4 Home Remedies For Your Underactive Thyroid

Thyroid

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It's not uncommon to know multiple individuals who struggle with their thyroid. Since the thyroid plays a part in many components of health, medical professionals often include it in check-ups, ensuring the organ is functioning properly.

Small lifestyle changes, including a few home remedies, may help boost an individuals' thyroid health. While these are by no means cures for thyroid conditions, they have the ability to ease symptoms.

What Is the Thyroid?

The thyroid is a butterfly shaped gland resting at the base of your neck which is responsible for producing thyroid hormone—which helps to regulate body temperature, metabolism, weight and even your energy levels.

A blood test can measure multiple aspects of how your thyroid is functioning, including levels of the thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), thyroxine (T4) which tests for an over or under thyroid, and your free T4 (FT4) to measure the quantity of free thyroxine in your blood.

Hypothyroidism vs Hyperthyroidism

A frequently occurring thyroid issue is when too little of the thyroid hormone is produced, a condition known as hypothyroidism.

"An underactive thyroid is the most common cause of thyroid disorders and occurs more than you might think, although it's also very often missed as a diagnosis," explains Dr. Erin Ellis, a NMD Naturopathic Medical Doctor. Although 5% of the population is said to have hypothyroidism, an additional 5% is estimated to be undiagnosed.

On the other hand, hyperthyroidism (often caused by Grave's Disease) is when your thyroid produces too much of the hormone, causing the opposite symptoms to hypothyroidism, such as a sped up your metabolism and an inability to tolerate the heat. Hypothyroidism is more common than hyperthyroidism.

"Common symptoms for hypothyroidism include hair loss, fatigue, constipation, feelings of cold, weight gain and dry skin," says Dr. Ellis, adding it's important to take a comprehensive look at the whole body as some symptoms might be linked to other conditions, like an iron deficiency, nutrient deficiency and hormone imbalances.

The treatment for hypothyroidism is a hormone replacement known as levothyroxine, taken daily in tablet form. Typically, you will be on this medication for life, although the dosage may need to be altered during specific life events, such as during pregnancy.

What Causes Hypothyroidism?

One of the most common reasons for developing an underactive thyroid, especially in developed countries, is due to Hashimoto's disease, which can cause less than optimal functioning of your thyroid. As an autoimmune disease, Hashimoto's occurs when your immune system attacks your thyroid cells.

But hypothyroidism can spark from other catalysts including genetics, in which an autoimmune disease is passed down between family members that causes the condition to develop.

"However, diet, stress, poor gut health, malabsorption, nutrient deficiency and toxic burden play more of a role in developing hypothyroidism," states Dr. Ellis.

Other causes include:

  • Surgical removal: Of all or part of your thyroid gland which means it no longer produces the same levels of thyroxine, if any at all.
  • Thyroiditis: When the gland becomes inflamed from an autoimmune attack from a viral infection, causing the gland to secrete all of its thyroid hormone into the blood.
  • Pituitary gland damage: Responsible for signaling how much hormone the gland should make, if damaged, it might not be able to carry out this test.
  • Medications: Some drugs can interfere with and suppress how the thyroid gland makes the hormone, including amiodarone, used for restoring normal hearth rhythm, and lithium, a psychiatric medication.

Natural Remedies for Hypothyroidism

Although natural remedies are not a cure for hypothyroidism, they can, in some cases, provide a boost to help improve thyroid levels. Here are some of the most researched natural remedies to try.

Selenium

A mineral naturally consumed in some foods, selenium is an important nutrient for our health. "Selenium is also needed for thyroid hormone metabolism and antioxidant properties," says Dr. Ellis.

The thyroid contains the highest amount of selenium per gram of tissue in the body, and so research has found that maintaining a measured intake of selenium may be essential in preventing thyroid disease and promoting a better quality of life. Epidemiological studies have identified that a higher risk of thyroid related diseases is linked with low selenium levels.

Keep in mind Selenium has a 'U shaped' relationship with thyroid conditions in that both a deficiency and excess of the nutrient can have negative effects on thyroid health.

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the daily recommended intake of Selenium for adult men and women is 55mcg, with an increase to 60mcg for pregnant women and 70mcg for those lactating.

Selenium can be consumed in supplement form, sometimes included as an ingredient in multivitamins, although there is an abundance naturally available in foods including Brazil nuts, seafood, eggs, poultry, and grains.

Iodine

Iodine is a crucial mineral your body needs to optimally function, and according to Dr. Ellis, similar to selenium, both iodine deficiency and iodine excess are associated with an increased risk of thyroid disorders. As you can not produce it naturally, it must be consumed as part of your diet, and therefore intake can be monitored.

The NIH recommends adult men and women intake 150mcg of iodine a day, found in foods including idolized salt, seafood, seaweed, milk, and some fruits and vegetables.

Before opting for a supplement form, first address your diet to calculate your daily iodine intake, and also discuss a suitable dosage with your healthcare provider before starting vitamins on your own.

Vitamin B12 and Vitamin D

According to Dr. Ellis, B-vitamins are essential for proper thyroid conversion, in addition to many other benefits including increased energy, brain function and cell metabolism. In particular, a deficiency in vitamin-B12, whether from a lack of the vitamin or malabsorption, has been shown to correlate to hypothyroidism. Such a deficiency is also prevalent in other conditions including anemia, which is linked with autoimmune thyroid disease.

What's more, there is also growing evidence that a lack of vitamin D may play a role in the development of Hashimoto thyroiditis it may impact the regulation of the immune system.

The recommended dietary allowances of Vitamin B-12 for adult men and women are 2.4mcg daily, or 2.6mcg for pregnant women and 2.8mcg for those lactating.

Whilst for vitamin D, the daily intake is 15mcg for everyone aged 1-70 years, and 20mcg for those 70 and above.

According to the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, nutritional needs should be primarily met through a range of food including fruits, vegetables, grains, eggs, seafood, beans, fatty fish and poultry.

Probiotics

Research has found that the thyroid may be sensitive to changes in microbiota, and that the progression of autoimmune thyroid disorders can be impacted by an altered 'intestinal microbial composition'.

"As gut dysbiosis, or unbalanced gut microbiome has been researched to impact thyroid health, specifically Hashimoto's thyroiditis, taking probiotics can restore a healthy gut and improve hormone production," outlines Dr. Ellis.   

With more evidence coming to light of a thyroid–gut axis, the correlation between how gut bacteria can impact the immune system and thyroid function is becoming better understood.

For example, in studies on both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism, the bacteria strains Lactobacillaceae and Bifidobacteriaceae have been found at a reduced level. But your body has a unique blend of bacteria and therefore not every probiotic will work in the same way. Therefore, it's advisable to speak to a healthcare professional to understand the best product that might work for you. Keep in mind, it can take trial and error.

A Word From Verywell

Thyroid issues and causes are being researched continuously, with various reasons as to why an individual may be diagnosed. Therefore, natural remedies, as helpful as they can be, may not always be the answer. It's best to speak to a healthcare professional, specifically an endocrinologist who specializes in hormone disorders, for advice on how to manage your specific condition.

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15 Sources
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