Could A Thyroid Disorder Be The Cause of Your Health Problems?
According to the United States National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health, an estimated 27 million Americans suffer from some type of thyroid disorder.
The risk of thyroid disease increases with age and women are seven times more likely than men to be diagnosed with thyroid issues. In fact, one in eight women in the United States will be impacted by a thyroid disorder at some point in their lives.
About half of those suffering with thyroid issues are unaware that this is the root cause of their problem.
Are you one of them?
Thyroid disorders and diseases impact just about every area of your life and cause issues from weight gain to depression and anxiety. The thyroid gland is vital to your physical, mental, and emotional health.
Let’s take a closer look at the thyroid.
The thyroid is a gland located at the base of the throat that controls many aspects of metabolism. The thyroid produces hormones that enable our body to carry out many vital functions.
Two of the most talked about hormones the thyroid produces are T3 (triiodothyronine) and T4 (thyroxine). These two hormones, once released by the thyroid, move through the body via the bloodstream converting oxygen and calories into energy for the body to use.
There are two general types of thyroid disorders:
Thyroid disorders are general labeled as hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism.
With hypothyroidism, the thyroid doesn’t produce enough T3, T4, or both.
Globally, lack of iodine in the diet is the number one underlying cause of hypothyroidism. Iodine and amino acids are converted by the thyroid to hormones T3 and T4. Too much or too little iodine can impact these processes.
In the US, the most common reason for hypothyroidism is a condition called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, where the body actually attacks the thyroid and impairs its functioning and production of hormones.
According to Dr. Datis Kharrazian, 90% of people with hypothyroidism have Hashimoto’s.
The following are symptoms of hypothyroidism:
- Dry hair, skin
- Unexplainable weight gain
- Muscle weakness and discomfort
Hyperthyroidism is when the body has too much T3 and T4 thyroid hormones. The number one cause of hyperthyroidism is Graves’ disease according to the American Thyroid Association, but lumps on the thyroid or taking too much T4 in tablet form can also be a contributing factor for hyperthyroidism.
The following are symptoms of hyperthyroidism:
- Racing heart
- Unexplained weight loss
- High amounts of perspiration
- Muscle weakness
- Multiple bowel movements
- Thin, brittle hair
Addressing thyroid disorders.
Hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism are the opposite problems…one where there is too much of the needed hormone and the other too little.
Therefore, management for each is very different.
Traditional options for treatment differ depending on each patient’s particular disorder and the underlying cause of the problem.
When it comes to hypothyroidism, the body is in need of more thyroid hormones. One common treatment in the medical world is taking synthetic thyroxine or T4. Some respond to this therapy, but studies show that upwards of 90% do not. In these cases the sufferer sometimes takes a combination of the synthetic version of T4 and T3 to help.
In the case of hyperthyroidism, in the United States the most common treatment is the use of radioactive iodine, aka radioiodine. When taken into the body the thyroid immediately absorbs this iodine. This treatment usually takes a few weeks or months to curb the hyperthyroidism.
Other options are hormone replacement drugs which stop the production of the thyroid hormone or surgery to remove a large amount of the actual thyroid gland.
All of these treatments run the risk of side effects, are costly, and aren’t always effective.
Natural ways to manage thyroid disorders that actually work.
To manage your thyroid disease, or any autoimmune condition, you have to get to the source of the imbalance; not suppress the symptoms with medication.
Diet plays a major factor in treating underlying causes of thyroid disorders.
For example, as we talked about earlier, lack of iodine causes most global cases of hypothyroidism. Increasing iodine intake can help your thyroid produce needed hormones.
One of the best sources of iodine is kelp. Kelp is a seaweed that contains high concentrations of minerals, amino acids, potassium, iron, magnesium calcium and iodine.
Kelp can be consumed fresh, dried, or cooked and eaten alone or as an ingredient in a dish. You can find kelp at your local health food store or Asian market.
But, hypothyroidism isn’t always caused by lack of iodine. If you eat kelp or take iodine and feel like you’re getting worse, it’s important to consult with your physician as soon as possible to get your levels rechecked.
It can also be caused from heavy metal toxicity from mercury. Heavy metals from amalgam fillings and vaccines have an affinity for the thyroid and can disrupt your hormone balance and thyroid functions.
As you can see, It’s easy to misdiagnose the underlying problem and start down the wrong treatment path. It’s critical to get the correct diagnosis and uncover the underlying problem. If we don’t find the root cause of the condition, we cannot properly address it.