What you’ll find here is clear, easy-to-understand information about the thyroid gland, and the common ways it can dysfunction. You’ll also find thorough information about how and where to get help, and how to help your thyroid gland with simple lifestyle changes. Thank you for joining me!
With the right support, you have the power to heal your thyroid. Healing your thyroid is possible with homeopathy, nutrition, diet and lifestyle changes. With the right team, the right education, and the right remedies you can support and nourish your thyroid back to optimal health. Read on to learn more about your thyroid gland, the prevalence of thyroid issues, symptoms of thyroid dysfunction and options for healing.
Your thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland located in your neck. It is a gland that is critically important for your energy. Though the thyroid produces only micrograms of thyroid hormone, if this tiny flow of hormones suddenly stopped, we would drop dead. That’s how important your thyroid hormones are! They are used throughout your body, by every type of cell. Optimal thyroid function is critically important for physical energy, thinking and development. Unfortunately, thyroid dysfunction is very common! Here are some alarming statistics from the American Thyroid Association:
• An estimated 20 million Americans have some form of thyroid disease.
• Up to 60 percent of those with thyroid disease are unaware of their condition.
• Women are five to eight times more likely to have thyroid problems.
• One woman in eight will develop a thyroid disorder during her lifetime.
If comprehensive thyroid screening is not a part of regular well-checks, dysfunction can go easily undetected. Incredibly, a few micrograms of thyroid hormone can be the small difference between feeling good and feeling terrible. Frustratingly, symptoms of a sluggish thyroid often mimic those of stress, aging, parenting, perimenopause and so on, and can be easily dismissed as such. This can make it even harder to pinpoint the thyroid as the source of the trouble. Let’s learn the symptoms of thyroid dysfunction, some terminology, and what are some next steps you can take to find out how your thyroid is doing.
When your thyroid is underactive or sluggish, it’s called hypothyroidism (hypo: under, below). It is important to know the possible signs of hypothyroid dysfunction. One or more of these symptoms can indicate a hypothyroid problem: fatigue, increased sensitivity to cold, constipation, dry skin, weight gain, muscle weakness, aches, tenderness and stiffness, pain, stiffness or swelling in your joints, hair falling out, depression, brain fog, anxiety and elevated cholesterol levels. Hypothyroidism is very common and is treated by conventional medicine with replacement thyroid hormone. It is important to understand that this medicine does not treat the underlying problem, it simply replaces the essential hormone that the thyroid gland cannot currently make.
When your thyroid is overactive, it’s called hyperthyroidism (hyper: over, beyond, exceeding). It is important to know the signs of hyperthyroid dysfunction. One or more of these symptoms can indicate a problem: Unintended weight loss, rapid or pounding heartbeat, increased appetite, nervousness or anxiety, tremor, sweating, increased sensitivity to heat, muscle weakness, difficulty sleeping, skin thinning. The conventional treatments for this include medications to suppress uncomfortable hyperthyroid symptoms, and thyroid gland ablation or removal.
There are two common autoimmune diseases related to the thyroid gland; Hashimoto’s and Graves. Hashimoto’s is usually associated with under function of the thyroid, but it can also be present without hypothyroidism. There are no symptoms of Hashimoto’s on its own, it can only be detected by looking for antibodies against the thyroid gland (TPO and TG antibodies). If you are taking replacement thyroid hormone for hypothyroidism, this does not treat Hashimoto’s autoimmunity. The anti-thyroid antibodies will continue to attack your thyroid gland in an ongoing downward spiral, potentially causing an increasing lack of function. Graves is a condition of thyroid over function – hyperthyroidism. In fact, Hashimoto’s and Graves are not diseases of the thyroid gland at all, they are a product of the immune system creating antibodies that are attacking your thyroid gland. Conventional medicine treatment has very limited treatments for thyroid autoimmunity. Homeopathy and functional medicine aim to address autoimmunity at the source of the problem, which is an immune system out of balance.
It is important to get your thyroid checked if you have even a few hypothyroid or hyperthyroid symptoms. It’s easy and usually inexpensive to get a blood test. The tests to assess thyroid function are TSH, free T3, free T4, reverse T3 and two thyroid antibodies; TPO and TG. All the tests inform the whole picture of your thyroid health.
Here are some details about what these tests are:
TSH (Thyroid stimulating hormone or thyrotropin) is produced by the pituitary gland in response to how much thyroid hormone is detected in your blood. This occurs in an ongoing feedback loop with your hypothalamus. Adequate thyroid hormones keep TSH low. Inadequate amounts elevate TSH, a message from the pituitary gland to the thyroid to work harder making hormones. When TSH is high, your thyroid is sluggish, when TSH is very very low, your thyroid is overactive.
Free T4 is one of the major thyroid hormones made by your thyroid gland and is the inactive version of the hormone. It needs to be converted by your body into the active form to be used.
Free T3 is the active form of thyroid hormone. It is converted in the body and then it can be used by the cells for energy.
Reverse T3 is a non-functional form of T3 that gets made when the body is under a lot of stress from toxicity, low calorie diets, overexercise, or life events. RT3 blocks T3 from being used.
TPO and TG are antibodies that indicate the presence of autoimmunity against your thyroid gland.
The standard is to screen the thyroid with one parameter, TSH. This is only one element of the thyroid system however, and it is important to see more than that to be sure you have properly screened for a problem. A thyroid specialist once said that only looking at TSH is like deciding to buy a house by only looking through the front door. I think we can all agree we want to see the whole house before we buy. The additional tests will give you a sense of how much hormone you have available for your body to use, how well you are making it and converting it from T4 to T3. Antibodies show if you have any autoimmunity, which is very common, and something you want to know. Your doctor may not want to do this level of testing or may feel it is unnecessary. This is a sign that you need to have a conversation with your doctor about what you want and need, since it is your body, and you have the right to know the details of how it is functioning. If your doctor still refuses, it may be time to find a new, more open-minded doctor. I suggest a functional medicine doctor. This is a person committed to finding the root causes of disease, rather than treating the symptoms only. Another resource is the Life Extension Foundation. This is an online resource for lab testing that is available to anyone. They have a Comprehensive Thyroid Panel Blood Test that covers all the tests recommended above. Doctors are available at Life Extension to help you interpret your test results.
Once you get tested, then you’ll get your results and you can just look to see if anything is abnormal, right? Unfortunately, no. The parameters for normal testing are very broad. “Normal” TSH goes up to 5.0 on most labs, even higher on others. You may be surprised to learn that these levels were established using unhealthy patients. Despite industry attempts to refine these lab values, they have persisted without change. So, you need to interpret your results carefully. The bottom line is that you don’t want your hormone levels to be “normal”, you want them to be optimal. Optimal levels are a far narrower range than the established lab parameters. This disparity also accounts for cases of undiagnosed hypothyroidism in people who feel terrible, but are told their labs are “normal.” Compare the levels below to any test results you receive. When you get lab results from your doctor, don’t settle for hearing results read to you over the phone. Always ask your doctor for a copy of your labs and keep them in a medical record binder by date, so you can refer to your hormone trends over time. If you make accounts at the labs where you draw blood (ie: Quest or LabCorp), you will always have access to results online.
Functional medicine optimal thyroid lab levels:
• TSH: 1-2 or lower
• Free T4: 1.1-1.5
• Free T3: 3.2-4.4
• Thyroid peroxidase antibodies (TPOAB): less than 9 (0 is optimal)
• Thyroglobulin antibodies (TGAB): less than 4 (0 is optimal)
Thyroid Function Self-Test:
Take your basal body temperature in the morning before moving much or getting out of bed. Reach over and put the thermometer in your mouth and wait. Take your temperature for a week. If it averages below 97.6, it is likely you have a sluggish thyroid, and further testing is warranted.
Thyroid-focused homeopathic treatment has three facets; constitutional treatment, organ support, and client education. Constitutional treatment focuses on the entire client case, allowing unhealthy mental, emotional and physical patterns to become unstuck and more healthy. For example, anxiety reduces, self-worth improves, constipation is eliminated, and hay fever is gone. There is often significant or complete relief of many issues with the constitutional remedy alone. Thyroid-specific organ support gives the thyroid the boost it needs to perform optimally and restoring function. This remedy is chosen based on the client’s history of thyroid dysfunction; when it presented, what other symptoms are present concurrently and results of lab tests. The final piece is education about thyroid health. This piece is critical because there are many factors that impact our thyroid health that are entirely within our control. I spend time educating and supporting each one of my clients in changing their habits and helping them move toward optimal thyroid and overall health.
If you keep dropping a hammer on your toe, there is no remedy I will be able to give you that will stop the pain. It’s up to you to stop dropping the hammer on your toe. In homeopathy, we have a phrase to describe something that is causing or perpetuating a health problem: a maintaining cause. You need to remove maintaining causes that are harming your thyroid and its function. Additionally, you need to add health-promoting foods and nutrients that will optimize thyroid function. There are a few key maintaining causes with thyroid dysfunction that we will work on to restore your optimal thyroid health. Learning about these is part of the education and empowerment I offer my clients.
Educate yourself about your health. Many diseases and system dysfunctions arise from aspects of our lives that are entirely within our control. Thyroid health is no exception. What you eat, how you manage stress, what products you choose to use in your house and on your body, and what nutrients you choose to take will all have a profound effect on optimal thyroid health. Learn about your body, how it is supposed to work, and take the time to care for it. You only have one thyroid, and it is essential to your physical and emotional well-being. Click here for a downloadable list of resources on thyroid education.
Harriet came to me with a disturbing problem. One eye had started bulging and she could see the whites of her eye all the way around her iris. This gave her a staring look and she felt embarrassed. This eye bulging is called exophthalmos and is a symptom of hyperthyroidism. Harriet had gone to her doctor about this problem, and had some labs done. She had very low TSH (.005), slightly elevated T3 and T4, and high antibodies. Her doctor diagnosed her with Graves and offered her medication. Harriet decided to come to me to see if homeopathy could help before starting a medication. I took Harriet’s case and learned all about her, and we discussed her thyroid health in detail. I gave Harriet a constitutional remedy that took into account her whole story, as well as a thyroid specific remedy to take daily. I also counseled her on lifestyle changes that would benefit her thyroid gland and immune system; stress management and reducing inflammatory foods. At the next follow up Harriet’s eye had started to improve, and over the course of the next few months her eye normalized until she could not see the difference between her two eyes anymore. After 6 months of treatment, her labs results showed normalized thyroid hormones.
Daniel was a 22-year college student who came to see me for Hashimoto’s. He had been diagnosed early in life and had been on replacement hormone for about 10 years. His need for hormone had increased over time, until now he was taking a large dose of Levothyroxine (T4) and a large dose of Liothyronine (T3). His anti-TPO antibodies had recently risen to from 50 to over 1000, and he was alarmed. Daniel and I talked at great length about his life, his interests and his coping mechanisms. I learned he was hot all the time, had a lot of allergies, and was very restless. I gave Daniel a constitutional remedy, a specific remedy for his immune system and Hashimotos, and a recommendation to a functional medicine doctor who could manage his case simultaneously. A few months later, Daniel reported that his allergies were improved, and he was feeling great from a mental emotional standpoint. Daniel had started reducing his thyroid hormone medication with his doctor and his lab tests showed the anti-TPO antibodies reducing toward the normal range.
With the right support, you have the power to change the course of your thyroid health. With the right team, the right education, and the right remedies you can support and nourish your thyroid back to optimal health. I’d love to be part of your team.