Thyroid conditions are becoming more and more prominent in North America. Many people have difficulties obtaining a diagnosis because their blood tests always come back as normal even though they have many of symptoms of a poorly functioning thyroid. To further complicate the issue many symptoms of low thyroid function are vague and could be due to any number of conditions.
Some of the main symptoms of hypothyroidism are:
• Cold/heat sensitivity
• Cold hands and feet
• Easy weight gain/ difficulty losing weight
• Dry skin and hair
• Brittle nails
• Irregular periods
• Hair loss
• High cholesterol
• Heart palpitations
A family history is often present, but it is also common to see thyroid problems begin after a period of stress; either physical or mental. A few examples of stressors are; pregnancy and childbirth, prolonged illness, a motor vehicle accident or chronic stress from school or work. The diagnosis of a thyroid disorder usually means taking some form of thyroid hormone for the remainder of your life, this doesn’t always have to be the case. Nutritional supplementation and herbal medicines can make it possible to cut back on the amount of medication you are on and other methods including stress reduction, adrenal support, and microbiome testing can help reveal other factors that are impeding your thyroid function .
Hyperthyroidism is often treated by irradiation or removal of the thyroid gland, these treatments leave the individual in a permanent hypothyroid state and dependent on medication in order to function normally. These treatments are extreme and hard on the body. If treatment can be sought before these procedures are undergone then there is hope that the hyperthyroid symptoms of goiter, exopthalmus, anxiety and jitteriness may be reversed and can be controlled with natural remedies. Once thyroid surgery or irradiation of the thyroid have been performed, the goal of treatment from a naturopathic medicine perspective, will be to help the patient have as normal a life as possible by ensuring proper supplementation of thyroid hormone co-factors and following special diet recommendations. Graves’ disease is the autoimmune form of hyperthyroidism and issues with the immune system will need to be addressed, similar to Hashimoto’s.
Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is an autoimmune disorder where the body turns on its own thyroid gland. People who have Hashimoto’s can exhibit symptoms of hyperthyroid or hypothyroid function and sometimes fluctuate between both. Hashimoto’s can be extremely difficult to treat if it is just regarded as a disease of the thyroid; in reality, the thyroid is simply the target of the the immune system’s attack, we need to calm the immune system and support the thyroid to prevent further damage. To properly address Hashimoto’s or any autoimmune disease, we must determine the triggers; food, environment, bacteria, viruses, fungi, and pollutants that are causing the imbalance in the first place and then remove it, repair the damage and repopulate with super healthy microbes and finish off by feeding them so they stay around forever! If this sounds like a big job, it is, but your health and future are totally worth the effort!