Hypothyroidism indicates a deficiency of thyroid hormone activity and causes a variety of signs of symptoms mostly due to a slowed metabolic rate. All bodily processes require an adequate supply of thyroid hormone to function optimally. Often thyroid function slows down in response to other conditions or due to a lack of nutrients or energy.
|Causes||Dietary Factors, Smoking, Stress, Environmental Toxins, Prescription Medications|
|See Also||Endocrine Conditions, Obesity, Hypertension, PMS, Infertility (Female), Fibrocystic breast disease, Ovarian cysts, Aging|
|Books||Books on Endocrine Diseases|
|Articles||Articles on Endocrine Conditions|
|Article||Treating Hypothyroidism J Orthomolecular Med 2013, Vol. 28 (2)|
|Article||The Delicate Balance of Iodine in Thyroid Health , 2012 August;Vol8(8) NDNR |
|Article||The "Lowe" Down on Thyroid , 2012 March;Vol8(3) NDNR |
|Article||Thyroid-Stimulating Hormone Fluctuates With Time of Day , December 2012 Natural Medicine |
In order to stimulate the innate ability of the body to heal the causes of disease must be identified and addressed. Hypothyroidism is often associated with other conditions, yet there are factors that are directly associated with decreased thyroid function that need to be considered.
- Chronic stress is associated with increased risk of hypothyroidism.
- Smoking decreases thyroid function and can lead to hypothyroidism.
- Prescription Medications
- Many prescription medications are associated with decreased thyroid function including corticosteroids, HRT and other hormone medications, beta-blockers, chemotherapy and radiation.
- Medical Treatments
- Thyroid surgery and ablation results in permanent hypothyroidism that needs to be managed with thyroid medication.
Individuals with thyroid enlargement and/or signs and symptoms suggestive of thyroid disease should be tested to assess thyroid function. Although screening of the general population in not recommended, certain high risk groups benefits from screening:
- All newborns (neonatal screening)
- Women over 50 years of age
- Women trying to conceive
- Pregnant women during the first trimester
- Women 6 weeks to 6 months postpartum
- Patients on medications known to cause thryoid dysfunction or autoimmune disorders
- Patients with hyperlipidemia, hypertension or diabetes mellitus.
- Diagnostic Tests
- Blood tests for hypothyroidism involves the followng blood tests: TSH, T3 and T4 and thyroid antibodies.
- It is important to note that blood tests for thyroid function only detect frank disease, subtle and early signs of hypothyroidism are often missed if blood tests are relied on as the primary diagnostic factor.
- If autoimmune disease is suspected, autoantibodies such as anti-thyroglobulin and anti-thyroid peroxidase are measured.
- If low thyroid test estrogen levels.
Related Symptoms and Conditions
Other conditions that are commonly associated with hypothyroidism include:
- Chronic Illness
- High cholesterol
- Heavy menstrual flow
- Infertility (Female)
- Fibrocystic breast disease
- Ovarian cysts
Hypothyroidism can be categorized as overt, functional, or subclinical.
Symptoms of hypothyroidism range from mild (undetectable with standard blood tests) to life threatening (myxedema, meaning swelling of skin and underlying tissues).. Life-threatening symptoms are typically only seen in severe cases or cases where hypothyroidsim due to radiation or surgery is not properly treated. Common symptoms of hypothyroidism include:
- Poor concentration
- Slow thinking
- Difficulty getting up in the morning
- Intolerance to cold
- Weight gain
- Muscle cramps
- Parethesias (abnormal sensations, typically "pins and needles"
- Joint pain
- Poor resistance to infections
The goal of naturopathic treatment is to support and work in tandem with the healing power of the body and to address the causal factors of disease with individual treatment strategies. Hypothyroidism is typically treated by addressing the underlying conditions and associated factors.
It is always advisable to work with a naturopathic doctor before engaging in any treatment plan.
Lifestyle recommendations include:
- Stress management has a positive impact on thyroid function.
The prescribing of naturopathic therapies requires the guidance of a naturopathic doctor as it depends on a number of factors including the causal factors, a person's age, prescription medications, other conditions and symptoms and overall health. It is always advisable to work with a naturopathic doctor prior to taking any natural therapies.
Naturopathic Therapies for hypothyroidism include:
- Clinical Nutritional Supplementation includes
- Herbs such as Turmeric (Curcuma longa), Blueflag (Iris Versicolor), Guggul (Commiphora mukul), (Guggul), (Bladderwack or Kelp (Fucus vesiculosis).
- Acupuncture has been shown to be beneficial in the treatment of hypothyroidism.
- Contrast hydrotherapy over the thyroid can be beneficial. Avoid cold hydrotherapy on its own.
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