Don’t let the size fool you; the amazing two inch butterfly-shaped thyroid gland in front of the neck orchestrates an intricate web of interactions for nearly every organ and function of the body. This tiny gland is the master center for the metabolic functions of every single cell in our body. It is intimately involved with regulating many key bodily functions such as energy production, the cardiovascular system, bone metabolism, hormone production, fat and glucose metabolism, red blood cell production, protein and cholesterol metabolism, gastrointestinal and liver function, brain function, nervous system, and more
Please check last month’s article where we began an exploration of thyroid health with hypothyroidism. Our focus this month is on holistic thyroid health, and a less common thyroid disorder called hyperthyroidism.
WESTERN MEDICAL VIEW of OVER-ACTIVE THYROID
Some of the many symptoms are increased heart rate, restlessness, heart palpitations, aversion to heat, nervousness, insomnia, weakness, breathlessness, GI upset, increased appetite with weight loss, decreased menstrual periods, infertility, insomnia, muscle deterioration, hair loss, bulging eyes, diarrhea, heightened anxiety, and depression.
The most prevalent form of over-active thyroid is Graves’ disease in which the body’s autoimmune response causes the thyroid gland to produce too much T3 and T4. Optimal functioning of the thyroid gland depends on several factors: correct functioning of the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland, an adequate supply of iodine, and conversion of thyroxin (T4) to triiodothyronine (T3).
Blood Test: For a positive diagnosis of hyperthyroidism to be made levels of T4 and/or T3 must be high, while a level of TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) is generally low. If you think you may have a thyroid imbalance, it’s a good idea to see a healthcare practitioner to request a full thyroid hormone panel, as well as testing for iodine, selenium, and vitamin D levels.
Thyroid dysfunction is a hidden epidemic with many theories. It is never the thyroid alone but a combination of different factors.
According to TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine), the root of hyperthyroidism is deficiency of qi and yin and the symptoms considered excess. Treatment, therefore addresses both the cause and the symptoms with acupuncture, herbal medicine, and dietary therapy. TCM offers consistent and reliable benefits in the treatment of hyper- and hypothyroidism. And of course, the sooner it is diagnosed, the easier it will be to bring it back under control with dietary therapy, supplements, and lifestyle changes.
Let’s look at some factors that may contribute to a thyroid condition
– Autoimmune disease: In autoimmune disease, the immune system gets confused and begins attacking its own body. The causes of autoimmune problems may include chronic stress, endocrine stress and fatigue, viral infection, radiation, intestinal dysbiosis, hormone imbalances, autonomic nervous system imbalances, and more.
– Nutritional deficiency: While some thyroid issues do have complicated underlying causes, you can help to maintain your thyroid health by making sure your diet includes the full spectrum of vitamins, amino acids, and minerals such as iodine, selenium, and zinc to function properly. Many conventional foods are nutrient deficient due to soil depletion. Certain food such as soy, gluten, dairy, peanuts and sugar can also block nutrient absorption. Cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, kale, and broccoli benefit overactive thyroid.
– Environmental toxins: Heavy metals (lead, mercury and copper toxicity), pesticides, plastic residues and so many others cause immune system confusion and toxicity.
– Hormone imbalance: Women are more susceptible than men to thyroid disease. Hormonal changes such as pregnancy, post-partum, perimenopause and menopause can be key triggers for the development of thyroid problems.
– Emotional toxins : Mind-body-soul interaction is such a critical factor to optimal health. The body is a very complex system of organized intelligence that interacts with everything and seeks homeostasis.
It is important to understand that either hypo and hyperthyroidism, or any illness, does not just happen. While the above factors can be part of a perfect storm to create a thyroid condition, let’s not forget to address the emotional and spiritual aspect of the thyroid which is related to self-expression and the voice of our soul. It is there, in our throat chakra that thoughts and intentions transform words into action.
To heal your thyroid I suggest finding the right mind-body-soul approach that works for you to do your inner work. Empower yourself as you choose to speak out, and in finding your voice, abandon any feelings of being less than.
In addition, learn everything you can about your thyroid, find a doctor who truly understands thyroid dis-ease, get properly tested and treated, eat foods that support your health, manage stress, and get support from people who understand your condition.
Take good care of yourself, and of your precious thyroid gland.