What is Hypothyroidism?
Hypothyroidism happens when your thyroid gland, located at the front of your neck, doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormones (underactive thyroid). Thyroid hormones are responsible for regulating your metabolism of protein, carbohydrates and fats. They raise basal cell temperature and play a role in the development and differentiation of all cells in the body.
Your thyroid gland produces two main thyroid hormones, T3 and T4. In addition, the pituitary gland produces thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), which helps control how much T3 and T4 the thyroid makes. When levels of thyroid hormones are low, your body produces more TSH to increase production of thyroid hormones. This means high TSH levels are a sign of hypothyroidism. For some people, even mildly elevated TSH counting within the normal medical range is a sign for hypothyroidism.
Thyroid and oxygen
Your thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland located along the mid-line of your neck, only a few inches above your lungs. The proximity of the thyroid gland and the respiratory systemreflectsthe relationship between respiration, oxygen, and metabolism. Oxygen feeds the fire of your metabolism. When oxygen supply to the body is less than desirable, your thyroid will be forced to slow down, reducing metabolism rate.
Thyroid and digestion
Metabolism is also affected by the digestive power, by the properties of foods and mostly by the relations between these two factors. When food intake, quality and quantity wise, is appropriate to the digestion ability, metabolism will be kept in a dynamic balance.
When digestion is weak to some degree, eating is excessive and food is rich, thick, sticky and difficult to digest such as bread, cheese and sugar, these depress your metabolism by creating phlegm and by thickening your bodily fluids. As your blood thickens, it becomes harder to circulate. Your circulation is responsible for carrying oxygen to all the cells of the body. When blood is thick and sluggish, oxygen delivery is damaged, depressing your metabolism. A thick coating of phlegm in your lungs doesn’t help. The phlegm obstructs absorption of oxygen. So you should eat less and avoid these foods if you feel heavy and slow, no matter what your thyroid count is.
The effect of thick blood on your metabolism is similar to feeding a fire when all the wood for fuel is either green or wet. The wood will be very hard to ignite and even if it burns, it will smolder. The fire becomes dim and smoky. When your metabolism is already smoldering, adding more rich food just slows down your whole system. Physiological functions stagnate, including your digestion, and even thinking becomes difficult, and your thoughts cloudy. Depressed metabolism, caused by thick blood and diminished oxygen supply to the tissues, is considered to be a circulatory problem.
How Does a Person with Hypothyroid Feel?
When your thyroid becomes impaired, you may feel cold because thyroid hormones increase your metabolism, which generates heat. If you are the first to reach for a sweater or are intolerant to cold, you may not have a properly functioning thyroid. You may wake up in the morning still tired from the night before. Some people with low thyroid feel their mind isn’t sharp or clear. You may feel drugged as if moving through water. You may notice more and more hair coming out in your brush or the shower, as well as brittle, flaky nails. You may experience weight gain, even with proper diet and exercise. Blood flow to your skin may be diminished, causing dryness. The bowels may also become dry or sluggish. Your breath may be shallow as well. Women may experience crankiness and intensely painful periods, not realizing that their thyroid is actually compromised.
Symptoms of hypothyroid include: Slow pulse, fatigue, hoarse voice, slowed speech, goiter (caused by swollen thyroid gland), sensitivity to cold, weight gain, constipation, dry hair, numbness in fingers or hands, confusion, depression, dementia, headaches, menstrual problems, infertility, paleness, anemia, muscle and/or joint pain. In children: slowed growth, delayed teething, and slow mental development.
A balanced thyroid gland is very significant for the treatment of many medical problems: weight loss, dyslipidemia, fertility problems, fatigue, hair loss, constipation, weakness of the immune system, impotence and various mental states, especially depression.
Qualities of Hypothyroidism
In traditional medicine, treatment of any condition begins by understanding its qualities. By assessing the symptoms and feelings associated with hypothyroid, you can observe that the qualities of hypothyroid are Heavy, Slow, Cold, Soft, Stagnant, and Dull, qualities which are defined as Yin. By avoiding these qualities, you stop feeding the disorder. By incorporating opposite qualities of Hot, Sharp, Light, Mobile, and Dry, qualities which are defined as Yang, you can balance your thyroid.
Foods to avoid
There are certain foods which are goitrogenic – they compromise the thyroid function (by inhibiting the thyroid use of iodine to produce thyroid hormones) and contribute to hypothyroidism. Foods containing goitrogenes are:
- Vegetables of the Cruciferous family: Cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, mustard seeds and leaves, rocket, watercress, kale, radish, turnips and Kohlrabi. Cooking these foods decreases to some extent their inhibiting effect.
- Fatty seeds like pine nuts, pistachios and peanuts
- Root of cassava (Tapioca).
- Most sweet juicy and moist fruit are slightly goitrogenic such as tropical fruit, Pears peaches and citrus.
- Soybeans in the form of tofu or any industrial form of processed soybeans (excluding Miso and soy sauce which are safe to use in hypothyroidism).
- To a lesser extent, millet is considered mildly goitrogenic, although it can treat well condition of sluggishness due to excess dampness.
Cooking reduces to some degree the goitrogenic quality in food.
Other factors that interfere with thyroid function
- Fast growing foods –these are foods that are poor in iodine, since It takes a long time for plants to absorb iodine from the environment. Note: Excess iodine disrupts the activity of the thyroid gland.
- Growing food on exploited soil – causes poor mineral content.The thyroid gland needs zinc, iodine and selenium for proper function; these may be missing in over used soil. Mineral deficiency can also occurin organic cultivation.
- Growing food in areas deprived of trees – Trees grab iodine fragments from ocean wind, when there are no trees there is no iodine in the soil.
- Chemicals that jeopardize thyroid function – Fluoride, estrogen, lithium, dopamine, beta blockers, interferon alpha, can damage the thyroid gland.
- Conditions that may harm thyroid function – Strenuous physical activity, deprivation of sun light and a cold climate, pregnancy, breastfeeding, deprived night sleep, poor nourishment,old age,fluorine, lack of exercise, stress and anemia.
Sources for iodine
- Food grown near the sea
- Algae, especially Kelp, Dulse, Higiki, Nuri
- Root vegetables
- Meat and poultry (depending on animal feed and living area)
- Cow or goat milk (depending on animal feed and living area)
- Sea fish and sea food
- Sea salt
Nutrition for balancing hypothyroid
If you eat heavy foods your digestion may feel sluggish for a few hours. Sluggishness may resolve in your digestive tract quickly, but when it gets pushed to the blood it can take a month or more to burn off. A practitioner can help decongest your blood faster with a custom cleanse. A guided cleanse can speed up the process of resetting your blood and metabolism.
Healthy fats are the building blocks for all hormones. Support your thyroid’s hormone production by providing it with great materials to work with! Sesame oil, olive oil, ghee, flax oil, and fish oil are all great sources.
Spices like ginger & black pepper stimulate your heart rate and get your circulation moving. Your circulation can also be improved through warm teas, turmeric, mild exercise, stretching, and massage.
- Cooking – Food must be cooked well and eaten warm. Cooking makes the food more Yang and decreases goitergenic qualities.
- Best avoid – Goitrogens, most fruits, cruciferous vegetables, milk*, and most foods that are cooling and moistening
- Grains (60% of the diet): preferably whole grain if digestion approves. Grains should be dry roasted prior cooking. Buckwheat, spelt, brown rice, whole oats, barley, rye, amaranth, quinoa. Avoid corn and wheat.
- Legumes: preferably the darker and smaller variety. Adzuki beans, black mung bean, black lentils. Avoid soy beans, tofu, tempeh and natto.
- Vegetables (35% of the diet): Onion, garlic, carrot, parsnip, parsley root, celery root, pumpkin, squash,leek, chives, green onions, and freshparsley leaves.Avoid cooling vegetables such ascucumber, okra, zucchini, chard, mushrooms, and the nightshade family vegetables: potato, tomato, pepper, eggplant.
- Nuts & Seeds – pumpkin, walnut, sesame. Avoid peanuts and pine nuts.
- Animal products (quality is important)–generally should be consumed in small quantities. When hypothyroidism is diagnosed as a cold and dry condition, small daily quantities are recommended. Best options aresalt water fish, chicken, beef, and especially mutton.
- Internal organs (quality is important) -When hypothyroidism is diagnosed as a cold and dry condition, consume small portions of cooked kidneys and spleen of beef which are rich in selenium. Liver of all types will help to build the blood.
- Dried beef thyroid gland – use as extraction or cooked – contains both T3 and T4. One fried thyroid gland per week
- Condiments: should be used in moderation, for cold and dry conditions use more salty condiments such as Atlantic sea salt, gomashio, Umeboshi. For cold and damp conditions use Nuri seaweed powder,Blue-green algae (for hypothyroid caused by an auto immune disease).
- Drinks –Drink only hot beverages. For cold and dry conditions drink KuzuUmeboshi. For cold and damp conditions drink Yano coffee, Indian chai infusion (without milk). Avoid Melissa infusion (reduces the function of the thyroid gland), best refrain from lemon grass, mint, green tea, COFFEE AND COCOO.
- Spices in small quantities – dry ginger, cinnamon, galangal, bay leaves, fenugreek seed, musket, black pepper, long pepper, and English pepper.
- Special recipes – Carp soup, salmon head soup, soup for strengthening the lower body, coco porridge (with buckwheat for cold and damp conditions), root vegetables Kinpirestyle, Tekka, Gomashio.
- Warming the neck and the lower back with a hotginger compress.
- Life style – light daily exercise, daily shoulder stand, daily sun bathing.
Algae have a Yin aspect to them (they are considered to be cooling, moisturizing and softening) and a Yang aspect of iodine and minerals. Cooking algae moderates their cooling quality and emphasizes the Yang effect of iodine and the other minerals they contain. The recommended iodine intake per person is between 150-300 micrograms per day, which can be obtained in a miniscule amount of 0.05 g of seaweed. This recommended amount is surprising since the average Japanese diet contains about 40,000 mcg of iodine per day and that a Japanese family spends considerable $$ per month on buying algae. The enigma is solved due to the traditional Japanese diet combination of foods such as tofu, miso and other soy products, Cruciferous vegetables such as daikon, radishes and wasabi, along with especially rich iodine foods such as seaweed and seafood.The combination of these types of foods allows a balance between goitrogenes and iodine-rich ingredients and helps to create one of the healthiest nutritional traditions worldwide, which is well known to reduce the chances of the various cancers and other degenerative diseases common nowadays.
Example of a daily menu:
First thing: warm up the body, soak in the first sun rays, sun salutation yoga practice, pranayama, shoulder stand.
Early breakfast: a medicinal food (quantity and quality wise): Carp soup / Salmon head soup / cooked thyroid gland / cooked liver.
Breakfast: Coco porridge with blueberries + Yano coffee or Kuzu Umebushi.
Snack: Rye toast + Adzuki walnut chives Spread.
Lunch: beef and root vegetable soup with buckwheat or Nishime style vegetables or brown rice and lentils with fried onions.
Snack: Baked apple with cinnamon
Early dinner:Rye toast with basil parsley spread and egg or barley soup.
Levothyroxine – not an ideal solution but in certain circumstances saves lives. Levothyroxine contains only T4 thus creates an imbalance between T4 and T3. Prolonged use may lead to mental problems, obesity, hair loss and other symptoms of hypothyroidism.
*Herbal medicine for Thyroid Support: Adaptogens/QI and YANG boosters
- Commiphora Mukul (Guggulu) in formulation such as Tripala Guggulu, Yograj Guggulu, Triodeshanga Guggulu. Studies show Guggulu can increase thyroid output of hormones and stimulate the conversion of the T4 into T3 form. This can help increase metabolism and burn fat. Gugguisterones (what a fun word!) are the chemical constituent responsible.
- Punarnava: Lights a fire for slow digestion. Punarnava gives a big boost to your metabolic fire. Reduces Kapha and aids in weight loss by removing excess water.
- Vacha: Stimulates the mind. Vacha is great for brain fog and Kapha type depression.
- Trikatu: very hot and dry, jumpstarts the digestive fire.
- Bacopa Monneiri: Brightens and sharpens the mind to address brain-fog and depression.
- Eleuthero (Siberian Ginsing): supports adrenals, which are often compromised in hypothyroid patients.
- Withania Somnifera (Ashwagandha): relieve stress, boosts energy levels and strengthen hormonal glands.
- Chinese medicine classic formulas: Jin Gui Shen Qi Wan, Bu Zhong yi Qi Tang,
- Lemons: are especially useful for dry skin in hypothyroid, as it dilates the pores.
- B vitamins: although not an herb, B vitamins greatly help fatigue
- An easy home remedy to improve your circulation: herbal tea with lemon, black pepper, turmeric, ginger and cinnamon.
Home Remedies for Low Metabolism
Breathing & Low Thyroid
Yogic breathing exercises, called pranayama, can quickly oxygenate your blood. Pranayama is one of the most effective home remedies for low thyroid. The three best types of pranayama for low thyroid are brahmeri, kapalabhati and bhastrika. Bhrameri includes a humming noise, which directly vibrates the thyroid gland, revitalizing it. But, even simple full-belly breathing will help!
If your thyroid is low, your smooth muscle tissue may lose strength and tone. Your heart, diaphragm, and intestines will become weak. As your diaphragm weakens, your breath becomes shallow and you get even less oxygen. Pranayama is a great way to strengthen your diaphragm and get a full breath again. It helps circulate the blood in your core, improving your circulation in general.
Pranayama detoxifies your body, the lungs in particular. One main cause of impaired circulation of oxygen is a too-thick mucosal lining in the lungs. So, incorporating a daily breathing practice cleanses, detoxifies, and whittles away at this thick layer of mucus. This allows your body to utilize the oxygen you inhale. The sensation of light, bright, clear-minded freshness you feel after just 10 minutes of breathing indicates that your body is receiving more oxygen.
Exercise and Your Thyroid
Exercise is another way to improve your metabolism. Like pranayama, moderate exercise like walking improves your circulation, strengthens your muscles, and oxygenates your blood. The following yoga poses can help your thyroid gland:fish pose, plow pose, shoulder stand, camel and cow pose.
Beliefs that Support Your Thyroid
Speak up what’s on your mind. Some people feel a lump in their throat (plum pit throat) when they are faced with a challenging decision to make or when holding on to stressful feelings. This lump reflects amuscular-skeletal tension in the area of your thyroid gland, putting this organ under stress. Pathological submission and the inability to speak is the emotional cause of Hashimotodisease and hypothyroid.
The Role of Your Adrenals
Many people with hypothyroidism of all types also suffer from depleted adrenals, known as adrenal fatigue. Typically, depleted adrenal comes first, followed by a depressed thyroid. Depleted adrenals and chronic elevated levels of stress hormones in the blood causes chronic tissue breakdown, so to protect the body, the Thyroid reacts with hypothyroidism. This process can happen over a period of months to years. So, in order to support your thyroid function, it’s imperative that you take notice of your adrenal strength. If they are depleted, you must address both your thyroid and adrenals.
Supporting your adrenals is quite simple. It takes rest and stress reduction, mainly lifestyle changes that calm down a hectic lifestyle, anxiety and stress. Many herbs that relive stressand support the adrenals will also tone the thyroid gland, such as Ashwagandha, Tulsi, Eleuthero (Panax Ginsing), and Schisandra (Wu Wei Zi).