Health

This Common Virus Could Be Sapping Your Thyroid

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As scientists work to develop the latest “miracle drug” to help the millions of us battling thyroid issues, women from coast to coast are reporting their own miracle — a plan that has freed them from tiredness and stubborn pounds. It doesn’t come in a pill — it doesn’t even come from a medical doctor. Yet thousands of women and their doctors swear by it. The man behind the plan: Anthony William, author of the wildly popular book series Medical Medium ($18.70, Amazon), who says a voice (which he calls the “spirit of compassion”) tells him cutting-edge health information.

It may be unconventional, but it’s caught the attention of the medical community. “Every time I read one of Anthony William’s books… I Learn something new — something that rings true that they don’t yet teach in medical school,” says Christine Northrup, MD, author of Dodging Energy Vampires ($11.19, Amazon). One new thing doctors are learning: A common virus can be the cause of the symptoms associated with hypoactive thyroid glands.

William contends that an unreported epidemic of Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is behind nearly all thyroid problems — he’s dubbed this the “thyroid virus.” Best known as the cause of mononucleosis (aka “the kissing disease”), EBV is common — 95 percent of adults are infected, according to the National Institutes of Health. But unlike other viruses that run their course and go away, EBV remains dormant in the body after infection.

At any time, the virus can reactivate and turn into chronic EBV. Mainstream doctors acknowledge that this does happen, but say it’s rare. William, on the other hand, feels the establishment underestimates how rampant EBV is. He claims EBV can attack the liber, then move into the thyroid, disrupting the gland’s ability to make hormones. Since common blood tests don’t detect EBV, doctors conclude the problem is with the thyroid itself. This, William argues, leads to a diagnosis that is all wrong: a thyroid rather than a viral problem.

Left untreated, the virus continues to damage the thyroid and other organs, William says, puling women into a health spiral that can lead to a range of symptoms, including hair loss, fatigue, and weight gain. These symptoms are largely unrelated to the thyroid, he adds. Instead, they’re mostly due to the virus. Underactive (or overactive) thyroid is just one more symptom of EBV.

Researchers have begun looking into the EBV/thyroid connection, and science shows there is a link. In 2015, a team from Slovakia found signs of EBV in in thyroid samples from 81 percent of cases with Hashimoto’s disease (an autoimmune disorder that can cause hypothyroidism). In 2016, Polish scientists concluded that there’s enough evidence to suggest that EBV plays a role in autoimmune thyroid diseases. And in 2018, scientists at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital linked EBV to at least seven conditions, highlighting the possibility that it plays a much larger role in disease than previously thought.

That’s led doctors to change the way they approach thyroid problems. Andrew Lenhardt, MD, a functional medicine practitioner and professor at Tufts University, says he now tests for EBV in some patients. “Does [EBV] have the potential to be important relative to thyroid disfunction, Hashimoto’s, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, and other issues? There no doubt tin my mind,” he says. “The next question which for me sis the hardest, is how do we manage it?”

Is Epstein-Barr virus slowing your thyroid?

General practitioners typically don’t test for EBV unless they think you have mono, explains chronic fatigue specialist David Brady, MD. The gold-star way to determine if EBV is impacting your thyroid gland is to ask for a tissue biopsy, though doctors can also test for EBV antibodies in the blood. Interpreting the results can be difficult and requires familiarity with the test, so experts say your best bet may be to consult a functional medical physician. You can find a practitioner near you on the Institute for Functional Medicine’s website.

If you’re experiencing two or more of the symptoms below, EBV could be impacting your thyroid:

  • Tiredness
  • Weight gain
  • Brain fog
  • Thinning hair
  • Anxiety
  • Muscle pain

The Fast, Natural Fix

For many, the plan Anthony William outlines in Medical Medium: Thyroid Healing ($19.90, Amazon) is like an answered prayer. Take Adrienne Jones, 36, a mom of four from Sugar Land, Texas, who suffered hair loss, weight gain, and extreme fatigue. “One day I Googled ‘medical mystery doctor,’ and William’s book came up,” she shares. She implemented his advice, and her progress was fast. “My doctor said, ‘I don’t know what you’re doing, but keep it up!'”

In a nutshell, William calls for filling up on antiviral, thyroid-healing, immunity boosting foods like raw nuts, fruit and veggies, while avoiding eggs, dairy, gluten, canola oil, soy, corn, and pork. His program also features three 30-day plans. As he explains, “Each month, pick which of the three 30-day plans to follow based on your needs, resources, and schedule. Essentially, it’s mix and match.” You can start with one that targets your top concerns, then cycle to the others — or repeat one for 90 days and beyond, if desired. As always, consult a doctor before starting any new diet.

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This article originally appeared in our print magazine, Heal Your Thyroid.

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