Are you often feeling tired, cold, achy or depressed? Have you been gaining weight even though consuming fewer calories? If you’re not feeling quite right, you might want to take a closer look at your thyroid.
This condition affects millions of people. Many are asymptomatic while others may have a wide range of clinical and subclinical symptoms. Typical symptoms of hypothyroidism may include: fatigue, slowed speech; brittle and split nails, itchy dry skin, intolerance of cold, weight gain with inability to lose weight, dry hair, hair loss, low sex drive, depression, and more.
FUNCTION OF THE THYROID
The bowtie shaped gland is located below the larynx at the level of the Adam’ apple. This amazing modest gland (weight about ½ to ¾ ounce) is a major gland of the endocrine system and affects nearly every organ in the body, including digestive and cardiovascular health. The thyroid hormones are important for energy production in every cell, and for the growth and maturation of body tissues. It regulates fat and carbohydrate metabolism, protein synthesis, body weight, heart rate, blood pressure, muscle function, sleep and sexual functioning. The thyroid works in conjunction with the pituitary gland which produces thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). TSH in turn stimulates the thyroid gland to produce the thyroid hormones, T3 and T4. These thyroid hormones play a vital role in the body, influencing metabolism and all organs.
Thyroid imbalance is often overlooked and may be difficult to diagnose due to many symptoms that are very general in nature. A TSH test alone doesn’t give you the full story. Ask your doctor to test your TSH, free T3 and free T4 levels, T3 and T4 uptake in addition to testing for TPO thyroid antibodies.
You may want also to take your basal temperature, before rising every day at the same time.
If your temperature is consistently below 97.6 this is considered a positive physical sign suggesting thyroid imbalance. It is helpful to have wellness exams and your hormones levels monitored and to keep track of your records.
Chronic stress has powerful detrimental effects on the endocrine system as it affects hormonal changes in the body. High levels of the stress hormone cortisol can inhibit both TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone) and the thyroid hormone T3.
Birth control, child bearing, perimenopause, and menopause make women more prone than men to thyroid disorders. Low thyroid functioning can be also associated with diabetes, autoimmune disorders, adrenal fatigue, elevated cholesterol, environmental exposures, and one’s genetic blue print.
WAYS TO IMPROVE THYROID FUNCTION
There is no single pill or diet for supporting thyroid function. What works is a holistic approach that combines targeted supplementation, diet, lifestyle changes, and exercise.
DIET: While some thyroid issues do have complicated underlying causes, a great way to improve your thyroid function is through nutrition. Eat foods rich in iodine such as sea vegetable, kelp, and seafood. Consume foods such as buckwheat, organ meat, legumes, lentils, cod liver oil, nuts, avocado and eggs. Avoid raw cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, turnips, peanuts, and soy, as they interfere with the body’s ability to absorb iodine. Too many carbs and too little protein can interfere with the conversion of T4 into T3.
SUPPLEMENTS:. Research shows us that the thyroid needs specific vitamins and minerals to manufacture and metabolize thyroid hormones. Iodine is the central ingredient in thyroid hormones T3 and T4. Selenium is also needed for the conversion of T4 to T3. If you are deficient, increasing dietary intake can make a big difference. Zinc and vitamins like A, B12, D, fish oil, zinc, manganese are also important.
HERBAL: Maca, Ashwangha, Kidney Yang Formulas, and Immune/Energy Tonic Formulas.
Many of us know that the future of medicine is a combination of both Western and Eastern Medicine. Patients may improve by using Traditional Chinese Medicine and other cutting edges of healing science such as acupuncture, herbs, and stress relieving activities such as yoga, meditation, and regular physical exercise.
According to many ancient traditions the thyroid gland is located at the level of the fifth energy center called the throat chakra. This center relates to self-expression, creativity and finding our voice in the world. Interestingly, I find in my practice that hypothyroidism is more severe in individuals who are having difficulty expressing themselves, or who feel suppressed in expressing their intuition, and creativity. In fact, I believe there is a direct relationship between emotional and physical needs that are not expressed and most thyroid issues. The emotional root of fear and shame seems to contribute to the blockage of the throat chakra, and the inability to speak one’s truth.
Have you ever found yourself making a decision based on what you think you should do, rather than speaking from what you know is right for you? Indeed it takes courage to recognize our true feelings, and to express them appropriately. If you have an orientation toward a holistic view, consider ways you can strengthen and act upon the wisdom of the heart with a mindfulness approach to release emotional traumas.
The work to be done is to change the psychological beliefs behind the condition, and to come into alignment with a new emotional and spiritual perspective. Whatever you are doing, thinking, deciding, ask yourself: is this coming from me or is it someone else’s beliefs? What does this condition have to teach me?
We are now at the age of awakening of the soul and liberating the mind. The power and the profound presence of a healing force within can assist us in reclaiming our inner and outer voice as we dare to speak our truth.