National Thyroid Awareness Month: Holistically Healing Hypothyroidism
Hypothyroidism is the term given for an under-active thyroid gland. Symptoms include: fatigue, weakness, depression and weight gain, along with dry skin, brittle nails, hair loss, intolerance to cold, and many others. Hypothyroidism is much more common in African American women than men and is on the rise in America.
While conventional doctors tend to prescribe medication even for a slightly under-active thyroid, it is important to know that there are other options. Once you begin taking synthetic hormones, the thyroid gland may become dependent on the drug. However, even if you are currently taking medication, you can try natural healing methods to eventually reduce the amount of medication you take. Either way, be open with your doctor about your views and preferences. If he or she does not understand complimentary medicine, you may choose to visit a naturopathic doctor as well.
Options for Healing
The holistic approach to healing treats physical illness as part of the whole body/mind/spirit system. World-renowned author Louise Hay sees hypothyroidism as a symptom of feeling hopeless and giving up on living the life you would like to live. Grief is also linked with thyroid dysfunction, so giving yourself time after a loss is a good idea before stressing out about thyroid irregularities. Studies have also linked hypothyroidism with stress. Relaxation techniques like yoga and meditation are great options, along with seeing a therapist or life coach if you’re feeling stuck. Louise Hay gives a nice affirmation: “I create a new life with new rules that totally support me.”
For physical remedies, the number-one plant medicine to consider is seaweed. Many cases of hypothyroidism are associated with an iodine deficiency, and seaweed is a great source of this nutrient. Kelp is one species that is commonly found in health food stores. Kelp is helpful, but the best kinds of seaweed for treating hypothyroidism are Kombu, Bladderwrack and Sargasso Weed. In addition to supplying iodine that the thyroid needs, these seaweeds also contain thyroid hormones T3 and T4.
Another good idea is to include more fresh greens in your diet. Chickweed is a great little plant that grows almost everywhere in the spring—if you can find it in your yard, put it in your salad! As an added bonus, Chickweed is thought to support weight loss. Try steamed or boiled Dandelion greens, spinach, and other dark, leafy greens. However, avoid eating raw Brassica-family veggies, like Kale and Broccoli, which can suppress thyroid function.
Speaking of diet, did you know that unsaturated fats can suppress the metabolism and are associated with hypothyroidism? Coconut oil, on the other hand, actually supports the thyroid. In fact, coconut oil has a whole host of health benefits, so even if you don’t have hypothyroidism, it’s a good idea to check it out. You can substitute coconut oil for other fats in cooking and baking, or simply take a small spoonful at least once a day.