Screen Shot 2015-05-05 at 9.25.01 PMHypothyroidism, or the underactivity of the thyroid gland, is a condition which occurs when the thyroid gland fails to produce enough thyroid hormones, and/or there is a failure of the tissues to receive thyroid hormones, and/or other causes. Some causes of a thyroid disorder are common; some are more rare. Below is an outline of those potential causes of which some can be corrected and others will need medication.

There are more causes and more detail in the revised STTM book–highly recommended when you don’t want to be tied to a computer screen, or need to take it to your doctor’s office, and want to inform a friend or family member. 



Like the creator of this website and author of the STTM book, thyroid problems can simply run in families, perhaps due to specific genetic mutations.

Iodine Insufficiency

It’s strongly proposed that millions of individuals develop hypothyroidism due to the lack of adequate iodine intake, which in turn is due to soil depletion and lack of iodine in our diet. Since iodine is necessary in the synthesis, storage and secretion of thyroid hormones, a deficiency of iodine can result in hypothyroidism.

Hashimoto’s Disease

Also called “Hashi’s” or “thyroiditis”, this is an autoimmune disorder in which one’s immune system attacks it’s own thyroid cells, causing inflammation and eventually resulting in hypothyroid. In many cases a goiter develops because of the inflammation, but sometimes the thyroid gland can actually shrink. Patients with Hashi’s can vascillate between hypo and hyper. There is a genetic predisposition to autoimmune disease, so if you have one, you are more at risk to have others, including Hashi’s thyroiditis. It is proposed that a lack of iodine also plays a role in autoimmune attacks on the thyroid. Food sensitivties can bring it on, as well. More in a chapter in the book.

Overtreatment for Graves Hyperthyroid or Hashi’s with Radioactive Iodine

If a person with Graves’ disease or Hashimotos is treated with radioactive iodine (RAI), the thyroid gland is usually rendered partially or fully inactive. Over time, from a few months to a few years, hypothyroidism usually occurs.

Thyroid Removal Surgery

If much of the thyroid gland is surgically removed, the result can be hypothyroidism.

Radiation of the face/neck/chest

Whether for treatment of acne, or for Hodgkins Disease, this treatment from the 1960s through the 80s and beyond can be a precursor to developing thyroid disease, especially if the thyroid area wasn’t protected.

Tumor on the Pituitary Gland

Also called Secondary Hypothyroidism, a tumor on the Pituitary gland interferes with the production of the Thyroid Stimulation Hormone, causing hypothyroidism as well as adrenal insufficiency. Disorders of the hypothalamus portions of the brain may also cause thyroid hormone deficiency.

Trauma from Accidents or Surgery

Trauma, such as from automobile accidents, surgery, or severe uterine hemorrhage during childbirth can result in Sheeans Syndrome, which is hypopituitarism, and results in hypothyroidism. Cholecystectomy and Hysterectomy, as well as Tonsillectomy, can increase the risk of hypothyroid. Whiplash or neck trauma can cause hypothyroidism.

Prolonged acute stress

Long-term high stress can push cortisol high, and the latter pushes T4 to convert to the inactive Reverse T3, which causes hypothyroid symptoms. This can be reversed once one moves away from the acute and chronic stress.

Pharmaceutical Drug Induced

Lithium, used in the treatment of bipolar manic-depressive disorder, inhibits thyroid hormone release and can also result in a goiter. The heart drug, Amiodarone, also increases your risk of hypothyroidism.


On the opposite side of the coin of insufficient iodine is taking too much from iodine-containing herbs such as kelp, bladderwrack, or bugleweed can increase your risk for hypothyroidism. Many multivitamins, glandular support formulas and combination products contain these supplements.

Over consumption of Goitrogenic Foods

When eaten in large quantities, this class of foods can promote goiters and resulting hypothyroidism. They are mostly only a concern when served raw as cooking may minimize or eliminate goitrogenic potential. Goitrogenic foods include brussel sprouts, rutabaga, turnips, kohlrabi, radishes, cauliflower, African cassava, millet, babassu, cabbage, kale and soy products.

Over consumption of Soy Products

Soy products have a definite antithyroid and goitrogenic effect. Long term consumption of soy products can promote formation of goiters and development of autoimmune thyroid disease.

Severe under consumption of Carbohydrates

Yes, some patients have reported that severely limiting carbohydrates…so severe that one is in constant ketosis, can cause hypothyroidism and even adrenal issues.

Cigarette Smoking

Unfortunately, tobacco smoke contains cyanide, which is converted to thiocyanate, and which adversely acts as an anti-thyroid agent, inhibiting iodide uptake and hormone synthesis. The enlargement of the thyroid can occur due to smoking, which is a clue that the thyroid is negatively affected.


Some doctors estimate that as many as 5 to 10% of women develop a thyroid problem after delivery. Childbirth can be a hormonal trigger for Hashimoto’s Disease. The owner of this site noticed this possibility, as well, for her own hypothyroidism.

Congenital Hypothyroidism (CH)

Congenital means what one is born with, and though not common, it definitely happens. Usually, it’s due to either a missing thyroid gland, or a poorly-developed thyroid gland–the latter called dysgenesis and the most common cause of congenital hypothyroid. Or sometimes the gland is fully developed and placed in the neck, but simply doesn’t make enough thyroid hormones for the need of the baby–this is called dyshormonogenesis and the least common form of congenital hypo

Down Syndrome (DS)

It appears that having Down Syndrome greatly increases the risk of having accompanying hypothyroidism, and primarily the autoimmune version.  Sadly, some patients of Down children report a delay in the diagnosis of hypothyroidism due to the widespread use of the TSH lab test which, which can be so-called “normal” while the child is truly hypothyroid.


Thyroid problems are known to surface at periods of hormonal upheaval and are more common just prior to or during menopause. (The owner of this site noticed her thyroid got a bit worse as she started to enter meno.)


Hypothyroidism becomes increasingly common as we age, particularly in women, and appears to be so due to problems of converting T4 to T3. Ten percent of all women over the age of 50 show signs of a failing thyroid. The percentage rises to 20% in women over 65. The owner of this site saw her 90+ year old father-in-law ease into hypothyroidism which the doctors didn’t treat.


There are proposals that viruses like EBV (Epstein Barr Virus) or HHV 6 could precipitate Hashimoto’s disease, but the cause and effect is not as strong as other causes listed on this page. Here’s a study on EBV as a potential cause. And here’s one for HHV-6.

Environmental Exposures

Some patients have experienced the fact that fluoride and chlorine can interfere with proper thyroid conversion and result in hypothyroidism. Another concern is mercury, a component in dental fillings, which can disable the thyroid’s ability to convert T4 to T3, resulting in hypothyroidism. This especially becomes a problem if one has the MTHFR defect. A chemical found in plastic bottles and canned food linings and known as BPA (Bisphenol A) is linked to thyroid hormone changes in pregnant women and newborn boys. Contra Costa Times, California. 4 October 2012.  Another study finds lower thyroid hormones in baby boys exposed to BPA. Pregnant women exposed to higher levels of the chemical bisphenol A gave birth to baby boys with lower thyroid hormones, according to a new study published  in Environmental Health News. 4 October 2012. Read about Endocrine Disruptors.

Perchlorate and Other Toxic Chemicals Exposure

Perchlorate (ammonium perchlorate or perchloric acid) blocks iodine from entering the thyroid, and prevents further synthesis of thyroid hormone. It is found in various water supplies around the nation, particularly in areas near rocket fuel or fireworks plants. There is strong evidence that exposure to certain toxic chemicals increase the risk of developing thyroid disease. Those that are of concern are dioxins, MTBE, and others that act as “endocrine disrupters”.

And more in the Revised STTM book…..

Want to order your own labwork?? STTM has created the right ones just for you to discuss with your doctor. Go here

Need help interpreting your lab work? Go here: