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Supporting Thyroid Imbalances via Telehealth

Discovering the causes of thyroid imbalances via holistic medicine.

a woman's neck, the location of the thyroid

Thyroid disorders, especially hypothyroidism symptoms, can very much look like and be misdiagnosed for chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, insomnia, bipolar, and depression. As with all major organs in our bodies, it is imperative that we maintain the proper level of nutrients necessary to ensure optimum performance for good health. If you are ready to explore your thyroid issues from an integrative, holistic, and functional medicine perspective, you’re in the right place.

Have you gone to the doctor to get help for being tired or anxious and are given Prozac? Well, you are not deficient in Prozac – that is not a cure. Or have you gone in with weight gain and are told to diet, even though you are eating green, lean, and clean already? We see this happen to women all the time. Often times doctors don’t dig deep enough to find the proper imbalance.

illustration of the thyroid

Let’s talk a little about the thyroid gland – The thyroid gets its name from the Greek word for “shield”, after the shape of the thyroid cartilage. What exactly is the thyroid gland? It is the largest gland in endocrine system that makes T3 and T4 by the Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH), which is produced by the pituitary gland.

Essentially, the thyroid gland controls how quickly the body uses energy, makes proteins, and controls how sensitive the body should be to other hormones.

The thyroid gland is also a big part of your immune system. If someone is sick all the time, we look at the thyroid for hypothyroidism. The thyroid is the body’s main storage site for iodine. Principally known for its job in proper metabolism and thyroid function, iodine is also necessary for a healthy immune system and has many therapeutic benefits including antibacterial, anti-parasitic, antiviral, and anticancer properties.

Thyroid Testing

Have you gotten your thyroid tested recently? Your test results may look normal while on a thyroid medication, suggesting the hypothyroidism is no longer showing up. But you still have the symptoms. When you are told your tests look ‘normal’, often times it’s because only the thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) is run. TSH is only a small piece to the thyroid puzzle. It does NOT give the full picture. And many synthetic thyroid medications can make the TSH look normal. But you are finding you are still looking at every diet and weight loss program out there because a normal TSH did not help with weight gain problems?

Digging a little deeper and running a more specific thorough series testing is often needed to find the correct starting point for the sequence of care needed. The thyroid testing we run in our Austin, Texas office includes a thorough Thyroid Panel.

We look for the following thyroid-related levels:

  • TSH
  • T3
  • T4
  • Free T3
  • Free T4
  • T3
  • T4 Uptake
  • Thyroid antibodies

Looking at the different forms of T3 and T4 will give us much more information than a conventional test. It will tell us how much thyroid hormone you actually are producing and able to use for energy. Running just the TSH, really just tells us if the thyroid is being stimulated to produce T3 and T4 or not. To get the best healing results, you have to see the entire picture, not just one small piece. Thyroid imbalances are not like a common cold, they will not just go away.

When someone is not responding to traditional or nontraditional hypothyroidism treatment it may be time to dig deeper and run a thyroid antibody test. Thyroid antibody testing is primarily ordered to help diagnose an autoimmune thyroid disease known as hashimotos thyroiditis. This antibody test will help distinguish thyroiditis from other forms of thyroid dysfunction.

The antibody tests may also be ordered to help investigate the cause of a goiter or other signs and symptoms associated with low or high thyroid hormone levels. One or more thyroid antibody tests may also be ordered if a person with a known non-thyroid-related autoimmune condition, such as systemic lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis, or pernicious anemia, develops symptoms that suggest thyroid involvement.

Testing may be ordered when an individual has signs and symptoms of a low or high level of thyroid hormones without relief from tradition treatment. A low level of thyroid hormones (hypothyroidism) can cause symptoms, such as – Weight gain, Fatigue, Goiter, Dry skin, Hair loss, Intolerance to cold and Constipation. These symptoms typically subside when the thyroid it properly balanced, unless it is inflamed due to thyroiditis.

Another reason to run the thyroid antibody tests is when a high level of thyroid hormone (hyperthyroidism) can causes symptom that are not relieved by treatment such as – Sweating, Rapid heart rate, Anxiety, Tremors, Fatigue, Difficulty sleeping, Sudden weight loss, and Protruding eyes.

In our practice we run the thyroid antibody tests – Thyroid peroxidase antibody (TPOAb), and Thyroglobulin antibody (TgAb). Many offices just run the Thyroid peroxidase antibody only and they miss the thyroiditis condition. The presence of either thyroid antibody suggests that there is autoimmune thyroid involvement. The higher the level, the more inflammation is present. Rising levels may be more significant than stable levels as they indicate an increase in autoimmune activity.

Our first goal when we find a positive Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis test is to decrease the inflammation in the body. While doing that we need to find the source of the inflammation. It could be a lack of anti-oxidants, low vitamin D, intolerance or allergy to gluten or other food interactions, prolonged adrenal stress, prolonged blood sugar issues, and we actually see thyroiditis show up after pregnancy. The key is finding your starting point, and reversing it.

Signs and Symptoms You May Have a Thyroid Imbalance:

a woman has fallen asleep at her workspace

Let’s talk a little about the thyroid gland – The thyroid gets its name from the Greek word for “shield”, after the shape of the thyroid cartilage. What exactly is the thyroid gland? It is the largest gland in endocrine system that is stimulated to make T3 and T4 by the Thyroid Stimulating hormone, which is produced by the pituitary gland.

The thyroid gland controls how quickly the body uses energy, makes proteins, and controls how sensitive the body should be to other hormones. The thyroid gland is also a big part of your immune system. If someone is sick all the time, we look at the thyroid for hypothyroidism. The thyroid is the body’s main storage site for iodine. Principally known for its job in proper metabolism and thyroid function, iodine is also necessary for a healthy immune system and has many therapeutic benefits including antibacterial, anti-parasitic, antiviral and anticancer properties.

Symptoms of a poor functioning thyroid may include poor gut function, abnormal weight gain, tiredness, baldness, cold intolerance, and bradycardia. Hormonally we often see excess estrogen, often referred to as Estrogen Dominance when hypothyroidism is present.

Another big concern when looking at the thyroid is regulating the body’s metabolism. Metabolism is the set of chemical reactions that happen in living organisms to sustain life. If you have a low metabolism you will see symptoms such as weight gain (even on a diet), fatigue, muscle and joint pain, low stamina, and heavy menstrual cycles in women. When we see the combination of low immune system combined with a low metabolism we immediately think hypothyroidism.

To evaluate hypothyroidism in laboratory results we will often see a high thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), and a low T4, low free T4 and low T3. The thyroid releases T4, or thyroxine, and T3, or triiodothyronine. T4 is a storage hormone that converts to T3 when it has the correct nutrients such as selenium, and Vitamin E present to do so. T3 is the active thyroid hormone that enters the cells to maintain metabolic function. When I give lectures I often like to refer to T4 as Clark Kent and T3 as Superman! T3 gives us the power of metabolism! TSH will be released from the pituitary gland when it senses that there is a need for more T3 and/or T4 hormones.

At our Austin clinic and to the world via telehealth, when any of the above symptoms present and hypothyroidism is suspected, we run a thorough laboratory panel as well take a thorough history and exam. Both are vital in evaluating hypothyroidism symptoms in both men and women.

  • Fatigue/Lethargic
  • Insomnia
  • Can’t lose weight no matter how hard you try
  • Weight Gain (especially in the face and arms)
  • Puffiness around the face
  • Cold Hands and Feet
  • Hair Loss
  • Loss of outer third of the eye brow
  • The half moons on your finger nails are no longer visible
  • Depression/Lack of motivation
  • Sugar, Salt, and Carb Cravings

Is It Just Aging?

Hypothyroidism means the thyroid gland is not producing enough of the hormone that helps your body convert energy. As a result, sufferers may feel sluggish, tired, or weak a lot of the time.

But aside from making people overly sleepy, an under active thyroid reduces the level of efficiency at which the major organs and muscles work, slowing down body processes, including the digestive and reproductive systems.  This can result in unexplained weight gain, irregular menstrual cycles and fertility issues and depression.

After being diagnosed with thyroid disease and adrenal fatigue, I thought I was just destined to be dog tired for the rest of my life. DOG TIRED. I needed a solution, and I didn’t think it could hurt to see what the folks at Infinity Wellness had to say. They took the time to talk with me about how I have been feeling, and about some recent tests I had run. On the first visit, they had me out the door with a plan. In the first month, I felt my energy starting to come back, my face completely cleared up, and I even noticed some weight loss! I just had my second appointment, and again… I left with a plan! It is a really good feeling to know there is light at the end of this exhausting tunnel. Cheers to the Infinity Wellness team! – Corrine T

Other symptoms of hypothyroidism include:

  • memory and concentration problems
  • constipation
  • sensitivity to cold
  • slow heart rate
  • low blood pressure and
  • thin, brittle fingernails and hair

Because these symptoms tend to come on slowly and primarily affect older individuals, with women over 60 being the most susceptible, many patients mistake it for normal aging and don’t realize that treatment is possible.

There are several causes of hypothyroidism including a genetic predisposition, Hashimoto’s Disease, where the body’s own immune system attacks the thyroid, radiation therapy for cancer treatment, and less often, viral infections and medication reactions.  Diagnosis is done by taking your medical history and conducting a physical exam and confirmed by a simple blood test.

Patients experiencing symptoms of hypothyroidism, whether they are newly noticed or worsening, should consult a medical professional like Infinity Wellness Center for support options. Natural hormone balancing can be a pivotal step in achieving a healthy thyroid hormone balance. By choosing natural hypothyroidism balance in Austin, you are taking the first step in the right direction to achieving this balance.

Emotional Factors Seen in Thyroid Patients

There can be a mind-body connection that runs through each and every gland, muscle, and organ we have, the thyroid being no exception. When Calcium and Magnesium (Mg) is not in balance, the thyroid is affected. Mg carries Calcium into the cell, and the lack of Mg will cause Calcium to stay on the outside of a cell and build a “calcium shell” which creates a low cell hormone permeability. Meaning, thyroid hormones can not get into the cell because they can not pass through the Calcium build up.

Interestingly enough, people with thyroid disorders have personality traits of defensiveness, protected, decreased social activity – basically they “shell up.” This is just one of the many reasons why balancing your thyroid is so crucial to your health and well being.

Hashimoto’s Disease

Hashimoto’s Disease is an autoimmune response where an individual’s immune system mistakenly attacks the thyroid gland, altering its ability to produce the hormones necessary for regulating, or helping to regulate, some of the body’s most vital functions.  Some research shows that 90-95 percent of people with Hypothyroidism (low thyroid) also have Hashimoto’s Disease. Conventional testing doesn’t discover Hashimoto’s, because they see low thyroid markers and stop there. Knowing the cause behind a dysfunctional thyroid is important because proper treatment protocols are determined by it, and your thyroid issues COULD actually be an autoimmune response, not just a hormone imbalance.

Learn more about Hashimoto’s Disease.

How to Increase Your Thyroid Hormone Naturally

By choosing natural hypothyroidism balance, you are taking the first step in the right direction to achieving this balance. Our recommended natural remedies for thyroid imbalance include natural B vitamins, maintaining proper Calcium Magnesium ratios, and supplementing with Iodine, but only under the care of a doctor.

Many alternative medicine advocates also believe sweating exercises can help rid the body of harmful toxins and employ this technique in a total detoxification and cleansing program. As with many health conditions, lifestyle changes can work in conjunction with your doctor’s prescribed treatment, such as natural hormone balancing, to help manage many thyroid issues. Taking steps to reduce stress through meditation, prayer, exercise and adequate rest, as well as eating a healthy diet that may include limiting caffeine intake, and stopping smoking can reduce the severity of symptoms.

Controlling Thyroid Issues

The thyroid hormone is instrumental in controlling the rate of your body processes, or metabolism. The amount of the hormone secreted from your thyroid gland determines the way your body uses energy, and the level of efficiency at which your major organs and muscles work. It stands to reason then that a properly working thyroid and a natural hormone balance is vital to your overall health.

But many people suffer from an under- or over-active thyroid gland (Hypothyroidism/Hyperthyroidism,) causing mood swings, unexplained change in weight or appetite, digestive issues, swelling of limbs, fertility and menstrual issues, and more. And because an improperly working thyroid can underlie more serious health issues, proper diagnosis and treatment should be sought. Once the cause is determined and the proper diagnosis made, a treatment plan can be formulated to regulate hormone levels and allow patients to feel more like themselves.

Hypothyroidism, also known as an under-active thyroid gland, means the not enough of the thyroid hormone is being secreted in the body. People with this often experience unexplained weight gain, cold intolerance, slow heart rate, low blood pressure, depression and extreme fatigue and sleepiness. In addition, skin, hair and nails may become dry and brittle.

For this condition, support is fairly straightforward. A synthetic hormone replaces what the body is not making, but because the body changes over time, regular monitoring of the amount of thyroid hormone in the blood is necessary to correctly manage medication dosages.

Looking for a hypothyroid doctor in Austin and other resources?

In hyperthyroidism, an over-active thyroid secretes too much hormone and speeds up bodily functions, resulting in symptoms like unexplained weight loss, anxiety, irritability, heat intolerance and sweating, heart palpitations, high blood pressure, tremors, and insomnia. Palms may appear red and thinning skin may feel warm and itchy.

Support for hyperthyroidism are a little more varied and dependent upon the patient’s age, diet and overall health, as well as the root causes of the condition. Radioactive iodine and antithyroid medicine are the most common treatments doctors use, but sometimes surgery or other therapies are necessary. Again, regular blood tests are necessary to monitor hormone levels and to make sure support of hyperthyroidism hasn’t caused hypothyroidism.

As with many health conditions, lifestyle changes can work in conjunction with your doctor’s prescribed treatment, such as natural hormone balancing, to help manage many thyroid issues. Taking steps to reduce stress through meditation, prayer, exercise and adequate rest; eating a healthy diet that may include limiting caffeine intake, and stopping smoking can reduce the severity of symptoms. Dr. Tenesha Wards at Infinity Wellness Center can help patients in the Austin, TX area.

Natural hormone balancing can be a pivotal step in achieving a healthy thyroid hormone balance. By choosing natural hypothyroidism balance in Austin, you are taking the first step in the right direction to achieving this balance.

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