My goal is to really encourage people to learn more about their body and how it truly functions. One really important gland that we all need to learn more about is the thyroid. Is your thyroid functioning properly? I can tell you that it is very rare that I see an initial Hair Mineral Analysis that shows an optimally functioning thyroid – even when people have first seen their doctor and been told that their thyroid is fine.
Your thyroid gland literally drives your health one way or the other. The thyroid hormone, thyroxine, affects every cell in your body, and you have trillions of them. Improving thyroid function is vital to your health, so don’t you think it might be important to learn more about this gland?
What Is Your Thyroid?
The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland located in your throat, right below your Adam’s apple. This tiny little gland makes, stores and releases thyroid hormones (T3 and T4) into your blood, which helps control the body’s functions. In fact, it has such a profound effect on cellular energy and metabolism that it has been called the master gland.
We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve the beauty. – Maya Angelou
Thyroxine controls how quickly the cells use energy, and it regulates all the metabolic systems that control body fats, bone composition, and energy. It’s also involved in our neural development from the time we are born, so it influences the nervous system, cognition, and thinking. Even though it is small, it’s role in the body is huge! However, it doesn’t work alone. The thyroid gland works together with your pituitary gland and the hypothalamus to control the amount of thyroxine in your body.
Thyroid imbalances are one of the most common conditions in the Western world today. These imbalances come in two major forms, hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism is when there is too little thyroid hormone. This makes your body and its functions sluggish. This is what I see the most of today in my practice.
Some of the symptoms include tiredness or lethargy, dry skin and hair, brittle nails, depression, difficulty focusing, weight gain, constipation, and sensitivity to cold. Sometimes a person’s core body temperature will actually drop. This explains why a person who suspects an underactive thyroid is sometimes advised to take their temperature before rising in the morning.
On the other hand, Hyperthyroidism is when you have too much thyroid hormone, and everything starts racing. Signs and symptoms vary from person to person and may include irritability, muscle weakness, sleeping problems, a fast heartbeat, poor tolerance of heat, diarrhea, excessive hunger and thirst, enlargement of the thyroid, and weight loss. Grave’s disease accounts for approximately 50-80% of the cases of overactive thyroid in the United States.
Functions of the Thyroid
Just how important is your thyroid? Let’s take a look at some of the functions that the thyroid is involved in:
- It’s the primary control center for your metabolism
- Helps break down and utilize the carbohydrates and fats you eat
- Aids in the conversion of beta-carotene from your plant foods into the fat soluble vitamin A – necessary for proper immune, inflammatory, genetics and reproductive health.
- Regulates your heartbeat
- Warms you up
- Speeds metabolism so you lose weight
- Improves muscle strength
- Replenishes dying cells with healthy ones
- Grows your hair and nails
- Gives you regularity
- Improves your ability to conceive
- Reduces sensations of pain
- Makes you feel happy and content
- Affects your cholesterol levels, your blood pressure, your appetite, your mental sharpness, your libido and so much more
Science is discovering more and more that the systems in the body don’t function independently, but rather they all influence one another, and your thyroid is no exception. Every cell in your body has thyroid hormone receptors which can be affected by inflammation and autoimmunity, and so every system in your body can be affected when your thyroid is off. As a result, you may experience symptoms of thyroid imbalance when your thyroid gland is not producing enough hormones, but you could also experience symptoms if there are imbalances in other body processes that interfere with your thyroid. You need your thyroid to function properly. Believe me; I speak from personal experience.
Many years ago, I was diagnosed with Grave’s disease and chose to go with the doctor’s recommendations of RAI “radioactive iodine ablation”, a treatment that permanently disables the thyroid gland, leaving me hypothyroid for life. I wish I would have taken a step back and thought twice about the consequences of this radical procedure.
At the time, I didn’t know any better and felt confused and pushed to accept the doctor’s recommendation that this was my best option, without being told of the potential problems and side effects of RAI. If I had known then what I know now about the potential causes of dysfunction, I would have done things much differently.
I think finding the root cause of my symptoms and working on correcting them should have been the goal – not permanently disabling my thyroid. As time goes on and I learn more, things are getting better, and I try to be thankful for my experience because I know in turn it drives me to help others as much as I possibly can.
For Most People, There Is More Than One Trigger for Thyroid Dysfunction
- Low-calorie dieting and nutrient-deficient diets. This was so me! I had been restricting calories and dieting for as long as I can remember because of my weight. But, I have since learned that within hours of restricting calories, the thyroid will slow down and remain slow until the perceived famine (diet) is over. Many dieters suffer a metabolic decline that never ends until the condition is treated. Besides restricting calories, our diets are so mineral-deficient that the foods that we’re eating are void of anything substantial. We don’t get nearly enough bioavailable zinc, selenium, iodine, manganese and other minerals needed for proper thyroid function in our food. Even if you are eating organic vegetables that are rich in minerals, often they aren’t absorbed because of digestive dysfunction. We live in such an age of abundance, it’s hard to image that our bodies could be starving, but often they are because of the poor quality or variety of food we eat.
- Chemicals in water. Our water supply is treated with and loaded with fluoride, chlorine, and bromine, which compete with iodine for absorption in our bodies and suppress thyroid function. Even if you drink filtered water, don’t forget about your shower. Your skin absorbs these chemicals, so testing your water and getting filters that remove these thyroid suppressors is important to your health. Even swimming pools or Jacuzzi’s have chlorine or bromine.
- Stress in the body will deplete the body of everything functioning correctly, especially the adrenals and the thyroid. The stress can be physical, emotional, financial, and even environmental. There’s a significant link between stress, and the health of your immune system and thyroid. Toxins, autoimmune conditions, infections and certain medications can all inhibit the necessary production of thyroid hormones as well.
- Copper and mercury toxicity. Copper and mercury interfere with the thyroid by antagonizing or opposing zinc, manganese, and selenium needed for thyroid function. Unfortunately, copper and mercury toxicity are a big problem today. Mercury gets into our bodies from dental fillings and fish, except small ones like sardines. Copper toxicity can be due to adrenal insufficiency, vegetarian diet, zinc deficiency, stress, etc. According to the research of Dr. Paul Eck and many others, copper and mercury can easily interfere with the functioning of the thyroid gland.
- Chemicals. Pesticides, herbicides, and other things affect the thyroid hormone receptors, the thyroid hormone efficiency and the health of the thyroid gland. All sorts of chemicals can hurt your thyroid gland!
- Poor digestion and Liver function. The health of your gut and the health of your liver are directly linked to your thyroid health. If you have a healthy gut microbiome, beneficial bacteria produce intestinal sulfatase, which converts T4 to T3, but not if you are overrun with yeast and harmful bacteria. The gut is responsible for the absorption of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals, while hormones and toxins are metabolized in the liver, then are excreted through the GI tract. The T4 hormone is converted into the more active T3 in multiple tissues and organs, but especially in the liver and the gut; and T3 is the hormone that gives you energy, clarity of mind, and metabolism. If the liver is sluggish, or your digestive system is not functioning well, you cannot convert T4 to T3 effectively. By improving digestion and liver function, your hormones will begin to balance, and the body will function better all around. Let’s just say it this way: you will never be able to manage your thyroid health without having a healthy gut and healthy liver.
The Thyroid and the Adrenals
I really can’t talk just about the thyroid; I need to mention adrenals as well. When it comes to your thyroid and your adrenal glands, I don’t think you can look at one without the other. The problem is that just like thyroid dysfunction, poor adrenal function is usually a result of something else, which could include, infections, blood sugar swings, gut inflammation, food intolerance (especially gluten), essential fatty acid deficiencies, environmental toxins, and of course, chronic emotional and psychological stress.
I find that most people who have a poorly functioning thyorid also have weak adrenals. This can be for a few reasons:
- Low adrenal function can actually cause someone’s thyroid problem to be much worse than it would be otherwise.
- When you are exposed to stress, the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (or HPA axis for short) is activated, and a series of hormones are activated that cause the release of the “stress hormone” cortisol from the adrenal gland. Normally, when the stress goes away, our body turns off the HPA axis and stops the release of cortisol. But modern life is full of stress, and consequently, our HPA axis is turned on ALL THE TIME.
- Adrenal fatigue can affect how hormones are used by your cells, which can affect how you react to stress or trauma, your temperature, digestion, immune system, mood, libido, and energy. In fact, weak adrenal glands can mimic symptoms of thyroid dysfunction – whether you actually have thyroid dysfunction or not.
Supporting the adrenal glands will help heal your thyroid.
What Can Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis and Nutritional Balancing Offer?
HTMA and Nutritional Balancing is a system of balancing your body’s biochemistry with diet, supplements and detox methods. This program can be very helpful in restoring normal thyroid activity by healing the factors that contribute to thyroid disorders and it can help us assess your thyroid and overall health. Don’t get me wrong; there are times that we need to look at a full thyroid panel (blood work) along with an HTMA to really see all the markers and be able to give them complete support. It is a process, and it can take some time to detox, remove toxic compounds, replenish nutrients, and balance body chemistry.
Hair mineral assessment of the thyroid through the hair mineral analysis is totally different from blood level hormone testing. The blood thyroid test measures the circulating hormones in the blood stream, and it is generally felt that if these levels are normal, then one’s thyroid function is normal. The problem is that the hormones must pass into the cells and be converted and utilized there. Hormone receptors must be present to allow the hormones to act, but if the thyroid is not functioning properly then these receptors malfunction as well.
The hair test has the advantage of being a cellular test – it looks at a different angle. The hair analysis measures the cellular effect of the thyroid hormones on the metabolic (or oxidation) rate. If your calcium is too high, this will block your thyroid hormones from entering cells effectively, diminishing their effect. It also measures the levels of certain trace minerals and toxic metals that affect the thyroid and shows what is happening to the thyroid hormone once it leaves the thyroid. It does not measure the levels of circulating serum hormones like a blood test does. In addition, the hair test provides an average reading over a three-month period. This is very helpful because a thyroid hormone tests look at thyroid activity at the time you have your blood drawn. Both tests have value, but the hair analysis test may give a clearer picture of actual glandular activity.
Once your oxidation rate is known, a specific, bio-individual nutritional balancing plan is created. This plan incorporates nutrient-dense whole foods, proper supplementation, lifestyle changes and detoxification protocols. Essential oils can also play a large part in relieving stress, strengthening your immune system and providing support to your many body systems. When you support the thyroid naturally, you can improve the way you feel on many levels. It may seem complicated, but once you learn which foods help and how to support your thyroid with the micronutrients needed, it can make all the difference in how you feel.
Of course, you may need to take thyroid hormones like me, but if you still have a thyroid, you really may not need them at all or if you do it may only need to be for a short time to help improve your symptoms. The end goal should always be to heal the actual root causes – I have clients that have improved their thyroid condition without medication, so I know it can be done! But if you’re already on medication, don’t worry, because it can be decreased and people can wean off or eliminate them completely once they balance their thyroid hormones (with their doctor’s help of course.)
If you no longer have a functioning thyroid, don’t worry! There is still hope for you and me. In my experience, I’ve found that the same diet and lifestyle changes that have the biggest impact on people looking to heal their thyroid often have the same kind of impact on people who don’t have a functioning thyroid.
If your thyroid is not functioning properly, before taking any hormone medication, or even the more extreme process of having your thyroid removed or disabled like I did…please consider there are other alternatives. Do your own research and seek out other options. A hair mineral analysis and nutritional balancing program might be a great place to start!
Thyroid Disease and its Healing from Dr. Lawrence Wilson