Your thyroid gland is the bow tie shaped gland that sits at the base of our neck and directs enzymes, biochemical reactions, hormones, and metabolic rate. As the conductor, your thyroid aids in controlling body temperature, hair, skin & nail quality, bowel motility, joint health, energy, metabolism, the ability to burn fat and much more.
There are a number of ways the gland can misfire. It can go hyper, hypo, develop nodules or goiter, and become autoimmune such as in Hashimoto’s thyroiditis or Graves Disease.
Hypothyroidism (low thyroid) is by far the most common of thyroid dysfunctions and will be the focus of this discussion.
Hypothyroidism is truly epidemic in our population. Many women are walking around with an under-functioning thyroid. Many more have nodules, or thyroid swelling. This means that the thyroid gland is under stress. It can take years for a thyroid malfunction to be diagnosed by conventional lab work.
The reason for the current thyroid epidemic is due to multiple factors all revolving around different types of stress on the body. Certainly, there is no shortage of stress in this life, physical, emotional, mental.
The Greatest Stressors Known to Affect Thyroid Are:
- Pregnancy, surgery, menopause
- chronic viral infections (Epstein Barr virus, Shingles, Herpes)
- genetic heritage (Irish, Native American)
- emotional stress, grief, shock, loss,
- Radiation exposure (nuclear fallout entering the air and food supply)
- Allergies (Immediate and delayed)
- Chemical exposures to chlorine, bromine, fluorine, herbicides and pesticides.
Any one of these can shock our system enough that it is unable to regain balance to the way that it was functioning before the stressor occurred. This unbalance over time causes the imbalance to persist, inflammation to occur and symptoms to manifest.
Problems with Current Testing
The conventional system uses blood laboratory testing to evaluate thyroid function. Unfortunately, the reference ranges used to evaluate the labs are much too broad. This means that a person can fall into the reference ranges and still be experiencing symptoms of hypothyroidism, (low thyroid.) The conventional medical doctor who relies on the lab test results to make a diagnosis overlooks these symptoms. In this situation, the patient is told that they are fine, no diagnosis is made, and their symptoms are ignored. The patient returns home frustrated, feeling poorly, without the answers to steer themselves around towards health.
Only recently has there been discussion amongst the American Endocrinology Association to lower the approved reference ranges for Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) by 2 points. The numbers for TSH are inversely proportional which means that the higher the number the lower functioning the gland actually is. It is extremely important when reading thyroid labs that they are evaluated with the optimal reference ranges in mind and not the standard reference ranges used conventionally. The optimal range for TSH is (.4-2.0) In addition, running a full thyroid panel of Free T3 &T4, Reverse T3, TSH, TPO & Thyroglobulin antibodies will provide more information on thyroid health than TSH alone.
Body Temperature Measurement
A great way to measure thyroid function is through body temperature. It was once thought that the best time to take a body temperature reading was when you woke up in the morning; this is called basal body temperature. This thinking is now incorrect. Just like blood sugar, blood pressure, and many others, our body temperature fluctuates throughout the day. Taking your oral temperatures at least 3 times during the day and recording it over a 7-day period is the best indicator of how well your thyroid is functioning.
Body temperatures will determine how quickly your metabolism is functioning and therefore how well your gland is firing. Optimal body temperature is 98.6.
Nutritionally, many of us are iodine deficient, iodine is used in the greatest concentration by our thyroid gland. Iodine deficiency is the primary cause of thyroid nodules and goiter. Iodine helps protect the thyroid from radiation damage. Testing for iodine levels is yet another way to assess thyroid function and restore gland health naturally.
The chemicals chlorine, fluorine, and bromine displace iodine from the thyroid gland and bind there instead causing confusion within the gland.
Be aware that taking large levels of iodine is not recommended. Iodine is an extremely potent substance and proper dosing with other essential trace minerals is required.
Elevated Thyroid Antibodies
Women who suspect thyroid involvement should seek out an alternative practitioner. This is especially true for women struggling with Hashimotos or Graves disease. Natural medicine addresses the underlying cause and provides a path towards better health. These are inflammatory conditions of the thyroid that should be treated comprehensively. There is little support for these conditions using conventional medicine.
Addressing thyroid is a whole-body approach. A comprehensive thyroid plan may include natural thyroid hormone replacement, nutritional recommendations, trace mineral supplementation, and specific treatment directed at the underlying cause of the condition.
Once the health of your gland has been assessed, natural therapies are used to increase thyroid function, reduce and reverse your symptoms, and increase your overall health.
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