The thyroid is a small butterfly shaped gland held in the throat. This little gland affects energy generation, protein production and acts as our internal temperature control. Overactive, thyroid can increase metabolic rate by up to 100% and when underactive it can decrease it by as much as 50%.
Any change, no matter how small, can have major consequences.
Hyperthyroidism occurs when the Metabolic rate is in overdrive,
Skin: warm, moist, pink
Intolerance to heat, irritable and anxiouness are associated.
Raised heart rate
Hypothyroidism symptoms are the following
People may feel cold, and tired with no energy.
Skin thickens, dries and become puffy
Muscles may be slow and achey.
Low blood sugar can be a problem.
This last one can send adrenalin levels really high leading to cortisol production and the feeling of being hyper. Sometimes be confused with hyperthyroidism and many a patient has gone through surgery for hyperthyroidism only to find out that they were actually becoming hypothyroid during menopause but the adrenal glands made them present as hyperthyroid.
Most people with a thyroid complaint are aware that Iodine contains one of the ingredients critical for thyroid hormones. The famous nutrient is, of course, Bladderwrack but many, many sea veg are full of iodine.
The thyroid converts Iodine into (T4) or (T3), where they are stored and released on demand. To do this we need to have sufficient selenium and zinc in the diet.
T4 can also be converted into Reverse T3 (rT3). This is done to allow the bodies organs to make T3 independantly but it is acellerated if the thryoid is struggling. A GP will normally only measure T4 and TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) leaving some important details missing.
Both these hormones are excreted by the liver but may be reabsorbed in the digestive tract disguising the fact that the thyroid isn't producing it in the right quantity. If the liver isn't function properly then the levels will be affected.
If a person is stressed, then a higher cortisol level will down regulate the system and impair the thyroids function. Other important factors to consider might include glucocorticoids, cytokines, oestrogen and pregnancy but I'll be merciful and leave that for another day!
So, if the bloodwork is unreliable how, may you ask, do we figure out the truth?
Basal metabolic Rate (BMR) is the most accurate means of assessing thyroid activity in our cells. This can be done by taking your temperature, pulse, noting your symptoms and response to treatment. There is also a very handy reflex test on the achilles tendon that can point to hypothyroidism.
Measure your core temperature (mouth or armpit) in the morning before you get up, once after breakfast and again in the afternoon for 4 consecutive days. At the same time check your pulse. Finally at the same time as doing this compare your core temperature by placing your hands on your stomach and measuring the temperature difference of between 1 & 5. A consistent low temperature and high difference in core to peripheral temperatures along with a slower pulse would all be indicative of hypothryoid.
Thyroxine is the usual treatment given today which is okay for men but for some women it is possible to feel more and more hypothyroid even as the doses are put up.
So, you have an underactive thyroid, the doctor doesn't seem to wish to prescribe anything other than thyroxine.... Where to next?
First up: The wonderful Peninsula Kelp comany offer a wide range of goodies that will help increase your iodine intake. Its a wonderful local family run company lead by Andrea and Greame. Its well worth investing in some sensitively harvested seaweed products. Big thanks to them for the wonderful photos also.
Consider ordering yourself some organic, pasture-fed dessicated thyroid consisting of T3 & T4. There a a few suppliers online and whilst its expensive don't make the mistake of going for a non-organic version.
Make sure you are consuming selenium and zinc. Dairy and eggs are really good nutritional foods.
Herbalists like myself may also suggest herbs such as Black walnut hull, bladderwrack or alfalfa as means of supporting iodine and iodine absorption. We would of course be doing so in conjuction with other herbs that best support your needs.
Regardless as to how you progess - I hope that this has been helpful on this all too common dis-ease.