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Thyroid Disease, A Naturopathic Answer

Thyroid disease, malfunctions of the thyroid gland, hyperthyroid (overactive) or hypothyroid (underactive) are showing signs in our population of becoming an epidemic says “The Colorado Thyroid Disease Prevalence Study”.   This is a trend across the board in American health, where we are seeing many common diseases moving to an epidemic stage.   You name a disease and it is probably an epidemic or moving toward becoming an epidemic like thyroid disease.

Why do we have this problem?  Well, as a naturopath I say look at the basics, we are violating just about every natural law in how we take care of ourselves and our environment.   But for you who have thyroid disease, solving your problem is the most important priority right now.   I will be frank with you; the drug industry does not have a realistic answer to your problem.   Drugs can be a way to stabilize your situation temporarily but to use those drugs does not address the root of the problem only the symptoms.   Through your thyroid disease, your body is saying something is wrong with the way you are living.   If you only address this disease signal your body is sending you with drugs, without addressing the real cause, it will breakout again as another disease and so on.

To get back to basics, take a look at an article I wrote titled “You Are Sick and You Need Help Now” also read “I am an omnivore, we are all omnivores”.   These articles will give you some real solid basic health suggestions and common sense knowledge that, when put into practice, begin to address those needs your body has.   When you give your body what it needs, the whole body begins to normalize and all your organs begin to run like they were designed to.   When they do that, even genetically weak organs begin to move toward normal function.  

I ask that you give these suggestions a fair shake of at least 3 months of diligent work.   Remember it took years of abuse to develop thyroid disease, it is not going to be solved with a few good meals, you have to work with this.   You will see changes just as I did.   Read my biography.  I had cancer, a genetic weakness, and many genetic problems all served up by an American life style.   I really thought I led a healthy life until I was taught better by my sicknesses.   If I had not changed my life, like I am asking you to do, I would be dead like my father and grandfather.   As I have repeated over and over to students, “I have not drawn a sick breath since that time 18 years ago when I cured my cancer.” 

While you are establishing a healthy foundation for your body there are herbs, vitamins and minerals listed below that can assist you with your thyroid issues.   Also I would encourage you to take up a hatha yoga routine that includes the inverted postures (simple inverted, shoulder stand, and plow poses).   These powerful yoga postures are known to cleanse and stimulate the thyroid gland to balance itself while encourage a balancing of all hormones.

The kind of Ingredients you should seek for thyroid disease.Below are listed some of many foods that can assist the body when it is suffering from this disease.   Some of these foods have a reputation for their thyroid remedial power.   Why is it important that the ingredients in the herbal formulas you take be from food?  Why couldn’t they be from chemicals?   Scientists would like to think that we can treat our bodies with chemicals, that chemical medicines will cure us.   But that has never happened and it never will; that is why there are always dangerous side effects.   This is just plain common sense; our bodies do not recognize chemicals because they are not from nature.   Below are simple natural food complexes which have been shown to be better for our internal human environment.   Our forefather’s and mother’s have been using some of these same ingredients for thousands of years with no ill effects.

Why so many different ingredients?   This is also just plain common sense as are all nature healing remedies and philosophies.   Every single ingredient we are suggesting will all encourage a positive result in your body.   But our bodies are uniquely individual and what will encourage dramatic healing results for you might not be as beneficial for someone else with thyroid disease.   So we suggest many herbal foods combined together to create a healing synergy that will fit with each unique individual.   Again this is common sense when you are given the simple answer.   Chemicals can react against each other causing side effects while foods tend to work together; we all know that.

Food Nutrients for the ThyroidListed below is information on different food complexes that assist the thyroid to regain balance and function.   This information was compiled by Doctor Robert Thiel, N.H.D. who also holds a Ph.D. in nutrition science; he heads the research group at Doctors’ Research.     

Adrenalglandulars are a Food which has been used for decades by nutrition-oriented doctors when adrenal concerns are suspected.   The adrenal glands help the body deal with stress, but high stress weakens the adrenal glands.   Fatigue and metabolic problems are common symptoms of adrenal insufficiency.   It should be noted that it is well accepted that hypoadrenalism results in “increasing the frequency of hypoglycemia” as well as “hypothyroidism”.   Salt craving is a common symptom of hypoadrenalism; it can also be involved in hypothyroidism.   The adrenal cortex produces the hormone cortisol which helps control organic metabolism and responses to stress.

Alfalfa is believed by some herbalists have a “beneficial effect on the pituitary gland”, “helps in chemical imbalance”, “neutralizes uric acid for arthritis”, and “is useful as a Food to prevent cholesterol accumulation in the veins”; this last point is supported by several animal studies.

Brown Kelp is a Food source of trace minerals, and an excellent source of iodine.   Kelp has long been used (since 3000 B.C.) to provide nutritional support for the thyroid gland. Gary Null, Ph.D., has written, “Kelp can rebalance thyroid metabolism, resulting in successful weight management and the reversal of many conditions which are caused by a thyroid imbalance, including stomach and respiratory disorders”.

Burdock is believed by some to be helpful in “fortifying the immune system”.   It has several historical uses including helping with skin disorders “particularly when they are caused by a system imbalance.   It stimulates the digestive juices and bile secretion and therefore is useful in treating anorexia nervosa and digestion and appetite problems”.   Some believe, in addition to helping with digestive concerns, burdock “aids the pituitary gland to help adjust hormone balance”.   Burdock has sometimes been recommended for thyroid health.  

Carrots contain a variety of carotenoids, which is a vitamin A precursor. Low levels of vitamin A are associated with increased risk of thyroid goiters and deficiencies affect thyroid metabolism.   “A decade-long Harvard study indicated that by getting 50 milligrams of carotenoids in every other day…significantly reduced the risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and cataracts”.

Copper is a mineral which, in proper dosages, is essential to the human body.   Vegetarian Thyro contains copper in a B-vitamin containing Food. Copper works with zinc in the body, and zinc without copper can lead to imbalances.   Food copper is not like non-food forms such as copper chloride.

Guar gum seed is a water soluble fiber (in the form of a galactomannan), extracted from locust beans.   It improves “tolerance to glucose by decreasing absorption”, which makes it of value for many.

Iodine can be properly called THE THYROID mineral since the body’s sole use of the mineral iodine is for the thyroid to make thyroid hormones (T1,T2,T3, & T4).   The primary thyroid hormone (T1) is called monoiodotyrosine, which means it needs iodine and tyrosine.   It gets converted to T2 with the addition of more iodine, then to T3 with more iodine then to T4 with even more iodine.

Irish Moss Chondrus crispus contains humic and fulvic acids (FAs) which increase the solubility of toxic metals, thus it is sometimes used to detoxify.   Detoxification can be an issue with thyroid health as some believe that substances like chloride and fluoride can bind with the thyroid and interfere with iodine absorption.   “Irish moss and Kelp combination is used to balance hormonal indeficiency especially in the thyroid gland.   It increases the metabolic rate, thyroid activity, and the detoxifying function of the body.   The herbs {also} supply trace minerals…[and] is commonly used in conjunction with…the complex of B vitamins, vitamin A,…and zinc”.

Liver glandulars have sometimes been recommended by nutrition-oriented practitioners for some with metabolic concerns.   The liver is involved in blood sugar regulation, conversion of T4 to T3, and a variety of enzymes. 

L-tyrosine an amino acid required for the production of thyroid hormones, T1,T2,T3, and T4.   Tyrosine may reduce the net rate of protein breakdown in the body and appears to help with endurance.   Tyrosine has an effect nerve impulse transmission and may “improve vigilance and lessen anxiety”.   Gary Null (Ph.D.) considers tyrosine to be a therapeutic amino acid for depression as well was an antiencephalopathic, antiparkinsonian, and an antidepressant.   Women on oral contraceptives have been found to have less plasma and brain levels of tyrosine which results in a reduction in catecholamines, which affect mood.   Oral consumption of tyrosine has, in some case, been shown to completely alleviate depression while increasing plasma tyrosine levels.   It has also been shown to help when MAO inhibitors did not. In rat models vitamin C has enhanced the ability of tyrosine to decrease blood pressure.   Interestingly, “Tyrosine has been known to normalize blood pressure whether high or low.   Tyrosine is being tested by the Air Force to enhance performance under stress”.

The body naturally produces tyrosine by converting it from phenylalanine.   “Compared with tyrosine which has a de novo synthesis component limited by phenylalanine oxidation, most nonessential amino acids have a very large de novo synthesis components because of the metabolic pathways they are involved in”.   This might explain why taking separate tyrosine is more helpful for many than taking other separate amino acids classified as nonessential—they can be made with much easier (with less restriction) than tyrosine can (tyrosine requires liver hydroxylation).

Pituitary glandulars have long been used by doctors.   The pituitary produces the thyroid stimulating hormone which signals to the thyroid that it needs to work and make its own hormones. 

Rice bran is a Food source of B vitamins, which are often used for stress and anxiety.

Scullcap (also spelled “skullcap”) is a member of the mint family and is often used as a tonic for ‘female weakness’.“These [tonics] are plant remedies that either strengthen or enliven a specific organ or the whole body.   They are truly Nature’s gifts to a suffering humanity”.   Even the United States Pharmacopoeia has long recognized scullcap as a nervine and tonic.   It also is recommended by some herbalists for thyroid concerns.

Selenium seems to support thyroid hormone production, function as part of many enzymes, have antioxidant effects, and supports cardiovascular health.   Food selenium is about twice as well retained than non-food selenium.

Thyroid glandulars have long been used by doctors to nutritionally support the thyroid.   The 1916 edition of the United States Pharmacopoeia states that the following concerning thyroid glandulars, “exerting a strong influence on the nutritive and metabolic processes.   Used in the treatment of myxdema, cretinism and obesity”.   Dr. Cass Ingram also prefers glandulars to synthetic thyroid medications when low thyroid is suspected. There are reports that many who do not test positive for clinical hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism who take thyroid glandulars have sometimes reported improvement in many symptoms associated with hyperthyroid and hypothyroid.

Watercress Nasturium officinalis is an evergreen that thrives in clear cold water.   It has been written that, “Watercress is strongly alkaline due to its high potassium content…Watercress increases blood circulation and increases energy…. It increases physical endurance and stamina”.

Zinc deficiency in humans can cause thyroid problems, alopecia, impotence, skin problems, immune deficiencies, increased susceptibility to infection/sore throats, night blindness, impaired taste, delayed wound healing, impaired appetite, photophobia (hypersensitivity to light), difficulty in dark adaptation, growth retardation, male infertility (low sperm counts), liver enlargement, and spleen enlargement.

Reference:The Colorado Thyroid Disease Prevalence Study,  Arch Intern Med. 2000;160:526-534 Gay J. Canaris, MD, MSPH; Neil R. Manowitz, PhD; Gilbert Mayor, MD; E. Chester RidgwayPsychology Articles, MD

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