Your thyroid gland is located just below your Adam’s apple. Its key functions are to regulate body temperature and metabolism and therefore energy, reproduction, growth, blood cell production, nerve and muscle function, etc. The thyroid gland releases T4 (thyroxine) to its target tissues. Upon reaching cells, T4 is converted to T3 which is the active form of the hormone. The thyroid is affected by lack of iodine and selenium in the soil, processed foods that are nutrient deficient, man-made chemicals, stress and pregnancy.
In order to test the health of your thyroid the following tests can be carried out:
• TSH Test – the ideal level for TSH is between 1 and 1.5 milli-international units per litre. The higher your level of TSH, the higher the likelihood that you have hypothyroidism.
• Free T4 And Free T3 – the normal level of free T4 is between 0.9 and 1.8 nanograms per deciliter. T3 should be between 240 and 450 picograms per deciliter.
• Thyroid Antibody Testing – includes antibodies and anti-thyroglobulin antibodies. This measure helps determine if your body is attacking your thyroid, overreacting to its own tissues – i.e. autoimmune reactions. This is almost never automatically tested.
• Basal Body Temperature – a measure of your basal body temperature at rest.
• TRH Stimulation Test – for more difficult cases, TRH can be measured using the TRH stimulation test. TRH helps identify hypothyroidism that’s caused by inadequacy of the pituitary gland.
It is important to remember the link between hormones and your thyroid. Hormones secreted by your thyroid interact with all your other hormones, including insulin, cortisol, and sex hormones like estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. All of the hormones are in constant communication, which explains why the health of the thyroid is connected to so many other symptoms and diseases.
Hypothyroidism is the underactivity of the thyroid gland (may be caused by iodine deficiency). Basically, the gland does not make enough thyroid hormone. Symptoms of hypothyroidism include feeling tired, slow heart beat, depression, forgetfulness, heavy menstrual periods, infertility, thinning or coarse hair, weight gain, lacking concentration, dry skin, brittle nails, muscle pains or cramping, fluid retention, constipation, stiff joints, high blood cholesterol, sensitive to cold temperatures and goitre (enlarged thyroid gland). Hashimoto’s disease is an autoimmune condition linked to hypothyroidism. Immune system cells attack the thyroid gland, causing inflammation. This reduces the thyroid’s ability to make hormones.
Natural hypothyroidism treatment:
• Increase Omega 3 (fish).
• Eat Iodine rich foods like seaweed, eggs, spirulina. Avoid iodine supplements and foods fortified or enriched with iodine such as iodised salt and all bread (excluding organic bread).
• Avoid chlorine and fluoride. Drink filtered water.
• Avoid sugar and refined carbohydrates such as flour, bread, etc. Substitute with complex carbohydrates such as brown rice, quinoa, sweet potato, etc.
• Avoid gluten.
• Supplement with probiotics – 20% of thyroid function is dependent on healthy gut bacteria.
• Reduce inflammation in the body by eating whole foods (foods in their natural state that haven’t been processed). Inflammation is linked to autoimmunity.
• Address underlying food sensitivities to reduce inflammation and suppress the autoimmune response. Consider a food sensitivities test.
• Cook the Brassica family (broccoli, cauliflower, etc) of veggies to reduce goitrogens.
• Use chemical free cosmetics and cleaning products.
• Use herbal medicine such as Bladderwrack, plus adrenal herbs like Withania, Licorice, Rhodiola and Ginseng.
• Deal with any underlying stress.
• Exercise is very important.
• Eats foods high in selenium – 3-4 Brazil nuts a day. Each brazil nut contains 50-90mcg of selenium.
• Have your Vitamin D levels checked and supplement if necessary. Optimal vitamin D levels are between 50-80 ng/mL; anything below 32 contributes to hormone pathway disruption.
• Detox regularly – infra red sauna, chlorella, body scrubs, epsom salts baths, green smoothies, veggie juices, liver herbs.
• Check you thyroid hormones regularly.
• Good fats (olive oil, avocado, fish, nuts, full-fat dairy, etc), protein (meat, fish, poultry, eggs, etc) and complex carbs (brown rice, quinoa, sweet potato, etc) should be eaten at every meal and snack.
Hyperthyroidism is an overactivity of the thyroid gland. Basically, the gland makes too much thyroid hormone. Symptoms of hyperthyroidism include unexplained weight loss, fatigue, sleeping difficulties, increased heart rate, shaking, sensitivity to heat, sweating, irritability, nervousness or anxiety, hair loss, soft nails, infertility, scant menstrual periods, muscle weakness, diarrhea and goitre (enlarged thyroid gland). Graves disease is an autoimmune condition linked to hyperthyroidism. Antibodies behave like thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) and stimulate the thyroid uncontrollably.
Natural hyperthyroidism treatment:
• Avoid kelp and other sea vegetables, as they contain iodine. Bread in Australia also contains mandatory iodine so avoid. Salt in Australia may contain voluntary iodine so avoid.
• Bugleweed herbal medicine is specific for an overactive thyroid.
• Avoid gluten and sugar.
• Omega 3 (fish), Vitamins C (citrus) and E (almonds) help decrease the inflammation associated with this type of disease.
• Vitamin D (sunlight) deficiency has been associated with autoimmune thyroid disease.
• Avoid stimulants such as coffee, tea (all caffeine) and nicotine.
• Bone loss may result, so keep your magnesium (dark leafy greens) and calcium (dairy) levels up—a bone density test is useful.
• Malabsorption may result due to increased digestion, so maintaining a good diet is important.
• Patient most likely be under the care of a clinical endocrinologist.
• Have your thyroid hormone (T4) checked regularly.
• Your heart and liver may also be affected, so keep them in good health by maintaining a diet high in fibre, protein, complex carbohydrates and leafy green vegetables.