Thyroid Disorders 101
Ginny Smith was only 27 years old when she hit the wall. Merely waking up in the morning, even after a full night’s sleep, seemed impossible on most mornings. The exhaustion she felt was overwhelming. Her mood took a dive, a big change from her normally sunny personality. Her friends even took to calling her “grumpy cat.” And then the weight gain started, even though her diet and exercise routine hadn’t changed. Within only two weeks Ginny gained five pounds, and she was almost always chilly.
She had no idea what was going on, but she was worried. A few months into this experience, she went to see her primary-care doctor, who requested a series of blood tests. The results? Hyperthyroidism.
Your thyroid is a gland about the length of a pencil eraser, but much thinner. It is tucked between your voice box and collarbone, and wrapped around your windpipe. It is shaped like a butterfly, with the “wings” referred to as lobes. The simple story is that the thyroid helps control your body’s energy supply, but it has a wider effect on almost all aspects of your health and wellbeing.
A healthy thyroid produces hormones that regulate metabolism and body temperature, among other things. A wonky thyroid can affect almost every system in your body from your brain function, your menstrual cycle, the health of your skin, hair and nails and even whether your bowels are moving.
Think of the thyroid like you car’s gas and brake pedals. Your thyroid can speed up or slow down the rate at which your body burns through its fuel supply as necessary.
For reasons that aren’t quite understood women are twelve times more likely to suffer from thyroid (and most autoimmune) disorders. Researchers believe that hormones play a role, but the cause is likely much more complex and multi-faceted.
Hypothyroidism is when your thyroid does not make enough thyroid hormones. It is also called underactive thyroid. The most common cause of hypothyroidism in the United States is Hashimoto’s disease. Hashimoto’s disease is an autoimmune disease, in which the immune system mistakenly attacks the thyroid. This attack damages the thyroid so that it does not make enough hormones.
Symptoms of hypothyroidism tend to develop slowly, often over several years. At first, you may just feel tired and sluggish. Later, you may develop other symptoms of a slowed down metabolism, including:
• Weight gain, even though you are not eating more food
• Increased sensitivity to cold
• Muscle weakness
• Joint or muscle pain
• Fatigue (feeling very tired)
• Pale dry skin
• A puffy face
• A hoarse voice
• Excessive menstrual bleeding
• In addition to these symptoms, people with hypothyroidism may have high blood levels of LDL cholesterol. This is the so‑called “bad” cholesterol, which can increase your risk for heart disease.
Unlike hypothyroidism, some disorders can cause the thyroid to make more thyroid hormones than the body needs. This is called hyperthyroidism, or overactive thyroid. The most common cause of hyperthyroidism is Graves’ disease. Graves’ disease is an autoimmune disorder, in which the body’s own defense system, called the immune system, stimulates the thyroid. This causes it to make too much of the thyroid hormones. Hyperthyroidism can also be caused by thyroid nodules that prompt excess thyroid hormones to be made.
At first, you might not notice symptoms of hyperthyroidism. They usually begin slowly. But over time, a speeded up metabolism can cause symptoms such as:
• Weight loss, even if you eat the same or more food
• Eating more than usual
• Rapid or irregular heartbeat or pounding of your heart
• Trouble sleeping
• Trembling in your hands and fingers
• Increased sweating
• Increased sensitivity to heat
• Muscle weakness
• More frequent bowel movements
• Less frequent menstrual periods with lighter than normal menstrual flow
• In addition to these symptoms, people with hyperthyroidism may have osteoporosis, or weak, brittle bones. In fact, hyperthyroidism might affect your bones before you have any of the other symptoms.
Treatment for Thyroid Disorders
Thyroid disorders are most often treated medically with synthetic hormones. Here at the Cellular Health Institute we work one-on-one with you to discover the root cause of your thyroid disorder, and through nutrition and detoxification protocols, heal and strengthen your body at the cellular level so it can heal itself.
A thyroid disorder can take years to develop to the point where it can be detected on normal blood tests, and even longer before the blood tests indicate a diagnosis. Traditional blood tests will have a range of acceptable levels or whatever particular chemical or antibody they are designed to detect. At the Cellular Health Institute, we work with optimal levels, not merely acceptable levels.
If you have been diagnosed with a thyroid disorder, or perhaps are pre-diagnosis, but suspect there is a problem, we would love to meet with you and discuss your concerns and how we might help you. Please contact us if you have any questions or would like to learn more.