How To Increase Thyroid Function
We are all exposed to chemical pollutants some of which are associated with decreased thyroid function. Most of the testing for these exposures has not been validated. Just today a patient sent me a hair analysis that showed too much circulating T4 in his system. I take these tests with a grain of salt until we have more comprehensive evidence that they are accurate.
Through questionnaires and a lifestyle review we can assess the exposure risk to some of the main offenders. An example is a patient who just couldn’t recover her energy. She had been exposed during a stint of working in a factory several year earlier. PCB’s have been linked with elevated thyroid antibodies in several studies. An industrial chemical called percholarate is known to inhibit thyroid meaning it can lead to hypothyroidism. It is routinely found in drinking water, soil and even breast milk.
The pollutants that can disrupt thyroid function include heavy metals, phthalates, pesticides, dioxins, BPA and flame retardants. Endocrine disrupting chemicals interfere with our hormonal signaling and the thyroid is particularly vulnerable.
How to Increase Thyroid Function?
Lowering inflammation is a powerful step you can take to support thyroid function and help the body detoxify. Avoid allergens, filter water and eat local/organic, grass-fed/wild food when possible. Use a sauna and exercise to a sweat regularly. Check all your home care products. Use clean, fragrance-free products. Our bodies are remarkable at recovering and adapting when given the chance.
Recently a woman found that the mould in her car was creating a chronic inflammatory response. It is being investigated as the primary cause of her pain as well as her ongoing struggle with thyroid symptoms. We can test for mould accurately and it is one of those environmental toxins that some people react to while others don’t at all.
A Few Common Causes
Poor gut health often plays a significant role in chronic inflammation and autoimmune disease. A viral infection can as well. It is fairly common for childbirth to trigger subclinical hypothyroidism into high gear. In some cases this self-resolves but in others it can lead to longer-term issues. Some drug and radiation therapy can also cause inflammation of the thyroid. I have a new patient right now who was given lithium in the 90’s and has been on thyroid medication ever since.
Trusting the Body
The gold standard for ruling out food reactions is how you feel. We look for noticeable changes. If someone presents with thyroiditis and our goal is lowering inflammation then we tease out what hasn’t been addressed yet. Most people who come to my clinic are already tuned into their body but may have missed one or two of the big offenders.
Nourishing with the right nutrients for thyroid health is important but so is stress management. This means lowering internal physiological stress as well as managing any external causes that we have control over. A gut infection or high blood sugar are a couple common causes of physiological stress I see every week in my clinic. Cortisol and insulin regulation are major players when it comes to endocrine health. The gut and immune response are starting places when the thyroid is not functioning optimally.
If you are struggling with fatigue, low body temperature, brain fog, depression, dryness or weight gain, thyroid may be the underlying cause. Conventional medicine does not address thyroid health preventatively. Medication can help initially and you might feel like yourself for a short period of time. This can wane after a few weeks or months and more medication is needed. Don’t settle. Chronic illness is better addressed with functional approaches that look deeper.