The thyroid is the gland that is shaped like a butterfly in front of the neck. It secretes two hormones that are responsible for the metabolic processes for the whole body — the thyroxine (T4) and the triiodothyronine (T3). The heart, lungs, digestion, and cells are all commanded by the thyroid to do their job well. A tiny gland for such a huge role could easily get thrown out of balance, affected by numerous factors, and consequently, causing chaos to overall health.
There are several different conditions that could result to a dysfunctional thyroid:
- Hypothyroidism — A common thyroid condition brought about by a sluggish or underactive thyroid. It slows down the body’s metabolism, causing fatigue, depression, weight gain, hair loss, dry skin, constipation, and intolerance to low temperatures.
- Hyperthyroidism — The opposite of hypothyroidism, it is due to an overactive thyroid that puts the body’s metabolism in hyperdrive. Symptoms include fast heart rate, excessive sweating, agitation, weight loss, and also fatigue.
- Goitre — The thyroid gland becomes swollen or enlarged. It may manifest on patients with either hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism, as well as iodine deficiency.
- Autoimmune Thyroid Disease — When the immune system starts to attack itself, the condition is called autoimmunity. For patients who have an underactive thyroid, it manifests as Hashimoto’s disease. For those who have an overactive thyroid, it is Grave’s disease.
What causes thyroid dysfunction?
There are a lot of contributing factors to thyroid imbalance, but these two are the biggest culprits:
- Stress. Whether it’s emotional or physical, stress reduces the hormone levels that the gland produces, and even cause an existing autoimmune thyroid condition to spurt.
- Iodine intake. Iodine plays a vital role in the production of thyroid hormones, and thus, in its function. Deficiency could cause an underactive thyroid, and an excessive intake can stimulate the thyroid. The average Australian diet, sadly, is low on iodine-rich foods.
Key to a well-nourished thyroid
These herbs and nutrients will deal with what drives thyroid issues and help balance out the thyroid’s functions:
- Iodine. Only for those who have a hypothyroid, supplementation will help support the production of hormones and reduce goitre growth and diminish the effects of an underactive thyroid. On the other hand, hyperthyroid patients should test carefully before supplementation.
- Magnesium. This nutrient is key to managing and reducing stress, a major imbalance driver. Magnesium also helps cells to utilise iodine.
- Withania. This herb can help underactive thyroid to boost the production of thyroid hormones, and be able to cope with stress.
- Zinc – a key nutrient in conversion of thyroid hormones
- Vitamin A, Tyrosine and other cofactors – there really are a lot more but it depends upon each patient
Love your thyroid
As can be concluded from what have been mentioned, to keep the thyroid gland functioning optimally, watch your iodine consumption, and learn to manage your stress. Good quality sleep, and stress-relieving activities such as going for a walk, yoga classes, and meditation, is best for the thyroid gland and consequently, the whole body.