The Thyroid Gland What can go wrong & Natural ways to help.
THE THYROID • The Thyroid is an Endocrine gland in the neck • It produces THYROXINE (T4) and TRIIODOTHYRONINE (T3) • T4 and T3 are needed by all body cells to work properly. • 1 in 20 people has a thyroid disorder this could be either • Hyperthyroidism - Too much thyroid hormone being produced • Hypothyroidism - Not enough Thyroid hormone being produced
THE MAIN THYROID HORMONES • Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) – produced by the pituitary gland in response to low levels of thyroid hormones circulating in the body. TSH should stimulate the thyroid to increase production of T4 & T3. • T4– Thyroxine is the main product of the thyroid • T4 is converted into T3 by the thyroid, liver, kidneys and muscle cells. • The majority of the conversion of T4 to T3 is not carried out by the thyroid • T3 is the biologically active thyroid hormone used by body cells.
TESTING THE THYROID LEVELS Generally if someone suspects that they have a thyroid disorder, the doctor will order a blood test to check for TSH and Free T4 levels. The acceptable range of TSH – 0.4 - 4.0 The acceptable range of Free T4 – 9.0 - 25.0 2 main problems with these tests: • They are incredibly wide ranges • They rarely, if ever, check T3 levels.
THE ISSUE OF TEST RESULTS • As T3 is the biologically active thyroid hormone most nutritional practitioners feel that knowing whether we are converting T4 to T3 is important. • There are many people who are taking Thyroxine medication (i.e. topping up their T4) who still struggle with low thyroid symptoms. • The fact that the range of acceptable readings is so wide, means that there are many people who are struggling with symptoms of a thyroid problem, but are not bad enough clinically to get any help or support from the medical profession.
SYMPTOMS OF HYPERTHYROIDISM • Weight Loss • Heat Intolerant • Anxious • Irritable • Sore Eyes • Sleep problems • Palpitations • Swelling in the neck from enlarged thyroid
TREATMENT OF HYPERTHYROIDISM • Medications to stop the over production of thyroid hormones. • Radioactive Iodine – to destroy part of the thyroid to stop it producing so much thyroid hormone. • Surgery to remove all or part of the thyroid gland. Very little to offer in natural remedies to help whilst the thyroid is overactive unfortunately. However, lots to offer after treatment…
COMMON RESULT OF TREATMENT The destruction or removal of some or all of the overactive thyroid tends to result in….. An underactive thyroid – Hypothyroidism Plus Treatment with Thyroxine!
SYMPTOMS OF HYPOTHYROIDISM • Weight gain / Struggle to lose weight • Sensitive to the cold • Fatigue • Poor concentration • Depression • Constipation • Aches & Pains • Mood swings • Sleep issues
MEDICAL TREATMENT OF HYPOTHYROIDISM • Normal treatment of a clinically recognised underactive thyroid is to be put onto THYROXINE. • Once a person is on thyroxine medication, they tend to be on it for life. • Because Thyroxine is not the biologically active form of the thyroid hormone, it does not always solve the problem. • People on long term thyroxine are at risk of additional health problems.
SUPPORTING THOSE ON THYROXINE • Many people on Thyroxine continue to suffer with the symptoms of an underactive thyroid. The most likely cause of this is a failure by their body to convert the T4 in their medication into the active T3. • The conversion of T4 into T3 relies on an enzyme group called DEIODINASE • The production of deiodinase relies on the production of GLUTATHIONE. • The production of glutathione relies on the presence of: B6, B12, Zinc, Magnesium & Selenium.
SUPPORTING T4 TO T3 • Selenium with ACE & Zinc is the primary supplement to suggest as this is vital for the production of Glutathione. • A high strength Vitamin B complex will support healthy thyroid function & Glutathione production.
SUPPORTING T4 TO T3 • Magnesium plays an important role in glutathione production, so adding this in to the regime is a good idea. • As the conversion of T4 to T3 is very active in the Liver, supporting liver health and function, using herbs like Milk Thistle will in turn support thyroid function.
SUBCLINICAL THYROID PROBLEMS • There are many people who have many or all of the symptoms of an overactive thyroid, who are told by the Dr that they are fine. • This could be because they are within that very wide spectrum – but they may be very near the bottom of the range. This will give them the symptoms of low thyroid, but they will not be bad enough for treatment from the Dr. • It may also be because their TSH and T4 levels are OK, however, because there is no test for T3, they may not be converting T4 to T3 effectively.
SUPPORTING SUBCLINICAL THYROID Kelp and B Vitamin Complex to support good thyroid function and the production of TSH & T4 Selenium and Milk Thistle to help ensure effective conversion of T4 to T3. Magnesium could be added too.
THE ISSUE OF IODINE / KELP • Iodine can support thyroid function; however, it is rarely deficient in modern diets, due to the fact that it is added to table salt. • Iodine should not be given in any thyroid support regime to people on thyroxine medication or those with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. • As Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis is the most common cause of an underactive thyroid,it is vital to ensure a correct diagnosis before using any iodine based supplements to support those with underactive thyroid issues.
ADDITIONAL THYROID ISSUES • OSTEOPOROSIS – Too much Thyroxine increases the rate at which bone is lost. This may be true of long term Thyroxine medication, especially at high doses. • THYROID EYE DISEASE – An autoimmune disorder associated with an overactive thyroid or too much thyroxine. As each of these 2 problems is linked with too much thyroxine, ensuring good conversion to T3 is key to ensuring long term health. • THYROIDITIS – This may be caused by a virus, it can occur post pregnancy and it is sometimes caused by an autoimmune disease.
ADDITIONAL HELP THYROID RELATED OSTEOPOROSIS Because Vitamin K2 can help to prevent bone losses, this could be a key link sale to anyone who is taking thyroxine. This could be particularly important for a post menopausal women who is taking thyroxine, to try and protect her bones from all angles.
ADDITIONAL HELP THYROID RELATED EYE DISEASE The main symptoms of this problem are redness, swelling and a dry gritty sensation. Sea Buckthorn can help lubricate the eye and reduce those symptoms. Lutein Eye Complex contains ingredients which will protect the eyes from damage and inflammation, aiding regeneration of tissue and protecting cells from damage.
ADDITIONAL HELP THYROIDITIS If the problem is as a result of a viral infection – support the immune system to fight the infection off quicker. Many women are low in Omega 3 post pregnancy, leaving them susceptible to inflammation. If thyroiditis has occurred post partum, suggest super strength Omega 3
ADDITIONAL HELP THYROIDITIS • If the problem is linked to an auto immune disorder try Devils Claw. • Devils Claw has a natural anti inflammatory action, reducing the inflammation in the thyroid. • Auto Immune conditions are caused by an over reaction of part of the immune system. • Devils Claw is thought to have a balancing effect on the immune system, slowing down the over reaction of the immune system.
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