5 Signs Your Thyroid Needs a Boost

 Image: Joanna Nix via Unsplash

Image: Joanna Nix via Unsplash

Most people have heard of the thyroid gland, but often what comes to mind are images of a sluggish metabolism, or an internal thermostat gone haywire. 

While it’s true that the thyroid plays a role in metabolism and the regulation of temperature, this little gland is so much more than that. In fact, the thyroid is one of the most essential glands for regulating overall health.

The bad news? It’s also easily damaged by toxins, nutrient deficiencies, and stress.

What is the Thyroid, and how does it work?

The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped gland found in the neck behind the Adam’s apple.  It is controlled primarily from the pituitary gland (via the hormone TSH) to produce the thyroid hormones T4 (thyroxine) and T3 (triiodthyronine).  

T4 is found in the largest quantities and then our body converts T4 into the more biologically active T3 hormone.  While T4 is found in the largest quantities in our bodies, it’s really T3 that does the heavy lifting when it comes to metabolism. 

Still, you can see how T4, T3 and TSH would be crucially important to thyroid health.

Suboptimal thyroid health, and how to spot it

I see a ton of patients with thyroid conditions in my practice, many of which have not been diagnosed previously. The following symptoms are often clues that your thyroid gland is not performing optimally:

Fatigue

Low energy can be caused by many things, however if you are constantly dragging and can’t function without coffee, it could be a sign of an underactive thyroid. Also, if you need to sleep more than 9 hours a night to feel refreshed, it could be an indication of an underlying thyroid imbalance.

Weight Gain

Unexplained weight changes and issues can be signs of both hypo- or hyper-thyroidism (under- or overactive thyroid conditions). If you’re exercising vigorously and eating healthy but failing to shed a pound (or even gaining weight), it could be another sign that there’s something off with your thyroid.

Dry Skin and/or Hair Loss

With hypothyroid (low thyroid), hair often becomes brittle, coarse and dry, while breaking off and falling out easily. Skin can become coarse, thick, dry and scaly. In hypothyroidism there is often an unusual loss of hair in the outer edge of the eyebrow.  

Depression/Anxiety

Depression or anxiety can be a symptom of thyroid disease.  While there are often other underlying factors involved, the thyroid and adrenal function should be the first areas of assessment when treating anxiety or depression.

Menstrual Problems and Infertility

Our hormones work synergistically together: when one hormone is out of balance, often other hormone pathways need to be investigated. Heavier, more frequent and painful periods are sometimes associated with hypothyroidism. Infertility can also be associated with undiagnosed thyroid conditions.

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, and especially if you’re experiencing a combination of them, I’d recommend visiting your GP or naturopathic doctor immediately. I’ll also post next week about specific tests you can request to give you the whole picture on thyroid health (and how to eat well and supplement for your thyroid!).
 

Steph Bowen