Our thyroid gland is the bow tie shaped gland that sits at the base of our neck and directs enzymes, biochemical reactions, hormones, and metabolic rate. As the conductor, your thyroid aids in controlling body temperature, hair, skin & nail quality, bowel motility, joint health, energy, metabolism, the ability for us to burn our own fat stores, the list goes on and on.
There are a number of ways the gland can misfire. It can go hyper, hypo, develop nodules or goiter, and become autoimmune such as in Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.
Hypothyroidism (low thyroid) is by far the most common of thyroid dysfunctions and will be the focus of this discussion.
Hypothyroidism is truly epidemic in our population. Many of us are walking around with sub-clinical hypothyroidism. Which simply means that our thyroid glands are stressed but not enough so that it could be detected by the conventional lab work.
Generally speaking, the reason for such a thyroid epidemic is due to stress! Certainly there is no shortage of stress in this life, physical, emotional, mental. And if health is the normal harmonious vibration of the elements and forces comprising the human entity on the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual planes of being…Whew…. and the thyroid is the conductor of it all, it is no small wonder why our thyroid glands are stressed!
The greatest stressors known to affect thyroid are:
- chronic viral infections
- autoimmune disease
- genetic heritage (Irish, Native American)
- emotional stress
Any one of these can shock our system enough that it is unable to regain balance to the way that it was functioning before the stressor occurred. This unbalance over time causes the disease to persist and symptoms to manifest.
Problems With Current Testing
The conventional system uses blood laboratory testing to evaluate thyroid function. Unfortunately, the reference ranges used to evaluate the labs are much too broad. This means that a person can fall into the reference ranges and still be experiencing symptoms of hypothyroidism, (low thyroid.) The conventional medical doctor who relies on the lab test results to make a diagnosis overlooks these symptoms. In this situation, the patient is told that they are fine, no diagnosis is made, and their symptoms are ignored. The patient returns home frustrated, feeling poorly, without the answers to steer themselves around towards health.
Only recently has there been discussion amongst the American Endocrinology Association to lower the approved reference ranges for Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) by 2 points. The numbers for TSH are inversely proportional which means that the higher the number the lower functioning the gland actually is. It is extremely important when reading thyroid labs that they are evaluated with the optimal reference ranges in mind and not the standard reference ranges used conventionally. The optimal range for TSH is (.4-2.0) In addition, running a full thyroid panel of Free T3 &T4, TSH, TPO & ANA antibodies will provide more information on thyroid health than TSH alone.
Body Temperature Measurement
A great way to measure thyroid function is through body temperature. It was once thought that the best time to take a body temperature reading was when you woke up in the morning; this is called basal body temperature. This thinking is now incorrect. Just like blood sugar, blood pressure, and many others, our body temperature fluctuates throughout the day. Taking your oral temperatures at least 3 times during the day and recording it over a 7-day period is the best indicator of how well your thyroid is functioning.
Body temperatures will determine how quickly your metabolism is functioning and therefore how well your gland is firing. Optimal body temperature is 98.6.
Nutritionally, many of us are iodine deficient, iodine is used in the greatest concentration by our thyroid gland. Iodine deficiency is the primary cause of thyroid nodules and goiter. Testing for iodine levels is yet another way to assess thyroid function and restore gland health naturally.
Once the health of your gland has been assessed, natural therapies are used to increase thyroid function, reduce and reverse your symptoms, and increase your overall health.