Tired Thyroid: A Functional Medicine Approach to Thyroid Problems

The thyroid is a major gland that affects the functions of almost every cell in the body. Regulating metabolism and facilitating growth and development are just some of the important roles of this gland. When thyroid activity goes beyond or dips below what is necessary, expect it to be evident in your entire body. Too much or too little production of hormones in this gland can put your over-all health on the line.

Functional medicine is one of the most popular approaches to treating hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism. Health practitioners from Red Tail Wellness Center explain that this type of treatment focuses on identifying and addressing the root causes of the health problem, which then allows for better diagnosis and higher chances of recovery.

Getting to the Root Cause

The thyroid produces two primary hormones: thyroxine or T4, and triiodothyronine or T3. These hormones control metabolic rate, or the pace in which the body burns calories. They are also responsible for maintaining energy levels and normal body temperature. Note that T4 is not active; it has to be converted into T3 so it can produce its effects.

When the body is under stress, the conversion becomes more difficult. Too much cortisol in the body interferes with thyroid hormone production.

Another factor that causes imbalance in thyroid hormones is nutrient deficiencies. Zinc, selenium and iron are the three most important nutrients for thyroid function. People who lack in these are more likely to develop thyroid problems. In some cases, however, people follow a healthy diet, but because of poor digestion, nutrient deficiencies occur.

Treating Thyroid Problems

Functional medicine practitioners take into account everything — from nutritional deficiencies and increased cortisol levels to immune imbalances. They encourage dietary changes, particularly recommending food choices to increase amounts of zinc, selenium and iron in the body. In evaluating stress, they usually administer saliva tests to assess the level of cortisol.

They also consider the presence of thyroid antibodies, as these indicate autoimmune diseases. These are often associated with food sensitivities. Other than recommending dietary changes, functional medicine practitioners also conduct exams to determine such sensitivities.

When one part of the body suffers, the whole system gets affected. Talk to a functional medicine practitioner if you suspect thyroid problems. Remember: the earlier the diagnosis, the better.