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Thyroid Health

Depressed womanYour thyroid is a butterfly shaped gland that sits on the lower anterior part of your neck. The thyroid gland has many important functions that are crucial to the proper function of your body.

  • Metabolism: Your thyroid controls how efficiently you burn calories. People with “sluggish” thyroids tend to have trouble maintaining a healthy weight.
  • Endocrine Function: Thyroid hormone will influence the proper function of Progesterone, Estrogen and Testosterone. Fertility issues can partly be the result of a dysfunctional thyroid gland.
  • Protein Synthesis: People with hypothyroid will often times notice problems with hair loss, dry skin and brittle nails.
  • Mental Clarity: your brain has many thyroid receptors, a lack of thyroid hormone will often lead to “brain fog”, depression and/or anxiety.
  • Digestive issues: constipation is a common result of a hypo functioning thyroid gland
  • Body Temperature: having a “sluggish thyroid” will often times result in lower body temperature and an intolerance to cold. The basal body temperature test can be an indication of an underactive thyroid gland.

First thing in the morning before getting out of bed place a thermometer (preferably non digital) under your arm. Do this 3 mornings in a row, recording the temperature each morning and calculate the average. An average  temperature of below 97.8 is indicative of a hypo functioning thyroid.

Here are some of the common signs/symptoms of hypothyroid:

  • Fatigue
  • Hair Loss
  • Constipation
  • Weight gain
  • Depression
  • High Cholesterol
  • Dry skin
  • Brittle Nails
  • Always feeling Cold
  • Loss of outer 1/2 of eyebrows

Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis

Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune condition that is the number one cause of hypothyroidism. Autoimmunity is a genetic predisposition to having your immune system attack your own tissues. Rheumatoid arthritis attacks your joints. Multiple sclerosis attacks your nerves and Hashimoto’s attacks your thyroid gland. This  genetic condition is why it is common to see thyroid conditions run in families. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is not a result of your thyroid gland misbehaving, it’s the result of a dis-regulated immune system. Your thyroid is literally under attack by your immune system. Sadly, orthodox medical treatment only addresses the thyroid gland and never gives the over reactive immune response a second glance. This symptom based approach is one reason why many people who are prescribed thyroid medication don’t feel any better.

Most people with Hashimito’s thyroiditis don’t even know they have it, because they never have been adequately tested. Those fortunate souls who have been properly diagnosed are usually just put on thyroid medication. Medication  may help a lot or not at all. Reason being is is the root cause of the problem was never addressed, which is the immune system. It saddens me to see how many people (mostly women) are needlessly suffering with this condition.

Let’s talk a bit about thyroid hormones. The majority of the hormones your thyroid makes are T4 and T3. T4 is the most abundant hormone made by the thyroid (80%). This hormone is inactive, meaning it has no physiological effect on your body. T3 is much less abundant however it is the hormone that binds to your cell receptor sites and is responsible for the amazing effects on your body.

Many people who suffer from low thyroid symptoms actually have thyroid glands that are working perfectly well, their thyroid gland makes plenty of thyroid hormone. The problem is one of inadequate thyroid conversion. Inactive (T4) needs to convert to active (T3) in order for your body to realize the effects of thyroid hormone. Conversion of T4 to T3 happens primarily in the liver and to a lesser degree the gut. There are a lot of people in America with sluggish livers and unhealthy guts.

Guess what else affects the conversion of T4 to T3…STRESS! The stress hormone cortisol will slow down your thyroid function.

If we don’t have adequate nutrients in our diet the thyroid may not be able to produce thyroid hormone. Some important nutrients are iodine, selenium, zinc and B vitamins.

The above thyroid conditions can be properly evaluated with the right blood panel. The blood work done during your yearly physical rarely includes adequate thyroid testing.  Fortunately there are direct to consumer labs that will run the test for a fraction of the price. You can get a full thyroid panel done for under $150 compared to around $800.

If you’re too tired to get out on the Swamp Rabbit Trail or if you gain 10 pounds just looking at a delicious Sidewall Pizza, you may want to think about having a closer look at your thyroid.

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