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The thyroid is fundamental for the health and function of every single cell in your body. Your cells use thyroid hormones to generate energy for its everyday processes – for example, brain cells use thyroid hormones to allow you to think clearly, have mental energy and to feel balanced in your mood. Approximately 1 in 10 people in North America have some form of thyroid disorder (described below) – this is a very common problem and half of these people are not even aware they have a thyroid imbalance. In this article I will discuss natural solutions for helping your thyroid from the perspective of a naturopathic doctor.

Symptoms of common thyroid conditions:

1. Hypothyroidism – feeling cold & tired, dry skin, weakness, low mood, infertility, enlarged thyroid (goiter)

2. Hyperthyroidism – feeling hot & energetic, fast pulse, nervousness, weight loss, goiter, eye discomfort

3. Thyroid Cancer & Nodules – lump in the throat, often painless

4. Thyroiditis – inflamed and enlarged thyroid, can be painful or silent

What goes wrong for thyroid illness to happen?

Too much or too little iodine can make the thyroid get inflamed and enlarged – you want just the right amount (see below). Deficiencies of other nutrients can also disrupt your thyroid such as selenium, zinc and vitamin D. Some toxins can lead to thyroid dysfunction such as excess fluoride, mercury, perchlorate (a petrochemical in water), triclosan, flame retardant chemicals, etc. Viruses, postpartum, excess soy isoflavones and autoimmunity are other known causes of thyroid disorders.

Natural supports for your thyroid:

1. Healthy Diet. As noted above, several chemicals can disrupt your thyroid so it’s essential to choose a diet based on fresh, natural unprocessed foods. Eat a diet low in mercury which means reducing consumption of fish that contain mercury such as tuna, swordfish and marlin. Soy beans have high levels of an ingredient called ‘isoflavones’ – these compounds in excess can disrupt normal thyroid function, so avoid excessive soy intake if you have a thyroid problem.

2. Selenium and Zinc. These minerals support your thyroid and promote normal conversion of inactive thyroid hormone to active thyroid hormone. Good dietary sources of selenium are Brazil nuts and mushrooms; good sources for zinc include meats, lentils and pumpkin seeds.

3. Iodine. This can be confusing since high and low iodine intake can promote thyroid disorders. Aim for a daily dose of 150-300 micrograms. If you are unsure, get tested by your primary health care provider.

4. Herbs for Thyroid Support. Ashwagandha is a plant found in South Asia that has been used for centuries; it has been demonstrated to strengthen glandular functions and may help those with hypothyroidism. Lemon balm is a herb that grows easily in North America and has overall calming properties including symptoms of hyperthyroidism.

5. Vitamin D. Studies have found that people with autoimmune thyroid disease (the most common form of thyroid disease) are more likely to be deficient in vitamin D. A study published in 2017 in the medical journal, Experimental and Clinical Endocrinology and Diabetes, found that women with autoimmune Hashimoto’s thyroiditis who required thyroid hormone medication had lower vitamin D levels, and after supplementing extra vitamin D, these participants showed less evidence of autoimmunity after 6 months.

If you suffer from thyroid related symptoms, or if you have thyroid problems in your family history, make sure to get tested and treated from your primary health practitioner and consider some of these supports.

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Dr. Rahim Habib ND
About the Author

Rahim Habib is a registered naturopathic doctor with over 15 years of experience in general family practice. He has a special interest in helping patients comprehensively detoxifying their bodies for preventative and therapeutic benefit. He also has a special interest in children’s health, assisting kids in their learning and behavioural health with conditions such as ADHD, Autism spectrum, asthma, allergies and childhood obesity. He also helps adults with chronic conditions, such as thyroid disorders, infertility, inflammation, obesity, autoimmunity, dementia and cancer care. He is the director of the Four Seasons Naturopathic Clinic for Detoxification and Healing and can be reached at 905-597-7201 or www.FamilyNaturopath.ca.