Are you tired of feeling sluggish and down? Gaining weight unexpectedly? Losing hair?
I don’t blame you! Those symptoms are worth getting checked out and point toward hypothyroidism.
Hypothyroidism, a type of thyroid dysfunction, can be a major struggle to live with and manage. Its repercussions can be felt throughout the entire body, making it important to get a grasp on how to treat this issue.
To put things into perspective, 1 in 33 Australians (and 5 in 100 Americans) live with hypothyroidism. This condition has been proven to affect more women than men and those over the age of 60 are at increased risk for developing this issue. (1)(2)
Today, I want to walk you through all the facets of hypothyroidism, from the causes and symptoms to the diagnosis and available treatment options, so you can permanently beat hypothyroidism naturally.
Whether you’ve tried medication and haven’t seen much benefit or are simply looking for alternative treatment options, these natural solutions to hypothyroidism can help get to the root cause of your problem and improve your symptoms.
Contents:There are two main types of thyroid dysfunction: hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism.
- Hyperthyroidism is when your thyroid is overactive.
- Hypothyroidism is when your thyroid is underactive. (3)
- Primary Hypothyroidism is when there’s an issue with the thyroid itself and it becomes to the point it is unable to do its duties producing hormones.
- Secondary Hypothyroidism is less likely to occur but happens when the pituitary gland at the base of the brain can’t send the signals to your thyroid to produce thyroid hormones. (4)
To learn more about the different types of thyroid dysfunction check out these common thyroid gland problems.
The thyroid is a gland at the base of your neck shaped like a butterfly that is responsible for producing thyroid hormones that regulate bodily processes such as metabolism, energy level, menstruation, and sleep.
When the thyroid doesn’t work properly, it causes all the body’s systems to function less efficiently and for you to feel all out of whack. (1)
Some believe that an accumulation of stress, poor diet, and digestive issues over a long period can contribute to the development of hypothyroidism. Chronic stress, especially, can be a trigger for the start and worsening of hypothyroidism symptoms. (5)Other, more-researched causes of hypothyroidism include:
- Having your thyroid removed
- Issues with the pituitary gland
- Iodine deficiency
- Radiation treatment
- Thyroid inflammation
- Certain medications (such as Lithium and even some types of heart and cancer medications)
- Hashimoto’s disease, a hereditary autoimmune disease where the immune system attacks the thyroid. (3)(6)
Hypothyroidism cannot be prevented and often affects women over the age of 60 with a family history of thyroid problems. Those with celiac disease have also been shown to be at higher risk of developing hypothyroidism. (7)
However, hypothyroidism can sometimes be a congenital birth defect that causes the thyroid not to work correctly starting right at the time of birth. This can usually be resolved over time with hormone replacement treatments. (1)
What Are the Symptoms of Hypothyroidism?
Unfortunately, the effects of hypothyroidism can affect you from the inside out, from your mood to your thinning hairline.
Symptoms of hypothyroidism are many and include:
- Hair loss
- Lack of energy
- Sudden weight gain
- Memory loss
- Numbness/tingling hands
- Muscle weakness
- Lowering of voice
- Increased sensitivity to cold temperatures
- Low sexual desire
- Changes to hair and skin texture
- High blood cholesterol levels
- Heavier, more frequent periods (6)
It’s important to note that these symptoms may not present themselves all at once—they are more likely to occur over some time, becoming more serious the longer it goes on.
The good news is that hypothyroidism can be treated with hormone replacement medication and symptoms can be improved through natural solutions such as diet, exercise, and the strategic use of supplements such as increasing your intake of vitamins B12 and D.
But if left untreated, the symptoms will worsen and can lead to serious mental health problems, decreased heart health, trouble regulating body temperature, difficulty breathing, joint pain, infertility, swelling of the thyroid gland, and more. (6)(7)
Diagnosis of hypothyroidism usually occurs through a basic medical examination, a review of family medical history, and blood work to check thyroid hormone levels, such as TSH and T4. A thyroid antibody test may also be considered if the patient is thought to have autoimmune hypothyroidism, such as Hashimoto’s disease. (8)
Misdiagnosis of hypothyroidism is common due to the wide range of symptoms that can often resemble other diseases and illnesses. (4)
Hormone replacement drugs are usually what doctors rely on when it comes to treating hypothyroidism in a medical setting. (1)
But I want to introduce you to a few other things that you can do to treat your hypothyroidism naturally—including taking probiotics, treating iodine deficiency, increasing your intake of vitamins D and B12, avoiding gluten, and consuming more antioxidants.
Keep in mind you can add foods containing these vitamins and minerals to your diet or take supplements that include them. In certain cases, you may consider doing both.
Healthy gut functioning is essential to the management and natural treatment of hypothyroidism. An underactive thyroid can reduce gastric motility leading to constipation and even bowel obstruction in serious cases. (9)
Probiotics do good work in the gut by injecting more good bacteria into the digestive system. The microbiome of the gut is truly all about balance, so finding the balance between good gut bacteria and bad gut bacteria is vital. (10)
The more balanced the gut bacteria, the better thyroid hormone production will be and, therefore, the better thyroid function will be! (11)
You can purchase probiotic supplements from a local vitamin shop or consume more of them in your daily diet by increasing your intake of yoghurt and fermented fruits that are naturally high in probiotics.
In areas like the United States, much of the food, and the table salt added to the food, already have plenty of iodine, but in other countries, especially in the east, supplementation of iodine in some way is needed.
Iodine-rich foods include eggs, seaweed (only the edible kind!), iodised salt, dairy products and meat, poultry, and seafood. (6)
And, as you may have heard growing up, too much of a good thing can be bad. So if you’re going to increase your intake of iodine, be sure to consult with your doctor to achieve the appropriate dosage.
Specifically, if your hypothyroidism is caused by Hashimoto’s disease, adding iodine to your diet could do more harm than good. (1)
When the thyroid doesn’t function properly, it can lower your body’s vitamin B levels. Researchers have proven that about 40% of Hypothyroid patients also suffer from vitamin B deficiency and when they are given vitamin B they report improvement in their symptoms. (12)
Additionally, in patients whose hypothyroidism is caused by an autoimmune disease, vitamin B12, and vitamin D deficiencies are especially common. And these low levels of vitamin D and vitamin B12 directly correlate to a higher number of antibodies that attack the enzyme that produces the thyroid hormones. (13)
Chicken, fish, and meat are foods you can consume more of to help prevent vitamin B deficiency. (14)
Vitamin B12 is also known to help with energy levels and the exhaustion often associated with hypothyroidism, so supplementing with vitamin B12 could also give you an energy boost as a bonus. (15)
Upwards of a billion people all over the world don’t have high enough vitamin D levels. Vitamin D deficiency has often been shown to contribute to the development and worsening of autoimmune diseases, such as Hashimoto’s disease, which is linked directly to hypothyroidism. (16)
Studies have also shown vitamin D supplementation to be effective in raising thyroid-stimulating hormone levels and that being deficient in vitamin D can affect the severity of hypothyroidism and its symptoms negatively. (13)(16)(17)
As mentioned in the previous section, vitamin D and vitamin B12 deficiencies are very common for autoimmune hypothyroidism patients.
Eggs, fatty fish, and dairy are all foods high in vitamin D, and being intentional about adding more of these food items to your diet could help boost your body’s vitamin D levels. (18)
In certain studies, hypothyroidism has been shown to increase oxidative stress, which is when the number of antioxidants and free radicals aren’t balanced correctly in the body. (19)
Antioxidants are your body’s defence system against free radicals. Some examples of antioxidants are vitamin C and vitamin E.
- Free radicals are types of atoms that break cells down over time and contribute to ageing.
If this imbalance gets out of control for an extended period, it increases the risk of developing serious health problems, such as autoimmune disorders, heart disease, Alzheimer's, diabetes, and certain types of cancers. (19)(20)(21)(22)(23)(24)
Upping the number of antioxidants you’re consuming could help a great deal when it comes to reducing the effects of free radicals, improving your body’s immune response, and reducing the risk of developing a disease.
Berries, nuts and seeds, green tea, chocolate, coffee, and green leafy veggies are all food rich in antioxidants. (25)
Gluten, the protein found in wheat and other types of grains, has been found to worsen symptoms of autoimmune hypothyroidism. This is because, once someone gets an autoimmune disease, it makes them more prone to developing other autoimmune diseases, such as celiac disease. (26)(27)
1 in 62 patients with Hashimoto’s disease, an example of autoimmune hypothyroidism, have celiac disease, an autoimmune disease that causes damage to the small intestines when it comes in contact with gluten. (28)
In case you need another reason to consider going gluten-free, as previously mentioned, another major contributor to hypothyroidism is having an iodine deficiency. And the bromide found in gluten causes an even further lack of iodine. (29)
If your symptoms are severe, opting for a gluten-free diet may be worthwhile to see if it makes a difference in how you feel.
After reading this, if you think you might be suffering from hypothyroidism, I would recommend you consult with a doctor to confirm the diagnosis before moving on to trying the treatment methods discussed today.
No matter if you’ve been newly diagnosed with hypothyroidism or have been struggling with it for years, it’s not a walk in the park. Thankfully there are a lot of things you can do at home and through your daily lifestyle choices, such as diet and exercise, that can help improve your symptoms.
Another natural way to keep hypothyroidism symptoms at bay is the Hormone Harmony. This supplement helps women wipe out hormonal weight gain, hot flashes, mood swings, and all the other hormonal symptoms that make your life difficult. You will feel and see the improvement in 7 days or less!