Natural Ways To Help An Underactive Thyroid
Your thyroid is a small organ that’s located in the front of the neck and is wrapped around the trachea (windpipe). It is smaller in the middle with two wings that extend around the sides of your throat, shaped like a butterfly. You have glands throughout your body and the thyroid is one of them. Glands create and release substances that help your body do certain things. Your thyroid makes hormones that help control many important functions in your body. So if it’s not working properly it can have an impact on your entire body.
5 Natural Remedies For An Underactive Thyroid (Hypothyroidism)
The typical treatment for hypothyroidism is to take hormone medication. However, medications sometimes have side effects and there may be problems if you forget to take it. Natural remedies have fewer side effects and might fit your lifestyle better. Here are 5 natural ways to help your underactive thyroid:
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has determined that selenium is an element that plays a role in thyroid hormone metabolism. Some sources are:
- Brazil nuts
- Grass-fed beef
2. Sugar-free Diet
Processed foods and sugar can cause increased inflammation in the body which can make the symptoms and thyroid disease worse. Additionally, sugar only raises your energy level for the short term. Cutting it out of your diet may help regulate your energy levels.
3. Vitamin B
Certain vitamins can have an effect on your thyroid health. Low thyroid hormones can have an effect on your vitamin B-12 levels. Taking a supplement can help with the tiredness that hypothyroidism causes. Add more B vitamins by eating these foods:
- Peas and beans
- Sesame seeds
The association between hypothyroidism and the small intestine was studied by the NIH and found that hypothyroidism can cause small intestinal bacterial overgrowth. Probiotic supplements have helpful live bacteria that can help keep your stomach and intestines healthy. Although not approved by the FDA for treatment of any condition, probiotic supplements might help. Useful probiotics are also contained in certain fermented foods and drinks such as:
- Kefir (a drink made of fermented cow, goat, or sheep’s milk)
- Kombucha ( a sweet and sour fizzy drink made with tea)
- Certain cheeses
5. Gluten-free Diet
According to the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness, a lot of people with thyroid disease have celiac disease also. Celiac disease is a digestive disorder and many people with hypothyroidism feel better after removing wheat and other gluten from their diet.
5 Thyroid Superfoods
Although the cause of thyroid disorders is mainly unknown, there is some evidence that certain foods can help thyroid function. If you have hypothyroidism, the following is a list of five foods to add to your diet.
Seaweed, like kelp, nori, and wakame, is rich in iodine, an element necessary for normal thyroid function. You can eat seaweed with sushi or buy packaged seaweed to put in salads or for snacks.
- Macadamia nuts
- Brazil nuts
These are all excellent sources of selenium, which supports healthy thyroid functioning as mentioned previously. Keep a bag of assorted nuts to snack on throughout the day.
Rich in Omega-3 fatty acids and selenium, fish helps decrease inflammation. Bake these fish for a healthy dose of each:
- Sea bass
Dairy products such as:
- Ice cream, and
- Milk, all contain iodine which is needed by the thyroid.
Eggs contain healthy amounts of iodine and selenium. Eat the whole egg because the yolk contains most of the nutrients.
Why Is The Thyroid Important?
The thyroid has an important job within the body. It releases and controls thyroid hormones that control metabolism. Metabolism is the process where the food you consume is transformed into energy. This energy is used throughout your body to keep a lot of your body’s systems working properly. Your metabolism is like a generator. It takes in raw energy and uses it to provide power for something larger.
What Are Thyroid Hormones?
Your metabolism is controlled by the thyroid using specific hormones:
- Thyroxine (T4)
- Triiodothyronine (T3)
These hormones are produced by the thyroid and they tell the body’s cells how much energy to use. If your thyroid is working correctly, it will maintain the right amount of hormones to keep your metabolism working at the right rate. And as the hormones are being used up, the thyroid produces replacements. These hormones have an important role in:
- Regulating your weight
- Energy levels
- Skin, hair, and nail growth
- Internal temperature
All of this activity is supervised by the pituitary gland. The pituitary gland is located in the center of the skull, right below your brain. It monitors and controls the number of thyroid hormones in your bloodstream. When this gland senses that there is a lack of thyroid hormones or a high level of hormones in your body, it adjusts the amounts with its hormone called thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH). TSH will be sent to the thyroid and it will tell the thyroid what to do to get the body back to normal.
Hypothyroidism Vs Hyperthyroidism
If your body is making too much thyroid hormone, it is a condition called hyperthyroidism and if your body doesn’t make enough thyroid hormone, it is called hypothyroidism. Both conditions are serious and need to be treated.
A general term for a condition that keeps your thyroid from making the right amount of hormones is thyroid disease. When the thyroid makes too much thyroid hormone, your body uses up the energy too quickly (hyperthyroidism).
- Make you feel tired
- Make your heart beat faster
- Cause weight loss
- Cause nervousness
Hyperthyroidism may be caused by:
- Graves’ disease–the entire gland is overactive and makes too much hormone. It’s also called diffuse toxic goiter (enlarged thyroid gland).
- Nodules–nodules that are overactive in the thyroid.
- Thyroiditis–the thyroid releases hormones that were stored.
- Excessive iodine–iodine is the mineral that is used to make thyroid hormones and if you have too much in your body, the thyroid makes more hormone than it needs.
On the other side of this is the production of too little thyroid hormone.
- Make you feel tired
- Cause weight gain
- Make you unable to tolerate cold temperatures
Hypothyroidism may be caused by:
- Thyroiditis: Inflammation (swelling) of the thyroid gland.
- Hashimoto’s thyroiditis: An autoimmune disease where the cells of the body attack and damage the thyroid.
- Postpartum thyroiditis: Usually temporary and occurs in about 9% of women after childbirth.
- Iodine deficiency: Iodine deficiency affects millions of people around the world.
- Non-functioning thyroid gland: sometimes the gland doesn’t work properly from birth.
These two disorders can be caused by a range of conditions but they can also be inherited and passed down through families.
Who Is At Risk For Thyroid Disease?
Thyroid disease can affect men, women, teens, infants, and the elderly. That is, it can affect anyone. It may be present at birth (usually hypothyroidism) and it can develop as you age (frequently after menopause in women). It’s very common and approximately 20 million people in the U.S. have some kind of thyroid condition. Furthermore, women are about 5 to 8 times more likely to be diagnosed with a thyroid condition than men.
You may have a higher risk of developing a thyroid condition if you:
- Have a history of thyroid disease in your family
- Have a medical condition including pernicious anemia, rheumatoid arthritis, Type 1 diabetes
- Primary adrenal insufficiency
Take a medication that’s high in iodine (amiodarone) if you:
- Are over the age of 60 (particularly for women).
- Have had treatment in the past for a thyroid condition or cancer (thyroidectomy or radiation).
Diagnosing And Treating Hypothyroidism
Generally, you may want to test for an underactive thyroid if you:
- Feel tired
- Have dry skin
- Have constipation
- Gaining weight
- Have had thyroid problems or a goiter previously
A diagnosis of hypothyroidism is based on your symptoms and blood test results. The blood test measures the level of TSH and sometimes the level of the thyroid hormone, thyroxine. A low level of thyroxine and a high level of TSH point to an underactive thyroid. This is because your pituitary (the hormone supervisor), produces more TSH to try to stimulate your thyroid hormone.
TSH tests play an important part in managing hypothyroidism. They help determine the correct dosage of medication at the beginning and in the long term. Also, TSH tests help diagnose a condition called subclinical hypothyroidism which doesn’t usually have any signs or symptoms. With this condition, you have normal blood levels of the thyroid hormones but have higher levels of TSH.
Some factors can affect your blood tests. One problem is a medication called heparin, which is a blood thinner. Another is biotin, a vitamin taken as a supplement or as part of a multivitamin. Be sure to let your testing professional know about any supplements you take before you have the blood tests done.
The usual treatment for hypothyroidism includes daily use of the synthetic thyroid hormone, levothyroxine. This medication restores the hormone levels and reverses the signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism. It gradually lowers the cholesterol levels raised by the disease and can help reverse the weight gained. This will be a life-long medication but your TSH level should be checked every year.
Some supplements, foods, and medications can affect your ability to absorb levothyroxine. Tell your provider if you eat large amounts of soy products, a high fiber diet, or other medications, such as:
- Iron supplements
- Multivitamins that contain iron
- Aluminum hydroxide (found in some antacids)
- Calcium supplements
- Cholesterol-lowering drugs that contain colestipol or cholestyramine
- Ulcer medications that contain sucralfate
To avoid interactions, use these medications or eat these foods several hours before or after you take your thyroid medication.
Androgenix Advanced Health And Wellness Center Can Help Restore Hormone Balance
At Androgenix Advanced Health and Wellness Center, we know about hormones and the dangers of a hormone imbalance. And we are experienced in helping individuals who are struggling with hypothyroidism. Especially if you are experiencing the symptoms but don’t know what the problem is. The frustration of dieting, exercising, and still feeling tired and gaining weight is very real and upsetting. Don’t suffer from this when it is so treatable. Contact us today. Let’s talk about your options and make an appointment to get you feeling like yourself again.
*Unless otherwise stated, individual results may vary depending on many factors not all patients “feel” or achieve the same results.