What Is Hypothyroidism?

The thyroid gland, situated at the base of the neck below your Adam’s apple, secretes hormones that control metabolic activity in every cell of the body. In a condition called hypothyroidism or underactive thyroid, the thyroid fails to produce sufficient quantities of that hormone. This can be the result of the thyroid itself malfunctioning or due to the fact that it is not receiving the proper message from the brain to produce more hormones. As a result, all body systems function at a slower rate. If you suffer from this condition, you probably feel tired and weak most of the time. You move slower than you used to, and even relatively simple and routine activities, like preparing dinner, seem overwhelming; worse, you may not even be able to summon up any interest in trying. Most likely, you’ve gained weight and have a hard time digesting food. Your joints and muscles may ache, and because your body temperature has plummeted, you feel cold even when others are complaining of the heat. And those symptoms are just some of the most common. Others include recurring infections, hair loss, brittle nails, dry skin, menstrual problems, and high cholesterol levels. As you might imagine, hypothyroidism is often mistaken for other ailments, especially depression or even laziness.

What Causes Underactive Thyroid?

Iodine deficiency was once the most frequent cause of hypothyroidism. Although today most people get plenty (and sometimes too much) of this trace mineral from iodized table salt, there still exists a significant minority who don’t get enough or whose absorption is impaired. Nowadays, the most frequent cause of hypothyroidism is Hashimoto’s disease, an autoimmune disorder in which the body manufactures antibodies that attack thyroid tissue and suppress production of the thyroid hormone. There are other thyroid conditions that may also lead to hormonal underproduction. Stress, nutritional deficiencies, inactivity, some medications, and hormonal fluctuations as a result of pregnancy and menopause also have a role to play.

What are Common Symptoms of Hypoparathyroidism?

The thyroid is a butterfly shaped gland on either side of the windpipe directly below the Adam’s apple. The thyroid gland has many functions, including governing metabolism and aiding in digestion, mental processes, sex drive, muscle and cardiac activity, and bone repair. When your thyroid gland is underperforming, it’s called hypothyroidism. Symptoms of hypothyroidism include fatigue, brain fog, moodiness or depression, weight gain, constipation, dry skin and hair, headaches, low libido, high cholesterol, poor short term memory, anxiety or panic attacks, poor sleep, flu-like symptoms, hoarseness, hypersensitivity, and fluid retention. Heredity, viral infection, fluoridated water, and some medications can all affect the thyroid adversely. Here’s how to boost your thyroid function.

Hypothyroidism and Women

Thyroid disease affects more than six million Americans. Women are eight times more likely than men to have hypothyroidism, and it is especially prevalent among older women. Thyroid hormones regulate the metabolism in every cell of your body. For that reason, having too little of the hormones, a condition known as hypothyroidism, can have a profound impact. Symptoms include lethargy, depression, headaches, low body temperature, unusual sensitivity to cold, decreased libido, difficulty losing weight, dry skin, painful menstrual periods, slow reflexes, goiter and recurrent infections. Hypothyroidism is more common in women. The balance of estrogen and progesterone can have an indirect influence on the thyroid glands. Most common is estrogen dominance, where relatively higher estrogen levels suppress thyroid function. This predisposition can occur throughout a woman’s life. Women on synthetic estrogen therapy are particularly susceptible to decreased thyroid function. Although hypothyroidism can wreak havoc upon your entire body, it is easy to treat, especially if caught in its early stages. Hypothyroidism varies in intensity from very minor and almost unnoticeable symptoms to a severe and life threatening condition known as myxedema. Many so-called allergic diseases may in fact be due to thyroid disorders.

Natural Treatment for Hypothyroidism – Underactive Thyroid

Treating thyroid disorders can be very complicated and it is advisable to seek professional advice for an apparently underactive thyroid. We do not recommend herbs as the primary treatment for any thyroid condition. Natural approaches, however, can be valuable supplements to medication. In addition to whatever your doctor recommends, you might consider several natural remedies.

  1. Nettle Seeds: Nature provides herbs that can naturally boost thyroid health. Nettle seed is a natural thyroid tonic, being both nourishing and providing trace minerals needed by the thyroid. Look for it in tincture form and take a dropperful three times daily. You can also gather it wild and dry the seeds to sprinkle on food.
  2. Healthy Diet Tips: It stands to reason that hypothyroidism is most frequently found in landlocked regions, where iodine-rich foods from the sea are less available. If you have an underactive thyroid, it may be helpful to consume plenty of sea vegetables, such as kelp, nori, dulse, kombu, and wakame. Fish and sea salt are also good sources of iodine. Essential fatty acids found in flaxseeds, walnuts, and fish are important for thyroid function. Hypothyroidism can also be traced to a deficiency of several other minerals, including zinc, selenium, and copper. A deficiency of the amino acid tyrosine is often present in those with hypothyroidism. To make sure you’re getting enough of these nutrients, incorporate pumpkin seeds, beans, almonds, soy products, and fish into your diet.
  3. Food to Avoid: Certain vegetables known as goitrogens may suppress thyroid function. These include kale, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, soy, and brussels sprouts. Cooking the vegetables inactivates the goitrogens, so that they are safe to eat for someone with low thyroid. It’s never advisable to drink tap water, but people with hypothyroidism must be especially wary of it. Most tap water is full of fluorine and chlorine, two chemicals that inhibit your ability to absorb iodine.
  4. Chili – Cayenne pepper: Chili’s general stimulant effect also finds use where the thyroid gland is mildly underactive. here, chili will help to strengthen the circulation and improve metabolic rate. Recent research points to the possibility that chili works to enhance the anticancer activity of other antioxidant remedies. Although data is based so far only on test tube research, scientists found that when they combined 1 part chili preparation with 25 parts green tea concentrate, the anticancer activity of the combination was 100 times greater than the green tea alone. This suggests that chili can have a major impact on the medicinal activity of other foods and herbal remedies.
  5. Best Food for Underactive Thyroid: If iodine is deficient, the thyroid gland tends to swell, and blood vessels get hardened. The Japanese, known for their diet high in iodine sea foods and sea vegetables, such as dulse, kelp, and hiziki, rarely have goiter associated with hypothyroidism. The sea vegetables, constantly bathed in the rich brine of the ocean, have a softening and cleansing effect. Do your best to consume at least 1 gram daily. It is simple to sprinkle kelp or dulse on dishes. Apricots, parsley, Swiss chard, tahini, and watercress are considered beneficial foods for thyroid health. Include some in your regular regimen. Coconut oil is made primarily of medium-chain fatty acids, which increase metabolism and promote weight loss. Coconut oil can also raise basal body temperatures while increasing metabolism, benefiting those with low thyroid function.
  6. Remedies from the Sea: As with cancer, obesity is much rarer in Japan than in most Western countries. But why? According to one theory, the abundance of iodine rich seaweed in the traditional Japanese diet helps boost metabolism. Metabolic processes are governed in part by thyroid hormones. And an underactive thyroid gland can be caused by an iodine deficiency. If that’s the case, get more iodine and you’ll boost your thyroid hormone production and, along with it, your metabolism. Signs of an underactive thyroid gland include fatigue, lethargy, and dry skin. Consult with your doctor if you think your thyroid isn’t performing up to par. Most people in developed nations get plenty of iodine from iodized salt. But if your doctor has advised you to consume more iodine to help an underactive thyroid, for instance inquire about adding sea vegetables to your diet. Irish moss, a seaweed, moistens dry skin and soothes swollen glands. It is a nutritive and moistening tonic for the body. It can be found in capsules and taken as directed, usually three times daily.
  7. Bladderwrack – Kelp (Fucus vesiculosis): A cool-water sea vegetable, bladderwrack absorbs large quantities of minerals from the sea. Containing significant levels of iodine which is the mineral most responsible for stimulating thyroid gland function. Bladderwrack has traditionally been used as part of a weight loss regime. Although as yet unconfirmed by research, anecdotal evidence suggests that bladderwrack is an effective supplement in weight-loss regimes where the thyroid gland is underactive. The herb is a specific used for low thyroid function, a condition that causes low vitality, depressed mood and mental function, weight gain, and sensitivity to cold. It can quickly help to reverse symptoms where the thyroid gland is only mildly under active, or where iodine deficiency is the principal problem.
  8. Dry Hair due to Under-active Thyroid: If your dry hair is related to an under active thyroid, the mineral zinc, which improves thyroid function, can help. Take 30 milligrams each day. If you use it longer than a month, you need to balance it with 2 milligrams of copper a day. People with low thyroid levels may need more iodine as well as zinc. Seaweed is one good source. You can purchase dried seaweed at markets that carry Asian products as well as health food stores. Add the seaweed to soups and stews. If your hair’s appearance suddenly changes on its own and you start feeling fatigued, chilled, irritable, and constipated – talk to your doctor. These could be signs of hypothyroidism.
  9. Vitamin A Supplement: A deficiency of vitamin A can reduce the thyroid’s ability to assimilate iodine and contribute to goiter. In cases of hypothyroidism, it’s better to take a vitamin A (10,000 IU) supplement rather than its precursor, beta-carotene, which becomes vitamin A in the body. An iodine supplement, which is usually derived from kelp, should also be taken as sea vegetables contain the minerals needed for all endocrine functions. You can also look for combination remedies in natural food stores that contain herbs and vitamins to support the thyroid.
  10. Kelp to Control Obesity: Kelp has many medicinal uses and claims attributed to it. One of the more popular is in controlling obesity. This role is attributed to the plant’s iodine content which is believed to stimulate production of iodine containing hormones that help keep you slim. Doctors recognize that the thyroid gland is the body’s own pace-setter, either having our cellular engines merely poke along or else race at breakneck speed. When thyroid activity moves at a snail’s pace, fat isn’t burned rapidly enough and, therefore, accumulates in the body. However, when the thyroid accelerates faster, fat disappears more quickly before it can form deposits in body tissue somewhere. Recommended intake of kelp tablets or capsules from your local health food store for weight control is at least two per day with a meal. If you are on a sodium-restricted diet, you should monitor intake with care.
  11. Mustard: In addition to having a high iodine content, thyroid hormones are made from the compound tyrosine. Mustard greens are the best source of tyrosine. Several other foods that include tyrosine, in descending order of potency, are velvet bean seeds, carob, winged beans, bean sprouts, lupines, soybeans, oats, peanuts, spinach, watercress, sesame seeds, butternut squash, chaya, chives, fava beans, lamb’s-quarters, pig-weed, pumpkin seeds, snow peas and cabbage. Along with iodine from kelp, the tyrosine in any of these plants might contribute to increased production of the thyroid hormone thyroxine. Try making a tasty soup with kelp, mustard greens, spinach, sesame seeds, squash and beans. Or try a salad with mustard greens, spinach, lamb’s-quarters, bean sprouts, radishes, pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds.
  12. Walnut: In Turkish folk medicine, walnuts are used as remedies for various glandular disorders, including thyroid problems. It looks like there’s something to it. You might get some benefit from walnuts simply by enjoying them by the handful, and you could also use walnut oil as a flavorful addition to salad dressings. But it’s the green husks that are more likely to be effective, even though they are not pleasing to the palate.
  13. Radish: Radishes have long been used in Russia for treating both types of thyroid problems. Russian researchers claims that one chemical in radishes, raphanin, helps keep levels of thyroid hormones in balance. With enough raphanin circulating in the blood, the gland is less likely to overproduce or under produce these hormones.

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