Treat The Root Cause Of Your Thyroid Disorder And Get Your Life Back
Why treating the “REAL” root cause of your thyroid disorder will finally give you your life back.
Thyroid disorders are one of those mystery disorders than can often go undiagnosed for many years, and if diagnosed, medication can often not fully address the problem or only improve things for a short time before symptoms reappear. Symptoms can vary between individuals and often people are told that the symptoms they are experiencing are in their head or unrelated to the thyroid. Common symptoms include anxiety, panic attacks, fatigue, hair loss, cold hands and feet, brain fog, IBS type gut issues and many others. Quite often the range of symptoms are not seen as related and treated in isolation with NSAID’s, anti-depressants, antacids etc. People are told they are just ageing or need to find more time for themselves.
Not always easy if you’re looking after a family, working, or both…
If you are diagnosed with a thyroid issue, often you are told your thyroid is sluggish and to take some thyroid medication such as “Thyroxin” to increase your thyroxine levels. This usually improves things quite quickly but after a while things seem to slip back, this is often when medication is further increased.
What if the root cause of the disease was discovered and addressed… perhaps a full recovery of symptoms could be achieved and medication no longer required? Well this is what many people have done that have addressed the root cause of their illness.
One of the most common thyroid disorders is an underlying thyroid autoimmune condition called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. This is a condition in which the body starts attacking itself and destroying the thyroid gland. This can happen over a period of many years before it is detected in tests. Often blood tests are “within range” but are starting to move from the optimal range, this can be an early warning sign, see my other post regarding thyroid lab test ranges for more information.
There are many root cause triggers than can cause Hashimoto’s or other thyroid disorders to develop, the most common underlying root causes being;
- Poor gut function
- Viruses and infections
- Nutrient deficiencies
Most clients have a more than one of these underlying triggers. Addressing your early symptoms is much easier with quicker recovery times achieved rather than waiting until the condition has progressed and much more damage is done.
Common Root Causes of Thyroid disorders
Poor Gut Function
Gut health needs addressing to some extent with everyone showing thyroid symptoms, and most people in general to be honest. Poor gut health can be a major contributing factor to many diseases and disorders including thyroid conditions. Key areas of gut health from a treatment and restoration perspective are;
- Remove reactive foods
- Reduce inflammation of gastrointestinal tract
- Restore and repair gut lining
- Restore balance to the microbiota
These four areas sound pretty easy to address, however they take some time, dedication and know how on your part. Here are some basic tips to get you started in each of these areas.
Foods to remove
- Gluten containing grain products (breads, cereals, pasta, cake etc.)
- Dairy products (milk, cheese, ice-cream etc.)
- Soy products
- Alcohol and ideally coffee too
- Eliminate processed foods with and foods with added sugar
- Increase anti-inflammatory foods such as berries, oily fish, turmeric, ginger, olive oil
Restore and repair gut lining
- Whole foods that are non-irritant will help repair the gut lining
- Use L-Glutamine supplement to repair tight gap junctions in gut wall
- Use slippery elm supplement to soothe and protect gut lining
Restore balance to the gut microbiota
- Increase intake of probiotic foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, miso etc.
- Use a quality probiotic supplement. Signup to our free newsletter at naturopathlife.com.au to receive a complete guide to probiotic supplement including Australian supplement recommendations and specific strains to look for.
- Increase prebiotic foods to feed the good bacteria, these include garlic, onion, cabbage, sweet potato, apples etc.
Viruses and Infections
Viruses and infections can also be an underlying cause and trigger of many diseases. Quite often a downward spiral of ill health leading to a chronic health condition can be traced back to the contraction of a virus or infection. The trouble is, viruses and infections are so common these days and there are many variations that sometimes we don’t even know if we have contracted a virus or have a low level chronic infection that is affecting us. We may get a bit ill for a week or two and our immune system fights the attack off and we feel better, however certain viruses such as the many variations of the Epstein Barr Virus (EBV), Lyme disease and herpes lay dormant reactivating when our immunity is compromised.
Other infections in the gut such as H-pylori and Blastocyctitis Hominis are common and cause a range of ill health effects with key symptoms being acid reflux, bloating, diarrhoea, stomach pain, food sensitivity etc. Without addressing some of these underlying causes it can be near impossible to return to full health. Specific treatment or immune building protocols will be required for each individual infection/virus, relevant testing should be performed to identify the presence of such pathogens.
There are a number of key nutrients that are required for proper function of the thyroid. However, depending on the thyroid condition, certain nutrients may be required in abundance while others may need to be avoided. Nutrient recommendations are made by qualified practitioners based on presenting symptoms and laboratory test results.
A quick overview of the main nutrients used by your thyroid.
A mineral that is deficient is much of the population and very commonly deficient in those with a thyroid condition. Low selenium has also been associated to low immunity and a range of other conditions such as heart disease, high cholesterol and diabetes. Studies show that Australian soils are particularly deficient in selenium. Selenium is used specifically in thyroid disorders to increase conversion of T4 to T3, protect the thyroid from oxidative stress and reduce antibodies in autoimmune thyroid disease. Common dosage is 200mcg/day, excess selenium can be toxic so ensure you are monitored by a qualified health professional.
A vital nutrient for the thyroid, and the building blocks for the thyroid hormones T3 and T4. Iodine deficiency can be a primary cause of hypothyroidism. Iodine deficiency is also related to a range of other health disorders and having sufficient levels of iodine can help protect against some cancers including breast and prostate cancer. Dr David Brownstein, a well-regarded doctor who has extensively studied iodine, believes everyone should be tested for low iodine and a study of over 5000 patients in his clinic were found to have low iodine.
Testing should be conducted prior to supplementation as iodine may worsen the thyroid condition in cases of hyperthyroidism and Hashimoto’s disease. One of the better ways to test iodine status is through an iodine load test.
Zinc is such an important nutrient in the body for many reasons. It is involved in over 200 enzymatic reactions and a vital nutrient in thyroid and gut health. It is required for the uptake of thyroid hormone and also protects the thyroid from oxidative damage. Zinc is also required for the creation of stomach acid, another common problem of thyroid patients being low stomach acid causing acid reflux, Yes, the most common reason for acid reflux is LOW stomach acid. Zinc is very commonly deficient in a large portion of the population and is also low in Australian soils.
Tyrosine is an amino acid that is a precursor for the creation of thyroid hormones. Supplementation with this amino acid can assist to increase thyroid hormone production and reduce the effects of hypothyroidism. It is also a precursor to dopamine, a neurotransmitter that is involved in our reward and pleasure centres of the brain. People with low dopamine levels often has issues related to addiction, mood swings, poor memory and low mood.
Dopamine is a precursor to epinephrine and norepinephrine, neurotransmitters involved in the body’s ”fight or flight” response so be careful not to overstimulate here as most people with thyroid disorders also have a degree of adrenal fatigue.
Additional nutrients are also required to assist the thyroid function and the conversion of hormones. These include B vitamins, vitamins A and E, chromium and others. In addressing thyroid disorder, a whole body approach is required balancing the body chemistry, rather than just isolating one or two areas.
Toxicity can be a major root cause of thyroid disorders. Toxins are everywhere in the current day, whether we like to admit it or not. They are in the air we breathe, the water we drink, the foods we consume, the cosmetics we use, the furniture we sit on, the clothes we buy, the utensils we cook with and so on.
When the body accumulates toxic substances such as unwanted heavy metals and other chemicals, it disrupts the normal function of the tissue, cell or gland and other important substances are displaced from the body. For instance, exposure to toxic halides such as chlorine (swimming pools, shower steam), bromine (spa’s, pesticides, Gatorade and some soft drinks) and fluoride (tap water, toothpastes) displaces the iodine from our thyroid and can result in an iodine deficiency causing a range of ill health effects including a thyroid disorder.
Reducing your toxic load is crucial when suffering from a chronic illness such as a thyroid disorder. It is particularly important with those suffering an autoimmune disorder such as Hashimoto’s.
Key areas to address are;
- Ensuring you drink a quality source of filtered water and plenty of it
- Reduce exposure to plastics and other endocrine disruptors
- Ensure your detoxification system is working efficiently
- Try to eat organic food or at least fresh, local, free range and/or wild caught produce
- Avoid processed foods and avoid foods with preservatives, artificial flavours etc.
- Investigate what skin products and cosmetics you are using, also cleaning products
Stress is an underlying cause in all chronic disease and needs to be addressed. The impact stress has on our system can be huge and varies between individuals. There are many different types of stress, these include mental, chemical, physical, electromagnetic and nutritional stress. All stress accumulates and contributes to your overall stress load.
Examples of the different stress that may be contributing top your condition are;
Mental - consistent negative thoughts, anger, sadness, anxiety, worry, resentment
Physical - over exercising or not exercising enough, poor posture, spine misalignment
Chemical - toxic chemical exposure, synthetic medications, agricultural chemicals on foods
Nutritional - poor diet lacking required nutrients, excess sugar and processed foods displacing
required nutrients from the body
Electromagnetic – excess exposure to electromagnetic frequencies (EMF) through devices such as
microwaves and Wi-Fi signals, excess mobile phone/iPad use etc.
Key steps need to be taken to reduce your stress. An action plan such as the one below is a great way to start;
- Identify your stressors
- Make an action plan to eliminate or find a way to better cope with the stressors, sometimes a stressor cannot be changed but the way we look at it or react to it can be changed
- Ensure you eat a balanced nutritional diet and get adequate sleep. Your body cannot deal with stress appropriately if it doesn’t have the resources to make the appropriate hormones through good nutrition and adequate rest.
- Exercise – ensure you move your body and do some form of exercise, even if it’s just getting outside to do some walking. Your body will appreciate the movement, it will aid detoxification and release endorphins to improve motivation and mood helping to break vicious cycles that we can fall into. The additional sunshine will also benefit.
- Mental exercise – Try to set some time aside for positive thinking, visualisation, writing down what you are grateful for, mediation, tai chi or other form of mental exercise. Reduce the amount of time you are in front of a screen or on your phone. A bit of time spent on these areas will reap huge rewards on your overall state of health.
Thyroid conditions can be quite complex and treatment methods vary from patient to patient. It is advisable to seek the services a knowledgeable specialist practitioner that can assist in formulating a correct plan of action to manage your thyroid disorder.
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