Natural remedies for thyroid

Hypothyroidism – Underactive Thyroid Natural Treatment

The thyroid gland is located at the base of the neck just below the Adam’s apple. The thyroid produces two main hormones called T3 and T4 which are transported in the blood to all parts of the body. These hormones control the rate of many activities in your body including how fast calories are burned and how fast or slow a person’s heart rate is. Combined, these activities are often referred to as the metabolism. When thyroid disease occurs and the thyroid gland is compromised it may produce too few hormones and this can result in the metabolism slowing down. This condition is often referred to as an underactive thyroid function or hypothyroidism.

Symptoms of Underactive Thyroid

When it functions as it should, the thyroid will produce T3 and T4 at a 20% – 80% ratio. An under-production of these hormones will slow down the body’s metabolism, causing hypothyroidism. Common symptoms of this condition are:

  • weight-gain despite eating sensibly
  • feeling cold even in warm weather
  • fatigue
  • depression
  • hair loss
  • dry, flaky skin, especially on the face
  • unexplained joint pain
  • In addition to these symptoms, people with hypothyroidism may have high blood levels of LDL cholesterol, the so-called “bad” cholesterol.

Causes of Hypothyroidism

  • Autoimmune thyroiditis, where the body’s own immune system attacks the thyroid gland.
  • Iodine deficiency since iodine is necessary for the production of thyroid hormones.
  • Deficiency of protein, magnesium and zinc, since these are all essential for the thyroid to function properly.
  • Heavy metal poisoning or an over-abundance of chemicals and pesticides in the body.
  • Root canal teeth can leak toxins into the body and enter the thyroid gland, producing thyroid disease.

Natural Hypothyroid Treatment

The majority of people who have an underactive thyroid such as Hashimoto’s disease, have an autoimmune disease whereby the immune system attacks thyroid tissue. So, in order to find an underactive thyroid natural treatment it is important to address the autoimmune issue. Just taking prescription medication for low thyroid function will simply just mask the symptoms.

Dietary Changes to Make

Making dietary changes can be the first step in embracing natural thyroid treatment. Underactive thyroid treatment can begin with cutting out, and adding to, the diet in the following ways:

Add these to your diet:

  • Foods that are rich in Vitamin A such as carrots and eggs.
  • Seafood such as arame, dulce, kelp and nori that contain high levels of iodine.
  • Foods that are rich in zinc such as beef, chicken, nuts and spinach.
  • Increasing protein intake can help improve low thyroid function. Proteins include nuts and nut butters; quinoa; hormone- and antibiotic-free animal products (organic, grass-fed meats, eggs, and sustainably-farmed fish); and legumes.
  • Insufficient intake of fat can exacerbate hormonal imbalance, which includes thyroid hormones. Natural, healthful fats include olive oil; ghee; avocados; flax seeds; fish; nuts and nut butters; hormone- and antibiotic-free full fat cheese, yogurt, and cottage cheese and coconut milk products.

Decrease these in the diet:

  • Refined foods
  • Saturated fats
  • Sugar
  • White flour
  • Certain fruits and vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, peaches and pears can diminish the thyroid’s production of thyroxin.
  • Greatly reduce or eliminate caffeine and sugar, which people with low thyroid function naturally reach for in order to boost their flagging energy.
    Gluten has an almost identical molecular composition to thyroid tissue and consuming gluten can increase an autoimmune attack on your thyroid.

The Role of Nutrients in Natural Hypothyroid Treatment

It is doubtful that nutritional deficiencies are the sole cause of an underactive thyroid, but not having enough of these micronutrients and minerals can aggravate symptoms of low thyroid function. Increasing the intake of; vitamin D, iron, omega-3 fatty acids, selenium, zinc, copper, vitamin A, the B vitamins, and iodine can help in natural hypothyroid treatment.

Vitamin D levels can be checked by a simple blood test. Optimal levels are between 50-80 ng/mL; anything below 32 contributes to hormone pathway disruption.

Omega-3s, found in fish, grass fed animal products, flaxseeds, and walnuts, are the building blocks for hormones that control immune function and cell growth, are critical to thyroid function, and improve the ability to respond to thyroid hormones.

Glutathione is a powerful antioxidant which can help in underactive thyroid treatment. It can boost the immune system, reduce autoimmune flare-ups, and protect and heal thyroid tissue.

Underactive Thyroid Treatment

The thyroid gland affects all the other hormones in the body and its proper regulation is essential to good hormonal balance and health. With the disturbing increase in thyroid disease, an annual screening of thyroid gland is recommended. This should include blood tests that check on thyroid gland hormone levels and body iodine levels.

Our Approach

When a patient is suspected to have a thyroid disorder a comprehensive thyroid profile is ordered, in the form of a blood test. The test results will give precise measurements of Free T3 and T4 and their ratios to each other. If the results indicate that for example, the patient’s T3 level is too low then the patient will be checked for deficiencies in essential nutrients which are required for hormone production. Many times this will correct the thyroid without the need for prescription hormones.

However, it is frequently discovered that the thyroid is making enough of the T4 hormone but it is not converting to the metabolic active hormone, T3. This conversion problem can easily be found when the appropriate thyroid evaluation tests are performed.

Another problem of conversion involves too much of the T4 converting into another thyroid hormone called Reverse T3. Reverse T3 is not metabolizing active and can contribute to symptoms of underactive thyroid. Again, proper testing of the thyroid will uncover this issue. Correct thyroid treatment requires the correct evaluation and that is what is performed at LifeWorks Wellness Center.

Hypothyroidism

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What is hypothyroidism?

The thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland found near the base of the neck. It produces hormones that regulate vital metabolic processes throughout the body. A deficiency in the production of thyroid hormone, known as hypothyroidism, causes these processes to slow down or stop. Receptors for thyroid hormone are found throughout the body, and disturbance in thyroid functioning can cause problems in almost every system of the body from the heart and GI tract to sleep, mood, even the growth of hair, skin and nails.

What are some hypothyroidism symptoms?

Symptoms of hypothyroidism often develop gradually and can sometimes take years to manifest. Women in their fifties and older are more likely to have hypothyroidism then men; however, teenagers, children and even infants can be affected by this condition. Typical signs that you may have hypothyroidism include increasing fatigue and weakness, often with unintentional weight gain. Skin can become dry, rough and pale, with hair loss and dry, brittle nails. Other frequent problems are sensitivity to cold, muscle or joint aches, constipation, depression, irritability, memory loss, abnormal menstrual cycles with heavy blood flow, and decreased sex drive.

If hypothyroidism is left untreated, symptoms of myxedema can appear. These include very dry skin, and swelling around the lips and nose called non-pitting (firm) edema. More severe symptoms can be life-threatening and include low blood pressure, decreased body temperature, shallow respirations, unresponsiveness and even coma. Fortunately, advanced hypothyroidism such as this is quite rare.

What are the causes?

In developing countries, insufficient amounts of iodine in the diet account for most cases of hypothyroidism. Iodine is necessary for the production of the two main thyroid hormones, thyroxine (T-4) and triiodothyronine (T-3). In the U.S. – where salt is iodized, and most Americans get plenty of iodine from table salt – an autoimmune condition known as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is the most common cause. Hashimoto’s is more common in women and in those with a family history of autoimmune diseases. It involves immune-related inflammation and destruction of the thyroid gland, which reduces proper functioning and production of thyroid hormone. The exact cause and triggers of Hashimoto’s still remains unknown.

Other causes of hypothyroidism include surgical removal of the thyroid (usually for cancer), radiation therapy of the head and neck, or complications of medical therapies for hyperthyroidism. (Patients with overactive thyroids are often treated with radioactive iodine or anti-thyroid medications that reduce thyroid functioning. These effects can be extensive and permanent, and thyroid supplementation is often required flowing these interventions.) Certain medications can worsen or promote hypothyroidism or interfere with thyroid replacement therapy. One such drug is lithium, used for treating psychiatric conditions such as bipolar disorder.

Less common causes of hypothyroidism include congenital (birth) defects (one of the reasons for newborn screening is to check for failure of the pituitary gland to produce enough thyroid stimulating hormone, usually due to a benign pituitary tumor), and pregnancy. Some women can develop hypothyroidism during or immediately following pregnancy, often as a result of developing antibodies against their own thyroid tissue. This is dangerous for both the developing fetus and mother, and can lead to miscarriage, developmental abnormalities, premature delivery and an increased risk of preeclampsia – a potentially dangerous complication in the later stages of pregnancy.

Hypothyroidism diet tips: Some foods, especially cruciferous vegetables (cabbage, kale, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and cauliflower) contain natural goitrogens, compounds that can cause the thyroid gland to enlarge by interfering with thyroid hormone synthesis. Cooking has been reported to inactivate this effect in Brussels sprouts. Cassava, a starchy root that is the source of tapioca, can also have this effect. Other goitrogens include corn, sweet potatoes, lima beans, and soy. Some practitioners recommend that people with under-active thyroid glands avoid these foods, even though most have not been proved to cause hypothyroidism in humans.

What is the conventional treatment for hypothyroidism?

Most physicians diagnose hypothyroidism by simple blood tests that measure the level of TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone), which is made by the pituitary gland in response to thyroid hormone and the body’s needs, and indicates thyroid status. As levels of thyroid hormones fall, the pituitary releases TSH to stimulate the thyroid to produce more hormone. Clinicians may also measure circulating levels of T-3 and T-4, which are the thyroid hormones themselves. Low levels of T-4 and high levels of TSH reveal an underactive thyroid. Other variants of hypothyroidism can exist. Patients can have no symptoms and normal serum thyroid hormone levels, but elevated TSH. Others can have symptoms, but normal TSH and T-4 levels. Patients with either of these variants may benefit from supplementation. In addition, someone with a temporary illness might have a completely normal thyroid but high TSH, a condition called “sick euthyroid” which usually resolves without any intervention.

The purpose of treating hypothyroidism is to maintain normal metabolism by correcting a deficient output of thyroid hormone. Once replacement therapy begins, the thyroid will stop producing hormones all together, and replacement must be continued for life. Most mainstream physicians prescribe the drug Synthroid, also known as levothyroxine, a synthetic analog of thyroxine (T-4) and monitor how much to give based on symptoms and levels of TSH. Physicians will generally check TSH levels after a couple of months of being on the medication and adjust it accordingly. They will often used a more cautious course in patients who have cardiovascular disease. This allows the heart time to adjust to an artificially increased metabolism. Side effects of taking too much thyroid hormone include shakiness, palpitations, insomnia and changes in appetite.

What therapies does Dr. Weil recommend for hypothyroidism?

  • Dietary changes: For those who have existing thyroid conditions, excess consumption of soy may affect thyroid function, but this is probably a concern only in those already taking Synthroid or other thyroid replacement medication. If you consume soy on a regular basis, you may require a slightly increased dosage of replacement therapy. You should also know that if you eat soy foods at the same time that you take thyroid hormone, they may interfere with its absorption. To be safe, do not eat soy within three hours of taking your medication. Moderate soy consumption (one serving daily of whole soy foods) should not be a problem. Adequate iodine from dietary sources is also important – iodized salt, fresh ocean fish and seaweed are good sources.
  • Exercise: Many patients with hypothyroidism have reported benefits from practicing a yoga pose called the Shoulder Stand, or sarvangasana, which increases circulation to the thyroid. Lie on your back with your arms (palms up) along your sides. Raise your legs at a right angle to the floor. Then raise your hips so your chin rests on your chest, supporting yourself with your elbows and upper arms on the floor and your hands on your hips. Keep your neck and shoulders flat on the floor, and stretch your torso and legs as straight as possible. Hold as long as comfortable, slowly working up to 5 minutes a day. Don’t do this pose if you are pregnant or menstruating, nor should you try it if you have glaucoma, sinus problems or high blood pressure. The Shoulder Stand may be more effective if you use visualization practices, imagining the thyroid gland waking up from a long period of inactivity and producing more thyroid hormone.
  • Traditional Chinese Medicine: Although not well studied in addressing hypothyroidism, TCM can have positive effects on imbalances in the immune system, and is useful in treating other autoimmune conditions. It may be helpful early in the course of Hashimoto’s, but TCM should not be used in place of conventional therapy when thyroid replacement is indicated.
  • Supplements: Dr. Weil recommends the same supplement mix that anyone should use to optimize health, including a quality multi-vitamin/multi-mineral formula, two grams of fish oil, and 2,000 IU of vitamin D daily.

Also:

  • Rather than giving Synthroid (T-4) alone, Dr. Weil prefers combinations of the two natural hormones (T-3 and T-4), and often recommends the prescription drug Thyrolar. Under normal conditions, the body can convert T-4 into T-3; however, there is some question whether the body can do this optimally when under extreme physical or emotional stress. Giving a combination seems to elicit a more natural response for the body, and may also have a better effect on mood than T-4 alone.
  • If you are or ever have been on thyroid replacement or have had a history of thyroid dysfunction, be sure to tell any doctor you consult, no matter what your present symptoms are.

Hypothyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid gland is underactive and doesn’t properly make or release thyroid hormones. The thyroid gland normally releases many crucial hormones that travel through the bloodstream to reach receptors found throughout the whole body. So a disturbance in thyroid function can cause widespread, noticeable health problems.

The thyroid is a small gland located on the base of your neck, sometimes described as butterfly-shaped. Meanwhile, at the base of the brain sits the pituitary gland, which secretes the thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH). TSH makes the thyroid produce and release thyroxine, the main thyroid hormone.

Almost 5 percent of the U.S. population over the age of 12 has some form of hypothyroidism. Some estimates suggest up to 40 percent of the population suffers from at least some level of underactive thyroid. Women — especially older women — are the most susceptible group for developing hypothyroidism. People who are elderly or who have other existing autoimmune diseases — like type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and celiac disease, for example — are also at a higher risk.

What are some of the most common symptoms of hypothyroidism? Changes to your metabolism, heart function, digestion, energy, appetite, sleep or mood … even the growth of your hair, skin and nails can all be caused by hypothyroidism.

However, a hypothyroidism diagnosis is not a death sentence! There are many ways to treat hypothyroidism naturally through a hypothyroidism diet plan and other natural remedies. Find out how to start your journey below.

9 Potential Causes of Hypothyroidism

1. Inflammatory disorders of the thyroid

The most common cause of hypothyroidism in developed nations is a condition called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. This is an autoimmune endocrine disorder that occurs when the thyroid becomes inflamed. When someone has Hashimoto’s, their own body essentially begins to attack itself by producing antibodies that try to destroy the thyroid gland.

Why does this happen? The immune system mistakenly thinks that the thyroid cells are not a part of the body, so it tries to remove them before they can cause damage and illness. The problem is that this causes widespread inflammation, which can result in many different problems. According to Dr. Datis Kharrazian, 90 percent of people with hypothyroidism have Hashimoto’s that inflames the thyroid gland over time, but this isn’t the only cause of hypothyroidism.

2. Poor diet (especially one lacking in iodine and selenium)

A diet low in nutrient-rich foods, especially in iodine and selenium (which are trace minerals crucial for thyroid function), increases the risk for hypothyroid disorders. The thyroid gland needs both selenium and iodine to produce adequate levels of thyroid hormones. These nutrients also play other protective roles in the body. For example: severe selenium deficiency increases the incidence of thyroiditis because it stops activity of a very powerful antioxidant known as glutathione, which normally controls inflammation and fights oxidative stress. Getting on track with a hypothyroidism diet ensures that you get the appropriate amounts of selenium and iodine in your diet.

3. Hormone imbalances

In some rare cases, because the pituitary gland makes a hormone called thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) — which controls the levels of hormones being pumped out of the thyroid — a problem with the pituitary gland can cause changes to thyroid function.

4. Gut inflammation (Leaky Gut Syndrome)

An unhealthy gut environment can contribute to nutrient deficiencies and raise autoimmune activity in the body. Food sensitivities or allergies, including those to gluten and dairy, can trigger gut inflammation. Other causes of a damaged gut are high stress levels, toxin overload from diet and the environment and bacterial imbalances. When leaky gut occurs, small particles that are normally trapped inside the gut start to leak out into the bloodstream through tiny openings in the gut lining, which creates an autoimmune cascade and a series of negative symptoms.

5. Genetics

Although it’s not very common, newborns are sometimes born with a dysfunction of the thyroid gland, a genetic condition called congenital hypothyroidism. Some evidence shows that people are more likely to develop hypothyroidism if they have a close family member with an autoimmune disease. But according to the National Institute of Health (NIH), the likelihood of congenital hypothyroidism is very low and only about 1 out of every 4,000 newborns is born with a thyroid disorder.

6. Pregnancy

During or following pregnancy, although it’s not exactly known why, some women begin to produce very high levels of thyroid hormones, followed by a very rapid decline. This condition is known as postpartum thyroiditis. The symptoms often disappear within 12–18 months but can also lead to permanent hypothyroidism.

7. Interactions of certain medications

Specific medications seem to lead frequently to the development of underactive thyroid. The most common of these include drugs to treat cancer, heart problems and certain psychiatric conditions.

8. High levels of emotional stress

Stress impacts hormones and is known to worsen inflammation. Stress can raise levels of cortisol and adrenaline, which disturbs neurotransmitter function and worsens symptoms of thyroid disease. These include low energy levels, poor mood, low concentration, disturbed appetite and weight gain and the inability to get restful sleep.

9. Inactivity and lack of exercise

Exercise and a healthy diet are important for controlling chronic stress and managing hormone-related neurological function. Research shows that people who regularly exercise usually get better sleep, deal with stress better and more often maintain a healthier weight, all of which reduce some of the biggest risk factors and symptoms associated with hypothyroidism.

Hypothyroidism Symptoms

The thyroid is considered a “master gland.” In addition to producing crucial hormones, it helps control the process of turning nutrients from food into usable energy on which the body runs. Because the thyroid plays such a major part in your metabolism, dysfunction can affect almost every part of the body, including your energy levels and ability to burn calories.

Key hormones produced by the thyroid also help the liver break down cholesterol that circulates through the bloodstream. The thyroid can also stimulate enzymes that are needed to control triglyceride fat levels; this is why changes in thyroid function cause lead to heart problems.

Other noticeable effects of hypothyroidism include moodiness and a sluggish metabolism. Essentially, when your thyroid is underactive, your metabolism will slow down, which might mean you always feel tired or struggle to keep off weight.

Your mood is especially susceptible to changes in hormone levels, so some people with hypothyroidism deal with depression, anxiety, trouble getting good sleep and low immunity. The thyroid gland helps regulate chemical messengers called neurotransmitters, which control your emotions and nerve signaling. This is the reason an out-of-balance thyroid can mean drastic emotional changes at times.

Some of the most common warning signs of hypothyroidism include:

  • Fatigue
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Weight gain
  • Infertility
  • Goiter (nodules at the base of the neck, sometimes accompanied by tightness in the throat, coughing or swelling)
  • Feeling cold
  • Constipation
  • Muscle aches and tenderness
  • Kidney problems
  • Stiffness and swelling in the joints
  • Hair loss
  • Rough, cracked skin
  • Trouble breathing
  • Changes in the menstrual cycle
  • More frequent cold or flu due to low immune function

To find out if you have hypothyroidism, your doctor will run blood tests to check for levels of the hormones known as T4 (thyroxine) and TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone). Hypothyroidism is diagnosed in your thyroid test when TSH is high. Sometimes, TSH can be high, but the thyroid is still producing enough hormones. This condition is referred to as subclinical (or mild) hypothyroidism.

Mild hypothyroidism is usually the early stage. It can progress to hypothyroidism if a hypothyroidism diet isn’t adopted and lifestyle changes aren’t made. When the condition isn’t corrected, more severe autoimmune reactions can occur — this can cause worsened problems like impaired brain function, infertility, unhealthy pregnancy, obesity, heart complications and joint pain.

Another symptom to be aware of is thyroid nodules, a buildup of cells within the thyroid, creating an abnormal lump. Most thyroid nodules aren’t dangerous. But some of them become cancerous over time. If your physician suspects you have thyroid nodules, he or she should have them evaluated to check for cancer cells.

For patients with thyroid cancers, a common conventional treatment method is known as radioiodine, or radioactive iodine. Because the thyroid absorbs most of your body’s iron content, this concentrated radiation is supposed to successfully kill most of the diseased thyroid cells without damaging cells throughout the rest of the body.

Complications

In some cases, people with an extremely underactive thyroid may fall into what is known as a myxedema coma, characterized by declining mental status, hypothermia and the slowing of many internal organs. If you or someone you know has severe thyroid problems and begins to show major lethargy or stupor, seek emergency medical attention at once.

Myxedema comas are rare and occur most often in the elderly and women, especially in the winter months. Generally, it is the result of undiagnosed and/or untreated hypothyroidism and can be fatal if left untreated.

Hypothyroidism is very prevalent in kidney disease patients, in turns out. In a Current Opinion in Endocrinology, Diabetes and Obesity study, evidence suggested that hypothyroidism was a risk factor for chronic kidney disease (CKD), CKD progression and even higher death risk in kidney disease.

9 Natural Hypothyroidism Remedies

1. Hypothyroidism Diet

What foods are good for an underactive thyroid? Here are the top foods for a hypothyroidism diet to start the healing process:

  • Wild-caught fish: It provides the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, essential for hormone balance and thyroid function.
  • Coconut oil: This provides medium-chain fatty acids in the form of caprylic acid, lauric acid and capric acid, which support a healthy metabolism, increase energy and fight fatigue.
  • Seaweed: Good seaweeds are some of the best natural sources of iodine and help prevent deficiencies that disturb thyroid function.
  • Probiotic-rich foods: These include kefir (a fermented dairy product), organic goat’s milk yogurt, kimchi, kombucha, natto, sauerkraut and other fermented veggies.
  • Sprouted seeds: Flax, hemp and chia seeds provide ALA, a type of omega-3 fat that’s critical for proper hormonal balance and thyroid function.
  • Clean water: Water helps with hydration and digestive function while preventing fatigue and moodiness. For prevention of constipation, low energy and sugar cravings, drink at least eight ounces every two hours.
  • High fiber foods: People with hypothyroidism may have digestive difficulties, so aim for 30–40 grams of fiber daily. Not only does a high-fiber diet help with digestive health, it also improves heart health, balances blood sugar levels and supports a healthy weight by making you feel fuller.
  • Bone broth: Beef and chicken stock contain the amino acids L-proline and L-glycine, which can help repair the digestive lining and improve hypothyroidism.
  • Fruits and vegetables: These are high in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that are necessary for combating free-radical damage and lowering inflammation. They are nutrient-dense and should make up a large portion of a healthy diet since they support digestive health, brain function, heart health, hormone balance and a healthy weight.

These are foods that should not appear in your hypothyroidism diet:

  • Goitrogen foods: People with hypothyroidism may want to stay away from eating large amounts of raw Brassica vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, soy and Brussels sprouts. These vegetables might impact thyroid function because they contain goitrogens, molecules which impair thyroid perioxidase.
  • Tap water: Most tap water contains fluorine (an endocrine disruptor) and chlorine that inhibit iodine absorption.
  • Gluten: Many people with thyroid issues are also sensitive to gluten or have celiac disease, an autoimmune disease that results in an allergy to gluten. Gluten is found in all wheat, rye and barley products. Carefully check ingredient labels to avoid hidden gluten that is lurking in many packaged foods.
  • Conventional dairy: Like gluten, dairy can be especially problematic for the thyroid, triggering reactions that raise inflammatory responses. Avoid conventional cow’s milk dairy products that are not organic and have been pasteurized. Consumption of organic, raw goat’s milk or organic A2 cow’s milk is a better choice.
  • Sugar: Sugar can disrupt the hormone balance necessary for metabolism. People with thyroid issues have a difficult time losing weight. Because the thyroid is a key gland for hormonal balance and metabolism, it’s best to avoid sugar as it can contribute to hormonal disturbances, fatigue, mood changes, worsened depression and weight gain.
  • Refined flour products: Any food made with refined carbohydrates, like enriched wheat flour, for example, negatively impacts hormone levels and can contribute to weight gain.

2. Ashwagandha (500 milligrams daily)

Ashwagandha is an adaptogen herb that helps the body respond to stress, keeping hormone levels better in balance. Adaptogens helps lower cortisol and balance T4 levels. In fact, in clinical trials, supplementing with ashwagandha for eight weeks essentially worked as thyroxine treatment, helping hypothyroidism patients significantly increase thyroxine hormone levels and thus reduce the severity of the disorder. Also, try other adaptogen herbs like rhodiola, licorice root, ginseng and holy basil, which have similar benefits.

3. Iodine (150–300 micrograms daily)

Studies show that even small amounts of supplementary iodine (250 micrograms) cause slight but significant changes in thyroid hormone function in predisposed individuals. A diet rich in whole foods that contain iodine — including fish, sea vegetables, eggs, raw dairy and seaweed — can help prevent deficiency.

Iodine supplements should not be taken with Hashimoto’s disease because getting too much iodine over the longterm increases the risk of developing an overactive thyroid. While it’s nearly impossible to get too much from eating a variety of healthy foods alone, sometimes people taking supplements or eating very high amounts of dried algae and seaweed can exceed the recommended upper limit of 500 milligrams per day.

4. Selenium (200 micrograms daily)

The thyroid is the organ with the highest selenium content in the whole body. Selenium is necessary for the production of the T3 thyroid hormone and can reduce autoimmune affects. In patients with Hashimoto’s disease and in pregnant women with thyroid disturbances, selenium supplementation decreases anti-thyroid antibody levels and improves the structure of the thyroid gland.

Because it helps balance hormone levels, selenium can lower the risk for experiencing thyroid disorder during pregnancy (postpartum thyroiditis) and afterward. Other studies have shown that when selenium deficiency is resolved through supplementation, patients experience on average 40 percent reduction in thyroid antibodies compared to a 10 percent increase when given a placebo.

5. L-tyrosine (500 milligrams twice daily)

An amino acid used in the synthesis of thyroid hormones, thyroxin (T4) is naturally produced from the iodination of tyrosine, a nonessential amino acid obtained both from protein-containing dietary sources and through the body making some itself.

Supplementing with L-tyrosine has been shown to improve sleep deprivation and can help combat fatigue and a poor mood by improving alertness and neurotransmitter function. One reason L-tyrosine is beneficial in healing thyroid symptoms is because it plays a role in the production of melatonin, dopamine and/or norepinephrine, which are our natural “feel good” hormones.

6. Fish oil (1,000 milligrams daily)

Essential fatty acids found in fish oil are critical for brain and thyroid function. DHA and EPA omega-3s found in fish oil are associated with a lower risk for thyroid symptoms, including anxiety, depression, high cholesterol, inflammatory bowel disease, arthritis, diabetes, a weakened immune system and heightened autoimmune disease. Omega-3 fish oil supplements can also help balance levels of omega-6s in the diet, which is important for ongoing health.

7. Vitamin B-Complex (one B-complex capsule daily)

Vitamin B12 and thiamine are important for neurologic function and hormonal balance. Research shows that supplementing with thiamine can help combat symptoms of autoimmune disease, including chronic fatigue. In one clinical study, when patients with Hashimoto’s were given 600 milligrams per day of thiamine, the majority experienced complete regression of fatigue within a few hours or days.

Vitamin B12 is another important nutrient for fighting fatigue because it benefits the central nervous system in many important ways: maintaining the health of nerve cells (including neurotransmitters); protecting the covering of nerves called the cell’s myelin sheath: and turning nutrients from food into usable energy for the brain and body.

8. Probiotic Supplement (50 billion CFU per serving)

Probiotics can help heal the gut and aid in nutrient absorption while reducing inflammation. Other benefits of a high-quality probiotic include helping to maintain a stronger immune system; increasing energy from production of vitamin B12; reducing bacterial or viral growth in the gut such as candida; improving skin health and helping with appetite control and weight loss.

9. Essential Oils

To improve thyroid function and help treat symptoms of autoimmune disease, try some of these essential oil protocols on top of your hypothyroidism diet:

  • Combine three drops of frankincense oil with five parts lemongrass oil and five parts clove oil. Rub these directly on the thyroid, which is located at the front lower part of your neck. You can also try putting two drops of frankincense oil on the roof of your mouth twice daily.
  • Similarly, try rubbing two to four drops of lemongrass oil and myrrh directly on the thyroid area, along with the reflexology points on the feet (the big toes) and on the wrists multiple times per day.
  • To combat muscle or joint pain, try a soothing bath using geranium, clove, myrrh and lemongrass oils.
  • To fight fatigue, try a combination of peppermint and citrus oils, such as lemon and grapefruit.
  • To improve your mood and reduce anxiety or irritability, use chamomile, frankincense and lavender oil, either diffused in your home or added to a bath.

Final Thoughts

  • Hypothyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid gland is underactive and doesn’t properly make or release thyroid hormones.
  • There is no cure for a hypothyroidism diagnosis, but there may be ways to naturally increase thyroid hormone production through dietary means.
  • When your thyroid is underactive, your metabolism will slow down, which might mean you always feel tired or struggle to keep off weight.
  • The hypothyroidism diet eliminates foods that can cause inflammation and immune reactions and instead focuses on foods that help heal the GI tract, balance hormones and reduce inflammation.

Treatment


Underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism)

Taking levothyroxine

If you’re prescribed levothyroxine, you should take 1 tablet at the same time every day. It’s usually recommended that you take the tablets in the morning, although some people prefer to take them at night.

The effectiveness of the tablets can be altered by other medications, supplements or foods, so they should be swallowed with water on an empty stomach, and you should avoid eating for 30 minutes afterwards.

If you forget to take a dose, take it as soon as you remember, if this is within a few hours of your usual time. If you do not remember until later than this, skip the dose and take the next dose at the usual time, unless advised otherwise by a doctor.

An underactive thyroid is a lifelong condition, so you’ll usually need to take levothyroxine for the rest of your life.

If you’re prescribed levothyroxine because you have an underactive thyroid, you’re entitled to a medical exemption certificate. This means you don’t have to pay for your prescriptions. See getting help with prescription costs for more information on this.

Side effects

Levothyroxine does not usually have any side effects, because the tablets simply replace a missing hormone.

Side effects usually only occur if you’re taking too much levothyroxine. This can cause problems including sweating, chest pain, headaches, diarrhoea and vomiting.

Tell the doctor if you develop new symptoms while taking levothyroxine. You should also let them know if your symptoms get worse or do not improve.

Q: Can thyroid disease be cured?

A: This is a difficult question to answer due to the differences between the ideas of “treatment” vs. “cure”. All thyroid diseases can be treated, resulting in normal thyroid function. However, this frequently requires being on medication to maintain the normal thyroid state.

For example, most patients with thyroid cancer can be cured through surgery and radioactive iodine treatments (see Thyroid Cancer brochure). While their cancer is cured, the curative treatment results in hypothyroidism requiring thyroid hormone replacement for life.

Hyperthyroidism due to Graves’ disease is caused by antibodies attacking the thyroid and turning it on (see Graves’ disease brochure). Antithyroid medication, radioactive iodine, and surgery are all effective treatments and can restore thyroid function to normal. Radioactive iodine and surgery also can “cure” the hyperthyroidism by removing the thyroid. However, the thyroid stimulating antibodies often are unaffected by these treatments, so the underlying cause of Graves’ disease persists. Occasionally, the thyroid stimulating antibodies do go away in patients treated with antithyroid drugs, resulting in remission of the Graves’ disease and allowing for discontinuation of the medications. However, the thyroid stimulating antibodies may return causing the Graves disease to relapse.

A similar situation occurs in patients with hypothyroidism due to Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, which is caused by antibodies attacking and destroying the thyroid (see Hypothyroidism brochure). While thyroid hormone replacement restores the body’s thyroid function to normal, the anti-thyroid antibodies often remain.

There are self-limited thyroid disorders, such as post-partum thyroiditis and subacute thyroiditis, where no therapy is necessary after the disorder runs its course (see Thyroiditis brochure). However, post-partum thyroiditis frequently recurs with subsequent pregnancies.

In summary, the most important aspect of thyroid disease is that effective treatments are available that can restore thyroid function to normal, even if the underlying cause of the disorder is not “cured”. Once diagnosed with thyroid disease, all patients need lifelong medical follow up to ensure that their thyroid function remains in the best range.

Medical Disclaimer The information contained in or made available through the American Thyroid Association Website is not intended to replace the services of a trained health professional or to be a substitute for medical advice of physicians. The user should consult a physician in all matters relating to his or her health, and particularly in respect to any symptoms that may require diagnosis or medical attention. The American Thyroid Association makes no representations or warranties with respect to any information offered or provided within or through the American Thyroid Association Website regarding treatment, action, or application of medication.
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What is hypothyroidism?

Hypothyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid gland does not make enough thyroid hormone. Too little hormone slows down chemical reactions in the body. This slowdown causes mental and physical changes.

The thyroid gland is located in the lower front of the neck. This gland takes iodine from the food you eat to make hormones called thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). The hormones control your metabolism (the chemical processes your body uses to turn the food you eat into energy). You need thyroid hormones to control body temperature, heart rate, appetite, and digestion. If you have too little hormone, you may gain weight, your body temperature may get lower, and you may feel tired or sluggish.

What is the cause?

Some of the more common causes of hypothyroidism are:

  • Hashimoto’s disease (thyroiditis): This condition is an inflammation and swelling of the thyroid gland. It is caused by a problem with the immune system. The immune system is your body’s protection against infection, but sometimes it sees your own body as foreign and reacts to it.
  • Viruses: They can infect the thyroid gland and cause it to make too little hormone.
  • Radiation: Radioactivity can destroy the thyroid gland and its ability to make thyroid hormone. Radioactive iodine is a common treatment for an overactive thyroid gland, but often the treatment leads to an underactive thyroid gland. Also, X-ray treatment for cancer of the head or neck may expose the thyroid gland to radiation and damage it.
  • Overdosage of medicine used to treat hyperthyroidism
  • Complete or partial removal of the thyroid gland with surgery for some other thyroid problem

Anyone can have hypothyroidism, but it happens most often in women over age 40. Some thyroid problems are inherited. Some are present at birth.

What are the symptoms?

The slowing of your body’s processes can take months or even years. This can make it hard to know that this disease is causing your problems.

Symptoms may include:

  • Tiredness
  • Depression
  • Weakness
  • Constipation
  • Weight gain
  • Feeling cold a lot of the time
  • Heavy and long menstrual periods
  • Coarse, dry hair or brittle nails
  • Thick, dry skin
  • Swollen eyelids
  • Slowed heart rate

A condition that develops after several years of untreated hypothyroidism is called myxedema. Myxedema can cause you to feel cold, be slow to talk and move, be less mentally alert, and possibly feel drowsy much of the time. You can even fall into a coma.

If you are an older adult with hypothyroidism, you may not get medical treatment because you don’t know you have a problem that can be treated. You may think your symptoms are just part of aging. If you have symptoms such as tiredness, muscle weakness, dry skin, depression, feeling cold, and constipation, see your healthcare provider.

How is it diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will ask about your symptoms and medical history and examine you. You will have blood tests to measure your level of thyroid hormone. Blood tests can also measure thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), which is made by your pituitary gland. TSH causes your thyroid gland to make thyroid hormone.

How is it treated?

Your healthcare provider will prescribe manmade thyroid hormone medicine. After starting treatment, you will have blood tests to make sure you are getting the right amount of thyroid hormone. It may take several weeks to find the right dosage for you. Once the correct dosage is found, your thyroid hormone level will need to be checked every few months to make sure it is in the correct, normal range. You will most likely need to take thyroid medicine every day for the rest of your life.

If you have coronary artery disease or are at risk for it, your provider will prescribe a smaller dose of hormone at first. Replacing thyroid hormone too quickly can be hard on your heart. In some cases it can trigger a heart attack. Taking too much thyroid hormone can also cause osteoporosis (thinning and weakening of the bones).

How long will the effects last?

Usually hypothyroidism starts getting better within a week after you start hormone therapy. All symptoms go away in a few weeks. In most cases, however, you must continue this treatment for the rest of your life.

Mild hypothyroidism may cause no symptoms. Without treatment, however, the disease can become disabling over time. Untreated hypothyroidism may cause the following problems:

  • Slowed thinking and poorer memory and problem-solving ability
  • Enlargement of the heart and heart failure

If the cause of hypothyroidism is thyroiditis and it is not treated, your thyroid gland may swell. This swelling, called a goiter, may cause a big bulge in your neck.

How can I take care of myself?

  • Follow your provider’s instructions for taking your medicine.
  • Get your thyroid hormone level checked as often as your provider suggests.
  • Keep your follow-up appointments.
  • See your healthcare provider if any of your symptoms are not getting better or they come back.
  • See your healthcare provider if you have new symptoms.

How can I help prevent hypothyroidism?

In most cases hypothyroidism cannot be prevented.

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