Natural treatment for an underactive thyroid

All Woman

Dear Donovan,

Are there any natural cures for an underactive thyroid? A family member is currently taking pills to normalise this but we are looking for a natural cure. Can you share your opinion on the natural approach and not just the medicinal? I know in Jamaica there are many plants for many different ailments.

The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped gland located in the front lower part of the neck. This gland produces a hormone called thyroxine. Basically, this hormone controls how the body's cells use energy from the foods we eat. This process is known as metabolism. Your metabolism will determine such things as your growth, body temperature, heart rate and also the rate at which your body burns calories.

In some people the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone. This condition is normally referred to as underactive thyroid or hypothyroidism. People with this condition normally experience a slowing down of their metabolism and may even experience weight gain. Other common signs of hypothyroidism are tiredness, feeling depressed and even goitre.

The most common cause of an underactive thyroid is an inflammation of the thyroid gland. In most cases, this is caused by an autoimmune disorder where the body produces antibodies that destroy the thyroid gland. In addition, other causes of hypothyroidism may include radiation treatment of the throat region as well as treatment associated with overactive thyroid, like radioactive iodine treatment.

From a medical standpoint, an underactive thyroid is normally treated by taking daily doses of hormone tablets. This is hormone to replace the ones that the thyroid gland is not producing.

Hypothyroidism can also be treated by making dietary changes and using herbs. It should be noted that dietary changes are usually the first line of defence in the treatment of hypothyroidism. Some dietary changes that are normally recommended include reducing sugar intake, increasing protein intake, supplementing with vitamin B12 and selenium, going gluten-free, increasing healthy fats in the diet, and consuming food which can stimulate the production of glutathione. These are powerful antioxidants which help to keep the thyroid healthy.

Some herbs have been known to be effective against hypothyroidism. These include seaweed which is believed to relieve many of the symptoms of an underactive thyroid. There is also gum guggul, which is a yellow resinous extract from the stem of the mukul tree which has the ability to influence thyroid function and improve conditions associated with hypothyroidism; gooseberry, known to enhance the overall heath and also boost energy in people with hypothyroidism; and coleus forskohlii which is very important in increasing the production and secretion of the thyroid hormone.

The bayberry plant is also very important in boosting the immune system and therefore has the ability to reduce hypothyroidism. Also, flaxseed, which is packed with essential fatty acids and supplies the body with Omega-3 fatty acids, helps the thyroid to increase hormone production. Other herbs that support thyroid function and stimulate the thyroid gland include ginseng, licorice, reishi and mushroom. Good luck!

We will answer your weight-related questions

Are you struggling to lose weight or just need some advice on living a healthier life? Tell us about your health issues and we'll have nutritionist and wellness coach Donovan Grant answer them for you. Grant has over 12 years' experience in the fitness industry and is the owner of DG's Nutrition and Wellness Centre, 39 Lady Musgrave Road. Call him at 876-286-1363. E-mail questions to clarkep@jamaicaobserver.com.

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