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Underactive Thyroid (Hypothyroidism)
The thyroid is one of the glands that make up the endocrine system and it produces, stores, and releases hormones that travel in the bloodstream and target cells to regulate activity. The thyroid gland makes two thyroid hormones that are abbreviated to T3 and T4. T3 is made from T4 and is the more active hormone, directly affecting the tissues. Thyroid hormones affect metabolism and have roles to play in brain development, breathing, heart and nervous system functions, body temperature, muscle strength, skin moisture levels, menstrual cycles, weight, and cholesterol levels.
Hypothyroid disease (underactive function) occurs when the thyroid gland does not make enough thyroid hormone and this affects the way the body uses energy. The condition can affect nearly every organ in the body and many bodily functions will slow down. About 4.6 percent of the US population age 12 and older has hypothyroidism.
There CAN BE several causes, including:
- Hashimoto’s disease (an autoimmune disorder with chronic inflammation).
- Thyroiditis (inflammation of the thyroid; may be obvious or silent).
- Congenital hypothyroidism (newborn babies are screened for this so that early treatment prevents poor brain and mental development).
- Surgical removal of part or all of the thyroid.
- Radiation treatment of the thyroid.
- Medications such as interferon alpha and interleukin-2 used in cancer treatment, and lithium used to manage bipolar disorder.
- Less commonly there may be insufficient iodine in the diet or an abnormality of the pituitary gland.
The main symptoms of low thyroid function are fatigue, unexplained weight gain, puffy face, cold intolerance, joint and muscle pain, constipation, dry skin and hair, thinning hair, heavy or irregular menstrual periods and impaired fertility and depression. Sufferers may not have all of these symptoms. With Hashimoto’s disease there may also be nodules on the thyroid or an enlarged gland (goiter) that can create a feeling of fullness in the throat. Women are more likely to develop hypothyroidism and those over 60 are more susceptible. There are unique risks in pregnancy and untreated disease may increase the miscarriage risk. Pregnant women should be screened and women with an existing thyroid disease are advised to discuss their risk factors with an expert prior to pregnancy. Post-partum it is believed that as many as 10 percent of mothers are left with short term and undiagnosed hypothyroid disease and are mistakenly thought to have post-partum depression.
Foods & herbs for the home
- Sea salt contains natural iodine as well as other trace minerals and is preferred to rock salt, which can be heated to such high temperatures that all minerals are destroyed.
- Seaweeds are a normal part of many traditional diets, and small amounts of kelp and other seaweeds can be consumed up to 3 times a week. However, if there is pre-existing thyroid disease do not include these.
- Low energy has many causes and is frequently ignored. Foods and drinks that create too much push on the adrenal glands will adversely affect the entire endocrine system, which works in a delicate web of inter-connection. Avoid stimulants such as an excess of coffee, black tea, soda and cola drinks, sugar and caffeine drinks as well as sports drinks.
- Instead support your endocrine system with a dependable tonic drink such as Nettle Herb Tea.
- Viral and bacterial infection may be prompts for the development of any autoimmune disorder. Gentle support of the immune system is offered with ImmuGold Herbal Tea.
- Rather than push the adrenal glands into constant stimulus, EnergiRevive Powder can gently support them; ask us for a sample.
- Because the thyroid is involved in cholesterol management, do ensure that this is checked with an annual thyroid test. Support healthy cholesterol levels through diet as well as optimising liver function. Milk Thistle Seeds are uniquely supportive of the liver and are easily added to food.
- Superfood Plus is rich in natural iodine from plants and is the ideal support for the thyroid gland. If you are on medication for pre-existing thyroid disease, consult a herbalist or phone our product advice line at the number below before using Superfood Plus.
- Inflammation is at the heart of many conditions and so an anti-inflammatory diet is a key factor in reducing risk for many diseases and disorders. You can learn about this by downloading books and reading posts by Dr Richard Schulze on his blog.
- Stress that is high, chronic and unmanaged can contribute to early ageing and disease, including thyroid conditions. Manage stress in the way that works best for you. Meditation and yoga works for some while others find vigorous activity and nature walks to be more effective. But daily exercise, in whatever form you prefer, will help to discharge the build-up of stress hormones that may have accumulated during the day.
- Take time out for yourself on a regular basis; fill your own cup of energy first and prioritise self-care.
- Take care of extra dry skin and hair with natural products that deeply nourish.
Additional help is available by phoning the free product advice line at Herbs Hands Healing between the hours of 9.00am to 1.00pm. Tel: 01379 608201.
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To learn more about natural healing for this and other ailments, visit Dr Schulze's blog.
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