Thyroid problems are one of the most common issues I help patients deal with. Why do so many people have issues or concerns with the thyroid? What makes the thyroid so important? The thyroid, like all hormone glands in our bodies, is quite complex. Let’s first go over the basics to clear up a few things.
What is your thyroid and what is its function?
The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped gland in the front of the neck, with important roles in regulating numerous metabolic processes throughout the body. Different types of thyroid disorders affect either its structure or function. The thyroid gland is below the Adam’s apple and wrapped around the trachea, or windpipe. A thin area of tissue in the gland’s middle, known as the isthmus, joins the two thyroid lobes on each side.
The thyroid gland is the body’s internal thermostat, regulating the temperature by secreting two hormones that control how quickly the body burns calories and uses energy. When this is off, people have a hard time losing weight, gaining weight, having quality energy, etc., which in turn can affect the rest of the body. In the world of Applied Kinesiology, the teres minor can be related to the thyroid, sometimes causing chronic shoulder problems even though the shoulder isn’t actually the issue. This does not mean all shoulder issues are thyroid issues, but it proves that our bodies can react in so many ways.
What about stress?
I like to use this car analogy. If you are sitting at a stoplight with your car brakes on, the engine is running but the car isn’t moving. The engine is your thyroid. When the light turns green, you press the gas pedal, which is like your stress-handling adrenal glands. If you put the pedal all the way to the floor and run your car 100 MPH all day, the engine would eventually give out. Your body doesn’t allow this so your thyroid starts to slow things down. People start adding in support for their thyroid, but symptoms don’t necessarily improve because their adrenals also need to be addressed.
Getting thyroid and adrenal support
When testing, one of the things we focus on is the Thyroid Stimulating Hormone. If your body needs more hormones, the TSH increases, and if there are too many hormones, the TSH goes down. The problem is, when something like stress is thrown into the mix (and who doesn’t have stress!), the signaling to each hormone can go off. It’s why people can have normal TSH levels but show all of the signs of a slow thyroid, or hypothyroid. Tests such as T4, T3, Free T3, Free T4, and Reverse T3 give us a much better idea of what is going on with the thyroid.
The best way to look at your thyroid is to get labs completed both for your thyroid and adrenals. Then look at the labs with a functionally-minded health care practitioner, meaning that in-range labs do not necessarily mean ideal labs. As a functionally-minded health care practitioner, I look at each patient’s entire body and treat the whole system, not just the symptoms.
For example, I had a patient in her mid-40s who came in because she couldn’t lose weight and couldn’t sleep. Her TSH test was “normal,” but after running other tests we found out her Free T3 was below ideal and her adrenals were very low. We supported the body with adrenal and thyroid nutrition along with a customized eating program, and within a month she started feeling better, losing weight, and sleeping. Within three months she said she felt more like herself than she had in years!
There are many foods that are great for the thyroid, including those rich in iodine, such as seaweed and Brazil nuts. These are also high in selenium, which is used to convert T4 to T3 in your thyroid. Herbs like Mediherb’s Thyroid Complex and Orthomolecular’s Thyrotain can also provide great thyroid support. Always consult with a healthcare practitioner prior to starting any regimen, as conditions such as Hashimotos will need specific guidance on when and how to take certain supplements.
Still have questions about the thyroid? Check out my upcoming event!
Understanding Your Thyroid: How it Relates to Weight Loss, Energy, Mood, & Much More
Monday, April 15 at 7pm
Growing up in Texas as an overweight child, Dr. Scott Jurica, MS, DC, PAK, ACN was often teased about his size. Through the support of his family, mentors, and love of sports, he turned his weakness into his strength by focusing his life on natural healthcare. In his offices in Austin and New York City, Dr. Jurica helps his patients become their healthiest selves, so they can live life to the fullest!
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