Vernon Morning Star May 26, 2006

Natural Medicine for Your Thyroid

Are you suffering from fatigue, weight gain, depression, muscle aches, joint pain, loss of mental clarity and function, dry skin, brittle hair, hair loss, constipation, a constant feeling of being cold or high cholesterol?  You may have a sluggish thyroid or hypothyroidism.  While historically 25% of women and 10% of men are diagnosed, a 20 year follow-up study reported in the 2000 British Medical Journal that 50% the population has an under active thyroid.

The thyroid gland is located in your neck and it is the master gland of metabolism.  It’s the master engine of your body, regulating the metabolic rate of all the other glands, controlling all the physical and chemical processes that occur in the cells to allow growth and maintain body functions.  It is like the accelerator of a car.  When it malfunctions, you malfunction.

The thyroid produces several hormones, of which two are critical: T4 (thyroxine) and T3 (triiodothyronine), responsible for helping oxygen enter the cells.  T4 is converted to the active T3 outside the thyroid gland in the tissues.

If your thyroid is suspected, a thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) test is done to determine if your thyroid is receiving extra stimulation from the pituitary gland to make more T4.  If your TSH is high, the usual medication is synthetic T4 (Synthroid, Levothyroxine), to make up for the short fall of T4 in your blood. 

The natural medicine approach to an under active thyroid gland is to discover the underlying reason for the condition and correct any deficiencies:

  • Correct Vitamin and Mineral Deficiencies
  • Iodine is an essential mineral for the treatment of under active thyroid.
  • Zinc, Vitamin E and Vitamin A are required for the production of thyroid hormone.
  • Iron, selenium and copper are needed to convert T4 to the active T3.
  • Vitamin D is essential for the production of thyroid hormone.  In B.C. where we have low exposure to sunlight during the winter months, there are higher rates of low thyroid.

Treat Your Adrenal Gland First
A thyroid disorder may be a symptom of adrenal stress.  The adrenal gland problem must therefore be treated first or at the same time as the thyroid problem.  The reason is that hydrocortisone produced by the adrenals is needed to convert T4 to the active T3.  If you have a weak adrenal, you may actually feel worse on thyroid medication.

The Liver Connection
The liver takes T4 produced by the thyroid and converts it into the useable active form T3.  Many people are poor converters of T4 to T3 due to problems with their livers and poor nutrition.

Stress in all forms is bad news for your thyroid.  Therefore, stress management and stress release are critical elements for improvement.  This includes relaxation, exercise and nutrition.

Get the Metals Out
Heavy metal detoxification can remove blockages that affect cell function and metabolism, including thyroid, liver and adrenal function.

If your thyroid is in need of immediate relief and you do not want to take synthetic drugs, natural desiccated thyroid from bovine sources is available.  This natural thyroid has both T4 and the active T3.  Many patients respond quickly to this natural desiccated source of thyroid.  But you still have to go back and work at improving your adrenals, thyroid and liver, so that you can reduce your thyroid medication and get your thyroid back on track.

With as many as 1 in 2 women with symptoms and potential under active thyroid glands, this is a serious condition.  Natural medicines work by addressing the root cause of your thyroid problem, including all the nutritional, stress and emotional factors that affect recovery.