By Dr. Ian Hollaman

Current peer-reviewed research is confirming what thousands, possibly millions, of people have suspected about their thyroid condition: It’s not just in my head!

Although medical research clearly traces mood disorders and cognitive and neurological symptoms to hypothyroidism, current medical practice doesn’t typically address this link. As a result, the influence of thyroid hormones on the nervous system goes unrecognized and therefore untreated. One of the nervous-system cells most sensitive to thyroid hormone levels are microglial cells.

ActiveBrainSo how do these microglial cells become involved when thyroid hormone levels go haywire?

Microglial cells are the first line of defense in the central nervous system. Their job is to monitor, identify, and grab intruders and alert our immune system to a threat. They also monitor for levels of inflammation and respond quickly to a breach in our “blood brain barrier.” These cells get activated when our thyroid hormone levels fluctuate, as in the case of hypothyroid disease. Activated microglial cells create inflammation in a vicious cycle, which can lead to minor cognitive symptoms or, worse, the neurogenerative changes found in Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Huntington’s, according to the article ‘Possible Roles of Microglial Cells for Neurotoxity,’ in the September 2009 issue of Inflammatory Allergy Drug Targets. Further, the removal of the activated microglial cells leads to improvement in these neurodegenerative diseases.

Clearly, microglial cells are at the heart of neurodegeneration, or what I call ‘old, leaky brain syndrome.’ So what drug can you take to deactivate microglia cells and possibly help with depression, memory loss, brain fog or fatigue? Currently– none. Though there are natural compounds that promise dramatic health benefits for your brain, immune system, and thyroid.