Walk a mile in my shoes and try to feel and understand how life changing and debilitating thyroid disease can be… With little physical signs, it all seems to be in the head! I don’t know what’s happening to me – jip, they’re called hormones.

Have you lately checked your thyroid function? Do you even know that this gland exists? Let’s place the thyroid under our microscope and have a better understanding of the thyroid and its function since thyroid hormones regulate metabolism in every cell in the body. A lack of these hormones can affect nearly all body functions.

The thyroid is a small, butterfly gland situated at the base of the front of your neck, just below your Adam’s apple. Hormones – Triiodothyronine (T3) AND Thyroxine (T4) – produced by the thyroid, have an enormous impact on your health. It affects all aspects of your metabolism. Interesting to realize that they influence your heart rate, help control your body temperature, helps regulating the production of proteins and maintain the rate at which your body uses fats and carbohydrates.

Hormones… too much or too little of them can shift the chemical reaction balance and may cause havoc in your body We are fortunate enough to understand the condition better and how to treat it naturally to restore balance and harmony back to the body. It is worth taking preventative measures and have your doctor / practitioner done some lab test to set the record straight. It is an inexpensive blood test and results are normally available within 24 hours. The following is a brief review of the common manifestations of Hypothyroidism.

Classical signs of hypothyroidism include: Weight gain, Increased sensitivity to cold, Elevated blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Fatigue, Hoarseness of the voice, Dry skin, Constipation, Muscle weakness, stiffness, aches and tenderness, Constipation, Puffy face and Swelling of tissue.

Hypothyroidism most often affects middle aged to older women. Infants may present with a large, protruding tongue, puffy appearance of the face, frequent choking, yellowing of the skin and whites of eye and this may progress to stunt growth, excessive sleep, poor muscle tone and may lead to severe physical and mental retardation. Children and teens may have the same signs and symptoms as adults but may also experience delayed development of permanent teeth, delayed puberty, and poor mental development. Consult an Endocrinologist when suspecting hypothyroidism. Prevention is better than cure. Myxedema (severe form) is life threatening.

Hypothyroidism may result from a number of factors:

  • The thyroid gland fails to produce enough thyroid hormone.
  • Autoimmune diseases: Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis (inflammatory disorder) develops.
  • Treatment of Hyperthyroidism.
  • Thyroid surgery.
  • Radiation to treat Cancer of the head and neck.
  • Certain medications: Lithium used in psychiatric disorders.
  • Congenital disorders where babies are born with a defective/no thyroid gland.
  • Pregnancy: Postpartum hypothyroidism. Antibodies to own thyroid gland are produced and increase the risk of premature babies, preeclampsia and miscarriages. This condition may seriously affect the developing fetus.
  • Pituitary gland: The pituitary gland fails to produce enough Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) – benign tumor of pituitary gland. Studies have found that this may also be closely related to conditions such as Dementia / Alzheimer.
  • Iodine deficiency.

Treatment for consideration:

Botanical medicine: Myrrh (Commiphora myrrha), Bladderwack (Fucus vesiculosus),

Foods: Avoid foods known as goitrogens – cabbage, peanut, soybeans, millet, pine nuts, turnips and mustard. These foods block the thyroid from using thyroid but cooking these foods inactivates goitrogens. Include foods rich in Iodine. Iodine is found primarily in seaweed, seafood, iodized salts and plants grown in iodine rich-soil.

Nutritional supplementations: L-Tyrosine (this is the building blocks of thyroid hormones), Iodine supplementation might be considered at 150-300 micrograms (under the supervision of a healthcare provider). Zinc, Vitamin E, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin D3, Riboflavin, Niacin and Pyridoxine, Omega 3.

Exercise: Stimulates thyroid gland secretion and increases tissue sensitivity to thyroid hormone.

Always consult a qualified, registered practitioner with a special interest in endicronology.

One might barely notice the symptoms and may even attribute it to getting older. Periodic testing of your thyroid function is required if one had previous thyroid surgery, were on anti-thyroid medication, radiation of head, neck and chest or had treatment with radioactive iodine.

A question that is often raised is what the difference between Hypo- and Hyperthyroidism is. You guessed it – the opposite of the classical signs associated with Hypothyroidism.

Hyperthyroidism is classified by Loss of weight, Increased appetite, Increased sensitivity to heat, Increased heart rate, Excessive perspiration, Anxiety and Agitation, Tremor, Fatigue, Increased bowel movement, Changes in menstrual patterns, Difficulty sleeping, Brittle hair, Skin thinning.

Always remember that you are not alone in this struggle and keep reading for important knowledge and treatment. I love to end this article with a quote from Arnold Schwarzenegger:”I saw a woman wearing a sweatshirt with Guess on it. I said, “Thyroid problem?’’ A giggle a day – keeps the doctor away and all hormones at bay. Knowledge always empower.