Dr. David Clark, DC explains how TSH receptor antibodies that are usually seen in hyperthyroid Graves' disease can cause low thyroid symptoms.
Hidden Cause #9: Why you still have low thyroid symptoms is you have anti-TSH receptor antibodies.
That was a mouthful. Let me say it again.
Hidden Cause #9 why you still have low thyroid symptoms even though your labs are "normal" and even though you take medication...is you have antibodies against the receptors for thyroid-stimulating hormone.
Now, this is semi-technical but I’m going to explain it to you this way:
Normally the pituitary gland sends a signal to your thyroid gland called TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone). The TSH then tells the thyroid gland to make T4 and T3.
Hidden Cause #9 is an autoimmune situation that affects TSH. The more common autoimmune cause of low thyroid symptoms is, of course, Hashimoto’s, which we’ve talked about. But you can make antibodies to the little receptors for TSH.
This antibody is often called a thyroid-simulating immunoglobulin. Typically, people that have antibodies against this TSH receptor are thought of as having Graves’ disease.
Graves’ disease is a hyperthyroid condition. It’s completely different than low thyroid. So why am I saying this is a hidden cause for low thyroid symptoms? Because there’s no rule about what these antibodies are going to do to that TSH receptor.
In Graves’ disease, they attach onto the receptor and they stimulate more TSH and more thyroid hormones causing hyperthyroidism. But there’s no rule that they’re going to do that every time.
TSH receptor antibodies also show up in people that have Hashimoto’s.
TSH receptor antibodies can bind to TSH receptor and block it...Meaning it’s like you’re not getting any TSH. And if you’re not getting any TSH, you’re not going to make any T4 and T3 and you’re going to become hypothyroid.
What kind of symptoms would you have? You would have the classical hypothyroid symptoms:
- hair loss
- brain fog
- high cholesterol
- joint pain.
Those are all things that you could have if you had TSH receptor antibodies.
Very few doctors check for these antibodies in someone that has LOW thyroid symptoms. If you ask endocrinologists, GPs, naturopaths, acupuncturists, or even a doctor who understand functional medicine....
...and you ask them "What kind of symptoms would make you want to run TSH receptor antibodies?" They would not say low thyroid. What they would say are symptoms like increased heart rate, racing heart, racing pulse, racing thoughts, feeling shaky. Those are all Graves' disease symptoms.
Now here’s where it gets really confusing...
People that have Hashimoto’s can swing back and forth between low thyroid symptoms and periodic, temporary hyperthyroid symptoms.
The reason that swing is happening in Hashimoto's is because you get a flair up and the immune system attack that’s going on inside your thyroid gland, and it explodes a little segment of your thyroid gland...and dumps active free-state hormones into your blood.
Then you get hyperthyroid symptoms.
TSH receptor antibodies are typically thought of as something that you only check for in Graves’ disease. And this is why it’s a hidden cause.
Follow what I’m saying....
You could have negative TPO antibodies. You could have negative TGB antibodies. But you could have positive TSH receptor antibodies and still be a Hashimoto’s case--- And still be low thyroid.
I would be very surprised if you found a doctor in any field who would run that test and interpret it that way. But that’s just the fact. That’s what the literature shows.
How common are TSH receptor antibodies in Hashimoto's? Not very common but that’s also why it could be hidden.
If you look like you have Hashimoto’s.
If you act like you’ve got Hashimoto’s.
If people think you’ve got Hashimoto’s but they won’t do anything for you because they can’t prove you’ve got Hashimoto’s....then you might need this TSI or TSH receptor antibody test.
If the TSI or TSH Receptor antibodies are positive-- and you’re hypothyroid, then you may have Hashimoto’s. That’s when you have to take quick action.
Because now you’ve got an autoimmune condition. And there a tone of things that can be done for that. There’s things you need to avoid like the plague. You must find someone that can help guide you through that like a detective. Because there’s a lot of mistakes you can make along the way.
Trust me. I see people in here every day that make mistakes like taking iodine, taking tyrosine. These are mistakes until you find out what’s going on with you.
Hidden Cause #9 is TSH receptor antibodies, also called thyroid-stimulating immunoglobulins. These antibodies can bind or block the receptor and cause you to have hypothyroid symptoms.
15% of Hashimoto’s patients test negative for TPO and TGB. But some of these same people test positive for TSH receptor antibodies. The moral of the story is get tested. And then find someone that knows what to do to help you.
Listen to this Post using the Player Below
Dr. David Clark, DC
Functional Neurologist (FACFN)
Diplomate College of Clinical Nutrition
Board Certified Chiropractic Neurologist
Vestibular Rehab Specialist (ACNB)