Thyroid disease is a silent epidemic. Around 200 million people worldwide have some sort of issue with their thyroid gland. The most staggering of all, 50 percent remain undiagnosed.
Why is this number so high? Well, the symptoms associated with thyroid disease can be easily connected with other causes. This can lead to inappropriate diagnosis and treatment, leaving many alone with their physical and emotional struggles. Despite its frequency, thyroidism is poorly addressed and seldom talked about in our communities.
However, the scientific literature shows that you can heal your thyroid disease naturally. Today, we will be focusing on autoimmune thyroid disease or hypothyroidism.
If you are reading this guide, you have probably encountered first-hand the reality of a thyroid disease diagnosis. Finding out that you have an autoimmune thyroid disease turns your life around. While receiving a diagnosis might seem unfair, baffling, and emotionally charging at first, it’s a good sign. It means that you can find what works for you.
With the right treatment, the fatigue and emotional rollercoaster so typical of hypothyroidism will subside, leaving room for energy, well-being, and connectedness.
Are you determined to take control of your life and heal your thyroid disease once and for all? Then this guide might be for you. But this isn’t a one-time fix. It requires daily habit changes.
Even though it isn’t an easy path to take, it is certainly worthwhile.
Are you tired of being tired? Are you ready to engage in your journey towards healing and well-being?
Keep reading to discover more.
Have you considered checking your thyroid function?
You can take the TSH test. Learn more about it in our article.
Understand Thyroid Disease Before You Cure It
You might be reading this article because you suspect some thyroid function issues. Or perhaps you are on the lookout for ways to heal your thyroid.
Nevertheless, you are not alone.
Among organ-specific autoimmune diseases, thyroid diseases are the most prevalent. The likelihood of developing autoimmune thyroid disease is 5-15% among women and 1-5% among men. Hashimoto’s disease and Graves’ disease are autoimmune disorders that are mainly responsible for hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism.
In today’s guide, we will focus on Hashimoto, or hypothyroidism, as it is more frequent. As with any condition, understanding precedes cure.
What Are The Symptoms of Hypothyroidism?
If you are one of those who have concluded that hypothyroidism might explain the plethora of symptoms you are experiencing, check out this list.
- Did you notice that you tend to sweat very little, even on scorching days?
- Do you have to regularly clear your throat when singing or talking?
- Do you have frequent sensations of tingling, burning, or tickling?
- Do you have dry skin?
- Do you have brittle nails?
- Are you experiencing frequent constipation or digestive issues?
- Did you notice that you are losing your hearing ability? Did you gain weight all of a sudden?
- Did you notice that your movement became slower?
- Do you always feel fatigued or exhausted?
- Did you notice that your reaction speed slowed?
- Did you notice any puffiness on your face?
- Are you irritable and impatient?
- Do you feel too cold or too hot?
- Are you experiencing frequent states of depression, anxiety, and panic?
- Do you have sleeping issues?
- Do you have an enlarged thyroid gland?
- Do you experience muscle aches?
- Did you notice pain, stiffness, or swelling in your joints?
As you can see, hypothyroidism manifests itself in a myriad of ways, and it can be mistaken for some other illness. So many people are being told to see a mental health specialist when the actual culprit of their emotional struggles is their thyroid function.
If you’ve checked many of these boxes, you might suffer from hypothyroidism. Take this list to a certified physician. The next step should be a check-up of your thyroid hormone levels. The gold standard, in this case, is the TSH test.
What Are The Risk Factors for Thyroid Hormones Imbalances?
Why are some people more prone to developing Hashimoto’s disease? Let’s explore the risk factors.
- Women are more likely to suffer from hypothyroidism.
- First-degree relatives have a higher incidence of Hashimoto’s disease.
- Another autoimmune disorder can lead to Hashimoto’s disease.
- Fluctuating levels of estrogen and progesterone.
- Elevated levels of thyroid antibodies.
- Bacterial infections in the gastrointestinal tract.
- Iodine deficiency.
- Radiation exposure.
- Elevated levels of stress.
Thyroid Gland 101
What Is the Thyroid Gland?
Located at the base of the neck, the thyroid is an endocrine gland that is shaped like a butterfly. It has been called the “master” of metabolism. Why? Well, the two thyroid hormones, T4 and T3, regulate many metabolic processes. The health of your heart, muscle, digestive system, bones, and brain depends on the thyroid. Thyroid function depends on a good supply of iodine.
But how does the thyroid know when to release these hormones? With the help of its little friend, the pituitary gland, located at the base of your brain. The pituitary gland produces a hormone called thyroid-stimulating hormone, also known as TSH. When released, this hormone sends a signal to the thyroid gland. This signal tells the thyroid gland how many hormones to produce.
The pituitary gland also receives signals from the hypothalamus, which releases its own hormone: thyrotropin-releasing hormone, or TRH. This hormone facilitates the release of TSH, which then tells the thyroid gland that it’s time to produce and secrete thyroid hormones.
What happens when you develop hypothyroidism is that your thyroid gland stops producing and secreting the needed amount of thyroid hormones into the bloodstream. This hijacks the metabolic system, causing it to slow down. The entire body responds to this, with symptoms such as fatigue, slowed reaction time, constipation, or cold sensitivity.
Thyroid Gland and the Immune System
As we’ve seen, one of the major causes of hypothyroidism is an autoimmune disease. More often than not, it is Hashimoto’s disease.
But what’s the link between our thyroid function and the immune system? Think of the immune system as an army of tiny armored soldiers. Their sole mission is to protect your body from infections by using two weapons of choice: white blood cells and antibodies. The immune system distinguishes between foreign and host organisms.
In the case of an autoimmune disorder, however, the tiny soldiers turn against the host organisms, attacking healthy tissues. When Hashimoto’s disease is present, the immune system creates antibodies that attack thyroid cells. Eventually, these antibodies destroy the thyroid gland, leading to hypothyroidism.
The Gut Microbiome — a Guiding Compass For Our Brain
There are around five million trillion trillion bacteria on Earth. To put it into perspective, that’s a five followed by 30 zeros. There are more bacteria on our planet than there are stars in the Milky Way. And there are about 38 trillion bacteria in our bodies.
Together, they make up the microbiome, which is mainly located in the gut. A healthy microbiome keeps everything in check. It contributes to the balance and optimal function of the immune, nervous, and endocrine systems. In fact, the gut has been called our “second brain” and it is also sheltering 70% of our immune system.
There’s a reason why they say to trust your gut.
Your brain constantly relies on messages coming from the gut to monitor metabolism, respond to stress, or adapt to changes happening in your body. Raphael Kellman, the author of the book “Microbiome Thyroid: Restore Your Gut and Heal Your Hidden Thyroid Disorder”, described the brain as the president, while the gut is the chief of staff. It gives our brain intel on which the brain relies to produce neurotransmitters.
The microbiome also “talks” with other parts of the body. It constantly receives and sends signals to your endocrine and immune system, for instance.
When the microbiome is unbalanced, the immune system enters defense mode and overreacts.
The immune cells begin damaging microbial bacteria when the defense mode is activated for too long – resulting in inflammation.
Persistent inflammation can lead to several diseases. More so, when inflammation happens, the connection between the gut and other systems is hijacked. Basically, the gut sends and receives erroneous messages.
The Thyroid Gut Connection – How Does Gut Health Affect Thyroid Function?
When the gut is unbalanced, the entire body feels it. But how does gut health affect thyroid function?
Well, for one, gut bacteria have a direct influence on our body’s ability to produce and assimilate key vitamins, minerals, and micronutrients — such as iodine, iron, selenium, zinc, iron, B vitamins, or vitamin A. These micronutrients contribute to thyroid health, as they facilitate optimal production of thyroid hormones. When imbalances occur, these nutrients aren’t absorbed as they should. And they are key players in the health of your thyroid. Without a sufficient amount of nutrients such as iodine or selenium, the thyroid gland can’t produce the optimal level of hormones.
But the thyroid gut connection goes beyond that.
An unbalanced microbiome makes our body release more free radicals. While free radicals are normal, they need antioxidants to be stable. When the scale between free radicals and antioxidants is out of balance, oxidative stress happens. Prolonged oxidative stress ends up damaging cells in the body.
And that includes the cells of our endocrine system. This can translate into thyroid issues.
Most people with a sluggish thyroid also struggle with a condition called “leaky gut”. When the gut’s protective lining starts “leaking, ” certain toxins and bad bacteria enter the bloodstream. This sends a message to the immune system: fight!
When its defenses are overactive for longer periods of time, the immune system starts confusing healthy host cells with intruders, and it starts attacking the body’s healthy cells, giving rise to autoimmune conditions, such as celiac disease or Hashimoto’s.
Why Do I Still Have Symptoms After Being on Thyroid Medication?
If you’re still experiencing symptoms, such as constipation, low mood, or fatigue, even though you are on thyroid medication, the gut might have something to do with it. Normal thyroid function relies on the health and integrity of your gut.
Can Stress Throw off Your Thyroid?
There is evidence that indicates a clear connection between autoimmune disorders and trauma or persistent stress. People who experienced childhood trauma had higher levels of cortisol and a hyperactive immune system 20 years later. They also had Hashimoto’s, and rheumatic diseases.
Veterans with PTSD also had higher chances of developing thyroid disease. But how can trauma cause autoimmune disease? While the link between autoimmune disorders and trauma is not clearly established yet, there are two possible explanations. For one, persistent stress caused by trauma and hardship releases a lot of cortisol which disrupts normal thyroid hormone production. Then, there is also the effect that stress has on the immune system.
While the link between stress and thyroid disorders is still circumstantial, there’s no doubt that stress puts a toll on our day-to-day life. More so, living with a thyroid disorder also creates a lot of stress. It’s a vicious cycle.
One that can be reversed, though. Eager to find out how to heal your thyroid naturally?
Hashimoto’s Diagnosis: A Step Forward
Some people struggle years and years before getting to the root cause of their symptoms. The endless visits to the doctors take a toll. So, many people end up on psychiatric medication due to undiagnosed thyroid function issues.
Hashimoto’s disease loses its hold on you once you’re aware of it. Suddenly, everything becomes clear. However, understanding your thyroid disease can be an emotional rollercoaster on its own. Especially when it’s tied to an autoimmune disease, like Hashimoto’s.
Ready to take the first step?
Move Consciously Towards a Better Life: How to Heal Your Thyroid Naturally
Research shows that by healing your gut and reducing inflammation in the body, you can cure your thyroid disease. However, natural remedies can’t replace the conventional treatment of hypothyroidism, but rather act as a complement to thyroid medication.
We gathered information reviewed by scientists in the field and created this guide. However, everyone’s body is different. This is not a one size fits all solution. To ensure that you follow the best treatment plan and monitor its results, stay in contact with an endocrine specialist.
Step 1: Evaluate Your Current Lifestyle to Restore Thyroid Health
Before you start making daily habitual changes, you need to evaluate your current lifestyle. Not only do certain factors increase the probability of developing a thyroid disorder, but the illness itself changes people’s emotional, personal and professional lives.
- What foods do you eat?
- Do you have nutritional deficiencies?
- How much coffee do you drink every day?
- Are you getting enough sleep or has it been an issue for you?
- Are you under a lot of stress?
- Are you a smoker?
- How much alcohol do you drink per week?
- Do you struggle with symptoms of depression or anxiety?
- Do you lead an active lifestyle?
Step 2: Diet and Supplements for Thyroid Function
Since thyroid health depends on nutrients and is characterized by nutrient deficiencies, the first thing you should look at is dietary habits. This is perhaps the most beneficial thing you can do, besides medication, to heal your thyroid naturally. Why? Because by healing your gut you heal your thyroid. As we’ve seen, there is a thyroid gut connection that affects our overall health.
Poor diet is a risk factor for many thyroid disorders. Not to mention that gut imbalances or leaky gut syndrome can affect the effectiveness of the medication. So, here are a few natural remedies for thyroid:
Eliminate Inflammatory Foods
Certain foods are known to cause inflammation in the body, which then affects the proper functioning of the thyroid. Gluten is one of them. While all the buzz about gluten being bad for everybody is certainly not entirely true, it might be for you.
According to research, many of those with hypothyroidism also have gluten intolerance. For some folks, gluten is inflammatory, which is not great for immunity or thyroid function. If you have not already tested yourself, it would be a great place to start.
Sugar and highly processed food also cause inflammation and gut imbalances. With all the “gluten-free” craze, many of these gluten-free products that you can find in the supermarket are highly processed and have lots of sugar. Before you pick them up, check the labels. Another one you should steer away from as much as possible is alcohol since it also produces inflammation and is straining our bodies.
Restore the Impermeability of The Gut
A healthy gut keeps toxins away from our body. However, a fragile gut lining, or intestinal permeability, is quite common nowadays. To restore the permeability of the gut, here are a few supplements and healing food that work wonders:
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids. You can take your intake of omegas from supplements, or from foods such as fish and seafood, olive oil, chia seeds, and walnuts.
- Zinc and L-carnosine. You can find both of these in fish, red meat, pumpkin seeds, and legumes. Zinc supplements that contain L-carnosine are also available on the market.
- Glutamine, an essential amino-acid, can be found in certain foods such as chicken, fish, tofu, cabbage, or spinach.
Nourish Your Gut With Probiotics and Prebiotics
Probiotics provide vitamins and proteins that keep our digestive tract healthy. Not only that, but they reduce inflammation and keep our immune system strong, while also boosting our metabolism and acting as a natural antibiotic.
How about prebiotics? These are foods that nourish the healthy bacteria in your gut. And they are easy to add to your diet. Carrots, onions, and garlic, for instance, all contain prebiotics.
A number of vitamins and minerals are antioxidants, including vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene (vitamin A precursor), selenium, and manganese. And they are essential to our overall health.
Antioxidants keep free-radicals in check. This means less oxidative stress and thus, fewer immunity issues, essential if you want to heal your thyroid. Adding antioxidants to your diet is one of the best natural remedies for thyroid problems. If you’re looking to boost your antioxidant intake, focus on eating more fruits and vegetables, as well as nuts and seeds. You can also take supplements, but be sure to talk to your doctor first.
Iodine And Selenium
If you’re looking to keep your thyroid in tip-top shape, iodine and selenium are two essential nutrients to make sure you’re getting enough of.
Iodine deficiency is one of the main causes of thyroid problems, so be sure to include iodine-rich foods such as seafood, seaweed, and iodized table salt in your diet. You can also try iodine supplements if you feel you need an extra boost.
Selenium is also key for hormone production, so including selenium-rich foods like Brazil nuts and mushrooms in your diet is a good idea. You can also take selenium supplements if you feel you need them. By including these important nutrients in your diet, you can help keep your thyroid healthy and functioning properly.
However, you should consult with your doctor before doing so, so they can test for nutritional deficiencies. And keep in mind that natural remedies for an underactive thyroid can only do so much. They allow medication to work better, but they cannot replace it.
Step 3: Get Your Sleep In Order
There’s no doubt that sleep is important for our overall health.
But did you know that sleep patterns can also be a key indicator of thyroid problems? Many people with an underactive thyroid struggle with sleep disorders, such as insomnia. Not only does lack of sleep impact our general mental and physical health, but in the long term, it can also have a profound impact on the immune system.
And since autoimmunity is an issue in hypothyroidism, getting an optimal amount of sleep is key. With the right treatment, you can get your sleep patterns back on track – and help keep your thyroid healthy in the process.
And since autoimmunity is an issue in hypothyroidism, getting an optimal amount of sleep is key. That’s why it’s so important to get into a regular sleep pattern of 7-8 hours per night. But how do you do that when insomnia is often a symptom of hypothyroidism?
The answer lies in sleep hygiene.
Cutting off blue light exposure before bed, a relaxing routine before bed and an active lifestyle can go a long way. Plus, a healthy microbiome will also help restore normal sleep patterns. So if you’re struggling with your thyroid, make sure to focus on getting plenty of rest – your body will thank you for it!
Step 4: Hypothyroidism and Exercise
Can you exercise with hypothyroidism? Sport helps with the management of hypothyroidism. However, for some, hypothyroidism and exercise don’t mix. In fact, some specialists suggest refraining from intense exercise until the thyroid recovers its normal function.
Low-impact exercises are the best for thyroid patients. So, things like walking, hiking, swimming, and yoga. Before you jump to intense workouts, try yoga. Can yoga improve thyroid function?
Practicing yoga has been shown to help with thyroid symptoms, such as fatigue, constipation, and anxiety or depression. Specialists recommend certain yoga poses for thyroid problems. Some yogic poses are especially beneficial to thyroid function, with studies showing that they improve thyroid hormone production.
Here are some yoga poses for thyroid problems:
Supported shoulder stand
While research in this area is in its infancy, some authors suggest that yoga works because it improves blood circulation and the functioning of the digestive system. Yoga practices also reduce cortisol levels a.k.a stress. Grab your yoga mat! Even 15 minutes per day can be beneficial.
Try out these yoga poses for thyroid stimulation and monitor the results. Hypothyroidism and exercise can go hand in hand if you focus on less straining workouts. And yoga helps with chronic stress and thyroid function. So why not give it a go?
Step 5: Emotional Work to Cure Your Thyroid
To cure your thyroid, you must also tend to your emotional health. As we’ve seen, there’s a link between stress and thyroid problems. Emotional struggles and stressful life events can cause inflammation in our bodies. Our bodies remember all the hardship we’ve been through.
While there is no way of erasing what happened in our past, one can heal by focusing on the present. To accomplish this, one thing we can do is reduce the constant state of “fight or flight” we are in. How?
Mindfulness helps us be in touch with what we think and feel, while also showing us that they are just that, thoughts and feelings. They too pass, and we can observe without judgment and let them go. The practice of mindfulness is associated with a better ability to regulate emotions, relief of anxiety symptoms, and overall psychological health.
Not only does breathwork, especially diaphragmatic breathing, work wonders for reducing cortisol and thus stress and anxiety, but it also benefits our immune system. And it’s an easy habit to incorporate into your day-to-day life. You can do it at work or while walking.
Involvement in gratifying activities
Activities such as hobbies, hanging out with friends, or admiring nature are good for us. They give us purpose, keep us active and aware of who we are. Psychological health is also about finding joy in the little things.
Writing about our emotions and thoughts is therapeutic. It helps people understand their experiences, while also gently adding some distance between the self and experiences, thoughts, and emotions. It’s also a great way to uncover your values and dreams!
How to Heal Your Thyroid Naturally: Final Thoughts
We hope this guide has helped to shed some light on hypothyroidism. We’ve only scratched the surface of what thyroid dysfunction entails. It’s a complex and multi-layered condition that can have a profound impact on our health.
However, we’ve also explored ways to heal your thyroid naturally. There are a few things you need to do to embark on your personal healing journey:
- A change in mindset. Keeping your thyroid under control is possible if you are determined and hopeful. I heard this saying once that hope is action and it stayed with me. To feel hope, we must act. At first, implementing all these lifestyle changes might be hard, but in time, results will show up.
- Collaboration with a physician, so you can monitor the entire process. This way, you’ll see what works and what doesn’t. Regular thyroid hormone tests are a mandatory part of the process.
- Keeping up with the latest scientific research on hypothyroidism. We know that it might be confusing to discern credible claims from pseudoscientific ones.
The Body Health Guide was created with this in mind.
Our team of specialists reviews existing research on this topic constantly. Stay tuned to our blog for more updates on thyroid health — both conventional and holistic approaches! And if you’re ready to start your own journey of healing, do reach out to us for advice and support.
We’re happy to help!