What is Hypothyroidism?
Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland produces too little thyroid hormone, when there is decreased conversion from T4 to T3, when there is an overproduction of reverse T3 (Wilson’s syndrome), or when the body is not efficiently using thyroid hormone.
A large percentage of the population suffers some degree of hypothyroidism; however, many of those cases go undiagnosed. Hypothyroidism can occur in either sex at any age, although middle-aged & menopausal women (up to 80%) are most affected.
The disease has a wide variety of symptoms, and they often reveal themselves slowly and subtly. Untreated, hypothyroidism can cause anaemia, a low body temperature and heart failure.
Types of Hypothyroidism
- Hashimoto’s thyroiditis: this is the most common type of hypothyroidism. This is an autoimmune response in which antibodies in the blood destroy tissues in the thyroid gland. As a result, the thyroid decreases in size and reduces its production of thyroid hormones.
- Post-therapeutic hypothyroidism: results from the treatment of hyperthyroidism with radioactive iodine or surgical removal of part or all of the thyroid gland. The treatment can leave the patient’s thyroid unable to produce enough amounts of thyroid hormone.
- Goitrous hypothyroidism: results from an extreme shortage of iodine in the diet, producing a goitre in the neck. It is relatively rare in the Western world due to the introduction of iodised salt.
Common signs and symptoms of Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis
- Enlargement of the thyroid gland that is not tender on palpation.
- Slow pulse
- Hoarse voice
- Slowed speech
- Puffy face
- Loss of eyebrows from the sides
- Drooping eyelids
- Intolerance to cold
- Weight gain
- Dry, scaly, thick, coarse hair
- Raised, thickened skin over the shins
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Increased risk miscarriage
- Menstrual cramps & menstrual disorders.
Major risk factors that can contribute to hypothyroidism include:
- Treatment for hyperthyroidism
- Chronic lack of iodine in the diet
- Inherited thyroid issues (enzymatic defects)
- Chronic stress and adrenal exhaustion
- Toxicity – the thyroid gland is very susceptible to toxins, especially toxic metals
- Family and/or personal history of autoimmunity.
How can a Naturopath Help my Thyroid Condition?
Naturopathic medicine can support the body holistically and find ways to help thyroid conditions. Our first step is to identify the cause, we will often recommend a comprehensive thyroid test. From here we create a treatment plan to look at your digestive health, immune system, stress management and a healthy thyroid diet.
Diet and Lifestyle Support for your Thyroid
The thyroid gland is very susceptible to toxicity, especially heavy metals.
- Reduce exposure to heavy metal toxicity, plus other environmental and chemical toxins.
- Investigate dietary triggers to immune responses with an Elimination and Rechallenge Diet, common offending foods gluten and dairy.
- Avoid foods that suppress thyroid function – e.g., whole large broccoli raw, cabbage, Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, kale and spinach. These vegetables contain isothiocyanates which may block iodine utilisation when raw and large amounts are consumed.
- Consume an anti-inflammatory, low glycaemic load diet.
- Stress management tools & support.
- Regular exercise.
- Nutritional supplementation.
Is your thyroid self-destructing?
Your naturopath can request a comprehensive thyroid test for you. This is an out-of-pocket expense, not covered by medicare, worth every penny for the information it provides. This thyroid panel provides an in-depth screening of thyroid function and looks for evidence of autoimmune disease with a thyroid antibodies test.
A thyroid antibodies test reveals situations where the immune system mistakenly attacks the thyroid and can lead to chronic inflammation of the thyroid (thyroiditis), tissue damage, and disruption of thyroid function. An underactive or hypothyroid can cause symptoms such as weight gain, fatigue, dry skin, hair loss, intolerance to cold, and constipation. Conversely an overactive or hyperthyroid can cause sweating, rapid heart rate, anxiety, tremors, fatigue, difficulty sleeping and sudden weight loss.
The Comprehensive Thyroid Test Panel measure:
- T3 & T4
- Reverse T3
- fT3 & Reverse T3 ratio
- Thyroid antibodies: TPOab, TGAb, TSH stimulating immunoglobulin (TSI)
Many people live with an undiagnosed thyroid condition for many years. Your digestion, weight management, metabolism, menstrual cycle, energy and mood balance are all affected.
If you want to know more about how a naturopath can support your thyroid health contact Cindi today or speak to your Naturopath!
Cindi Young is a leading Gold Coast Naturopath with over 20 years experience helping people live happier, healthier lives with a special interest in thyroid health, gut health, hormone imbalances, fertility and weight loss programs.
Available by appointment at The Cycle of Life, Gold Coast and The Centre for Mind, Body, Wellness in Mullumbimby, NSW and telehealth appointments Australia wide.