Guest Post by Dr. Katherine Dale
The thyroid is a sensitive gland. If you expose your thyroid to trauma and strain, it will not function effectively. You can physically support your thyroid through various means, yet eventually you will need to cater to its emotional needs as well.
Some Common Physical Signs of Low Thyroid Function
- Weight gain for no reason
- Thin eyebrows, particularly on the outer edge
- Irregular painful periods 1
- Issues with pregnancy (not being able to hold the baby)
- Low sex drive
- Cold hands & feet even in summer
- Feeling so knackered
- Digestive problems
- Down in the dumps sad
And you will have to listen closely to learn what those needs are.
This brings me to my friend Aileen…
Aileen and her husband Tony were practising to start a family. It had always been harder for Aileen to lose weight than for other people, and now she was gaining weight despite her new exercise and diet programme:
40-minute GRIT class at the gym
- completely raw food diet
- elimination of fat from her diet
Aileen couldn’t understand why she was gaining weight when she was exercising harder than ever.
But what bothered Aileen most was her loss of interest in sex. She was having difficulty expressing these feelings to her husband, Tony.
How did Aileen get her libido back and her weight under control? The answer lay in pampering her balky thyroid.
What Does My Thyroid Do Best?
The thyroid messengers are in two areas of the brain: the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland. When the thyroid receives a message from the brain, it combines several ingredients in the body to make a hormone called thyroxine.
Your thyroid stops making thyroxine for two main reasons:
- Your messengers are not communicating properly, or
- Your body is missing some of the key ingredients for production (iodine, iron, etc.).
The thyroid is a sensitive organ and so are its messengers. Because it is sensitive, it serves your body well as a good moderator and communicator.
How Does My Thyroid Act as a Moderator?
Your thyroid serves as a faithful and constant moderator in your body. The thyroid communicates the needs of the body to the brain. That includes balancing hormones, including estrogen and testosterone.
The thyroid moderates the following functions:
- High and Low Body Temperature – The thyroid gland serves as your body’s thermostat. It moderates when your temperature increases or decreases. When your body is exposed to extreme heat, the thyroid normally responds by inducing sweating, thus preventing a wild swing in your body temperature. However, if your thyroid isn’t functioning properly, your body won’t respond to external changes in temperature. Even on a hot day, you will never warm up. You will always have cold hands and feet.
- Modify Weight Gain & Loss – The thyroid is responsible for moderating metabolism in the body. Our metabolic rate dictates whether we need to use up our energy or store it as fat. Women with a low thyroid function often find that they store fat and gain weight.
- Heart Rate – Your thyroid responds to increased activity by increasing the heart rate. When we are moving quickly, we need more blood to flow to our whole body. But when we are rest, there is less need for blood, so the thyroid allows our heart to slow down. When the thyroid is not functioning properly, your heart rate will not correspond properly to your activity level. This can lead to feelings of fatigue.
- Ovulation vs. Amenorrhea – Thyroid function has been associated with regulating reproductive hormones, although the exact means by which it does so are not known. Treatment with thyroid hormone has resulted in reduced miscarriages, better IVF results and shrinking ovarian cysts.
- Depression vs. Elation – Women with low thyroid function often will also have a low mood. Women with low thyroid function and depression will receive relief when they regulate their thyroid hormone levels.2
How Will I Know My Thyroid Needs Support?
Aileen had been recording her basal body temperature (BBT) every morning as part of her fertility tracking. She noticed that many of her temperature readings were less than 35.8 C., which is below normal and a warning sign for low thyroid function.
If you suspect you have a potential thyroid problem, you can test your basal body temperature (BBT), as Aileen did, using the Broda Barnes test in the comfort of your own home!
Simply observe your BBT levels over three days and record the temperatures in the chart below.
|Day 1||Day 2||Day 3|
Your BBT is considered normal at 36.1 (97.8) or above. An occasional reading of less than 36.1 would be okay.
However, if you experience three or more days in a row of these low levels, you need to consider supporting your thyroid.
How Can You Satisfy Your Thyroid?
When it comes to pleasing the thyroid, you need to work like she does. You need to take everything in moderation.
Aileen realized she had low thyroid function. Her low thyroid issues were being made worse by her extreme lifestyle. When Aileen pushed her body, her thyroid protested!
“Sometimes too much of a good thing ends up becoming a bad thing.”
Aileen needed to moderate her activities. She switched to a low impact exercise routine, took up yoga, and became sensitive to the needs of her relationship with Tony.
How Can I Meet the Needs of My Sensitive Thyroid?
- Take Iron, Selenium, Magnesium and Zinc – Anemia symptoms from low iron levels can be confused with symptoms of hypothyroidism. The minerals selenium, magnesium and zinc are needed for the body to produce the thyroxine hormone. The same minerals are used in metabolism and the processing of glucose. All the selenium you need for one day is found in one Brazil nut!
- Eat Foods Rich in Iodine – A diet rich in iodine will protect the thyroid and enhance thyroid function. Eating iodine-rich foods will ensure that healthy amounts of iodine are provided for thyroid hormone production. (It is important to realize, though, that hypothyroidism cannot always be cured through an increase in dietary iodine. There can be a problem with the messenger system.)
- Sea foods: fish, sea salt and seaweeds, such as arame, kelp noodles, kombu, hijiki, nori, etc. (recipe for Seaweed Surprise Salad)
- Dairy, particularly from grass-fed cows living near the sea!
- Vegetables: asparagus, spinach asparagus, garlic, lima beans, mushrooms, strawberries, spinach, pineapple and leafy greens.
- Blackstrap molasses (unsulfured molasses is fine)
- Use Herbal Supports – Herbs such as bladderwrack can be used to balance the thyroid. Bladderwrack is a sea vegetable that has a particular affinity to the thyroid gland. When used as a tincture, the herb is able to rebalance the thyroid function.
- Avoid Sugary Meals – Eat balanced meals that focus on healthy fats. Sugary meals will create havoc for thyroid function, because the thyroid will need to work too hard to process the rapid release of glucose. A slow carbohydrate release will relax the adrenals and the thyroid.
- Avoid Cruciferous Vegetables – Especially when uncooked!
- Avoid Soya Products – Soya products such as isoflavones are known to interfere with the function of thyroxine.
- Do an Elimination Diet – Common allergens include gluten, dairy and corn. Get an allergy test or use an elimination diet to determine your sensitivities on your own.
- Detox Regularly and Avoid Halogen Toxins – Avoid or reduce exposure to halogens (fluorine, bromine and chlorine). 3 These toxic elements mimic iodine and can trick the body into displacing iodine.
These irregular halogen combinations prevent the production of thyroid hormone! To help keep free of these toxins, avoid:
- Fluoridated toothpaste
- Chlorinated public swimming pools
- Unfiltered tap water (particularly when there is fluoridation of water)
- Drinking from plastic bottles
Detox regularly with hydrotherapy methods and sauna use. Regularly use the constitutional shower treatment, and a far infrared sauna to remove toxins.
- Get a Good Night’s Sleep – Stay in bed from 11p.m. (at the latest) until 6/7 a.m. The thyroid needs calm and moderation in order to function properly. By resting, we allow the body to recover. The more rest you get, the more your thyroid will be able to restore and repair itself.
- Ensure a Healthy Bowel – You can use Gentiana lutea to increase stomach function and digestive function. When the bowel is functioning properly, the minerals and vitamins that your thyroid needs to function properly are extracted from food.
- Consider Other Lab Tests – Tests other than thyroid function need to be considered. Some of these tests include iron, adrenal function and mineral levels. People with thyroid issues also commonly have an issue with the process of methylation in the body. You can check your MTFRH gene with a SNRP test from 23 and me.
Set Your Inner Butterfly Free!
But what was that message from the thyroid that we talked about at the beginning? What does our sensitive and fragile thyroid need the most? Did you notice the last thing that Aileen did?
Aileen was exercising harder than ever!
Aileen made a commitment to slowing down her high-intensity lifestyle. Aileen replaced high-impact sports with yoga.
There is research to support the use of meditation and yoga to heal thyroid imbalance. Meditation programmes have been found to increase thyroid hormones. 4 The American Thyroid Association recommends the use of mind-body medicine as a complementary therapy for thyroid disease. 5
As well yoga and meditation are able to calm our symptoms. Women suffering from thyroid problems found an improvement in quality of life with the practice of yoga. 6 The practice of yoga can be used to reduce anxiety. 7 As we calm our nervous system we are able to become more aware of the emotional affects of our illness.
Communication is key to healthy relationships. As Aileen began to heal, she was able to
express her feelings. She communicated her frustrations with sexual intimacy. As she treated and managed her thyroid she was able to start working on her relationship with Tony.
When Aileen paid close attention to the fragile needs of her thyroid, her libido returned and her energy levels increased. Aileen and Tony were able to communicate more intimately again.
Check your BBT and learn whether your cold feet (in your love-life and your physical symptoms) might literally be stopping you from conceiving!
- Dittrich, Ralf et al. “Thyroid Hormone Receptors And Reproduction”. Journal of Reproductive Immunology 90.1 (2011): 58-66. Web. 4 May 2016. ↩
- Hage, Mirella P. and Sami T. Azar. “The Link Between Thyroid Function And Depression”. Journal of Thyroid Research 2012 (2012): 1-8. Web. 12 May 2016. ↩
- Singh, Navneet et al. “A Comparative Study Of Fluoride Ingestion Levels, Serum Thyroid Hormone & TSH Level Derangements, Dental Fluorosis Status Among School Children From Endemic And Non-Endemic Fluorosis Areas”. SpringerPlus 3.1 (2014): 7. Web. 4 May 2016. ↩
- Bablis, Peter and Henry Pollard. “A Mind–Body Treatment For Hypothyroid Dysfunction: A Report Of Two Cases”. Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice 15.2 (2009): 67-71. Web. 1 July 2016. ↩
- Http://Www.Thyroid.Org/Wp-Content/Uploads/Patients/Brochures/CAM_Brochure.Pdf. 1st ed. 2016. Web. 1 July 2016. ↩
- Singh, Poonam et al. “The Impact Of Yoga Upon Female Patients Suffering From Hypothyroidism”. Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice 17.3 (2011): 132-134. Web. 1 July 2016. ↩
- M. Ganga, M. Ganga and Dr. K. Chandrasekaran Dr. K. Chandrasekaran. “Effect Of Varied Yogic Practices On Anxiety Among Hyperthyroid Affected Women”. IJAR 4.7 (2011): 524-525. Web. ↩