A 7-Step Plan to Boost Your Low Thyroid

A 7-Step Plan to Boost Your Low Thyroid

I’m smiling today!

Health guru Dr. Mark Hyman is here at Hypothyroid Mom.

Dr. Mark Hyman is an EIGHT-TIME New York Times bestselling author. He is currently medical editor at the Huffington Post and on the Medical Advisory Board at The Doctor Oz Show. He has testified before the Senate Working Group on Health Care Reform on Functional Medicine, and participated in the White House Forum on Prevention and Wellness in June 2009. Dr. Hyman continues to work in Washington on health reform, recently testifying before a Congressional hearing on Functional Medicine, nutrition and the use of dietary supplements.

Written by Mark Hyman, MD, Founder of The UltraWellness Center in Lenox, MA

LOW THYROID FUNCTION affects more than 30 million women and 15 million men. So why are we seeing such an epidemic of thyroid problems? Well, chronic thyroid problems can be caused by many factors…

What Causes Hypothyroidism?

One of the most important factors that leads to hypothyroidism is exposure to environmental toxins such as pesticides, which act as hormone or endocrine disruptors and interfere with thyroid hormone metabolism and function.

In fact, one study found that as people lost weight they released pesticides from their fat tissue.

This then interfered with their thyroid function and caused hypothyroidism. The toxins created a slow metabolism and prevented them from losing more weight.

This study highlights the importance of overall detoxification. It is quite a significant finding that shows exactly how toxins interfere with thyroid function.

Heavy metals such as mercury can also affect thyroid function. I see many people with chronic hypothyroidism and other thyroid problems because mercury interferes with normal thyroid function.

The other big factor that interferes with thyroid function is chronic stress.

There is an intimate interaction between stress hormones and thyroid function. The more stress you are under, the worse your thyroid functions.

Any approach to correcting poor thyroid function must address the effects of chronic stress and provide support to the adrenal glands.

The next major factor that affects thyroid function is chronic inflammation. The biggest source of this chronic inflammation is gluten, the protein found in wheat, barely, rye, spelt, and oats.

Gluten is a very common allergen that affects about 10 to 20 percent of the population. This reaction occurs mostly because of our damaged guts, poor diet, and stress.

I also think eating so-called Frankenfoods, such as hybridized and genetically modified grains with very strange proteins, makes us sick.

Our bodies say, “What’s this? Must be something foreign. I’d better create antibodies to this, fight it, and get rid of it.”

This chronic inflammatory response interferes with thyroid function — and contributes to the epidemic of inflammatory diseases in the developed world.

Lastly, nutritional deficiencies play a big role in thyroid dysfunction. These include deficiencies of iodine, vitamin D, omega-3 fats, selenium, zinc, vitamin A, and the B vitamins.

Once you have confirmed that a sluggish thyroid is contributing to your symptoms, the good news is that there are many, many, many things you can do to help correct thyroid problems.

There are so many reasons for low thyroid function, yet I have seen lots of patients with this problem who were just ignored by their doctors.

For example, one young female patient of mine had more than 30 percent body fat and was unable to change her body, no matter how hard she worked. She ate perfectly, exercised with a trainer every day — and her body still wouldn’t budge.

She also had a slightly depressed mood and other vague symptoms.

So I treated her with a low dose of Armour Thyroid, which is a natural thyroid replacement.

What happened?

Well, she not only lost 20 pounds and improved her body composition, but her mood improved and all her other symptoms went away.

How did I know she had low thyroid function?

Once I have asked about symptoms, done a physical exam, and considered all the potential causes of thyroid problems, I do the right tests.

Most doctors just check something called the thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), which doesn’t give a full picture of the thyroid. In fact, even the interpretation of this test is incorrect most of the time.

The newer guidelines of the American College of Endocrinology consider anybody with a TSH level over 3.0 as hypothyroid. Most doctors think that only anything over 5 or 10 is worth treating.

Unfortunately, this leaves millions suffering unnecessarily.

There are also other tests, including free T3 and free T4 and thyroid antibodies, which are essential.

I also look for associated problems such as gluten intolerance, food allergies, and heavy metals, as well as deficiencies of vitamin D, selenium, vitamin A, zinc, and omega-3 fats.

There are many things to consider in a careful approach to hypothyroidism.

It is one of the most common problems I see, and treating it properly makes one of the biggest differences in my patients’ quality of life.

Unfortunately, by using the old guidelines and thinking, conventional medicine misses millions who suffer with hypothyroidism.

In fact, in one study, researchers tested everybody who walked through the gates of a county fair with conventional thyroid testing. They found that according to even conservative conventional standards, half of all the people who had hypothyroidism were undiagnosed, untreated, and suffering.

So what’s the solution?

How You Can Overcome Hypothyroidism

I encourage you to take the following steps to rebalance your thyroid:

  • Make a thorough inventory of any of the symptoms that I mentioned in my article Thyroid Disease: Are You Sick, Tired, Overweight? to see if you might suffer from hypothyroidism.
  • Get the right thyroid tests including TSH, Free T4, Free T3, Reverse T3, TPO and anti-thyroglobulin antibodies.
  • Check for celiac disease with a celiac panel.
  • Consider heavy metal toxicity.
  • Check your vitamin D level.

Once you have confirmed that a sluggish thyroid is contributing to your symptoms, the good news is that there are many, many, many things you can do to help correct thyroid problems.

I have developed the Ultra Thyroid Solution, a seven-step plan to address hypothyroidism:

  1. Treat the Underlying Causes - Identify and treat the underlying causes of hypothyroidism, like food allergies, gluten, heavy metals, nutritional deficiencies, and stress.
  2. Optimize Your Nutrition – Support your thyroid with optimal nutrition, including foods that contain iodine, zinc, omega-3 fats, selenium, and more.
  3. Minimize Stress - Eliminate adrenal exhaustion and minimize stress by engaging in a comprehensive stress management program.
  4. Exercise - Engage in exercise, because exercise boosts thyroid function.
  5. Supplement - Use supplements to help enhance thyroid function, including all the nutrients needed for proper thyroid metabolism and function.
  6. Heat Therapy – Use saunas and heat to eliminate stored toxins, which interfere with thyroid function.
  7. Thyroid Hormones - Use thyroid hormone replacement therapy to help support your thyroid gland.

I believe a comprehensive approach is needed to address chronic thyroid issues and to diagnose them. Unfortunately, most of the options for healing by conventional care are quite limited and only provide a partial solution. But by following my seven-step plan you can achieve lifelong vibrant health.

About Mark Hyman, MD

Dr. Mark Hyman has dedicated his career to identifying and addressing the root causes of chronic illness through a groundbreaking whole-systems medicine approach known as Functional Medicine. Dr. Hyman’s #1 New York Times bestseller The Blood Sugar Solution 10-Day Detox Diet: Activate Your Body’s Natural Ability to Burn Fat and Lose Weight Fast offers readers a step-by-step guide for losing weight and reversing disease. Now the companion cookbook The Blood Sugar Solution 10-Day Detox Diet Cookbook with more than 150 recipes is available for pre-order.

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About Dana Trentini

Who knew that little butterfly-shaped thyroid gland at the base of my neck could affect my life so completely? I founded Hypothyroid Mom in memory of the unborn baby I lost to hypothyroidism. Winner of two 2014 WEGO Health Activist Awards: Health Activist Hero & Best In Show Twitter. *Hypothyroid Mom includes Affiliate links. Connect with me on Google+

Comments

  1. I am so happy to see articles like this! So helpful!!!!

    I was diagnosed as hypothyroid about a year and a half ago. I have seen 3 doctors and 2 endos since. ALL of them looked confused when I asked what causes it and said something like “We don’t really know. It just happens.” All they knew to do for me was prescribe levothyroxin.

    My husband has been on levothyroxine for about 6 years and his dose keeps going up. We both sat in wide-eyed disbelief when his doctor casually stated at his last checkup, “Well, whatever is causing this is apparently still doing it. I’m increasing your dose to 200mcg. See you in 3 months.”

  2. I had my thyroid completely destroyed with radioactive iodine 30 years ago. I have lived to regret that decision. I never feel good and most of the time I feel too bad to leave the house. Recently discovered that while my TSH test was high my TS & T4 were very low. For a good many years my levothyroxine dosage was being constantly lowered based on just my TSH results. I have doubled in size, developed rashes, nail problems, a sleeping disorder, high blood pressure, fibromyalgia. IBS, interstitial cystitis, chronic dry eye…etc. The list goes go on and on. Since my hormone has been increased the only positive change has been that my eyelashes, eyebrows and hair are better. I still feel badly and cannot drop any weight despite trying. I cannot find a doctor who will treat me with anything other than more drugs to mask my growing symptoms and health problems. I am at a loss and ready to give up. Because I feel so bad most of the time I have lost my zest for life. Of course telling most doctors that gets you a handful of mood altering drugs. I wouldn’t feel mentally bad if I didn’t feel physically so.

    • I am SO with you on this…what have you found out since this post??

      • I am in the process of filling out the needed paperwork in order to get an appointment with an Integrative physician. I cannot recall the name of the blog that lists these doctors which are added by patients. In order to be on this list the doctors must…1) Do all thyroid related blood work and 2) Prescribe desiccated thyroid and/or T3 hormone.
        There was only one doctor on the list in my state even remotely close to me. Thankfully my she is covered by my insurance plan. She has 31 years experience and rated very favorably. This is the most excited I have been about seeing a doctor ever.

  3. kellie schroeder says:

    I would love to read this.

  4. I’d like to read the book and I wish I could find a doc like this in central PA!

  5. Hi. I am a 44 year old mother of three. After my third child in 2004 I thought I had post-partum depression. then after two years of nagging my Dr. to death, she finally checked my thyroid. HYPOTHYROID. Boy has my life changed for the worse! I am on Synthroid and some symptoms have lessened, but I still feel like crap most days. I was always energetic, felt great and never in my life weighed more than 110 lbs. Now I am 140 lbs, feel horrible, look even worse, and my life isn’t getting any better. I don’t like alot of veggies, but have cut out junk, started exercising every day, and walking/jogging 3 miles a day, six times a week, in the dead of heat!. Went to the doctor for check-up, and after a month of all this dropped .02 of a lb!! So discouraged, I came home and cried, then ate a big bowl of cereal!
    So disappointing!!!!!!

    • This is almosty exact story. Except my last kid was in 09 and by 2012 I had a enlarged uterus and it was pro lapsing. Since I was done with kids we did a partial hysterectomy and felt great for a few months. Then I lost all of my energy, trouble breathing, panic attacks, brittle nails, dry hair, nails and skin. Slept 15 hours a day. Migraines got worse and saw every “gist” in Oklahoma. I am on 120 mg of armour after being but on synthroid which caused an allergic reaction because it is made in a facility that makes medications with iodine and shells (I am severely allergic to both). I am now on magnesium, 120 armour, selenium, b6, b12, vitamin d. I take butterbur and Migrirelief for migraines. I take lexapro, Xanax, and promethazine. I was recently put on metformin. I have been filling a grain free diet at least 70% of the time using a paleo cookbook and using whole, unprocessed foods. It has helped. However, I still have an allergy to metal that I didn’t have before. I am going to go to the dentist and have all my metals in my mouth changed and see if that helps.

      • You are both probably gluten intolerant. Cut it out, 100 percent and see what happens. I have my fingers crossed for you, it worked for me

  6. jill dawson says:

    I want to know if Laura remembers name of blog she got list of good thyroid drs on

  7. Great information. How I wish the UK health professionals would wake up and look at hypo patients holistically. I am going to ask for a referral to see if I can be prescribed T3. I don’t hold out much hope as Levo is the cure all apparently! Nobody has told my body this though and right now I am keeping laxative suppliers in business!

  8. Arminda Cook says:

    Hi:
    I came across your website today via Facebook and I am excited to read all of the information. In 2003 I had my thyroid removed due to suspicious cells on nodules (cancer). Now I have been on levoxythrine for many years. Are is there any particular articles for someone who doesn’t have a thyroid anymore and is considered hypothyroid? Would I abide to the same diets and things as someone who still has a thyroid but has hypothyroidism? Any suggestions of articles or books would be very helpful as I need to lose weight and I’m tired all of the time. Thank you.

    Arminda Cook

  9. I was excited to discover this website. I need to to thank you
    for ones time due to this fantastic read!! I definitely enjoyed every little
    bit of it and i also have you book marked to look at new things on your website.

  10. Sherry Ziter says:

    I was diagnosed with Thyroid Cancer in summer of 2014 and had it removed in August. I had RAI treatment in October. I have had other symtoms that you spoke of for years. Now the struggle is getting medication dosage right. Back and forth with T4 and now some T3 added. Still not right …..still suffering with symptoms. Still issues with weight that I am constantly told is menopause. So tired of my issue as a whole not being treated. Will I feel good again? Do I need a different doctor? What to do?

  11. Michelle says:

    I have had thyroid issues starting when I was 8. Now much older still can not get it under control, so happy to see this Site

  12. Thanks you I feel I’m not alone and not going mad .

  13. I exercise. I eat all the right foods. No junk food. Ever. I quit smoking. Take my levothyroxine every day at the same time. Yet my weight doesn’t budge. Bone crushing exhaustion. Now my whole body itches.
    Will I ever feel normal?
    I am so tired of feeling tired!

  14. I have had thyroid issues for the last six years. I finally went to a naturopathic doctor and she has helped me tremendously! I am also using Young Living essential oils and supplements that support the endocrine system and help balance hormones. I have stopped using all of my regular personal care products and cleaners, etc. and replaced them with organic products or ones I make myself using the oils. My hair has started coming back in thickly and I feel great! I also was able to lose the extra weight I had using the Trim Healthy Mama plan. I was surprised at how easy it was! Love it! Our bodies really can heal themselves and work the way they are supposed to if we give them a break from the toxins and give them the tools needed to heal!
    http://gwens-nest.com/trim-healthy-mama-book-review/

  15. Roxanne says:

    I recently had my thyroid removed and am looking for way to help my body through diet, etc. Are the same things that are good for boosting thyroid function effective for someone without a thyroid?

  16. Pamela Medaglia says:

    I have an under active thyroid and have been on levothyroxine for five years but it’s been on and off, I feel like when I take the meds my hair falls out terribly but my Dr tells me my hair should not be falling out if I’m on my meds but it does, I stopped it again but just started it back up because I have been feeling very bad for the past month, I feel depressed, no energy, nauseas,, migraines trouble sleeping anxiety very bad, just feeling terrible, I have never felt this bad for this long. I just want to feel normal and feel better! Any suggestions or helpful advice?

    • Becky Wildeman says:

      I have been on thyroid meds since I was 19, now 55. My numbers have only been off once..Ugh! But my dr. Says do not use generic meds for this…only the real synthroid. The tiny changes in dosages within generic brands make a huge difference on the thyroid. My numbers are very stable. Unfortunately this means I pay out of pocket, but it’s worth it to be stable.
      I am looking to improve my health and weight, so love getting this info.

  17. samantha irwin says:

    Hi I have just gone through the roughest 2 years reading this has shown what has been wrong with me to the point my doctor put me on medication that didn’t make me feel any better my weight has been so bad I have a 15 month old when I had him I was 60 kgs now im 90.10 kgs I have done everything right but this has really given me an indepth look to why my thyroid has played up like it has. I have just lost most of my stress now it is to get the rest delt with.

  18. Good to see that a lower TSH marker (3.0 vs 5 or 10 as indicated above) is now being used. Just hope that knowledge gets down to my neck of the woods. My temperature runs between 97 and 97.5 after eating, being active, etc. My fingernails are splitting lengthwise. I have no eyebrows left except for about an inch. My hands go numb and burn every night, causing me to wake up every little bit. I get comfortable to where they stop burning, then they wake me up again a little while later. I am gaining weight, even though I have cut out most carbs. Years ago, a doctor gave me a straight T3 therapy for my low temperature (Wilson’t Thyroid Syndrome), but even though it’s dropped again, all I heard last time was – “Your tests are normal!” I’ve been going through the numb hands on and off for about 10 years, can’t do anything much with my hands or it acts up. Hope I get relief soon. I need sleep!

Trackbacks

  1. […] Functional medicine addresses the underlying causes of disease using a whole person approach. I’ve been fascinated by the Hypothyroid Mom guest posts written by renowned functional medicine doctors – 10 Signs You Have A Thyroid Problem and 10 Solutions For It, Is Yeast Overgrowth Destroying Your Thyroid Health? The Hidden Epidemic, and A 7-Step Plan to Boost Your Low Thyroid. […]

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