Thyroid UK
82,985 members98,017 posts

Why do thyroids malfunction?

I have been wondering why so many people have thyroid problems. Are there theories on that? Is it polution, food, life style? I always would rather treat the cause than the symptoms ( especially since my doctor has been useless and told me that my low body temperature, between 35 and 36, is due to a faulty thermometer!). Has anyone been successful in treating sluggish thyroid with food or supplements alone?

16 Replies


You may be interested in these links. It seems that biotoxins are a cause in those individuals who are genetically unable to make antibodies for them. This certainly came as a revelation to me especially when we discovered that they are all relevant for my daughter who has now been tested in the USA and found to have all of them:

Jane x x


There's a lot of cyclic arguments, as availble options. Which comes first?

Iodine used to added to salt as standard and now dropped. We're told there's enough around now- Is there?

People live longer harder lives and expect more bangs for the buck.

GP has said to me- you're getting older -as if that's a reason to have a low metabolism.

People used to accept this more readily, but with awareness comes demands and that's where the NHS is faltering, as is used to dealing with acute and chronic cases better than under performing bodies.

Stress is the big modern factor though - and thus adrenals become taxed- thence thyroids falter and lifestyles deteriorate accordingly.

Jane mentions specifics above -and this, with genetic tendency to not convert T4 to T3 [Deodiases], would make up quite a few cases that are waiting to happen as well.

The well known issue, highlighted so much on this forum, of removal of the useful NDT treatment option has exacerbated the problem- which could have been handled better over the last few decades and led to T4 &/or T3 regimes being standard.

Change is due- and bars are being rattled in some hallowed cages, at last.

It seems to me that the Thyroid, the key to every cell operation in the body, has been neglected due to it's complex interactions and difficulty in managing all the above together.

1 like

Does your low body temperature fluctuate? I believe that people say if your temp is low and fluctuating you are more likely to have adrenal problems. That's the case for me. Why I have adrenal problems is, of course, the big unanswered question. Are the adrenals malfunctioning, are they getting wrong messages from higher up the HPTA axis, do I have some infection (Lyme for example) causing the malfunction? I'm on the trail. I do know that treating my adrenals has allowed me to reduce my thyroid meds considerably.


Well done rosetrees for reducing thyroid meds and feeling better. How do you treat adrenals? I've strongly suspected for years I have this prob. :-) Alison


Why has no-one mentioned the genetic link? Both my grandmother and mother, as well as several aunts (mum had 4 sisters of which 2 had definite problems) and some of my cousins have all been hypothyroid. If there is a family history, I think there will be a link which is why I have advised, not only my 3 daughters, but also my son to have their thyroid functions tested while they are well so that if anything changes they will have something to measure it against. It is something that I would definitely recommend to anyone with children to have done.


Some interesting genetic angles on this recent post.

Zabby has given an in depth link too.

Recent findings on D102 [abstract] here


On diet..


Thank you for your replies.

No Rosetrees, my temperature is consistently low. I am doing some experimenting with the ingredients the body needs to make thyroid hormone;L- tyrosine, iodine, selenium. In the past taking these did help me. This time I take one at a time and monitor my temp carefully, so I can work out what is going on.

There is no history of thyroid in my family, but I suspect that my dad also was slightly hypo because he was always exhausted and often in a bad mood!


I found taking L.Tyrosine in a herbal compound lit me up too much.

I've since found that Whey protein concentrate has a useful amount of Tyrosine per serving -so I use that in a [PRE-biotic] Kefir solution to make a good slimming meal -without the highlights!

The kefir has immense value to poor immune systems- but you will need to get a culture going.


It's psychological with me. I am a bottler and will bottle up emotions, good and bad. There is a genetic predisposition by the looks of things in my family, however I had to physically flick the Autoimmune switch to trigger it. I need to really focus on destressing. Eating healthy is a given. And I have found I am intollerant of my local water supply so can only drink bottled or filtered (I was spoilt with gorgous glasgow water growing up). I suppose the difficulty in narrowing the cause down is which came first, the thyroid or the stress? Thyroid affects stress, stress affects thyroid. It's a chicken and egg scenario for me. Looking back over my life, there was a lot of stress from a very young age and very consistant. At puberty, I would say that is a very dangerous time to be exposed to lots of stess and can see how it has affected my biologically.


Where did you get your start-off kefir from, tegz? When I first took tyrosine, it was like I was on speed. Couldn't stop, couldn't sleep. But my body got used to it in a few days.

Interesting theory, Granitecitygirl. I had a lot of stress too. I had never connected that to my thyroid problem.


Kefir -a present from an ex g/f who dropped some off to me a few months ago.

You can buy it in health food shops but it's not cheap. It takes a few days to stabilise and settle with your home friendly bacteria adding in -so it gets quite 'homely' :)

Use any milk to feed and after a day or two it will have expanded then you put it in the fridge to settle and filter out 90% for use and restart with leftovers.

Simples ... read up online for tips, too. Good luck.


In most cases it is not the thyroid that malfunctions but the immune system. There is a theory called the hygiene hypothesis. Basically allergy and autoimmunty are more common in developed countries where living conditions are cleaner and healthcare 'better' and food is sterililsed (eg milk). Parasitic infections are uncommon unlike in the past or in developing countries. Our bodies and immune systems evolved with parasites present and now they have been taken out of the equation. In order to live in the body parasites have to modify/switch of the immune system (by encouraging the development of regulatory T cells). With the parasites not there to dampen the immune system it overreacts and allergy and autoimmunity are the result. Bacteria in the gut may do something similar but I don't know so much about that, can't help wondering if increases in allergy and autoimmunity coincided with the policy to pasteurise milk. So top up on your probiotics.

Our immune systems are also challenged less if there is less illness and therefore don't learn how to moderate their response - attacking things it shouldn't attack.

Genetics also play a part as some people are more susceptible. Particular HLA types are more likely to develop particular types of autoimmunity.

And I also can't help but wonder if immunisation can have the side effect of allergy/autoimmunity.


Also perhaps diet plays a part? Its well known how much junk people eat in developed countries - diets high in saturated fats and sugar and low in fruit, veg, fiber and healthy omega 3 fats. This causes inflammation and inflammation of the thyroid is what causes hashimotos.

Though saying that I was 7 when I got thyroid disease and I used to eat lots on home grown fruit and veg. But I lived next to fields (pesticides) and went swimming every week (chlorine) and loved to eat cauliflower and raw cabbage (goitrogens).


Iv`e wondered that many times, there`s no family history as far as I know, but then people weren`t routinly tested for thyroid problems in the past. It was considered inevitable that you gained weight as you got older, so who can guess how many cases of middle aged spread were actually down to underactive thyroids. Iv`e read one theory on this site, & that`s the one about tosillectomy causing thyroid malfunction. So many people of my generation had their tonsils taken out as a matter of course when they were children, I think that it makes sense.


Yep- had mine out in the 50's :( But the 'throats' were repeatedly bad at the time, too.


You may also like...