Exhausted, forgetful, and moody? Are you gaining weight even with a reasonable exercise routine or diet? Are you tired of asking your physician: “Why is it that I’m still tired and gaining weight and why is my hair falling out?” Your thyroid gland might be producing excessive or not enough hormones or you may have inflammation of your thyroid (called Hashimoto’s disease). The little butterfly-shaped organ at the base of your neck controls some of the production and conversion of your thyroid hormones which manage many of your biological functions like body temperature, energy, metabolism, sexual function, sleep, digestion, nail, and hair growth to name a few.
Traditional medical practitioners are often quick to attribute these exhausting symptoms to other non-thyroid related conditions. In some cases, these well-meaning specialists become so frustrated with a person’s slew of symptoms that they send him/her to a psychiatrist! A holistic doctor, on the other hand, understands that unearthing the root causes of your suffering requires time, patience, and highly specialized integrative knowledge of how the body’s organ systems work together and how to find the root cause of the symptoms so that the root cause can be addressed instead of just the symptom.
Traditionally trained endocrinologists frequently give one generic thyroid test and decide based upon a rather large range of ‘normal’ values, whether or not the thyroid is over or under-functioning. Based on the results, if the doctor finds the thyroid is under-functioning, for example, they then prescribe a pharmaceutical to ‘amp up’ the thyroid, rather than digging deeper to try to discover what the underlying causes to the low functioning thyroid might be.
Holistic approaches to supporting the thyroid involve testing to discover what the underlying cause of the thyroid issue is. Is the individual low in iron? Might they be low in B12 or Folate? Is there serotonin low? Are they deficient in selenium? These are just some of the nutrients needed for thyroid hormone production and conversion. By looking deeper into what is going on in the body the holistic approach often finds the root causes and is able to eliminate the offending issues to allow the person to heal.
What are the Symptoms of Thyroid Imbalance?
If your thyroid gland is having difficulty producing the precise amount of thyroid hormone your body functions require, you may struggle with the following symptoms:
Weight gain, Hair loss, Fatigue, Anxiety and irritability, Depression, Brain fog and memory impairment, Insomnia, Constipation, Neck swelling, Dry, brittle nails, Feeling too cold or too hot, Abnormal periods, Water retention, High blood cholesterol, Frequent infections and colds, Hand numbness, Carpal tunnel syndrome, etc.
Hypothyroidism vs. Hyperthyroidism:
This is an underactive thyroid that is not producing the amount of thyroid hormones your body requires. Hypothyroid can result in weight gain, fatigue, feeling cold, muscle weakness, high cholesterol, joint pain or stiffness, and even anxiety.
Since your thyroid gland regulates your blood, it directly affects your hunger and satiety sensation. Together with insulin and leptin resistance, low thyroid hormone can make losing weight very difficult.
What Causes Hypothyroidism?
Causes of hypothyroidism consist of:
• Surgery: partial or total removals of the thyroid gland disable thyroid hormones production
• Hashimoto’s thyroiditis: autoimmune inflammation disrupting the thyroid glands hormone production
Hyperthyroidism is the clinical term utilized to describe a hyperactive thyroid gland that produces more thyroid hormones than your body requires to work. It can lead to fatigue, irritability, hair loss, unexplained weight loss, and excessive sweating.
What Causes Hyperthyroidism?
Hyperthyroidism causes consist of:
• Thyroiditis- thyroid gland inflammation can stimulate excessive hormone productions
• Graves disease- an autoimmune dysfunction that causes overproduction of thyroid hormones
• Growths- thyroid cancer and thyroid nodules are less common reasons for an overactive thyroid
Left unattended, both hypo- and hyperthyroidism can enlarge the thyroid gland to the point of developing a goiter. Goiters may become a reason for your neck to swell and make swallowing difficult.
Testing Your Thyroid:
A holistic doctor thyroid can perform a thorough analysis of your symptoms, general health, medical history, genetic predispositions, lifestyle, and stress levels – all which may be causing your symptoms.
Holistic Support for Thyroid Imbalance
Natural desiccated thyroid is a common natural thyroid replacement therapy. Supporting the body to replenish depleted nutrients that are essential for thyroid hormone production is also addressed. And let’s not forget that addressing the gut is super important because most thyroid hormone is actually made in the gut, not in the thyroid! In fact much of the thyroid hormone conversion also happens not only in the gut but also in the liver. Holistic practitioners understand the strong interplay within the organ systems and how one organ dysfunction can affect an entire other system. That’s why addressing the body as a whole is so important to success in healing not only thyroid but any imbalance in the body.
Supplements that can help support the thyroid:
• Zinc: this antioxidant moderates thyroid and insulin function and keeps your intestinal wall strong and non-porous
• L-glutamine– this anti-inflammatory amino acid fuels the enterocytes in your gut to help heal and maintain the gut
• Probiotics: helps recolonize the gut with good bacteria, and creates enzymes that destroy harmful bacteria
• Betaine HCL: increases stomach acid production, helps digestion, and improves nutrient absorption
• Digestive enzymes: lactase, protease, amylase, and lipase enzymes break down proteins, starches, and fats in your gut
• Selenium: needed for T4 thyroid hormone conversion to T3 thyroid hormone.
The Autoimmune Protocol Diet:
Many people who are struggling with Hashimoto’s disease may not know that changing their foods can have vast healing effects on their thyroid and their body as a whole. By making some changes to your diet you can reduce body and thyroid inflammation and provide the right environment in your gut to help heal leaky gut (which most people with autoimmune disease have). An anti-inflammatory diet to support autoimmune issues involves removing or restricting: legumes (beans, peanuts, hummus), processed foods, vegetable and canola oils, eggs, nuts and seeds, chocolate, nightshade veggies like tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and potatoes, alcoholic beverages, alternative sweeteners, preservatives in foods, dairy, and gluten…. and there are a few more. You can click here to register for our guide to Understanding and Healing your Gut to learn more.
Instead of inflammatory foods, boost your thyroid health by eating more anti-inflammatory foods:
• Antioxidant-rich vegetables and fruits
• Wild-caught fish
• Coconut oil
• Probiotic-rich coconut yogurt and coconut kefir
• Kimchi and sauerkraut
• Bone Broth