Hair loss, weight gain, and brain fog are only a few of the many symptoms that come along with having an underactive thyroid. The good news is that, although there is no cure, there are ways to treat an underactive thyroid and maintain normal thyroid function.
To better understand why it's vital to maintain a healthy thyroid, let's dive into the roles it plays.
The thyroid is the largest endocrine gland in the body, and it controls the metabolic processes on a microscopic as well as macroscopic level. In children, a functioning thyroid is essential for brain development and growth. If any imbalances arise, they can lead to delayed brain development and stunted growth.
The thyroid also plays a role in reproductive health - which goes beyond makin' babies. Nobody wants chronic hot flashes at the age of 25!
When an individual develops an underactive thyroid, they are unable to produce a sufficient amount of thyroid hormones to carry out the various processes within the body. In addition to the symptoms mentioned above, joint pain, goiter, and depression can manifest as well.
The range and severity of symptoms will vary from person to person, and often, secondary symptoms can arise.
As mentioned already, there is no cure for hypothyroidism. However, there are treatments to manage and control symptoms of the disorder as well as stabilize the thyroid.
Levothyroxine is a synthetic thyroid hormone that mimics the effects of T4. This is a popular medication that doctors will prescribe to their patients that suffer from an underactive thyroid.
While the medication can benefit some patients, it normally only covers up symptoms of an underlying imbalance. For best results you need to identify and correct the underlying cause of your thyroid dysfunction before using hormone replacement therapies. In most cases, once you correct the underlying causes of your thyroid dysfunction, your thyroid will self-correct and begin working without the need for a lifetime of medications.
Some severe side effects are associated with the medication as well, which include insomnia, shakiness, heart palpitations and loss of bone density.
Recent studies have shown that occasionally, patients prescribed levothyroxine are misdiagnosed based on the limited tests that are performed by physicians. This misdiagnosis results in patients being over medicated or inappropriately prescribed which can cause side effects to amplify and worsen.
If a lifetime of pills isn't your thing, don't worry, there are numerous natural alternatives to consider.
Natural Thyroid Treatments
Exercise stimulates thyroid hormone synthesis and release, as well as decreases cortisol levels. Elevated cortisol is known to interfere with the conversion of T4 to T3. This is when the body converts inactive thyroid hormone to the active, usable form.
Consuming iodine is necessary since it is required for the production and function of thyroid hormones. Eating iodine-rich foods such as fish, seaweed, beans, and certain fruits such as strawberries, assist in the normalization of the thyroid's functionality. Beware of iodized table salts - if you have an underactive thyroid, you are prone to heart issues which can be worsened by high sodium consumption. It is best to get you iodine from the sources mentioned above.
Minerals such as selenium, copper, and zinc are required for the activation of deiodinases, the enzymes that convert T4 to T3. T3 is the metabolically active form of the hormone that is able to exert its effects on the cells throughout the body.
Adaptogens are mushroom derivatives that have been used for centuries in eastern medicine to reduce cortisol levels. Cortisol interferes with the proper hormonal conversion leading to less T3 and more Reverse T3, which is the inactive form of T3 and is toxic at high levels.
Vitamin D helps regulate the immune system and also protects against the formation of antibodies, which could negatively impact the thyroid.
One of the many benefits of taking probiotics is that they help prevent small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, aka SIBO. SIBO not only feels as gross as it sounds, but it can also contribute to the prevention of hormonal conversion.
Avoiding Food Sensitivities
Foods that contain commonly known allergens such as wheat and dairy can actually cross-react with the thyroid gland. This cross-reaction leads to inflammation, and potentially a disorder called thyroiditis. Thyroiditis is inflammation of the thyroid gland and is known to cause constant leaking of the thyroid hormones which results in an imbalance.
Here at Acufunkture, our Traditional Chinese Medicine and Functional Medicine approach aims to help patients address the root cause of hypothyroidism.
It is normal, in some cases, to request additional tests that involve immune markers and different hormones to get a clear representation of your health. Once the tests have been processed, you will receive a comprehensive review of your lab work as well as a customized treatment plan tailored to your body’s needs.
Our top priority is to address the root cause of your health challenges. By focusing on the foundation of your imbalance, as well as providing alternative care to ease your symptoms and support the healing process, we will steadily bring your body into balance.
Our integrative approach in treating disorders allows you to maintain healthy well-being with minimum side effects. The primary goal of our wellness plan is to let your body heal with its natural abilities and the support of our treatments.