When your thyroid hormones are out of balance, you just don’t feel like you.
So what happens when your thyroid goes haywire and what can you do to fix it?
Keep reading to learn more about thyroid health issues, including how to treat them naturally…
What Is the Thyroid?
The thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland at the base of the neck.
It produces several hormones that have a major impact on your health.
Ultimately, thyroid hormones affect important functions like metabolism, energy, heart rate, and temperature.
Hypothyroidism vs. Hyperthyroidism
Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid doesn’t produce enough hormones for the body to function well. Symptoms can include fatigue, weight gain, and depression.
Hyperthyroidism, on the other hand, occurs when the body produces too many hormones. Symptoms can include restlessness, poor concentration, and difficulty sleeping.
How Common are Thyroid Health Issues?
Roughly 4.6 percent of Americans ages 12 and up have hypothyroidism, and most of them are women. About 1 in 8 women develop hypothyroidism. (1)
Hyperthyroidism is less common and occurs in only about 1.2 percent of people in the US.
Signs and Symptoms of Hypothyroidism
The signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism are rarely the same for two people.
One person might feel extremely tired, while the other might gain a lot of weight. In fact, these are the two most common early signs of hypothyroidism.
Common symptoms of hypothyroidism include:
Slowed heart rate
High blood cholesterol
Joint pain and stiffness
Hypothyroidism can be difficult to identify because the signs are so general. After all, there are a lot of reasons why people gain weight and feel tired.
Typically, symptoms develop over many years. As symptoms progress, the condition becomes easier to identify.
Signs and Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism
With hyperthyroidism, increased hormones boost your metabolic rate. Ultimately, this can lead to a whole host of thyroid health issues.
Some of the most common symptoms of hyperthyroidism are…
Sudden weight loss
Nausea and vomiting
Inability to concentrate
Rapid heartbeat can lead to other side effects like irregular heart rate, congestive heart failure, and strokes.
It may also cause breast development in men and irregular menstrual cycles in women.
To make matters worse, the thyroid gland itself can swell into a large goiter: an unattractive lump on the front of the neck.
Causes of Hypothyroidism
Hypothyroidism can develop for several reasons, including poor diet, chronic stress, and malnutrition.
However, a genetic condition called Hashimoto’s disease is the most common cause.
In Hashimoto’s disease, the body attacks the thyroid gland and causes chronic thyroid inflammation.
Before long, the thyroid stops producing hormones.
Like many other forms of hypothyroidism, Hashimoto’s is more common in women.
You are more likely to develop Hashimoto’s disease if you have a family member who has been diagnosed.
Causes of Hyperthyroidism
Hyperthyroidism can have many causes, including:
Tumors on the ovaries or testes
Large amounts of medications that contain tetraiodothyronine
Excess iodine, which is used to produce thyroid hormones
Non-cancerous tumors on the thyroid or pituitary gland
One of the most common causes, however, is an autoimmune disorder called Graves’ disease.
In Graves’ disease, the immune system triggers the thyroid to produce too many hormones.
Similar to Hashimoto’s, Graves’ disease tends to run in families.
Diagnosing Hypothyroidism vs. Hyperthyroidism
Your doctor will most likely give you a thorough medical exam, take blood tests, and ask you a lot of questions about your symptoms and family history.
Ultimately, though, blood tests are the only way to know what’s going on for sure.
Most importantly, they’ll test for a hormone called TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone).
High TSH is a sign of hypothyroidism
Low TSH is a sign of hyperthyroidism
High TSH happens when the thyroid isn’t producing enough hormones. In response, it releases TSH to boost production.
Low TSH happens when the body is already producing too many hormones, so it reduces TSH in order to slow it down.
Your doctor may also test for other hormones, like T3 and T4. Low T4 and high TSH, is a sign of hypothyroidism.
Cholesterol levels are also worth looking at…
High cholesterol is a sign of hypothyroidism and low cholesterol is a sign of hyperthyroidism.
The same goes for triglycerides. High levels scream hypo- and low levels scream hyper-.
Ultrasounds, CT, and MRI scans may also be necessary if your doctor feels a lump in your throat and suspects a tumor.
Natural Remedies for Hypothyroidism
So you’ve been diagnosed with hypothyroidism…now what?
Fortunately, there are plenty of natural remedies for thyroid health issues, like herbal supplements and healthy foods.
Let’s take a closer look…
1. Sugar-free Diet
It’s no secret that sugar increases inflammation in the body.
And since hypothyroidism can be triggered by inflammation, it’s no surprise that sugar is off the menu.
Inflammation slows the production of important thyroid hormones.
Plus, high-sugar diets are linked to chronic stress, another cause of hypothyroidism.
If you adopt a sugar-free diet, you should feel less stressed and less inflamed. That’s a win-win for your thyroid!
2. Gluten-free Diet
Guess what? Gluten causes inflammation too, and that means it’s time to cut it out of your diet.
No more bread, pasta, cupcakes, cookies, or anything else that contains gluten.
It’s no wonder why people who are allergic to gluten also have higher rates of thyroid health issues! (2)
Just be careful when you’re shopping…
Many gluten-free alternatives are also high in sugar.
Selenium is a powerful antioxidant that has a big impact on the thyroid.
For starters, it helps balance the T4 hormone.
Plus, Hashimoto’s disease often reduces the body’s selenium, so it’s a good idea to stock up.
Luckily, you can find plenty of selenium in foods like Brazil nuts, grass-fed beef, turkey, and tuna.
Probiotics are healthy bacteria that live in your gut.
Researchers from the National Institute of Health (NIH) found a strong connection between hypothyroidism and gut problems. (3)
The good news is that probiotics strengthen the gut lining and keep your intestines healthy.
You can find probiotics in fermented foods, like sauerkraut, but the best source is supplements.
5. Vitamin B-12
B-12 won’t cure hypothyroidism directly, but it can help with some of the symptoms.
Hypothyroidism can lower the body’s B-12, which is one of the reasons why it causes fatigue.
In the end, taking B-12 supplements can boost energy and reduce feelings of tiredness.
You can find B-12 and other B vitamins in the following foods:
Natural Remedies for Hyperthyroidism
There are also several natural remedies for hyperthyroidism.
In fact, some of the natural treatments for hypothyroidism can also help with hyperthyroidism.
Let’s take a closer look…
1. Avoid Iodine
Iodine is found in herbal supplements, but it’s also sold as iodized salt.
Too much iodine can lead to hyperthyroidism and too little can cause hypothyroidism.
With iodine and thyroid health issues, it’s all about balance.
2. Other Foods to Avoid
In addition to iodized salt, you’ll also want to stay away from:
Glutenous products, like bread and pasta
Large amounts of poultry or beef
Soy products like tofu, soy milk, and soy sauce are also big no-nos because research shows that they can disrupt thyroid function. (4)
L-carnitine is an amino acid that occurs naturally in the body.
You can also take it as a supplement or find it in foods like meat and fish.
One recent study found that L-carnitine can reverse or prevent some symptoms of hyperthyroidism, like irregular heartbeat and tremors. (5)
4. B Vitamins
B-complex vitamins, especially B-12, can help correct some of the symptoms of hyperthyroidism.
Ultimately, an overactive thyroid can lead to B-12 deficiencies.
In fact, the entire family of B vitamins, like B-6 and folic acid, can be negatively affected by hyperthyroidism.
If you think you might have a thyroid health issue, it’s never a bad idea to supplement with B vitamins.
Selenium isn’t just good for underactive thyroids—it’s good for hyperactive ones too.
Additionally, these supplements can treat some symptoms of hyperthyroidism.
Graves’ disease, for example, may respond particularly well to selenium.
If you have any more questions about thyroid health issues, feel free to contact us at Complete Care Health Centers.
We’re happy to answer any questions you may have.