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Underactive Thyroid
(Hypothyroidism)

The opposite extreme of an overactive thyroid is the condition of an under active thyroid or hypothyroidism as opposed to hyperthyroidism, in this case, which occurs quite commonly, the body's metabolic rate is lowered to a great degree, bringing on the typical symptoms of hypothyroidism. The patient may feel a great need to sleep and spends a lot of time sleeping, there is a gain in weight and exhaustion and fatigue occur on a continuous basis, mimicking the signs of other conditions like depression, with which hypothyroidism is typically mistaken. The person may always feel cold and is affected by chills in the body, his or her ability to resist infection is impaired and other disease may take advantage of this factor. Dryness of the skin is common, with the skin typically being very cold to the touch. The outer eyebrows and the head may have significant hair loss, which can become very noticeable in the person. Disorders like the irritable bowel syndrome, aches and arthritis, aches in the muscle and the joint, different types of allergies, serious conditions like asthma, a raised or elevated cholesterol level, unhealthy nails and carrot-colored palms and soles, an impaired memory and an inability to concentrate and frequently occurring yeast infections are all typical physical manifestations of the condition. Conditions like constipation occur as a result of the decreased metabolic rate, which impairs organ function, and in women this lowered metabolic rate may often be manifested as a lighter, or much heavier and short menstruation period. Though not applicable to all cases and in all patients goiter often develops as the body tires to increase thyroid activity, in an attempt to boost the body's metabolic rate. Swollen and puffy legs and face may be observed in patients who are afflicted with very severe forms of the condition. In very rare circumstances, hypothyroidism can lead to coma in the patient, especially if it goes unchecked for long periods of time.

Since mental and physical development are often affected seriously, pregnant women and children are the most vulnerable group of people as far as hypothyroidism is concerned. Symptomatic physical fatigue because of aging and consequent physical impairment or an underlying depression is often mistaken for the symptoms caused by hypothyroidism in the elderly.

The condition of hypothyroidism can be brought on by many kinds of factors and circumstances. Because of the hormonal fluctuation during menopause and pregnancy, susceptibility for hypothyroidism is high in most women. A diet deficient in the essential mineral iodine is often the cause of an under active thyroid in many patients, this is especially so in those populations living far from the ocean and having a continental type of climate in their cities or towns. A dysfunctional thyroid gland can also come about because of a lack of physical exercise and due to deficient nutrition, which may lack many of the essential nutrients that a healthy body requires.

Some rare conditions can also lead to under activity in the thyroid glands. The body's own immune system may attack the thyroid gland in a condition known as Hashimoto's disease, which will eventually lead to hypothyroidism. The cause behind this autoimmune condition remained a mystery and has not been found. Irradiation can also impair thyroid gland functioning and surgery could also cause a problem, these treatments might have been carried out to repair an overactive thyroid gland, and can sometimes cause the reverse condition. The receptors in the body's cell can be blocked as far as thyroid hormones are concerned, through chemical mimics that resemble the thyroid secretions these include many types of chemical pollutants, such as PCBs and pesticides, which can easily contaminate food, hypothyroidism may be the resulting condition in such cases.

Supplements and herbs

All the thyroid hormones essential to a functioning metabolism in the human body are derivatives of the essential mineral Iodine, which is a very important constituent of the final thyroid hormone. Using supplements of the seaweed kelp, which are extremely abundant in iodine, these seaweeds hence make excellent dietary sources for the mineral. The proper assimilation of the mineral iodine in the body requires the presence of the vitamin E, and the diet should also include this vitamin in addition to the iodine. The vitamins A and C and all the vitamins of the B complex are required as constituents in the manufacture of thyroid hormones and must be used as dietary supplements. The normal functioning of the thyroid gland is also promoted by many of the essential fatty acids, and these must also be included in the diet.

Many essential minerals such as zinc, vitamins like the vitamin B6, amino acids like tyrosine and the mineral iodine can be used as an alternative to the direct supplement of thyroid hormone in cases of hypothyroidism, however supplements of the thyroid hormone-also called L-thyroxin, is sometimes preferred and become necessary especially where these supplements fail to treat the disorder. A glandular extract of the thyroids with trace amounts of the L-thyroxin are manufactured and sold by some pharmaceutical companies as supplements for hypothyroidism. These glandular extract with zero or low levels of the L-thyroxin may in some cases work equally well compared to the tablets of pure thyroid hormone used as a supplement. The need to use this remedy and the suitability of its utilization in an individual patient must be suggested and prescribed by a homeopathic doctor.

To preclude the onset of depression in a person, adequate levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin is a necessity. Consuming supplements containing the amino acid precursor of serotonin, called tryptophan is a good way of increasing levels of serotonin in the brain; this must be done only under prescription from a doctor. Food items like fishes and other seafood's, meat, milk and other dairy products, wheat germ and eggs, and a variety of nuts abound in the amino acid and these can all be used as supplements in the diet. An herb traditionally quoted for its soothing actions, called chamomile, also contains this amino acid and may also consequently be used as a supplement.

Dietary sources for tryptophan may not be adequate in individuals with problems related to the digestion of food rich in proteins. In such cases depression typically follows even after taking diets rich in the amino acid, other psychological conditions equally prominent in such people are problems like many types of obsessive compulsive disorders, severe forms of mania, fears and anxiety, sleep disturbances and insomnia, in women symptoms of PMS, appetite loss and pathological illnesses like bulimia and other types of eating disorders including anorexia nervosa and finally weight gain and obesity may result.

Many types of thyroid disorders can be alleviated by certain herbal remedies, which must be used along with the diet.

For external and topical soothing measures, the herbal extract of the rosemary herb combined with those of the fir can be mixed to the bathwater of the patient.

Additional things you may do

Tissue sensitivity to the effects of the thyroid hormone can be increased by activities like regular physical exercise, which also stimulates the proper functioning of the thyroid gland in the body. The circulation system in the body can be greatly enhanced through regular and daily exercises. Other alternative methods, which can be equally beneficial to the treatment of the condition, are activities like water stepping and barefoot walking for one minute a day. Steam baths and saunas can be visited to increase and induce perspiration in the body; this is a good way to eliminate toxins from the body. Before taking a shower in the morning use a natural-bristle brush or loofah to dry brush your entire body on a regular basis. For five mornings on a consecutive basis, just before arising from bed make a regular self-test for possible signs of an under active thyroid gland, the simplest measure being to check the armpit temperature. After having taken the readings from the five consecutive mornings, use the numbers to calculate an average temperature. Man can start this process of self-checking anytime, but women should preferably start the second day after their menstrual cycle has started. The temperature rang during this time should be 97.8-98.2F (36.6-36.8C) which can be considered within normal range. A Deficient nutrient level in the body is indicated by low body temperatures in an individual. Problems may arise in the case of unsuspected ('sub clinical') hypothyroidism where results from routine blood tests for T3, T4, T7 or TSH may show normal levels. Alternately a high cholesterol level is another good indication of impaired thyroid performance, high levels of circulating carotenes and a low vitamin A level can also indicate hypothyroidism. The vitamin A or retinal is manufactured from carotenes in the body under the action of thyroid hormones and once low levels of thyroid hormones are present, carotenes go unused and low levels of the vitamin A result. Low cholesterol levels in the diet are another important measure to aid in the fight against an under functioning thyroid gland.

Usual dosage

  • Kelp, one tbsp.
  • Vitamin A, 25,000 IU. Avoid during pregnancy.
  • Vitamin B complex, 100 mg
  • Pyridoxal-5-Phosphate, 50 mg or vitamin B6, 100 mg
  • Vitamin C with bioflavonoids, 1,000 mg
  • Vitamin E, with mixed tocopherols, 400 IU
  • L-tyrosine, 200 mg
  • L-tryptophan, 100 mg
  • 3 mg copper with 15mg zinc

Comments

From Yalana Cotu
Goitrogens are a naturally occurring substance that interferes with the production of thyroid hormones. Beware of otherwise "healthy" foods that are high in these: beans, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, millet, radishes, spinach, soybeans, peaches, peanuts, and pine nuts. In spite of the many benefits of "raw" foods, for the under-active thyroid these are especially dangerous when under-cooked.
While kelp is beneficial, excessive amounts of iodine may actually trigger hypothyroidism. So be careful. Moderation is the key.
An amino acid, tyrosine, combines with iodine to produce the thyroid's hormones. Almonds, avocados, bananas, dairy, fish, oats, sesame seeds, and are all good sources of tyrosine. But so are some of the more "goitrogenic" foods, such as mustard greens, soybeans, spinach, and cabbage. So long as they are "very" well cooked, they are fairly safe.
Turmeric is said to be helpful in regulating thyroid function. More research could be in order, here.
Not spiking the endocrine system, and the body's systems in general, with high-glycemic sweeteners could also help. Replacing sugar with Stevia "rebaudiana" extract, commonly called Sweet-leafed Stevia, could be useful.
Phthalates (BPAs) from PVC (polyvinyl-chloride) pipes, and other sources can interfere with all the endocrine glands - especially the thyroid. A carbon filter on your water faucet, if the pipes in your house or neighbor hood are PVC plastic, may be a good idea.
Fluoride has also been implicated in reduced thyroid function. Black and green teas can also contain fluoride. Again - moderation!
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