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The body contains different systems that work together synergistically to ensure our survival. A crucial system in the body is called the endocrine system – and within this system lies various glands that produce hormones. In this post, we want to turn our focus to the gland that resided within the neck – known as the Thyroid.
The Thyroid gland’s purpose may seem small, considering the fact that it only produces two hormones, but the body cannot survive without these two hormones. Thyroxine, along with Triiodothyronine, are both important in metabolism, as well as other vital functions that occur within the human body.
Hypothyroidism is a relatively common condition that affects the Thyroid gland. When this condition develops, the patient’s Thyroid will produce an insufficient number of these hormones; thus all bodily functions that rely on the hormones will not be effectively supported.
Numerous suggestions have been made in regards to improving Hypothyroidism and helping the Thyroid gland. In this post, we want to look at whether it would be a good idea for patients with this condition to use apple cider vinegar – which have been proven to hold some potential benefits but only in certain situations.
What Is Hypothyroidism?
Hypothyroidism is a condition that affects the Thyroid gland. One study1 found that up to 2% of the global adult population may be affected by the condition. It has also been found that women are far more likely to develop hypothyroidism than men.
When a patient develops hypothyroidism, it means that their Thyroid gland is not producing an adequate supply of thyroid hormones to support the bodily functions that depend on these particular hormones. There are two types of primary hormones secreted by the gland. They are often referred to as T3 (Triiodothyronine) and T4 (Thyroxine).
T3 hormones are more active than T4 and provide a more potent effect on bodily functions that rely on a constant supply of these thyroid hormones.
Common Symptoms Of Hypothyroidism
Thyroid hormones are known to be especially vital for metabolism in the human body, which is why one of the most common symptoms associated with this condition is weight gain. Individuals who develop this condition will often find that they start to gain weight even while following the same diet they have been for years.
There are many other symptoms that have also been associated with hypothyroidism. Identifying these symptoms and taking action early on can lead to better treatment. This may also potentially help to avoid further issues with the thyroid gland and possibly reduce the risk of complications caused by the condition.
Other symptoms that are associated with this condition include2:
- Fatigue and constantly feeling tired
- A puffy face
- Thinning hair
- Symptoms of depression
- Menstrual periods may become irregular
- Muscle stiffness and pain
- Muscle weakness
- The skin may become dry
- Cholesterol levels may become elevated
- Heart rate may become lower
- Memory function may be impaired
- Hoarseness of the voice
- Joints may be painful and swollen
- Joint stiffness
- Sensitivity to cold temperatures
This is quite a long list of symptoms – it is important to note that symptoms tend to vary from patient to patient. One patient may only experience one or two symptoms when levels of thyroid hormones in their body become low, while another may experience more severe symptoms.
Levothyroxine For The Treatment Of Hypothyroidism
While different types of therapies and treatments have been suggested for patients with hypothyroidism, the most common treatment used for this condition still remains the use of levothyroxine at the moment. Levothyroxine is a synthetic type of thyroid hormone – specifically the hormone thyroxine.
One study3 conducted on the topic of current Thyroid Hormone Replacement therapies, by the American Thyroid Association Task Force, found that levothyroxine should be a preferred therapy over alternative options, such as thyroid extract therapy, as well as the combination therapy that uses both liothyronine and levothyroxine. The reason for this finding was contributed to by the fact that current evidence available for alternative therapeutic options for the treatment of hypothyroidism is not as promising as the use of levothyroxine.
A particular challenge being faced with regards to the treatment of Hypothyroidism at the moment is the fact that it is often difficult to find the right dosage of levothyroxine for a patient. The first dose is often not perfect. Many patients find that their initial prescription of levothyroxine does not completely alleviate their symptoms, or causes them to experience new symptoms due to hyperthyroidism, a condition where levels of thyroid hormone in the blood become too high.
For this reason, it is often advised that a patient works closely with their physician to help them find the right dose of levothyroxine for their condition. The physician will request blood tests to determine how serious their hypothyroidism is and prescribe a dose of levothyroxine based on the findings of these tests.
The patient will usually undergo additional tests approximately three months after they have started their levothyroxine therapy. These tests will help the physician determine how effectively the medication is working for the patient. The physician will also be able to tell if the levothyroxine dosage prescribed to the patient is too strong or too weak. Thus, appropriate adjustments can then be made by the physician to help bring about a better balance of thyroid hormones in the patient’s body – until the physician is happy with blood tests and the patient’s symptoms have subsided.
The Use Of Apple Cider Vinegar In Patients With Hypothyroidism
Numerous publications and even some scientific papers have suggested alternative methods that can be utilized to assist with the treatment of hypothyroidism. Apple cider vinegar is a topic that has gained attention recently. The relation between hypothyroidism and apple cider vinegar is somewhat complex, however.
The first thing we want to bring forward here is the fact that apple cider vinegar will not have a direct beneficial impact on thyroid function. The use of apple cider vinegar does not provide an effective natural treatment for hypothyroidism. Instead, it is the effect of the apple cider vinegar in the stomach that may provide beneficial effects for a patient who has already been diagnosed with hypothyroidism – and already started their treatment with levothyroxine.
The benefits of apple cider vinegar come into play when we look at the effects of this vinegar on the stomach itself. A lot of patients have difficulty absorbing the levothyroxine medication properly. This often requires them to take higher doses of the medication – which, in turn, puts them at a higher risk of hyperthyroidism.
The acidity environment of the stomach helps the body absorb the levothyroxine medication better due to improvements in the breakdown of the medication. One publication4 explains that the apple cider vinegar will primarily change the pH level in the stomach, which causes the environment to become more acidic.
This would be more beneficial in certain patients who frequently use antacid medication, as this type of medication causes the acidity level of the stomach to become lower. By restoring the acidity of the stomach, a higher concentration of the synthetic hormones found in Thyroid Hormone Replacement medication can be absorbed.
Using Apple Cider Vinegar With Levothyroxine
There are different ways that apple cider vinegar can be used. Many people simply add the vinegar to their food, but this is often when they want to use the substance to help them lose weight. When it comes to using apple cider vinegar to assist with the absorption of levothyroxine, it might be a better idea to take the vinegar closer to the dose of levothyroxine, as well as to follow specific protocols to provide a more effective approach.
For the majority of people, simply mixing approximately two teaspoons of apple cider vinegar with some water is the perfect solution. The taste of apple cider vinegar is certainly not pleasant, which is why some people may rather decide to mix the vinegar with juice instead of water. The mixture should be taken in the morning, which can then be followed by the dose of levothyroxine medication. It is important to avoid taking other medications immediately after this, as absorption of levothyroxine or the other medications may be compromised. Thus, leave a space of at least 30 minutes between levothyroxine and any other medication that is being taken.
Potential Drawbacks Of Apple Cider Vinegar
Even though apple cider vinegar is beneficial for people with hypothyroidism, specifically when they are taking levothyroxine medication, there are some precautions that patients should be aware of before they decide to use this vinegar to assist with boosting the absorption of their medication.
Firstly, the vinegar is potent and can be harsh on the body. There have been cases of damage to the esophageal with pure apple cider vinegar. For this reason, it is essential always to ensure that apple cider vinegar is diluted in a juice or water and it should never be taken purely directly into the mouth. The vinegar can, however, be added to salads or used as a tenderizer for certain meat products – in such a case, it should not cause harm to the mouth or throat.
One additional drawback that should be considered is the fact that, while a boost in the absorption of levothyroxine is seen as beneficial, this could also hold the potential to cause the patient to experience hyperthyroidism when they continue taking the same dosage of their medication. When more of the medication is absorbed by the patient’s body, it could lead to an elevation of thyroid hormone levels in their body.
For this reason, patients who are planning to start using apple cider vinegar are advised to consult with a physician first. Additionally, the physician may choose to conduct frequent tests in the beginning. This will help the physician determine if the absorption of the synthetic thyroid hormones are significantly affected – in such a case, the physician will need to make appropriate adjustments to the patient’s levothyroxine dosage to avoid the development of hyperthyroidism.
Hypothyroidism can cause weight gain, fatigue, and many other symptoms. The condition causes problems with metabolism, as well as other functions where thyroxine and triiodothyronine are crucial. Levothyroxine provides an effective treatment option for hypothyroidism, introducing synthetic thyroxine into the patient’s body; thus increasing levels of Thyroid hormone when their Thyroid is unable to make enough of these hormones.
Research has suggested that the use of apple cider vinegar can be beneficial for individuals who are taking levothyroxine, as it may enhance the absorption of the medication. There are, however, some important precautions that patients should be aware of before they take this route.
1 M.P.J. Vanderpump. The epidemiology of thyroid disease. Oxford Academic: British Medical Bulletin. 1 September 2011. https://academic.oup.com/bmb/article/99/1/39/298307
2 Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid). Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hypothyroidism/symptoms-causes/syc-20350284
3 Multiple Authors. Guidelines for the Treatment of Hypothyroidism: Prepared by the American Thyroid Association Task Force on Thyroid Hormone Replacement. Journal of Thyroid. 1 December 2014. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4267409/
4 Dr. Mercola. What the Research Really Says About Apple Cider Vinegar. Mercola. 2 June 2009. https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2009/06/02/apple-cider-vinegar-hype.aspx