Thyroid Disorders in Women: A Naturopathic Approach to Hormonal Balance

Thyroid Disorders in Women: A Naturopathic Approach to Hormonal Balance

Contents

Understanding the thyroid
Overview of thyroid disorders
Thyroid disorder triggers
Treating thyroid disorders
Naturopathic medicine and hormonal balance
Integrating naturopathic and conventional care
The importance of Individualized treatment plans

Do you know that women are more likely to have thyroid disorders?

Hypothyroidism often happens in pregnant as well as pre- and postmenopausal women. Thyroid gland functions affect women’s reproductive systems.

A hormonal imbalance may affect a woman’s puberty and menstrual cycle. It can also prevent ovulation and pose risks during pregnancy.

Understand the thyroid gland and its role in your body. Learn to identify the symptoms of hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism to take immediate action. Discover natural ways to deal with the issue, complementing conventional treatment.

Let’s dive in.

Understanding the thyroid gland

Thyroid health is vital to your well-being, and the thyroid gland is at the heart of many bodily functions.

The butterfly-shaped thyroid gland is at the front of the neck, below the larynx. It produces hormones that control the brain, bone, heart, muscle, and digestive system.

Thyroid hormone production depends on signals from the pituitary gland. The levels produced rely on iodine. Insufficient hormones slow metabolism, and your body generates less energy.

Overview of thyroid disorders

An imbalanced production of thyroid hormones can result in disorders. Excess hormones (hyperthyroidism) cause your body to use energy quickly. Your metabolism becomes sluggish if the thyroid doesn’t produce enough (hypothyroidism).

Thyroid disorders may cause early or delayed puberty and menstruation. Women may experience heavier or lighter menstrual flows caused by abnormal hormone levels. Some may encounter irregular or no periods. These conditions may lead to early menopause.

A hormone deficiency can cause pregnant women to experience:

  • Miscarriages
  • Stillbirth
  • Preterm delivery
  • Postpartum bleeding
  • Post-delivery thyroid problems

Thyroid disorders during pregnancy may also hurt the fetus.

Women might also face reproductive issues. An overactive or underactive thyroid may prevent ovulation. The risk of cyst growth in the ovaries increases if you have a hypothyroid.

Let’s explore the types of thyroid problems.

Hyperthyroidism

Hyperthyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland produces excessive thyroxine hormones. The symptoms are similar to other health issues, but the most common signs are:

  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Fast or irregular heart rate
  • Palpitations
  • Irritability, anxiety, or nervousness
  • Menstrual period changes
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Fatigue
  • An enlarged thyroid gland (goiter)

Hypothyroidism

Hypothuroidism occurs when the thyroid gland doesn’t make enough hormones. You might gain weight, feel cold, and have a slower heart rate if you have hypothyroidism. The most common subtle signs to watch out for are:

  • Brain fog: Hypothyroidism affects hormone flow to your brain. You may find it challenging to think, focus, or remember things.
  • Depression: A thyroid problem is one possible reason for the mental health problem.
  • Swollen face: Excess fluid causes this condition when your thyroid isn’t functioning.
  • Blurred sight: A thyroid condition may cause extra fluid in the tissues around the eyes. You might experience foggy or double vision.
  • Food tastes different: Hypothyroidism impacts the brain and mouth, affecting taste.
  • Lower sex drive: Your body produces fewer sex hormones when the metabolism drops.
  • Hair loss: Severe thyroid disorders may cause abnormal hair thinning.
  • Hypertension: An underactive thyroid leads to less flexible blood vessels. This condition makes circulation harder for your heart.
  • Constipation or frequent bowel movement.

Women are more prone to hypothyroidism than men. You’re also more likely to develop the condition if a close family member has an autoimmune disease.

People with type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and Addison’s disease are susceptible to hypothyroidism. Other risk factors include:

  • Being white or Asian
  • Aging
  • Premature gray hair
  • Down syndrome
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Turner syndrome

Critically low thyroid hormone levels may lead to a life-threatening situation. Myxedema is the most severe form of this disorder. It can make a person lose consciousness or go into a coma. Someone with the condition could die if it causes the body temperature to drop very low.

Thyroid disorder triggers

Studies show that the following factors may cause autoimmune thyroid disorders:

  • Genetics
  • Radiation exposure
  • Increased iodine consumption
  • Environmental contaminants

Graves’ disease makes the thyroid gland overactive and produces too many hormones (hyperthyroidism). You could get a diffuse toxic goiter, an enlarged gland.

Swelling and lumps (nodules) can form in the thyroid gland. Most are harmless, but some cause hormone overproduction.

A viral infection may cause thyroiditis, a gland inflammation. Hormones may leak into your bloodstream in some cases, resulting in hyperthyroidism. Your thyroid function might become underactive after being overactive, causing hypothyroidism.

Although iodine is essential for thyroid hormone production, avoid excess intake. A high mineral supply can cause the thyroid to produce too little or too many hormones. Some drugs and cough syrups contain high amounts of iodine.

Lack of iodine in your diet also affects thyroid gland function. You must get it from food, as your body doesn’t produce iodine. Excellent iodine sources are saltwater fish, shellfish, eggs, dairy products, and seaweed. Using iodized salt is another way to get iodine into your system.

Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is the most common cause of hypothyroidism. The autoimmune disease makes the body’s antibodies attack and destroy the thyroid gland.

Medications that treat heart problems and cancer may impact thyroid hormone production. Cancer radiation therapy may also damage the thyroid gland cells. This effect reduces the gland’s ability to make hormones.

Thyroid surgery will cause hypothyroidism. You can function without the thyroid gland but will require medication.

A woman may experience inflammation of the thyroid gland after giving birth. Over time, the condition results in hypothyroidism. You may treat the problem with postpartum hormones.

Congenital hypothyroidism results when the thyroid gland doesn’t develop in some babies.

Hypothalamic hypothyroidism occurs when there’s insufficient thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH). TRH regulates thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) release by the pituitary gland.

Treating thyroid disorders

Your doctor will recommend the thyroid hormone medicine levothyroxine if you have hypothyroidism. The drug normalizes hormone levels.

You have to take the oral medication daily for life. Your doctor will check your hormone level about 6–8 weeks into the treatment to find the proper dosage. You’ll undergo checks annually to adjust the dose.

There are many hyperthyroidism treatments, including anti-thyroid medicine. These drugs prevent the thyroid gland from producing too many hormones. Symptoms usually improve after several weeks.

The treatment lasts 12–18 months. Your doctor may reduce the dose or stop the drugs after reviewing your blood test results. Hyperthyroidism goes into remission for some patients. The condition comes back for others.

Your doctor will recommend the best treatment plan after considering the following factors:

  • Your age and health
  • The cause of your disorder
  • The severity of your condition
  • Your personal preferences

Naturopathic medicine and hormonal balance

Many people choose naturopathic medicine over drugs to avoid side effects. They prefer natural remedies that treat the root cause to help the body heal. These therapies include nutrition, herbs, and lifestyle changes.

Nutritional strategies for thyroid health

Most Americans get enough iodine as they consume iodized salt. You may need iodine from other sources if you’re on a low-sodium diet.

The following foods help the thyroid gland produce enough hormones:

  • Plain, low-fat yogurt or Greek yogurt is a good source of iodine.
  • Brazil nuts contain selenium. Another nutrient that helps regulate thyroid hormones.
  • Milk and milk products are among the best iodine sources. Soy and almond milk drinks contain small amounts of iodine.
  • Meats are a good source of zinc. Your body needs it to produce thyroid hormones.
  • Fish provide iodine in your diet.
  • Eggs are a thyroid superfood as it has plenty of iodine and selenium.
  • Foods high in antioxidants, like berries, are also good for your thyroid.

Herbal remedies and supplements

Consult a medical professional before starting any alternative hormone therapy. Some herbs may be safe for some, but not for others. Discuss your options and follow your doctor’s guidance.

Herbs like nigella seeds have antioxidant properties. According to animal studies, the seed extracts help regulate thyroid hormone levels.

Some herbs may help with other hormonal disorders.

Lifestyle modifications for hormonal balance

Balancing your hormones requires a comprehensive approach. Incorporate the following practices into your daily routine for hormonal and overall health:

  • Eat a healthy diet rich in lean protein, healthy fats, and fiber. It may help to balance hormones regulating your metabolism, appetite, and mood. Limit the amount of processed sugar you consume.
  • Get physical. Do low-impact workouts, as hypothyroidism can cause muscle and joint pain and swelling. Walking, water aerobics, lifting weights, and yoga are excellent activities. Exercise boosts your mood, increases energy, and helps with weight loss.
  • Stress worsens autoimmune thyroid diseases like Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and Graves’ disease. These disorders raise thyroid hormone and TSH levels. Do yoga, listen to music, and take a nature walk to relieve stress and balance these hormones.
  • Get enough slumber. Poor sleep quality can impact thyroid hormones. Sleep deprivation also causes other health issues.
  • Avoid environmental contaminants as they can cause autoimmune thyroid disease. Tobacco smoke, herbicides, and chemicals in cleaning products may lead to hormonal imbalance.

Integrating naturopathic and conventional care

Although there are natural remedies for thyroid disorders, we shouldn’t disregard drugs. Conventional and naturopathic medicine have their merits. Integrating both treatments gives individuals a comprehensive approach to balancing hormones.

The importance of individualized treatment plans

We’re all unique, so no solution works for everyone the same way. The cause and severity of thyroid disorders differ from one person to another.

At LIVV Natural Health, we believe in individualized treatment plans for our clients. Our naturopathy specialists will review your medical history before we recommend therapy.

Come chat with us today and be on your way to better health.

Author: Dr. Jason Phan NMD – Founder of LIVV Natural – Anti-aging – regenerative medicine – peptide therapy