Supporting Thyroid Conditions
Thyroid conditions are becoming increasingly more common in North America, likely due to environmental and genetic factors. A large percentage of patients with thyroid conditions are under diagnosed due to the symptoms being vague and incomplete thyroid testing being done.
Do you have Hashimoto's, Hypothyroidism or Hyperthyroidism? I work with you to naturally support your thyroid disorder!
The most common forms of thyroid dysfunction include:
Hypothyroidism -- an under functioning thyroid gland
Hyperthyroidism -- an over functioning thyroid gland
Autoimmune thyroid disease -- antibodies (cells produced by our immune system) inappropriately attack the thyroid gland, leading to hashimoto’s thyroiditis or grave’s disease
Symptoms of an Underactive Thyroid
Depression, low mood
Joint and muscle aches
Symptoms of an Overactive Thyroid
Elevated heart rate
Physical exam of the thyroid is an important first step, as if there is any swelling, bogginess or nodules felt this could be an indication of thyroid dysfunction.
Lab testing is the the next step, which involves examining all thyroid markers.
Free T3 - The active form of thyroid hormone in the body
Thyroid antibodies, anti-TPO and anti-TG - If these are elevated, it is an indication of an autoimmune component to thyroid disease.
Often times, only TSH is tested, which does not provide all of the information to rule out a thyroid condition. Many patients have a normal TSH, with abnormal free T3 and free T4 results, indicating a poorly functioning thyroid. As well, if there is any indication that a patient could have a thyroid condition or there is a family history, I will test the thyroid antibodies. This is because if there is an elevation of the antibodies, it is an indication that at some point a thyroid condition may develop.
Working together to find the root cause of the thyroid disease is a foundation for treatment, as often times if we can find the source of the dysfunction, symptoms and thyroid lab markers will improve.
Most patients with hypothyroidism are on synthroid, levothyroxine. This is the inactive form of thyroid hormone, T4, which your body is then required to convert into the active form of thyroid hormone, T3. Alternatives to synthroid that I explore with my patients include desiccated thyroid, which is a combination of T3 and T4, or getting thyroid hormone compounded specifically into a ratio of T3 and T4 suitable for you. Other options include prescribing just T3, commonly known as cytomel, or compounded slow release T3.
Apart from pharmaceuticals, supporting the body in its ability to produce the active form of thyroid hormone, T3, from T4 is fundamental. This can be done by providing co-factors, including selenium or herbals such as ashwagandha. Usually a combination of herbals and co-factor nutrients are most effective.
An important approach for the treatment of thyroid conditions is supporting the production of other hormones, such as cortisol, estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, and DHEA. Often if there is support provided for these other hormones, it can lead to an improvement in symptoms.
Assessing food sensitivities can decrease autoimmunity if that is a component of disease for you. This can be done through an IgG Food Sensitivity test, or an elimination diet which examines the foods that may exacerbate your symptoms.
In an effort to minimize medication, I may begin with an herbal and nutritive approach prior to prescribing pharmaceuticals however, if a thyroid prescription is required, I have the ability to prescribe most pharmaceuticals when necessary in the province of BC.
For more information on if Naturopathic medicine can help, call to book a
complimentary 15-minute meet and greet session with Dr. Stephanie!