Improving Low Thyroid
by Lorna Vanderhaeghe
Hypothyroid, or low thyroid hormone, affects 20 to 25%—almost one-quarter—of American women and 10% of men. Another large group of Americans may have subclinical, or mild hypothyroidism, whereby their thyroid stimulating hormone blood test (TSH) results are within normal range, but they have many symptoms of low thyroid. Some thyroid specialists believe that many women live with subclinical low thyroid for up to a decade before their condition is confirmed by a TSH blood test.
The thyroid, a small gland that lies below the Adam's apple in the neck, secretes hormones that control many metabolic functions. These hormones stimulate protein production and increase the cells' use of oxygen. They also determine metabolism—the rate at which we burn food for fuel.
Because thyroid hormones affect every cell in the body, a deficiency will result in numerous symptoms. Hypothyroidism causes the body's metabolic rate to slow dramatically and, often, early symptoms are misdiagnosed as depression. Slowed heart rate, hoarse voice, slowed speech, swollen and puffy face, drooping eyelids, intolerance to cold, constipation, and weight gain are hallmark symptoms. Hair often becomes sparse, coarse, and dry, and there is a loss of eyebrow hair. The skin will become dry, scaly, thick, and bumpy, and may have raised, thickened areas on the shins.
LOW THYROID, PERI-MENOPAUSE, MENOPAUSE, AND WEIGHT GAIN
During peri-menopause and menopause, it is all too common for women to suffer with many hormonal complaints, i.e., hot flashes, night sweats, and disturbed sleep. Although most symptoms are associated with declining estrogen, they are also hallmark symptoms of low thyroid, especially night sweats and insomnia. Therapies, such as hormone replacement for menopause and birth control pills for peri-menopause, can exacerbate the problem, because these treatments further shut down the thyroid. High estrogen levels interfere with thyroid hormones—particularly the use of T3, its most biologically active hormone—its functions, and causes a host of problems.
The following nutrients found in ThyroSense have been shown to support the thyroid gland for those with both low and subclincally low thyroid:
L-tyrosine is an amino acid necessary for the manufacture of thyroid hormones and can be taken alone or as a component of a nutritional supplement at a dosage of 500 mg per day to enhance thyroid function.
The thyroid gland needs iodine to make its hormones. In fact, iodine's only role in the body is to make thyroid hormone. Too little can cause impaired thyroid function, while too much can actually interfere with the thyroid's ability to produce hormones. The dosage range for iodine supplementation is 300-400 mcg daily. Read the labels on your multivitamin and any thyroid preparations you are taking to make sure your total intake is within recommended range.
Two herbs used in Ayurvedic medicine, Withania somenifera (ashwaganda) and Commiphora mukul (myrrh), have shown an ability to boost thyroid function in experimental animal studies. Exhibiting seemingly synergistic effects, withania extract appears to produce a significant increase in the level of thyroid hormone (T4), while commiphora extract enhances the conversion of T4 to the more potent T3 form. Both plants appear to boost thyroid function without influencing the release of the pituitary hormone TSH, indicating the herbs work directly on the thyroid gland and other body tissues to exert their effects. This action is important. Ninety-five percent of all hypothyroidism cases are not due to pituitary problems. The problem is with the thyroid itself and an impaired T4-to-T3-conversion in tissues outside the gland. The recommended dosages for the two herbs as contained in two Natural Factors ThyroSense capsules are:
Pantothenic acid supports the adrenal glands, which is important when helping the thyroid gland as they are directly connected. When or if the adrenals become exhausted, thyroid hormone can become low. Pantothenic acid helps increase energy and the ability to better handle stressful situations.
Copper and Manganese
A deficiency in either mineral can contribute to hypothyroidism. Supplementation with these minerals, as well as vitamins A, B2, B3, B6, C, and E, will ensure optimal thyroid health. A quality multivitamin with minerals is a good start to improving your thyroid health.