More than 30 million women and 15 million men suffer from low thyroid function, or hypothyroidism. Symptoms of hypothyroidism may include:
- Sluggishness in the morning
- Poor concentration and memory
- Low-grade depression
- Dry skin
- Hoarse voice
- Thinning coarse hair, or hair loss
- Low body temperature, cold intolerance, or cold hands and feet
- Muscle pain, weakness or cramps
- Low sex drive
- Fluid retention
- High cholesterol
- Weight gain
- Menstrual irregularity in women
Chronic thyroid problems can be caused by many factors such as environmental toxins, chronic stress, chronic inflammation, nutrient deficiencies, etc.
- Environmental toxins such as pesticides and heavy metals are endocrine (hormonal) disruptor's. For example, mercury can affect thyroid function. Pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides interfere with thyroid hormone metabolism and function. One study found that as people lost weight they released pesticides from their fat tissue. These pesticides then interfered with the thyroid function and caused hypothyroidism. These toxins may slow your metabolism and prevent you from losing more weight. This study highlights the importance of overall detoxification.
- Chronic stressis another big factor that interferes with our thyroid function. There is an intimate interaction between stress hormones and thyroid function. The more stress you experience, the worse your thyroid functions. Any approach to correcting low thyroid function must address the effects of chronic stress and provide support to the adrenal glands.
- Chronic inflammationis another major factor that affects thyroid function. A big source of chronic inflammation is gluten, the protein found in wheat, barley, rye, splat, and oats. Gluten is a very common allergen that affects about 10 to 20 percent of the population. This reaction occurs mostly because of our damaged guts, poor diets, and stress. Also, eating biochemically engineered foods, such as hybridized and genetically modified grains with very strange proteins, can make us sick. Our bodies, unfamiliar with such foods, create antibodies to fight them. This leads to a chronic inflammatory response which interferes with thyroid function and contributes to the epidemic of inflammatory diseases in the developed world.
- Nutrient deficienciesplay a big role in thyroid dysfunction. These include deficiencies of iodine, vitamin D, omega-3 fats, selenium, zinc, vitamin A, and the B vitamins. This reaction occurs mostly because of our damaged gastrointestinal system, poor diets, and stress. Also, eating biochemically engineered foods, such as hybridized and genetically modified grains with very strange proteins, can make us sick. Our bodies are unfamiliar with such foods and consequently create antibodies to fight these “food like substances”. This immune reaction leads to a chronic inflammatory response, which causes reduced thyroid function
However, many of people go undiagnosed. In fact, in one study, researchers performed conventional thyroid tests on everybody who walked through the gates of a county fair. They found that according to even conservative conventional standards, half of all the people who had hypothyroidism were undiagnosed, untreated, and suffering. Most often, doctors check the thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), but what is considered high normal (4.5) is too high for most people. Some doctors think that only anything over 5 or 10 is worth treating, thus leaving millions suffering unnecessarily. In my experience, patients feel well when their TSH does not exceed 2.5. Anybody with a TSH level over 3.0 should be considered hypothyroid.
Unfortunately, TSH does not give a full picture of the thyroid function. There are also other tests, including free T3 and free T4 and thyroid antibodies, which are essential. I also look for associated problems such as gluten intolerance, food allergies, and heavy metals, as well as deficiencies of vitamins A and D, selenium, zinc, and omega-3 fats, all needed for conversion of T4 to T3.
You Can Overcome Hypothyroidism
A comprehensive Integrative Functional Medicine approach is needed to diagnose and address chronic thyroid issues. Once we confirmed that a sluggish thyroid is contributing to your symptoms, there are many things we can do to help correct your thyroid problems. Here is my approach:
- Identify and treat the underlying causes, which may be food allergies, heavy metal burden or sensitivity, nutritional deficiencies, and reduce stress.
- Optimize your thyroid nutrition by including foods that contain Omega-3 fats, Selenium, Zinc and more.
- Resolve adrenal exhaustion and minimize stress using individualized dietary supplements and comprehensive stress management program.
- Dietary supplements may be used to enhance thyroid function.
- Acupuncture is used to regulate both thyroid and adrenal functions, reduce stress, and improve digestion and nutrient absorption.
- Heat Therapy to eliminate stored toxins, which interfere with thyroid function.
- Thyroid Hormones may be used when necessary.
There are many things to consider in addressing hypothyroidism, and treating it properly makes one of the biggest differences in my patients’ quality of life. By following this strategy, you can achieve improved thyroid function and better health.