Many people with hypothyroid, Hashimoto's, or under-active thyroid are seeking natural treatment for their thyroid. All three thyroid conditions can broadly be grouped together as having an inadequate hormone production from the thyroid gland. However the specifics and amount of deficiency vary as do how these deficiencies come about . As you will see in this article, many natural treatments for thyroid are available for all of these low thyroid states.
The thyroid gland is an endocrine gland located in the front of your neck. It has both right and left lobes joined together by an area known as the isthmus. The major role of this gland is to produce thyroid hormones (T4 and some T3) which are important in the regulation of the rate of various biochemical reactions in the body. These hormones influence, metabolism, body temperature, heart rate, and protein synthesis, for instance.
Insufficient thyroid hormone therefore, slows down many reactions in the body. The most common symptoms include weakness, sluggishness, constipation, cold intolerance, difficulty with memory, depression, irregular menstrual cycle, infertility, weight gain, hair loss, etc.
Different Low Thyroid Conditions
Although the most common cause of hypothyroidism is autoimmune disease (Hashimoto’s thyroiditis), another equally important cause is iodine deficiency. Other causes include thyroidectomy, drugs (such as lithium, amiodarone, etc.) and radioiodine therapy.1
In Hashimoto's the output by the thyroid gland is limited due to the immune system attacking the thyroid gland and the antibodies disrupting the brain thyroid signaling. It is diagnosed by the presence of auto-antibodies (mainly anti-TPO). Below we will discuss some natural treatment options for hypothyroid due to Hashimoto's.
Under-active thyroid can be caused by a lot of different scenarios like nutrient deficiencies and interruption in the signaling from the brain to thyroid gland by stress. By definition under-active thyroid is not hypothyroid. It represents a state where the thyroid is working better than in hypothyroid but not ideal. This diagnosis is typically made when the TSH is above 2 or 2.5 and the patient has symptoms of hypothyroid as well.
Hidden Causes for Thyroid Imbalance
The common hormonal and nutritional reasons for this elevated TSH will be discussed below. With the above mentioned thyroid scenarios, it is important to note that, there are cases of hypothyroid where the cause cannot be identified. In these cases a natural treatment for thyroid may take the form of a natural thyroid medication.
Natural Treatment for Thyroid
The most common treatment for hypothyroid is replacement of the deficient hormone by taking a synthetic form of thyroid hormone in a tablet known as synthroid (levothyroxine). However, this is not without side effects and interactions with other drugs. There are more natural forms of thyroid medication like Armour, Naturthroid, etc. We will not discuss them in detail here. Medication, natural or otherwise, is not always needed and this is what we want to discuss. Natural thyroid treatments are a good adjunctive or replacement to medication.
Hashimoto's HypothyroidismThe basic idea is to reduce the antibody level by reducing the activation of the immune system. There are many opinions on which foods to consume and not to consume. However foods are the only cause or trigger to the immune system. Here are some things to consider:
- Get screened to see which foods are triggering immune stimulation. This is a simple blood test. Almost everyone reacts to gluten so avoiding this is a good start.
- Reduce your carbohydrate intake especially the refined sugars. Higher carbs causes immune system dysregulation.
- Get screened for chronic viral infections.
- Use antioxidants. These will help modulate the immune system and reduce the inflammation in autoimmune thyroiditis.
Under-active Thyroid/ Hypothyroid
If your thyroid is slightly under-active it may make sense to implement or get screened for some of the nutrient deficiencies below.
- Avoid substances known as goitrogens. They bind to iodine and reduce its availability for thyroid hormone formation. by doing this they virtually inhibit thyroid hormone synthesis. Examples of goitrogens include broccoli, soy, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, etc. It should be noted that it takes a lot of these to cause actual goitrogenic effect.
- Iodine deficiency is not common among standard American's. However those that are more health conscious may not be consuming enough salt to get iodine. Iodine is essential for thyroid production. Be aware that taking iodine when you are not deficient can also suppress thyroid function. Selenium is also important in thyroid hormone production and many studies have demonstrated the importance of selenium in the etiology of hypothyroidism. 2, 3
- Iron supplements has been found to improve the efficacy of iodine supplementation.3 However make sure you get screened for iron deficiency before you start taking it.
- Avoid direct consumption of tap water as it may contain high level of fluorine and chlorine that may prevent iodine absorption.
- Get the stress in check as cortisol can interrupt and suppress the thyroid functioning.
Natural treatment for thyroid can be done by getting a thorough understanding of how all these components are working. This in addition to being diligent about monitoring thyroid function tests and symptoms will ensure your natural thyroid treatment is effective. If you want to know more about thyroid treatment options, click on the link below or leave a comment below.
Chakera AJ, Pearce SH, Vaidya B. Treatment for primary hypothyroidism: current approaches and future possibilities. Drug Design, Development and Therapy. 2012;6:1-11. doi:10.2147/DDDT.S12894.
Pizzulli A, Ranjbar A. Selenium Deficiency and Hypothyroidism : A New Etiology in the Differential Diagnosis of Hypothyroidism in Children. Biological Trace Element Research. 2000;77(3):199-208. doi:10.1385/bter:77:3:199.
Zimmermann M, Köhrle J. The Impact of Iron and Selenium Deficiencies on Iodine and Thyroid Metabolism: Biochemistry and Relevance to Public Health. Thyroid. 2002;12(10):867-878. doi:10.1089/105072502761016494.