Hormone Receptor Resistance is a Real cause of Hormone Imbalance and Hypothyroidism

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Insulin resistance is in the news a lot these days. It’s attributed to many health conditions including poor outcomes from our latest pandemic viral infection.

We know that insulin resistance leads to heart disease, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s Disease.

Cancer cells have 9-10 times the number of insulin receptors as normal cells, so insulin resistance can lead to cancer, because blood glucose fuels the cancer cells while normal cells get very little fuel because of their resistance.

So What Exactly Is Hormone Receptor Resistance and Why Is It Such a Problem?

When cell receptors for hormones become inflamed or damaged, they can no longer efficiently transport hormones into the cells.

When hormone receptors are flooded with excess amounts of hormones, as in excessive production (i.e. excess insulin due to high carbohydrate intake or a hormone producing tumor, hormone replacement therapy or exposure to toxic look alike hormones (think xenoestrogens), the receptors down-regulate. Meaning, they slow down in their ability to allow the hormones to pass through, leading to resistance.

When nutrients required as transport co-factors are deficient, resistance develops as well.

Insulin Resistance

Insulin resistance is the most well-known of the hormone resistance conditions, and Leptin resistance is another that is gaining in notoriety.

Lots of people blame their genes for insulin resistance, and while genes play a role, they are not the only factor.

As an example, I have many of the genetic SNPs for insulin resistance and diabetes. SNPs is short for Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms, aka what the public may call defects or mutations, although they are not. What that means is that I need to be more careful about my intake of foods that require insulin than the average person.

I know what to eat, when to eat and how much to eat in order to keep my blood sugar nice and steady. However I recently experimented and it wasn’t pretty. I’ve been in Costa Rica and experimented with local fruits and starchy foods. It started with just small tastes, eaten along with large salads and/or savory green smoothies, until my old friend's sugar addiction took over, and cravings for more kicked in.

Sugar Addiction

It amazed me how even healthy carbs triggered the biochemical processes.  

I started eating more and more fruit. Just one starchy plantain patty, a local treat called Patacones, made pure and simple by baking mashed plantain with salt and a hint of olive oil, or yucca patties made the same way, caused me to crave more and more. And my blood sugar suffered.

I started waking up with my fasting blood sugar in the low 100’s – definitely in the insulin resistance range.

I started craving food before my usual noon first meal. 

I started “needing” something sweet after each meal, and snacking right up until bedtime.

Knowing what I know about the impact of insulin on the body, and teaching several webinars over the past few weeks about it, caused me to snap into action.

I had to go cold turkey.

I had to stop eating fruit and starches completely, and I managed to do so.

Sugar addiction is like alcohol addiction – moderation doesn’t work.

So after just a few days, I am feeling more in control. I have less cravings, my blood sugar in the morning is back in the 80’s, my ketones are 1.5, and I stop eating after dinner.

Benefits of Reducing Insulin

And the best part is the positive influence on my health it’s having – in ways that are largely invisible to my consciousness. Benefits like:

  • My blood vessels are more flexible
  • My brain is sharper
  • My hormones are becoming better balanced 
  • I’ve shifted to fat burning 
  • My immune system is functioning better
  • And lots more

It’s well known that excess insulin doesn't just cause insulin resistance, it causes other hormone receptors to become resistant, too.  

And in this article, I’ll share how insulin impacts the thyroid, what thyroid receptors are, how they work, what causes thyroid receptor resistance, and how to reverse it, and how thyroid receptor resistance is one of the most common and most frequently overlooked causes of low thyroid symptoms.  

What is Thyroid Receptor Resistance

Thyroid hormone is transported through the blood by a protein, mostly thyroid binding globulin.
When thyroid hormone, bound to thyroid binding globulin, gets to the cell, it gets transported through a channel called a transporter protein. Once it's inside the cell, it needs to bind to a thyroid receptor, located on the nucleus of the cell. If it can't attach to the receptor, it can't do its job.
Thyroid receptor resistance occurs when the thyroid hormone cannot attach to the receptor.

Hypothyroidism because of hormone resistance

Causes of Thyroid Hormone Receptor Resistance

Amongst the many causes of thyroid receptor resistance are

  • Inflammation
  • Nutrient deficiencies
  • Chemicals and toxins
  • Hidden infections
  • Excess cortisol
  • Excess exposure to thyroid hormones
  • The cell danger response.

Nutrients are vital for the proper functioning of the thyroid hormone receptors. In particular, vitamin A helps thyroid hormone to attach to and get into the nucleus of the cell. Besides vitamin A, B vitamins and other nutrients are important as well.

Elevated homocysteine is another common cause of thyroid receptor resistance. Homocysteine can damage thyroid receptors, making them resistant.

High levels of cortisol can cause high levels of inflammatory chemicals called cytokines, which can cause thyroid receptor resistance.Thyroid receptor resistance results in low thyroid function, even when TSH, T4 and free T3 are normal and the conversion from T4 to T3 appears to be good. If the receptors have developed resistance, thyroid hormone cannot get into the nucleus of the cells where it can affect metabolism, and symptoms develop as a result.


Reversing Thyroid Receptor Resistance


To reverse thyroid receptor resistance, it is important to address the underlying causes. This may involve reducing inflammation, addressing nutrient deficiencies, reducing exposure to chemicals and toxins, and addressing excess exposure to thyroid hormones. Addressing these underlying causes can help to reverse thyroid receptor resistance.

In conclusion, thyroid receptor resistance is a common condition that is often overlooked when it comes to the presence of low thyroid symptoms. It’s caused by a variety of factors, including inflammation, nutrient deficiencies, chemicals and toxins, excess exposure to thyroid hormones, and the cell danger response. To reverse thyroid receptor resistance, it is important to address the underlying causes.


  • Reduce or eliminate toxic exposure in food, water, personal care products and cleaning products
  • Reduce inflammation
  • Reduce stress and avoid spikes in cortisol
  • Balance blood sugar
  • Avoid overdoses of thyroid hormone
  • Address high homocysteine by balancing vitamins B6, B9 and B12
  • Address nutrient deficiencies, especially of Vitamin A
  • Get plenty of sleep to give the body a chance to detoxify
  • Eat a nutrient dense, whole foods diet made predominantly of plants to provide the nutrients and antioxidants to protect the receptors

For a Deeper Dive Into Thyroid Receptor Resistance, Listen to The Reinvent Healthcare Podcast Episode Thyroid Receptor Resistance

Hormone Receptor Resistance

To improve your clinical skills, and an even deeper dive into thyroid health for practitioners, our recorded 1-day Thyroid Adrenal Workshop provides assessments, diet and lifestyle strategies, herbal therapeutics and much more.
Looking to uplevel your clinical skills, and feel confident creating functional and holistic solutions to clients and patients?

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