The thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland located in your throat, just behind your Adam’s apple. The thyroid gland controls many aspects of metabolism, including regulating the production of various hormones that enable the body to carry out vital functions such as digestion and reproduction.
Sometimes the thyroid winds up pumping out either too much or too little of certain hormones. Both are problematic for body weight regulation and mood stabilization. Two of the most important thyroid hormones are T3 and T4.
Thyroid disorders and thyroid disease can have a negative impact on just about every area of your life. The thyroid gland is vital to keeping your physical, mental and emotional life in balance.
There are two main categories of thyroid problems: hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid) and hyperthyroidism (an overactive thyroid). While there are other issues with the thyroid, the majority of cases fall into these two categories.
Hypothyroidism is by far the more common type of thyroid problem and most who have this are women. With this your body literally slows down. This is why symptoms like weight gain, brain fog and sluggishness are common.
Hyperthyroidism causes the opposite effect of hypothyroidism. It almost speeds up one’s metabolism to the point that the heart may beat faster and the person may have a hard time eating properly or keeping enough weight on.
Another condition is an enlarged thyroid, also called a goiter. This is usually caused by a lack of iodine in someone’s diet.
The most common symptoms of hypothyroidism are: persistent fatigue, lethargy and sometimes depression or low motivation to exercise; moodiness and sometimes anxiety; intolerance to cold and frequently feeling chilly; dry skin and hair; brain fog, trouble concentrating and forgetfulness; a hoarse voice; unexplainable weight gain; constipation, bloating and other digestive issues; muscle weakness, sometimes aches or pains and other discomforts.
Symptoms of hyperthyroidism commonly include: nervousness or symptoms of anxiety; insomnia and sleep troubles; racing heart rate; eyes that appear large and sometimes bulge; unexplained weight loss; high amounts of perspiration; muscles weakness; multiple bowel movements; thin, brittle hair.
The warning signs of when the thyroid gland first becomes dysfunctional: dry skin; fatigue and lack of focus; feeling cold; constipation; weight gain; puffy, swollen-looking face; muscle weakness and trouble exercising. One in eight women in the United States may be impacted by a thyroid disorder and have symptoms that include: thinning hair; loss of breast tenderness; fatigue; weight gain; low libido; cold body temperatures; irregular menstrual cycles; infertility.
Functional lab tests to diagnose include: TSH (reflects the blood level of thyroid stimulating hormone); Total T4 (reflects the total amount of T4 present in the blood); Total T3 (reflects the total amount of T3 present in the blood); Free T4 (reflects the biologically active form of T4); Free T3 (reflects the biologically active for of T3); RT3 (reflects the level of Reverse T3; T3 Uptake (measures the sites for active or unbound T3 to bind with proteins); Free Thyroxine Index (looks at total T4 and T3 uptake to measure the activity of free or unbound T4).
Autoimmune thyroid disease falls into two main categories – Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis and Grave’s Disease. Most cases of hypothyroidism are characterized by a hyper responsive immune system and autoimmunity.
There are several key factors that must be addressed to regulate and better coordinate the immune system. They are: poor blood sugar stability (imbalances cause immune dysfunction and malcoordination); low vitamin D levels (at risk for chronic inflammation); gut dysbiosis (poor microbial balance in the gut microbiome leads to leaky gut syndrome, autoimmune conditions and chronic inflammation); mitochondrial dysfunction (free radical and oxidative stress creates immune alterations); low glutathione levels (leads to chronic inflammation); poor omega 6:3 ratio (also leads to chronic inflammation); upper cervical subluxation (dysfunction here increases inflammation in the body); environmental toxins; high stress and poor breathing habits; lack of sleep; methylation (helps detoxify environmental chemicals); EMF exposure.
The thyroid gland is one of the most sensitive regions of the body to environmental toxins. The most common environmental toxins affecting thyroid function include: industrial pollutants, ionizing radiation, heavy metals, perfluorooctanoate (PFOA), fluoride, bromide and inflammatory foods.
Treatment for hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism are very different. That’s why it’s important to find the root cause of someone’s symptoms and tailor treatment accordingly. With conventional medicine treatments, you run the risk of side effects, are costly and aren’t always effective.
Here are some natural treatments.
Get Enough Iodine, Selenium, Zinc: Many patients with hypothyroid diseases are deficient in iodine, which can be found in sea vegetables, raw dairy, certain wild-caught fish (like tuna) and some fermented grains. Selenium helps balance levels of T4 hormones and can be found in Brazil nuts, spinach, yellowfish tuna, halibut, canned sardines, grass-fed beef, turkey and beef liver. The best sources for zinc are animal proteins, green peas, asparagus, chickpeas, cocoa, Brussels sprouts, sesame seeds; flaxseeds, pistachios and mushrooms. Other nutrients needed include tyrosine, vitamin A. riboflavin B2, vitamin B6, vitamin C and E, and vitamin D.
Manage Stress and Rest Enough: Some natural stress relievers include getting seven to nine hours of sleep every night, meditation, exercising, journaling, joining a faith community or support group, dealing with addictions, scheduling time to do fun things with supportive people.
Focus on Deep Breathing: The better we breathe, the better we will heal and the more blood flow we will get and the better our immune and inflammatory health will be.
Reduce Toxicity: Use natural products at home on your body, decrease intake of any unnecessary medications, clean up your diet and quit smoking.
Supplement When Necessary to Reduce Inflammation: Probiotics are beneficial for dealing with your gut health and improving immunity. Good bacteria can be found in foods like fermented dairy (yogurt or kefir), cultured vegetables and also supplements. Using a good quality bone broth collagen in a shake or smoothie is a great way to include liquid nutrition in your diet.
Herbal Supplementing: Some good ones to consider are ashwagandha, tulsi, ginseng, licorice root, rhodiola, turmeric, ginger, oregano, garlic, basil, thyme and rosemary. Taking proteolytic enzymes can benefit thyroid health by reducing inflammation of the thyroid.
Improve Your Mitochondria: Support your mitochondria with clinical doses of CoQ10, L-carnitine, N-acetyl cysteine, creatine monohydrate, B vitamins, magnesium, alpha lipoic acid and D-ribose.