Treating Thyroid Disease
Diagnosis in Hand…Now What?
Receiving a diagnosis of thyroid disease offers validation of symptoms while creating a pathway to safe, natural approaches for treatment. Once accurate testing has been done and the underlying cause of thyroid imbalance has been identified, there are a variety of options for addressing the situation for each individual.
Remove Environmental Triggers
Bisphenol A (BPA): BPA is an endocrine-disrupting compound found in plastic bottles, plastic food containers, water coolers, beer cans, recycled toilet paper and retail receipts. According to an article published in the Journal of Toxicology, BPA can have a negative impact on thyroid-specific gene expression. Eliminate as many of these toxins from your immediate environment as possible.
Soy: Vegetarian, vegan and bodybuilding men often consume a good deal of soy. According to a study published by Biochemical Pharmacology, excessive soy consumption may inhibit the ability to use iodine. “A lack of iodine is a known contributing cause of goiter, which can result in hypothyroidism in some cases,” says David Brady, ND, a clinician at Whole Body Medicine in Trumbull and Vice Provost and Associate Professor at the University of Bridgeport.
Antibacterial Hand Soap: The Journal of Toxicological Sciences revealed that Triclosan, the active ingredient in most antibacterial soaps, significantly decreases total serum T4 and T3.
Pesticides: The American Journal of Epidemiology revealed that certain pesticides called organochlorines greatly increase the likelihood for the development of subclinical hypothyroidism.
Clean Up Your Diet
A highly-processed food diet can worsen inflammation and result in immune system malfunction. It is important to eat a whole-food diet including organic vegetables, fruit, beans, nuts, seeds, grass-fed meat, poultry, wild-caught fish and healthy fats like coconut oil and butter.
Foods in the brassica family, namely broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage, may have a goiter-inducing effect on the thyroid. They are best eaten cooked instead of raw. Soybeans, peanuts and strawberries should be consumed in moderation. Also, when it comes to soy consumption, organic is best.
Proper digestive function is critical to proper thyroid function. An intolerance to one or more foods can result in chronic inflammation and poor absorption of nutrients. A blood test for food allergies can sometimes produce a false negative.
Susanne Saltzman, MD emphasizes the role of food in her management of patients with thyroid conditions, using functional medicine and food sensitivity testing to address autoimmune activity. She focuses on food sensitivities, such as removing gluten from the diet, healing the gut, detoxing the body, and correcting nutritional deficiencies via supplementation.
Removing the major food allergens, specifically gluten, lactose, soy and corn, for several weeks and slowly reintroducing them may help pinpoint hidden dietary culprits.
“In general, a paleolithic (Paleo) approach works well for many so long as it is not too low in natural fats. If patients improve on this highly restricted diet, I recommend to most of them that they slowly and carefully try reintroducing some of the otherwise healthy foods that they have cut out,” advises Stamford Integrative Medicine’s Michael Doyle, MD.
Invest in Supplements
The following dietary supplements have been shown to treat nutritional deficiencies and treat thyroid disease in a safe, natural way.
Magnesium: The Journal of Nutrition published a study that shows a direct correlation between magnesium deficiency and a deficiency in certain amino acids that act as precursors for thyroid hormone production. Brady explains that the amino acid tyrosine is intimately involved in the synthesis of the thyroid hormone thyroxine (T4).
Vitamin D3: Severe vitamin D3 deficiencies are due
to a lack of regular sunlight exposure and nutritional malabsorption.
Probiotics: They improve digestive health and nutrient absorption, which can help improve your overall metabolic function.
Reduce Stress Levels
Chronic stress taxes our adrenal glands, two glands which sit atop our kidneys. When these glands are overworked, they are unable to properly convert inactive T4 into active triiodothyronine (T3). This directly affects thyroid hormone production.
When we reduce our stress levels through relaxation exercises, meditation, yoga, reading or time with a pet, we allow our bodies to heal themselves.
Homeopathy uses natural compounds that, in larger amounts, would create the same symptoms they are meant to treat. Homeopathic specialists use very low doses of these diluted solutions to give your body instructions on how to correct imbalances and function optimally. The best approach to homeopathic treatment is to find a homeopathic specialist who can assess your individual health needs and prescribe the proper course of treatment.
Dr. Saltzman, MD, has found homeopathy highly effective for treating thyroid disorders in her practice. “Homeopathy will often deal with deeper underlying emotional issues, which place tremendous stress on the body and interfere with immune function,” says Saltzman, a physician based in Hartsdale and Spring Valley, New York.
Rest as well as moderate exercise will enhance the effect of any other treatment.
Jaime A. Heidel is a Connecticut-based freelance writer whose passion for natural health began when her life-long mystery symptoms were diagnosed as gluten intolerance
by a naturopathic physician. Connect with her at itoldyouiwassick.com.