The Thyroid is the master gland that is responsible for energy metabolism in every single cell of the body. It manages temperature fluctuations (kind of like an internal thermostat), weight fluctuations, energy, skin, hair, bowel health, heart beat, neurological and brain function, as well as coordinating the creation and function of all the other hormones of the body
Most people when they are dealing with thyroid dysfunction are dealing with Hypo-thyroid, meaning their thyroid gland is not making enough thyroid hormone, and their brains are not happy about that.
Some key terms to remember:
TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone. Produced in brain, talks to thyroid to make hormone. When happy, number stays low, in tight range around 1.5 (1-2). Most endocrinologists accept a wide range from 0.4-4 for a TSH. I’ve found that patients who above a narrow range around 1.5 and symptomatic should be considered functionally hypothyroid and do well with thyroid support. When unhappy with level of thyroid it is receiving, the brain begins to yell and TSH goes up and up and up)
T4 (inactive thyroid hormone)-Pharmaceutical replacement-Synthroid (Levothyroxine)
T3 (active thyroid hormone)-Pharmaceutical replacement-Cytomel (Liothyronine)
Nature-throid, Armour-(Combination T4, T3 thyroid medications)
Not enough thyroid, TSH goes up-> HYPO-thyroid (Way more common)
Too much thyroid, TSH goes down->HYPER-thyroid (Way less common)
Symptoms of Hypothyroid (This is by far the most common form of thyroid dysfunction and describes not enough thyroid hormone):
Stiffness of muscles
Factors that affect proper thyroid functioning and lead to Hypothyroid symtoms:
Stress (elevated cortisol blocks thyroid production)
Chronic infections (viral, bacterial, mold)
Radiation (dentist, mammogram, airport, x-ray, Fukushima)
Lack of necessary nutrients (selenium, iodine
“Leaky gut” can impair proper absorption of nutrients
Fluoride-Acts as an endocrine disruptor.
Heavy metals (ex: mercury, cadmium, lead)-Also act as endocrine disruptors.
Gluten (For people who are sensitive and react to gluten there is a cross reaction that happens where the body begins to form auto-antibodies (aka Hashimoto’s disease) towards the thyroid gland (TPO, TgAB), blocking the proper creation of thyroid hormone
Large amounts of Brassica family vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, soy and Brussels sprouts)-contain compounds called goitrogens which block thyroid hormone production. Eat in moderation and steam.
Many things can affect the thyroid gland and make us deficient in thyroid hormone. The following are my top 10 ways to naturally support healthy thyroid function:
Avoid gluten-For many people gluten causes an immune cross reaction in the body and the creation of auto-antibodies to the thyroid gland which block proper thyroid hormone production-aka Hashimoto's disease.
Avoid fluoride toothpastes-Fluoride is an endocrine disruptor that can interrupt proper thyroid function.
Avoid too many raw Brassica family vegetables (kale, cabbage, broccoli, brussel sprouts). These vegetables contain goitrogens which can block thyroid function. Cooking them can help lower those amounts.
Ask for thyroid protection flaps when at dentist, x-ray or mammogram-Can help block harmful radiation. These aren't routinely used at the dentist which is why you should ask for it.
Try incorporating more selenium and iodine into your diet (ex: Brazil nuts are high in selenium, Seafood is high in iodine: Nori, seaweed, cod, shrimp, sardines, dulse). Iodine is needed for thyroid hormone creation and selenium is needed for conversion of T4 into T3.
Support proper digestion (Proper digestion is needed to absorb the nutrients necessary to create thyroid hormone. Some things that can strength the GI barrier and allow for proper digestion and absorption are: glutamine, probiotics, collagen peptides, digestive enzymes, and bone broth)
Learn to cope with and manage stress (ex: meditation, mindfulness). Stress increases cortisol, the key adrenal hormone. which can block thyroid function.
Treat chronic infections-Can block proper thyroid function.
Chelation therapy-Can help remove high levels of heavy metals out of body. Heavy metals (ex: mercury, lead, cadmium) are endocrine disruptors and block proper thyroid production.
Adrenal support-Supporting the adrenal glands can help lower cortisol and stop the disruption of thryoid hormone. Adaptogens like ashwaganda, rhodiola, ginseng, and glandulars like cytozyme AD, DHEA, pregnenolone help support and supplement proper adrenal function.
Seek professional support if you think you are dealing with underlying hypothyroid issues. In many cases supplementing thyroid hormone may be critical to getting the thyroid back on track and healthy.