Currently, about 20 million Americans have some form of thyroid disease, and more than 12 percent of the U.S. population will develop a thyroid condition during their lifetime (American Thyroid Association, 2013). This epidemic has only continued to grow in my practice over the years, and unfortunately, up to 60% of those with thyroid disease are unaware of their condition! Found at the base of your neck, this rather small, butterfly-shaped gland plays a huge role in controlling your body’s metabolism. When problems arise, imbalances and inflammation can occur throughout the entire body.
What exactly is the function of the thyroid, and what causes problems to occur?
The thyroid manufactures thyroxine (T4), the inactive hormone, and triiodothyronin (T3), the active hormone that T4 is converted into, which helps regulate growth, development, and energy utilization of the body.
Another hormone, thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), is secreted by the pituitary gland in the brain, and controls the release of thyroid hormone. The pituitary is like a thermostat, regulating the right amount of thyroid hormone to be released, and the thyroid is the furnace.
The thyroid also communicates with the adrenals, and together, they work as a system. There are other players as well, such as reverse T3, which acts as a brake on the entire system, and thyroid antibodies, which measure the level of inflammation with the thyroid.
Symptoms of Thyroid Problems
Some of the common issues with a problematic thyroid include both hypothyroidism, where too little thyroid hormone is produced, and hyperthyroidism, where too much thyroid hormone is produced. Common symptoms include:
- Hypothyroidism: Reduced metabolism
- - Chronically cold hands and feet
- - Constipation
- - Dry skin
- - Hair loss
- - Heart problems
- - Weight gain
- - Depression
- - Fatigue
Hyperthyroidism: Increased metabolism
- Shortness of breath
- Loss of strength
- Weight loss
- Menstrual complaints
- Rapid heartbeat
- Feeling warm
Thyroid Problems & Testing
Problems with the thyroid can occur from an iodine deficiency, which is needed to produce thyroid hormone. Michiganders are especially prone to thyroid problems, because Michigan is one of few identified iodine-deficient belts in the world. Other causes of thyroid problems include insulin resistance, heavy metals, everyday environmental, psychological, and physical stressors, as well as gluten (Oderda, Rapa, Zavallone, Strigini & Bona, 2002).
As for testing thyroid problems, because there are many components to this complex system, only measuring TSH like most conventional doctors do does not give a complete picture of the issues.
Proper thyroid testing should include all of the hormones mentioned above: TSH, free T4 (fT4), free T3 (fT3), reverse T3, and thyroid antibodies.
Treatment of Thyroid Problems
At DBC, we use a diverse approach to correct thyroid problems, depending on each individual’s genetics, health history, and symptoms.
Nutraceuticals are often a necessary component to the patient’s recovery, which can take up to a year, such as Thyrosol. This supplement provides key nutrients for the thyroid without hormonal components.
We always support the adrenals, too, through lifestyle and nutraceuticals, which, depend on the patient’s needs, include Adrenogen, Adreset, and AdrenaVive.
Folks, a well-functioning metabolism is not only key to a healthy weight; it’s key to a well-functioning system! Managing stress is a huge part of the picture, and you can learn more about ways to better process it here
Oderda, G., Rapa, A., Zavallone, A., Strigini, L., Bona, G. (2002). Thyroid Autoimmunity in Childhood Celiac Disease. Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition. Vol. 35, Issue 5: 704-705.