Maintaining a Healthy Thyroid
Structurally, the thyroid gland is located just below the voice box. The thyroid is the largest of the specialized endocrine glands. The purpose of the thyroid gland is to secrete iodine dependant thyroid hormones thyroxin (T4) and tri-iodothyronine (T3). These hormones are essential for the regulation of metabolic rate, the production of heat and energy.
A low functioning thyroid (hypothyroidism) can cause symptoms of low body temperature or an intolerance to cold, fatigue, brittle hair and nails, dry skin, persistent rashes and allergies, eczema, headaches, hormonal problems, a metallic taste in the mouth, depression, hair loss, poor concentration, weight gain, constipation, heart palpitations, gastrointestinal disorders and insomnia.
The body functions as a smooth machine with bodily processes relying on one another. The thyroid gland is no exception. It relies on the smooth functioning of the adrenal glands, the pituitary, hypothalamus and also the liver. The adrenal glands are the part of the endocrine system that helps us deal with stress. They produce the hormones epinephrine and norepinephrine to give us the fight or flight response. This enables us to either fight off a stressful situation or flee the scene.
In my experience, the majority of hypothyroid disorders are in women. These women are usually at the end of their rope with busy,stressful lifestyles. Our bodies have an innate sense of survival, and in these cases it is thought that thyroid function slows down to force us to slow down. With one of the major symptoms being fatigue we usually have no choice but to slow down because we don't have the energy to accomplish
what we once did in a day.
The thyroid gland releases another hormone, calcitonin, which helps regulate calcium in the bones and bloodstream. People with thyroid disorders eventually find themselves with osteoporosis because the production of this hormone is slowed down.
Hormone related problems are often associated with thyroid disorders. Adequate thyroid
function is necessary for the production of progesterone. When the adrenals are weak, progesterone is converted into adrenal hormones. The thyroid and progesterone both help normalize pituitary function, the master gland of all the endocrine glands. When progesterone is converted to adrenal hormones the thyroid gets twice the
load for the pituitary.
Since the thyroid is involved with regulating metabolism, if the adrenals are weak the thyroid tries to whip them into shape, again putting more load on the thyroid. The thyroid will then decrease production to try to conserve both thyroid and adrenal energy.
Common symptoms of thyroid/hormonal imbalance includes PMS, infertility, ovarian cysts, fibroids, endometriosis, fibrocystic breasts, menstrual pain and excessive bleeding. Taking synthetic estrogens to help relieve hormonal problems further weakens the thyroid. Weight gain occurs, blood pressure and cholesterol levels rise, and depression and fatigue set in.
Get a Handle on Stress
Getting rid of the stress in our lives is of utmost importance. A supplement regime to support the adrenal and thyroid function will not bring you the desired results without reducing the lifestylestressors. You first have to identify what the major stressors are in your life. Once you have done this there are usually three things you can do to relieve this. You can change thesituation, change yourself to fit the circumstances or you can choose to leave the situation.
Often it is unrealistic to leave, but you can often change the situation or change how you think and react to a stressful incident. This can involve deep breathing when in the midst of the situation, welcoming the stressor as a learning experience or altering your perception and thus your feelings about a person or situation.
A therapy called Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP) offers many effective exercises for altering your perception and feelings and has proved to be quite helpful in reducing stress. Stress is cumulative, and removing or neutralizing your largest sources of stress will make a very significant difference in your health; taking the pressure off the
adrenal glands and thyroid.
Natural Thyroid Support
Traditional treatment of hypothyroid disorders involves the administration of iodine.
Seaweeds are the richest source of natural iodine, and kelp as a supplement, has proven to be very helpful for these cases. Many times though, thyroid cases are the cause of excess stress and need additional attention in other areas.
Supplements that may be helpful are those that work not only to support the thyroid but also the adrenal glands. Higher doses of vitamin C, 1000 to 2000mg with every meal, B complex vitamins, 75mg with every meal and extra pantothenic acid (B5), 1000mg twice daily with meals is a good place to start. Siberian Ginseng, Ashwagandha, Rhodiola, and Suma are adaptogenic herbs that help strengthen the adrenal glands. The amino acid tyrosine isessential for proper function of the thyroid hormones.
Kelp is seaweed very rich in iodine and a wide range of minerals. The iodine content will help with thyroid function and the minerals have a nice "grounding" effect on the nervous system.
Stress is undoubtedly a major factor in today's lifestyles of many people, both men and women. Taking control of the stressors in our life and using supplements to help strengthen our systems will help you either deter or help get rid of many of the symptoms of adrenal and thyroid weakness. Consultation with your doctor and natural health care practitioner is always recommended in these cases as well as doing a little research and taking responsibility for your own health. Make health a habit and keep your thyroid working its best for you and your good health.
- Aureliusz A.