Thyroid Disease - Detailed Info

The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped endocrine gland located in the anterior part of the neck. It releases thyroid hormones controlling metabolism which regulates many bodily processes such as heartbeat, body weight, body temperature, energy level, muscle strength and menstrual regularity. The thyroid produces and liberates two hormones thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3) which controls the body's metabolism rate - at which vital reactions of body are carried out. When the level of thyroid hormones (T3 & T4) drops too low, the pituitary gland produces Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) which stimulates the thyroid gland to produce more hormones. The hypothalamus (part of the brain) produces TSH Releasing Hormone (TRH) which tells the pituitary gland to stimulate the thyroid gland.

Body’s immune system is continuously under assault from toxins that come from air, water and food supply. These toxic pollutants over-stimulate the immune system, produce auto-immune reactions and smash up thyroid functions. Without a healthy thyroid gland, the body processes such as protein synthesis, regulation of body temperature and oxygen consumption of the cells would not occur efficiently. Hence, a poor diet and poor choice of lifestyle can deteriorate the functioning of thyroid and due to this reason whole body will suffer. Thyroid disease is any ailment that is caused by abnormal functioning of thyroid gland. Potential thyroid diseases comprise of disorders that lead to overactive thyroid, ailments that cause low functioning thyroid, thyroid nodules, thyroid cancer, and goiter (swelling of thyroid gland and neck). The thyroid gland can be distressed by several diseases that hamper or deteriorate the function of the gland.

The occurrence of thyroid disease or disorders is more prevalent in women than in men. Roughly around 20 million Americans have been diagnosed with some form of thyroid disease. These diseases may not be easy to diagnose since the symptoms of thyroid diseases such as fatigue and weight changes may easily be confused with other health ailments.

Types of Thyroid Dysfunctions

Hyperthyroidism - This disease is characterized by overproduction of thyroid hormones and it may be caused by Graves' disease, thyroiditis, exposure to radiation, toxic thyroid nodules and overstimulation of the thyroid gland by pituitary hormones. Hyperthyroidism expedites the pace of body processes. Signs and symptoms of this thyroid disease are weight loss despite of increased desire for food, intolerance to heat, a distented thyroid gland, amplified heart rate, anxiety and uneasiness, anomalous heart rhythms, increased level of activity although a person is exhausted, shaky and has difficulty in sleeping.

Hypothyroidism – This disease is characterized by underproduction of thyroid hormones and in this the body processes progress slower than usual. This hormonal disorder is caused by Hashimoto's thyroiditis, silent lymphocytic thyroiditis, subacute thyroiditis, surgical removal of the thyroid gland, exposure to radiation treatment used to treat hyperthyroidism, hereditary diseases and a diet lacking iodine. Several signs of hypothyroidism are decelerated speech, a rough voice, tedious facial expressions, weight gain and intolerance to cold temperatures.

Causes of Thyroid Disease

Inflammation of the thyroid gland – Thyroid disorders that are characterized by inflammation of thyroid gland are generally termed as Thyroiditis. Some of the thyroid conditions that result in inflammation of the thyroid gradually destroy the cells of the thyroid resulting in low levels of thyroid hormone or hypothyroidism. In other conditions the cells in the thyroid are destroyed rapidly, resulting into release of all the stored thyroid hormones at once, this thyroid disorder is called thyrotoxicosis. The symptoms of thyrotoxicosis and hyperthyroidism are very similar and include anxiety, sleeplessness, augmented heart rate, fatigue and weight loss.

Hashimoto's thyroiditis is the most widespread source of hypothyroidism which occurs when the cells of the body's immune system assault the cells of the thyroid gland. In this process, the cells of the thyroid are damaged leaving the body with poor levels of thyroid hormone. In response of this event, the pituitary gland which generally produces thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) produces extra than normal TSH to stimulate the thyroid to produce more thyroid hormones. This causes severe inflammation of the thyroid and the condition is known as a goiter.

Post-partum thyroiditis results in inflammation of the thyroid, which further causes thyrotoxicosis subsequently resulting in a phase of hypothyroidism. This condition is frequently impermanent and nearly 80 percent of patients return to a normal thyroid function within 12 to 18 months.

Lack of Iodine – The only cells in the body that absorbs iodine are the cells of the thyroid gland. Iodine is essential for the production of thyroid hormones and deficiency of iodine can result in thyroid disease. When iodine is not present in body in enough amounts the thyroid gland expands to absorb more iodine. Thus enlargement of thyroid gland results in goiter which is a condition of not being able to produce enough thyroid hormone, thereby resulting in hypothyroidism.

Thyroid Cancer - Thyroid cancer is an uncommon form of cancer when compared with all other types of cancer. It is the anomalous growth of cells in the thyroid causing a tumor. There exist four types of thyroid cancer each of which can result in thyroid disease. According to the National Cancer Institute, the most common type is papillary thyroid cancer which accounts for 80 percent of all the thyroid cancer cases. The next most ordinary type is follicular thyroid cancer. Other two types are medullary thyroid cancer and anaplastic thyroid cancer. A protuberance in the neck called a thyroid nodule indicates the presence of thyroid cancer. The nodule may or may not weaken thyroid function however some nodules may result in over-secretion of thyroid hormones. Thyroid cancer is linked with a number of conditions like genetics, exposure to pesticides and exposure to radiation, but the exact cause of most thyroid cancers is not yet known.

Pituitary Tumors - The pituitary gland is a part of the brain that produces thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) which further controls the production of the thyroid hormones in the thyroid gland. However the production of TSH can be intervened by the presence of an adenoma, a noncancerous tumor, in the pituitary. The tumor may stimulate an overproduction or may restrain the production of TSH, resulting in hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism respectively.

Diagnosis of Thyroid Disease

Thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) released by the pituitary gland regulates secretion of thyroid hormones. So measuring the amount of TSH in blood through blood tests together with any symptoms, are used to diagnose hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism. To diagnose thyroid cancer, a sample of any nodules that are there in the thyroid gland is aspirated and then examined under a microscope.
If thyroid problems are not treated on time and in a proper way then it may result into several health complications. If a person shows the characteristic symptoms of thyroid disease then it is recommended to visit a health care expert.

Nutritional Support for treatment of Thyroid Disease

Dietary supplementation is a significant part of thyroid disease cure plan however supplements should be used only under the supervision of a licensed health care expert.

A common natural health therapy to the treatment of thyroid disease is nutritional support, mainly nutritional supplements. Nutritional supplements for treatment of a low-functioning thyroid gland are kelp, tyrosine, raw thyroid glandular, vitamin B complex and gentian. And those for an overactive thyroid gland are brewer's yeast, vitamin B complex, essential fatty acids and lecithin granules.
The highly featured nutritional supplement is Vitamin B complex as it is most useful in treating thyroid disease. These vitamins belong to a class of water-soluble vitamins that have similarities in their constituents, distribution in natural sources and their effects within the body. B vitamins are essential for several body processes such as cellular oxygenation, synthesis of red blood cell and proper functioning of thyroid gland. Vitamins B-2 and B-12 may be chiefly imperative for these health functions.

Increasing the consumption of iodine - Several clinical studies have revealed that almost all the cases of thyroid dysfunction have been detected with severe iodine deficiency, which may be the cause of dysfunction. But eating salt or supplement with iodine in enough amounts is not adequate. Getting the right kind of iodine is essential to yield a positive result. Commonly used spot iodine skin test is not an accurate test to assess the iodine amount in body.  Instead, use of spot urinary iodine test, which test the morning urine to assess the amount of iodine, is an efficient method. Or, other test is 24 hour iodine loading test, which indicates how much iodine has been excreted and retained. Once the tests confirm the deficiency, it is suggested to consult a holistic medical professional.
Iodine promotes the thyroid function and possibility exists that increasing the amount of iodine in the diet can control thyroid disease. Some of the main food sources of iodine are arame, kelp, dulse, nori, wakame and seaweed. In spite of this, just as inadequacy of iodine can lead to impairment of proper thyroid function, same can be encountered with excess iodine. So before adding more iodine to the diet, one should consult a nutritionist. To know more about Iodine and its sources, please click here.

Minerals - There are also exists some minerals that may improve the function of the thyroid. Some of these minerals are calcium, iron, zinc, copper, manganese and thullium. By increasing the consumption of these minerals in the daily diet, it may enhance the vital metabolic functions of the thyroid.

Selenium - Selenium is another useful natural therapy if a person is suffering from hypothyroidism because the body deficits selenium. A body requires selenium so as to transform the T4 thyroid hormone into the active T3 form.

Coconut Oil – Use of coconut oil while cooking is another suggested natural remedy for thyroid disease. The reason of using coconut oil is that it may indirectly support thyroid function since the fat in coconut oil boosts sensitivity of tissues to thyroid hormones.

L-Tryosine - L-tyrosine is an amino acid that can be useful in treating a dysfunctional thyroid. It is suggested as a home remedy for the reason that it aids in increasing plasma levels, which can further help in losing weight. It is also useful since, as an amino acid, it is believed to be a significant building block of thyroid hormone. Prior to adding this amino acid to the diet, one must take consultation of the doctor, mainly if the person is already taking any prescription medications.

Even though there are many types of foods, vitamins, and minerals that are considered useful in improving a dysfunctional thyroid, it is important to consult the doctor and nutritionist before adding any of these to the diet.

Herbs for Thyroid Disease
Please consult a Naturopath doctor before starting a Herbal treatment

Lemon balm
Green Tea