The thyroid gland produces hormones that regulate your metabolism (control
the growth and activity level of many tissues in the body), that is everything
from the rate at which your heart beats to how quickly you burn calories.
The best known thyroid hormone is called ‘thyroxine’ which contains four iodine
atoms (T4). This is largely converted to a more active hormone containing three
iodine atoms (T3).
If your thyroid does not produce enough hormones or too much of one to the detriment of the other then it can create an imbalance in your body, known as hypothyroidism.
It is a condition at times not very well managed by conventional medicine and is often confusing for many people who have all or some of the symptoms of hypothyroidism but whose blood tests come back as ‘normal’.
In other words the condition can be present but at sub-clinical levels.
‘Sub-clinical; hypothyroidism is a condition whereby although thyroid function is not
pathologically impaired, thyroid hormone production and/or metabolism is not
A more sensitive test is to measure the pituitary hormone which stimulates the thyroid gland (TSH). This hormone becomes elevated as soon as thyroid hormone levels start to fall.
In New Zealand hypothyroidism can be due to low levels of Iodine in the soils and also to low levels of Selenium. Selenium forms part of the enzyme responsible for the conversion of T4 to T3 and also protects the thyroid from excessive iodide exposure.
Hypothyroid may also come about as a result of viral infection, so where chronic lethargy accompanies an illness it may be a good idea to check for low thyroid function.
Hypothyroidism can also occur where there has been/is an autoimmune reaction within the thyroid causing the thyroid to produce antibodies against its own tissues.
This may be a result of previous treatments such as surgery or radiotherapy, or may as in Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, be an autoimmune response of unknown aetiology.
Hypothyroidism tends to affect mainly women over the age of 40, but can also affect men.
Symptoms can include:
– (if severe) an enlargement of the thyroid gland – known as a goitre – as the cells of the thyroid enlarge while trying to ‘trap’ as many iodide atoms as possible.
– Excessive fatigue, particularly in the afternoon.
– Weight gain.
– Eyes can be gritty, burning, itchy with blurred vision and puffy eyelids.
– Skin can become dry, rough, scaly and sometimes itchy in places.
– Sex drive can be non existent or poor.
– Hair can become course, brittle, fall out excessively or grow very slowly.
– The eyebrows may thin excessively.
– Over sensitivity to cold.
– Decreased perspiration even during heavy exercise or hot weather.
– Constipation that is resistant to extra magnesium dosage.
– Difficulty losing weight despite rigid adherence to diet.
– The voice can sound hoarse.
– Also possible cognitive deficiency.
– Lipid profiles may be elevated, including LDL cholesterol.
Because blood tests can prove to be unreliable in diagnosing hypothyroidism
it is a good idea to check your ‘basal body temperature’. Reduced thyroid function manifests as a drop in body temperature to below the normal of 36.7 C
Check your temperature before you get out of bed, and do this daily for a month. Keep a daily record. Also check several times during the day every so often. It your temperature is 36.1 C or less for three to five consecutive days, you could possibly conclude that the thyroid function is compromised.
However low body temperature can also indicate adrenal fatigue or exhaustion so this
method needs to be used in conjunction with other indications.
Hair analysis can help as it can determine Selenium, Iodine, Iron and Zinc levels.
Up-dated October 2014