Hypothyroidism & Thyroid Imbalance
Your thyroid is arguably one of the most important endocrine organs in the body. Sitting comfortably in the base of the neck, this exocrine gland outputs three major hormones: thyroxine (aka inactive T4), triiodothyronine (aka active T3) and calcitonin.
These hormones essentially determine the body’s metabolic rate at which it burns fuels like fat and sugar, synthesizes proteins, regulates heart rate, and controls development – especially in infancy. They also influence the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis which determines your response and resilience to stress.
Symptoms of thyroid dysfunction
- Fatigue, Weight gain; Poor concentration or feeling mentally “foggy”
- Low Body Temperature
- Low mood, depression, anxiety
- Muscle aches or joint pain
- Brain fog, poor memory
- Changes in hair and/or skin
- Other conditions related to hypothyroidism such as high cholesterol, depression, PCOS, menstrual changes and chronic pain
“1 in 10 women in North America have a thyroid condition. Over 50% of them go undiagnosed”
What Can Cause Thyroid Dysfunction
Infection – inflammation of the thyroid gland, also known as thyroiditis, is often secondary to bacterial and viral infections like Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus, mycobacteria, and fungi
Environment – heavy metals, chemical drug toxicity, synthetic hormones (especially high doses during fertility treatment) and BPAs/thermal receipts have all been linked to thyroid disorders
Adrenal Fatigue – the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis has a closely linked relationship with thyroid function. High levels of cortisol output slow deiodinase activity, resulting in decreased T4 to T3 conversion, and increased symptomatology of hypothyroidism.
Iodine + Selenium Deficiency – iodine deficiencies remain the number one cause of goiter formation worldwide. Furthermore, selenium deficiencies have been shown to slow T3 conversion by up to 80%
Insulin Resistance – research from the American Thyroid Association confirms that individuals with insulin resistance have also been shown to have an increased number of thyroid nodules, and medications that support blood sugar control actually shrink the size of thyroid nodules. Furthermore, T4 to T3 conversion has been shown to be slowed by up to 50% in those with insulin resistance.
Autoimmunity – Hashimoto’s and Grave’s disease are as a result of autoimmune insult on the thyroid gland, enzymes, and receptors
Treating the Root Cause
The first goal is to get to the root of your health concerns hen it comes to naturopathic medicine. For thyroid conditions, this may mean exploring:
- Nutrient deficiencies
- Chronic stress and adrenal fatigue
- Autoimmunity (Hasimoto’s or Grave’s disease)
- Diet, gut health and/or food sensitivities
- And more
Thyroid Treatments may include
- Full assessment of your thyroid hormones (read a blog dedicated to thyroid testing)
- Herbal medicine: support production and conversion, decrease antibodies in Grave’s/Hashimotos
- Nutrient replacement: provide the building blocks (like zinc, iodine, selenium) to create hormones
- Diet and Lifestyle: eliminate food intolerances (link to food intolerance page) and promote healthy metabolism through diet
- Bio-identical Hormone Replacement Therapy (Natural Desiccated Thyroid) when necessary