What is hypothyroidism?
Thyroid problems are quite common. Hypothyroidism is the name for the under production of thyroid hormones. Thyroid disease is often under-diagnosed and could even be missed if you do not get a complete thyroid panel. Often only a TSH gets checked and if it is within the normal range, there is no further blood work. If your blood work result is at the lower or upper part of the range that might not be optimal for you. Sub clinical hypothyroidism involves the beginning of hypothyroid symptoms and slightly elevated TSH result. Even people with subclinical hypothyroidism would benefit from treating thyroid to restore their energy.
Why is thyroid important?
Balancing your thyroid hormones is an important piece of the puzzle if you suffer from fatigue and chronic symptoms such as hair loss, weight gain, memory issues, constipation.
The thyroid is a small gland located in front of your neck. It produces two major thyroid hormones T4, the inactive form (which is about 93% of the thyroid hormone production) and T3, the active form of thyroid hormone. If your thyroid functions well and the body has the right nutrients, T4 converts well to T3. But if this process is impaired due to several causes- see below, you are left with a low T3. T3 is important for your energy, memory, weight, constipation, infertility issues, cholesterol balance.
Hypothyroidism: how does a low thyroid function affect your health?
Here are a few symptoms of low thyroid:
- High cholesterol
- Dry skin
- Poor concentration and memory
- Low-grade depression, sluggishness
- Sensitivity to cold and low body temperature
- Low sex drive
- Fluid retention
- Muscle pains.
How is a functional medicine approach different than a conventional medical treatment?
We know that several culprits contribute to hypothyroidism.
1. Stress. The more stressed you are the worst your thyroid function gets. There is strong connection between the adrenal hormone, cortisol and the thyroid hormones. An integrative medicine approach to addressing a sluggish thyroid has to address the effects of chronic stress on the body.
2. Diet. There are foods that create more inflammation in the body. As an example of gluten is the protein found in wheat barley, rye, spelt and oats. Through the phenomenon called “molecular mimicry” the body makes antibodies against gluten or other foods. These antibodies circulate through the body and start attacking the thyroid gland, which is an autoimmune process. Many patients with hypothyroid have Hashimoto’s disease, which is an auto- immune process that affects the thyroid.
3. Nutrient deficiencies play a big role in thyroid function. Proper thyroid hormone production and conversion needs certain nutrients such as iodine, selenium, zinc, B vitamins. Deficiencies in these nutrients can affect the thyroid function.
4. Gut permeability or “leaky gut” can contribute to the autoimmune process and nutrient deficiencies.
5. Exposure to environmental toxins or pesticides which act as hormone disruptors or heavy metals such as mercury can also affect thyroid.
How do I approach somebody with hypothyroid symptoms and restore their hormonal balance?
We first go through a thorough questionnaire pinpointing certain key symptoms that may have been missed. I perform a detailed physical exam and look for clues for nutrient deficiencies and physical symptoms of hypothyroidism. I then order specific blood tests that are looking at both hormonal imbalance and nutrient deficiencies. Then based on the results we design a personalized lifestyle, nutritional and supplements regimen, plus a hormone replacement plan if needed to help people rebalance their thyroid health.
If you are ready to address your thyroid issues with a comprehensive approach please call us for an appointment!