A few years back I was diagnosed with Hypothyroidsim and prescribed tablets to take for the rest of my life… I used them for a while until falling pregnant and then forgot about the issue and carried on with life as usual. With thyroid issues you don’t always realize the impact they are having on your body as many of the symptoms are subtle and can be put down to other things or easily ignored but after a few years I suddenly decided to have my thyroid hormones retested. I can’t quite remember what encouraged me to do so but I think it was a combination of a recent high cholesterol diagnosis (the two can be interlinked) as well as my frustration with never quite losing the baby weight! So I went off for the blood test (never my favourite activity) and discovered that, yes, my thyroid was still under-active and could be affecting my cholesterol and metabolism. I have now been back on the tablets for a few months and have been very pleased that a few friends have noticed some weight loss – always happy news to a woman. I have yet to retest my cholesterol but my doctor said to wait 3 months to see a significant change. Because of the impact that thyroid challenges and problems have for many people – with few realizing it – I asked a friend, Jenny Brown, who has experience and education with regards to nutrition and natural health to clarify a few more issues about the thyroid….
The thyroid gland is part of the Endocrine System, and is situated on the anterior side of the neck, lying against, and around, the larynx and trachea. It is the body’s internal thermostat, regulating the temperature by secreting two hormones that control how quickly the body burns calories and uses energy.
The most common disorders occur either when the thyroid gland is over-active, referred to as hyperthyroidism, or when it is under-active, referred to as hypothyroidism.
Hyperthyroidism: (over active)
Symptoms include nervousness, irritability, a constant feeling of being hot, increased perspiration, insomnia and fatigue, increased frequency of bowel movements, less frequent menstruation and decreased menstrual flow, weakness, hair and weight loss, change in skin thickness, separation of the nails from the nail bed, hand tremors, intolerance of heat, rapid heartbeat, goiter, and, sometimes, protruding eyeballs.
Hypothyroidism: (under active)
Symptoms include chronic fatigue, loss of appetite, inability to tolerate cold, low body temperature, a slow heart rate, easy weight gain, elevated cholesterol, painful premenstrual periods, heavy periods, a milky discharge from the breasts, fertility problems, muscle weakness, muscle cramps, dry and scaly skin, a yellow-orange coloration in the skin (particularly on the palms of the hands), yellow bumps on eyelids, hair loss (including the eyebrows), recurrent infections, migraines, hoarseness, respiratory infections, constipation, depression, difficulty concentrating, slow speech, goiter and drooping swollen eyes.
The two hormones mentioned above are Triiodothyronine (T3)and Thyroxine (T4). These hormones regulate various enzymes that dominate energy metabolism.
WHAT SHOULD BE AVOIDED TO IMPROVE THYROID HEALTH?
Common food substances that negatively affect the Thyroid are refined sugar and artificial sweeteners. These slow down the function of the thyroid and, in turn, slow down the metabolic rate. Acetic acid from undigested fermented foods negatively affects the thyroid too. Other negative substances are alcohol and vinegar, which leach phosphorous from the body and stimulate the thyroid. Mustard oil (garlic and onions) is metabolized as thiocyanate, which suppresses the production of hormone thyroxin from the thyroid gland. Avoid Sulpha drugs and antihistamines.
The thyroid can be affected by poor diet, fluoride in the water and toothpaste, excessive consumption of unsaturated fats, endurance exercise, pesticide residues on fruits and vegetables, radiation from x-rays, and drugs. Chlorine and fluoride block iodine receptors in the thyroid gland, resulting in reduced iodine-containing hormone production and finally in hypothyroidism.
Blood tests to measure levels of thyroid hormone or thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) may be called for by an Endocrinologist, as most believe that TSH levels rise when a person is in the earliest stages of thyroid failure.
TEST YOUR OWN THYROID
To test yourself for an underactive thyroid, keep a thermometer by your bed at night. When you wake up in the morning (before you move a muscle!!) place the thermometer under your arm and hold it there for 15 minutes. Keep still and quiet. Any motion can upset your temperature reading. A temperature of 97.6° F or lower may indicate an underactive thyroid. Keep a temperature log for 5 days. If your readings are consistently low, then consult the doctor.
- Iodine found in kelp is strongly recommended. BarleyLife with kelp by AIM is a great whole-food nutritional product.
- Avoid processed and refined foods, including white flour and sugar.
- Try to include molasses, egg yolks, parsley, apricots, dates and prunes. Eat fish or chicken.
- In moderation you can eat Brussels sprouts, peaches, pears, spinach, turnips and cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, broccoli, kale. If you have severe symptoms, omit these foods entirely – they may further suppress thyroid function. The cruciferous veggies have been known to be goiterogenic.
- Low progesterone is often misdiagnosed as thyroid deficiency. Nevertheless thyroid hormone is basic to all biological functions and sometimes both thyroid and progesterone supplements are needed, as each has a promoting action on the other.
- Oestrogen (which we can try to balance with supplemental progesterone) inhibits the release of thyroid hormone from the gland, whereas an adequate amount of thyroid hormone, on the other hand, raises natural progesterone production and lowers oestrogen. This makes it easy to see how thyroid hormone and progesterone can complement each other.
- To see whether thyroid supplementation might be needed in addition to the progesterone, a test called the Achilles tendon reflex could be done. This measures muscle energy by the speed at which the calf muscle relaxes.
Thyroidologists have learned of the tremendous benefits of what they call whole body iodine sufficiency – when the body is saturated with sufficient iodine to supply all the tissues. Along the way, they have also discovered some amazing things about current thyroid treatment, thyroid drugs and iodine. The very first thing discovered is that iodine is the treatment of choice for hypo-and hyperthyroid problems – with or without goiter. Doctors could get as high as a 90% cure rate with hyperthyroid (overactive thyroid) by using what would be considered high doses of iodine daily.
One last point while on the subject – the fastest growing cancer in women is thyroid cancer and the increase could possibly be related to the use of dental x-rays and mammograms. When next you go for a dental x-ray or mammogram it would be worth asking for the “thyroid guard” section to be used. This is found on the apron the dentist puts on you for your dental x-rays, it is a little flap that can be lifted up and wrapped around your neck. Many dentists don’t bother to use it. There is a similar piece of equipment used during mammograms but you need to ask for it… I think it might just be worth taking that extra step of precaution!
This article is purely for information and is not in any way a formal diagnosis for thyroid problems. If you are at all concerned you might have a thyroid issue please do consult your doctor for a blood test to be done and he will then advise you the best course of action after which you may decide to explore the natural alternatives and additions to your prescribed medication.
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About the Author: Jenny Brown is a Nutritional Consultant (Cert N H & N UNISA). She also is a distributor of AIM health products including BarleyLife and Natural Progesterone to place an order or for more information contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or http://myaimstore.com/jennybrown