Issue #176 February 6, 2014
Welcome to KnowYourThyroid.
I hope all is well.
Today we are exploring the connection the thyroid has with all the other hormone-producing glands in our body and the importance of them all working together.
It’s Rarely Just A Thyroid Problem!
Although millions of women are suffering from underactive thyroid, most don’t realize that the real causes of their thyroid problems also involve other hormone-producing glands. It’s no coincidence that low thyroid problems most often appear in women at menopause or with adrenal fatigue or other endocrine issues – from PMS to fibroids. Low thyroid is also associated with diabetes, autoimmune disorders and low vitamin D levels. This is because your thyroid is at the center of your endocrine system, intimately connected to all your other hormonal centers.
The thyroid connection
The thyroid, adrenal glands, and ovaries are all part of the same brain-body axis, known as the hypothalamic-pituitary-axis. That’s why the thyroid can affect so many other hormonal systems in the body and, in turn, those other hormonal systems can affect the thyroid.
Your thyroid is intimately involved with regulating many key bodily functions, including:
- Metabolizing food
- Storing and using energy
- Controlling weight
- Modulating temperature
- Supporting brain function
- Regulating sleep rhythms
- Supporting fertility and pregnancy
- And more!
Just as the thyroid influences all of the above systems, it is also affected by hormonal changes in the body. For example, high levels of the stress hormone cortisol can inhibit both TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone) and the thyroid hormone T3. This means that women who’ve been dealing with long-term stress are especially susceptible to hypothyroidism.
Estrogen is a hormone that enhances thyroid function. If estrogen levels are low, thyroid releasing hormone (the hormone that stimulates TSH) also goes down. This is one big reason so many women in menopause and perimenopause end up with thyroid problems.
When it comes to preserving thyroid function, the conventional approach is too late
If you go to your doctor with a thyroid-related issue, the conventional approach is to test TSH. If your TSH is in what’s considered the “normal” range, your doctor will likely say you’re fine – even if you’re not feeling well. And it’s probable that you’ll be offered no suggestions for food, supplement or lifestyle adjustments. But if you wait until your TSH is in the abnormal range, your doctor will likely start you on supplemental thyroid hormone medication. At this point, you’re usually feeling so horrible that supplemental thyroid hormone will be needed. And once you go on thyroid medication, it’s very hard – if not impossible – to get off.
In conventional medicine, there is rarely any consideration for your endocrine system as a whole, making it out of the question for a doctor to suggest dietary or lifestyle changes that might make a big difference before the situation gets worse. Yet there are ways to support your endocrine system and particularly your thyroid function before it is too late.
Support your entire endocrine system to promote healthy thyroid function
Our approach is to see the thyroid as a central gland in your endocrine system. Some important first steps include keeping track of your symptoms – what they are, and how severe and/or frequent they are – and your own thyroid test results. If you notice a gradual increase in TSH over time, it’s likely that your endocrine system is stressed and your thyroid is struggling to make enough of its hormone – even if your TSH numbers still appear to be within the normal ranges on the lab tests.
The holistic approach is to provide support for the entire endocrine system right away and let your body correct itself. You can do this by changing your eating habits a little, taking a high-quality multivitamin, and by using thyroid-supportive herbs. We offer a phytotherapeutic product called T-Balance that contains all the minerals and herbs essential for optimal thyroid function. We also provide a detailed guide on which stress-relief and dietary changes help the most, as well as one-on-one phone support. This approach has been tremendously successful.
Keep track of your symptoms and provide support right away
Often women don’t notice thyroid symptoms when they first appear. There are more obvious symptoms like weight gain, cold intolerance, and fatigue. But there are also some less obvious signs like skin changes, joint pain, menstrual problems, feeling foggy headed, and constipation. Start by taking our Thyroid Health Profile to measure your thyroid health and be sure to intervene early if you notice signs that your thyroid is slowing down.
For a 4-week plan to get your thyroid back to health, be sure to check out: