Located in the front of your neck, the thyroid is responsible for controlling your metabolism (and weight), brain development, fertility, and immune system. Though it has profound effects on the whole body, there are estimates that up to 40% of US residents have under-functioning thyroid glands. Let’s look at the symptoms of poor thyroid function, some potential causes, and solutions. The thyroid, under optimal conditions, works to keep you warm, burn fat, and supply your mitochondria with energy for life. Here are a few signs that your thyroid might be having challenges:
· Feeling cold, especially hands and feet
· Weight gain/ obesity
· Hair loss
· Dry skin, weak fingernails
· Elevated cholesterol levels
· Muscle and joint pain
If you experience any of these symptoms, you should get your thyroid hormone blood levels tested. Most MDs know to test for TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone), but you also need to know your levels of free T3 and free T4 as well. Since the free hormones are unbound by proteins and ready for use, they show a more accurate picture. Find a practitioner who understands functional ranges and can help you correct imbalances naturally. Assuming that you need synthetic thyroid hormone replacement when your levels are low is a mistake. There are many options and ideally, one should be looking at the CAUSE of sub-optimal numbers.
Finding causes requires basic knowledge of function, time and willingness to do the sleuthing. Thyroid Stimulating hormone is NOT produced by the thyroid, but is a messenger from the Pituitary telling your thyroid to work harder. So if your TSH is high, it is a sign that more production is needed. Your thyroid will produce more T4 to meet the demands if it is able. That T4 must be converted to the more active T3 for use throughout the body. Only a small amount of conversion is done in the thyroid. In fact 70-80% of T3 is converted in the Liver and another 5-10% in the kidneys. So is your thyroid your real problem or could it be that you aren’t converting? Here are some hindrances to proper thyroid function and/or conversion:
· Lack of iodine
· Poor liver function/methylation defects
· Endocrine disruptors/toxins
· Halogens such as fluoride, chlorine, bromide
· Heavy metals such as amalgam fillings
· Adrenal stress
You can take a few steps yourself to improve thyroid function by looking at this list of possible causes.
Our exposure as a society to endocrine disrupting chemicals in plastics and personal care products is a primary cause of many health challenges such as hormone imbalances and toxin based diseases like cancer. Limiting your exposure to those chemicals is a good first step.
Wheat can be a problem for many people, as leaky gut and the gluten molecule can lead to a self-attack on the thyroid gland. Going gluten-free can be a healthier choice for many people.
If you still have metal fillings in your mouth, your exposure is on-going. Find a biological dentist and discuss a removal protocol. https://iabdm.org/location/
Fluoride, as found in drinking water and toothpaste, chlorine in city water and swimming pools, and bromide found in bromated flour, hot tubs, and Mt. Dew are halogens which prevent the uptake of iodine by the thyroid. They are taking up all the musical chairs, so when the iodine comes along, there are no seats at the table for that essential mineral. The solution must be two-fold: limit your exposure to these chemicals and replace them with iodine. Food such as seafood and seaweed contains significant amounts of iodine needed by the thyroid to produce thyroid hormones. Iodine is in short supply in our soils and consequently our foods, so it takes extra effort to get enough. Top that off with halogen exposure, and we don’t have enough building blocks for healthy hormone production. (Note: Iodine is also used in the breasts, prostate, and ovaries in addition to the thyroid, so women have higher requirements for iodine) Then there is the problem of correct pH in the body. When our saliva or urine pH deviates more than a point or two above or below 6.4, our body is not able to absorb the little bit of iodine that we are consuming. Dr. Brownstein, in his book “Iodine, why you need it and why you can’t live without it” describes his clinical experiences and epidemic iodine shortages, as well as protocols to correct this. Many people don’t have thyroid dysfunction, but simply an iodine shortage. Make sure you investigate this possibility before committing to lifelong hormone replacement.
What if it isn’t your thyroid but heavy metals, poor liver function, or kidney troubles? Liver enzyme tests are only effective at showing liver imbalances when your liver is down to 10%. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to get to that point before I start fixing things. I’d rather be proactive. There are many tests including saliva, dried urine, iridology, and electro-dermal screening (EDS) which can give you a picture of your body and any imbalances that could explain your symptoms. Find a practitioner who uses these non-bloodwork testing methods to dig deeper to find causes. A Naturopathic doctor can also help you find solutions to detoxify and support ideal health with natural therapies and products such as herbs, homeopathic remedies, and nutraceuticals.