It’s the middle of December and Lauri is sitting in front of a roaring fire with her husband and kids. She’s enjoying a glass of wine and planning out their Christmas vacation. Her family is dressed in light clothes and barefoot.
Lauri has a sweatshirt on with flannel-lined jeans. She’s still cold. A heavy sweater is on the chair next to her and she throws that on too. Her family just shakes their heads and stares in disbelief. “Mom – cold again?, I’m sweating my butt off!” says her son.
But Lauri is always cold. Winters, spring, summer… it doesn’t matter. She has also tried to lose weight a few times and it never seems to work. Achy joints follow her everywhere so she always keeps ibuprofen handy – she can’t get through the day without it.
Does this sound familiar? If so, there is help. It could be the thyroid gland.
Over 30 million people in America suffer from thyroid issues. As many as one in three women over the age of 35 may suffer from low thyroid function. Dr. Robin Miller, co-author of “The Smart Woman’s Guide to Midlife and Beyond” says that women are ten times more likely than men to have thyroid problems. According to endocrinologists, more than 40% of the U.S. population is affected on some level by low thyroid function. Often, physicians try to treat thyroid issues with drugs. But since this condition is often an autoimmune disease, it makes more than 80% of the drugs ineffective. Later, we’ll discuss the best ways to treat this condition.
WHAT IS THE THYROID GLAND?
The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped gland that rests right below the Adam’s Apple… right along the front of the windpipe known as the trachea. It has a lobes with a bridge in the middle. The thyroid serves major roles in metabolism, growth and maturation.
A common condition is hypothyroidism, which means that the thyroid is sluggish and not producing enough hormones (low thyroid function). Without these hormones (T4, T3, reverse T4, reverse T3), one will never feel good.
Here are some signs that the thyroid may be out of whack:
- Extreme Fatigue – Sleeping a good 8 hours each night, but still always tired and can’t make it through the day without a caffeine fix? Please realize that extreme fatigue and low energy can be caused by many conditions, but if there is not enough thyroid hormones in the bloodstream, muscles can’t get the signals they need to work properly.
2) Brain Fog – Having difficulty focusing or can’t remember where the car keys are? That also could be a sign of low thyroid function. On the other hand, too much of the thyroid hormones could cause a feeling of being “hyper” and irritable.
3) Digestion Issues – Improving thyroid function leads to better digestion with less heartburn and bloating. If constipation is a problem, it may be a sign of low thyroid function.
4) Mood Problems – Mood swings with anxiety and depression often develop in those who have thyroid disorders.
5) Obesity – So… Can’t lose weight even with proper exercise habits and a great diet? Putting on a few pounds can be caused by many different things, so few doctors will consider this as a sign of low thyroid function. But if exercising and eating properly gets no results, that could be a sign of low thyroid hormone levels.
6) Chronic Pain – hypothyroidism is caused by inflammation and often by an autoimmune disease, which is called Hashimoto’s Disease. This means the body can’t recognize normal cells from foreign invaders, such as bacteria and viruses. It is this misplaced attack that causes the inflammation and suppresses thyroid hormone production. It also decreases the responsiveness of thyroid receptors. This body-wide inflammation raises the C-reactive protein (CRP) level, which causes general system-wide pain and may lead to chronic neck and shoulder pain.
Other signs of low thyroid function may include:
- Fluid retention or swelling
- Frequent virus infections
- Hair loss… including the outer ⅓ of the eyebrows. This is a hallmark of hypothyroidism.
- Bruise easily and often
- Sensitivity to cold
- Cold hands and feet
- Brittle nails
- Hands and feet tingle
- Headaches or migraines
WHY PHYSICIANS CAN EASILY MISS LOW THYROID FUNCTION
Want to know why the diagnosis of low thyroid function is so commonly missed? It is because the thyroid panel run by the doctor only measures the levels of Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH), free T3 and free T4. This does not realistically measure thyroid function – there is a disconnect for many who have symptoms of poor thyroid function, yet the doctor says that thyroid blood tests are fine.
Let’s take a closer look at why this might happen:
- There can be decreased uptake of thyroid hormone by the target cells in thyroid deficiency. Since the blood levels of TSH, T3 and T4 do not reflect what is happening inside the cells where their function is, the receptors in each cell may not be uptaking the thyroid hormones – which is often undiagnosed.
- There can be decreased conversion of T4 (the inactive form) into T3 (the biologically active form) in low thyroid function.
- Hormone levels vary tremendously during the day, and these blood tests are merely a snapshot in time. Stress, in particular, will increase many hormones. The stress also leads to inflammation, which reduces thyroid function.
- Most doctors only test for TSH, which measures how much stimulus the pituitary gland is giving to the thyroid. Think of TSH as a gas pedal. When it gets floored, it increases TSH to try to get the thyroid going. It tells nothing about thyroid function itself.
- Finally, the laboratory reference ranges for “normal” thyroid levels are taken from a basically sick population – replete with all sorts of undiagnosed and untreated endocrine deficiencies, poor nutrition and other health issues. They do not reflect the values needed for optimal health.
THYROID FUNCTION SELF-TEST
European Endocrinologists learned to identify thyroid deficiencies without blood tests. It is a simple self-test:
- Start with a simple basal body temperature test one can do at home. Use a thermometer to check the axillary (armpit) temperature when first awakening in bed – while lying in bed for 10 minutes. Check the temperature for at least 3 mornings. If the temperature is consistently below the range of 97.8 – 98.2 degrees F and several symptoms noted above are present, then one can be 90% certain of low thyroid function. For menstruating women it is best to check temperatures on days 2, 3 and 4 of the menstrual cycle.
- If an abnormally low basal body temperature matches with several of the symptoms, then assume low thyroid function and seek treatment.
HOW TO IMPROVE THYROID FUNCTION
The two root causes of hypothyroidism must be addressed to restore balance and health to the body – inflammation and immune system dysfunction (autoimmune attack). It is not as simple as replacing the missing hormones, which is what Western physicians are trained to do.
Thyroid medications alone don’t work. Why? Inflammation decreases the conversion of T4 (inactive thyroid hormone) to T3 (the bioactive form). Most of the synthetic hormone medicines, such as Synthroid or Levoxyl, are T4. Giving this to someone who has inflammation, it won’t work because it can’t be converted to T3.
There are some easy ways to improve thyroid function:
- It was been found that 90% of the U.S. is deficient in Iodine, which is not only needed by the thyroid, but has receptors in every cell of the body. Switch from iodized table salt to Celtic Sea Salt or Himalayan Pink Crystal Salt. Both have way more minerals and a more readily absorbed form of Iodine.
- Follow a gluten-free diet, which has been shown to improve thyroid function. Research has found a link between wheat allergies and thyroid disease.
- Practice stress-reduction techniques such as meditation or deep breathing. Chronic stress has been found to be one of the main triggers of low thyroid function.
- Avoid chemicals like Triclosan, which is commonly found in antibacterial soap, deodorant, lotions and even in cutting boards.
- One supplement to improve thyroid function is probiotics. About 80% of the immune system is in the gut! By improving gut health, the autoimmune part of thyroid issues improves. Use a high quality probiotic which includes the strains Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria.
- Take a high quality multivitamin – probably not what may be on the shelves of the local store. Most popular brands are very poorly absorbed and do not contain enough vitamins to get healthy. Make sure there is enough iodine, B vitamins, Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Selenium and Zinc.
- Limit exposure to fluoride, chlorine and 60,000 other chemicals in the water supply. Consider using a reverse osmosis water filter – available in the local hardware store for about $ 150.
- Follow an anti-inflammatory diet by eliminating processed foods and fast foods… eat as many whole, organic foods as possible.
- Exercise! This is especially important to correct thyroid function. Walking briskly for 30 minutes a day is a good place to start.
- Use Coconut Oil. Let’s take a closer look…
HOW COCONUT OIL IMPROVES THYROID FUNCTION
Think that coconut oil is a bad thing? The truth is… it is a really, really good thing. Considered one of the healthiest foods on the planet, it is extracted from the meat of mature coconuts.
It also contains a whopping 90% saturated fat. But that’s not scary! The fat is in a form called Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCT), which is exactly what the body needs to stay healthy. These MCT’s reduce inflammation and suppress autoimmune conditions to make the thyroid happy and healthy.
The MCT’s include Lauric Acid (found in breast milk), which is small enough to be gobbled up by the power houses of the cells called mitochondria. Lauric acid is converted to Monolaurin – which is a monoglyceride that can destroy viruses, bacteria and parasites.
Another fatty acid that coconut oil contains is Caprylic Acid – also found in mother’s milk. It’s also known as Octanoic Acid…which is a saturated fatty acid with a number of health promoting properties and the innate ability to treat yeast-like fungus in the intestines.
It’s easy to add coconut oil to a diet. Put it in coffee in place of chemical creamers and get a great energy boost. It can replace all the other oils in the kitchen. Fry with it, drizzle it on foods, saute (just don’t heat it up so much that it smokes)… and also put it on the skin, hair and nails.
Start using coconut oil today and get healthier!
If this information is useful and would like more tips and tricks to deal with chronic neck pain, please visit stopneckpain.wpengine.com.
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