thyroidectomy.
  • Autoimmunity, often caused by leaky gut, is a common underlying cause of thyroid problems. Leaky gut can be caused by allergies, antibiotics, stress, medication, and processed food.
  • Healing leaky gut requires addressing the root causes and making lifestyle changes.


Hello health champions. Today I want to talk about the thyroid and how thyroid problems are so much more common than people realize. We’ll cover ten of the common signs and symptoms that your thyroid might be in trouble, and we’ll talk about the causes and solutions. Coming right up.

Hey, I’m Dr. Ekberg. I’m a holistic doctor and a former Olympic decathlete. And if you want to truly master health by understanding how the body really works, make sure you subscribe and hit that notification bell so you don’t miss anything.

The thyroid gland is a small, flat gland sitting right at the front of the throat. It is responsible for metabolism and acts like a thermostat in your body. It turns the heat up and down. You have 40 trillion cells in your body, and every one of those cells has thyroid hormone receptors. This means that the thyroid determines how much every cell in your body does of whatever that cell does. So, if the thyroid slows down, everything in your body slows down.

When they diagnose thyroid problems, they typically only look at one thing, which is TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone). They look at a range from 0.5 to 5.0, and anything in between that is considered normal. Even though the high number is 10 times higher than the low, they don’t really differentiate in this range. You’re just hypo(normal) or hyper, depending on where you fall. If it’s over 5.0, then you’re diagnosed with hypothyroid and put on hormone replacement therapy.

In the real world, though, there are a few more things to look at. Instead of just going from 0.5 to 5.0, we look at a more optimal range from 1.8 to 3.5, and the sweet spot is right around 2.5. So now, if you’re between 3 and 5, then you’re not fully hypothyroid, but you have reduced function. On the other end, this is where things are completely different. Though you would think that if functional hypothyroid is in the orange range, functional hyperthyroid would be in the blue range, but both of these are actually functional hypo, but for different mechanisms. This is very, very common, and this happens because the pituitary, which makes thyroid-stimulating hormone, is underperforming. It’s just not sending out enough TSH. So now, you’re still functionally hypothyroid, and this happens very often with insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome because of low-grade systemic inflammation.

How common are thyroid problems? Well, hyperthyroid, where it’s overactive, is kind of rare, only about 1%. But hypothyroid, where it’s underperforming, is about 10% to 50% of the population. Most commonly, it’s because of iodine deficiency. About 800 million people in the world live someplace where the soil doesn’t have a lot of iodine, and about a quarter of those people are hypothyroid. They have an underperforming thyroid. In the United States, there are 13 million people, or about 5% of the population, who are on medication for hormone replacement. In Canada, a recent study suggested that about 10% of people, 1 in 10, have a thyroid problem. In Germany, a study of 96,000 people ages 18 to 65 found that 33% of the population had abnormal thyroid, either because the thyroid was an abnormal size or because there were nodules or pathological tissue in the thyroids of one in three. This increases dramatically with age, so probably about 50% or more of people over 50 years old have some kind of thyroid abnormality.

Let’s run through the signs real quick, and then we’ll talk about most importantly what’s causing this, and what we can do about it.

The first sign is temperature. If you’re hypothyroid, then you’re going to be sensitive to cold. These are people who always wear sweaters, want extra blankets, can’t stand air conditioning, and always want to be in the sun or where there’s a heater. Hyperthyroid is the opposite. These are people sensitive to heat, so they always want air conditioning or a fan blowing.

Sign number two is metabolism. If you’re hypothyroid, you usually see some weight gain, despite having less appetite. Everything slows down, and you don’t eat as much, but you’re still gaining weight. Hyperthyroid is the opposite. You have weight loss, despite having a voracious appetite. It doesn’t matter how much you eat; you just can’t seem to put on any weight.

Sign number three is changes in your hair. With hypothyroid, you get coarse hair and hair loss. With hyperthyroid, you get fine, brittle hair, but you still experience hair loss. Both extremes are still signs that the body is out of balance and not working well.

Number four has to do with bowel function. With hypothyroid, everything slows down, so you get constipation. With hyperthyroid, everything speeds up, so you get frequent bowel movements and diarrhea.

The fifth sign has to do with mood. If your thyroid is underperforming, you might have depression, poor focus, and memory problems because you’re not making enough energy to support these functions. With hyperthyroid, you might have agitation and anxiety, along with poor focus. Even though you’re making a lot of energy, it’s being used up for the wrong things, and you don’t have energy for the things you want.

Physically, with hyperthyroid, you’ll often see a tremor, like a resting vibration.

Number six is a classic goiter. When we have hypothyroid due to iodine deficiency, the thyroid grows larger to have more tissue to absorb every little bit of iodine available. It’s an attempt to compensate for the lack of iodine, but in this case, there’s nothing wrong with the thyroid tissue. It’s healthy and doing what it’s supposed to. It’s just upregulating. However, with hyperthyroid, we can also get an enlargement, but that’s usually due to tumors and nodules in the thyroid. Rarely would we see a large enlargement like a grapefruit, which would be a benign goiter, meaning non-pathological tissue with hyperthyroid and nodules. We might see a slight enlargement, but nothing like that.

Number seven is skin changes. With hypothyroid, we get rough, coarse, dry skin. With hyperthyroid, we get thin and paper-like skin.

The eighth sign has to do with the eyes. With hypothyroid, you get swollen, puffy eyes, as everything swells and just slows down. With hyperthyroid, you often get bulging eyes, also known as exophthalmos.

Sign number nine has to do with energy. With hypothyroid, you often have chronic fatigue because there’s not enough energy being made. With hyperthyroid, you can still have fatigue because even though a lot of energy is being made, it’s being used up for the wrong things, like making heat and burning through energy faster.

Lastly, sign number 10 is changes in heart rate. Hypothyroid is associated with a slow heart rate, called bradycardia, while hyperthyroid is associated with a fast heart rate, called tachycardia.

Now let’s look at some of the causes. If you are hypothyroid, the most common reason is iodine deficiency. But if you don’t live somewhere with low iodine, then the most common reason is something called Hashimoto’s disease. Very few people with Hashimoto’s know they have it because it’s an autoimmune disease, and there is no known cure or treatment for this in the mainstream healthcare model. They test for TSH and give hormone replacement, but if you want to find out if you have Hashimoto’s, you can test for thyroid peroxidase antibodies (TPO) or thyroglobulin antibodies.

If you’re hyperthyroid, the number one cause is Graves‘ disease, another autoimmune disease. But it’s a different antibody this time; you’re looking for thyroid receptor antibodies. If the hyperthyroid is not autoimmune, then it is probably due to a tumor, typically either in the thyroid or the pituitary gland.

For treatment, hypothyroid is typically treated with iodine or hormone replacement, either synthetic or natural. However, there are some problems with these treatments. If you give iodine to someone who is deficient, that’s not a problem; they just get back to normal. But if you give iodine to someone with an autoimmune attack on their thyroid, you may upregulate the activity of their thyroid while also upregulating the autoimmune response. Even if these autoimmune individuals are iodine deficient, it is too early to give them iodine. There are some things that need to be fixed first. The problem with hormone replacement is that it doesn’t address the real problem, which is autoimmunity. It only treats the symptom of low thyroid hormone. By giving them more thyroid hormone, we are treating a symptom but allowing the autoimmunity to progress. The issue here is that the thyroid is a very sensitive tissue, and it’s often the first tissue in the body to be attacked by autoimmunity. If we don’t address it early, other tissues can also be affected, like the gut, joints, pancreas, cerebellum, and skin. Using medication as a crutch while allowing the problem to worsen is not an effective approach.

For hyperthyroid treatment, anti-thyroid medications are commonly used to suppress the overactive thyroid. Another method is using radioactive iodine, as the thyroid absorbs iodine selectively. However, long-term use of these treatments can create more pathological tissue and may eventually lead to a thyroidectomy. The problem with the surgery is that it is irreversible once the thyroid is removed. The majority of thyroid issues are still caused by autoimmunity, so addressing autoimmunity early on can potentially avoid the need for these treatments.

What causes autoimmunity? Mostly, it has to do with leaky gut. Leaky gut occurs when the cells in the intestinal lining are not held together tightly, allowing large particles to pass through and trigger an immune system response. Leaky gut has many causes, including allergies, antibiotics, aspirin, sugar, stress, and processed food.

There is no quick and easy fix to heal leaky gut, but avoiding contributing factors and addressing basic health principles can help prevent and potentially reverse the condition.

If you want to learn more about how the body really works and how to get healthy, make sure to explore the videos in the library of this channel. Thanks so much for watching, and I’ll see you in the next video.