January is thyroid awareness month. It is estimated that approximately 59 million Americans have a thyroid problem and many of them are unaware of it. The thyroid gland is located near the Adam’s apple in the center of your neck and is the master gland of metabolism. It influences all body systems. Hypothyroidism, or under-active thyroid, accounts for 90% of all thyroid problems and is our focus today. It is a very common problem with multiple contributing factors.
Possible Causes of Hypothyroidism:
- Endemic deficiency of minerals such as iodine and selenium
- Auto-immune disease (referred to as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis)
- Viral infection of the thyroid gland
- Genetic factors – family history of thyroid disease
- Cancer of the thyroid gland
- Drinking chlorinated and fluoridated water
- Consumption of brominated flour
As mentioned above, an iodine deficiency can cause a sluggish thyroid. It is important to note that chlorine, fluoride, and bromine are in the same family as iodine, and can actually displace iodine in your thyroid gland. In addition, many of us aren’t getting enough iodine in our diets. Consuming iodized salt doesn’t give us nearly the amount of iodine the body needs for a properly functioning thyroid gland, though it may prevent a goiter (an enlarged or swollen thyroid gland).
Signs of Hypothyroidism:
- Exhaustion even after a full night’s sleep (8-10 hours)
- Weight gain or the inability to lose weight
- Mood swings, anxiety, or depression
- Hormone imbalances – irregular periods, PMS, infertility, and low sex drive
- Excessive hair loss
- Cold hands and feet, feeling cold when others do not
- Dry or cracking skin, brittle nails
- High cholesterol levels (specifically when dietary modifications do not work)
- Poor concentration, poor memory, brain fog
- Neck discomfort or swelling, snoring or hoarse voice
If you suspect you may have a sluggish functioning thyroid, we recommend blood work that includes not only checking the TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone), but also the total T4, free T4, total T3, free T3, and the reverse T3. Relying solely on the TSH test as a primary diagnostic tool is not sufficient to diagnose hypothyroidism. In addition, we routinely screen all of our patients for autoimmune thyroid disease by ordering Thyroid Peroxidase Antibodies (TPOAb) and Thyroglobulin Antibodies (TgAb). Our skilled naturopathic physicians at Rejuvena will order the appropriate tests to properly diagnose thyroid problems and treat accordingly. Please contact our office and schedule your appointment today.