UNBALANCED THYROID A common condition commonly overlooked

by Svetlana Kogan, M.D.

Prevention is a foundation of Holistic Medicine, which I practice. When I think of a disease that could easily be prevented if screened for early—thyroid immediately comes to mind. In fact, almost 10% of the population is estimated to have some degree of thyroid imbalance, but only 1% is officially diagnosed. This means that 9 out of 10 people with early thyroid disease will likely not get the preventive help they need.

I think of the thyroid gland as a mirror of our personal lifestyle. As our environment changes, so does the thyroid. Its function is designed to be activated or suppressed in response to the daily stressors and metabolic demands we face.

Patients with an imbalanced thyroid gland present with variety of complaints. Some of them are:

• Mental or physical fatigue
• Unintentional weight gain or loss
• Insulin Resistance or Metabolic Syndrome
• High Cholesterol despite best dietary efforts
• Depression
• Infertility

When holistic doctors consider a thyroid etiology for the patient’s presenting symptoms—they usually consider what kind of past or current stressors surround their patient. It is a well-known fact that stress suppresses thyroid function at multiple levels and should be considered right away. It should come as no surprise that if we consider the Ayurvedic (ancient Indian) view of the body chakras, thyroid anatomical position and functioning appear to relate to blockages in the Throat Chakra. It takes an experienced and a unique skill set to treat thyroid by fusing the best of Western and Eastern healing

In addition to stress, we should always consider what environmental triggers could the patient potentially have been exposed to? Could an infection or some sort of inflammation create a compromised milieu for the functioning of the thyroid gland? Therefore, identification and treatment of any such underlying infection or inflammation is of utmost importance.

Another consideration: Is there some sort of nutritional deficiency or a presence of food sensitivity, which could potentially compromise functioning of the thyroid gland? Getting checked for food sensitivities or Celiac might get us some answers. The most common deficiencies identified in newly diagnosed thyroid patients are Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Selenium, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, Iron, Zinc, and B12. If any such deficiency is identified—prompt supplementation may lead to correction of the imbalance.

I must mention a common dietary question I hear from patients: how does iodine fit into the picture of healthy thyroid? In truth, there is no straightforward answer to this question. It seems like iodine deficiency as well as the excess of iodine in the diet or supplementation, can cause disturbances with thyroid. I typically recommend that the salt the patient consumes for cooking should be iodized, and I do not recommend taking any iodine containing supplements which have more than 150 micrograms of iodine (a recommended daily value, RDA). Food intake via seafood products is always more natural in my humble opinion than pushing high doses of supplements.

The takeaway message of this article is this: if you feel that your symptoms could be resulting from thyroid imbalance—get it checked out and consider how managing your stress, diet and lifestyle can help you heal this common condition.

Lifestyle interventions, however small, always improve thyroid function, and this is most likely thanks to the mitigation of an inflammatory state, which either directly or indirectly instigated thyroid
dysfunction in the first place.

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