Your Master Gland
At the front of your neck is your thyroid, shield-like shaped gland that secretes two hormones, T4 (thyroxine) and T3 (triiodothyronine). These hormones influence the metabolic processes throughout your entire body; instructing your heart to beat, your lungs to breathe, your digestion to absorb food and your cells to convert that food into energy. For something so small, your thyroid plays a large role in your overall vitality! However, due to numerous factors, your thyroid can easily be thrown out of balance, leading to many aspects of your health also being affected.
When the Master Goes Amiss
There are several different conditions that can arise when the thyroid becomes dysfunctional:
Hypothyroidism: This is the most common thyroid condition, and refers to an underactive or sluggish thyroid. As this slows down your metabolism, hypothyroidism results in symptoms such as fatigue, hair loss, weight gain, depression, intolerance to the cold, dry skin and constipation.
Hyperthyroidism: On the flipside, the thyroid can also become overactive, speeding up the metabolism. This displays symptoms like a rapid heart rate, excessive sweating, weight loss, fatigue and agitation.
Autoimmune Thyroid Disease: Autoimmunity refers to the body’s immune system attacking itself. In the thyroid, this manifests as either Hashimoto’s (creating an underactive thyroid), or Graves’ disease (creating an overactive thyroid).
Goitre: A goitre is the enlargement or swelling of the thyroid gland. It can occur with both an under- and overactive thyroid, as well as an iodine deficiency.
Driving the Thyroid to Dysfunction
There are many factors that contribute to an unbalanced thyroid gland, however two of the biggest drivers are stress and an iodine deficiency.
Stress: Physical or emotional stress can reduce the level of hormones your thyroid makes, and can also flare an existing autoimmune thyroid condition.
Iodine deficiency: Iodine is a component of thyroid hormone, making it vital for healthy thyroid function. Unfortunately, the average Australian diet is extremely low iodine-rich foods, which can lead to an underactive thyroid or goitre formation.
Nourish Your Thyroid Naturally
There are key nutrients and herbs that can address the drivers of thyroid issues, helping your thyroid to function optimally.
Iodine: If you are deficient, supplementation of this mineral will help to support the production of thyroid hormones, and reduce your risk of hypothyroidism and goitre growth.
Magnesium: This mineral helps to reduce the activation of the stress system, saving the thyroid from strain. Magnesium also assists cells utilise iodine.
Withania: When the thyroid is underactive, this herb can work to boost the synthesis of thyroid hormones, whilst also helping the body to cope when stressed.
Thyroid Loving Tips
Three potent things you can do to support the optimal function of your thyroid gland are:
Iodine consumption: iodine rich foods include oysters, fish, seaweed, dairy and beans. If not currently consuming these foods regularly, make a plan to increase your iodine intake!
Sleep hygiene: Quality sleep is essential for good thyroid function; ensure you are getting 7-9 hours per night. Additionally, turning off all electronic screens and bright lights at least 1 hour before retiring will assist in good quality sleep.
Stress management: Take some time out each day to reduce your stress levels. This might be going for a walk, chatting with a friend, attending a yoga class or completing a guided meditation.
Show your thyroid some love
If you are experiencing any symptoms that can be associated with thyroid issues, speak to your natural medicine Practitioner. They will be able to provide you with further guidance on assessing and managing your presentation.
“Self-care isn’t selfish, both you and your thyroid deserve it!”
Cindi Young is a leading Gold Coast Naturopath in Australia. With a special interest in endocrine function; thyroid, adrenal and hormonal balance and its impact on weight management. She helps people follow a ketogenic program while supporting overall health and well being .
Cindi Young is available for naturopath consultations at The Cycle of Life in Robina, Gold Coast. She is also available for online and phone consultations Australia wide.