Treatments for thyroid problems are all about achieving balance; hyperthyroidism (over-active) and hypothyroidism (under-active) each have their own challenges. A crucial part of any home treatment is proper diet. The thyroid cannot do its job without getting the right fuel. Exercise is also essential for achieving and maintaining proper thyroid function. In addition, certain supplements like Guggulsterone can be used as natural thyroid aid.
What Does the Thyroid Gland Do?
The thyroid gland, located in the front of the neck, has an influence on almost every metabolic process. Hyperthyroidism refers to too much thyroid hormone being produced. Hypothyroidism means not enough thyroid hormone is secreted. The thyroid cannot make necessary hormones without iodine. Iodine is also needed to process medications. Thyroid problems range from a harmless goiter (an enlarged gland) to thyroid cancer. Regulating a malfunctioning thyroid can be incredibly frustrating; there are numerous and varying side effects.
The thyroid helps regulate the metabolism: all of the chemical reactions needed to maintain the living state of cells. There are two types of metabolism. Catabolism is molecules breaking down to get energy. Anabolism means building all the compounds that cells need. Proper nutrition ensures that the necessary nutrients are available for use by the cells.
The thyroid also helps to regulate calcium. Calcium is needed by almost every cell, particularly in the nervous system, heart, muscles and bones. The hormone calcitonin and the parathyroid manage calcium levels. Other hormones secreted by the thyroid produce proteins and increase oxygen in cells, which makes organs work harder.
To summarize, the thyroid is the “Master Hormone” that helps our cells get energy and receive the ‘food’ the cells need, including calcium. The thyroid gland can be thought of as the conductor of an orchestra; when it isn’t working as it should, the ‘music’ is an off-key and off-pitch jangle of noise instead of a symphony.
Natural Thyroid Remedies
The thyroid performs a multitude of sophisticated tasks to keep our bodies working, but needs the right fuel. A top healer for the thyroid is good nutrition. Some foods that supply iodine and some that block iodine from the thyroid are listed below. Exercise and a natural thyroid booster are suggested as part of a treatment regimen.
Foods That Help the Thyroid Function Better
Seaweed (kelp, dulce and nori), shellfish and ocean fish are excellent sources of iodine.
Low fat cheese, yogurt and ice cream, eggs and cow’s milk are also good sources.
Many people do not receive enough iodine from their diet. We used to get 25% of our iodine from wheat, but a change in how the flour is produced has removed that iodine source from our diet. Iodine was added to salt in 1924 to help prevent so many people from developing goiters and was generally successful. We need at least 150 mcg daily. The average iodine intake per person in the U.S. used to be 250 mcg; it is now 157 mcg. While sea salt has traces of many minerals, it does not have as much iodine as iodized table salt. If you suspect you need more iodine, iodized sea salt is a good option.
Foods That Slow Your Thyroid
These foods are called ‘goitrogens’ and lower thyroid function, preventing the thyroid from producing thyroid hormone properly. The anti-thyroid properties are strongest when eaten raw. It is believed that this anti-thyroid property is inactivated by cooking, but anyone with hypothyroidism should eat these foods sparingly, if at all.
- Nuts: almonds, pine nuts, peanuts
- Any vegetable in the broccoli family: broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage
- Green leafy vegetables: kale, mustard and spinach
- Fruit: pears and peaches
- Misc.: Turnips, corn, millet, soy (isoflavones block iodine) and canola oil
Exercise and Supplements
Walking or working out for 40 minutes at least 3 times a week is highly recommended to keep the thyroid functioning well. Exercising every day is good for an under-active thyroid.
Guggulsterone or guggulipid is used in Ayurvedic medicine as a natural remedy to regulate the thyroid. This is particularly useful for hypothyroidism. A high quality multivitamin with high levels of vitamins B, D, E and C, iodine, selenium and zinc is also helpful.
Thyroid problems require really learning about your body. While treatments differ for different thyroid ailments, the overall requirement of a malfunctioning thyroid is receiving the nutrients it needs. While good nutrition is always important, a thyroid cannot be regulated if it is receiving the wrong foods. Exercise and a natural thyroid supplement comprise the rest of the treatment regimen.
Continue reading for feedback from Earth Clinic readers who have tried various supplements to treat thyroid conditions.