Thyroid imbalances are one of the most common health issues in women today but are they just the tip of the iceberg to a larger and more complex endocrine imbalance?

Thyroid medications are among the 10 most prescribed medications in Australia and the USA signalling and epidemic in our midst and it’s a rarely discussed medical condition in the press or the community.

The thyroid gland is part of the endocrine system yet medically it’s only seen as a singular gland.  The interactivity of the thyroid with the rest of the endocrine system is not considered, which is why women who have thyroid issues often develop secondary symptoms.  These are not linked to thyroid dysfunction and leave women wondering why they are so unwell.

glandular interactionEach and every function in the body is connected and the thyroid is no different. As part of the endocrine system, the thyroid plays a large role in the body’s metabolism. In other words, it maintains homoeostasis in terms of energy production vs energy output which is a very important function. So let’s look at what does wrong.

Causes of thyroid imbalance

The first thing is that because of the thyroids function of maintaining homeostasis, it plays the role of referee. If you have excessive stress levels for a long period, this increases energy production, then the thyroid withdraws its energy stimulation hormones. If you have excessive caffeine and stimulants it withdraws its energy stimulation hormones. If you have too much circulating sugars it withdraws its energy stimulation hormones. Got it? Stress, caffeine and sugar. Just to name a few.

Second thing is that the thyroid is extremely sensitive to oxidative stress. It’s a very sensitive gland. So heavy metals, pollution, smoking, pesticides and circulating free radicals from an unhealthy diet significantly damage thyroid tissues.

Third is the thyroid function is heavily dependent on certain minerals being available. Iodine is the most well-known but zinc, selenium, potassium are all needed and are commonly depleted in our soils and diets. They are also commonly depleted through synthetic hormone intake from the contraceptive pill, HRT and other hormonal devices and treatments. In addition to this, synthetic hormones cause an imbalance in the thyroid by disrupting the overall endocrine system which the thyroid exists as an integral part. If you imbalance the endocrine control gland, the pineal, through synthetic hormones, then you disrupt thyroid function. Women often wonder why after 20 years on the pill they can’t seem to lose weight. Well that’s the reason.

Forth is food sensitivities. Because the thyroid is such a sensitive gland, it reacts to immunological factors that destroy tissues. People with food sensitivities to gluten, sugar and dairy often develop autoimmune thyroid issues such as Hashimotos which is in epidemic proportions now.

Finally because of the interdependence of the endocrine system on each other, the use of any synthetic hormones, either from the pill, implanon, mirena or HRT, so called natural hormone treatment or not, the thyroid is effected. There is a very strong aurgument that the blanket prescription of hormones has a strong effect in reducing thyroid function and why we see such high rates of thyroid issues today.

So if you put these elements together it’s no wonder that thyroid issues are so prevalent.

Testing

Testing is relatively simple through the blood and relies on checking thyroid levels T4 and T3. T3 is the more bioactive form of thyroxine. Checking Thyroid Stimulating Hormone also indicates preclinical or poorly managed medication levels.

An old method of checking subclinical thyroid levels is to take your temperature before getting out of bed first thing in the morning on the 2nd, 3rd and 4th day of your menstrual cycle. For men and post-menopausal women you can do it at any time of the month. If the temperature is below 36.3 then chances are you have a subclinical or clinical thyroid issue. It’s not perfect science but can be a good self-test to begin before going to the doctor.

Treatment

The current treatment method is to provide the body with missing thyroid hormones. There are now more bioactive version of thyroxine available from pigs and even thyroid extract which the body responds better too but the issue is the dose needs to be perfect. Generally, over time the body produces less and less thyroxine because the underlying issues remain untreated so there need to be a better way. NB if you have thyroid issues then don’t stop your medication. It’s essential to continue until the thyroid restores its function.

Holistic treatments

First step is to re stimulate the thyroid function. The most effective way to do this is via kelp. Simple old kelp is high in iodine and co-factors for thyroid function.

Second is taking the supporting minerals, zinc, selenium, potassium and iodine which are involved in the manufacture of thyroxine and converting thyroxine into bioavailable T3 in the body. Iodine can be taken through the skin by applying iodine tincture to the soft parts of your body daily after showering.

Third is to remove reactive food groups. So gluten, sugar and dairy from the diet. It sounds simple but it’s quite difficult with the predominance of our western diet containing these foods. It can be argued that the sheer volume of these reactive foods in our diets has established these intolerance but GM production and food manufacturing also play some role.

Fourth is to consider going off any synthetic hormones

Fifth is to treat the larger endocrine imbalance. When formulating Happy Hormones, I deliberately did not include any thyroid herbal medicines because you don’t want to over stimulate the thyroid if it’s fine. But I knew thyroid was involved with hormonal imbalances. So I left them out and simply recommended additional kelp for women with thyroid issues. What resulted however was unexpected as many women commented that their thyroid levels were improving and I can only deduct that the balancing of the pineal gland with HH then impact on overall thyroid function. Here is a link to one of our ladies stories with thyroid recovery.

Finally by managing stress levels. Constant, high, medium or even low grade stress is the thyroid worst enemy. So regular exercise, yoga and meditation are very important.

I hope this sheds some light on a complex and prevalent issue of thyroid disorders. Once established it’s difficult to treat but in time it’s worth the effort with weight becoming easier to manage, sleeping better, more energy and less moody and irritable.

 

 

About Jeff Butterworth:

Jeff Butterworth B.App. Sc, N.D is a Naturopath with over 20 years experience specialising in treating hormonal disorders. Jeff developed the Happy Hormones program after discovering a unique way of treating hormonal disorders - by focusing on endocrine balance rather than hormonal levels - which gives long-lasting and dramatic results.