Thyroid Disorders

What is Thyroid Disorders

Hyperthyroidism

This disorder occurs when the thyroid gland produces too much thyroid hormone, resulting in an overactive metabolic state. All of the body’s processes speed up with this disorder. Symptoms include nervousness, irritability, a constant feeling of being hot, increase perspiration, insomnia and fatigue and many others.

The most common type of this disorder is Grave’s disease. Many cases of hyperthyroidism is believed to result from an abnormal immune response. The exact cause is not understood, but the immune system can produce antibodies that invade and attack the thyroid, disrupting hormone production. Although no single immunological abnormality explains all of the clinical features of the disease, the common denominator is the presence of antibodies against receptors in the thyroid for thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH). TSH receptor antibodies or thyroid stimulating immunoglobins are present in 80% of cases of Grave’s disease. About 25% to 30% of people with Grave’s disease will also suffer from Grave’s ophthalmopathy (a protrusion of one or both eyes), in which the eye muscles become inflamed, attacking autoantibodies.

There are many causes of hyperthyroidism but the main ones are stress, emotional shock, genetics, smoking, diet.

Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism is caused by an underproduction of thyroid hormone. Symptoms include, chronic fatigue, inability to tolerate cold, low body temperature, a slow hear rate, easy weight gain, elevated cholesterol, dry/scaly skin and others.

The thyroid gland is body’s internal thermostat, regulating the temperature by secreting two hormones that control how quickly the body burns calories and uses energy. Thyroid problems can cause many recurring illnesses and fatigue. The thyroid can be affected by poor diet, fluoride in the water, excessive consumption of unsaturated fats, endurance exercise, pesticide residues on fruits and vegetables, alcohol and drugs.

A condition called Hashimoto’s disease is believed to be the most common cause of underactive thyroid. In this disorder, the body in effect becomes allergic to thyroid hormone. It then produces antibodies against its own thyroid tissue. Measuring levels of different hormones in the blood can determine if the thyroid gland is working properly. When thyroid hormone levels in the blood are low, the pituitary gland secretes TSH, if a blood test shows that thyroid hormone levels are low and TSH levels are elevated in the blood, it usually indicates defective thyroid hormone synthesis. This situation is termed primary hypothyroidism. If TSH levels are low and thyroid hormone levels are also low, this indicates that the pituitary gland is responsible for the low thyroid function and this situation is termed secondary hypothyroidism. In subclinical hypothyroidism, TSH is elevated while serum thyroid hormone levels are normal, so symptoms of hypothyroidism in the absence of laboratory findings are more accurately called hypothyroid syndrome.

Considerations

Hyperthyroidism

The chief objective of the natural treatment of Grave’s disease and hyperthyroidism is to reduce symptoms while trying to re-establish normal thyroid status. Initially, it is recommended to use antithyroid drugs to reduce the immediate severity of symptoms. Recommended dietary and lifestyle measures may lower the required dose or duration of antithyroid drugs. Practical steps include reduction of risk factors. Stress control is important in normalization of the thyroid, and counselling can prevent a return to stress-generating life strategies.

Patients with autoimmune thyroid disease are more likely than the general population to suffer from celiac disease and/or gluten sensitivity. Therefore, these conditions must be ruled out. Assessment of gut health is particularly important because of the close relationship with immune health and antibodies production. Also, identification of food allergies and avoidance of problematic foods. It is also important to keep in mind that the diet may need to be higher in calories to compensate for the increase in metabolism. Malabsorption occurs, so a proper diet is important.

Hypothyroidism

The medical treatment of hypothyroidism involves the use of synthetic thyroid hormone. At this time, it appears that thyroid hormone replacement is necessary in the majority of people with hypothyroidism. But also, it is important to nutritionally support the thyroid gland by ensuring adequate intake of key nutrients required in the body’s manufacture of thyroid hormone.

Natural treatment strategies for normalizing thyroid function vary depending on whether there is an autoimmune hypothyroid condition, clinical hypothyroidism, subclinical hypothyroidism. Thera are two basic facts underlying the diet-disease connection:

  • a diet rich in plant food is protective against hypothyroidism.
  • a low intake of plant foods is a causative factor and provides conditions under which causative factors are more active.

We also recommend the assessment of body’s nutritional status which may reveal vitamin/mineral deficiencies which in turn could be hindering thyroid hormone production and also ruling out gluten sensitivity, as gluten may lead to the formation of thyroid-related autoantibodies in sensitive individuals.

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