Thyroid problem? Sometimes look downstairs.

4 Nov 2015 12:05 PMChristine Barnes

This year I’ve had several patients come to me with thyroid issues. Many had already gone through several rounds of tests with GPs looking for Graves or Hashimotos or Thyroiditis et al.  One patient even had an endocrinologist suggest a possible thyroidectomy.

My interpretation of that case, as with many of the other cases, was that the thyroid was not necessarily the root problem.

Many of these “thyroid” patients also experienced allergies, or food problems, brain fog, fatigue and a host of other symptoms. For me, such combinations suggest a closer look at the bowel.


An Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) can have a systemic component which impacts on many other parts of the body – skin, kidneys, liver, eyes, joints, biliary tract and vascular system. These can result in both inflammation and auto-immune associated diseases such as arthritis or ankylosing spondilitis, and thyroid immune diseases. Many IBD patients suffer malnutrition via poor absorption or food allergy avoidance and this exacerbates further down the line problems.

Rather than wait until the condition worsens and starts to exhibit more of the standard symptomology that might lead to a more formal diagnosis, I prefer to treat early - but not without undertaking appropriate tests. One of the tools that I use to help diagnose a potential future IBD patient is a comprehensive microbiome test. The information within can give a significant clue as to the extent of bowel breakdown and the potential for the disease. Two bacteria, Bacteroides Vulgatus and Bacteroides Ovatus, if together and widespread through the gut in very significant numbers, are a red light – particularly if Bacteroides as a whole are nearing 100% distribution. Many patients have inflammation in the gut and my experience is that very high levels of E-Coli (or very low levels of E-Coli) are also a warning light, but I do especially keep my eye on those two aforesaid Bacteroides.

Although there is no formal cure for IBD, there is a great deal that one can do through diet and lifestyle, and also through supplements that can resolve the symptoms.  The most positive impact anyone can make on IBD is to reduce stress – both physical and mental.

Inappropriate food can also cause a great deal of stress on an IBD bowel and such food must be avoided until the imbalances are resolved. Similarly one has to be very careful with supplements. For example, there is a very high probability that sufferers of Crohns will have antibodies to the probotic S.Boulardi. And of course, the side effects of many drugs worsen the symptoms of IBD.


As for the thyroid, IBD sufferers are 6 times more likely to have a thyroid disease than healthy patients.  This fact alone is something to keep in mind when considering a patient ostensibly for thyroid but exhibiting many other issues.