Google+ Healthy Happy Holistic Living : Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism

The thyroid gland is a small butterfly-shaped gland located in the front of the neck below the larynx. It makes thyroid hormones which travel from the thyroid gland through the blood, to all parts of the body, where the hormones help all your organs work well. They control how your body uses food for energy, and they affect how fast or slow your brain, heart, muscles, liver, and other parts of your body work. When the thyroid gland stops working properly and fails to produce a normal amount of thyroid hormone, hypothyroidism is the result. This is a simplified explanation of a rather complex condition.   

Hypothyroidism, sometimes called underactive thyroid or low thyroid, is a common endocrine disorder. It is a disorder in which the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone. Women are two to ten times more likely than men to develop hypothyroidism, with it affecting one in 500 pregnancies in women of childbearing age. People who are older than 60 years old have a higher incidence of thyroid disorders. In children, hypothyroidism can lead to delays in growth and intellectual development.
Hypothyroidism can cause many symptoms, some of which are fatigue, inability to tolerate cold, and weight gain. Other symptoms of hypothyroidism may include hair loss, loss of the outer third of the eyebrows, problems with the digestive system such as diarrhea, constipation, and irritable bowel syndrome, muscle and joint pain, enlarged thyroid gland, hoarse voice, irregular, heavy, or painful menstrual cycles, coarse and dry skin, depression, anxiety, abnormal cholesterol levels, and in some cases, infertility. 

The diagnosis of Hypothyroidism can be confirmed with blood tests. Your health care provider should also do a physical exam, listen to your symptoms, and take a family history. 

Many times doctors fail to diagnose this condition. This can happen for a number of reasons. Many doctors don’t take the time to do a complete physical exam, medical history and family history, or they fail to do full blood testing. People can suffer and remain untreated for years.  

In our household, we are very familiar with hypothyroidism. We both have been diagnosed with it. For both of us, it was a lengthy process to be properly diagnosed and treated. 

Hypothyroidism can be treated with medication, and there are additional ways that you can bring about positive changes in your condition, and get your thyroid back into balance. 

Alternative techniques that may be useful in correcting hypothyroidism are acupuncture, naturopathic medicine, and homeopathic medicine. 

Here are some tips that may help in the restoration of thyroid function.

Increase your intake of Vitamin D if you are deficient. Your health care provider can tell you if you are deficient through simple blood testing. If you need to increase your Vitamin D levels, speak to your health care provider about early morning and evening exposure to the sun. Because my levels of Vitamin D are so low, I not only take early morning walks, but I also take a Vitamin D supplement that has been suggested by my health care provider. This is the supplement that we both take.  

Although nutritional deficiencies may not be the cause of hypothyroidism, not having enough vitamins and minerals may aggravate symptoms. Make sure your body gets enough Omega-3 fatty acids, Selenium, Zinc, Copper, Vitamin A, and the B Vitamins.

Consider going 100% Gluten-free. Eating gluten can increase the autoimmune attack on the thyroid gland. 

Be careful about your intake of goitrogens. Goitrogens are foods that can interfere with thyroid function. Goitrogens include Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli kale, kohlrabi, rutabaga, turnips, millet, spinach, strawberries, peaches, watercress, peanuts, radishes, and soybeans. These foods should always be cooked because cooking inactivates goitrogenic compounds.

About 20% of your thyroid function depends on having a sufficient supply of healthy gut bacteria, so it is important to take a probiotic every day. Every day we take a probiotic to ensure a healthy digestive environment.  

Address the adrenal fatigue factor. There is a definite connection between your thyroid and your adrenal glands, and it is very uncommon to have hypothyroidism without some level of adrenal fatigue. You must address the adrenal glands. By doctor’s recommendation we take an adrenal support tonic. The adrenal support tonic that we take every day is by Herb Pharm and can be found here if you can’t find it at your local health food store. 

Identify any food sensitivities you may have. Your body will see offending or inflammatory foods as an invader, increasing the autoimmune response. Consider eliminating those offending foods. 

Examine your life and identify stressors. Your thyroid gland is very sensitive. When you are under stress, your body releases the hormone called cortisol. Too much cortisol can interfere with the thyroid hormone production and can stimulate the thyroid to work harder and harder to make sufficient amounts of the thyroid hormone. So try to eliminate stress and practice relaxation. Some of the ways you can de-stress are by walking, practicing meditation, doing yoga, exercising, and deep breathing.

Currently we are both taking medication to enable us to bring our thyroid levels back to normal, and we see our health care providers for regular testing of our thyroid levels. We exercise every day, we meditate, we do breathing exercises and we do other activities to help us de-stress. We follow a diet that suits our digestive system, we take supplements as directed by our health care providers, and we get plenty of rest.     

If you feel that you may be experiencing a problem with your thyroid gland, please contact your health care provider, present your concerns, and request a thorough exam. 

Fortunately, there is hope, there are treatments, and you can feel better.

Note: Since we published this article, we have found some very interesting information that we would like to share with you. It is about long-term treatment with Thyroxine and bone mineral density. You can find the article from the Thyroid Foundation of Canada here .