Author: Tessa Finney-Brown.
The thyroid gland is a small glandular organ that sits at the front of the throat. It produces the hormones T3 and T4. These govern the body’s metabolic processes, including growth and energy usage. A poorly functioning thyroid may fail to produce enough T3 and T4, which can lead to a number of symptoms. These symptoms are quite vague, and so are often missed or misdiagnosed. A person may simply feel ‘not quite right’, or drained a lot of the time.
Some of the symptoms of low thyroid function may include:
- Low body temperature, or always being cold/colder than everyone else around. Having cold hands and feet may also be a sign here.
- Feeling really tired and lethargic.
- Being ‘moody’ or depressed.
- Forgetfulness and inability to concentrate (have you lost focus on this list?)
- Weight gain, or inability to lose weight.
- Coarse, dry hair, skin and nails. Sometimes people even have hair loss – particularly on the outer third of the eyebrows.
- Aches and pains, including carpal tunnel syndrome.
- Muscle cramps.
- Changes to the menstrual cycle.
- Lower sex drive.
Not all of these symptoms will necessarily be present. In addition, someone with hypothyroidism may have other symptoms. Finally, you may have these symptoms for another reason. See why I said it was vague!?
The good news is that thyroid function can be accurately assessed by a Naturopath with the use of blood tests, body temperature charting and iodine spot tests or patch tests.
There are many reasons for lowered thyroid function, and thus natural treatments may vary. Sometimes, people may simply not have enough of the nutrients needed to make and convert thyroid hormones. These include iodine, tyrosine and selenium. Autoimmune problems can be another reason for an under-functioning thyroid.
In addition to the nutrients above, there are also many herbs that may assist. Bacopa, Withania, Kelp and Coleus are considered to help raise levels of thyroid hormones in the body and Rehmannia may assist in reducing the inflammation of the gland, in autoimmune conditions. Rhodiola, the herb that is famous for giving the Vikings their incredible strength, may also improve thyroid function.
Diet-wise, I would also recommend avoiding foods that may suppress thyroid function. These include uncooked broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale and spinach (although cooked is great!). Also soy, apples, millet, walnuts, pine nuts, peanuts and excessive amounts of linseeds may be detrimental in some cases. Recommendations would be different for each individual, so if you’re not finding any relief, please feel free to come in for a consultation to get to the root of the problem.