Holistic Solutions to Thyroid Disease
Discovering the Root of the Cause and Healing the Thyroid Naturally
As a Naturopathic Doctor, I am sometimes confronted with cases in which I have to ask myself the question, “what is the root of the cause of my patient’s illness?”. Often times, the answer may not seem as obvious as others, especially when it comes to addressing thyroid problems. We start with the understanding that your body was created and designed to be able to heal itself. This is called homeostasis. So if our body is not healing, then why not? Discovering the block that somehow caused the thyroid imbalance becomes my joyous task as it results in my patient’s greatest relief.
The thyroid is a gland that sits in the middle of the neck. It helps to regulate temperature, metabolism, mood and sex hormones. As small as it is, it is considered mighty and robust in its responsibilities, and when it is thrown out of balance, it is not a pleasure to deal with. Thyroid imbalances or diseases have become quite common ranging from hypothyroidism to hyperthyroidism.
Symptoms of Hypothyroidism
In Hypothyroidism the gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone and metabolism slows down. Symptoms may include:
- Hair loss
- Dry skin
- Weight gain
- Imbalances periods
- Brittle nails
- Muscle aches
- Loss of sex drive
- Being cold or chilled easily
- Puffiness around the eyes
Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism
In Hyperthyroidism the gland is overactive and producing too much thyroid hormone, causing the metabolism to increase. Symptoms may include:
- Weight loss
- Infrequent periods
- Easily overheating
- Change in vision
- Rapid heart beat
- Increased sweating
- Frequent or loss bowel movements
Two other common imbalances of the thyroid gland may exist which are autoimmune related. This means that the body produces antibodies against the thyroid. In Graves disease, the antibodies cause the thyroid gland to produce too much thyroid hormone thus leading to hyperthyroidism. In Hashimoto’s disease, the antibodies result in Hypothyroidism.
Possible Causes of Thyroid Disease
- Estrogen therapy including birth control pills
- Elevated cortisol levels
- Caloric restriction
- Imbalances in selenium or iodine
- Family history
- Exposure to radiation
- Environmental toxins or chemicals
Addressing the Root Cause with Naturopathic Solutions
While your thyroid function will likely benefit from some type of thyroid hormone replacement medication, that medication won’t address the “root causes” of your autoimmune disease, nor the reason why your immune system is attacking your thyroid. Below I would like to share my top four approaches to healing the thyroid naturally.
Repairing Gut Issues
If you have Hashimoto’s, or any autoimmune condition, repairing your gut is vital to reversing your symptoms. After all, nearly 70% of your entire immune system is located in your digestive tract. The wall of your intestines is supposed to be just a little permeable so the nutrients from your food can get through and into your bloodstream. When that wall becomes leakier than it should be, it’s no longer just the nutrients getting through.
Once your gut becomes leaky, larger molecules – food particles, bacteria, viruses, and toxins – enter your bloodstream where your immune system detects them as foreign invaders, attacking them and leading to chronic inflammation. Many of these “foreign invaders” floating in your bloodstream look very similar to your own body’s cells. Your immune system can get confused and accidentally attack your tissues. This process of mistaken identity is called molecular mimicry, and is one of the theories as to how autoimmunity happens. In the case of Hashimoto’s specifically, gluten’s chemical structure is very similar to that of your thyroid tissue. So once gluten has led to leaky gut and is now floating freely throughout your bloodstream, it can trigger mistaken attacks on your thyroid.
Nourishing the Thyroid
- B-Vitamins – these vitamins help to supply us with the necessary energy we need to function which is often low in Hashimoto’s. They also help with our metabolism and converting carbohydrates into energy.
- Vitamin D– is necessary for the proper functioning of hormones. It’s also significant in boosting the immune system.
- Selenium – is used by the body to convert to the active form of thyroid hormone. Most people with Hashimoto’s are at risk for this deficiency, which can manifest as increased anxiety, fatigue, and depression.
- Zinc – is involved as a catalyst in many different pathways in the body. It’s also very important for gut health, immune function, tissue healing, the conversion of T4 to T3, and the production of TSH.
- Magnesium – is necessary for hundreds of biochemical reactions in the body: it supports the immune system, maintains normal nerve and muscle function, strengthens bones, and keeps blood glucose levels steady, to name a few.
Cleansing the Liver
As humans we are exposed to toxins and chemicals on a daily basis which directly inhibit and alter proper thyroid function. Their main mechanism of action alters liver function of an enzyme that metabolizes thyroid hormone, thus resulting in an unnatural up or down regulation of the hormone. The main chemicals affecting thyroid function are found below. Please note that it is not necessary to be in direct contact with these toxins, as most are present in our foods and the air we breathe. And some are unfortunate to be in jobs in which they are present around them daily such as dry cleaners, mechanics, construction workers, etc:
- PCBs -fish from contaminated waters, farmed fish, dairy and meat products
- Dioxins- a byproduct involving chlorine from waste incineration, pesticide and chemical formation, paper bleaching (also found in meat, dairy and fish)
- Pesticides- in the air, food, water, and soil specifically maneb and macozeb which are sprayed on fruits
- PCPs- wood preservative
- BPA- found in the lining of metal food cans, dental sealants and plastic bottles
- Heavy metals- cadmium (cigarettes), mercury (fish, dental fillings), lead
- PFOA- stain and water resistant coating for carpet, furniture, fast-food containers, paints and foams
Healing Thyroid Disease Naturally
It is imperative to understand your symptoms as well as how your thyroid imbalances is negatively impacting your health, so that you can finally resolve the imbalances gently and naturally. As simple symptom such as fatigue could be your thyroid’s way of asking for help. If your thyroid is out of balance, discovering the root cause and resolving the underlying symptoms is the first step. Dr. Nirvana uses botanical medicines and nutritional modification as well as using natural thyroid medication (when needed) to address thyroid imbalances in her patients. Often with Hashimoto’s disease, the focus is more on stabilizing the immune system (vs simply giving thyroid medicine). Whatever the cause may be, Naturopathic medicine has a number of Holistic solutions in healing the thyroid.If you are interested in healing your thyroid issues naturally, please the office for an appointment, to begin feeling your vibrant self again.