What to do with a sluggish thyroid

Image: Raj Eiamworakul

Image: Raj Eiamworakul

If you missed my last blog post, I reviewed the role and function of the thyroid.

In that post I also shared some symptoms you may be experiencing if your thyroid is not working optimally. If you’re experiencing one or more of those symptoms, I highly recommend you get to your GP or naturopathic doctor and get some testing done - as long as it’s the right kind of testing

Below you’ll find an outline of what’s often missed when testing for Thyroid deficiencies, as well as some natural steps you can start taking right now if you suspect your thyroid needs a boost.

Testing your thyroid - the missing piece of the puzzle

Current research shows that an untreated thyroid disorder can increase our risk for many chronic health concerns.  It is estimated that 1 in 5 people have a suboptimal thyroid not detected through proper evaluation and testing. 

This is because often only TSH and T4 are checked, which only provides part of the picture. Remember that it’s actually the T3 hormone that does the work of regulating our metabolism, so if we’re not checking for it we could be missing a huge gap in our hormone health.

When doing a thorough workup on the thyroid, Naturopathic Physicians always run the following tests:

  • TSH
  • Free T3 and Free T4
  • Anti-TPO
  • Anti-thyroglobulin

If you suspect you may have a thyroid imbalance, you can request these test be run by your family MD - it will give you a much clear picture of what’s going on.

Restoring Your Thyroid

If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms and suspect your thyroid is to blame, you may want to supplement your diet with nutrients that support healthy thyroid function. 

Some key nutrients that can help boost an underactive thyroid include: 

Iodine and Tyrosine

Thyroid hormones are made from iodine and the amino acid tyrosine. Include food sources from the diet such as seaweeds (kelp, dulse), eggs, nuts and seeds, turkey, chicken and fish.

Selenium (in the form of selenomethionine)

A deficiency in selenium reduces the conversion of T4 into active T3. Selenium also helps the body recycle its stores of iodine. Shiitake mushrooms, salmon, Brazil nuts and garlic are all good sources of selenium. 

Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera)

Ashwagandha is an important herb in Ayurvedic medicine. It serves as an adaptogen, helping the adrenal glands combat stress but also supports healthy thyroid function by supporting the synthesis of thyroid hormones.


While the thyroid is delicate, it’s also robust - it may get knocked out of alignment due to heavy stress, poor diet or other lifestyle issues, but with time and good practices, it will begin to regulate itself once more - so hang in there! 

Steph Bowen