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Do You Suspect Your Thyroid is Struggling?

ESTIMATED READING TIME 5 MINUTES

Thyroid gland

Are you battling with fatigue, sluggish digestion, dry skin and hair, low libido, weight gain or constantly feeling cold? If these symptoms sound familiar to you, have you ever wondered whether your thyroid gland may be struggling? If so, you’re not alone, because researchers estimate over 10% of the UK population could be walking around with undiagnosed thyroid issues 1 .

In this blog, you’ll discover why this might be. You’ll also learn about some natural methods to support your thyroid gland.

Why is the Thyroid Important?

Your thyroid gland can be thought of as the accelerator pedal for your body. It releases the hormone thyroxine, controlling the speed your cells burn fuel and produce energy. This means if your thyroid isn’t working well, things will slow down. Yet although it’s crucially important for your wellbeing, thyroid issues are often overlooked. This is because symptoms produced by a struggling thyroid can be very general and unspecific.

Conventional medicine measures thyroid function by looking at the levels of a hormone called Thyroid Stimulating Hormone or TSH. This is produced by your pituitary gland, part of your brain. TSH instructs your thyroid to make thyroxine, which in turn tells your cells to rev up into action. If your thyroid isn’t making sufficient thyroxine, your pituitary gland will sense the decreased blood levels. Consequently it will then ramp up TSH production to encourage your thyroid to make more thyroxine.

Along with TSH, GP’s tests usually also look at the amount of thyroxine in your blood by measuring a molecule called T4. These tests sound like a neat way to measure thyroid function. But unfortunately there are many other ways your thyroid could be malfunctioning, other than not making enough thyroxine in response to TSH. There’s also a crucial difference between T4 and the substance actually affecting your cells, which you’ll discover in a moment.

If low thyroid function is picked up on a GP’s test, the idea is to supply thyroid hormone in the form of a pill. This aims to increase blood levels closer to what they should be, meaning TSH levels should fall again. But what happens is your pituitary will sense the raised levels of thyroxine in your blood. It then simply tells your thyroid gland to make less thyroxine of its own. This is why many people find their dose of thyroxine has to be increased over time.

All Thyroxine is not the Same

It’s worth mentioning that thyroxine comes in two different forms. T3 is able to activate receptors on your cells. On the other hand, T4 (they differ in the number of thyroxine molecules they have) is a storage form. Therefore, T4 needs to be transformed into T3 before it’s used. All well and good, but there are certain nutrients needed to make this conversion. This means if they’re in short supply, most of your thyroxine remains in the T4 form. In conclusion, blood levels look OK when tested by your GP, but the thyroxine won’t be affecting your cells so you’ll still have symptoms.

The thyroxine prescribed by your GP will usually be in the form of T4. So if you’re not converting this into T3 efficiently, you won’t feel the benefit of your medication.

Secondly, during the conversion process from T4 to T3, there’s a chance a rogue molecule called reverse T3 will be produced. This is a kind of mirror image of T3, so it doesn’t fit the receptors on your cells. Instead, it jams up the works, a bit like trying to open your front door with the wrong key. Unless you know how much of your T3 is in the form of reverse T3, you won’t know whether it can do what you need it to do.

Lastly, sometimes your immune system will go rogue and attack the thyroid gland, mistaking it for a dangerous invader. This means your thyroid function will suffer.

In conclusion, if you go to your GP for a test which only checks TSH and T4, you’ll miss all the subtle problems that may be occurring with your thyroid.

How to Support Your Thyroid

Your thyroid gland is a sensitive soul, and it’s easily affected by outside influences. Stress is a major enemy, and seems to encourage the production of reverse T3. On the other hand, your thyroid needs sufficient iodine to produce thyroid hormones. Meanwhile, deficiencies of nutrients like selenium, zinc and iron may impair the conversion of T4 to T3. Your thyroid doesn’t particularly like fluoride, while high oestrogen levels, poor gut health or a sluggish liver can all affect thyroid gland function.

Natural Support for Thyroid Function

I won’t guess what’s wrong with your thyroid. Instead, I’ll use functional tests to measure your T4 and T3, detect reverse T3 and any antibodies your body might be producing against your thyroid. I’ll then recommend natural nutritional, dietary and lifestyle measures to naturally support your thyroid.

Book an appointment today to start your journey to better thyroid function.

References

Did you know you can request a FREE 15 minute Discovery Call

Do you need personalised support for your thyroid? Then book a free 15-minute discovery call to see if Functional Medicine is for you.

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