Natural Medicine for Thyroid
Natural medicine for thyroid has a long and rich history and spans many topics, including anatomical issues, pituitary issues, hypothyroid, hyperthyroid, autoimmune hypothyroid, and more. This article will focus on the types of hypothyroid, why they occur, and available natural medicine for thyroid treatment.
Types of thyroid conditions.
There are three main issues that can occur in the thyroid to create problems. The first is excess or lack of thyroid hormone production. The second is anatomical issues with the thyroid gland such as a goiter, and the third is a tumor in the thyroid gland. For this article we will be focusing on the first category, thyroid hormone production. In particular, we will discuss lack of thyroid hormone production. This lack of hormone production is also known as hypothyroidism and occurs for a variety of reasons.
Types of hypothyroidism
Taking a global look, the most common reason for hypothyroidism is too little iodine. However, in the US most people don't have this issue as our foods contain copious amounts of sodium iodide. Other reasons for hypothyroidism include, stress, too little stimulation from the pituitary or hypothalamus, destruction of the thyroid gland from surgery, and autoimmune disease. The issues with the pituitary, hypothalamus, and thyroid surgery account for only about 10-15% of all people with hypothyroid. Autoimmune hypothyroidism and functional hypothyroidism are much more common and often go undiagnosed.
Autoimmune hypothyroidism is no different than other autoimmune diseases in that it results from an imbalanced immune system. This imbalance leads to immune cells that attack the thyroid gland itself. Your immune system is very complex consisting of many different components. In autoimmune conditions the T-helper cells are a particularly important part because it seems to be the part that is imbalanced. Most of the time the immune system waxes and wanes between T-helper 1 activity and T-helper 2 activity. When in balance T-helper 2 activity is helpful in protecting the body against pathogens from our environment. In some people, there is a tendency toward excessive T-helper 2 activity.
This predisposition coupled with the right environmental triggers is what leads to autoimmune disease. In this process the body's immune system then attacks the thyroid cells. When this autoimmune process involves your thyroid gland, it is called Hashimoto's thyroiditis. The cells of the thyroid are attacked and destroyed leading to a decrease in thyroid hormone production.
Hashimoto's thyroiditis is a major casue of hypothyroidism in the US but often goes undetected because the thyroid autoantibodies interefere with testing. This interferance makes the standard thyroid tests look normal when in fact they are abnomal. This leaves many people with severe hypothyroid symptoms but inadequate or no treatment.
Functional and stress related hypothyroidism
Stress can cause a frank hypothyroidism or a functional hypothyroidism. In both cases it is the hormones triggered from stress that causes the problem. As you may well know, stress causes an increase in cortisol. When this increase in cortisol is maintained for long periods, it causes active thyroid hormone to be turned into inactive thyroid hormone. Your thyroid gland produces mostly T4 and small amounts of T3. The T3 is much more active than the T4. In the presence of cortisol T4 is converted to reverse T3. In small amounts this goes unnoticed by most but ongoing large amounts of cortisol will lead to hypothyroidism.
Symptoms of hypothroidism
The resulting symptoms of hypothyroidism are fatigue, dry skin, increased pain, brittle, hair, constipation, and sleep dysfunction. People with hypothyroid can go undiagnosed for years because the symptoms can be mild and standard thyroid testing will not always show the entire thyroid picture. Many patients go from doctor to doctor searching for answers to their symptoms of fatigue and weight gain but get little help. This is why it is important to have advanced testing for persistent unanswered symptoms.
Natural medicine for thyroid
Natural medicine for thyroid first focuses on proper diagnosis through adequate history and testing. Once the diagnosis is made the treatment should seek to mimic the thyroid gland itself. For hypothyroidism, both T4 and T3 should be given in a similar ratios to how the thyroid secretes it. Adding small amounts of T3 is a minor adjustment but can make huge differences in the way you feel. Another natural medicine for thyroid is adding precursors to the thyroid hormone itself. Your body uses L-Tyrosine, B6 and other nutrients to make thyroid hormones. Sometimes adding these can give your body the push it needs to overcome mild functional hypothyroid symptoms.
When your hypothyroidism is secondary to stress and cortisol, your natural medicine for thyroid should focus on addressing both the stress and cortisol. Autoimmune hypothyroidism will require natural medicine for thyroid such as Aurmor thyroid, however it is important to also address the autoimmune component. Treatment here should focus on re-balancing the immune system.
If you have symptoms of hypothyroidism and you are frustrated with inadequate treatment or no treatment, there may be further testing that could explain your symptoms. See if a naturopathic physican can help with natural medicine for thyroid. Talk to our natural medicine doctors in a free consult.