Hypothyroidism is a condition where the thyroid gland under produces two key hormones, triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4).
Furthermore, the thyroid gland is a small butterfly gland found in the neck. It is part of a system of glands known as the endocrine glands.
Additionally, these glands produce hormones that function as signaling messengers. These hormonal messages are transmitted from one cell to another via the blood.
Interestingly enough, the most common gland to malfunction is the thyroid gland. Moreover, thyroid hormone normally affects the overall metabolism of the body.
In all this, when the thyroid gland is not working properly, the pituitary gland releases a hormone called thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). The function of this hormone is to increase the production of thyroid hormones.
Symptoms of an Underactive Thyroid Gland
• Memory loss
• Abnormal menstrual cycles (either light or heavy flow or perhaps missed periods)
• Weight gain or problems losing weight
• Muscle cramps and aches
• Intolerance to cold as a result of a lowered body temperature
Ask your physician for a more complete list.
Diagnosing An Under-Active Thyroid Gland
A diagnosis of Hypothyroidism is usually based upon two factors: how you feel and laboratory studies. Laboratory studies may indicate you have high levels of TSH hormone in your blood.
All in all, these lab results are compared to a reference range of numbers representing normal levels of TSH in the blood. This range is between 0.3 and 5.5 micro IU.
However, the American Academy of Clinical Endocrinologists and the College of American Pathologists feel many cases of Hypothyroidism may be missed, as this reference range is too broad. They recommend a reference range between 0.3 and 2.5-3.1 micro IU.
Causes of An Underactive Thyroid Gland
In most cases, the cause is idiopathic, meaning there is no known cause. Conversely, there is another type of Hypothyroidism that is caused when the body’s immune system becomes confused. This type is known as Hashimoto’s disease.
Generally speaking, with Hashimoto’s, the body becomes allergic to its own thyroxine. The immune system then kicks in, attacking the thyroid and limiting its production of this hormone.
Also, population studies have found Hashimoto’s occurs in areas consuming large amounts of iodine, which is in iodized salt, so that could possibly be a cause. And yet this seems to be in opposition to what is commonly stated on the Internet. That is, you should treat an underactive thyroid with iodine.
It is not to say that iodine should never be used as a treatment for an underactive thyroid. It would be an appropriate treatment when there is an iodine deficiency. In today’s world, however, iodine deficiencies are rare, as our diets usually contain adequate levels of iodized salt. As a result, those individuals using iodine supplementation who’s Hypothyroidism is not caused by an iodine deficiency place themselves at greater risk of developing Hashimoto’s disease.
Most physicians prescribe thyroid hormone, also known as Synthroid for this condition. This medication is basically T4 hormone. Further, another medicine for Hypothyroidism is Armour Thyroid. Armour Thyroid is dried thyroid gland taken from a pig. Basically, the problem facing most physicians is finding which medicine works best for hypothyroid individuals.
Hypothyroidism Home Remedies
A herb that may help with this condition is called Bacoba. One study involving laboratory mice saw a 41 percent increase in the levels of T4 when given 200 milligrams of this herb.
Even so, the researchers felt this was a very high dosage for mice and the recommended dose of 200 to 400 milligrams for humans might not be high enough to cause a similar effect.
Coleus forskholii is a herb frequently mentioned on the Internet. Although practitioners of alternative medicine often recommend it, there is limited research validating its efficacy.
Can Thyroid Function Improve By Changing Your Diet?
Here are some dietary suggestions that might be helpful for individuals with underactive thyroids.
According to the Mayo clinic, you don’t need to follow any special diet as long as you take thyroid hormone replacement as directed by your physician. Many websites promote special diets to improve thyroid function by adding or eliminating certain foods.
In any event, there is no proof that any of these diets work. The important thing to remember is that certain foods, medicines, and supplements can impair the assimilation of synthetic thyroid hormone. For example:
• Iron supplements or vitamins that contain iron
• Aluminum hydroxide, which is an antacid
• Sucralfate, which is an ulcer medicine
• Calcium supplements
• Cholesterol-lowering drugs