Updated: Jul 11, 2020
The thyroid is a gland located in your lower neck, and it creates hormones which maintain your metabolism, growth in children and so much more. Why should you be concerned about your thyroid?
Thyroid disorders affect about 1 in 13 people.
Un-diagnosed thyroid problems are estimated to be about 13 million.
One in 8 women will experience a problem with their thyroid in their lifetime (1).
There are 4 conditions most commonly seen with the thyroid:
Hypothyroidism: This is low thyroid function, but without the presence of Hashimoto's (below). I find it often related to a deficiency in iodine, a necessary nutrient for thyroid hormone production, or a result of adrenal dysfunction. Sometimes the iodine deficiency is a result of excessive exposure to other halides, such as chloride, bromide and fluoride, which are structurally similar to iodine and take it's place in the thyroid gland and inhibit normal thyroid hormone production (2-8). Symptoms of low thyroid function include all-day fatigue, weight gain, hair loss, dry skin, brittle nails, constipation, depression and menstrual changes.
Hashimoto's Disease: This is an autoimmune condition which causes low thyroid function (hypothyroidism), where the thyroid gland is being attacked by the immune system. In this condition, not only does the thyroid need treatment, but so does the confused immune system and often the adrenal glands as well (stress glands).
Goiter: This is enlargement of the thyroid gland, and can be due to too much iodine or too little. It is also not uncommon for adrenal function to be weak in these patients, as well as blood sugar regulation to be off, as the thyroid, pancreas and adrenal glands are all tightly interconnected in their function.
Hyperthyroidism: Here thyroid function is too high, and is often related to another autoimmune condition of the thyroid known as Grave's disease. Stress tends to be a factor which commonly brings this condition on. Symptoms of this include anxiety, heart-racing, unintentional weight loss, diarrhea, poor sleep/insomnia and over time the eyes will start to bulge (exophthalmos).
What can you do?
The first step is always nutrition and digestion. No matter what is going on with your thyroid, it needs the right nutrients and good digestion to get all those building blocks it needs to function. Selenium, iodine and tyrosine are some of the most common nutrients important for healthy thyroid function, and these nutrients need stomach acid in order to be absorbed. If you're taking an antacid medication, or having chronic heartburn, your first step is to get off that medication and resolve the heartburn. Ensure the diet is healthy, with lots of protein and vegetables. Reducing sugars and refined carbohydrates will help support good blood sugar balance.
Selenium: 200-400 mcg/day, in divided doses
Iodine: See your physician to assess this and prescribe a safe dose.
Tyrosine: Typical dose is 500 mg 3x/day.
Copper, zinc, B12 and vitamin A can sometimes also be needed.
Removing one's food intolerances is another way to support healthy digestion and immune system function, as 70-80% of your immune system is in your gut. This step is critical if you're dealing with an autoimmune condition of the thyroid. You should also be screened for Celiac disease if you have Hashimoto's or Grave's, as the conditions commonly appear together.
Homeopathic thyroid support helps to stimulate healing in the thyroid gland. I often use Thyroidinum in a low potency (such as 6C or 12c) to help stimulate thyroid function for hypothyroidism, and in a high potency (like 200C) to help decrease an over-active thyroid. Other homeopathics such as Belladonna or Aconite can be helpful in Grave's disease.
Botanical support can include adrenal supportive herbs for those with hypothyroidism, and often include panax ginseng, eleutherococcus, rhodiola and ashwaganda. For those with hyperthyroidism, more thyroid inhibiting herbs can be helpful in the short term such as melissa officinalis, lycopus and leonurus.