The amazing women that I see in my practice on a daily basis are often struggling with things like weight issues, tiredness, poor sleep, heavy periods, hot flushes, digestive issues, hair loss, anxiety and mood swings….just to name a few.
One of the most common denominators in women’s issues is Hormone Imbalance.
The Thyroid Gland falls into this broader category of Hormonal Imbalance.
So let’s talk THYROID…..
Thanks to a very helpful questionnaire, and my favourite technique – Kinesiology, when a client has a Thyroid imbalance, it will show up very quickly during the Initial Visit (whether via skype or in person). Once we’ve established this we will then talk about whether further testing needs to be done.
I have to say that in many cases when a client says to me “my Thyroid’s been tested and it’s fine”, many of them actually end up having a Thyroid issue (and probably have had for some time).
This is because we have an epidemic of “Subclinical Hypothyroidism” in our society right now. In other words, many of us have a low thyroid function which is not recognised as such because it’s still within the accepted medical range. And not only that, I believe it’s one of the major reasons why we have so much trouble losing weight and keeping our metabolism “firing”, not to mention feeling generally crappy, foggy-headed and tired with muscle aches and pains and a lowered immune system (and the list goes on)!
So, what are the symptoms of Low Thyroid Function?
- Puffy eyelids
- Fluid retention (especially ankles and legs at the end of the day)
- Dry skin, dry hair
- Hair loss (more than you’re used to)
- Losing or thinning of the outer third of your eyebrows
- Tiredness / chronic fatigue symptoms or diagnosis of Chronic Fatigue or Fibromyalgia
- Constipation / sluggish bowel
- Croaky voice – especially mornings
- Muscle aches and pains
- Weight gain
- Low Libido
- Heart palpitations
- Foggy Head
- Heavy periods
- Temperature sensitivities
- Carpal tunnel issues
This isn’t an exhaustive list but it’s some of the more common symptoms. And you don’t have to have all of these to have a Thyroid issue.
WHY do we have a “Low Thyroid” Epidemic in our society right now?
Here’s a list of some of the most common “culprits”:-
- Increased consumption of Soy products
- Radiation – from things like computers, mobile phones and medical imaging
- Nutrient Deficiencies – notably Iodine, Zinc, Selenium and Potassium
- Consumption of Gluten and Wheat
- Stress and Adrenal Fatigue
- Toxins – Increased exposure to pesticides, heavy metals (like Mercury) and common environmental toxins such as Flouride, Chlorine and Bromine
- Hormonal imbalances like Oestrogen Dominance
And why does a basic blood test tell us that our Thyroid Function is normal when it may not be?
There are a few reasons for this…
1/ A basic blood test will screen for TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) and if this is within the accepted medical range (approx 0.4-4), then your Thyroid function is considered “normal”.
But this is not necessarily correct….this reading tells us how hard your body is working to stimulate your Thyroid gland to make more Thyroid Hormone (T4). If the TSH reading is consistently above 1.5-2, many of us in the “natural health world” will generally assume that Thyroid function is actually low and could do with some much-needed support.
2/ Also, a TSH test is actually a reading of what your Hypothalamus and Pituitary glands are is doing in relation to your Thyroid, and this level may change quite dramatically from day to day. So, in reality, it’s not THE most accurate reading. And it doesn’t actually test the THYROID itself.
3/ When a standard Thyroid test is done, we’re missing some very important information about the Thyroid Gland, namely…..
- T4 (Thyroxin) – made by your Thyroid and then gets converted into T3
- T3 (Triiodothyronine) – Your “active” thyroid Hormone. This is a very important Hormone. it sends messages to your DNA to rev up your metabolism by burning fat. This is how it lowers cholesterol, re-grows hair and keeps you lean.
- Reverse T3 (similar to T3 but unable to be used effectively by your body)
- Thyroid Antibodies (these will be present if there is an Auto Immune issue that involves your Thyroid Gland like “Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis”)
The above 4 parameters show us what’s REALLY going on with our Thyroid at any given time, and is a very valuable test to have done if there are ongoing symptoms related to a Thyroid “malfunction”.
So…What tests SHOULD we be getting done to assess our Thyroid function?
I recommend 2 things:-
1/ A Self-assessment at home:-
The test that Dr Broda Barnes invented is known as the Barnes Basal Temperature Test.
It’s very simple and gives a good idea of your basal metabolic rate (and this is indicative of how your Thyroid is functioning). It’s very easy:-
- Get your hands on an “old fashioned” Mercury thermometer. Most pharmacies have these. From the reading I have done, these are considered to be much more accurate than the digital variety. You can even ask for a Mercury-based Fertility thermometer. Be sure to shake it down before going to bed and leave it right near your bedside.
- Immediately upon awakening put the thermometer under your left armpit and leave it there for ten full minutes.
- Note the temperature.
- Repeat for three to five days and take the average. (Barnes originally recommended ten days, which is probably even more accurate.)
- If you are still menstruating, day 2-4 of your period is the perfect time to start.
- Interpretation is easy:
– An average basal temperature of 36.5-36.7 degrees is considered normal.
– Anything less is a possible indicator of underactive thyroid, particularly anything under 36.4.
This gives you some valid info to discuss with your GP or Natural health care practitioner.
2/ Get a full Thyroid test done:-
This includes TSH, T3, T4, Reverse T3 and Thyroid Antibodies (Peroxidase Antibodies, Thyroglobulin Antibodies, and TSH Receptor Antibodies). This is the “ants pants” of Thyroid testing. It may be tricky through a GP though unless they have a good reason to request it.
I request several levels of this test quite often through an integrative lab in Melbourne. It just depends on symptoms and what we think is happening as to whether we test all or some of the parameters.
The process is easy. It’s simply a matter of taking your request form to QML (or another recommended pathology centre if you’re outside of QLD) and it’s done quickly and efficiently…..yep, it’s a blood test. The cost ranges between $50-$175 (depending on how many of the above parameters we get tested).
This is not covered by Medicare, but if you’ve been struggling with a possible thyroid issue, this information is SO important to have. Once we know what’s really going on, we can focus in on the issue and actually fix the problem. The result = feeling fabulous again !!
It’s really important that we establish the underlying causes of a Thyroid Imbalance and make sure we’re dealing with all of them. The underlying causes can vary from person to person but the most common that I see are:-
- Iodine deficiency
- Adrenal Fatigue
- Oestrogen excess and/or Low Progesterone
- Stress and High Cortisol
- Environmental toxins
- Gluten sensitivity
How do we fix a Low Thyroid Function?
Here’s some of my favourite and most commonly used remedies:-
- Herbs including Fucus, Bacopa, Withania and Rhodiola
- Selenium, Zinc, Vitamin D
Some companies produce great formulas with a combination of most of these nutrients too 🙂
What else can we do?
- Have some Celtic Sea Salt – a pinch added to each glass of water throughout the day
- Reduce exposure to household chemicals as much as possible (commercial cleaning products, hair products, and cosmetics)
- Invest in a water filter that removes Flouride
- Invest in shower filters that take out Chlorine
- Reduce or just stop eating Wheat and Gluten
- Limit flours and sugars of any type
- Eat foods containing Iodine and Selenium like Brazil nuts, seaweed, sunflower seeds and eggs.
So, if you’ve been wondering about your Thyroid function and would like to chat about your symptoms and look at a plan of action (with no obligation to make an appointment), I offer a 15-minute free phone chat where we nut out what’s happening for you and help you with a plan for the next step to take. If you’d like to take advantage of this, then simply email me on firstname.lastname@example.org with YES PLEASE and we’ll make a time that suits you.
Wishing you health and happiness,