The thyroid gland is a tiny bi-lobed (two linked parts) organ at the front of the throat. It produces hormones (T3 and T4) that govern the body’s metabolic processes, including energy use and growth. A sluggish thyroid fails to produce enough T3 and T4, which can lead to a number of symptoms, some of them very vague and often misdiagnosed.
Symptoms of low thyroid function may include:
Not all of these symptoms will necessarily be present. Additionally, someone with hypothyroidism may have other symptoms. Finally, you may have these symptoms for another reason. See why I said it was vague!?
The good news is that thyroid function can be accurately assessed by your health professional with the use of blood tests, body temperature charting and iodine spot tests or patch tests.
There are many reasons for lowered thyroid function. Sometimes, people may simply be low in the nutrients needed to make thyroid hormones, including Iodine, Tyrosine and Selenium. Worldwide, Iodine deficiency is the most common cause of this condition. At other times, inflammation of the thyroid gland may damage the hormone-producing cells, leaving them unable to work. One cause of such inflammation is an autoimmune condition known as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Low thyroid conditions may be related to other hormonal imbalances, and a key risk factor for the development of any thyroid problem is a family history of the same.
Treatments for low thyroid will differ depending upon the cause of the condition. It is usually always considered important to supply enough nutrients for the healthy functioning of the gland, including Iodine, Tyrosine, Selenium and Zinc, as contained in Nutra Life Thyroguard, Herbs of Gold Selenium 150 Max and Nutra LIfe Tyrosine 500. Herbs such as Bacopa, Withania, Blooms Kelp Granules and Coleus are considered to help raise levels of thyroid hormones in the body; and Rehmannia may assist in reducing the inflammation of the gland, particularly in autoimmune conditions. Rhodiola, the herb that is famous for giving the Vikings their incredible strength, may also improve thyroid function, and Herbs of Gold Stress Ease Adrenal Support will help to give you more energy.
Finally, it is wise to avoid foods that may suppress thyroid function. These include uncooked broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale and spinach (although cooked is great!). Also soy, walnuts, pine nuts, peanuts and excessive amounts of linseeds may be detrimental in some cases. On the up side, you can increase iodine intake in your diet by eating seaweeds, or adding Blooms Kelp Granules to your food. Melrose Cod Liver Oil is also something you may consider incorporating, as it is a natural source of Vitamin D, which helps to balance the immune system in cases of autoimmune Hypothyroidism.
Research Updates - June 2011
Cerqueira, C et al (2011), ‘Doubling in the use of thyroid hormone replacement therapy in Denmark: association to iodization of salt?’, Eur J Epidemiol. [Epub ahead of print]
Iodisation of salt has been instituted across many countries worldwide in attempts to prevent iodine deficiency. It has had incredible effects in some countries, helping to prevent cretinism in infants and reduce incidence of goiter. However, some recent studies have suggested that it may not be as good for health as initially thought.
This study looked at the rates of hypothyroidism diagnosed in Denmark after the introduction of iodised salt in 1998. They assessed the amount of people using medication for the condition in these regions. The increase was startling – between a 75 and 85% increase. The largest impact was on young women, where rates of thyroxine (medication) use doubled. The authors suggest that this may be due in part to iodine-induced hypothyroidism.
So while it is important to avoid iodine deficiency, intake should be within optimal ranges.
Vive Health Naturopaths recommend the following products for Hypothyroidism:
Nb. If on medication to treat the Thyroid, it is important to consult with your GP and a Naturopath regarding supplement use.
|1. Nutra Life Thyroguard (50 Caps)
|1-2 tab daily.
|2. Blooms Kelp Granules (200g)
|1 tsp 1-3 x daily with fruit juice or water
|3. Nutra Life Tyrosine 500 (50 Caps) OR
|2 cap daily.
|3. Musashi L-Tyrosine (50g)
|1/2 - 1level tsp x 3 daily.
|4. Herbs of Gold Selenium 150 Max (60 Tabs)
|1 tab daily.
|5. Herbs of Gold Stress Ease Adrenal Support (60 Tabs)
|1 tab x 2 daily (breakfast and lunch).
|6. Melrose Cod Liver Oil (200ml, 500ml) OR
|1 tsp at meals x 2 daily.
|6. Nordic Naturals Artic Cod Liver Oil (90 Soft gels)
|1 cap three times a day with meals.
NOTE: Consideration should always be given to individual requirements. Please consider seeing a qualified practitioner before commencing a new treatment protocol or when combining supplements with pharmaceutical medication.
For more information on Low Thyroid Function or to ask a Qualified Naturopath a question Click Here.