While under-active thyroid (hypothyroidism) gets a lot of attention in the health world (it is the most common form of thyroid dysfunction), over-active thyroid (hyperthyroidism) is just as troublesome.
Our thyroid gland is a butterfly shaped organ located in our necks, and the hormones it releases regulate every cell in our body. Thyroid hormone enables cells to make energy and function properly, so if you have an imbalance it can result in symptoms pretty much anywhere in the body.
When the thyroid gland is over-active it produces too many thyroid hormones. This means your cells go into over-drive, increasing your metabolism and heart rate.RELATED: RECOMMENDED PLANS FOR YOU
The top symptoms of hyperthyroidism
Main Causes of Hyperthyroidism
1. Graves Disease – this is an auto-immune disease, where the immune system mistakenly attacks the thyroid gland, disrupting the production of hormones.
2. Hashimoto’s disease – an auto-immune condition normally related to under-active thyroid disease, it can often start out as hyperthyroidism.
3. Iodine toxicity – too much iodine can stimulate excess thyroid hormone production.
4. Overdosing Thyroxine medication- too much thyroxine (synthetic thyroid hormone medication) can cause hyperthyroidism.
Why would your immune system attack your thyroid?
There are a few reasons why you may have an inappropriate immune reaction to your thyroid gland. Roughly 80% of our immune function resides in our digestive system, and that’s where things can go wrong.
1. Infection – an underlying infection (bacterial, fungal, viral or parasite) can cause damage to your gut lining (leaky gut) and allow toxins and undigested foods through into your blood stream, causing an immune reaction, which can then get out of control.
2. Food intolerance –some foods can cause inflammation and contribute to leaky gut. Gluten from grains (wheat, rye, barley) has been shown to be linked to auto-immune diseases.
3. Toxic exposure – exposure to heavy metals and other chemicals can stimulate an immune response and contribute to hormone disruption.
If you suspect you may have a thyroid issue, it’s best to get tested as soon as possible. Ask your GP for a full set of thyroid tests; TSH, fT4, fT3 and TPO antibodies.
A number of other tests may be helpful; eg a stool test can identify any underlying infection, an adrenal stress profile can assess your adrenal health and nutrient deficiency tests are useful to see where you need support.
If these tests prove hard to obtain from your doctor, you can contact a qualified health practitioner who can arrange these tests for you privately.
Diet and Lifestyle
There are many things you can do to naturally bring down your thyroid levels.
– Avoid stimulants – caffeine, alcohol and sugar. They can worsen anxiety, irritability and sleep issues. Try calming herbal teas (chamomile, fennel, mint) and switch to decaff tea and coffee.
– Include anti-inflammatory foods in your diet – oily fish, nuts, seeds, organic fruit & vegetables, herbs and spices (especially turmeric).
– Avoid gluten and soy – they can stimulate a false immune reaction often indicated in auto-immune thyroid conditions.
– Include probiotic foods to support your digestion- (live natural yoghurt, fermented vegetables, kefir, garlic, leeks, onions)
– Include plenty of raw cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, rocket, watercress) – they can naturally suppress thyroid activity
– Supplements can be helpful – eg. adrenal support, Vitamin C, fish oil, Vitamin D, Magnesium, Curcumin, L-Carnitine. (Always check with your Doctor or health practitioner before starting any new supplements.)
Although these tips are helpful for you to do at home, it is really important to get yourself tested and work with a qualified health practitioner to investigate the root cause of your condition.
Contact me for a FREE 30 minute consultation where I will help you with any hormone related issue.
Rakowski R, New Strategies for Improving Adrenal and Thyroid Function 2002 syllabus
Metso et al., 2012, Gluten-free diet and autoimmune thryoiditis in patients with celiac disease
Thyroid. 2010;20(7):755-61 Environmental exposures and autoimmune thyroid disease
Ajjan, R.A., Weetman, A.P. (2007) Medical Management of Hyperthyroidism. European Endocrine Disease Accessed 28/04/08 at http:// www.touchendocrinedisease.com/medical-management-hyperthyroidism-a7494-1.html