Are you exhausted, gaining weight for no reason or suffering from low mood? Your thyroid may be under functioning.
Hypothyroidism is the most common pathological hormone deficiency and is quickly becoming one of the top most common endocrine disorders. In clinic, I often see symptoms such as fatigue, slow bowel movements, weight gain, memory problems, depression, anxiety, constipation, dry hair, dry skin and brittle nails. There is a lot Naturopathic treatment can do to improve these symptoms, and with further testing we can determine the best treatment plan for you.
What is a thyroid and what does it do?
The thyroid gland, a small butterfly-shaped gland in the front of your neck, makes thyroid hormones that travel from the thyroid gland through the blood to all parts of the body. Thyroid hormones control how your body uses food for energy which helps all your organs Thyroid hormones affect your metabolism rate, effecting how fast or slow your brain, heart, muscles, liver, and other parts of your body work. If you don’t have enough thyroid hormone, you might feel tired and cold and if you have too much thyroid hormone, you might feel nervous, jumpy, and warm.
The Thyroid is controlled by a small gland called the pituitary gland. They work closely together to control the amount of thyroid hormones circulate in the blood. Imagine the mechanism being very similar to regulating the central heating in a house where there is thermostat (pituitary gland) that regulates the temperature. The pituitary senses the level of thyroid hormones in your blood stream, just as the thermostat in your living room senses the temperature. When this system is disrupted and no longer working efficiently, we start to see signs and symptoms of thyroid hormone deficiency- or hypothyroidism
What are the most common signs and symptoms for an under functioning thyroid (hypothyroidism)?
Symptoms of hypothyroidism usually appear slowly over months or years. Symptoms and signs may include:
- Coarse and thinning hair.
- Dry skin.
- Brittle nails.
- A yellowish tint to the skin.
- Slow body movements.
- Cold skin.
- Inability to tolerate cold.
- Feeling tired, sluggish, or weak.
- Memory problems, depression, or problems concentrating.
- Heavy or irregular menstrual periods that may last longer than 5 to 7 days.
Some less common symptoms may include:
- An enlarged thyroid gland (goiter).
- Modest weight gain, often 4.5 kg or less.
- Swelling of the arms, hands, legs, and feet, and facial puffiness, particularly around the eyes.
- Muscle aches and cramps.
In general, your severity of symptoms depends on your age, how long you have had hypothyroidism, and the severity of hormone imbalance. For some, the symptoms may be so mild and happen so slowly that they go unnoticed for years. Some people may suffer from weight gain and fatigue, and told there thyroid function is ‘normal’ when in fact that are suffering from subclinical hypothyroidism. This is when your thyroid hormone levels are not imbalanced enough to have a ‘thyroid disease’ but symptoms may still be present and affecting your state of health.
How does Naturopathic treatment of hypothyroidism work?
Hypothyroidism can have many underlying causes and it’s a Naturopaths job to investigate this as the basis for treatment. Nutrients such as iodine, tyrosine and selenium have been well research to stimulate thyroid function. Herbal medicines such as Coleus also offer an alternative to medication which has amazing effects on improving thyroid function. Your dosage depends on your thyroid hormone levels so best to consult with a Naturopath on what is best for you.
While nutritional and herbal medicine can go a long way to balance hormone levels, identifying the underlying cause of hypothyroidism is the most common component of Naturopathic treatment. Some possible underlying triggers include:
- Leaky gut
- Food allergies/sensitivities
- Microflora imbalance in the GIT
- Poor digestion or elimination
- Chemical overload
- Food additives, agricultural chemical run-off (Organo-chloride exposure especially), environmental pollutants, chemical exposure, household cleaners and sprays, herbicides and pesticides, hair dyes
- Stress, depression, inadequate rest and relaxation
- Low grade chronic acute infections
Further testing such as thyroid studies, vitamin D status, celiac disease and other nutritional deficiencies that have presented, as well as food intolerance testing and elimination, detoxification, stress management and digestive healing are all addressed by me as part of naturopathic treatment of hypothyroidism.