According to the National Women’s Health Information Center there are 20 million Americans suffering from some type of thyroid disorder. A whopping one in eight women in the United States will be impacted by thyroid disorder in their lives (from the American Medical Women’s Association). Are you one of them?
Thyroid disorders and thyroid disease can have a negative impact on just about every area of your life. From weight issues to depression and anxiety, the thyroid gland is vital to keeping your physical, mental, and emotional life balanced and healthy. And what’s more is it’s estimated that about half of those in the world suffering with thyroid issues are completely unaware this is the root of their problem.
Basics on the Thyroid Gland
The thyroid is a gland located at the base of the throat that controls many aspects of metabolism. The thyroid produces hormones that enable our body to carry out many vital functions. Two of the most talked about hormones the thyroid produces are T3 (triiodothyronine) and T4 (thyroxine). These two hormones, once released by the thyroid, travel through the body via the bloodstream converting oxygen and calories into energy for the body to use.
Iodine plays an important, yet often overlooked role, in regards to the thyroid and body functions. Iodine and amino acids are converted by the thyroid to the hormones T3 and T4. Too much or too little iodine can impact this important process.
Two Types of Thyroid Disorders
When it comes to thyroid disorders, generally speaking, the sufferer usually is experiencing hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism. There are other thyroid issues but the majority of cases fall into one of these two groups.
In the case of hypothyroidism, the thyroid doesn’t produce enough of the thyroid hormones T3 or T4 or both. According to the America Thyroid Association in the United States the most common reason for hypothyroidism is a condition called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, where the body mistakenly attacks the thyroid thus compromising its functioning and its production of hormones. However, on a worldwide level, a lack of iodine in the diet is the number one cause of hypothyroidism.
Symptoms of Hypothyroidism:
- Dry hair, skin
- Unexplainable weight gain
- Muscle weakness and discomfort
Hyperthyroidism on the other hand is when the body has too much of the needed thyroid hormones. According to the American Thyroid Association, the number one cause of hyperthyroidism is Graves’ disease, but lumps on the thyroid or taking too much T4 in tablet form can also be a contributing factor for hyperthyroidism.
Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism:
- Racing heart
- Unexplained weight loss
- High amounts of perspiration
- Muscle weakness
- Multiple bowel movements
- Thin, brittle hair
Treatments for Thyroid Disorders
As you can see, hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism are basically the opposite problems. One is too much of the needed hormone and the other is too little. Therefore treatment for each is very different. In one case we want more of the thyroid hormones and in the other case the sufferer needs less of that same hormone.
The options for treatment differ depending on each patient’s particular disorder and the specifics of their case.
When it comes to hypothyroidism, the body is in need of more thyroid hormones. One common treatment in the medical world is taking synthetic thyroxine or T4. There are a number of types of T4 prescription available. Most people respond to this therapy but there are those who don’t.
In these cases the sufferer sometimes takes a combination of the synthetic version of T4 and T3 to help.
In the case of hyperthyroidism, in the United States the most common treatment is the use of radioactive iodine, aka radioiodine. When taken into the body the thyroid immediately absorbs this iodine. This treatment usually takes a few weeks or months to curb the hyperthyroidism.
Other options are drugs which stop the production of the thyroid hormone or surgery to remove a large amount of the actual thyroid gland. All of these treatments run the risk of side effects, are costly, and aren’t always effective.
All Natural Treatment Options for Thyroid Disorders
It is possible to use more natural methods to encourage your thyroid to produce more or less T4 and T3. Let’s look specifically at hypothyroidism and diet.
As stated earlier, most cases of hypothyroidism worldwide are from a lack of iodine. Increasing your iodine intake can help your thyroid produce more of its needed hormones.
One of the best ways to get more iodine in your diet is through consuming kelp. Kelp is a type of algae or seaweed that contains more than sixty vital nutrients including minerals, amino acids, and yes, iodine. Kelp is also an excellent source of potassium, iron, magnesium, and calcium.
Kelp can be consumed fresh, dried, or cooked. It can be eaten alone or as an ingredient in a meal. Kelp is often dried and used as a garnish for many dishes. You can find kelp at your local health food store or Asian market.
Many users of kelp to treat their hypothyroidism swear by its effectiveness in helping them regulate their thyroid without the use of drugs.
Hypothyroidism isn’t always caused by lack of iodine. In fact, if you take iodine or kelp and feel like you’re getting worse, make sure you consult with your physician and get your levels rechecked. It can also be caused from heavy metal toxicity like mercury. Heavy metals from amalgam fillings and vaccines have an affinity for the thyroid and can disrupt your hormone balance and thyroid function. So I also recommend reducing toxic exposures and consider seeing a holistic dentist who can remove the silver (amalgam) fillings using the DAMS protocol and bring you through a proper detox program as well.
Also, correcting any loss of cervical lordosis of your spine can help. In which, case going through a program of corrective chiropractic care would be greatly beneficial.
If you think you may be suffering from a thyroid disorder it’s vital to first get the correct diagnosis. Once you confirm you have a thyroid disorder begin to explore your treatment options by finding the root cause of your condition. When you (and your doctor) determine a lack of iodine could be the entire cause or a contributing factor to your hypothyroidism consider adding kelp to your diet.
If you decide to add kelp to your foods you have many options. But be cautioned if you opt for kelp tablets and consult your health care practitioner to determine the right amount to take on a daily basis. Be sure not to take over that amount or you could then be dealing with hyperthyroidism.
Remember with any health issue it’s wise to first consult nature and your diet in order to help the body restore its own natural balance. Your body does the right thing at the right time. Remove the interference (toxicity or deficiency) and let the body heal.