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Thyroid Problems - You might not even know you have them

Tuesday, 7 May 2019  |  Editor

Thyroid Gland - The Facts

Natural Solutions for an Underactive Thyroid Gland 

  • Are you tired all the time?
  • Don’t you have the energy you used to have?
  • Do you gain weight easily and find it difficult to lose?
  • Do you feel the cold more than others around you?

If so it might be that you should pay a some attention to your thyroid gland, which is sited just below the ‘Adam’s Apple’ or larynx. It is fairly small, normally but is completely responsible for running the whole of your body’s metabolism. Since it is so important, if it is not functioning properly, all metabolic processes slow down and many debilitating symptoms can arise. 

No less than 22 symptoms of an underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism) are shown below, and even these are not exhaustive:        

•      Chronic constipation
•      Axillary temperature test below 97.8 ºF or 36.6 ºC
•      Slow heart rate
•      Sensitive to cold weather
•      Chronic fatigue and weakness
•      Excess hair loss
•      Gain weight easily
•      Recurrent infections
•      Skin problems (dry, flaky skin)
•      PMS
•      Depression
•      Cold hands and feet
•      Cry easily
•      Headaches/dizziness
•      Slow speech
•      Feel worse in the morning
•      Increased triglyceride and cholesterol levels
•      Feel better after exercising
•      Cracking and peeling of skin on heels and hands
•      Brittle fingernails
•      Short windedness
•      Sudden change in personality
•      Loss of libido

You may be hypothyroid and not even know it

Hypothyroidism is actually quite common; millions of people suffer form it and don’t even know it. It is much more common in women than men. estimates are that as many as 10 percent of women may have some degree of thyroid hormone deficiency. Understanding different degrees of thyroid hormone deficiency is key to identifying and supporting this problem.

Mild hypothyroidism is often overlooked

Often, people experience thyroid hormone deficiency symptoms and go to the doctor but test negative for the condition after standard diagnostic testing. This is because a mild deficiency can be completely missed and so no treatment is given and the patient has to put up with the symptoms. So it is important to recognise that there are two distinct types of hypothyroidism.

Recognising two types of hypothyroidism

Clinical Hypothyroidism

This is where blood level abnormalities show up on standard diagnostic tests.

Subclinical/ Functional Hypothyroidism

This is where blood levels of the thyroid hormones are relatively normal, but temperature tests and other indicators show a mild deficiency state, which can still cause dramatic symptoms.

Supporting hypothyroidism through nutrition

If there is a mild deficiency it can be completely missed by conventional testing but natural alternatives have a lot to offer in the way of supporting even a mildly under active thyroid gland.

How do I test for hypothyroidism?

Firstly, take your temperature each day. Temperatures below 97.8 ºF or 36.6 ºC indicate hypothyroidism that needs to be addressed.

Supporting an under active thyroid gland

Once an under active thyroid gland has been identified as the cause of your symptoms, your practitioner will be able to recommend a suitable nutritional programme to support this. This will include a combination of optimum levels of nutrients, herbs and possibly glandular concentrates as well as specific dietary recommendations to promote optimum functioning of the thyroid gland.

1. Nutrients to support optimum thyroid function:

Tyrosine is an amino acid and an essential component for the synthesis of thyroid hormones and neurotransmitters. In order for thyroid hormones to be produced effectively, the body must be receiving optimum supplies of this amino acid.

Iodine is an essential nutrient for thyroid hormone synthesis. Typical iodine deficiency signs include a metallic taste in the mouth and heavy mucous secretions. Kelp is a concentrated source of bioavailable iodine.

B vitamins and Copper are necessary for the normal manufacturing of the thyroid hormones.

Calcium and Magnesium imbalances can be a problem for thyroid hormone function. It is important that these two minerals are well balanced for optimum functioning of the thyroid gland.

Vitamin A supports thyroid hormone production.

Vitamin CZinc, and B vitamins all help to support the adrenal glands, which in turn, help to support thyroid function. 

Selenium is essential for balanced thyroid hormone production. The enzyme that converts thyroid hormone T4 into the more physiologically active T3 thyroid hormone is a selenium containing enzyme. Without selenium, this conversion cannot take place, and so can lead to an under- functioning thyroid gland.

2. Herbal support for optimum thyroid function:

Liquorice root is an important herbal support for the adrenal glands. It is important to support the adrenal glands because they are closely linked to the thyroid gland.

Gum guggul is a resin derived from the mukul myrrh tree which supports the conversion of thyroid hormones in the body. This herb is an extremely useful addition to a thyroid support programme.

3. Glandular concentrates for thyroid support:

Thyroid glandular concentrate boosted by parotid concentrate, can help to nutritionally support this regulatory gland. Thyroid glandular concentrate contains the amino acids required to support healthy function of the thyroid gland.

4. In addition to specific nutrient, herbal and glandular support,

your practitioner will be able to advise you on the best dietary modifications to specifically suit your needs.

Test your basal metabolic rate using the Barnes Axillary Temperature Test

  1. Before retiring to bed, shake down an oral thermometer and place it within easy reach of the bed.
  2. Immediately upon waking, place it under the armpit until reading is ready to take (see manufacturer’s instructions). It is important that you remain still and quiet in order to get an accurate reading.
  3. Note the temperature and plot onto the graph below.
  4. Try to do this at the same time each day.
  5. Test for at least 5 consecutive days.
  6. Your temperature should fall between the 2 thick lines on the graph i.e. between 36.6ºC and 36.8ºC.

NB: Men can check the temperature on any three days. For women who are menstruating, the temperature is best measured on days 2, 3 and 4 of their period.

In conjunction with the temperature test, your healthcare practitioner can explain to you the comprehensive thyroid testing offered by Genova Diagnostics. This test can give you an in-depth insight into the working of your thyroid gland, and can specifically help to pinpoint potential problems. 

Your practitioner will also assess your symptoms, which in themselves can be an excellent indicator of mild hypothyroidism.

Here are some general diet and lifestyle tips for optimising thyroid function:

Goitrogens are naturally occurring substances that can interfere with function of the thyroid gland and make it more difficult for it to make thyroid hormones. It is best to limit consumption of goitrogen-containing foods if you have an under-functioning thyroid gland. These foods are broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, kohlrabi, mustard, rutabaga, turnips, millet, peaches, peanuts, radishes, soybean and soybean products, spinach and strawberries. Although research studies are limited in this area, cooking does appear to help inactivate the goitrogenic compounds, so if you are going to eat these foods it would be wise to eat them cooked rather than raw. The foods listed above have many health benefits in areas other than the thyroid gland so don’t feel you should cut them out of your diet entirely.

Light exercise is important as it directly stimulates the thyroid gland.

It is important to drink filtered water as the chlorine and fluoride in tap water can compete with iodine, which as identified earlier, is an extremely important mineral for thyroid hormone production. 

In general eat a healthy and varied diet and avoid foods that are refined or processed. Focus on increasing your intake of foods high in iodine (fish, kelp, dulse, vegetables and potatoes), B vitamins (wholegrains, nuts and seeds) and vitamin A (dark, green and yellow vegetables).

Many people achieve amazing results from following a natural approach to improving thyroid function. Use these recommendations in conjunction with your practitioner’s advice for a much healthier future.  

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