What is hypothyroidism?
The thyroid gland is one of the most important glands of our body. If the thyroid gland ceases to function correctly, it can cause many types of conditions, including hypothyroidism, and hyperthyroidism. Hypothyroidism happens when the body is unable to produce sufficient thyroid hormones. The thyroid gland is responsible for releasing the thyroid hormones, which have a role to play in regulating and using the energy in the body. Hypothyroidism is also known as an underactive thyroid, and it tends to affect women more than men.
The most common symptoms of hypothyroidism include:
• Feeling cold
• Dry skin
• Weight gain
• Muscle weakness
• Slowed heart rate
• Dry, thinning hair
• Pain and stiffness in the joints
• Elevated levels of blood cholesterol
• Puffy, sensitive face
• Muscle tenderness, aches, and stiffness
• Impaired memory
What is Naturopathy’s View Of Hypothyroidism
There are many causes of hypothyroidism, including nutritional, genetic, and immune system-related. Naturopathic medicine doctors treat hypothyroidism from the source of the issue. The two main types of hypothyroidism, with numerous contributing factors, are:
a) Autoimmune thyroid disease (Hashimoto’s) is the most common cause of hypothyroidism. This is a form of thyroid inflammation caused by the individual’s own immune system. People with other autoimmune diseases like diabetes type 1, celiac disease, and RA have a higher incidence of autoimmune thyroid disease.
b) Pituitary hypothyroidism, in which the thyroid gland just is not producing enough hormone, is often influenced by nutritional and environmental variables including gastrointestinal system inflammation, vitamin and nutrient deficiencies or imbalances, elevated levels of cortisol (due to prolonged stress or oral steroid use), or elevated estrogen.
In most cases, the treatment for hypothyroidism revolves around taking a synthetic version of the thyroid hormone in a pill form for the rest of your life. While most doctors prescribe this treatment, many licensed naturopathic practitioners have various practical and natural approaches for treating hypothyroidism. In fact, apart from natural remedies for hypothyroidism, even people having hyperthyroidism find relief with naturopathy. Hyperthyroidism natural treatments, though, are different from hypothyroid natural treatments.
Read on to learn more about thyroid treatment in naturopathy.
Naturopathic treatment options for hypothyroidism
Naturopathic doctors test for common nutrient deficiencies associated with hypothyroidism, and nutritional supplements as needed.
– Vitamin B-12 is quite essential for thyroid production. It helps enhance cellular response to thyroid hormone and promotes energy production in cells to aid with fatigue and other symptoms associated with hypothyroidism.
– Selenium supports effective thyroid gland and metabolism and has been found in studies to decrease thyroid antibody levels in patients with Hashimoto’s.
– Zinc is beneficial in improving thyroid function and hormone levels and has been shown in studies to have a beneficial impact on thyroid function in obese females.
Selenium for Thyroid
Research from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), have shown that selenium, a trace element, has a huge role to play in the metabolism of the thyroid hormone. Many foods that are found on the market today generally contain selenium, including:
• Brazil nuts
• Grass-fed beef
• Enriched foods such as pasta, whole wheat bread, and whole-grain cereals
• Cottage cheese
• Sunflower seeds
• Brown rice
• Baked beans
• Milk and yogurt
• Cashew Nuts
In 1992, a study published in the journal Endocrine Review helped establish the role of selenium in thyroid hormone action. Then in 1993, another study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that selenium deficiency can be a cause of thyroid problems, including hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidisim.
Supplementing your body with selenium has shown to help in balancing T4, or thyroxine, which is one of the main thyroid hormones in many people. However, if you are in doubt about how much selenium you need, it is best to discuss with your doctor as every person’s need for selenium is different.
Vitamin B and Hypothyroidism
There are many different types of thyroid treatment in naturopathy that are available today. One such remedy revolves around the importance of vitamin B. Taking certain vitamin supplements can have a profound effect on your thyroid health. This is because when you have hypothyroidism, the low levels of thyroid hormones have a direct impact on the body’s vitamin B-12 levels. By taking a supplement of vitamin B-12, you are able to help in repairing some of the damage caused by hypothyroidism.
Vitamin B-12 is also known to help deal with the fatigue that is caused by hypothyroidism. In fact, a deficiency of vitamin B-12 has been known to affect patients who have autoimmune thyroid disease.
At the same time, thyroid disease is also known to have an impact on the body’s vitamin B-1 levels. By increasing your consumption of the following foods, you will be able to add more B vitamins to your diet:
Taking supplements of vitamin B-12 is considered to be safe for almost all healthy adults but at recommended daily levels. However, if you have any of the following conditions, then you need to take vitamin B-12 supplements with caution and preferably only take it after consulting your doctor:
• Skin disorders
• Heart disorder
• High blood pressure or hypertension
• Discolored urine
• History of cancer
• Stomach issues
• Blood clotting disorders
• Anemia that is caused by abnormal potassium levels
• Increased uric acid or gout
Even if you do not have any of these conditions, it is still recommended that you consult your doctor to find out just how much of vitamin B-12 you need.
Probiotics and Hypothyroidism
When it comes to hypothyroidism and naturopathy, the best part is that there are seldom any side effects of these natural remedies. Another natural remedy for hypothyroidism is the regular use of probiotics.
A study by NIH established a solid link between hypothyroidism and problems in the small intestine. These problems also included an overgrowth of bacteria such as yeast.
Probiotics are a type of supplement that contains live bacteria that keeps your intestines and stomach healthy. Probiotics also increase the number of good bacteria present in your gut.
Apart from being available in a supplement form, you can also get useful probiotics in fermented foods and drinks, including raw cheese, kefir, kombucha, and yogurt.
However, it is essential to note here that the US Food and Drug Administration has not approved the use of probiotics for the prevention or treatment of hypothyroidism. So it is always better to consult your doctor before you begin using probiotic supplements.
Healing Herbs for Hypothyroidism
There are several healing herbs which have been proven to benefit thyroid function, such as adaptogens like Ashwagandha, which was demonstrated to boost thyroid function for subclinical hypothyroid patients. Adaptogens are herbs that work on many body functions simultaneously to help balance out dysfunction and regulate metabolic processes. They’re used with caution, but in people who have autoimmune thyroid disease as some botanicals can stimulate the immune system reaction. Other herbs like gum guggal may be utilized in all sorts of hypothyroidism as they help to convert the inactive form of T4 to the active type of T3. Any herbal treatment ought to be prescribed by a professional trained in herbal medicine to lessen side effects, prevent undesirable drug/herb interactions, and optimize treatment efficacy.
Regulation of thyroid function can be complicated and requires a whole-person strategy. Naturopathic doctors lead with natural therapies that address underlying causes and encourage the body to restore optimal health.
There are many advantages to adopting a natural treatment plan for hypothyroidism. It far outweighs the disadvantages and side effects associated with prescription medicines. However, if you have undergone surgery to have your thyroid gland removed, then a naturopathy treatment plan for hypothyroidism is not meant for you.
Furthermore, apart from these natural remedies, it is also recommended that you maintain a well-balanced diet as it can help you feel good and even ward off other diseases. It is always important to eat a balanced and nutritious diet, but at the same time, do not go overboard with just one type of food, no matter how healthy the choice might be. There are no specific foods that are good for hypothyroidism, so choose from a wide range of fresh fruits and vegetables and try to eat the colorful ones such as grapes and berries to get lots of healthy antioxidants in your body.
As with any treatment, you should always discuss any natural remedies with your doctor before you start them.