The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland located at the base of the neck. This vital endocrine gland aids in the regulation of metabolism, or the rate at which the body burns fuel. It is analogous to the gas pedal on your car. When the thyroid is overactive, the body's engine speeds up and burns hot and fast. The body engine sputters, runs slowly, and stalls when thyroid activity is low.
Many health issues can be caused by a malfunctioning thyroid gland. The most common symptoms of hypothyroidism are feeling cold and fatigue. If you are tired and easily get cold, even when others are warm, you most likely have low thyroid function. Excess weight and difficulty losing weight are also important symptoms of hypothyroidism, as are dry skin and thinning hair (hair loss). Taking your temperature every morning before getting out of bed for 3-7 days is an easy way to check for thyroid problems. If your body temperature is consistently lower than normal (98 degrees), you most likely have hypothyroidism.
Thyroid issues are very common. In the United States, approximately 5 million people have low thyroid (hypothyroidism). It is estimated that one and a half billion people worldwide are at risk for thyroid disorders. Thyroid issues are far more common in women than in men. Thyroid disorders affect approximately 90% of women.
So, what's the deal with thyroid disorders? While the precise reasons are unknown, there are several causal factors to consider.
Understanding Thyroid Function
To understand how to treat low thyroid effectively with natural substances, it is necessary to understand how the body produces thyroid hormones. The hypothalamus, a brain stalk, is the master regulator of the majority of the body's major endocrine hormones. The thyroid releasing hormone is produced when the hypothalamus detects a need for thyroid hormones (TRH). TRH travels to the pituitary gland, where it stimulates the release of TSH, also known as thyrotrophin.
TSH circulates in the blood and binds to receptor sites in the thyroid gland. It causes the thyroid to produce two hormones: thyroxin (T4) and tri-iodotyrosine (T3) (T3). Target TS II causes the pituitary gland to produce more TSH.
T4 and T3 are released in roughly a 4:1 ratio in response to TSH (4 times more T4 than T3). The more active form is T3. T4 is a hormone storage form. In peripheral tissues, particularly the liver, T4 is converted to T3. Cortisol, a stress hormone, tends to stimulate T4 to T3 conversion, whereas insulin tends to suppress T4 to T3 conversion.
The thyroid gland can also produce inactive reverse T3 (RT3). The body produces more RT3 and less T3 during times of grief, trauma, and illness, presumably to conserve energy and force us to slow down.
These thyroid hormones' primary function is to regulate metabolism and aid in the burning of fuel, particularly fats. The thyroid functions similarly to a metabolic thermostat. When thyroid output is low, fats are stored rather than burned, resulting in weight gain. Because the body burns fat to keep warm, the body temperature is usually low. Because fats keep the skin moist and supple, the skin is usually dry. Reproductive hormones may also be out of balance (because they are made of fat), and energy levels are low due to the slow metabolism.
Thyroid blood tests only reveal a portion of the picture. Other than TSH, there are numerous blood test numbers that reveal various thyroid issues. Even if your TSH levels are low, you may still be hypothyroid. Increased insulin (hyperinsulinemia or metabolic syndrome, for example) and a high-processed-food diet can both impair thyroid function. Because the adrenal glands support all thyroid functions, understanding their role in thyroid problems is essential.
If you have low thyroid and have ruled out Hashimoto's thyroiditis (an autoimmune problem), the first thing to try is increasing your intake of dietary iodine. Thyroid function is frequently improved by including foods high in natural iodine in the diet. While iodine's primary function is in the thyroid gland, it may also serve other purposes. Iodine, for example, is concentrated around the nipples in female breast tissue and is essential for breast health. Iodine is also beneficial to the immune system and aids the body in fighting infection.
Iodine is required for thyroid hormone production. While abundant in sea foods, this nutrient is not found in high concentrations in plants or animals raised inland. Furthermore, on the periodic table of elements, fluoride, chlorine, and bromide are all found in the same group as iodine. This means they can displace iodine in the body; thus, water chlorination and fluoride use may be contributing factors. Thyroid activity can be reduced by drugs such as corticosteroids, aspirin (salicylates), and anticoagulants.
Iodine is uncommon in land plants but abundant in fish and sea vegetables such as kelp, dulse, bladderwrack, and Irish moss. Sea vegetables, such as kelp, can be sprinkled on food or added to soups, stews, and other dishes. They give foods a pleasant salty flavor. There are two formulas that contain these sea vegetables and are intended to feed and support the thyroid gland. They are Thyroid Activator with Hops and TS II. In cases of moderately low thyroid, these formulas can be extremely beneficial. Another excellent source of natural iodine is liquid dulse.
Thyroid Support is another effective supplement that can aid in the treatment of hypothyroidism. The thyroid glandular substance, as well as pituitary and hypothalamic substances, are included in this formula. Thyroid Support rebuilds the thyroid gland rather than simply improving its function. If you are already taking thyroid medication (and have a thyroid gland that is at least partially functional), you may want to try rebuilding your thyroid and reducing or weaning off of it.
The thyroid is stimulated by eating coconut oil. Natural Sea Salt is an excellent source of iodine, which helps to stimulate the thyroid. Thyroid suppression is caused by cruciferous vegetables and soy.
T4 to T3 Conversion
Even if thyroid hormone levels are normal, one can still have thyroid problems if the liver and other tissues are not properly converting T4 to T3. Adrenal support or licorice root may have indirect benefits to the thyroid by supporting the adrenal glands, which may contribute to this problem. 7-Keto boosts T4 to T3 conversion and is sometimes used to stimulate fat burning for weight loss. So, 7-Keto can help when there are symptoms of low thyroid but thyroid hormone levels on blood tests are normal.
Eating a well-balanced diet (especially one low in simple carbohydrates) will also help with this conversion. Because the liver is responsible for the majority of T4 to T3 conversion, it is frequently involved in thyroid problems. Some liver supplements that can help the thyroid indirectly by assisting the liver include SF, the Tiao He Cleanse, and SAM-e combined with MSM.
All of the following thyroid remedies may be beneficial.