The thyroid gland, situated at the base of the neck below your Adam's
apple, secretes hormones that control metabolic activity in every cell of
the body. In a condition called hypothyroidism or under-active thyroid, the
thyroid fails to produce sufficient quantities of that hormone. This can be
the result of the thyroid itself malfunctioning or due to the fact that it
is not receiving the proper message from the brain to produce more
hormones. As a result, all body systems function at a slower rate. If you
suffer from this condition, you probably feel tired and weak most of the
time. You move slower than you used to, and even relatively simple and
routine activities, like preparing dinner, seem overwhelming; worse, you
may not even be able to summon up any interest in trying. Most likely,
you've gained weight and have a hard time digesting food. Your joints and
muscles may ache, and because your body temperature has plummeted, you feel
cold even when others are complaining of the heat. And those symptoms are
just some of the most common. Others include recurring infections, hair
loss, brittle nails, dry skin, menstrual problems, and high cholesterol
levels. As you might imagine, hypothyroidism is often mistaken for other
ailments, especially depression or even laziness.
Iodine deficiency was once the most frequent cause of hypothyroidism.
Although today most Americans get plenty (and sometimes too much) of this
trace mineral from iodized table salt, there still exists a significant
minority who don't get enough or whole absorption is impaired. Nowadays,
the most frequent cause of hypothyroidism is Hashimoto's disease, an
autoimmune disorder in which the body manufactures antibodies that attack
thyroid tissue and suppress production of the thyroid hormone. There are
other thyroid conditions that may also lead to hormonal underproduction.
Stress, nutritional deficiencies, inactivity, some medication, and hormonal
fluctuations as a result of pregnancy and menopause also have a role to
Hypothyroidism is more common in women. The balance of estrogen and
progesterone can have an indirect influence on the thyroid glands. Most
common is estrogen dominance, where relatively higher estrogen levels
suppress thyroid function. This predisposition can occur throughout a
woman's life. Women on synthetic estrogen therapy are particularly
susceptible to decreased thyroid function.
The effects of stress and the balance of stress hormones are also important
in thyroid function. Chronic elevation of the stress hormone cortisol
suppresses thyroid function, while low levels of DHEA appear to make one
more susceptible to hypothyroidism.
Toxic metals, such as mercury, lead, arsenic, and others, can also
interfere with thyroid activity.
Although hypothyroidism can wreak havoc upon your entire body, it is easy
to treat, especially if caught in its early stages. If you suspect that you
have an under-active thyroid, follow the instructions given here for taking
your basal body temperature. If your body temperature is consistently low,
you should see a doctor for an evaluation. For mild cases, nutritional
supplements can set you back on track quickly. For people with more severe
cases, the use of thyroid hormone replacement may be required. Even if you
require a thyroid hormone supplement, you should complement this regime of
supplementation with dietary changes, stress-reducing activities, exercise,
and general hormone balancing.
A word of caution: Many doctors rely on a blood test to diagnose
hypothyroidism. Unfortunately, this test is extremely unreliable and often
fails to catch mild to moderate cases of the disorder. If you basal body
temperature is consistently low and if you experience symptoms described
here, but your blood test does not reveal hypothyroidism, consider working
with a more holistic doctor for preventative care. Besides the basal body
temperature, it may be more help to run a saliva or urine thyroid test.
** All of these prescriptions below have been proven effective; level of
effectiveness depends on the individual. Please consult your doctor when
taking any and all supplements.
The top 7 vitamins and supplements shown to help
The Prescription for Natural Cures by James F. Balch,
M.D. and Mark Stengler, N.M.D.
Super Prescription #1 Bladderwrack (Fucus
Take 100 mg or 1 ml twice daily.
Super Prescription #2
- LifeSource Product
Take as directed on the container. It stimulates and
supports thyroid function.
Super Prescription #3 Pituitary glandular
Take 1 tablet/capsule three times daily on an empty
stomach or as directed on the container. It stimulates
Super Prescription #4 L-tyrosine
Take 500 mg twice daily on an empty stomach. This amino
acid is used in the synthesis of the thyroid hormone.
Super Prescription #5
Progesterone Creme - Natural
- LifeSource Product This is for women
who have low thyroid hormones and low progesterone
Super Prescription #6
- LifeSource Products Take as directed
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studies for Hypothyroidism
Depression and irritability
Aches and pains
Sensitivity to cold and heat
Menstrual problems (irregular periods)
Dry skin and hair
Brittle, peeling nails
Anxiety and panic attacks
Poor memory and concentration
Carpal tunnel syndrome
Dry eyes/blurred vision
Eyebrow loss (outer one-third)
Anemia and easy bruising
Tingling hands and feet
Hashimoto's disease and other inflammatory disorders of the thyroid
Hormone imbalance (especially estrogen/progesterone, cortisol/DHEA)
Surgery on or radiation of the thyroid
Certain medications, most notably lithium and synthetic estrogen
Failure of the pituitary gland
It stands to reason that hypothyroidism is most frequently found in
landlocked regions, where iodine-rich foods from the sea are less
available. If you have an under-active thyroid, it may be helpful to
consume plenty of sea vegetables, such as kelp, nori, dulse, kombu, and
wakame. Fish and sea salt are also good sources of iodine.
Essential fatty acids found in flax seeds, walnuts, and fish are important
for thyroid function.
Foods to Avoid
Certain vegetables known as goitrogens may suppress thyroid function. These
include kale, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, soy, and brussels sprouts.
Cooking the vegetables inactivates the goitrogens, so that they are safe to
eat for someone with low thyroid.
It's never advisable to drink tap water, but people with hypothyroidism
must be especially wary of it. Most tap water is full of fluorine and
chlorine, two chemicals that inhibit your ability to absorb iodine.
Hypothyroidism can also be traced to a deficiency of several other
minerals, including zinc, selenium, and copper. A deficiency of the amino
acid tyrosine is often present in those with hypothyroidism. To make sure
you're getting enough of these nutrients, incorporate pumpkin seeds, beans,
almonds, soy products, and fish into your diet.
A slow metabolism often means a slow digestive progress. Encourage faster
elimination of food by eating more fiber in the form of whole grains,
beans, fruits, and vegetables.
You must stay adequately hydrated. Drink a glass of clean water every two
When it comes to prescription thyroid medication, some supplements are
better than others. The most commonly prescribed, Synthroid, is a
pharmaceutical product that contains only one active hormone,
thyroxine. Far more effective are natural desiccated thyroid
supplements, which are made with two active hormones thyroxine and
tri-iodothyronine and sometimes more. Ask your doctor if you can take
Armour Thyroid Extract, widely considered the best natural desiccated
thyroid product on the market. Also, the use of compounded thyroid that
contains exact doses of T4 and T3, or just T3 alone is equally
beneficial when prescribed by an experienced doctor.
Enzyme supplements improve the faulty digestion that is common in
hypothyroidism; when inflammation is present, enzymes will aid in
healing. If you're taking enzymes as a digestive aid, take the
supplements before your meals. If you need to reduce inflammation, take
them one or two hours after eating. Use the dosage amounts recommended
on the product label.
Antihistamines and sulfa drugs keep your body from absorbing iodine. If
you take either of these medications, talk to your doctor about
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