There is much evidence that shows our thyroid function is intricately connected to our brain function. This may be no surprise to those that suffer from a thyroid disorder because so many develop neurological symptoms as a result. After all, IT IS ALL CONNECTED! Proper thyroid function promotes neurogenesis, neuronal migration, myelination and synaptogenesis. In other words, an appropriate amount of thyroid hormone promotes neuroplasticity or the brain’s ability to change and adapt, increases healthy brain function and decreases neurodegeneration!
The cascade for proper thyroid function starts in the brain with the hypothalamus, which is a relay center of information from the body to the brain connecting the nervous system to the endocrine system (think hormones!). The hypothalamus sends signals to the pituitary gland to tell the rest of our glands such as our thyroid, adrenals, ovaries, testes, pancreas and more to make hormones. In order for the hypothalamus to do its job properly our brain (and gut) must be able to make adequate amounts of neurotransmitters such as dopamine, serotonin and GABA. Sound complicated? That’s because it is. Without a full understanding about how the brain, thyroid and GI system work together it may be hard to get to the root cause of your thyroid issues!
Thyroid issues causing neurological symptoms
Indications that you may have improper thyroid function affecting your brain:
Cold hands, feet, or all over
Require excessive amounts of sleep to function properly
Increase in weight even with low-calorie diet
Gain weight easily
Difficult, infrequent bowel movements
Depression/lack of motivation
Morning headaches that wear off as the day progresses
Outer third of eyebrow thins
Thinning of hair on scalp, face, or genitals, or excessive hair loss
Dryness of skin and/or scalp
Mental sluggishness/brain fog
Increased pulse even at rest
Nervous and emotional
Tired but wired
Difficulty gaining weight
It is important to make sure a full thyroid panel, including antibodies, is run to assess function and pin down the root cause of your symptoms. There are 11 different markers that make up a full panel and all too often only a few of them are run when a patient complains of thyroid dysfunction or neurological symptoms.
We recommend TSH, T4, T3, FT4, FT3, Reverse T3, T3 uptake (commonly affected with birth control), FTI, TPO ab, thyroglobulin ab and TSI ab (if Graves Disease is suspected). If you are still suffering from thyroid dysfunction and neurological symptoms it is a MUST to get a full panel run.
If thyroid is playing a role in brain function we often see a pattern where the TSH, T4 and T3 are low on a functional scale (they may or may not be out of lab range). This, in combination with a thorough health history and neurological evaluation, allow us to understand the role your thyroid is playing in your brain function.
How many times have you gone to the doctor and said something is wrong, yet the doctor dismisses you and/or says something to the effect of “let’s wait and see?” This happened to me over and over and over for more than a decade. It wasn’t until I saw Dr. Brindisi. She LISTENED and wasn’t dismissive at all. Genuinely caring and diagnosed what others doctors couldn’t, an Autoimmune Thyroid disorder – Hashimoto’s. I’m feeling so much better these days and am forever grateful to her. – Brenda, Carolina Functional Neurology Center Patient