Episode 88: Exhausted, Gaining Weight and Forgetful – Is it Your Thyroid? (previously released as Episode 42)
We refer to this past episode from October 8, 2020 so often that we decided to re-release it! Is your thyroid the reason you are exhausted, depressed, constipated, forgetful and gaining weight? We discuss signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism, how to properly diagnose imbalances, how to eat to support thyroid health and how we approach assessment and treatment as Naturopathic Doctors.
One in eight women will develop thyroid disease at some point in their life and women are 5-8 times more likely than men to experience thyroid issues.
As Dr. Lisa shared previously in Episode 3, she realized that her thyroid wasn’t functioning properly after giving birth to her son. It is common for women to discover thyroid issues in the postpartum period. Proper blood work, addressing stress and taking dessicated thyroid were crucial for Dr. Lisa to feel her best.
Why is your thyroid so important?
Your thyroid gland regulates your temperature, energy production and metabolism. When your thyroid is under functioning, it is called hypothyroidism. High thyroid function is called hyperthyroidism.
Symptoms of hypothyroidism include:
- Fatigue and exhaustion
- Unexplained weight gain
- Increased sensitivity to cold and temperature changes
- Dry skin and thinning hair
- Puffy face
- Cravings for sugar and carbohydrates
- Muscle weakness, aches, tenderness and stiffness
- Pain, stiffness or swelling in your joints
- Heavier than normal or irregular menstrual periods
- Depression and anxiety
- as many as 15% of women on antidepressants have an undetected thyroid problem as the cause of their depression
- Brain fog, poor memory and concentration
- Studies of women in their 60s have shown that low thyroid function can cause dementia-like symptoms and treatment can improve cognitive function and have a protective effect on the brain
- High cholesterol
- Increased risk of heart attack, cardiac arrhythmias and congestive heart failure due to the regulatory control of the thyroid on heart rate and rhythm
- Fertility issues, increased risk of miscarriage and preterm birth
- Increased risk of prenatal and postpartum depression
Why do so many women have thyroid issues?
Possible Causes of Your Thyroid Issue Include:
- Environmental exposure to different chemicals, xenoestrogens and heavy metals
- Certain medications including birth control pill
- Vitamin and mineral deficiencies
- Iodine, selenium, vitamin D, zinc, iron, vitamin A
- Low calorie diets
- High cortisol levels due to chronic stress:
- reduces thyroid hormone production
- inhibits your conversion of the inactive form of thyroid hormone T4, to the active form T3
- High cortisol levels due to chronic stress:
- Gut issues
- Leaky gut (also known as intestinal hyperpermeability) and imbalances in your gut microbiome have both been shown to impact hormone imbalances and fluctuations, like when you are postpartum or in perimenopause
- Environmental toxins, chronic stress, nutritional insufficiencies, leaky gut, food intolerances and having chronic inflammation are all factors that can contribute to autoimmune disease
- Your immune system is triggered to produce antibodies that can attack your thyroid, which is what is happening when you have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis
How do you properly test your thyroid function and the underlying causes of thyroid issues?
Full thyroid panel: TSH, free T4 and T3, thyroid peroxidase antibodies, thyroglobulin antibodies, reverse T3
Vitamin D, iron
Gluten and other food sensitivity
Saliva and urine testing for hormones including cortisol, estrogen, progesterone
Urine testing for heavy metal exposure (eg. cadmium, mercury)
Temperature checks every 3 hours during the day to see if your body is using your thyroid hormones properly
What can you do about an underfunctioning thyroid?
Avoid raw goitrogenic foods – soy and Brassica family veggies like broccoli and cauliflower
Increase your intake of thyroid supporting foods
- Seaweed like dulse for iodine, brazil nuts for selenium, pumpkin seeds and oysters for zinc
Reduce toxin exposure
Replace nutrient deficiencies
Consider adrenal and stress support:
- Address your throat chakra – speaking your truth, asking for help
- Herbal support with ashwagandha, kelp, bladderwrack, Coleus forskohlii
Thyroid hormone replacement with Synthroid or Dessicated thyroid
- Take in the morning, on an empty stomach, away from caffeine
Why would you consider dessicated thyroid?
- If you’re on monotherapy like Synthroid (T4), you still night suffer from anxiety and depression even if your TSH levels are normal
- T4 may not be enough to restore your T3 levels in your blood and target tissues
- It contains all four natural thyroid hormones – T4, T3, T2, T1, plus iodine, thyroglobulin
Today’s Mama Must Have:
Dr. Toni loves having a healthy and easy recipe like Egg Muffins from Amanda Naturally that the whole family will eat for breakfast or a snack. Check out Episode 5 for more tips for healthy food habits from Amanda.
Dr. Lisa knows that Dessicated Thyroid is an absolute must have for her!
Thank you for joining us today!
Please tell your perimenopausal mama friends about us, too!
Stay safe and healthy everyone!