Before her wedding, Mary Shomon, 33, started feeling tired and her hair started to fall off. Her doctor explained these symptoms as a pre-wedding stress-related issue, but she also started gaining weight, so she went to see him again.
Her doctor then said that her metabolism was changing, and advised her to change her lifestyle habits, and start exercising. She accepted his suggestions, but her symptoms remained.
After extensive tests, her diagnosis was that her thyroid was underactive.
Nowadays, 15 years later, Mary is the author of 8 books on thyroid disorders and treatment. She understood that if she didn’t take her symptoms seriously, she would have experienced severe consequences. Now, numerous people follow the guidelines from her bestseller called The Thyroid Diet.
“I talked with many people suffering from thyroid disorders who have been told they’re lazy or crazy. One woman told me that her doctor said that she was suffering from a fork-in-mouth disease!”
The AACE (American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists) reports that 27 million Americans are suffering from thyroid disease and half of them are undiagnosed. This is mostly due to the fact that the symptoms are too similar to the signs of other diseases.
Thyroid issues should not be ignored since hypo and hyperthyroidism lead to multiple health issues.
This gland releases hormones which have extremely important functions, and control the cholesterol issues, heart functions, fertility, the quality and health of our skin, hair and nails, metabolism, body temperature, muscle and joint pain, and the sex drive.
Researchers have found that hypothyroidism (under-active thyroid) is the culprit for 60% of all female heart attacks, and the main cause of heart disease, even more often than smoking, hypertension or high cholesterol levels.
Thyroid issues are linked to birth defects and miscarriage, and lower IQ in babies. Hyperthyroidism (over-active thyroid) is another extremely serious problem, linked to prediabetes, osteoporosis, and heart failure.
These diseases affect both sexes. Marcelle Rick from the Women to Women Health Care Center in Yarmouth, Maine, says that progesterone and estrogen imbalance are the causes of thyroid hormone imbalance.
She also claims that there is a link between women in their 30s or 40s in perimenopause and hypothyroidism.
This condition occurs when the work of the thyroid is slower and thus produces fewer thyroid hormones. This is most often a result of Hashimoto’s disease, which is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system cells attack the thyroid and impair its ability to produce hormones.
The main symptoms are muscle weakness, depression, losing focus, joint pain, weight gain, constipation, cold sensitivity, etc.
Hyperthyroidism, on the other hand, is a condition which occurs when the thyroid produces excessive amounts of the thyroid hormone, and it causes insomnia, diarrhea, arrhythmia, anxiety, irritability, trembling in the limbs, light menstrual flow, and excess sweating.
The swellings of the thyroid are known as thyroid nodules, and even half of the women older than 50 develop them. Yet, the cause of their incidence is still unknown, and they also do not cause any symptoms.
Yet, when they increase in size and block the airflow, they are linked to hyperthyroidism.
Thyroid cancer is not as severe issues as other cancer types, as it doesn’t cause any symptoms, grows and spreads slowly, and the elimination of the gland eliminates cancer as well.
Finally, goiters are growths on the thyroid whose cause is iodine deficiency, and might also be a side-effect of Hashimoto’s or Graves’ disease.
The most commonly prescribed drugs for thyroid disorders include Levoxyl, Unithroid, Synthroid or Levothroid. They are actually artificial thyroid hormones which jumpstart the gland and regulate the levels of thyroid hormones.
The advantage is that they do not cause any side-effects, but they are not very effective as well.
Mary, after 4 months on a Levoxyl therapy, decided to try some natural drug, as this one did not solve her issue. She switched to powdered pig thyroid, sold as Armour Thyroid or Nature-Throid, and it is the closest thing to human thyroid hormone.
It provides T3 and T4 hormones, while synthetic drugs provide only T4 hormones. Hence, as our body turns T4 to T3, synthetic drugs theoretically work by supplying the body with a small amount of T4 which jumpstarts the gland.
Yet, according to alternative medicine practitioners, the main problem is the improper work of the thyroid.
According to Mary Shomon, in order to support the proper function of the thyroid, one must change the lifestyle habits, including:
- regular exercise
- avoidance of white flour
- a healthy diet
- 7-8 hours sleep
- stress management
- vitamin and mineral supplements
The thyroid gland is part of the endocrine system, along with the pituitary and adrenal glands. They produce the most important hormones and thus regulate multiple processes in the body.
Mike Bauerschmidt, MD, says that if one suffers from a thyroid disorder, he needs to see if the problem is in that gland, or in the others.
According to Jennifer Greenfield, DC from North Carolina, adrenal hormone imbalance caused by stress or other factors might affect the production of cortisol and lead to hypothyroidism, while hyperthyroidism is a result of thyroid failure and rarely responds to alternative treatments.
Even alternative doctors believe that the best treatment of hyperthyroidism includes conventional medications due to the so-called “thyroid storm”, which is a life-threatening condition, and raises the heart rate and blood pressure.
The two thyroid disorders can be treated naturally, with the help of many remedies which detoxify the body and maintain a healthy balance.
These are the most effective ones:
Regular exercise will be of great help in the prevention of thyroid diseases. For best effects, you should exercise for 30 minutes daily, 3-4 times a week.
Experts also claim that yoga is extremely effective in preventing thyroid disorders and regulating the thyroid hormone production.
There are many beneficial foods which regulate the thyroid hormones.
Namely, sea veggies are high in iodine, salmon, sardines, walnuts, flaxseeds, and other omega-3 rich foods stimulate the production of thyroid hormones, Brazil nuts are rich in selenium, rice bran oil in gamma oryzanol, and fatty fish is abundant in vitamin D.
All these nutrients regulate the function of the thyroid. Moreover, make sure you reduce the caffeine intake, as it limits the absorption of medications in the thyroid. According to expert, it is best to drink tea or coffee an hour after taking thyroid medications.
Vitamins and Minerals
The proper amounts of zinc and magnesium in the body are extremely important, but patients with hypothyroidism also need to take selenium, vitamin A, vitamin B, and vitamin D3 supplements.
Vitamin B supplements help the production of thyroid hormones. In the case of an over-active thyroid, you should take 6-8 mg. of copper daily in order to inhibit the production of hormones.
At the beginning of the 20th century, iodine was added to salt as an attempt to prevent the goiter epidemic. Yet, many thyroid disorders are actually linked to iodine deficiency. Therefore, people who are deficient of it are advised to take 150-250 mg. of iodine supplements daily.
Cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower lower the iodine levels in the body and thus slow down the production of thyroid hormones.
Therefore, limit their intake, or cook them in the case of hypothyroidism.
Mark Hyman, MD, says that it is advisable that people suffering from thyroid disorders should take a gluten sensitivity test, as 30% of the people suffering from Hashimoto’s thyroiditis suffer from abnormal gluten reaction.
Moreover, Thom E. Lobe, MD, and director of the Beneveda Medical Group from California, maintains that soy might or might not be the cause of thyroid disorders.
He claims that “Soy might have an estrogenic effect, so it’s not recommended for younger women. ” Even though it hasn;t been scientifically confirmed, soy is considered goitrogenic, so he advises its avoidance.
Herbs and Supplements
Holly Lucille, ND, recommends the use of ashwagandha, licorice, and Siberian ginseng supplements daily to support the healthy function of the thyroid.
Also, in the case of hyperthyroidism, people can benefit from stoneseed, and the ayurvedic herbs like manjistha and guggul detoxify the thyroid.
To regulate the production of thyroid hormones and lower adrenal stress, you should find a way to effectively reduce your stress levels.
Heavy Metals and Chemical Detox
The production of thyroid hormones might also be affected by heavy metals like lead, and mercury, chemicals, pollutants, and toxins from the air. Due to this, Lucille recommends detoxifying the thyroid every two weeks.
Additionally, Hyman suggests going to the sauna or a steam bath a few times a week, in order to sweat out the heavy metals. You should begin with 10 minutes, and then gradually increase the duration to 30-40.
You will also benefit a lot from soaking in a bath with 2 cups of Epsom salt and 8 ounces of baking soda.
Jeannette Painovich, an acupuncturist from LA, says that acupuncture can resolve thyroid disorders as it actually fixes all the imbalances in the body. She believes that hypothyroidism should be treated as a spleen qi deficiency, and relieves the phlegm with some herbs.
Hyperthyroidism in the Traditional Chinese medicine is identified as liver qi depression and is therefore treated with the herbs chen pi and chai hu.
Some experts believe that the improperly aligned neck vertebrae might affect the nerves that control the thyroid and thus lead to thyroid disorders.
Air And Water Filters
According to Hyman, the fluoride and chlorine in water might affect the iodine absorption in the gland, and air pollutants, mold, and allergens can also lead to thyroid disorders.
Hence, it would be beneficial to install a water filter at home and use HEPA air purifiers in order to prevent such issues.