Hypothyroidism Symptoms and Solutions
The thyroid may be small in size, but it plays a major role in many bodily functions, and a properly operating thyroid is essential to overall physical and emotional wellness. Unfortunately, thyroid disease is proving to be a much more common health concern than once thought. Poor thyroid health is often overlooked in conventional medicine because of our lab-obsessed society which believe that if labs indicate no concern, then there should be “no concern.” However, as many have found through trial and error, symptoms are almost always the conductor of the orchestra with the understanding of lab results often providing further clues.
The thyroid can be either underactive (hypothyroidism) or overactive (hyperthyroidism), but the incidence of hypothyroidism is generally much higher. In fact, an estimated 13 million Americans (probably a low estimate) suffer from an underactive thyroid, with it affecting more women than men, and risk increasing with age. Hypothyroidism can produce a variety of negative health symptoms that are often attributed to other factors.
The thyroid gland is often described as butterfly-shaped, and is located in the neck, just behind and below the Adam’s apple. While the thyroid itself is very important, the way this gland interacts with other glands and organs of the body is perhaps even more vital to our health and well-being.
There are two main hormones produced by the thyroid. They are known as triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4), and both are very crucial to metabolism and cellular functions throughout the body. T3 is the strongest and most active hormone produced by the thyroid, and it primarily affects cellular metabolism, which ultimately impacts how fast or slow the body functions and the amount of energy we have on a day-to-day basis. T4 plays a lesser but still important role, and must actually be converted into T3 to be useful. The thyroid typically produces more T4 than T3 because its life span is shorter than T3.
A structure in the brain called the hypothalamus is also involved in this process. One of its jobs is to manufacture and release Thyrotropin-Releasing Hormone (TRH). Then the pituitary gland enters the scene. TRH stimulates the pituitary to release Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH), which is the agent that nudges the thyroid to release T3 and T4. So, as you can see, this is a cycle that is dependent on the healthy operation of several different glands and organs.
What Are the Symptoms of Hypothyroidism?
If the thyroid is underactive, it can really throw off many functions in the body and have a negative domino effect on our health. When the metabolic rate drops, individuals can suffer physically from low energy levels and fatigue, as well as mentally from depression and brain fog. They tend to feel cold most of the time, and the immune system is also compromised, leading to increased chronic illnesses. Other glands in the endocrine system are also affected, and the digestive system is not able to absorb nutrients efficiently, causing additional health concerns. Hypothyroidism is associated with numerous conditions including fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, infertility, heart disease, weight management, and issues with insulin and processing sugar in the body.
DID YOU KNOW? Plasma concentrations of cholesterol and triglycerides are inversely correlated with thyroid hormone levels – one diagnostic indication of hypothyroidism is increased blood cholesterol concentration.
More Symptoms of Hypothyroidism
The following information and symptom list is from the very informative website: Stop The Thyroid Madness
Important to Note: It’s true: some of these symptoms can be reflective of other conditions. But, that fact doesn’t take away that these are symptoms as reported by a variety of hypothyroid-diagnosed patients while on T4-only, which in turn went away when they report being optimal on Natural Desiccated Thyroid. That is telling! Also, some patients have some symptoms; other patients may have others. Some are more common for a majority; others are not.
- Less stamina than others
- Less energy than others
- Long recovery period after any activity
- Inability to hold children for very long
- Arms feeling like dead weights after activity
- Chronic Low Grade Depression
- Suicidal Thoughts
- Often feeling cold
- Cold hands and feet
- High or rising cholesterol
- Heart disease
- Plaque buildup
- Bizarre and Debilitating reaction to exercise
- Hard stools
- No eyebrows or thinning outer eyebrows
- Dry Hair
- Hair Loss
- White hairs growing in
- No hair growth, breaks faster than it grows
- Dry cracking skin
- Nodding off easily
- Requires naps in the afternoon
- Sleep Apnea (which can also be associated with low cortisol)
- Air Hunger (feeling like you can’t get enough air)
- Inability to concentrate or read long periods of time
- Foggy thinking
- Inability to lose weight
- Always gaining weight
- Weight loss (a small minority experience this)
- Inability to function in a relationship with anyone
- NO sex drive
- Failure to ovulate and/or constant bleeding
- Moody periods
- Inability to get pregnant; miscarriages
- Excruciating pain during period
- Aching bones/muscles
- Bumps on legs
- Acne on face and in hair
- Breakout on chest and arms
- Exhaustion in every dimension–physical, mental, spiritual, emotional
- Inability to work full-time
- Inability to stand on feet for long periods
- Complete lack of motivation
- Slowing to a snail’s pace when walking up slight grade
- Extremely crabby, irritable, intolerant of others
- Handwriting nearly illegible
- Internal itching of ears
- Broken/peeling fingernails
- Dry skin or snake skin
- Major anxiety/worry
- Ringing in ears
- Lactose Intolerance
- Inability to eat in the mornings
- Joint pain
- Carpal tunnel symptoms
- No Appetite
- Fluid retention to the point of Congestive Heart Failure
- Swollen legs that prevented walking
- Blood Pressure problems
- Varicose Veins
- Dizziness from fluid on the inner ear
- Low body temperature
- Raised temperature
- Tightness in throat; sore throat
- Swollen lymph glands
- Allergies (which can also be a result of low cortisol–common with hypothyroid patients)
- Headaches and Migraines
- Sore feet (plantar fascitis); painful soles of feet
- now how do I put this one politely….a cold bum, butt, derriere, fanny, gluteus maximus, haunches, hindquarters, posterior, rear, and/or cheeks. Yup, really exists.
- irritable bowel syndrome
- painful bladder
- Extreme hunger, especially at nighttime
- Dysphagia, which is nerve damage and causes the inability to swallow fluid, food or your own saliva and leads to “aspiration pneumonia”.
What Causes Hypothyroidism?
One of the major causes of an underactive thyroid is insufficient amounts of iodine in the body. Approximately 1.5 billion people, about one-third of the earth’s population, live in an area of iodine deficiency as defined by the World Health Organization. Iodine deficiency disorder is the most common preventable form of mental retardation known.(1)
Dr. Jonathan Wright has reported compelling data that iodine, in the form of iodine and iodide such as Lugol’s (liquid) and Iodizyme-HP™ (pill form) can help maintain the correct balance of the three estrogens. Specifically, Dr. Wright has reported that iodine and iodide will help the body metabolize the estrogens to favor the safer form of estrogen — estriol. Imbalances in estrogen production are associated with weight gain, mood swings and disorders such as diabetes as well as cancer of the breast, ovary, and uterus. Estrogen balance is impossible to maintain when there is iodine deficiency present. (1)
T3 and T4 cannot be produced at adequate levels without enough iodine. Most people need a supplemental form of iodine in order to ensure enough of this critical mineral. Sometimes supplementation with T3 and T4 is necessary too. Be sure to use a natural form, as artificial hormones are mostly in the form of T4 only, and the body cannot recognize and utilize them as well as natural hormones.
Selenium deficiency: A selenium deficiency can also have an effect on the thyroid and lead to hypothyroidism, which in turn causes the sufferer to exhibit symptoms including heart palpitations, emotional disturbance, moisture on the skin, sensitivity to light and many more secondary effects.
Impaired sulfation: Methylation and sulfation are required for many of the systems and processes we all need daily. These processes include:
- Heavy metal elimination
- Immune function
- Cellular/metabolic function
- Gut integrity
- Microbial balance
Stress (cortisol), both physical and emotional. Stress management is the best treatment for this. Helpful techniques include regular exercise, stretching, deep breathing, plenty of good sleep, and learning how to relax. Stress of all types is especially hard on the endocrine system, thus directly and indirectly harming the thyroid as well as the adrenal gland.
Poor nutrition: Eating a diet high in junk foods, fat, sodium, and other damaging substances can also wreak havoc with the thyroid. Eating a diet high in organic fruits and vegetables, healthy fats and protein along with an ample supply of pure water, will keep your thyroid and the rest of your body happy.
Poor liver function: Keeping your liver healthy and supported will also impact wellness throughout the body. Eating well and staying away from junk food, alcohol, prescription drugs, and other toxins is a great place to start improving liver health. The liver plays a significant role in hormonal balance, including thyroid function. Consider a natural liver cleanse and support regimen on a regular basis using an organic herb product such as LivaPure™.
Fluoridated water: Fluoride is bad for the body in many ways, and one of these is its negative effects on the thyroid. The continual over-exposure to toxic halides — bromine, fluoride, etc. — actually cause iodine deficiency and according to Dr. David Brownstein, “they can poison the enzymes responsible for organifying iodine.”(1)
Other Toxins: Cadmium, Mercury, Lead as well as other toxic chemicals and heavy metals.
Smoking: Smoking has a significant impact on thyroid function. Thiocyanate, a major component of smoke, derived from hydrogen cyanide, leads to increased excretion of iodine, inhibits iodine uptake by the thyroid, competes with iodide in the organification process (Ermans et al., 1980), and inhibits thyroid hormone synthesis (Fukayama et al., 1992).
Certain drugs: Includes synthetic lithium, drugs used for hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid), such as propylthiouracil (PTU), radioactive iodine and methimazole.
Too much soy in your diet: One primary reason for avoiding soy products is because the majority of soy grown in the USA is genetically modified. The GM variety planted in 91 percent of USA soy acres is Roundup Ready which means that it is engineered to survive being doused with otherwise lethal amounts of Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide. Roundup is known to cause endocrine disruption. Goitrogens are also found in all unfermented soy whether it’s organic or not. Goitrogens are substances that block the synthesis of thyroid hormones and can interfere with iodine metabolism, thereby interfering with thyroid function
How Can I Know if I Have Hypothyroidism?
The short answer is to always go by symptoms and proper lab testing evaluation. The following blood/saliva tests are needed in order to effectively evaluate thyroid function:
- Lipid Panel
- Liver Panel
- Thyroid – –TSH (This lab is only for diagnosis of hypopituitary, not to diagnose or dose your hypo by)
- Free T4 and Free T3 (IMPORTANT: note the word “FREE“)
- Reverse T3
- Thyroid Antibodies (anti-TPO and TgAb. BOTH are needed.) TSI can be added for the Graves antibodies–some profiles do all three.
- Ferritin (Do stress FERRITIN, not just RBC)
- Adrenals / Cortisol levels / and Estrogen / Progesterone / Testosterone / DHEA – These can be done through saliva testing using convenient a Hormone Saliva Testing Kit. DO NOT ask the doctor for these tests as testing serum (blood) does not give the accuracy that is needed.
- B-12 and Folate
- Reverse T3
- Vitamin D3 – Specifically 25(OH)D, 25-hydroxyvitamin D
- Histamine Levels
- MTHFR Gene
- Iron Profile
There is a fairly accurate home test you can use. All you need is a mercury thermometer. Take your temperature (under the armpit is best) at exactly the same time four mornings in a row. Do it immediately upon wakening, before you get out of bed or move around. If your average temp is less than 97.8, there is a good chance your thyroid is underactive.
The Solution for Hypothyroidism
Once your lab tests are in-hand and your symptom list has been made, you should be able to determine (along with your healthcare practitioner) if your thyroid is actually causing or is part of your health concerns. If a thyroid medication is indicated, I highly recommend using a dessicated thyroid medication (containing T3 and T4) such as Nature-Throid. Also, total body cleansing and detoxification (I personally use and recommend the OAW Total Body Advanced Cleansing Kit), implementing a very healthy diet which includes raw vegetable and fruit juicing, daily probiotics, iodine therapy, stress reduction techniques and moderate exercise such as rebounding is highly suggested. If your lab work indicates any other imbalances, be sure to address these issues with your healthcare practitioner.