By: Dr. Alaina Gair, ND and Dr. Samina Mitha, ND
Did you know 1 in 10 people in Canada suffer from a thyroid condition? According to the Thyroid Foundation of Canada, as many as 50% of those are undiagnosed. Standard medical treatment for hypothyroidism is almost exclusively a prescription for Synthroid. In naturopathic medicine, additional treatment options exist that focus on nutrition, stress management, immune balancing and natural desiccated thyroid. Which treatments your ND recommends will depend on lab testing and your symptoms. To learn more about lab testing check out this article. The amount of support a person needs varies case-by-case and therefore treatment plans do as well. Which supplement combination is right for you shouldn’t be guessed! Taking the wrong supplements can make things worse or prolong time for feeling better so be sure to check in with your ND about how to best manage your thyroid.
- Adrenal Support
Cortisol is our stress hormone, it is released during times of stress from the adrenal glands that sit on top of our kidneys. If cortisol is high it can block the conversion from T4 to T3. Therefore, we need to ensure that stress is managed daily. One of the best herbs most indicated in thyroid health to support the adrenal glands is ASHWAGHANDA. It helps with the conversion from T4 to T3 and is great at balancing the production of cortisol.
- Minerals and Vitamins
- Selenium: it is an essential mineral as it is involved in the enzymes that control thyroid function.
- Zinc: a deficiency in zinc lowers free T3 and T4 thyroid hormones by approximately 30%.
- Iodine: is required for the production of thyroid hormones T3 and T4.
- Iron: the thyroid hormone – thyroid peroxidase requires heme. A deficiency in iron can impair thyroid function by reducing the activity of thyroid peroxidase.
- Magnesium: required in production of T4 and conversion of T4 to T3. Magnesium deficiency has been associated with enlarged thyroid and goiter.
Some products exist that are combinations of herbs, vitamins and minerals to create thyroid balancing effects. Our go-to is Thyroid Px by Restorative Formulations. However – none of these products are right for everyone. Make sure you check in with your naturopathic doctor before you try taking any supplements. For example, taking iodine can aggravate some thyroid diseases.
Exercise and moving inevitability help all types of dysfunction in the body. In the case of thyroid function, moving can help to relieve the symptoms associated with low functioning thyroid gland like depression, weight gain, constipation, and fatigue. Additionally, exercising can help to increase thyroid hormones.
Consuming foods that are high in the minerals and vitamins required for thyroid function is key! For example, brazil nuts are one of the highest sources of selenium. Iodine can be found in kelp and seaweed. Zinc can be found in pumpkin seeds and Iron from all sources of animal protein, as well as beans/lentils/spinach.
We have already discussed the connection between adrenal dysfunction, cortisol and the thyroid hormones. In addition to supporting adrenal gland health with supplements, we always recommend stress management techniques to practice at home and throughout your day. Mindfulness can be a great way to manage stress! A simple exercise can reduce cortisol level, lower your heart rate and blood pressure, and over time reducing the burden on the thyroid gland. There are so many apps out there to help with this – but our favourite is called Buddhify. It was designed for busy people and helps you learn that there is room for mindfulness in most daily activities. Give it a try!
We have become certified for Prescribing under the College of Naturopaths of Ontario, so we also use natural desiccated thyroid frequently. Some patients find they improve with this more than when taking Synthroid but it is not appropriate for all hypothyroidism cases.
If you want to learn more about how we can help you with your thyroid you can find us in Kitchener, Guelph and Toronto – depending on the day!