Your thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland in your neck, weighing only about 1 ½ ounces.
The ‘wings’ of your thyroid butterfly are called its lobes, and they wrap around your windpipe.
And while it may be tiny when it comes to size, many health experts consider your thyroid to be a master gland when it comes to controlling numerous body functions.
From the beating of your heart . . . to the function of your sex organs . . . Your thyroid exerts its powerful hormonal influence on many different and critical body tasks throughout your body.
A majority of American adults suffer from sub-optimal thyroid function.
What’s worse, many of those suffering from concerns related to their thyroid don’t even know it.
The National Institutes of Health describes it well:
“You’re tired, weak, exhausted, weary, worn out.
You have a lack of energy and as a result you feel distressed.
You’re not functioning as well as you should.
It’s called fatigue. For millions of Americans, that sluggish feeling is a direct result of a thyroid gland not functioning at an optimal level.
So what should you do?
- Make sure your doctor runs a full thyroid panel, not just an isolated TSH test.
- If you see your TSH increasing over time, don’t wait for thyroid concerns to develop. If your doctor doesn’t want to work with you, find one that understands how to properly interpret thyroid tests. A holistic healthcare practitioner will usually be more knowledgeable about this.
7 tips and strategies to help you out right now:
- Minimize your exposure to environmental toxins, such as pesticides, fertilizers, and even household cleaning products and antibacterials. These can act as hormone disruptors, which may interfere with thyroid function.
- Avoid heavy metals like mercury, found in tuna, amalgam dental fillings, certain vaccines, and even some over-the-counter products like contact lens fluid. Mercury can also adversely affect your thyroid.
- Limit your stress level as much as possible. Chronic stress interferes significantly with thyroid function. Interestingly, in an interview several years ago on Good Morning America, talk show diva and producer Oprah Winfrey blamed her own thyroid concerns on her excessive stress level.
- Stop eating soy, except in fermented forms such as miso or tempeh. Despite marketing efforts by “Big Soy” (certain multinational food corporations), soy is NOT a health food. Unfermented soy is high in chemicals called isoflavones, which may contribute to abnormal function of your thyroid gland and other health concerns.
- Make sleep a high priority. A thyroid imbalance may cause or contribute to sleep difficulties. While there is no “magic number” when it comes to the amount of sleep you need, most adults need 7-9 hours per night according to the National Sleep Foundation.
- Support your thyroid with optimal levels of thyroid-loving nutrients like vitamins A, D, E, riboflavin, niacin, and minerals such as zinc, selenium, and manganese.
- Plus, any effective approach to correcting sub-optimal thyroid function must also provide support for the adrenal glands. Your adrenals, which sit on top of both kidneys, may become fatigued when overstimulation of these important glands (such as from physical or emotional stress) leaves them unable to supply your body with an adequate amount of their hormones.
A good solution to help your thyroid gland function effectively must include some simple lifestyle measures — PLUS iodine, adrenal support, and specific vitamins, minerals, and other key nutrients shown to promote a healthy thyroid.
The crucial importance of iodine to your health is critical for production of adequate thyroid hormones.
In fact, you need three iodine molecules to produce the T3 hormone and four iodine molecules to produce the T4 thyroid hormone. T3 and T4 are the two key hormones produced by the thyroid gland.
A trio of herbs used for centuries in the Ayurvedic tradition to naturally and gently stimulate the thyroid gland.
You’ll find these Ayurvedic herbs:
- Ashwagandha Root Extract
- Forskohlii Root Extract
- Guggul Gum Resin Extract
Ashwagandha may be a funny word to try to pronounce, but this herb, known as “Indian ginseng,” has been used for thousands of years to help gently balance out the body’s endocrine functions, including those of the thyroid, adrenal, and reproductive systems.
In the Ayurvedic tradition, Ashwagandha is considered an adaptogen, an herb that normalizes body physiology, particularly when disturbed by stress.
In more modern times, animal studies documented in the Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology and the Journal of Ethnopharmacology demonstrate that Ashwagandha may provide support for thyroid function.
The Ayurvedic herb Forskohlii, derived from the Coleus plant, has been used traditionally to help support thyroid health.
L-tyrosine is an amino acid and protein building block your body requires in order to produce not only thyroid hormone, but also other hormones such as noradrenaline and dopamine.
In fact, without tyrosine, you would have no thyroid hormone function. That’s because tyrosine is the central molecule of thyroid hormone, with four iodine molecules attached to one tyrosine to make thyroxine or T4, and three iodine molecules attached to make thyronine or T3.
Selenium could well be the next most important mineral affecting thyroid function. In fact, selenium is more concentrated in the thyroid gland than in any other organ in the human body, indicating it plays a crucial role in thyroid function.
Selenium is a vital component of the enzymes necessary to remove iodine molecules from T4 when converting it into the more active form, T3. Plus, selenium acts as an antioxidant to protect your thyroid gland and immune system.
MSM or methylsulfonylmethane, an organic source of bioavailable sulfur. This sulfur compound provides support to the thyroid.
Zinc is also needed to support the conversion of T4 to the more active T3 hormone, so insufficient zinc can prevent your thyroid from making enough active thyroid hormone.
Copper and another trace mineral, Manganese, help protect your thyroid from free radicals. Additionally, these nutrients assist with the proper activation of thyroid hormone.
Sufficient quantities of vitamin D3 within body cells are required for the thyroid hormone to function properly. Plus, vitamin D helps convert T4 to T3 and is needed for thyroid hormone production in the pituitary gland.
Vitamin E is another antioxidant nutrient with a beneficial effect on thyroid function, exerting a protective influence against thyroid cell damage.
Vitamin A also helps to balance the correct amount of thyroid hormones.
Magnesium is another mineral that helps regulate thyroid function, and is required for conversion of T4 to T3. Those with low thyroid function often have low magnesium levels.
Niacin and Riboflavin are B-complex vitamins that regulate thyroid activity and contribute to the prevention of either an overactive or underactive thyroid. Niacin is also an antioxidant.