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Mary Shomon

Lyme Disease and Mold Exposure: The Link to Thyroid Disease

By August 12, 2013

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I recently had an email from a reader who wanted to make sure that fellow thyroid patients are aware of two trigger factors for thyroid disease -- chronic untreated Lyme disease, and mold exposure -- that are not frequently discussed. She writes:
Just last year, I tested positive for late stage Lyme disease. The source of my autoimmune thyroid issues and my disabling symptoms were from the undiagnosed Lyme disease, and tests proved that I had biotoxin illness from both Lyme and mold exposure. 100 percent of the patients I have met in every doctor's office along the way also have severe thyroid issues. In all of the patients, the first symptoms of illness were thyroid problems. The markers and chemical reactions of the endocrine system are documented in every Lyme book that I have read and the "Surviving Mold" book, by Dr. Shoemaker. These patients, including myself, can never win the thyroid battle ( I had most of mine surgically removed, because of a 6.7 cm nodule) without treating the source of the battle in the first place. I truly feel the more information we can share, the better educated we will be in treating our chronic health conditions.
Experts recognize that there is a link between chronic, long-term, untreated Lyme disease and the onset of various autoimmune conditions, including autoimmune thyroid disease.

In addition to the more immediate and well-known signs and symptoms of Lyme disease, which include fatigue, joint pain, and the classic "bulls-eye rash," some signs of an untreated, long-term Lyme infection include:

  • bouts of arthritis, with severe joint pain and swelling
  • shooting pains
  • numbness or tingling in the hands or feet
  • problems with short-term memory.
  • cognitive defects
  • sleep disturbances
  • fatigue
Similarly, exposure to certain types of toxic molds can activate the immune system, and is also identified as a potential autoimmune trigger, and can cause a variety of ongoing symptoms, including:
  • nasal and sinus congestion, upper respiratory tract infections
  • cough/sore throat
  • tightness in the chest
  • difficulty breathing
  • asthma
  • nosebleed
  • headaches
  • skin irritation, rashes
Resources

If you want to learn more about Lyme Disease, here are some resources:

For mold information:

About Mary Shomon | Follow Mary on Twitter | Facebook: Thyroid Support

Photo: istockphoto

Comments
August 13, 2013 at 10:26 am
(1) Jan Pauly says:

As a 7 year survivor of Lyme & a number of co-infections, my physician has recently been treating me for the Lyme that has been hiding in my thyroid and has been causing a lot of thyroid dysfunction. I am being treated with herbals and homeopathic meds, as well as Armour & after several months, am starting to see signs that my thyroid is healing and hopefully that the Lyme bugs are being killed off. I wanted to strongly suggest that you list the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society as a resource (ilads.org). For anyone who suspects they have Lyme or chronic Lyme, this organization is the one which can direct you to the appropriate doctors, testing, and treatment info which will actually help you to heal. The other resource/group listed (ALDA) does not acknowledge that chronic Lyme exists, much less assist with effective treatment. Thanks, Mary, for focusing on what is an epidemic in many parts of our country.

August 13, 2013 at 3:54 pm
(2) Katherine Davis says:

I had an extremely bad bout of Lyme Disease and was treated with Doxycycline 3 times. When that didn’t work, I was treated with IV antibiotics. It has been 2 years since treatment and I notice that no matter how much I exercise and how careful my eating habits, I manage to keep gaining weight. I just had a full battery of tests, including thyroid, and they all came back negative. I have a hard time believing that there is no reason for my weight gain. I have just started seeing a nutritionist. I am very careful about my diet. I only eat “real” food, nothing processed and almost totally organic. I suppose I will have to live with this, but I sure wish someone could tell me why?

August 13, 2013 at 4:27 pm
(3) TMVA says:

Katherine – It depends on your TSH number from the test. Unrelated to the article, but my number was 4.5 which was within doctors ‘normal’ range yet, I had gained over 25 lbs in one year without any change in diet or exercise. At that time normal TSH range was .5 to 5.0. Finally, found a doctor who put me on thyroid meds, this took a while to find a doctor who would listen, total weight gain for me was 40 lbs…

August 13, 2013 at 5:22 pm
(4) Lulu says:

Hi Katherine, have your cortisol levels been checked. Mine are low so I have trouble putting on weight. Hope you get some answers.

August 13, 2013 at 7:06 pm
(5) ibivi says:

Interesting news about mould. I lived in an old house in which our basement got flooded from time to time and we had mould. While recovering from a mild heart attack I developed severe allergic reactions to metals, mould, bleach, pollen, etc. We had to move into an environment that did not contain mould. Not easy to do. Anyway, about 5 to 7 yrs later I started having unusual symptoms which didn’t seem like allergy issues. My tests didn’t show anything for a while but then my TSH level became elevated. It turns out that I had hypothyroidism. Perhaps a causal relationship? I am still sensitive to mould and always will be. My medication is still being adjusted to reduce the symptoms of hypothyroidism.

August 13, 2013 at 8:09 pm
(6) Marygrace says:

I know I have the co-infections, not sure about actual Lyme. However, all this makes so much sense.

I have been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue, Myofascial Pain Syndrome and a bunch of other stuff, as well as being hypothyroid.

I found Low Dose Naltrexone (4.5 mg) to be extremely helpful to me when I had to get off my narcontics because they were making life more and more miserable. I was able to lower my thyroid meds as well with this regime.

To boost my thyroid, I also do the Iodine Protocol, http://www.BreastCancerChoices.org under the Iodine Tab. Both have saved my life.

This is something I post for others who ask for info. It is a lot of info, but it it well worth investing the time, well at least it was for me.

Wishing you all continued healing!

Have you heard of Low Dose Naltrexone otherwise known as LDN? When used in low doses, (3.0-4.5 mg per day) it has wonderful, life changing effects with illnesses such as Crohn’s Disease, prostate cancer and multiple sclerosis, along with many other immune system disorders.
One lady reported treating her Crohn’s disease with LDN. She claims to the LDN has helped reduce her symptoms significantly. One of the guys on the list has both MS and prostate cancer and he swears by this med. I’ve heard people with MS talk about leaving canes, braces, and even wheelchairs by the wayside after starting treatment with Low Dose Naltrexone.

August 13, 2013 at 8:12 pm
(7) Marygrace says:

This is the best general article I have seen on LDN. This is the link for your review.

http://www.drwhitaker.com/legacy/issues/pwp_nc/scntr_LDN_0309.html

Here is a copy of the article (with my little comments in Italics) in case the link does not work:

Immune Enhancement LDN: A Lifesaving Drug

In October 2005, Dee Alejo was diagnosed with advanced cervical cancer. She had surgery, followed by chemotherapy and radiation, but the cancer had metastasized to her lungs. In February 2007, she was told she had four to nine months to live. When she contacted a friend to relay the bad news, her friend told her about an inexpensive, non-toxic drug that was being used to successfully treat cancer.

Dee was anxious to give it a try, but she couldn’t find a doctor who would prescribe it. Desperate, Dee tracked down the physician who discovered this therapy, got a prescription, and began taking it. Today, nearly two years later, Dee is back at work and glowing with health. Although she still has evidence of tumors in her lungs, they appear to be calcifying rather than growing, and she has virtually no symptoms.

Twelve years ago, Vicki Finlayson developed numbness and tingling in her arms and legs. After two years, many tests, and unrelenting pain and fatigue, as well as speech, memory, and balance problems, she was diagnosed with a severe form of multiple sclerosis (MS). For the next eight years, Vicki spent most of her time on the couch or in bed, “depressed and hating life.” She tried one drug after another, from weekly injections and steroid infusions to a lengthy list of narcotics and other medications. Nothing provided much relief, and side effects landed her in the hospital.

August 13, 2013 at 8:13 pm
(8) Cinthia says:

Also Thyroid patients should check for more infections like HHV-6 (Human Herpes Virus-6). http://hhv-6foundation.org/news/hhv-6a-linked-to-thyroiditis-autoimmune-disease
“A group from the University of Ferrara, Italy, has published a study linking HHV-6A to Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis (HT), an autoimmune disorder that is the most common of all thyroid diseases. The study found that HHV-6 prevalence was detected significantly more frequently among thyroid fine needle aspirates (FNA) from HT individuals than controls (82% vs. 10%, respectively). In addition, the group demonstrated that thyroid cells infected with both HHV-6A and HHV-6B became susceptible to NK-mediated killing, providing evidence of a potential mechanism for HHV-6-induced autoimmunity.

Of note, the pattern of infection established by HHV-6 in HT patients was substantially different than that observed in healthy individuals. HT biopsies were more frequently positive for HHV-6 and exhibited increased viral loads compared to controls, and active HHV-6 transcription was observed in HT thyrocytes compared to latent infection in HHV-6-infected control thyroids. Furthermore, the presence of HHV-6 infection was found localized mainly to thyrocytes, rather than in lymphocytes infiltrating the lesion, and increased prevalence of latent HHV-6 infection was seen in PBMCs overall. To learn more, read the full open-access paper and visit the HHV-6 Foundation’s webpage on HHV-6 and Immune Suppression/Autoimmunity.”

August 13, 2013 at 8:14 pm
(9) Marygrace says:

In 2005, Vicki’s husband heard about an inexpensive, nontoxic drug that was helping people with MS. Although she was skeptical, Vicki convinced her doctor to write a prescription. Just two days after she started taking it, her pain began to subside and her energy returned, and within six months, all of her symptoms were gone. Today, Vicki takes no other medications, and she’s back to playing golf.

The drug that produced such miraculous results for Dee, Vicki, and tens of thousands of others is low-dose Naltrexone (LDN).

LDN is a major breakthrough, but like other innovative therapies, it’s virtually ignored by conventional physicians. It’s the same old song and dance: “If it were any good, I’d know about it.” Yet this safe, economical drug stands to benefit millions—not only those with cancer and MS, but also people dealing with autism, Parkinson’s, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, and other autoimmune diseases.

All About Endorphins

If you ask your doctor about Naltrexone, he’ll probably tell you it’s for treating addiction, and he’s right. Naltrexone was approved more than 20 years ago for facilitating heroin withdrawal, and it’s now used for alcoholism as well. So how does such a drug help patients with cancer, MS, and other diseases? It’s all about endorphins.

Endorphins were discovered in the 1970s after scientists found that morphine, heroin, and other opiates relieved pain and enhanced mood by binding to opioid receptors in the brain. They concluded there must be natural compounds that also latch on to these receptors, and they went on to identify peptides that have effects similar to opiate drugs. They named these peptides endorphins, from the words endogenous (meaning made in the body) and morphine.

August 13, 2013 at 8:15 pm
(10) Marygrace says:

The best known endorphin is beta-endorphin, which is produced in response to physical exercise. Beta-endorphin is believed to be responsible for the “runner’s high” experienced during and after a long run. However, it’s just one of a number of endorphins that are made in the brain and adrenal glands, and they do far more than increase pain tolerance and sense of well-being.

A Momentous Discovery

In the 1980s, it was noted that Naltrexone boosts endorphin levels. Based on this knowledge, New York City physician Bernard Bihari, MD, and colleagues hypothesized that patients with AIDS, who have significant reductions in levels of circulating endorphins, could benefit from low doses of this drug. So they conducted a study in which AIDS patients took 1.75 to 4.5 mg of Naltrexone at bedtime.

The results were incredible. The endorphin levels of these patients soared, and they not only felt better, but their viral counts went down, they gained weight, and their health improved dramatically. The effects were so remarkable that Dr. Bihari began using LDN not only for AIDS but also for other diseases marked by immune system dysfunction. To his delight, the results were equally positive.

Dr. Bihari had stumbled upon a momentous discovery: Endorphins play a central role in immune function, and LDN enhances the immune response by stimulating endorphin production.

LDN Boosts Immune Function

It would be several years before the mechanisms were understood, but we now know that when LDN is taken at bedtime, it binds to opioid receptors and temporarily blocks endorphins from attaching. This action signals the body to increase endorphin production, an effect that can last as long as 18 hours.

August 13, 2013 at 8:15 pm
(11) Marygrace says:

The benefits of this remarkable drug have been proven in a number of scientific studies, several of which were presented at the Fourth Annual LDN Conference held in 2008 on the campus of the University of Southern California School of Medicine.

Cancer, Autoimmune Diseases…

Burton Berkson, MD, discussed the use of LDN for cancer. He gave an update on a case he published two years ago involving a patient with metastatic pancreatic cancer who was treated with LDN and intravenous alpha lipoic acid after failing a course of chemo. The patient continues to do well eight years after his “terminal” diagnosis. Dr. Berkson and others also reported on patients who have successfully used LDN for cancers of the liver, breast, ovary, prostate, lung, and colon, as well as lymphoma and melanoma.

The benefits of LDN for patients with multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and other autoimmune disorders were addressed as well. Scottish physician Tom Gilhooly, MD, focused on MS (Scotland has the world’s highest rate of the disease) and the excellent outcomes of patients treated with LDN. Dr. Gilhooly is currently involved in a clinical trial on the urological effects of LDN in patients with multiple sclerosis.

Skip Lenz, PharmD, also talked about LDN’s therapeutic effects on MS. He conducted an informal survey of 185 people, most of them with MS, who were taking LDN and found that 56 percent had improvements in symptoms, and 32 percent held steady—amazing results considering the progressive nature of MS and the toxicity of conventional treatments.

August 13, 2013 at 8:17 pm
(12) Marygrace says:

…Autism, and More

Jacquelyn McCandless, MD, discussed her experience with LDN and children who have autism, which now affects one in 150 American kids. Autism is marked by immune dysfunction and is considered by many to be an autoimmune disorder potentially brought on by the excessive use of vaccinations. Dr. McCandless stated that the majority of these kids become more social and exhibit better eye contact and more interaction with others after they start taking LDN. Their sleep is also improved, and they get fewer colds and other infections.

David Gluck, MD, who chaired the conference and, aside from Dr. Bihari, has done more than anyone to advance the use of LDN, gave an overview of other new research. Highlights included a 2007 study showing that 89 percent of patients with Crohn’s disease had symptomatic improvement with LDN, and a 2008 Italian study demonstrating that LDN stopped progression in all but one of 40 patients with an aggressive type of MS. He also reported on continuing research into LDN’s effects on inflammatory bowel disease, fibromyalgia, and MS.

Truth be told, we have barely scratched the surface when it comes to the therapeutic potential of this drug. Patients and physicians—including those at Whitaker Wellness—get consistently good results with LDN. In addition to the conditions discussed above, it’s also helpful for allergies, Parkinson’s disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, leaky gut and other gastrointestinal problems, corneal ulcers, and overall immune support. And Dr. McCandless calls LDN “the best anti-aging medicine going.”

August 13, 2013 at 8:18 pm
(13) Marygrace says:

Patients Are Spreading the Word

Physicians may not be embracing LDN, but patients certainly are. Vicki, the woman who was nearly crippled with MS, walked 53 miles from her home to the California state capitol building in Sacramento to talk with Governor Schwarzenegger’s staff about raising awareness of LDN. Dee, the “terminal” cancer patient, has created a Web site to get the word out (ldn4cancer.com).

A couple of patients have written books on LDN and more will soon be released. Still others, realizing that well-organized studies are the only way to get the attention of the scientific community, are raising money or using their own resources to fund research (although the current science is more than adequate).

I wish them luck, and I’ll do everything I can to help, but I’m not optimistic. This reminds me of the Dilantin saga. Jack Dreyfus has spent $80 million of his personal fortune trying to get doctors to recognize the extremely beneficial off-label uses of this safe, inexpensive, low-dose drug for treating anxiety and depression. Forty years later, it’s still ignored. Meanwhile, the pharmaceutical companies have made billions of dollars on antidepressants that are not only dangerous, but mind-numbing as well.

If you are suffering with any of the conditions discussed in this article, LDN certainly merits a therapeutic trial. Talk to your doctor, present the research and sources of additional information, and if he/she isn’t open to prescribing LDN, then find a new physician.

August 13, 2013 at 8:19 pm
(14) Marygrace says:

Recommendations:

LDN requires a prescription (although you can get it at All Day Chemist without one if you can’t find a supportive physician) and is obtained through compounding pharmacies. (Regular pharmacies typically carry only 50 mg capsules.) Good ones include Skip’s Pharmacy, (800) 553-7429, Wellness Pharmacy, (800) 227-2627, and McGuff Pharmacy, (877) 444-1133.

The optimal dose of LDN is 4.5 mg at bedtime. Some people have vivid dreams when they first begin using LDN. If this is an issue for you, start with 1.5–3 mg and build up over two months. Do not take LDN if you use narcotic drugs—it blocks their effects and causes withdrawal symptoms. LDN may be started only after narcotics are completely out of your system, typically 1-2 weeks is recommended.

We routinely prescribe LDN at the Whitaker Wellness Institute. To see a physician here, call (800) 488-1500.

To learn more, visit Dr. Gluck’s Web site, http://www.LowDoseNaltrexone.org and search the Internet for LDN.

Reference: A Revolution in Research: The Fourth Annual Low-Dose Naltrexone Conference. October 11, 2008.
http:LDN-for-Cancer.com updated version now

August 14, 2013 at 8:58 pm
(15) jocelyn says:

have all this symptoms since we live in Guam. the unit that we are renting for 3 yrs. has mold everywhere and can even smell it from the fence. and even we are back in the mainland I still have this symptoms recently got check for thyroid and says that mine is higher than normal. I started the med but I am having reactions of shortness of breath on the med and I have a rheumatic heart disease and most doctors telling me its because of my disease. been struggling for this for more than 3 yrs. now. what do I have to asked so I can get check for this? Thank you.

August 15, 2013 at 2:23 am
(16) Mouse says:

Can someone explain the TSH test in more detail? My first test was 55. How can that be possible when the norm is .1 – 5.0 ?? I still don’t really understand what is happening in the body when the score is so high…

The link with the mold is VERY interesting and I will be sharing this info with some doctors I know who would likely research it a bit more.

Thanks.

August 15, 2013 at 11:39 am
(17) Catherine Nichols Pogorzelski says:

Is Marygrace a Pig Pharma Bot?

August 18, 2013 at 6:42 pm
(18) Lisa says:

I was treated for two years for hypothyroid after a high TSH. My symptoms never subsided in fact they got worse. I was on approximately 13 different different antidepressants over 2 years cause nothing worked. After begging my doctor to institutionalize me for mental illness she decided to do a thyroid panel FIRST. Turns out even though my TSH was fine my T 3, T 4, free T 3 etc were off the charts! TSH IS NOT AN ACCURATE TEST. I am living proof. Since that test and PROPER treatment for my thyroid I am happy to say I am no longer on antidepressants and my mind has never been clearer!

November 1, 2013 at 8:14 pm
(19) June O says:

Hi. I am surprised to hear that your docs are focused on tsh. The t4 is more or less the deciding factor along with symptoms. Tsh and antibody tests just give more information about why your thyroid is not working

December 14, 2013 at 9:38 pm
(20) Mold Inspection Dallas says:

A old treatment expert ought to be hired in the first signs of mold.
It’ll emit spores to the air when this takes effect. The Dupli-Color TELEVISION video is inspiring.

Look into my homepage; <a href=”http://moldinspectiondallastx.com”>Mold Inspection Dallas</a>

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February 14, 2014 at 6:57 pm
(22) Barbara Friend says:

The positive effect of LDN on MS is fascinating. ten years ago I was having roof work done on my house. The roofers were incompetent (I soon learned) and tore off the roof without covering it. That night there was a once-in 30-years rainstorm. The house was flooded; the beautiful old plaster fell off, etc,. Some weeks later (roof finally on) I noticed the shower curtain looking mildewed; the wallpaper peeling off where the innundation was most intense. mushrooms growing in the cellar. The house had always been wonderfully dry; this was a first.
I threw out clothing, etc that was. ruined. But I am unsure about whether the house simply gradually drying out was sufficient and if I have a chronic mold problem.
Within the year I came down suddenly with either: Guillaine-Barre or transverse myelitis. Two MRIs showed inflammation points along the spine. I took low-dose Doxycycline to aid sleep. From that point, I seem to have an inflammatory response to small injuries, inc. rosacea. Before, I had unlimited energy and no such problems; it was literally an overnight change. One MD seemed to think it a mild version of MS, though he is not a neurologist.
Query: could a bout of mold cause this? What about LDN?

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