Hypo & Hyperthyroidism - how they impact may YOU
Pathology and diseases of the thyroid gland are becoming more predominant (or at least more commonly diagnosed) in our culture. Endocrinology is the branch of medicine that deals with the endocrine glands, the hormone producing glands (like the thyroid, adrenals, etc).
Hormones are complicated, and this is no different with the Thyroid Gland, so here are some answers for commonly asked questions about that frequently troublesome thyroid:
What & where is my Thyroid Gland?
The thyroid is an endocrine (hormone producing) gland.
It is located at the base of your throat.
What does my Thyroid Gland do?
The role of the thyroid is to regulate your body’s metabolism. This means it plays a role in providing your cells with energy as well as in weight balance.
There are 3 main hormones that regulate how your thyroid is functioning:
TSH - this hormone is produced in the pituitary gland. It regulates the production of the Thyroid’s 2 main hormones, T3 and T4
T3 and T4 – are released by the thyroid hormones. They are the hormones that bind other cells to regulate your metabolism.
It’s also important to note that the endocrine organs and hormones all work closely together, so hormones released from one will bind other organs causing them to be more or less active (secrete more or less of their product).
So…. What happens when there are problems with my Thyroid Gland?
Thyroid problems typically present in 2 main ways: either having too much thyroid hormone (hyperthyroid) or too little thyroid hormone (hypothyroid).
The thyroid gland is activated by hormones produced by the pituitary gland (a tiny endocrine gland which lies within the brain). Its hormones then go on to affect other glands (examples being the adrenal glands and the ovaries).
This means that a problem with one gland can cause problems further down the line!
There can be many causes of hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism, and some of these may include:
The most common cause is Graves Disease – an autoimmune disease, meaning the body’s own immune system is producing antibodies that are binding sites on the thyroid. This causes the thyroid becomes enlarged and produces excessive thyroid hormone.
The most common cause is Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis – again, an autoimmune disease. This autoimmune disease causes a form of thyroid inflammation, caused by attacks of the body’s the immune cells on the thyroid. This gradually leads to decay of the thyroid gland, thus affecting it’s ability to produce an adequate amount hormone.
Other, less common causes of both hyper and hypothyroidism may include:
Environmental Toxic Exposures
Poor Diet and Nutritional Deficiencies
Blood Sugar Dysregulation
Lack of Physical Activity (particularly for hypothyroidism)
What might I feel or notice if my Thyroid Gland wasn’t functioning properly?
Some of the signs and symptoms of hyperthyroidism include:
High body temperature and a feeling of constant warmth
Fast pulse (greater than 80 beats/minute)
High blood pressure
Hyperactivity, Excessively high energy
Racing thoughts, Nervousness or Anxiety, Confusion
Weight loss despite an increased appetite
Low stomach acid, and trouble digesting foods
Some symptoms you might notice in a hypothyroid state might include:
Low body temperature and feeling cold most of the time
Lack of perspiration (even with vigorous exercise)
Slow pulse (less than 60 beats/minute)
Low blood pressure
Lack of energy, Fatigue, Muscle weakness
Depression, memory loss, poor concentration
Dry, scaly skin & eczema tendencies
Dry brittle hair and possibly hair loss
Weight gain, despite eating less
Anemia, Easy bruising
High cholesterol and triglycerides
Should I seek treatment?
If you feel that you might be suffering from an imbalance in your thyroid, it’s important and would be very beneficial for you to visit your Naturopathic Doctor. Naturopaths are very skilled at dealing with endocrine and hormone related symptoms and/or illnesses.
After discussing your particular case, your Naturopathic Doctor can help determine whether testing would be beneficial for you, and then recommend specific treatments to help ease your symptoms of and improve your specific condition.
Additionally, if you are only showing mild hormonal changes and feeling only a few symptoms, your Naturopath can help recommend dietary and lifestyle modifications as well as certain herbs and supplements that may help prevent full progression to thyroid disease. Your ND can also recommend certain herbs, supplements and natural remedies that may both help prevent full expression of a thyroid condition as well as helping ease the symptoms of your specific condition.
Dr Katarine Holewa, ND