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What Women Need to Know About Their Thyroid!

By Marianne Beck, DC

None of us wake up each day thinking "I wonder how my thyroid gland is doing today?", unless of course you suffer from the many symptoms of an under active thyroid such as fatigue, cold hands and feet, weight gain, constipation, depression, hair loss, lack of motivation, excessive sleeping and so on. People with an over active thyroid (hyperthyroid) may experience heart palpitations, increased pulse rate, nervousness, insomnia and night sweats. Blood testing is the easiest way to diagnose thyroid dysfunction-but here in is the problem. Most doctors do not order the appropriate blood work to diagnose the six patterns of "functional hypothyroidism"-- only one of which requires medication.

The number one most misdiagnosed thyroid condition is not really a thyroid condition at all. It is Hashimoto's Thyroiditis which is an autoimmune disease in which the body attacks itself. People with Hashimoto's will experience both hypo and hyperthyroid symptoms as the person's immune system attacks their thyroid gland and thyroid tissue is destroyed. Research has shown that millions of people diagnosed with hypothyroid disease actually have Hashimoto's, however, it has been misdiagnosed or not diagnosed by the physician. You doctor must run the correct blood work in order to detect this autoimmune condition. The problem is, most doctors under test or don't perform the proper tests to diagnose this and other thyroid problems. The many risk factors for developing Hashimoto's are insulin resistance, polycystic ovary disease, estrogen fluctuations (such as in peri-menopause and menopause), chronic infection, chronic inflammation, Celiac Disease, gluten intolerance, and immune reactions to environmental chemicals and heavy metals. Even pregnancy can trigger Hashimoto's. Since Hashimoto's is an immune disease, the immune system needs to be supported as well as the thyroid for symptoms to be controlled!

If you believe your thyroid gland "just goes out of wack" on its own, think again.

Your thyroid gland, that small butterfly shaped gland in the front of your neck, wrapped around the front of your windpipe, controls your metabolism, energy production, regulates body temperature and influences your emotions and moods. It is a "major player" in bone metabolism, fat burning, sugar metabolism, regulating cholesterol and triglycerides, gastrointestinal function and liver and gallbladder function. Many things can affect thyroid function such as chronic stress, hormonal imbalances, sugar handling problems (insulin resistance and hypoglycemia), leaky gut (damaged bowel lining due to stress, toxins, bacteria etc) and generally poor gut health due to poor diet and infections.

To maintain a healthy thyroid gland we must pay close attention to several key issues:

1-Blood Sugar Control: Dysglycemia (too high or too low blood sugar) must be controlled. Dysglycemia happens when our body can not keep our blood sugar balanced. It is either too high (insulin resistance, the precursor to diabetes) or too low (hypoglycemia, also a precursor to diabetes) or our sugar fluctuates wildly throughout the day due to poor eating habits. Poor sugar control wreaks havoc with our adrenal glands, causes inflammation of the digestive tract thereby causing leaky gut and weakens our immune system. This can put undo stress on our thyroid causing it to malfunction ultimately causing hypothyroid or decreased thyroid function and exacerbating Hashimoto's. One can not have a well functioning thyroid without first bringing blood sugar under control.

2-Adrenal Gland Health: You can not talk about the thyroid without discussing adrenal health. Look, we all live in a very stressful world-and this stress puts your adrenals under siege. But stress can come in many different ways. Poor sugar control, chronic bacterial and viral infections, leaky gut, environmental chemicals and toxins, food sensitivities, as well as physical and emotional stressors all affect our adrenal gland function. Adrenal stress usually leads to thyroid dysfunction and hypothyroid problems due to high cortisol levels. Because the thyroid and adrenals are so intimately connected, both the thyroid and adrenals need to be supported in order to achieve both thyroid and adrenal health.

3-Gut Heath: Gut health has been mostly overlooked in modern medicine. Hippocrates stated that ALL disease begins in the gut-today he is being proven correct. We are seeing a rash of gastrointestinal dysfunction in today's society necessitating the use of anti-acids, over the counter medications and prescription medications like the purple pill-Nexium, Prilosec and Pepcid. We have TV commercials dealing with constipation, gas, diarrhea, bloating-telling us to take Pepto-Bismol, eat Activia yogurt, take Tums etc. This is just an indication of how poor our gut health really is! Since our gut comprises at least 60%-70% of our immune system, it is no wonder that our population is sick! And because our intestinal lining is 60%-70% of our immune system, when we have a gut problem---we have an immune problem. It is no wonder that gut problems, food intolerances, leaky gut, gut infections etc. all lead to immune system problems and autoimmune disease as well as functional hypothyrodism. All of this also impacts the adrenal glands as it is a constant stress to our adrenals.

Female hormones and how they impact your thyroid:

The use of bio-identical hormones. birth control pills, hormone creams, estrogen patches and all hormone potions, lotions and pills all cause problems in the body for thyroid hormones. When a woman has too much of these hormones, thyroid hormone can't enter the cells. If a woman is taking thyroid medication, she may still experience hypothyroid symptoms because the thyroid hormones can't get into the cells to do their job. Excess estrogen can even hamper the conversion of the inactive thyroid hormone T4 to the active thyroid hormone of T3 causing a functional hypothyroid condition. Also, hormone creams accumulate in your body fat which puts an excess burden on the liver to detoxify these excess hormones. All of this puts a stress on the body and your adrenal glands-not to mention the liver.

What should we learn from all of this?

1-Sugar handling problems affect thyroid hormone balance and immune system health.

2-Gut health impacts thyroid health, immune system health and autoimmune disease

3-Adrenal stress and adrenal fatigue affects thyroid health, gut health and immune system health.

4-Most people with hypothyroidism can be helped nutritionally without the use of thyroid medication.

5-There are 6 patterns of functional hypothyroidism related to poor blood sugar control, poor gut health, hormonal imbalance, stress and a congested/sluggish liver. Only one of these patterns truly needs medication. Only one of these patterns will show up on standard thyroid blood tests.

Are you one of the 20 million Americans affected by thyroid disorders?

One in eight women will experience thyroid disorders during their lifetime, according to the National Women's Health Information Center. If you suffer from any of the thyroid symptoms mentioned here, whether you are currently on thyroid medication or not, you owe it to yourself to have "functional thyroid lab testing" done by a functional medicine practitioner who is well versed in thyroid function as well as autoimmune disease. This is especially important if you are on thyroid medication and are still having thyroid symptoms!

If you are finally tired of being "sick and tired", contact Dr. Marianne Beck at Women's BestHealth today. Call 954-782-4855 to to set up an appointment.

Women's BestHealth is a functional medicine and nutritional health center specializing in women's health issues and wellness. Dr. Marianne Beck, founder and director, provides natural treatment for menopause, perimenopause, adrenal fatigue/stress, thyroid problems, Hashimoto's, osteoporosis, gastrointestinal problems and autoimmune disease. We offer our services locally in Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach Counties.

Serving: South Florida (South Fl), Ft. Lauderdale, Miami, West Palm Beach, Boca Raton, Sunrise, Oakland park, Pompano Beach, Deerfield, Boynton Beach, Delray Beach, Miramar, Coral Springs, Cooper City, Pembroke Pines, Tamarac, Coconut Creek, Weston, Hollywood, Plantation, Wellington, Palm Beach Gardens. Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach Counties.

Marianne Beck, D.C., Functional Medicine Practitioner and Director, Women's BestHealth