The thyroid gland is an endocrine gland located just under the Adam's apple in the throat. It secretes a hormone into the bloodstream called thyroxine, which controls the body's metabolism, the rate at which the body burns calories for energy. It also controls the body's utilization of fat. Too little thyroxine can cause excessive fat to accumulate which can lead to weight gain. It can also result in a low level of energy, low blood pressure, and a lowered basal body temperature, making one feel colder than usual, especially in the hands and feet. Such a condition is called underactive thyroid or hypothyroidism. Underactive thyroid is also a major cause of a common painful musculoskeletal condition known as fibromyalgia.
To perform its function properly, the thyroid needs sufficient quantities of trace minerals like zinc, copper, selenium, iron, and particularly iodine: as well as adequate amounts of vitamins such as A, C, E and the B vitamins. If the thyroid does not get the nutrition it needs an underactive thyroid can be the result. The habit of eating nutrient-poor fast and processed foods is the ultimate cause for some individuals. Many children have poor eating habits which will lead to problems with the thyroid gland later in life.
Who is at Risk for Underactive Thyroid?
Dieting, especially starvation diets which severely restrict caloric intake, is another common cause of underactive thyroid. Starvation slows the body's metabolism as the thyroid gland learns to expend energy more efficiently to conserve calories for the next "famine." After a starvation diet we have a tendency to gain even more weight than we took off, and we may find it even harder to lose weight the next time we try. A low-calorie diet can suppress the thyroid function in less than 24 hours. After one to three months of such dieting, there is a danger of permanently inhibiting the thyroid function.
Another contributor to an underactive thyroid for some individuals is regular use of caffeine. Caffeine increases the adrenal gland's production of cortisol, an important hormone during times of stress, but over a prolonged period of time it has a suppressing effect on the thyroid gland.
If you are overweight, easily chilled, a little forgetful, prone to mild depression, have little energy, low blood pressure and find it difficult to get going in the morning, you should consider an underactive thyroid as a possible cause. It is also a major contributor, if not the major cause, of painful muscular conditions such as fibromyalgia. An underactive thyroid also affects the liver's ability to produce HDL's or "good" cholesterol, the kind that pulls "bad" cholesterol out of the bloodstream. It has been estimated that approximately 14% of cases of high serum cholesterol may be caused by an underactive thyroid.
What are the Symptoms of an Underactive Thyroid?
The best way to find out if your thyroid gland is underactive is to take your basal body temperature, which is your temperature when at complete rest. Take your temperature by mouth for three days in a row, first thing in the morning before you get out of bed. Any activity can raise your body temperature so shake the thermometer down before you go to bed and have it beside your bed when you wake up. If your body temperature is below 97.6 degrees Fahrenheit for three days in a row you have a problem with your thyroid gland.
You may want to see your doctor to determine the severity of your thyroid problem and to discuss your treatment options. In severe cases of hypothyroidism your doctor may want to put you on synthetic thyroxin. This may be necessary for some individuals, especially for those who have had their thyroid gland surgically removed. If your underactive thyroid is not so severe your doctor's test can easily miss the problem. In fact, a recent medical study estimated that 13 million Americans have an undiagnosed thyroid problem. This is because doctors are usually looking for conditions that are bad enough to warrant drug treatment. Doctors will often ignore an underactive thyroid that does not meet this criteria. However, even mildly underactive thyroids that are not severe enough to require drug treatment can nevertheless result in all of the symptoms mentioned above, including weight gain and low energy. In these cases lifestyle, dietary changes and nutritional supplementation may be your best option.
Nutritional Support for the Thyroid Gland
The Steps (These are done simultaneously.):
- Begin with a 2-week cleanse with CleanStart.
- Support the friendly flora of the body.
- Activate the glandular system with Proactazyme Plus.
- Take supplements to build the glandular system.
- Directly support the thyroid gland and hypothalamus.
- Make any lifestyle changes necessary to prevent future problems.
- Continue on a maintenance program of supplements.
Step 1: Begin with a CleanStart:Every nutritional program should begin with a 2-week cleanse with the Cleanstart cleansing and detoxification program. This cleans the intestines, liver, blood and kidneys of waste material and toxins that are harmful to the endocrine glands.
Step 2: Support the friendly flora of the body:When you begin the CleanStart program, also begin taking either Bifidophilus Flora Force or Probiotic Eleven. Both contain "friendly bacteria" to replace the body's good bacteria. Take one bottle according to label directions.
Step 3: Activate the glandular system with Proactazyme Plus:Take one or two capsules of Proactazyme Plus plant enzymes with every meal. Take at the beginning of the meal.
Step 4: Take supplements to build the glandular system:Take the following supplements to build the glandular system and continue taking them for at least six months. The first three products mentioned below are absolutely necessary. The other two are optional but recommended:
- Take a good quality multi-vitamin/mineral supplement every day, such as Super Supplemental. Take one tablet with every meal.
- Master GlandTake two with breakfast and two with lunch.
- Flax Seed Oil Take at least one bottle according to label directions. Continue taking if desired. If you crave fats, fatty foods, fried foods, etc. continue taking Flax Seed Oil for as long as you have these cravings. Flax Seed oil is also available in a liquid that can be applied to salads, etc. (You may substitute black currant oil or evening primrose oil for flax seed oil if you want.)
- Mineral Chi TonicTake two tablespoons every day.
- Energ-VTake according to label directions or as desired.
Step 5: Directly support the thyroid gland and hypothalamus.This is perhaps the most important step. The hypothalamus is an endocrine gland located at the base of the brain. It secretes a hormone that stimulates the thyroid gland. You can support both the thyroid gland and hypothalamus with one product, Thyroid Support. Take according to label directions.
Step 6: Make any lifestyle changes necessary to prevent future problems:
- No starvation diets. Remember,diets which severely restrict caloric intake are a common cause of underactive thyroid. For help with controlling your weight the smart way, see our lesson on weight management.
- Vigorous exercise on a regular basis increases the metabolic rate, helps the circulation, improves blood sugar regulation, and is one of the best things that you can do to help you maintain your ideal weight. Walking is a great exercise for many people. Try to go for a 45 minute to one hour walk at least three times a weekevery day is even better.
- Eat healthy. Try to increase your consumption of fruits, vegetables and be sure to eat protein with every meal. Avoid in-between meal snacks. All of these help increase the metabolic rate and supply vitamins and minerals necessary for the glandular system. It is alright to splurge every now and then, but avoid regular or habitual consumption of fast foods, processed foods, and junk foods. These are high in calories, low in nutrition, and they will slow down the metabolism. Simple carbohydrates, such as sugar and refined flour, will also slow the metabolism and should be avoided. Click Here for the Dietary Guidelines Recommended by Natural Health School
Step 7: Continue on a maintenance program of supplements:You will need to be on the above nutritional supplement program for at least six months. As a general rule, you should plan on staying on the program for four months plus one month for every year that your thyroid has been underactive. You can use the basal body temperature measurement described above as an indicator of your progress, but your best indicator will be the way you feel. Those excess pounds should also start coming off. After you have completed the program the following maintenance program is recommended:
- Twice a year (in the Spring and again in the Fall), do a two week cleanse with Cleanstart.
- After each cleanse take one bottle of either Bifidophilus Flora Force or Probiotic Eleven "friendly bacteria" according to label directions.
- Take a good quality multi-vitamin/mineral supplement every day, such as Super Supplemental.
- Take a good quality colloidal trace mineral supplement every day, such as Mineral Chi Tonic or Ionic Minerals.
- Depending on the condition of your glandular system, you may need to continue taking Master Gland for maintenance.
- Take a psyllium fiber supplement every day to keep your bowel movements regular. (You must have at least one bowel movement every day, preferably two or three a day.)
- If at any time you find that you crave fats, fatty foods, fried foods, etc. take Flax Seed Oil capsules or use the liquid on your salads. (Try Liquid Flax Seed Oil instead of butter on your toast or vegetables - but don't cook it. Butter is also okay. Avoid margarine.)
- If you find that you have digestive problems, such as gas or belching after meals or an acid or sour stomach, take one or two capsules of Proactazyme Plus plant enzymes with meals. Take at the beginning of the meal.
- Eat a healthy diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables and quality animal protein avoiding the habitual consumption of fast foods, processed foods and junk foods (including bakery goods and foods with added sugar.)
- Get regular vigorous exercise. For example, develop a walking program enjoying a 45 minute to one hour walk at least three times a week.
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Information and statements regarding dietary supplements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Check with your health professional before altering any treatment regimen or if you suffer from a medical condition or take prescription drugs.