Are you always tired?
Have you gained weight?
Are your feet and hands cold?
Does your skin get dry?
Are you constipated and bloated?
Do you get depressed?
Does your body ache?
Is your memory worse?
The above signs can all be indicators of an underactive thyroid. When you have an underactive thyroid, your symptoms may start gradually, or be contributed to other problems like stress and aging. However, approximately 20 million American have thyroid disease. Because of lack of adequate screening and awareness, it is estimated that 60% of people with thyroid disease go undiagnosed.
What Is the Thyroid Gland?
The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland in the lower neck. The thyroid is known to regulate metabolism and how many calories you burn. When the thyroid is underactive, you can gain weight. When it is overactive, you can lose weight. But the thyroid also does much more. It is important to regulating heart rate, body temperature, nerve function, digestion, muscle strength, bone density, and cell regeneration. People with an underactive thyroid can be fatigued, depressed, overweight, and constipated. People with an overactive thyroid may lose weight rapidly, have muscle wasting, high blood pressure, visual changes, and bone loss.
What Causes Thyroid Disease?
A person’s own antibodies against the thyroid gland are the most common cause of thyroid disease. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, which affects 14 million Americans, is the most common thyroid disorder overall. With Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, antibodies to the thyroid gland cause inflammation that lowers thyroid hormone. Grave’s disease, which affects an estimated 3 million in the US, is the most common cause of an overactive thyroid. With Grave’s Disease, autoantibodies trigger too much thyroid hormone.
Other causes of an underactive thyroid include: nutritional deficiencies; low protein intake; alcohol; medications such as steroids, metformin, lithium, and furosemide (water pills); treatment with radioactive iodine; and thyroid surgery. Other causes of an overactive thyroid may include excess iodine supplementation and thyroid nodules.
What is the Best Approach to Treating Thyroid Disease?
Thyroid treatment should focus on which factors are most contributing to the problem. For autoimmune thyroid disease, correcting gut imbalances is key. This may include avoiding gluten, artificial sweeteners, and preservatives; replacing digestive enzymes, and using both prebiotics and probiotics to optimize gut health. Sometimes an environmental toxin, like mercury, triggers thyroid antibodies. When this is the case, a heavy metal detox can improve thyroid function. Correcting nutritional deficiencies can be beneficial as well.
At IPM, both heavy metal chelation and IV nutrient therapy can be done to optimize our patients’ thyroid health. When prescription medicine is necessary to treat an underactive thyroid, we prescribe a natural combination of both T3 and T4, which can be customized to the individual. We carry prescription natural thyroid in our office for your convenience.
-Martha Wittenberg MD, MPH