There are many aspects of the body involved with optimal thyroid function and metabolism. The entire endocrine system is linked through chemical messengers and feedback systems (often in the form of several different hormones), and proper function of each of these participating organs is necessary to support optimal thyroid function. In addition to the thyroid, the adrenal glands and reproductive glands are all important parts of the endocrine system, and need to be in balance and good health for your entire body to be working properly. If your thyroid has been functioning under-par, your adrenal glands may be exhausting themselves picking up the slack. If you have also been under high levels of stress, your adrenal glands may be too fatigued to support your thyroid as they should. Reproductive hormone levels are linked to mood, metabolism, and stress responses, and should be properly balanced as well.
Clean nutrition and detoxification are also extremely important aspects of optimal thyroid performance. Nutrients like iodine, iron, zinc, and selenium, are just a few of the components needed for thyroid support. And while your thyroid gland makes your primary thyroid hormone, thyroxine (also known as T4), the conversion to the most active thyroid hormone responsible for metabolism, triiodothyronine (also known as T3), occurs throughout the body in several different tissues. This conversion may be blocked by toxins circulating through these tissues, thus proper liver function to break down and eliminate the toxins we are exposed to daily is necessary for this crucial step. Addressing all these components can help both you and your thyroid be your very best!
Some forms of hypothyroidism, such as Hashimoto's Thyroiditis and Graves' Disease, have an autoimmune component where your own antibodies are attacking your thyroid gland. Balancing the immune system, reducing inflammation, and lowering this antibody response are all essential for preventing further damage and loss of thyroid function. Herbal formulas and even glandular supplements can play a role in this, as well as fish oil, one of the most powerful and versatile anti-inflammatory agents available naturally.
So, how do you make sure you are getting what you need? Talk to your naturopathic physician to get started on figuring out what supporting systems in your body need some help. There are foods like seaweeds, vitamins and minerals like zinc and selenium, and herbs like ashwagandha and coleus that can all help improve thyroid function and quality of life. So if you have been feeling lethargic and cold, or if you have weight gain that just won't budge, consider taking a more holistic approach to your hypothyroid diagnosis!
Written by Dr. Klara Carson ND