Is Your Thyroid Being Assessed and Treated Properly?
Thyroid illness is on the rise in North America, with an estimated 1 in 10 Canadians being affected by a thyroid condition at some point in their life. Women are 4-7 times more likely to be affected than men, and what’s more astonishing, a whopping 50% of individuals are unaware of their condition and go undiagnosed.
The thyroid, a butterfly shaped gland in the neck, is the master-regulator of every cell in the body. Feeling cold? Thyroid hormone raises your core temperature. Need an energy boost? Thyroid hormone to the rescue! This simple little gland helps your body stay warm, use energy, and keep the brain, heart, and muscles working as they should. To do this, it produces two hormones, T4 and T3. T4 is readily converted to the more active and potent hormone T3, which is then responsible for protein synthesis, fat and glucose metabolism, temperature regulation, neurotransmitter synthesis, heart rate, and blood pressure regulation.
A quick and easy way to assess the health of your thyroid at home, is to measure your body temperature each morning before getting out of bed. If your thyroid is functioning optimally, you should be hitting 37 degrees Celsius every morning.
Typically thyroid health is assessed by measuring TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) levels in the blood. However, in some cases TSH values can be normal but symptoms persist. In these cases, a more thorough measurement of active thyroid hormone in the blood might be necessary, by measuring T4 and T3.
What happens when the thyroid isn’t functioning at top notch capacity? A hypo-functioning thyroid means low energy, fatigue, weight gain or difficulty losing weight, low mood, constipation, heavy periods, hair loss, and lacklustre dry skin. Does this nasty combination sound familiar?
Mainstream treatment for hypothyroid conditions involves supplementing the body with a single daily dose of thyroid hormone, most commonly T4 Synthroid (or Levothyroxine), and monitoring treatment using the lab value TSH. However, in some cases treatment with Synthroid can normalize lab values of TSH, but symptoms persist, get worse, or improve for 2-3 months after starting therapy and then worsen. In these cases, and in undiagnosed cases of low thyroid function, a more tailored treatment plan might be necessary.
An alternative intervention for the treatment of both medicated and unmedicated hypothyroid conditions is called Wilson’s Therapy. The goal of this therapy is to help reset the thyroid gland and kickstart the body’s internal thermostat. By cycling doses of the hormone up and down, it exercises the thyroid gland so that it can begin to work effectively on its own again. At the end of several cycles of treatment, either an appropriate and effective long term dose of thyroid medication is identified, or in many cases medication can be discontinued when optimal thyroid function has been regained.
But here is the secret sauce of it all… The thyroid gland isn’t a lone wolf. The magic comes from a harmonic rhythm between the adrenals and thyroid. When the body is stressed (cue busy work schedule, relationship rollercoaster, or even food sensitivities), the stress hormone, cortisol, is released from overactive adrenals to buffer the stress on the system. Cortisol, in turn, causes a direct decrease in conversion of T4 to T3. This means less active thyroid hormone is available to support optimal metabolism, and thus stress has a direct negative consequence on thyroid function. With time, if left untreated this effect grows to wreak havoc on the reproductive hormone balance, digestion, and immune system.
The golden nugget of this puzzle is that in order to effectively treat thyroid conditions we must nourish the related body systems by supporting the 4 pillars of health, and utilize a tailored medication protocol that optimizes thyroid function. If hypothyroid symptoms of slow metabolism are still getting you down, consider these 5 tips to kickstart your metabolism today:
5 tips to Kickstart your Thyroid and Boost Metabolism:
- Eat “Thrive”: A protein rich, nutrient dense diet supports optimal hormone production and regulates blood sugar. This balanced meal plan reduces sugar cravings, prevents overeating, and provides the building blocks for healthy hormones.
- Sleep Well: Did you know that when you sleep, your brain recharges, your cells repair, and important chemicals like growth hormone are released for healing. To get the most out of our sleep, both quantity and quality are important. Going to bed at the same time each night, micro-managing blood sugar late in the evening, avoiding electronics for one hour before sleep, and practicing a quick nightly meditation are all ways to improve sleep hygiene.
- De-Stress: Whether it is mindfulness meditations, breathing exercises, or yin yoga classes, finding an outlet for stress and nourishing yourself is stress management ‘101’. Incorporating these tools into a daily practice will help to balance the nervous system, improve sleep, optimize digestion, and build a strong foundation for healthy hormone production.
- Move your Body: Daily exercise improves mood and mental well being, boosts energy, controls weight, improves sleep, mitigates stress, and improves quality of life. Incorporate a daily walking routine or use your body as transportation to start reaping the benefits of an active lifestyle now.
- Wilson’s Protocol: An effective way to recover from symptoms of slow metabolism and a hypo functioning thyroid in both medicated and unmedicated thyroid patients. By utilizing a cyclical intervention with the potent thyroid hormone T3 (srT3), Wilson’s therapy supports optimal thyroid function by reversing hypothyroid states in some patients, and optimizing treatment in others.
Whether you are suspicious of an undiagnosed thyroid condition, or are battling persistent symptoms with your current thyroid medication plan, Wilson’s Therapy might be the right course of action for resetting your thyroid and kickstarting your metabolism. Please call Aumakua at 604-684-6565 to book in with one of our naturopathic doctors, who are well versed in working with thyroid conditions.
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