Hypothyroidism, Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth, & Lactose Intolerance

Also see:
Autoimmunity and Intestinal Flora
Lactose Intolerance, Starch, Fructose, Sucrose, & Thyroid Status
Ray Peat, PhD on the Benefits of the Raw Carrot
The effect of raw carrot on serum lipids and colon function
Protective Bamboo Shoots
Fermentable Carbohydrates, Anxiety, Aggression

Courtesy of Danny Roddy’s Work:
“The gastrointestinal tract is particularly sensitive to general stress. Loss of appetite is one of the first symptoms in the great “syndrome of just being sick,” and this may he accompanied by vomiting, diarrhea, or constipation.” – Hans Selye (The Stress of Life)

“In hypothyroidism, digestion in the stomach and intestines is delayed. The concentration of acid and enzymes involved in digestion may be diminished. Motility of the gut is reduced and food is propelled more slowly along the tract. Absorption through the intestinal wall is slower.” -Broda Barnes, MD, PhD

“The somewhat erratic digestion and absorption of food in the hypothyroid patient is one factor. Another is sluggishness of the liver, which may occur when thyroid function is low, with the result that stored glucose in the liver is not released properly as blood sugar begins to fall. There is usually an adequate store of glucose in the liver to last until the next regular meal but. if it is not released, hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, may develop and call for extra food. Thyroid therapy improves digestion and absorption so that there is a more constant supply of nourishment in the blood; it also sensitizes the liver to the need for glucose release after digestion is complete.” -Broda Barnes, MD, PhD

Quote by Ray Peat, PhD:
“Bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine can be caused by hypothyroidism (Lauritano, et al., 2007), and the substances produced by these bacteria can damage the lining of the small intestine, causing the loss of lactase enzymes (Walshe, et al., 1990).”

“Once we accept Warburg’s thesis, that damaged respiration is the prime cause of cancer, the therapeutic use of thyroid in cancer seems obvious. Aging and estrogen-dominance are other states in which cells seem to be relatively insensitive to thyroid hormones. (Unsaturated fats are involved in resistance to thyroid, and promote the incidence of cancer in a variety of ways.) If the liver is a main site of T4′s conversion to T3, cancer patients may require very large doses of thyroid hormone, or else direct use of T3 (possibly in large doses), since the liver is so likely to be inefficient. Incidentally, thyroid’s ability to improve digestion and peristalsis is important for liver function; endotoxin absorbed from the intestine can be a serious burden to the liver, and it is known to cause a large increase in the blood estrogen level.”

“In hypothyroidism there is little stomach acid, and other digestive juices (and even intestinal movement) are in-adequate, so gas and constipation are common. Foods aren’t assimilated well, so even on a seemingly adequate diet there is ‘internal malnutrition.'”

“The absorption and retention of magnesium, sodium, and copper, and the synthesis of proteins, are usually poor in hypothyroidism. Salt craving is common in hypothyroidism, and eating additional sodium tends to raise the body temperature, and by decreasing the production of aldosterone, it helps to minimize the loss of magnesium, which in turn allows cells to respond better to the thyroid hormone. This is probably why a low sodium diet increases adrenalin production, and why eating enough sodium lowers adrenalin and improves sleep. The lowered adrenalin is also likely to improve intestinal motility.”

“Polysaccharides and oligosaccharides include many kinds of molecules that no human enzyme can break down, so they necessarily aren’t broken down for absorption until they encounter bacterial or fungal enzymes. In a well maintained digestive system, those organisms will live almost exclusively in the large intestine, leaving the length of the small intestine for the absorption of monosaccharides without fermentation. When digestive secretions are inadequate, and peristalsis is sluggish, bacteria and fungi can invade the small intestine, interfering with digestion and causing inflammation and toxic effects. Lactose malabsorption has been corrected just by correcting a deficiency of thyroid or progesterone…Sometimes having a daily carrot salad (grated, with salt, olive oil, and a few drops of vinegar) will stimulate (and disinfect) the small intestine enough to prevent fermentation.”

“The upper part of the small intestine is sterile in healthy people. In the last 40 years, there has been increasing interest in the “contaminated small-bowel syndrome,” or the “small intestine bacterial overgrowth syndrome.” When peristalsis is reduced, for example by hypothyroidism, along with reduced secretion of digestive fluids, bacteria are able to thrive in the upper part of the intestine. Sugars are very quickly absorbed in the upper intestine, so starches and fibers normally provide most of the nourishment for bowel bacteria…Thyroid hormone increases digestive activity, including stomach acid and peristalsis, and both thyroid and progesterone increase the ability of the intestine to absorb sugars quickly; their deficiency can permit bacteria to live on sugars as well as starches.”

“Any starch can support the growth of toxic bacteria in the small intestine, where there should be no bacteria. Cocoa and the flour both contain starch and fiber that can stimulate bacteria and inflammation, but they are both very common allergens. The effects of a particular food can last for days or weeks”

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2007 Nov;92(11):4180-4. Epub 2007 Aug 14.
Association between hypothyroidism and small intestinal bacterial overgrowth.
Lauritano EC, Bilotta AL, Gabrielli M, Scarpellini E, Lupascu A, Laginestra A, Novi M, Sottili S, Serricchio M, Cammarota G, Gasbarrini G, Pontecorvi A, Gasbarrini A.
Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth is defined as an abnormally high bacterial population level in the small intestine. Intestinal motor dysfunction associated with hypothyroidism could predispose to bacterial overgrowth. Luminal bacteria could modulate gastrointestinal symptoms and interfere with levothyroxine absorption. The aims of the present study were to assess the prevalence and clinical pattern of bacterial overgrowth in patients with a history of overt hypothyroidism and the effects of bacterial overgrowth decontamination on thyroid hormone levels.
A total of 50 consecutive patients with a history of overt hypothyroidism due to autoimmune thyroiditis was enrolled. Diagnosis of bacterial overgrowth was based on positivity to a hydrogen glucose breath test. Bacterial overgrowth positive patients were treated with 1,200 mg rifaximin each day for a week. A glucose breath test, gastrointestinal symptoms, and thyroid hormone plasma levels were reassessed 1 month after treatment.
A total of 27 patients with a history of hypothyroidism demonstrated a positive result to the breath test (27 of 50, 54%), compared with two in the control group (two of 40, 5%). The difference was statistically significant (P < 0.001). Abdominal discomfort, flatulence, and bloating were significantly more prevalent in the bacterial overgrowth positive group. These symptoms significantly improved after antibiotic decontamination. Thyroid hormone plasma levels were not significantly affected by successful bacterial overgrowth decontamination.
The history of overt hypothyroidism is associated with bacterial overgrowth development. Excess bacteria could influence clinical gastrointestinal manifestations. Bacterial overgrowth decontamination is associated with improved gastrointestinal symptoms. However, fermenting carbohydrate luminal bacteria do not interfere with thyroid hormone levels.

Gut. 1990 Jul;31(7):770-6.
Effects of an enteric anaerobic bacterial culture supernatant and deoxycholate on intestinal calcium absorption and disaccharidase activity.
Walshe K, Healy MJ, Speekenbrink AB, Keane CT, Weir DG, O’Moore RR.
Fifty two strains of anaerobic bacteria isolated from the upper gut of patients with small intestinal bacterial overgrowth were screened for phospholipase activity. Bacteroides melaninogenicus spp intermedius had the greatest activity. The effects of culture supernatants of this organism and deoxycholate on intestinal calcium absorption and disaccharidase activity were studied using a rat closed loop model. The supernatant decreased the in vitro uptake of calcium by 15% (p less than 0.001). Deoxycholate reduced calcium uptake by 16% (p less than 0.001). Combined culture supernatant and deoxycholate reduced calcium uptake by 39% (p less than 0.001) suggesting a potentiation of supernatant activity by deoxycholate. Culture supernatant and deoxycholate, both alone and combined, significantly reduced lactase, sucrase, and maltase activity. Electron microscopic evidence showed degeneration of microvilli, disruption of mitochondrial structure, and swelling of the endoplasmic reticulum after exposure of the intestinal loops to the supernatant or deoxycholate.

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