Sunday, December 6, 2015

Thyroid Problems

The thyroid is controlled by the hypothalamus and pituitary…remember those little guys?

The thyroid is one of the largest endocrine glands in the body. It is found in the neck just below the laryngeal prominence (Adam’s apple). The thyroid controls how quickly the body burns energy, makes proteins, and how sensitive the body should be to other hormones.  The thyroid participates in these processes by producing thyroid hormones, principally thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). These hormones regulate the rate of metabolism and affect the growth and rate of function of many other systems in the body. Iodine is an essential component of both T3 and T4. 

The thyroid also produces the hormone calcitonin, which plays a role in calcium balance or homeostasis
Homeostasis is the state of normal function (‘natural health’ to us).  We believe this is what the body will bring itself to when given all that is needed by it, i.e. minerals, vitamins, enzymes, amino acids, fatty acids, and all the other tiny pieces of the puzzle science thinks it has figured out.

Let’s talk about what wrong looks like.  So many times in our society we just get used to dysfunction and start to think that it’s normal.  Well, it’s not!  Chronic fatigue is not normal.  Wild weight gain is not normal.  Neither is wild weight loss.  The thyroid can be the source of these and other metabolic problems, but often it is not the root cause.  We need to start expecting ‘health professionals’ to help fix the problem—not patch the effects of the problem until some other effect pops up from the so-called treatment.

Hypothyroidism  Signs and symptoms include:

  • Fatigue and weakness 
  • Weight gain with low calorie diet 
  • Morning headaches that wear off thru the day 
  • Depression 
  • Constipation 
  • Hypersensitive to cold weather 
  • Poor circulation/numbness in hands/feet
  • Muscle cramps while at rest
  • More sleep needed to function normally
  • Immune system problems
  • Dry or brittle hair
  • Loss of hair/falls out easily
  • Dry skin
  • Low axillary temp (armpit)
  • Facial edema
  • Loss of outside portion of eyebrows 

Hypothyroidism is the underproduction of T3 and T4.  It can be caused by congenital abnormalities, auto-immune disorders, iodine deficiency, or damage/removal of the thyroid.  It is often treated by giving synthetic hormone replacers. 

There are two types of deficiency in the hormone/ nutrional world—primary and secondary.  Primary is when the needed nutrient/hormone is not physically present.  Secondary is when the nutrients/ hormones are present but not able to be metabolized or used in the needed way.  For example, Iodine is the primary nutrient needed for the thyroid to make T3 and T4.  However it also must have amino acids (Tyrosine) from the breakdown of proteins in order to transport that Iodine. 

Also, keep in mind those ‘master glands’ the Hypothalamus and Pituitary—if they’re not getting what they need they’re not going to direct the Thyroid correctly either.

Talk about a ‘chicken or the egg’ conundrum!  Maybe a better first approach would be a diet change to balance ph, provide enzymes, supply non-GMO fresh and local proteins, carbs, and fats, and try a quality whole food vitamin/mineral supplement.  Why not try this before taking synthetic hormones?  The monetary price tag may be higher for this route because most health insurance doesn’t subsidize it, but hey-you can’t wait on the government to get things right! :)

Thyroid issues are so common Young Living founder D. Gary Young formulated a supplement specifically for it.  It’s called Thyromin and it contains the amino acids L-Tyrosine, L-Cystine, L-Cysteine HCL, Iodine from kelp, Potassium, glandular extracts (Pituitary and others) from porcine, Vitamin E, and several herbs traditionally used to support the Thyroid.  *

Productive exercises common this time of year are snow shoveling and raking leaves.  If you need a hard work out, try adding a HIIT workout in between shoveling your neighbors sidewalk.  HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) has a higher pay-off metabolically for a smaller time investment--usually 20 minutes or less if you're not cheating yourself.  Check out some of the free apps for workout generators available on your phone.  I love snow shoveling and raking leaves in the cool weather as part of a warm up or cool down activity before or after exercise.

Another diet tweak to try if you don't already is sprouted grains.  The nutritional value of grains after sprouting is much greater than before.  The extra enzyme, protein, mineral, and vitamin content supports healthy endocrine function.  The easiest one we've found is the humble lentil.  I'll soak a cup of the dry lentils in a 2 quart mason jar with 3 cups of water (they really expand a lot!) overnight.  In the morning I rinse well and pour them into a stainless steel colander on a plate with a dish towel over top and leave at room temp.  By dinner time that night the magic lentils will have popped open and started to send out their shoot.  These are perfect tender nuggets for salads or added to soups and stews after the cooking is done on cold winter days.

A small step in the right direction of our health journey is to balance ph—next time we’ll talk about how and why to do it (did you know Iodine has a very narrow range of body ph where it can be used effectively?). 

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*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA.  This information is for informational purposes only—it’s your body and nobody cares more about it than you!  This information is not meant to diagnose, treat, or prescribe anything.  If you feel you have a medical need, see the healthcare provider of your choice.

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