Almost daily a patient comes into our office and asks if their thyroid could be causing them to feel sick. With symptoms ranging from depression, fatigue, dry skin, brain fog, muscle aches, stomach pains, constipation, weight gain, and cold intolerances – it can be difficult to pin down the root of these common complaints.
The Moderator of Metabolism
Your thyroid gland is responsible for regulating your metabolism. Tiny, yet powerful, it produces hormones that affects nearly every major organ system in the body. Our hypothalamus sends a signal to the pituitary gland, which then releases thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH).This results in stimulation of the thyroid gland to produce T4 and T3.
It is important that your doctor tests all three of these markers (TSH, T4, T3) to determine how your thyroid is functioning. Just checking one will give you an incomplete picture. If you suspect an autoimmune cause to your symptoms, discuss checking thyroid antibodies with your doctor as well.
Boost Your Thyroid Function
We suggest a functional medicine approach to boost your thyroid naturally. If you have clinical hypothyroidism, you may require medication in addition to the suggestions below.
- Address your stress. Your adrenal glands produce cortisol that is elevated when we are stressed. This can have a negative effect on your thyroid gland. Chronic stress lowers your levels of active thyroid hormone. Reduce your stress with acupuncture, adaptogenic herbs like rhodiola and ashwagandha, or try yoga or meditation.
- Check your Vitamin D. This hormone contributes to converting T4 (inactive) to T3 (active). You should aim for levels between 50-80.
- Eat more seaweed. This is an excellent source of iodine which a deficient nutrient in many of our diets. Try substituting Nori seaweed sheets for your traditional tortilla wrap. You can also buy kelp granules to sprinkle on everything from salads to popcorn (great healthy substitute for salt!).
- Identify Food Sensitivities. Especially if you have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, avoiding gluten and/or grains can have a significant impact on your symptoms. Testing is also available for a wider range of foods that could be affecting you.
- Reduce Inflammation. Cutting down intake of refined foods like sugar, packaged snacks, flours, and processed foods will reduce overall body inflammation and allow your thyroid to do its job.