What Is The Thyroid?
The Thyroid is a Butterfly shaped, hormonal gland that sits in your throat. It sits just below your Adams apple and has two lobes that sit either side of your wind pipe.
The Thyroid manages your weight, your mood, your energy, your temperature and your memory. It works closely with the adrenal glands (stress and energy centres of the body) and the blood sugar system to regulate energy.
Overall, the thyroid gland is responsible for the speed of metabolism (metabolic and chemical processes) in your body (including reflex speed, heart speed, mental speed and many more), by affecting every cell, tissue, organ and organ system in your body.
The thyroid gland is essential for life, growth and development. It works with all the hormones in the body to tell them what to do and how to work.
These are the names of the Thyroid Hormones that the thyroid excrete. T4, T3, T2 and T1. The Thyroid manufactures 80% T4, 20%T3 (and T1 and T2 – quantities and function yet unknown). T3 is five to seven times stronger than T4. The thyroid is stimulated by a message from Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) to secrete thyroid hormone T4.
When the thyroid is functioning properly it produces thyroid hormones T3 (Triiodothyronine), and T4 (Tetraiodothyronine) from tyrosine (a protein) and iodine. The hormone calcitonin is also produced by the thyroid and is involved in the regulation of calcium in the body and therefore bone health.
The Thyroid hormones act like chemical messengers and deliver instructions to various tissues and organs (target organs) via the bloodstream. The cells within the target organs then use the thyroid hormones and respond by speeding up or slowing down their activities.
Low Thyroid Function
Women are more likely than men to have thyroid disease and there are a huge variety of reasons for this condition to develop. Menopausal women are most affected. By age 50, one in every twelve women has a significant degree of hypothyroidism. By age 60, it is one woman out of every six.
Women with thyroid imbalance often complain of so many problems related to their health. The reason for this is that the thyroid is involved with every function in the body and if it’s out of balance it leads to a multitude of symptoms ranging from energy problems, weight issues, insomnia, joint aches and pains, memory loss, anxiety to name just a few.
The Facts & Dangers
- Studies show that up to fifty percent of depression is attributed to an undiagnosed thyroid condition. If left untreated thyroid issues can also cause serious mental issues
- Statistics show that close to sixty-five percent of the developed world are obese or overweight. Having a thyroid that is malfunctioning often leads to excessive weight gain, which triggers diabetes, cardiovascular disease, stroke, elevated blood cholesterol and high blood pressure.
- Dangers for pregnant women – Those with low thyroid hormone production can give birth to babies that are mentally retarded. If a pregnant woman has excessive low levels of thyroid hormone she is at increased risk for a miscarriage, preeclampsia, or an early delivery.
Symptoms of low thyroid function can include
- feeling mentally dull
- a tendency toward depression
- fluid retention
- dry skin
- brittle nails
- dry hair
- weak muscles
- muscle cramps
- poor memory
- puffier eyes, hands or feet
- hoarse, deepened voice
- unsteady gait
- decreased libido
- decreased exercise tolerance
- decreased tolerance for any kind of emotional stress
- easy weight gain and very difficult weight loss
- elevated cholesterol
- sleep problems
- frequent chills feeling cold
- slower thinking
- difficulty with math
- carpel tunnel syndrome
- irregular or heavy periods
- fertility problems
Lower levels of thyroid hormones can affect the production of neurotransmitters and how well they are used in the brain and other parts of the body – this can lead to common low thyroid symptoms like depression, anxiety, poor memory, and insomnia.
It can also affect digestion because enzymes, just like neurotransmitters, do not function as they should when the body temperature is lowered – this can result in poor digestion of food, which can be manifested as gas, upset stomach, heartburn or constipation.
The hormone insulin (responsible for regulating the level of sugar in the blood) is equally affected by lower temperatures in the body and explains why many women with low thyroid often experience fluctuations in blood sugar like the up and down effect of hypoglycemia.
Hard to Diagnose
The gradual decline of thyroid function tends often to go symptomatically unrecognized. An estimated 30 to 40% of women over age 40 have diagnosed sub-clinical hypothyroidism. That is, their laboratory test results may be normal, yet they have true low functioning thyroids.
Many individuals have all of these symptoms, but the results of their thyroid tests are normal. However, their true thyroid function is low. This can be due to the fact that the blood test can’t measure how well your thyroid hormones are working. Hormonal secretion in the blood changes over the course of the day and will also be effected by the time of the month with the female hormonal cycle and other factors such as stress.
So What Causes Thyroid Dysfunction
Low thyroid function can be caused by autoimmune illnesses, such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis or Graves disease. More commonly, low thyroid function is the effect of normal human aging, chronic inflammation, nutritional deficiencies, immune problems, Estrogen hormone excess, environmental toxins, high Insulin hormone, stress, overburdened liver and genetics. While other hormone systems are affected by aging, the thyroid and adrenal glands are the most stress labile glands in the body. Any stress reduces their function. For example, a single episode of hypoglycaemia(low blood sugar) impairs thyroid function up to 18 hours. Severe stresses, such as surgery or heart attacks, affect thyroid function for months.
Blocks the conversion and activation of thyroid hormones.
- Selenium/Iodine/Vitamin A/Zinc/Tyrosine/B6/Vit D /Iron
- Decreases synthesis of thyroid hormones and conversion T4 to T3 (Converts to Reverse T3-incative form)
Female Hormone Imbalances
- Suppresses Thyroid Function by competing with thyroid receptors.
- Hyperoestrogenaemia (High estrogen) Excess oestrogen can decrease thyroid activity through increasing amounts of de-iodinase enzymes and increasing the number of pituitary T3 receptors, which inhibits TSH release.
- High oestrogen with unopposed progesterone leads to fat storage.
- Oral Contraceptive use contributes to these hormonal imbalances
The thyroid gland is very susceptible to toxicity, especially heavy metals and endogenous and exogenous antigenic material
- Industrial and agricultural chemicals interfere with normal thyroid metabolism
- Heavy Metals – Mercury, Chlorine (tap water) and Fluoride (in tap water and toothpaste)
- Medications – over the counter and prescription
- Environmental – PCB’s, Bromine, Bisphenol A, pesticides
- Of concern are certain pharmaceutical medications, cigarette smoking, stress, pesticides, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and bisphenol A (BPA) in plastics such as drink bottles and Tupperware
Diet and High Insulin
- Poor dietary habits/Modern Western Diet habits – missing meals, high carbohydrate/low protein diets/poor vegetable intake
- Blocks conversion, synthesis thyroid hormones.
- Contributes liver stress and adrenal stress
- Gluten intolerance and other food intolerances
Stress – Physical, mental, emotional
Chronic (long term) and acute (short term)
- High DHEA and Low or High Cortisol leads to Decreased TSH production
- HPA/HPT Axis
- Adrenal Insufficiency
Synthesis and conversion of thyroid hormones happens in liver. Poor methylation pathways/detox pathways
Under functioning liver from
- Bad diet
- Caffeine/ alcohol
- Environmental toxins
- Positive family history of autoimmunity
- Personal history of autoimmunity
- Immune imbalances
- Food sensitivities and allergies Wheat/Gluten
- Vit D deficiency (1 in 4 women)
Common signs and symptoms of Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis include the following:
- Firm, symmetrical enlargement of the thyroid gland that is not tender on palpation.
- Slow pulse
- Hoarse voice
- Slowed speech
- Puffy face
- Loss of eyebrows from the sides
- Drooping eyelids
- Intolerance to cold
- Weight gain
- Dry, scaly, thick, coarse hair
- Raised, thickened skin over the shins
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Menstrual cramps
- Increased risk miscarriage
- Other menstrual disorders
Treating the Thyroid
Natural support whether you take medication or not is imperative. Nutrient support will help your medication work better by converting T4 to T3 more effectively and will help to prevent other insidious diseases that can evolve if not addressed. High and Low thyroid states are impacted by nutrient deficiencies, but those nutrient deficiencies also impact other body systems in the long run too.
- You need to be assessed properly
- Have your iodine levels checked
- Take the right dose of nutrients prescribed
- We need to address your diet and nutrition
- You need to be detoxed properly
- You need to exercise regularly
- You need to meditate and incorporate relaxation into your life to reduce stress and stress hormones as these affect thyroid function
I will be able to advise you specifically on what you need to do and how you go about it. I can support you with resources through the process to make the changes an easier transition for you and discuss with you the best movement forward for YOU.
Shelley’s Naturopathic services give you the tools and knowledge to take control of your own health, rather than giving you a quick fix. While she can simply relieve problematic symptoms, the cause will also be addressed.
More information about some of our available treatments:
Making an appointment is easy.
Simply call 0450 273 119 or email to organise your appointment.