Hypothyroidism, or reduced thyroid function, effects millions of women who are in their perimenopausal and post-menopausal years. Although most traditional doctors treat the thyroid in isolation from the rest of the body, it’s worth taking a lot at exactly how the body functions in conjunction with this powerful gland.
The endocrine system relies upon a series of hormones that are produced by a myriad of glands and organs, each working in conjunction with one another. This helps to explain why thyroid problems don’t necessarily originate in the thyroid gland, and why thyroid health depends largely on the health of your entire endocrine system.
Hypothyroidism is commonly described as an under active or sluggish thyroid which is not producing enough thyroid hormone. Sometimes the problem is related to a thyroid hormone imbalance, most typically the underproduction of the thyroid’s main hormone, thyroxine (T4). T4 must also be converted into its active form, triiodothyronine (T3), by the liver. Only then can it successfully be utilized by the body. Disruption in any of these processes can contribute to hypothyroidism symptoms.
Hypothyroidism is usually diagnosed by measuring levels of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), which is produced by the pituitary gland. High levels of TSH indicate that the pituitary gland detects insufficient thyroid activity and is attempting to stimulate activity in the thyroid gland. In an effort to coax the thyroid into increasing its hormone production, increasing levels of TSH are produced.
Unfortunately, TSH levels do not provide a complete explanation for the problem. Abnormally high TSH levels do indicate the presence of a medial issue, but they are unable to illustrate whether the problem lies with T4 production, converting T4 to T3, or the body’s inability to utilize thyroid hormones efficiently. Additionally, TSH test results occasionally return “normal” readings, despite an existing thyroid imbalance.
Support Your Thyroid Naturally
So what can you do to restore your thyroid health? A basic approach involves careful analysis of the endocrine system, only supplementing treatment with thyroid medication if necessary. One of the first recommended approaches to restoring natural thyroid health is through nutrition:
Your body uses a wide range of nutrients to manufacture and metabolize all of its hormones, including thyroid hormones. Most people with thyroid problems are not receiving sufficient nutrition from diet alone. A balanced nutritional supplement will provide the endocrine system with the exact nourishment needed to function optimally. Have your iodine levels checked. This is one specific nutrient that’s particularly vital to thyroid health
Look for products that use medicinal herbs to gently restore balance to your body’s estrogen, progesterone or testosterone levels. Creating a balance between these powerful hormones will support the functionality of your entire endocrine system, including the thyroid.
Chronic stress has a powerful, detrimental effect on your complete endocrine system. Hormones released as part of the stress response can interfere with the production, metabolism and/or utilization of sex hormones and thyroid hormones. Meditation and moderate exercise may help.
In A Nutshell:
Before committing yourself to a prescription program, it may be worth carefully analyzing the health of your endocrine system to determine what alternative treatment methods might be available for your thyroid problems. As always, the advice of your doctor should be respected and sought out at all times.