Hypothyroidism is when the body doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormones leading to problems with body temperature, heart rate, and the metabolic system as a whole. The result is fatigue and cold sensitivity. It can also result in unexplained and rapid weight gain. The typical treatment consists of hormone replacement therapy which can bring its own set of issues. A diet for hypothyroidism may potentially help your body feel better in a number of ways without side effects.

In this excerpt from the book Real Cause, Real Cure by Jacob Teitelbaum, MD and Bill Gottlieb CHC the authors discuss what foods to include in a diet for hypothyroidism and why they can help.

Real Causes

  • Nutritional Deficiencies. A lack of many nutrients can affect the thyroid, but the primary nutritional cause is a low level of the mineral iodine.
  • Cellular Toxicity. Many of the thousands of chemicals in the environment can disrupt thyroid function.
  • Hormonal Imbalances. Hypothyroidism is often an autoimmune disease (Hashimoto’s disease) that attacks the thyroid gland, interfering with its ability to produce thyroid hormones.

Located in the neck, the thyroid gland is the body’s gas pedal: It controls how fast or slow just about every part of you goes.

There are two key hormones produced by the thyroid gland…

  • Thyroxine (T4). This is the stored form of thyroid hormone. When T4 is ready for use, the body turns it into…
  • Triiodothyronine (T3). This is the active form of thyroid hormone.

When your thyroid doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormone, you have hypothyroidism, and you’re likely to be slow all over. Your metabolism could be sluggish, making weight gain easy and weight loss difficult. Your digestion could be pokey, and you’re probably constipated. Your body temperature may be set too low, and you may be cold all the time. Your brain could be plodding, and you probably can’t think clearly.

But before you read any more about hypothyroidism here, I’d like you to read another book excerpt, if you haven’t already: “Hypothyroidism: Millions of Missed Diagnoses” in Hormonal Imbalances. There I discuss a number of topics that will help you understand the Real Cure Regimen for hypothyroidism that is presented in this chapter. Those topics include…

•A list of the many possible symptoms and conditions that can be caused by hypothyroidism.

•Why the problem is so common, affecting an estimated 20 million Americans.

•Why the standard test for hypothyroidism is unreliable, resulting in tens of millions of missed diagnoses. (“The prevalence of undiagnosed thyroid disease in the United States is shockingly high,” said Hossein Gharib, MD, past president of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists and a consulting physician at the Mayo Clinic.)

•A simple way to test yourself for possible hypothyroidism.

•Why, if you have one or two of the possible symptoms of hypothyroidism (unexplained fatigue, persistent depression, achy muscles and joints, miscarriages, infertility, heavy periods, constipation, easy weight gain, cold intolerance, dry skin, thin hair, or a body temperature on the low side of normal), you should be treated for the condition—even if your thyroid tests are “normal.”

Once you’ve read that section of the book, come right back to this one and read about how to solve this widespread problem.

Real Cure Regimen

The treatment for hypothyroidism is straightforward: Replace the missing thyroid hormone. The medication doctors typically prescribe is a synthetic form of stored T4 hormone, called Synthroid or Levothroid. If the dose is optimally adjusted, this treatment works fine for many people. Problem is, many others with hypothyroidism can’t convert stored T4 into active T3, so they need a medication that also contains the active T3 hormone.

I usually prescribe several different forms of thyroid hormone for my patients, to see which works best for every individual: either desiccated thyroid (a natural form that contains both T3 and T4) or a compounded (customized) thyroid medication that combines T3 and T4. If they don’t work, I try Synthroid.

Let me walk you through these options, one by one.

•Desiccated thyroid. This natural form of the hormone contains both T3 and T4. I start with 1 ⁄4 grain (15 milligrams) a day, increasing the dose to 1 ⁄2 grain (30 milligrams) a day by the end of the first week of treatment. Then I increase the dose by 1 ⁄2 grain every one to six weeks. I stop when the patient finds the dose that feels best, where they feel good and the symptoms of hypothyroidism are dramatically reduced or gone. If at any point the patient is shaky, feels hyper, or has a racing heart (a persistent resting pulse over 90 beats per minute), I lower the dose.

Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis: When Your Immune System Attacks Your Thyroid Gland

In Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, the immune system mistakes the thyroid gland for a foreign invader and attacks it. The “anti-TPO antibody” blood test can easily diagnose Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. If you take the test and your anti-TPO antibody is elevated, you probably have the disease and will feel much better on thyroid hormones. (Also see Autoimmune Disease on page 165 for natural ways to calm the immune system.)

A Few Words of Caution

Thyroid medication and exercise are both healthful. And both can trigger a heart attack in a person on the edge of having one.

So if you have significant risk factors for heart disease (smoking, high blood pressure, a total cholesterol level above 260, a family history of heart attack, or stroke under the age of 65), consider seeing your cardiologist for an exercise treadmill test before you start thyroid therapy. The test will detect arterial blockages—which, in a few rare cases, can trigger a heart attack when a person begins taking thyroid medication.

Also, if you have heart palpitations or chest pain after starting thyroid medication, stop taking the drug and see your doctor.

One month after the patient and I have found a dose that works best or we’ve reached the two-grain (120-milligram) level of dosing, I order a Free T4 blood test to make sure the thyroid levels are in the normal range (too high is unsafe).

In some cases, it’s necessary to adjust the dosage slowly upward or downward for the patient to remain in the normal range.

When treating hypothyroidism, most doctors use the TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone, or thyrotropin) test to determine dosage.

This is a mistake: The test is not reliable. Once the TSH is below 2, I would use only the person’s symptoms and Free T4 test.

•Compounded thyroid hormone. A compounded drug is a customized medicine prepared by a compounding pharmacy. In some patients, I start with a compounded medication containing T3 and T4, using the same dosage and testing regimen I just described for desiccated thyroid.

•Synthroid. Often, one hormone treatment works when another does not. If the treatment with desiccated thyroid (Armour Thyroid) or a compounded drug doesn’t work, I try Synthroid. One hundred micrograms (0.1 milligram) of Synthroid “equals” one grain of Armour Thyroid. I gradually adjust the dosing upward in the same way I described for desiccated thyroid. It takes one to six weeks to know if a level of dosing is working or not.

Other tips for maximizing the effectiveness of thyroid medication include…

•Take it first thing in the morning. It works best when taken on an empty stomach with a full glass of water.

•Or take divided doses. Take the first half of your dose first thing in the morning and the second half in the afternoon or at bedtime.

•Don’t take it with a supplement containing calcium and/or iron. The calcium or iron in nutritional supplements or in iron-rich or calcium-rich foods can block the absorption of the hormone. Take them several hours before or after you take the hormone.

Find a Holistic Doctor to Help You

As you can see, the Real Cure Regimen for hypothyroidism is a partnership between patient and physician, requiring a lot of attentive care and calibration. I highly recommend you find a holistic doctor to guide you in the treatment of the problem. Holistic physicians are usually more knowledgeable about hypothyroidism than conventional doctors are, and are open to a variety of treatment strategies (such as using desiccated thyroid or a compounded medicine rather than Synthroid).

In fact, I’d go so far as to say that most conventional doctors don’t know how to effectively diagnose or treat hypothyroidism. For example, they’re trained to stop increasing the dose of thyroid hormone once your thyroid tests are in the normal range—even if the dose is grossly inadequate to treat your symptoms.

Nonprescription Treatments for Hypothyroidism

Thyroid hormone is the best way to treat hypothyroidism. But if for some reason taking the prescription medication is not an option, there are several nonprescription treatments that can help the problem. They include…

•Thyroid glandular supplements. These supplements—formulated from the thyroid glands of animals—provide raw materials for your body to manufacture thyroid hormone. I recommend BMR Complex from Integrative Therapeutics, which contains not only extracts from thyroid glands, but also other thyroid supporting nutrients, such as the amino acid L-tyrosine, and the minerals iodine, zinc, and copper.

•Thyroid-supporting nutrients. I recommend that anyone with the symptoms of hypothyroidism—whether they’re taking thyroid hormone or not—take the nutrients that are a must for optimal thyroid functioning. (Many of these are found in BMR Complex and the Energy Revitalization System (or Clinical Essentials by Terry Naturally), so if you take those two products, you won’t need to take them separately.) They include…

•Iodine: 200 micrograms daily. For women with the symptoms of fatigue, a daytime body temperature below 98.3°F, and breast tenderness and cysts, I find that an iodine tablet of 12.5 milligrams (12,500 micrograms) taken daily, for two to four months, is very effective. Caution: Do not take over 6.5 mg (6500 µg) without a doctor’s supervision, and usually for no more than four months. Long-term use can suppress thyroid function. Many people do like to take tri-iodine (a daily dosage of 6.25 mg) for three months to totally replete iodine stores and flush out fluorides from the body.

•Selenium: 50 micrograms to 100 micrograms daily (but not more than 300 micrograms to 400 micrograms daily).

•Tyrosine: 1,000 milligrams daily. This amino acid helps regulate the thyroid.

For more ways to fix root causes of common health problems, purchase Real Cause, Real Cure from Bottomlineinc.com.

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