Your thyroid gland may be functioning below normal and you may not be aware of it. This article may help point out some of the possible symptoms of a low functioning thyroid and lifestyle changes you may need to make to help nourish it.
On another side of the spectrum, you may be suspecting your thyroid is functioning below par, as I did many years ago, but your doctor is reading your blood test results and has told you that everything is normal when it is not.
This is a personal story and is not meant to diagnose, give medical advice or give treatment for any disorders you may have. Find a doctor who will work closely with you. Not all doctors will have the same conclusions as you will read in my experience. Pray for direction regarding this very important part of your health.
The thyroid gland is on located at the front of your throat. It is shaped like a butterfly. This is why you may see many products or sites that deal with the thyroid using the butterfly as their logo.
There were two times, with two different doctors when I asked them to test my thyroid and both times they reported that my thyroid was normal based on the blood test results. The first time, I visited the doctor because of fatigue and severe cold in my hands and feet. They determined that I was fatigue because of heavy menstrual periods that were making me anemic and ordered an upper GI and lower GI to make sure there was no internal bleeding. There was no internal bleeding. They put me on an iron supplement because I was somewhat anemic and that just made me constipated. (Side note – If you are ever looking for a good iron supplement, I did find a better one at the time that was not constipating, Floriadix+Herbs that I picked up at my local Whole Foods Market. If you prefer ordering things online, you can also order it through Amazon.com in liquid form or in capsule form from these links although from the reviews it looks like the capsule form may be constipating for some.)
The second time, several years later and with a different doctor, I visited because of fatigue and pain throughout my body. I suspected a Thyroid disorder but the test results again came back normal.
The symptoms I was having did point to something imbalanced in my Thyroid. I was fatigued and in pain.
I finally found a doctor, Dr. John Gonino, who recognized that I had Hypothyroidism (the name for a low functioning thyroid).
Potential Symptoms of Hypothyroidism
Here are some potential symptoms for Hypothyroidism (low thyroid):
- Weight changes (many times difficulty losing weight but can also be difficulty gaining weight)
- Muscle and joint pain
- Dry skin
- Brittle nails
- Hair loss
- Long-term constipation
- Menstrual abnormalities (unusually heavy periods)
- Thinning eyebrows, particularly, the outer third of the brow
- Hair falling out
- Weakness or tingling in the arms, wrist, hands and legs
- Cold hands and feet (Generally feeling colder than those around you)
- Energy slumps in the afternoon
- Require caffeine, sugar, nicotine or medication to get through the day
- Sleep disorders, inability to fall or stay asleep
- Extreme menopausal symptoms
- Sugar and simple carbohydrate cravings
- Frequent yeast infections
- Tendency to develop allergies
- Excess ear wax in the ear canals, dry & itchy ears
The only side effect I have not dealt with at one time or another on this list is Eczema.
There are many different reasons as to “why” this might be happening and each person is individual. Sometimes it may feel like you are walking a tightrope, trying to juggle the best balance for your thyroid.
I would like to share with you my journey and some solutions I’ve found that have worked for me. I am still on the journey but there may be some information here to help you.
First, it is paramount to work with a doctor. Sometimes blood tests will determine if, in fact, you do have a low functioning thyroid and whether the changes that are made are, in fact, working, although some of the standard tests will not show hypothyroidism as the range may be too wide and your doctor will have to assess by other means and one can be the symptoms you are having.
It can take up to three months before significant changes show up in the blood results for changes in the thyroid hormones. My insurance only paid for a thyroid test once every 6 months so we had to pay out-of-pocket if I felt the need to have one in between.
Initially, I was also seeing another doctor (not Dr. Gonino) for bio-identical hormone treatments and they started me on the drug, Armour Thyroid but there was a shortage in production about five years ago when I started to take it. I discussed this problem with Dr. Gonino and he suggested that we go through a “compounding pharmacy” where they would make a bio-identical thyroid formula for me at their pharmacy.
A definition of a compounding pharmacy –
… Is where compounded medications are “made from scratch” – individual ingredients are mixed together in the exact strength and dosage form required by the patient.”
Walgreens and CVS are not compounding pharmacies.
I was started on a low dose of 15 mg of the compounded, bio-identical formula for thyroid. I was concerned because if this is too high, you can experience heart arrythymias. My twin sister was experiencing serious problems with heart arrhythmia that required an operation at the same time that I was trying to find the right solutions for my thyroid. I didn’t want this to happen to me. I have since, at times, experienced some light heart arrhythmia when we were trying to get the doses correct but none of them were serious.
The dose was doubled to 30 mg when it was clear by my blood tests that the 15 mg was not enough. Finally, when a test revealed that my thyroid hormone levels were still too low, my doctor had the amount doubled to 60 mg a day and things finally began feeling better.
I also added Endo-Flex essential oil from Young Living Essential Oils. I put it on my throat and over the sternum in about the area of my thyroid.
Each person is individual and I cannot recommend what would be best for you. The bio-identical hormones or a combination of bio-identical hormones with some natural support may work best. Discuss this with your doctor.
Perhaps a Connection between Low Thyroid and Candida
I recently came across this post on the Web from a woman who has gone through a similar journey as me. It is entitled, “Candida and the Hypothyroid Connection” at the Web site “Stop the Thyroid Madness.” Even though I have researched and done support for my thyroid, it appears that it will be more beneficial in helping keep Candida at bay than I had previously known.
Lifestyle Changes that may Boost Thyroid Activity
- Eat at least 1500 – 2500 calories per day.
- Avoid skipping meals, processed foods, alcohol, vinegar, caffeinated drinks and milk products.
- Eat “Paleolithic” foods: plenty of fruits and vegetables (see #6), modest amounts of protein and fats (my favorite sources of fat are: coconut oil, coconut butter and clarified butter).
- Eat organic foods and food rich in iron (red meat) and iodine (seafood, kelp). (Please note that Hashimotos disease is an autoimmune disorder of the thyroid and more iodine may create serious problems.)
- Avoid fiber rich cereals (whole grain bread, bran flakes, etc).
- Do get some carbohydrates in the form of high carbohydrate vegetables (I do yellow, “Hannah” sweet potatoes) and some fruit (berries, green apples, lemons and grapefruits are the lowest in sugar). The thyroid needs some carbohydrates.
- Get plenty of sleep.
- Avoid prolonged chronic stress and excessive physical activity.
Other Supplements to Nourish the Thyroid
I also looked up supplements and the amounts to take in the “Prescription for Nutritional Healing” book we have. Here is the list from the book of other supplements that nourish the thyroid: Vitamin B Complex, Vitamin B2, Vitamin B12, L-Tyrosine, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E and Zinc.
Foods that are rich in iodine are Kelp and other sea vegetables. It is very important to find out whether the sources are pure as there can be high levels of impurities like mercury or heavy metals. (Please note that Hashimotos disease is an autoimmune disorder of the thyroid and more iodine may create serious problems.) If you do not have Hashimotos disease of the thyroid but rather a diagnosis of Hypothyroidism then iodine may be helpful to supporting your thyroid gland. Please discuss this with your doctor.
Each person is very individual in their needs and too much iodine can be a problematic for some and give undesirable results. Also, for some thyroid problems, any iodine supplements can make problems worse. I wish I could tell you this is all very easy but it’s been quite a journey and continues to be. This is the importance of prayer becomes paramount.
Low Thyroid Can Be the Culprit to Other Disorders
I have discovered recently that a low functioning thyroid can be a link to digestive issues that may lead to an overgrowth of Candida in the gut and may also be what exhibits fatigue associated with Chronic Fatigue and the pain that expresses as Fibromyalgia. So, keeping your thyroid gland healthy will keep many other areas of your health functioning well and visa versa. It is an important part of keeping other hormones balanced in your body as well.
I also know that it is important to consider the symptoms you are having and to discuss this with a doctor who is familiar with thyroid health. You may want to consider looking for a doctor described as a “functional doctor.” This may be the type of doctor who may be able to help you.
My doctor is an “integrative” doctor who uses medicine but also “integrates” alternative methods into his practice.
There is a lot to cover regarding this topic. I have barely touched the surface and have mostly shared some of my own experience. If you are interested in more, in-depth discussion, this is an excellent article on “Hypothyroidism” at Alternative Health Reports.
It may not be Hypothyroidism or you may have another form of Hypothyroidism. It may be something called Hashimoto’s disease which is an autoimmune disease that attacks the thyroid. There is a free e-book download at Chris Kresser’s site that goes into a deeper, medical explanation of Hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s disease. The solutions for supporting the thyroid and solving problems begin on page 32 of this document. He is supportive of a low or no gluten diet (depending on your own body’s needs) as well as a low carbohydrate diet approach, although your thyroid does need some carbohydrates as no carbohydrates are also not good for the thyroid. It is well worth the read if you are interested in delving deeper. Here is a personal account of a woman who uses Chris Kresser’s regimen with Hashimoto’s disease. It’s interesting to see the outline of her life reflected from her study of Chris Kresser’s work.
A support forum for Hashimoto’s disease is on Facebook and I’ve found it is a good resource for learning about the thyroid and keeping it healthy in general. The name of their page is “Hashimotos 411,” and you can visit their page here. They have found that the Autoimmune Protocol Diet is a great support for those with the disorder.
The Most Important Thing
Worry, fear and stress over this can also be a contributing factor to less than optimal health for your thyroid!
Last but not least, as always, take a deep breath, relax and pray.