natural thyroid treatmentsThe American thyroid Association states, “An estimated 20 million Americans have some form of thyroid disease. Up to 60 percent of those with thyroid disease are unaware of their condition. Women are five to eight times more likely than men to have thyroid problems. One woman in eight will develop a thyroid disorder during her lifetime.

Adequate thyroid hormone is essential for life and it influences many metabolic reactions in the body. It’s hard to feel good when levels are not normal and for many people, lifetime thyroid hormone replacement may be necessary. However, there are natural thyroid treatments that if  instituted early can help the gland or the hormone work better.  These natural thyroid treatments may help people avoid having to take hormones for the rest of their lives. Here is the top 5.

Iodine
Iodine is a one of the well known natural thyroid treatments. Iodine is an essential component of thyroid hormone. Without it, your body cannot make thyroxine  (T4) that has 4 iodine molecules.  This is a pro hormone and is not very active. When 1 iodine molecule is removed it becomes triiodothyronine (T3). This is the activated hormone that that gets into cells and produces the metabolic effects of thyroid hormone.

The media is full of advice recommending iodine supplements stating low iodine levels are common. However, too much or too little iodine can cause hypothyroidism and symptoms of low thyroid. Before taking this natural thyroid treatment, be sure to get your urinary iodine levels measured. Values lower than 100 mcg/L in children and non-pregnant adults indicate insufficient iodine intake.

You can get iodine from food such as seaweed  (kelp, nori, kombu, and wakame), seafood, dairy products, grain products, eggs and some fruits and vegetables. Iodide is used in animal feed products and as a sanitizing agent in the dairy industry, which is why iodine is found in these products. Most table salt contains iodine. Oddly enough, processed foods are made with non-iodized salt unless otherwise labeled. Sea salt, which is very popular, does not contain iodine. The level of iodine in fruits and vegetables varies depending on where it is grown. If you live in an area known to have low iodine levels in the soil, you may need a supplement. Be sure to consult with a functional medicine physician to determine if you really need it.

Selenium
Selenium has been known for a long time to be a natural thyroid treatment. The thyroid is the organ with the highest selenium content per gram of tissue and selenium is an essential element for thyroid function. Selenium is an antioxidant and has anti inflammatory properties. Oxidation and inflammation are thought to be one of the mechanisms at the root cause of thyroid disorders. Low selenium levels are found in silent or asymptomatic thyroiditis as well as in autoimmune thyroid disorders such as Hashimoto’s and Graves disease. As with any natural thyroid treatment, be sure to get an evaluation of selenium levels before embarking on high dose supplementation. A risk of diabetes has been reported following long-term selenium supplementation. A daily dosage between 150-300mcg should be safe for the average adult.

Magnesium
The latest research on thyroid disorders is that stress may deplete magnesium levels, cause inflammation and trigger oxidation that can damage tissues, including the thyroid. Magnesium should be included in the arsenal of natural thyroid treatments. It an essential mineral for energy production and is responsible for over 300 enzymatic reactions in the body.  Thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) becomes elevated when the levels of thyroid hormone drop because as the name states, it is trying to stimulate the thyroid to make more hormone. It is a marker for low thyroid function. Studies have shown that TSH levels dropped when participants were given magnesium supplements and the reason it drops is because thyroid hormone will shut off the signal for TSH. As a natural thyroid treatment, magnesium can restore the ability of mitochondria to make energy and the thyroid to make hormone. Oral magnesium supplementation requires a relatively long time. Results can be seen after 6–8 months. A dose of 400mg of magnesium citrate a day can help thyroid function as well as many other disorders. Food is grown in magnesium depleted soil and it is not uncommon to have low levels.

CoQ10
Researchers believe that altered mitochondrial function that leads to thyroid disorders may be due to deficiency of magnesium, selenium, and coenzyme Q10. Mitochondria produce energy to allow cells to function properly. Without energy, cells die. Co Q10 is a natural thyroid treatment and an anti oxidant. It provides the spark to begin energy production in the mitochondria. Doses of 100 mg per day are generally regarded as a safe natural thyroid treatment along with magnesium and selenium if there is selenium deficiency.

Vitamin D
Vitamin D is a natural thyroid treatment for autoimmune thyroid disorders such as Graves disease or Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.  A low level of Vitamin D is a risk factor for developing these diseases as well as other autoimmune disorders. Vitamin D regulates the immune system T reg or T regulatory cells that modify immune system function.  Several genetic studies have demonstrated an association between thyroid autoimmunity susceptibility and gene polymorphisms otherwise known as SNP’s of vitamin D receptor. These are variants or typo’s in DNA that don’t allow Vitamin D to do its job. Get your vitamin D levels checked and consider having genetic testing done for Vitamin D receptor (VDR) variants to determine if you may need higher levels of Vitamin D.

Managing stress, avoiding toxins, eating a thyroid healthy diet to maintain thyroid health and getting your levels of nutrients measured are all natural thyroid treatments. Get an evaluation by a functional medicine physician so you can minimize or avoid having to take thyroid medication for life.

Image Credit: Flickr User Bradley Stemke

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