Much Ado About Thyroid

March 11, 2020

Much Ado About Thyroid

Thyroid disease and thyroid support are loaded subjects.  There are many opinions about management.  But first, we have to pause for a moment to ponder the influence of this gland.  The thyroid is responsible for driving chemical reactions in virtually every cell of the body.  In effect, the overall metabolism of the entire body is boosted by thyroid hormone.  How many molecules can put that on their resume?

The most common problem by and large is for thyroid hormone production to be less than optimal.   A simple blood test can reveal this, but if only one test is ordered, the diagnosis can be missed.  It has been observed time and time again that when a comprehensive history, exam and lab evaluation is performed around the thyroid, a greater number of problems can be found.  

Symptoms of low thyroid production (hypothyroidism) are numerous.  The most common symptoms are fatigue that persists the majority of the time, feeling cold, dry skin, sleep problems, weight gain, hair loss, feeling depressed, constipation, brittle nails, difficulty concentrating, and sometimes a problem with sensory changes in the skin.  Great variation in severity is possible, and the degree of abnormal symptoms does not always correlate with depth of abnormalities of the blood tests.  Of the physicians who have impacted the management of thyroid disease in history, Dr. Broda Barnes is perhaps the most well-known proponent of ideas regarding the diagnosis of thyroid disease at it relates to signs and symptoms.

When problems are suspected and diagnosed, it is common for a prescription to be written.  However, some patients need only nutritional support and environmental changes.  Minerals like iodine, magnesium, and selenium are most common to be supplemented, although others are important as well.  Furthermore, certain elements are worth avoiding, such as chlorine, fluoride and bromine, because they can directly interfere with iodine.  Dietary changes can be made to target the right minerals.  Starting with seaweed or kelp is a great beginning.  Iodine challenge testing is a good idea for many patients, as iodine insufficiency is common.  

Do you like any nuts or seeds?  Great, have some more.  Do you like fresh vegetables?  Hop on the veggie train.  Learning to stay away from inflammatory foods is also important.  If you’re going to succeed at this, you’ll have to learn the lesson of staying away from excess sugar and processed foods.

Considering Vitamin D can also be wise, because vitamin D can help thyroid function, as well as improve dips in mood quality.  45-60 minutes of sunlight on exposed skin per day is a good start.  Supplementation often helps when necessary.  Tuna, salmon, and mackerel are some dietary sources of vitamin D.

Did you ever think that pesticides, certain plastics, bakery items, and sodas could affect your thyroid?  These can be sources of bromine (mentioned above) and should be avoided where possible.  For the same reasons, it is wise to avoid obvious sources of fluoride.

More aggressive supplementation can include concentrated iodine solution (Lugol’s solution) or Iodoral caps.  Beyond that, prescriptions for thyroid are common, and can include dried thyroid extract or thyroid hormone that is manufactured.  The prescriptions may be prepared by pharmaceutical companies, but when specific doses or ingredients of some sort are needed, compounded thyroid preparations are also available.

Regardless of how thyroid is managed, it’s important to address the whole picture.  There may be other aspects of health contributing to symptoms.  Remember that thyroid does not work alone.  Many other systems are involved in energy and metabolism.  Look for a doctor who cares enough and knows enough about the thyroid gland to go to the trouble of considering the options that are right for you, not just the same cookie cutter treatment that is given to everyone.  

We enjoy getting to the bottom of thyroid problems.  The assessment is not just limited to low or high thyroid numbers.  It’s possible for the immune system to attack the thyroid, resulting in excess or diminished thyroid hormone release.   Other difficulties can create imbalance such that the thyroid hormone is high all the time.  If you think you have a thyroid dysfunction, we want you to get both help and a greater understanding about your illness.  Don’t hesitate to reach out and ask for assistance.  Help is just a few clicks away.

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