Hypothyroid or Underactive Thyroid
What is hypothyroidism?
Hypothyroidism is a condition in which the body lacks sufficient thyroid hormone. Often we will see clients who have had their thyroid hormones tested with normal results, but they are exhibiting many if not all of the symptoms of low thyroid function. This is often referred to as subclinical hypothyroidism and responds very well to naturopathic treatment.
What Causes Hypothyroid?
- The most common reason for an underactive thyroid is a condition known as Hashimoto’s or Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. It is an autoimmune disorder where your body is attacking your own thyroid and destroying the tissue. While this is happening, blood tests may be inconsistent and may even be normal. Most patients have never been tested for Hashimoto’s although there are blood tests available for this that our naturopathic doctors can order (anti-TPO antibodies and anti-thyroglobulin).
- Nutritional deficiencies. The thyroid requires iodine, zinc, selenium, copper and tyrosine to do its job properly. A deficiency of any of these nutrients can prevent your thyroid from doing its job properly.
- Poorly functioning endocrine system. All of the parts of the endocrine (hormone-producing) system work together. If one part isn’t working well, it will negatively impact the others.
What are the symptoms of hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid)?
- Weight gain or difficulty losing weight
- Hair loss
- Muscle cramps and frequent muscle aches
- Memory loss
- Abnormal menstrual cycles
Natural Treatment for Hypothyroidism
As Naturopaths, we always try to address and treat the underlying cause of the problem. Several factors can influence healthy thyroid function – nutrition, stress, liver and adrenal gland function and heavy metal (particularly mercury) toxicity. Our extensive intake procedure helps us determine whether diet changes, vitamins, herbs, detoxing and/or acupuncture will be most appropriate for you. We can do testing for liver function, heavy metals, adrenal gland function, Hashimoto’s disease and nutritional deficiencies.
Many of our clients have at least been able to reduce the dosage of their thyroid medications, avoid having to take thyroid medication or enjoy better health and vitality by improving how well their body uses their existing medication.
Thyroid Blood Tests
Thorough testing for the thyroid includes the following tests: TSH, free T3, free T4, reverse T3, anti-TPO and anti-thyroglobulin antibodies. TSH, free T3 and free T4 numbers can all be normal even in Hashimoto’s disease. The range of what is considered normal for TSH is quite broad – 0.35-5.00. Many of my patients do not feel normal and exhibit many hypothyroid symptoms once their TSH level gets above 3.00. For my infertility patients, I require their TSH to be below 2.50. Our naturopathic doctors can order and interpret these lab tests for you and provide solutions that will get to the root of thyroid issues.
Hypothyroid and Natural Medicine Research
Vitamin A may reduce the risk of subclinical hypothyroidism in premenopausal women. Source: J Am Coll Nutr. 2012 Aug;31(4):268-74.
Zinc supplementation in addition to normal thyroxine treatment was found to improve symptoms of hypothyroidism. Source: International Journal of Trichology, January 2013
In a study involving hypothyroid rates, vitamin E and curcumin were found to regulate gene expression. Source: Mol Biol Rep; 2012 Jun 24
Levothyroxine, also T4, is a synthetic form the thyroid hormone. Calcium binds T4 in the acidic stomach which limits its bioavailability. Source: Complementary Prescriptions Journal, Vol.26, Issue 12, Dec. 2012
Selenium supplementation may optimize thyroid hormone feedback at the pituitary level and decrease stimulation of the residual thyroid tissue in infants, children and adolescents. Source: Biofactors. 2003;19(3-4):137-43.