Hyperthyroidism and Hypothyroidism
The below provides a general overview on this topic and may not apply to everyone. Any treatment protocol should be discussed with a qualified healthcare practitioner ... Please refer to: Medical & Legal Disclaimer.
Potential Causes for Thyroid Disease (identifying the cause, is likely to help you resolve the problem naturally without the use of potentially harmful drugs)
The thyroid is essential for maintaining heart rate, regulating body temperature and supporting many other body functions, including metabolism, reproduction, digestion and mental health.
The thyroid hormones penetrate every cell and regulate how they make energy. When women pass age 35, their thyroid often starts sputtering. And when thyroid hormone levels drop even a bit, every cell in your body slows down. From your brain to your fat cells and joints, your organs go on strike. Every woman over age 35 should have thyroid tests as part of her annual checkup.
- However, the standard test given measures TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone). But it's notoriously misleading, because it doesn't measure the actual hormones your thyroid produces. Demand tests of "Free T-3" and "Free T-4." These are the thyroid hormones your body actually uses. "Free" means the hormones are chemically available to your cells. .
The best-selling treatment is Synthroid®, a synthetic form of T-4, which your body theoretically converts to T-3. But it doesn't work for every woman. Often your body can't convert it to T-3.
The natural solution. For many women, the best treatment is a natural thyroid extract that contains both T-4 and T-3. Not only is it more effective, but it costs a lot less.
If your thyroid levels are just a bit off, you may not even need hormones. A natural amino acid can help your thyroid manufacture its own hormones.
Discuss with your holistic practitioner.
Thyroid Disease is treatable, but left unchecked, thyroid disease can have serious health consequences including:
- high cholesterol
- abnormal heart rhythms
- bone loss
Hyperthyroidism (fairly rare) - over-producing thyroid hormones
- fatigue is a common symptom of both hyper- and hypothyroidism.
- trembling hands
- heat intolerance
- sleep difficulty
- abnormal heart rhythms
- weight loss
Hypothyroidism - under-producing thyroid hormones
- fatigue is a common symptom of both hyper- and hypothyroidism.
- intolerance to cold
- dry, coarse skin and hair
- weight gain
- in women, hypothyroidism can also cause heavy or irregular menstrual periods
Potential Causes for Thyroid Disease
Thyroid disease, particularly hypothyroidism, has been on the rise in recent years. Experts list the following as potential causes:
- A cause of hypothyroidism, more common outside of the US, is iodine deficiency. Iodine, which must be supplied by the diet, is an essential component of thyroid hormone. If there is insufficient iodine available in the diet, enough thyroid hormone cannot be produced, and this leads to hypothyroidism.
- environmental / food toxins as they inhibit production of thyroid hormone. For example fluoride and bromide. Bromide is a common endocrine disruptors. As bromide is also a halide, it competes for the same receptors that are used in the thyroid gland to capture iodine. This will inhibit thyroid hormone production resulting in a low thyroid state. Bromide can be found in several forms. Methyl Bromide is a pesticide used mainly on strawberries, found predominantly in the California areas. Brominated Vegetable Oil is added to citrus drinks and Potassium Bromate is a dough conditioner found in commercial bakery products and some flours.
- Exposure to perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) -- a persistent organic chemical used in industrial and consumer goods including most nonstick cookware and stain- and water-resistant coatings for carpets and fabrics. A study involving nearly 4000 adults aged 20 and older whose blood serum was sampled between 1999 and 2006 for PFOA. The researchers found that the individuals with the highest PFOA concentrations were more than twice as likely to report current thyroid disease. Previous animal studies carried out by other scientists have shown that the compounds can affect the function of the mammalian thyroid hormone system. Sources: Eurekalert January 21, 2010 and Environmental Health Perspectives January 7, 2010
- dental x-rays (where the thyroid is improperly shielded)
- age itself can be a factor, as our metabolic and immune systems slow down, we are more prone to infection and immune disease, both of which can manifest as hypothyroidism.
- The vast majority of hypothyroidism cases are caused by Hashimoto's thyroiditis, a condition more likely to affect women, in which the immune system attacks the thyroid gland.
- Selenium Deficiency: Dr. Havashida raised the topic of a relationship between selenium deficiency and hypothyroidism. Click here for details.
Natural Support for Thyroid Function
Daily Health News contributing medical editor Andrew L. Rubman, ND, states: "Thyroid disease is rarely a simple problem with one cause," he said. "It's complex and needs to be treated as part of an overall physical assessment." Dr. Rubman says it's a good idea to have your naturopathic physician collaborate with your medical doctor to find treatment approaches beyond medication. He emphasizes the importance of supporting the thyroid naturally with a healthy lifestyle, good nutrition, regular exercise and stress management to decrease the odds that disease will develop, noting that factors such as insufficient dietary iodine may confound the problem. Though body temperature was once thought to be a reliable measure of thyroid function, this has largely been discredited, says Dr. Rubman.
Other strategies to help protect your thyroid health include:
- Get regular thyroid screenings. According to the American Thyroid Association, if you are 35 or older, you should have your thyroid tested at least every five years.
- Learn about your family history for thyroid disease. Thyroid disease, such as Hashimoto's thyroiditis, is often hereditary. If a family member has thyroid disease, you are at increased risk.
- Take charge of your own care. If you suspect you may have thyroid disease, find an open-minded doctor to talk to, someone who is willing to look beyond the TSH test and take your symptoms seriously. Choose a physician who focuses on you as an individual. Don't just give up if your TSH results are normal yet you still suspect thyroid disease. Urge your doctor to look further, or consult a board-certified endocrinologist or naturopathic physician with a specialty in endocrinology. You can use The Hormone Foundation (www.endo-society.org/apps/FindAnEndo2/) as a resource to find an endocrinologist.
- Minimize environmental toxins. Eat as many fruits and vegetables as possible. Reduce consumption of animal fats in dairy products, processed foods, meats and poultry, as they tend to harbor toxic chemicals. Buy organic foods whenever you can.
- Click here for information on organic foods -- a listing of the most and the least contaminated food items, as well as handling tips.
- Reduce stress through relaxation and exercise. As always, these are the cornerstones of physical and mental health.
- Eat right. Good eating habits, adequate digestion and regular dietary sources of the building blocks of both thyroid hormones -- the mineral iodine and the amino acid tyrosine -- can only help. Sources of iodine include seaweed, shellfish (shrimp, clams, oysters) and iodized salt. Tyrosine, a non-essential amino acid, is produced from foods including soy, chicken, turkey, peanuts, almonds, avocados, bananas, lima beans, pumpkin seeds and fish.
- Click here to find the best and the worst fish to eat.
- Supplements, such a good quality Cod Liver Oil, are also an option. There are some lemon-flavored version that are not unpleasant to eat (click on the link for more info). .
- Herbs supportive of the Thyroid function are: Mullien, parsley, kelp, black walnut, Irish moss, bayberry, white oak bark, skullcap, black cohosh, sage (gets rid of toxins). As well as Kelp. (There has been some controversy about Kelp containing some toxic components maybe caused by polluted waters. Discuss this with your physician.) The seaweed Fucus vesiculosus (Bladderwrack) has been used in the past, and whilst it has much to offer it is only truly specific where an iodine deficiency is present.
- Sea Vegetables / Sea Weed: Sea vegetables offer the broadest range of minerals of any food, containing virtually all the minerals found in the ocean-the same minerals that are found in human blood. Sea vegetables are an excellent source of iodine - an important mineral for thyroid health; as well as vitamin K, a very good source of the B-vitamin folate, and magnesium, and a good source of iron and calcium, and the B-vitamins riboflavin and pantothenic acid. In addition, sea vegetables contain good amounts of lignans, plant compounds with cancer-protective properties.
- Supplement with Selenium (please refer to below) if selenium levels are low.
Selenium Deficiency and Hypothyroidism
Dr. Havashida raised the topic of a relationship between selenium deficiency and hypothyroidism. T4 deficiency can occur in several ways. It is often associated with dietary iodine inadequacy, commonly exacerbated by goitrogens in water or food supplies (Matovinovic, 1983). Goitre also may occur in individuals consuming excess iodine. To illustrate, in China, it is associated with drinking water containing > 300 micrograms/liter of iodine or the consumption of large quantities of seaweed (Tan et al, 1990). Depressed serium T4 levels, however, are not necessarily accompanied by below normal serum T3. When severe iodine inadequacy is present, serum T3 tends to remain stable, or may even rise as T4 levels drop (Pharoah et al, 1976). This relationship occurs because T3 contains less iodine, weight for weight, than does T4. It is, however, more metabolically active and hence is produced by the thyroid when iodine is scarce (Hatzel, 1989). Only in extreme iodine deficiency, when there is inadequate iodine even to produce T3, does its level decline. However, the T4 to T3 conversion requires the catalytic selenoenzyme iodothyroninedeiodinase. As a consequence, T4 and T3 deficiencies together are commonest in individuals living in environments depleted in both iodine and selenium. In contrast, depressed T3, without unusually low serum T4, is a characteristic of the populations of regions where diets contain adequate iodine, but lack selenium. Furthermore, animal studies suggest that just as excess iodine consumption results in lowered serum T4 levels, an elevated intake of seleniummay depress serum T3 (Benheet al, 1992).
Kelp contains nearly thirty minerals which nourish the glands (especially the thyroid and pituitary). By enhancing the action of the glandular system, it helps balance the body's metabolism and rate at which it burns calories. Kelp, also known as seaweed, grows in the rich ocean beds, far below surface pollution levels. Because of its high nutrient content, this herb is reputedly beneficial for a wide range of applications. It is known to nourish the sensory nerves, brain membranes, also spinal cord and brain tissue. Kelp contains alginic acid which can help protect the body against the effects of radiation. "
- Regarding Kelp Toxicity: This is a controversial subject and I would recommend discussing it with a vet who is knowledgeable in alternative medicine. On the Internet I found the following information (vitawise.com) - Please note that they are mostly talking about effect on humans -- there's little research on its effect on birds, yet, I find it to be interesting and potentially valuable:
"Kelp has no known toxicity. [In fact, it is effective in treating aluminum toxicity! Kelp has a balanced mineral content and acts as a detoxifier of excess metals. (vitawise.com)
The degraded carrageenan, derived from two red seaweed's (Irish moss), has been implicated in causing colonic lesions in rats, but none of the brown seaweeds or their derivatives have been found to be carcinogenic. Even Irish Moss, if ingested in whole, i.e, non-degraded, form is perfectly safe, since it is non-absorbable.
Some kelp species are known for their relatively high arsenic content; however, extensive testing has found the arsenic, although certainly present, is in biologically unavailable form.
Recently, four men were fed different kinds of seaweed in order to monitor the urinary excretion of arsenic. For kelp, 100 % of the ingested arsenic was excreted in the urine within 60 hours, providing further evidence for the biological inertness of arsenic in seaweed. Thus brown seaweed appears to be neither carcinogenic nor toxic."
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