Thyroid disorders affect upwards of millions of people around the world and 80% of incidences affect women. Regardless, thyroid health is an issue of importance for both men and women. Your thyroid is part of your endocrine system and if it’s out of whack, it’s almost certain that your hormones will be as well. A healthy thyroid gland encourages positive well-being, metabolism, and energy levels. If your thyroid isn’t functioning properly, concerns can result. Let’s take a look at the five most common.
Hyperthyroidism is when the thyroid is overactive and produces an overabundance of T3/T4 hormones.
Symptoms of hyperthyroidism include goiter, heart palpitations, anxiety, excess sweating, diarrhea, weight loss, and muscle weakness. Its causes are as diverse as its symptoms. Conventional approaches to hyperthyroidism include beta blockers and anti-thyroid medications, radioactive iodine, and surgery. Natural approaches are numerous and often boil down to one thing: diet.
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Nascent iodine, lithium orotate, probiotics, vitamin D3, omega-3 fats, L-dopa (mucuna pruriens), and L-tyrosine are supplements that can help support thyroid health. Getting enough sleep, deep breathing meditation, and general relaxation may also be helpful for reducing thyroid stress.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, an under active thyroid which produces inadequate amounts of T3/T4 thyroid hormones is defined as hypothyroidism.
Symptoms include tiredness, weight gain, cold intolerance, baldness, depression, dry skin/hair/nails, and irritability. Common causes include a thyroid deficiency from birth, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, nutritional iodine deficiency, pituitary gland abnormality, metal toxicity, and imbalance of good vs. bad bacteria. The conventional approach is a synthetic hormone called Levothyroxine.
With the exception of increasing exercise, the natural steps to reduce risk for hypothyroidism are exactly the same for hyperthyroidism. Exercise may help boost thyroid hormones, providing support for a sluggish, under active gland.
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Hashimoto’s disease is an autoimmune disorder whereby the thyroid gland is attacked by the immune system in response to antibodies produced by exposure to an allergen. This reacts with the cells and tissues of the thyroid, causing inflammation and destruction of the gland, ultimately leading to hyperthyroidism followed by hypothyroidism.
Fatigue, cold intolerance, constipation, goiter, weight gain, paleness/puffiness in face, sleepiness, joint/muscle pain, dry/brittle hair, and depression are common symptoms. Medical experts believe that viruses, bacteria, and other foreign substances initiate the process of Hashimoto’s disease autoimmunity. Iodine deficiency in conjunction with fluoride/chlorine/bromine exposure may also be a contributing factor.
The approaches are similar to that of hypothyroidism. Additionally, current research explores selenium supplementation as a possible approach to thyroid health and reducing the effects of Hashimoto’s disease.
Similar to Hashimoto’s disease, Grave’s disease is an autoimmune disorder where the thyroid gland is attacked by the immune system. This confuses the cells of the thyroid, causing inflammation and the overproduction of T3/T4 thyroid hormones, eventually leading to an overactive thyroid.
Symptoms include anxiety, heart palpitations, goiter, hand tremors, weight loss, insomnia, irritability, muscle weakness, diarrhea, heat intolerance, and eye concerns. The causes are very similar to Hashimoto’s disease and the approaches are generally the same as hyperthyroidism.
Thyroiditis is swelling or inflammation of the thyroid gland and there are a few types:
Iodine deficiency in conjunction with fluoride/chlorine/bromine displacement may be a contributing factor for thyroiditis. Gluten allergy, vitamin D deficiency, and dysbiosis may also be factors associated with the condition. Depending on the type of thyroiditis, medications usually vary depending on whether it presents initially with hyper- or hypothyroidism.
Thyroid cancer is the most common type of endocrine cancer in the body. Despite it being the most common endocrine tumor, it is still not very common. The rate and incidence of thyroid cancer are increasing which is felt to be secondary to increased and early detection.
While the rate and incidence of thyroid cancer are increasing, the mortality and prognosis associated with the disease are staying stable (which is a good thing!).
Rarely, thyroid cancer can be undifferentiated which means it may be aggressive and grow very rapidly.