It’s estimated that as many as 25 million Americans have a thyroid problem and half of them have no idea that they do. The shocking reality is many of them have subclinical hypothyroid symptoms that never get diagnosed. Hypothyroidism or an under-active thyroid is an autoimmune disease in 90% of cases. If a thyroid condition is diagnosed, medication may be recommended but sometimes the problem remains unresolved.
Understanding the symptoms and natural remedies you can do to support your thyroid can help you take measures to rebalance your thyroid hormones. These natural remedies can shift the negative effects you may be experiencing.
What is hypothyroidism?
Hypothyroidism is when the thyroid gland isn’t making enough thyroid hormones to meet your body’s needs which in turn can wreak havoc on the health of your whole body. I dive deeper into this topic in my article, “Know How to Demystify the Thyroid.”
Statistics show that women are more likely to develop hypothyroidism than men especially if there is a family history of thyroid disease or other health issues like type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and lupus.
What is Hashimoto’s Disease?
The most common cause of hypothyroidism is a condition called Hashimoto. Hashimoto’s Disease (Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis) is an autoimmune disease that causes chronic inflammation and eventually failure of the thyroid gland. Because the immune system attacks the thyroid, Hashimoto’s usually leads to hypothyroidism.
Exactly what causes Hashimoto’s is still being researched but there are some things that seem to be a part of developing the disease:
Genetics – there are usually family members who have thyroid disease or an autoimmune disease.
Hormones – Women are 7 times more likely to get Hashimoto’s which suggests that sex hormones may be involved.
Gut-Connection – Latest evidence shows the gut plays a huge role in your immune health. Poor gut health can cause inflammation and autoimmune conditions such as Hashimoto’s. Treating gut issues and infections like H. pylori (Helicobacter pylori) or SIBO (small intestinal overgrowth) can help to lower thyroid antibodies and autoimmune conditions. Improving gut health can also help to reduce the amount of thyroid medication needed, most probably because the nutrients are better absorbed.
Stress and Sleep – Chronic stress increases inflammation in the body which raises cortisol levels and can interfere with thyroid function. This continued pattern can also impair sleep and thus one’s ability to manage stress becomes even less possible. It becomes a vicious rollercoaster which negatively impacts the health of the thyroid gland.
There is no known cure for Hashimoto’s but following a thyroid health protocol, which includes a hypothyroidism diet along with the addition of some natural hormone therapy can be a key to helping reduce symptoms.
Hypothyroidism can cause symptoms that affect the way you feel and look, including your ability to lose weight. The thyroid is your chief gland of energy and metabolism, keeping your genes and cells doing their jobs. Pretty much every cell in your body has thyroid hormone receptors.
While the early signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism may be subtle and often like what happens during the body’s natural aging process, the advanced stages of hypothyroidism can be severe.
Physical Symptoms of Hypothyroidism include:
- weight gain
- dry skin
- hair loss, including the eyebrows
- swollen face, hands, legs, ankles, or feet
- feeling cold
- achy/painful muscles or joints
- hoarse or raspy voice
- heavy menstrual bleeding or irregular periods
- difficulty sleeping
- poor wound healing
- low libido
- high cholesterol
Other Cognitive and Mood-Related Symptoms include:
- slowed thinking process
- memory issues
- slowed speech or movement
Iodine Blockers Can Cause an Iodine Deficiency
Iodine is a naturally occurring element so critical for thyroid health and needed by in every cell in your body. It is estimated that almost 50% of the population is deficient in this nutrient.
One of the primary contributing factors of iodine deficiency and hypothyroidism is iodine blockers in our food, and the use of chemicals such as fluoride, chloride and bromide. Even in very low concentrations, these compounds compete with the receptors in the thyroid that capture iodine and drastically slow the production of essential thyroid hormones.
The use of bromide as an additive in commercial bread and baked goods displaces the iodine uptake contributing to growing iodine deficiency and increased risk of health problems. Many countries outside of the US have already banned the use of bromide.
Most of the chlorine (chloride) we consume comes from the treated water supply in our drinking water. The use of chlorine is also very commonly used in the treatment of public and home swimming pools. The absorption of the chlorine competes with the thyroid’s ability to uptake iodine.
Fluoridated water is used in the production of dozens of foods and beverages, including bottled water. It is also found in many drugs, supplements, toothpaste, dental treatments, and wheat products with added fluoride.
8 Natural Remedies for Hypothyroidism
Enhancing thyroid health can mean simply looking to some natural remedies for support. Here are a few:
Iodine is important if your thyroid is underactive. Good iodine-rich foods to check out include saltwater fish and other seafood, seaweed, kelp, and parsley. While sea salt does not provide as much iodine as iodized salt, it does provide some. On average you only need about 150 mcg of iodine a day from your diet. Before taking iodine supplements you should check if you are deficient in this mineral as too much could have the opposite effect on your thyroid.
2. Panax or Korean Ginseng
This dried root herb has positive benefits on the production of thyroid hormones and for those people with hypothyroidism. It is a potent antioxidant which could be another contributing factor to its support of hypothyroidism. Ginseng also improves the gut microbiome by acting as a prebiotic for your gut bacteria (the good guys) which also helps thyroid function.
Ginger is a great source of magnesium, zinc, and potassium, all of which are important for the thyroid. This root contains an antioxidant-rich compound known as gingerol and helps to reduce inflammation-related thyroid conditions.
This is a great herb for those with an overactive thyroid such as Graves disease and even underactive Hashimoto’s disease. There are many over-the-counter supplements available but ensuring a high-quality product is most important. Echinacea provides anti-inflammatory benefits which are helpful in controlling thyroid conditions.
Nettle is sometimes called a “thyroid tonic” because it can help balance both an overactive thyroid and an underactive thyroid. It is especially helpful for an underactive thyroid because it helps in reversing iodine deficiency due to its high iodine content.
Ashwagandha is an Ayurvedic herb used for many centuries for its numerous healing benefits. One of its advantages as a natural remedy for hypothyroidism is its action to produce the T4 hormone. The T4 hormone is needed to convert to T3 for proper thyroid function.
This is one of my favorite herbs as it provides tremendous health benefits for the prevention of disease and cancer risks. Due to its potent anti-inflammatory properties, it is extremely beneficial for autoimmune disease such as Hashimoto’s disease a common factor in hypothyroidism.
Often the adrenal gland is overworked due to chronic stress and high cortisol levels. Boosting your adrenal gland with herbs like Rhodiola and licorice can help support the body’s response to stress. Improving your adrenals will increase energy levels and benefit your thyroid function.
Supplements for Hypothyroidism
The thyroid gland, like any gland in your body, needs several basic nutrients every day to function properly so not unusual that it requires specific building blocks that can be enhanced by supplementation. Here are a few that I like to recommend for my patients.
For overall thyroid health, Thyroid Synergy™ is a great all-in-one formula for the nutritional support of thyroid function. Among other nutrients, it contains the non-stimulating adaptogen botanical American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) that helps maintain healthy cortisol, blood glucose, and insulin levels, along with balancing thyroid hormone.
Zinc is necessary to produce T4 and the conversion to the active form of thyroid hormone known as T3 (triiodothyronine). T4 (thyroxine) is the inactive form of thyroid hormone and does not become active until it converted into T3. Zinc is required for healthy T3 receptors in your cells so even if you have enough T3, it won’t work optimally if you are deficient in Zinc.
I recommend a Zinc taste test to my patients as the easiest way to determine zinc deficiency. Zinc Challenge provides highly absorbable supplemental zinc in a convenient liquid form to help increase the body’s level of this essential mineral. It shows zinc deficiency as a result of a reduced sense of taste and smell. The greater the deficiency, the milder the zinc will taste. As levels increase to a healthier point, the zinc taste becomes stronger and more noticeable.
In pill form, taking a product that offers optimal absorption like Zinc Supreme™ is a good way to go.
Zinc also has so many other great supportive properties including helping to boost immune system health.
As mentioned, iodine is required for thyroid gland hormone production and some people benefit from taking additional iodine supplementation. However, if you have been diagnosed with Hashimoto’s or Graves’ disease you should not take any additional iodine unless you solicit the advice of your healthcare provider.
Vegetarians and pregnant women are at greater risk for developing iodine deficiency.
Oftentimes, eating foods rich in iodine like seaweeds and seafood can provide enough, however, if you have a true deficiency you may require something that contains natural support for normal thyroid function. Iodine Synergy™ contains potassium iodide for the balanced production of thyroid hormones and also the health of breast and prostate tissue.
And, because your thyroid and your adrenal glands are connected, it is uncommon to have hypothyroidism without some level of adrenal fatigue. Adrenotone™ helps support the adrenal glands and puts back many of the nutrients depleted by chronic stress.
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Hypothyroidism can seem complicated at first look but once broken down to the basics, it can be understood well, and recovery is possible.
Let’s connect as I would love to work closely with you to customize a program to make sure you achieve optimal thyroid health.
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