Weight gain or difficulty losing weight, poor sleep, cold hands and feet, dry skin, thin hair, heavy menses, brittle nails, depression, physical and mental fatigue, constipation, low libido – this is a list of symptoms associated with low thyroid function. Many people (mostly women) see a list similar to this and think low thyroid MUST be an issue for them. They report this to their doctor who does a blood test that shows normal thyroid function and they are sent home without treatment.
In my naturopathic practice, and in wholistic health care offices around the country, it is recognized that many people with thyroid hormones within the normal range are indeed suffering from thyroid imbalance. This is called sub-clinical hypothyroid and these people will respond beautifully when this imbalance is addressed.
The American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists reports that one in 10 Americans suffer from thyroid disease – this is more than the number with diabetes and cancer combined. Half of these cases are undiagnosed. Thyroid cancer is the most common of endocrine malignancies (20% of all cancers). It is important to address thyroid disease before it develops into cancer.
Iodine deficiency is the major cause of hypothyroidism in much of the world. Iodine deficiency is very much a condition of the modern world. Iodine is naturally occurring in salt along with an abundance of other essential minerals. Most salt, just like sugar, is highly refined and has been stripped of its minerals, including iodine.
Once it was discovered that the absence of iodine was contributing to thyroid disease iodine was added back to salt in processing. The addition of iodine helped, but unfortunately the processed mineral was seen to contribute to high blood pressure and given a bad name. Please know that salt in its whole and natural state contains iodine in balance with all of the other naturally occurring minerals and does not contribute to high blood pressure. Unprocessed salt will have color to it – pink or grey are common. I generally recommend the brand Real Salt which can be found in your natural foods grocery stores.
Are there other reasons that we would experience iodine deficiency? Indeed. Iodine is a part of a grouping on the periodic table called halogens. This group includes iodine, chlorine, flourine, and bromine. These halogens will compete for receptor sites in the body. This means that if we have excess chlorine or flourine in our body from treated municipal water that we drink and inwhich we bathe, or bromine from consuming processed wheat (bromine is used to whiten) then these substances will essentially push out the iodine and lead to a deficiency and low thyroid function. This is yet one more reason to avoid white foods!
Prior to the 1950’s thyroid imbalance was commonly treated with an over-the-counter iodine formula called Lugol’s Solution which is the two forms of iodine in a specific ratio to oneanother. This very effective formula lost favor as thyroid eradiation and medication became the standard of medical care. In my practice I see wonderful results in cases of sub-clinical hypothyroid using Prolamine Iodine which is Lugol’s Solution is an easy to take tablet.
In addition to iodine supplementation there are many wonderfully effective therapies to support normal thyroid function. If you believe you have an undiagnosed underfunctioning thyroid I encourage you to seek help from a wholistic healthcare practitioner who offers nutrition and herbal therapies.