For many men and women, even if they eat right and exercise the pounds just won’t come off. Metabolic disorders can cause weight gain. This includes thyroid disorders and insulin resistance (pre-diabetes). These often go undiagnosed for several years. Meanwhile the pounds keep on creeping on and are difficult to get off. These are easily discovered with comprehensive blood work.
Thyroid disorders affect more than 20 million Americans and as many as 60% of them are undiagnosed. The thyroid gland regulates every cell in the body, and controls metabolism, body temperature, heart rate, hormone production, and muscle health. There isn’t a single part of you left unaffected by a thyroid disorder.
Hypothyroidism (low thyroid function) is by far the most common disorder. We don’t officially know what causes hypothyroidism but it is associated with nutrient deficiencies, poor diets (including those heavy in wheat and dairy), heavy metal toxicity, stress, and there is a genetic component as well. Symptoms of hypothyroidism include fatigue, brain fog, weight gain, cold hands/feet, dry skin, hair loss, constipation, muscle cramps/weakness, menstrual irregularities, and even depression.
We are seeing rising incidences of Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, an autoimmune condition in which the immune system attacks the thyroid gland. This is something we look for in our patients because although the outcome is the same (low thyroid function), the way we treat it is different. The focus shifts to decreasing inflammation and normalizing immune function to stop the attack and preserve the thyroid function you still have. Many conventional doctors don’t test for the thyroid antibodies to diagnose Hashimoto’s because there is no conventional treatment for it.
It isn’t always low function that can give you trouble, either. A small percentage of the population will have hyperthyroidism and/or Grave’s disease – both of which involve too much thyroid hormone. This can be quite dangerous and lead to hypertension, osteoporosis, anxiety, diarrhea, fatigue, weight changes, palpitations, and irregular heartbeats. Luckily there are natural options for this as well!
Testing is easily done using a traditional blood draw. Unfortunately, conventional testing for thyroid conditions is notoriously inaccurate, as most physicians only use a TSH to evaluate thyroid health. It is also critical to look at T3 and T4 levels to see how much hormone is actually circulating, and it’s critical to take into account your symptoms! Far too many of our patients have had symptoms for years until getting an accurate hypothyroid diagnosis and beginning treatment.
Treating hypothyroidism involves diet change (wheat and dairy are associated with low thyroid function), targeted nutrition (particularly iodine and selenium, which are “thyroid food”), stress management, and very often thyroid medication. The medications we use are natural desiccated thyroid, containing both T3 and T4 and holding the highest standards for quality control and efficacy. Synthroid and levothyroxine are T4 only, and often only resolve some of a patient’s symptoms. When beginning treatment with desiccated thyroid, so many patients declare they feel better than they have in years.
It all starts with some bloodwork and a conversation with your naturopathic doctor. If you think you have an undiagnosed thyroid disorder, or you want better management of your thyroid, call us today.