Thyroid problems have reached epidemic proportions, and for many a proper diagnosis is sadly missed. Even for those with a diagnosis, traditional treatment often fails them in such a big way leaving them with a long list of symptoms that can include low energy, extreme mood changes, depression, sleep disorders, poor metabolism, IBS, constipation, extreme temperature sensitivity, weight issues and poorly functioning immune systems.
It is estimated that around one percent of the UK have a thyroid problem and once we get into middle age the proportion of those suffering increases. Nearly 50% of women and 25% of men will die with evidence of a thyroid problem.
Your thyroid gland is shaped like a butterfly and sits at the base of your neck. This gland is part of the overall endocrine system and is key for regulating your body’s thermostat, energy consumption and for children their growth rate. The 2 key hormones of the thyroid function are T4, otherwise known as thyroxine, and T3 otherwise known as triiodothyronine, which are then both controlled by another hormone produced in the brain’s pituitary gland, the thyroid stimulating hormone or TSH. T3 and T4 control the metabolism of every cell in your body. T3 is converted from T4 and insufficient amounts due to production problems or conversion problems will have the whole body performing under par, as it is so key to each cell’s metabolism.
If we think of the position of the thyroid, it sits in a key part of the body, in close proximity to the voice box, which is about our expression and speaking up. A history of emotional problems and suppression or trauma that has not been fully acknowledged or processed can lead to thyroid dysfunction. The body mind link can be seen as projecting feelings of loss of personal power, purpose or value. Oprah Winfrey has struggled her whole life with weight issues and on and off, an overactive and underactive thyroid disorder, which can be seen to reflect her very traumatic childhood. In such instances finding your voice and learning to express your thoughts and feelings will be a key part of healing the thyroid.
Stress and adrenal fatigue are also key factors that need addressing for good thyroid function. Thyroid function is so closely linked to the adrenals that periods of increased stress and higher cortisol levels will interfere with the thyroid, requiring it to produce more T3 and T4 hormones at this time.
Iodine is a key component of thyroid hormone. Iodine is essential for producing healthy T3 and T4 thyroid and pituitary hormones. T4 has four attached iodine molecules, and T3 has three (hence the names) showing what an important part iodine plays in thyroid biochemistry. Iodine is sadly deficient in most modern diets and is also depleted by other lifestyle and dietary factors. Some prescription drugs can also cause overactive or underactive thyroid problems including some heart and hepatitis medication as well as some cholesterol lowering drugs.
It is also wise to be aware of chlorine, fluorine, and bromine sources as they compete for your iodine receptors. Fluoride found in toothpaste and some water supplies also interferes with our absorption of iodine. Chlorinated and fluoridated tap water needs to be filtered if the thyroid is to have the best possible chance of functioning effectively. We also come into contact with bromine in daily life through plastics, pesticides, hot tub treatments, fire retardants, some flours and bakery goods, and even some soft drinks. Heavy metal toxins also have a detrimental effect on thyroid function, especially mercury found in amalgam fillings. This toxic metal accumulates in both the thyroid and pituitary glands.
Eating a healthy balanced diet will keep your thyroid healthy whilst eliminating any food sensitivities. The most likely problem foods for thyroid disorders are gluten and soy (both of which I am recommend limiting in the healthiest of people anyway, especially non organic, non fermented soy products). Also check that you are getting enough selenium, zinc and vitamin C in your diet, which are also essential for good thyroid function.
Sadly modern medicine is of the opinion that a person with a thyroid problem will have it for life whereas the thyroid will often move in and out of kilter (even going from overactive to underactive and can self correct with some help. The key is always to find the cause of the thyroid going out of balance in the first place, for example post pregnancy it is very common for the thyroid to struggle or at times of extreme stress in life.
There are several different groups of people that continue with poor thyroid function either because they are on medication that is ineffective or are told by their doctor that their tests are within normal ranges when quite clearly they are presenting a thyroid problem.
For those on medication that see little or no improvement then a closer look needs to be taken at the functioning of the whole endocrine system, particularly the adrenals. The thyroid does not function in isolation and treating it alone by supplementing with thyroxine is like building a house on quicksand. The endocrine system’s glands and hormones have a complex relationship with one another and treating one symptom in isolation will not correct an imbalance.
The measurements for ‘normal’ thyroid function have varied greatly over the years and vary from country to country. Blood tests are not always an accurate indicator of function as the hormone levels may be at ‘correct levels’ but the body is still not able to utilize the hormones effectively. A blood test is simply a snap shot in time and does not give a good representative picture of what is really going on inside the body over a period of time.
Using the basal body temperature test for many has given them a more accurate indicator of what is happening with their thyroid. This involves taking your temperature on waking where it is at its lowest point of the day, a normal reading being between 36.6 and 36.8 degrees C. Lower than this indicates an underactive thyroid and over this reading a hyperactive one. Of the course the best measure of thyroid problems is looking at all presenting symptoms alongside any tests.
Stress is a major factor that needs addressing with a thyroid imbalance. Constantly triggering the adrenal 'fight or flight' mode throws all of the hormones out of balance, so without tackling the psychological impact of our health we are merely dealing with symptoms and are unlikely to 'right' the thyroid.
If you suspect you may have a thyroid problem or already have a thyroid problem that you feel is not being successfully treated and want to address stress factors that may be triggering the underlying problem then you can book a free 'breakthough session'with me to get really clear on the steps you need to take to heal.
NB. Please only book if you can definitely make the session as I run a very busy practrice and 'no-shows' dis-allows others to grab time with me.
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Don't forget to join the discussion by leaving a comment in the box below. How do you keep your thyroid healthy, do you exercise regularly, supplement iodine, limit environmental pollutants or have a water filter?