The Role of The Thyroid
The thyroid is a major player when it comes to hormonal health since it stimulates and synchronizes the metabolic cellular functions in every tissue throughout the body.
Thyroid disorders are much more common in women than men. In women, adequate binding of T3 (the active thyroid hormone) is dependent upon sufficient progesterone. A low level of progesterone is a common experience in both young and older women and often contributes to imbalances in thyroid function.
Estrogen levels also strongly impact thyroid function. High levels of estrogen or estrogen dominance lead to high levels of TBG (thyroid binding globulin). TBG binds up all the active thyroid hormones in the blood rendering them useless. So your levels of hormone can appear normal in a blood test but your tissues are not receiving the hormones they should be.
There are certain times in our lives when hormones naturally change making it more likely for estrogen levels to be high and progesterone to be low such as postpartum or peri-menopause. So many women have been tested for postpartum depression only to find out that there is no true depression but their thyroid levels are “low”. Being labeled as hypothyroid post-partum or during peri-menopause is one thing to really take with a grain of salt since we know that once the estrogen levels come down the thyroid will start functioning again!
Common Thyroid Inhibitors
- Times of extreme hormonal change or stress
- SSRIs- Prozac, Wellbutrin, Zoloft, Celexa etc
- Oral Birth Control Pills-especially ones that limit monthly cycles
- Goitrogenic foods (see below for list of goitrogenic foods)
- Drugs such as: Amiodarone, Carbamazepine, Iopanoic acid, Lithium, Phenobarbitone, Phenytoin, Potassium perchlorate, Propylthiouracil (used to treat hyperthyroidism), Rifampin, Sulfadimethoxin
Conditions Exacerbated by Low Thyroid Function
- Sex drive
- Body temperature
- Hormone balance
- To test yourself for an under active thyroid:
- Keep a digital thermometer by your bed at night
- When you wake up in the morning, place the thermometer in your armpit and hold it there for 2 minutes.
- Keep still and quiet-any movement of the body can upset your temperature reading and the temperature of the body rises when you begin moving around.
- A consistent temperature of 97.3°F or lower is indicative of an under active thyroid. I have found when temp is at 96.5 and below the following are affected: energy, weight loss, sex drive, skin health and digestion.
Natural Ways to Stimulate Thyroid Health
- Liquid B-12 complex and Kelp: we recommend these for short term use to bump up your bbt and then taper down once your temperature is consistently in the 97 range.
- Maine Sea Seasonings (available in shaker form)
- One of my favorite seasonings – it is an excellent source of iodine, which, is essential for proper thyroid health and function. Maine Seasonings has their seaweed in a shaker and you can use instead of salt.
- Some benefits of Seaweed/Kelp
- Seaweed corrects mineral deficiencies.
- Reported to aid in brain development.
- Kelp helps prevent osteoporosis.
- Helps to detoxify the body. Aids with detoxification of radiation
- Helps to increase metabolism.
- Certain animal proteins boost bbt- there is a group that responds well to iodine rich foods like cod and scallops and another group that responds better to steak and lamb. Please test the proteins and find which work best for your chemistry.
- Activities which boost your body temperature are wonderful for increasing thyroid activity- moderate exercise, saunas, hot baths and drinking warm teas all work well.
Goitrogenic foods are compounds that may interfere with thyroid function. Preparation methods, such as cooking or fermentation, reduce the amount of goitrogenic activity in these foods.
As always your chemistry is unique so do not take this list to mean you should not have these foods. It just means that you need to be mindful of how these foods affect you.
Common goitrogens are:
- Broccoli- raw
- Broccoli Rabe
- Brussel sprouts
- Collard greens
- Pine nuts
- Soybean and soy products, including tofu and edamame
Please remember that eating goitrogenic foods in a raw state is much more problematic for proper thyroid functioning- this includes juicing