The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped organ located near your Adam’s apple. It releases hormones that contribute to the way your body functions. The thyroid effects multiple organs and plays various roles in: heart rate, metabolism, hair growth, body weight, muscle strength, menstrual cycles, body temperature, cholesterol levels, bowel function and fertility.
To say the thyroid is an important gland is a gross understatement. If the health of the thyroid is compromised, symptoms can include but are not limited to: anxiety, irritability or moodiness, nervousness, hyperactivity, sweating or sensitivity to hot temperatures, hand trembling (shaking), hair loss, missed or light menstrual periods, trouble sleeping, tiredness and fatigue, brain fog or difficulty concentrating, dry skin and hair, depression, sensitivity to cold temperatures, frequent, heavy periods as well as joint and muscle pain.
As hormonal levels can shift from day to day and hour to hour, blood work is not always an accurate picture of what is occurring in the body. Because the thyroid changes so frequently, symptoms of imbalance can fluctuate. In some cases, symptoms which are typically not associated with the thyroid can occur. These include a racing or skipping heart, panic attacks and hot flashes.
When patients seek a medical approach to treat the thyroid often the most common medication prescribed is Synthroid, (which is the most prescribed medication in the nation). Synthroid is a synthetic (man made) substance created to mimic a hormone naturally produced by the thyroid. While Synthroid may correct levels in the blood, it doesn’t mean the tissues are using the synthetic hormone in the same way it uses naturally produced thyroid hormones.
While short term symptoms may be relieved, there are risks associated with taking Synthroid long term. They include, decreased bone density and cardiovascular disease as well as possible worsening of other hormonal imbalances in the body. In fact, a study conducted by Ferdinand-Sauerbruch Hospital in Wuppertal, Germany found that women taking thyroid medication were twice as likely to develop breast cancer as women who were not taking synthetic thyroid hormone replacement. What’s more, 20% of the women who had taken this medication for 15 years or more had developed breast cancer. And unfortunately, like most medications, taking Synthroid does not address the cause of the imbalance but ultimately masks the symptoms.
There are many reasons why a thyroid can be out of balance. Clinically, I have seen the thyroid out of balance because of immune challenges, toxicity, food sensitivities or nutritionally deficiencies, particularly iodine. Iodine is a necessary component for thyroid health. Today, more than 90% of Americans are deficient in iodine. Two known chemicals that deplete iodine in the body are chlorine and fluoride–both found in tap water. A filter for showers and drinking water is recommend.
Because the thyroid is involved in so many functions in the body it can take time to restore fully. That said, it is possible to do so and there is always a reason why the thyroid is off. My goal as a naturopath is to uncover the reason and correct it so the thyroid can get back on track. Often times, it is as simple as good nutrition, a balanced diet and whole food supplementation.
If you or someone you know is struggling with a thyroid issue or hormonal imbalance call the office today to schedule your new patient appointment 517 721 1904.
Good health is only a phone call away!