Hormones produced by thyroid gland are thyroxine and triiodothyronine, and they are largely involved in the normal functioning of metabolism. These hormones are secreted under the influence of the pituitary hormone, thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH).
What is hypothyroidism?
Hypothyroidism is a condition which represents an inadequate secretion of thyroid hormones. By its nature, hypothyroidism has two types, the primary and the secondary one. The primary type indicates diminished secretion of hormones from the thyroid gland, and the secondary type which occurs in reduced secretion of TSH, or TSH-releasing hormone from the brain structure, the pituitary gland and the hypothalamus.
The causes of hypothyroidism are various:
- A lack of iodine in the diet,
- Autoimmune processes such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, when the body produces antibodies that destroy the tissue of the thyroid gland and postpartum thyroiditis,
- Infections such as subacute granulomatous thyroiditis,
- The effect of drugs such as amiodarone, interferon alpha, thalidomide,
- The iatrogenic effect which usually happens after surgery and treatment of hyperthyroidism with radioactive iodine or after the radiation treatment of a certain neck area,
- Tumor process affecting the pituitary gland and the hypothalamus,
- A rare cause can be a congenital error in the synthesis of thyroid hormones.
Statistical data show that a certain form of hypothyroidism is present in about 3 percent of the total population, but the main reason for its occurrence is surely a lack of iodine in the diet. Hypothyroidism is a bit more frequent in white population. Females are about 5 times more often affected by this condition than males.
How does hypothyroidism manifest?
If there is a slight reduction in the thyroid gland function, the process can be asymptomatic.
The most common symptoms and signs of hypothyroidism are:
- fatigue, loss of energy and lethargy
- heat intolerance
- reduction of appetite and body weight gain
- slowed speech and movement
- face expression is often changed
- dry skin and thinned hair
- tingling and skin numbness – paresthesia
- muscle pain – myalgia and joint pain – arthralgia
- menstrual disruptions – oligomenorrhea
- mood disorder and depressive behavior
- a low blood pressure – hypotension and fast heart rate – tachycardia
- reduced reflexes
- hands and legs swelling
- the myxedema occurrence is present in later stage
How can hyperthyroidism be diagnosed?
Medical history with a clinical picture and objective examination very much helps in revealing of the diminished function of the thyroid gland.
Laboratory testing involves examination of the level of thyroid hormones and TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone). It is necessary to conduct the analysis for the presence of autoantibodies to the thyroid gland tissue.
Ultrasound of the thyroid gland is performed in order to discover any possible nodules and infiltration processes in the tissue.
How to treat hypothyroidism?
The treatment of hypothyroidism involves use of the synthetic thyroid hormone. Levothyroxine is administered on a daily basis. It is necessary to do the regular laboratory hormone level tests until the appropriate dose of the medicine is achieved.
It is very important to pay special attention to the existence of hypothyroidism during pregnancy – because it may result in spontaneous abortion, intrauterine fetal death, heart defects, preeclampsia and eclampsia, delayed cognitive development and other disorders, so it is necessary to adjust the dose of levothyroxine in terms of increasing its quantity.
Hypothyroidism and diet
Some healthy foods, such as soybeans, green vegetables, fish, can be counterproductive in the treatment of hypothyroidism. Soybean is rich in estrogen and this hormone blocks the production of thyroid hormones. Polyunsaturated fats such as vegetable oils, seeds, nuts, fish, green vegetables, etc. have an adverse impact when it comes to diseases such as hypothyroidism.
Fruit should be the basis of your diet that will regulate the functioning of the thyroid gland. Most fruits are rich in potassium, which is very important for the regulation of blood sugar levels. Potassium reduces the need for production of insulin, which helps to maintain a stable blood glucose level in the long run. This will automatically reduce the production of stress hormones. However, there are some types of fruit which should be avoided, like avocado which is full of unsaturated fats.
Although sodium has a negative reputation, salt is very important when it comes to hypothyroidism. Table salt (sodium chloride) is of crucial importance to the proper functioning of the body – for example, for optimum control of blood pressure. The low level of salt in the body can slow down your metabolism and raise the level of stress hormone. Finally, due to elevated levels of the stress hormone, thyroid function slows down even more.
Avoid processed foods
All types of food recommended for the natural treatment of hypothyroidism exclude processed foods. Industrial food contains various additives, as well as materials created during the manufacturing process, which distorts the level of glucose in the blood. It then disrupts the production of insulin (the body produces greater quantities), and the result is low blood sugar level. Finally, this will cause stress hormone levels to rise – in an attempt to return glucose levels back to normal.
Cooked vegetables and hypothyroidism
When it comes to vegetables, cooking and preparation methods are very important for the treatment of hypothyroidism. Although it is true that raw vegetables contain more nutrients, this is not about what you consume, but what your body has to digest. Undigested fibers from raw vegetables may serve as food for harmful bacteria in the digestive system, which has a negative impact on thyroid function.
Many people believe that you should drink eight glasses of water, or even more, every day. However, it is known that hypothyroidism causes fluid retention in the tissues. Drinking large amounts of water when the body fights with excess fluid? That does not make any sense. Consuming large amounts of water also causes low sodium levels, which adversely affects the functioning of the thyroid gland. Optimal water needs depend on many factors, but the thirst is always the best indicator.
Natural remedies for hypothyroidism
Oak bark compress
- Put three tablespoons of dried oak bark in a jar, and then pour boiled water over it.
- Close the jar firmly, wrap it in a woolen blanket and let it stand one whole day.
- Before going to bed soak a cotton cloth in it and apply the compress to the thyroid gland, secure it with a scarf and go to sleep.
- Repeat this process every night for a period of 2-3 weeks and you should feel a significant improvement.
Buckwheat & kefir treatment
- Mix 2 tablespoons of buckwheat flour with 2 dl of kefir and let it sit overnight
- Eat this mixture on an empty stomach, half an hour before breakfast.
Buckwheat & walnuts treatment
- Mix 1 tablespoon of buckwheat flour, 1 tablespoon of ground walnuts and 4 tablespoons of honey and refrigerate it.
- Pick a day during the week when you are going to eat only this mixture and nothing else.
Drink at least 2 liters of water during the day. Repeat this procedure once a week for a period of four months.